If you’re in the judge program, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard Wizards of the Coast recently announced ChannelFireball Events (CFBE) will be running all Grand Prix in 2018 and beyond. Some judges have expressed uncertainty and concern for various parts of the judge program under this arrangement. We understand that change does that. It raises doubt and it creates new risks, but it also gives us opportunities.
Some of the concerns raised come from among our most dedicated and experienced voices, and those voices deserve to be heard. We have been carefully listening and will continue to listen as long as we need to. If you want to tell us how you’re feeling about this change and be a part of that conversation with us directly, you can email us as a group here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, we have met with representatives of CFBE and have established that both parties need a collaborative relationship . CFBE stated goals and the judge program’s goals (which we have not been great at articulating, let’s admit) are not identical, but they have much in common:
- The judge program is based on core values of service, integrity, community, respect, and trustworthiness. These are part of every event we judge, and that will not change. That will not change whether those events judged are on behalf of CFBE or any of other organizers and Magic-playing communities judges serve across the globe.
CFBE also values these qualities very high.
- The Judge Program strives to create an environment that serves our players’ needs, our needs, and (for Grand Prix) CFBE’s needs, too.
CFBE also aims at serving players’ needs and has indicated they want to keep on building a lasting relationship with the Judge Program.
- Some of the most skilled judges in the program are integral to CFBE, and they understand very well the judge program, its needs, and the potential risks that lie ahead.
Now, that’s a lot said in general, lofty terms. You also deserve some specific actions on our part to make this more real. Here are a few conclusions from the meetings held between L3s and representatives from CFBE (held in Barcelona, New Jersey and Shizuoka). More actions will need to come as this relationship develops, so if you feel we’re too silent for too long, please speak up and let us know:
- One of the most repeated concerns we’ve heard about is judging opportunities and how the “core staff” model CFB used in 2017 will reduce judging opportunities.
As far as we know, the overall number of Grand Prix is not changing in 2018 therefore the need for great judges to make them successes will not be decreasing. This is even more true as CFBE will still be running the same number of Grand Prix in many different cultures and sometimes simultaneously.
In all of the meetings, CFBE has clearly indicated their interest in properly staffing all of their events. They also indicated awareness that they cannot do so with a reduced core staff group similar to the 2017 model.
- Another repeated concern is regarding compensation. CFBE has clearly stated they do not foresee any reduction in compensation.
Ultimately, as with every event and opportunity, each judge needs to evaluate the cost/benefit and make their own decision. We expect judges will choose to dedicate their time to events they find most worthwhile, and recognize that Grand Prix are not the only Magic events available to judges.
- Grand Prix represent unique opportunities to demonstrate skills needed for advancement, such as team leading in the L3 advancement process. With all of these opportunities in the hands of a single organizer, some L3 candidates have expressed concerns that they will not have the opportunity to advance. We will continue to work closely with the Grand Prix Head Judges and the judges responsible for the L3 advancement process to address this concern.
CFBE has indicated they will be providing some support and opportunities for judge development, such as L3 Panels or Judge Booth.
These are the main concerns which were brought to our attention. If there are other topics which you believe deserve being investigated, feel free to let us know.
Finally, the Program Coordinators have designated Kevin Desprez as our liaison with CFBE on behalf of the Program Coordinators. Through his conversations and their outcomes, we will keep you updated on any future news.