Judge Tournament Qualifiers

Last Updated: May 2017

(To see the announcement for JTQs, please come here)

Judge Tournament Qualifier (JTQ) is a special type of conference, mainly focused on training L2 candidates. A candidate attending a JTQ can obtain a recommendation from his or her mentor; this recommendation replaces the following L2 checklist item:

  • Recommendation Review from working together at a Competitive REL Event written by a Level 2 or Level 3 Judge in the previous 12 months.

Section 1: Preparation

1.1 Scheduling

Scheduling a JTQ follows the same procedure as other judge conference with foil support. Please refer to RCs for more detail on conference scheduling. It’s strongly recommended to not combine it with another conference.

JTQs are run with applications, not all applicants will be selected to participate in a JTQ. Please refer to application section for more information. Some L2s from isolated areas can be invited to participate in a JTQ if his or her RC believes that specific L2 can significantly benefit from participating.

Aside from the organizer, a JTQ may have other mentors. It’s strongly recommended to have a ratio of mentor vs. candidate from 1:1 to 1:4. Each candidate is assigned to one of the mentors, including the organizer. The mentor is responsible to follow up with those candidates, and recommend the candidates if he or she believes the candidates meets standard.

1.2 Application

Application is meant to decide if a candidate can attend a JTQ. Application shall contain the following elements:

  • The progress of applicant’s L2 checklist
  • Information about the applicant’s mentor, if he/she has one already
  • Reason to attend a JTQ instead work with a L3 or L2T in person

An applicant shall be declined to attend if the organizer believes he or she is missing a significant part of the L2 checklist.

Applicant shall work with L3 or L2T on his or her L2 certification if possible, instead of attending a JTQ. However, it’s possible that the applicant has difficulty to judge with a L3 or L2T in person due to limited judging opportunity or availability of the close by L3 or L2T. Please contact the mentor of applicant (if any), L3 or L2T close by the applicant, and decide if the applicant shall attend a JTQ.

Section 2: Content

2.1 Pre-event homework and discussions

Mentors are expected to send the following questions to candidates, and follow up with more educational questions if necessary. Please ask candidates to bring their answers to the JTQ, and discuss them with the group.

Question 1: a store you have never been to calls you to head judge their upcoming PPTQ in two weeks. What do you want to communicate with the store manager? How far ahead do you want to communicate on those details?

Philosophy: a L2 needs to be able to handle such event, including event preparation. Candidate shall be able to identify tournament needs based on expected attendance and confirm them with the store manager, such like space & tables, starting time/estimate finishing time, deck list, etc. A good candidate also thinks above base tournament needs, such like if printer is needed for such size of tournament, if there will be judge trainee or if he plans to call for judge training under agreement with store. A deficient candidate leaves everything to the store manager without any preparation.

Question 2: a player approaches you and asks to become a certified judge, what do you do?

Philosophy: a L2 needs to be able to mentor a player who is interested on becoming a judge into certified judge. Candidate shall be able to give some directions, ask if the player wants to volunteer an event with him/her, and help the player to read certain documents as needed. A good candidate also follows up with the player, checks back with player on his/her progress and answer questions. A deficient candidate only sends the candidate to read documents without any details.

Question 3: a store is trying to run a Chaos draft for top 8, how do you tell the store owner that’s illegal?

Philosophy: L2 judges will be head judge for PPTQs, it’s part of their responsibility to make sure PPTQs are run as instructed. Candidate shall be able to let TO know it’s illegal to run Chaos draft for top 8. A good candidate uses soft skills to convince the TO, let him know why it’s important to follow instructions and potential damage otherwise. A deficient candidate only threatens the TO that the tournament will be invalidated.

Question 4: how do you do a deck check? When do you pick up the decks and what do you have to pay attention to?

Philosophy: a L2 knows how to do a deck check, and wait for players to present their decks before pick them up. Organizer and mentor may prepare some sample decks with deck lists for candidates to check, problems may include but not limited to: incomplete card names, marked cards, card alternation, intentional marks on back side of sleeves, double face cards.

2.2 Basic simulation

Organizer is expected to assign role play information to candidates before the event, and select a candidate to act as judge, for each scenario. It’s recommended to let the organizer/mentors to role play the first scenario, so the candidates can see the role play as an example.

The scenarios are intentionally left without details, to leave room for actors to play out different personalities.


Scenario 1: Refusing to answer Judge

Player A refuses to answer a judge’s question regarding free, derived or private information.

After coming to the table the judge asks player A about the number of cards in his/her hand.

Player A refuses to answer.


Scenario 2: Rolling a die

The judge has to deliver a DQ to Player A. Player A didn’t know it’s illegal.

Player A asked Player B if he wants to roll a die to decide a winner, but didn’t know it’s not allowed.


Scenario 3: Slowplay/staling

Player A is playing slowly while this benefits him/her.

While player A is leading 1-0, player B complains he/she is playing too slowly and they’ll likely reach time.


Scenario 4: Not a morph

Player A doesn’t reveal a face down card when it leaves the battlefield. His/her hand now does NOT contain a creature with morph.

Player A returns a face down creature to his/her hand without revealing it. Player B calls for a judge.


Scenario 5: HCE

Player A puts too many cards in his/her hand. The game action is legal, the number of cards is not.


Scenario 6: Disagreement on life totals

There is a difference between the life totals recorded by both players.

After a long game, with a lot of changes to the life totals, they differ by one.



2.3 Advanced role play

Similar to section two, organizer is expected to send role-play information to candidates before the event, and select a candidate to act as judge. However, scenarios in this section are less expected from brand new L2s, it’s more a teaching section than discussions.


Scenario 7: Hardcore cheating

Player A cheats while player B asks a judge a rules question away from the table. (Choose a fitting character card for player A.)


Scenario 8: Player gets angry

Player A throws his deck at his opponent after losing a match.

Section 3: Post event

3.1 Recommendation

Candidates shall receive recommendation from their JTQ mentors, unless the mentor believes there is a strong reason to not do so. A formal feedback is strongly recommended either way.


3.2 Written test

It’s recommended to have some time after section 3 to allow candidates who are ready to take their written tests.


3.3 Report

Organizer of each JTQ is required to write a report on the JTQs, within one month after the JTQ takes place.

The report must contain the following information:

  1. A short version of what had been done at the JTQ;
  2. Feedback on good for next time and area of improvement;
  3. A review on each candidate, according to template at:


The report is shared on the RC list and JTQ project forum. (Please send it to RC and/or JTQ project lead if organizer doesn’t have access to any of them.)