Preparing for your first big Magic event: At the Tournament considerations!

Here are more considerations for you and your time at the event!

Most large events have Team Leaders (managing a team task) on their main event staff, and Public events leads and On Demand events leads. Each of these judges is going to be managing their section of the tournament, and you will be assigned to work with one of them.

Main Event teams have specific roles for their team leader to cover- from deck checks to pairings posting, to match slips and floor team. Each event is slightly different, so if you have questions for what your tasks will be on a main event team, ask your team leader ahead of time (by direct email through JudgeApps), or at the team meeting at the start of the day.

Public events are tournaments and events run simultaneously with the main event, and often the day(s) before the main event.

  • Scheduled Events will usually have judges assigned to specific events; if you’re assigned to a scheduled event, you can expect to be the head judge/floor judge for the whole event. Sometimes, you’ll work with other judges if the event is large enough- other times, you may be alone.
  • On-Demand Events (ODEs) are usually 8 person events (the word ‘8-man’ is falling out of practice), and the lead of ODEs will assign judges on this team to launch an event, get the players situated, and come back to launch more!  Ask about prizes, pairings, and brackets if you’re not sure which systems are in place!
  • Know who your lead is if you’re on Scheduled Events or ODEs, to go to for any questions or concerns you may have.

  • For all public (side) events, often times, you’ll have to watch over multiple events simultaneously. Be ready to answer calls from a variety of formats, from an 8-person draft, to Modern, Standard, or even Legacy. Keep track of the events you’re a part of, help players have fun and get to their rulings quickly and make sure you’re having fun also on the floor of the event. 
  • As for Match slips, most public events are Regular Rules Enforcement Level (REL), so they won’t need any penalties written on them. Do be aware if you’re on the Main event or a Competitive Scheduled Event, that the penalty writing guidelines are a little different. Public events use WER, while the main event of Grand Prix generally uses WLTR (commonly known as “Walter”). Filling out penalties on the back of the slip will look different depending on the software- confirm with your lead if you’re not sure which way to do it!
  • Don’t Panic! It’s a big event, and players are expecting the right ruling, and you may be called to make decisions with things on the line. Don’t worry too much, and if you are unsure on something, find another judge near you and ask! Players will understand taking the extra time to make sure you get the ruling right. Just make sure you note the time before you take a call to give a proper time extension. The judge staff and TO felt you would do a good job here, so be confidant, take the calls you see! (Golden rule: When in doubt, check or ask another Judge like your buddy or Team Lead.)
  • Ask! If this is your first Grand Prix or large event, this can’t be stressed enough. Too many judges are afraid to ask questions, and other judges will understand that this is your first experience with a large event. Get clarification with players on what they need. Though in general, use your judgement as to when a judge (like the Head Judge) might be busy, and when you could interrupt them for something important. For example- an appeal should interrupt the Appeals Judges (HJ) immediately, so that can be addressed quickly!
  • If you see something in a game you’re watching that doesn’t seem right- ask the players to pause and ask about it! You may be interrupting the players, but if something’s wrong, it needs to be fixed. We can give the players a time extension, and it can fix problems before they get worse. Make sure you’ve reviewed the IPG section on what players can ignore and not remind opponents about (Triggers!). (For Triggers, we usually do not interfere. In cases when we do, it is usually to give a penalty for Missed Trigger which is upgraded to a Warning as player has missed a detrimental trigger) Link to Missed Trigger on IPG. Link to Detrimental Triggers in Standard.

  • Often at large events, judges will shadow each other to Judge calls. Feel free to follow another judge to a call they get to first, and expect other judges to do the same. It can be helpful to have support there in case you’re not sure, and it’s a good learning and feedback opportunity. Many judges will discuss calls after a ruling, don’t be afraid to discuss your rulings with other judges.
  • If you make a mistake. It happens, but try your best not to! When it does happen, you just have to take some feedback, try to learn from it, and move on. Fix the problem, if you can, but don’t beat yourself up for it when it does happen. Judges are human too. “Experienced judges got that way by making mistakes, and learning from them.” (If you have given a wrong ruling to players, it is good customer service to approach the players after their match to inform them about it. Be professional, apologise for your mistake and explain to them the correct ruling then move on and learn from your mistake.)
  • Talk with other judges on the floor, share rules calls- it can help change mental gears and review rulings. Make sure you’re watching the floor for calls, though; judges need to stay spread out across the floor, discussions in twos or threes are fine, generally. Sometimes you may see a cluster of judges discussing something in a corner, and they might need a gentle nudge to spread out. It’s ok to nudge them! Even if they’re in the middle of something important, the mindfulness will be appreciated.
  • Speaking of floor coverage, it’s very important that all areas of the Main Event have a judge nearby. Don’t forget to cover holes yourself when you see them too! The lower ranked tables are often undercovered, especially later in the day. By proactively covering these tables, not only are you covering very important holes, but you may meet some of the most interesting Magic players!

Judging at Premier events can be a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of work too. Most of these suggestions are things judges have learned through experience, or by seeing them happen at their first Grand Prix.  Adapt them to your own best practices, and remember to plan accordingly!

We hope you’ve found some of these ideas for your first big event useful.  The main thing to keep in mind is that while everyone seems really experienced, they all had first events at some point.  If you’d like more help and guidance before a grand prix, keep an eye out for the Judge Buddy! project, who help match newer judges to experienced judges for mentorship on the floor!

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