Eh-xemplar Wave 12 Highlights: New Kids on the Block

For Wave 12, the Eh-xemplar team is bringing you impressive stories from some of the fresh faces in the program. We’re focused on the fantastic firsts from some new L1s, while also highlighting some grassroots greatest from enfranchised L1s who push the boundaries and expectations for “Regular REL judges.”

The exemplar program often falls under scrutiny because of the trend we see in the number of nominations that comes from GPs and highly populated cities where there’s a higher density of L2 and L3 judges. With the recent addition of personalized exemplar tokens, Eh-xemplar this wave is taking a renewed look at just how awesome L1s can be–and all the great things they can do in their local communities. It’s our hope, for Wave 12 as for all Waves, that this project will continue to connect judges across our massive region and help tighten the bonds that hold together 10 million square kilometres (and growing) of judge territory.

First up, Jacob Ender, who has become a force in his local community and has begun garnering attention on a larger scale (good luck at your first GP this weekend!).

Michael Gyssels  L2, Ontario

Michael Gyssels
L2, Ontario

Jacob Ender  L1, Ontario

Jacob Ender
L1, Ontario

Jacob, Thank you for your help with putting together the inaugural Forest City Magic Community Cup. I’m really excited about the potential of this tournament to do some good for our community, within Magic and beyond, but it can only get there with volunteers like yourself. I am truly grateful that you donated your time to this tournament, not only because it gave our community the chance to see you in your new role as a judge, but because I had drastically overloaded myself with work that weekend, so having someone dependable on the floor was really a boost to the tournament quality. You were always where I needed you to be, even before I knew I needed it. And you were happy to take on whatever tasks were needed to get the job done, including setup and teardown, food sales, and floor coverage. Not to mention, I received a number of compliments from experienced judges who were playing in the tournament about your work. Evidently you were really on the ball, great at customer service and interacting with players, and handled judge calls with poise and confidence. Thank you for donating your time for a good cause.”

Let’s take a quick look at the major exemplar criteria to highlight why we’ve included this recognition in our highlights:

Specific: This nomination identifies what Jacob did (he was a dependable floor judge), then gives specific examples of how he did it (he anticipated tournament needs, was flexible to perform necessary tasks, and drew praise from more experienced judges for customer service) and summarizes his actions at the end.

Praiseworthy: Being in charge of an event and managing a team of judges can be difficult, so having floor judges who are always where they need to be and doing what they need to do makes the head judge’s life significantly easier. Jacob displayed great awareness here by anticipating the event’s needs and tending to them rather than waiting to be asked. Furthermore, he consistently created positive interactions with players when taking calls on the floor. Making sure players are satisfied with their ruling and glad they called a judge should be a goal we always keep in mind when we take calls, and Jacob certainly accomplished that goal at this event.

In a time where his head judge was stressed and feeling the weight of his responsibilities, Jacob was observant of the tournament’s needs and proactive in seeing to them. His customer service also made quite the impression on some experienced judges playing in the event, drawing a number of compliments. This exemplar stands out to us because many new judges find themselves in floor judge positions like Jacob did, but not all of them go above and beyond the expectations of their role to so directly contribute to the success of their event. Well done, Jacob!

Next up, Felix Bouchard of Quebec, who received a glowing nomination from Eric Dustin Brown:

Eric Dustin Brown  L3, Virginia

Eric Dustin Brown
L3, Virginia

Felix Bouchard  L1, Quebec

Felix Bouchard
L1, Quebec

Felix! We met in GP Toronto over the weekend and I was blown away by your performance, if you had not told me it was your first Grand Prix event I would have never known. You brought an incredible energy and willingness to work to our event and I watched you improve the days of players and judges alike. Additionally I appreciated they way you asked questions and weren’t afraid to arm yourself with information — this is an incredible quality and I hope you keep doing it. Thank you for all your help and I hope to see you the next time I work in Canada.

First, let’s take a second to say, “Way to go, Felix!” It’s clear that Felix kicked some serious butt at GP Toronto (Winter 2018) and we’re happy to provide one more small pat on the back here. But, beyond that, we love this exemplar in part because Felix got the attention of a seasoned L3 from another region in his first GP experience. Likewise, this exemplar fits well with the goals of the exemplar project:

Specific: While Felix’s actions aren’t called out explicitly, Eric points out a couple of focal points for Felix’s weekend. First, his energy and work ethic single-handedly improved the days of players and judges. Second, Felix asked lots of questions to be best prepared to assist players and put on a good show. That’s a key tool that ALL judges should have in their belts–you’re never so experienced that you should be afraid to ask questions. The more we share with one another, the better an experience we can provide for our players.

Praiseworthy: Felix was at his first GP and totally aced it! His hard work improved the experiences of players and judges all around him and he made a concerted effort to work harder and learn as much as he could over the course of the event. That’s surely praiseworthy in my books!

This next nomination doesn’t go out to a new judge, but we love the pride that Serge Yager takes in his work as an experienced L1 in his community.

Kentaro Guthrie  L2, British Columbia

Kentaro Guthrie
L2, British Columbia

Serge Yager  L1, British Columbia

Serge Yager
L1, British Columbia

Serge, I’m really glad that you’re a part of the Victoria judge community. You’re a shining example of what we want an L1 to be, and are confident in your role at that level. You have a firm grasp of where you are, and where you want to be in the program. A lot of judges get caught up in trying to advance, or being dissatisfied with their current status but you know exactly where you want to be, and why. I was really impressed by your demeanour and attitude during our recent talk at the RIX prerelease, and hope that the other L1s in the area pay attention to the example that you’re setting. Keep up the good work, and keep being awesome at what you do. It’s so refreshing to see a judge that is comfortable and content with their skill and level. You made me re-evaluate my own position in the program and my motivations etc. Thank you.

Specific: Kentaro knows exactly why he thinks Serge is awesome, and he really spells it out for us here: Serge is very aware of what an L1 should be, and he strives to do his best in fulfilling that role. Kentaro points to their conversation at a prerelease as a spot where this awareness was particularly prominent, complimenting Serge’s demeanour and attitude at the time.

Praiseworthy: As Kentaro mentions, many judges put on their “advancement blinders” and simply try to move up in the program rather than taking the time to consider what’s around them and whether or not they would be content remaining where they are. Serge has no such problem. He is aware of what the role of an L1 is and demonstrates confidence in the skills he uses to execute that role. His intrinsic understanding of where he stands in the program and why he is there sets a good example for judges of any level.

Serge’s excellent work gives pause to a well-established, world-travelling L2 to reflect on their own actions. We should all be so lucky to have someone like him to learn from.

Representing the judge community in a positive light is something worth being recognized for, and Serge is putting forth a great effort. We encourage him to keep up the excellent work!

Next, Daniel Huckstep was on staff for his first major Comp REL and crushed it:

Kenny Dolson  L2, Nova Scotia

Kenny Dolson
L2, Nova Scotia

Daniel Huckstep  L1, Nova Scotia

Daniel Huckstep
L1, Nova Scotia

Daniel, you performed admirably at F2F Moncton in December and surpassed my expectations for an L1 who has not worked a Comp REL event before. Your boundless energy and drive to help the event run smoothly factored into the team atmosphere throughout the day. Additionally, you took the feedback you received throughout the day and acted on it then and there to help improve your performance. Continuous improvement is an important part of judging, and implementing feedback received so readily sets a great example for the other judges on the floor.

So, why this nomination? At Daniel’s first Comp rel event he made himself invaluable to his head judge and to the event at-large. Being recognized at one’s first event is an achievement, but we believe these efforts deserved further recognition within our community.

Specific: Daniel’s ability at his first Comp REL event to accept and incorporate feedback into his judging for the day is a skill all judges of different levels and experience levels should have. As Kenny remarked, continuous improvement is an important part of judging and and allows us to continue to grow, learn, and succeed in the program–which means better tournaments for players in our communities!

Praiseworthy: This was Daniel’s first Comp REL event! The skills that Daniel employs are impressive and commendable in their own right, but to display this degree of maturity and skill so early in a judge career is something we should be lucky to emulate!

Last, we have a fairly fresh recruit who seems a whole lot more like a veteran based on his mentorship presence:

Stephen Wise  L2, Iowa

Stephen Wise
L2, Iowa

Aaron O’Connor  L1, Nova Scotia

Aaron O’Connor
L1, Nova Scotia

Aaron, you’ve shown a great job mentoring other judges in the MTG Judge Facebook Group during question discussions over the last few months, even before you officially certified for L1. I’ve seen you probe other judges when you knew the answer, but rather than just give them the answer, you’ve guided them to the correct answer or where to find the answer to make sure they understood the concept being discussed. Recently during a question a few weeks ago, you responded to almost everyone who attempted to answer the question and helped guide them to the correct answer. Helping to mentor people over the internet in a semi-public forum is not easy, but you have succeeded in such a task.

Aaron’s online contributions to our community managed to garner the attention of an L2 from another region, which speaks to both the skill and passion with which Aaron approaches judging. That he has helped so many players with his efforts online is an excellent example of ways that all judges can create opportunities for involvement, growth, and learning by seeking problems and helping to fix them!

We’ve chosen this exemplar because it really hits on the following exemplar criteria:

Representing the judge community positively: Stephen has made sure to highlight Aaron’s work mentoring other judges over the past few months in the MTG Judge Facebook group. Mentoring is a key component to great judging, because of the self-run nature of the program. But beyond that, Aaron has improved the experiences of many players on a very visible platform, and represented himself and the program admirably.

Specific: Not only does Stephen describe the tactics that Aaron employs and what makes them valuable judge skills, but also he calls out the truly exemplary effort Aaron put it in to guiding to a tough answer everyone who was struggling with a particular question. That kind of effort is extraordinary. Keep up the good work, Aaron!

That’s it for Wave 12! Wave 13 closed up this week, so expect to see us back again very soon. If you haven’t heard yet, the first Exemplar Vanguard token has been announced and we hope the outstanding work you folks did last wave will end up on the backs of many judge faces!

Until next time.

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