From the PC Desk, April & May 2017

Hello judges, we’ve been busy during April and we’re running a late with that month’s From the PC Desk article. We’re merging the April and May issue to catch up!

Here we got some news about the Judge Program for you:


The sphere we called “Education” proved to be just too big for a single person to manage or a single mission to serve. In order to address this Sophie Pages and Ivan Petkovic formed a plan to divide it into two different Spheres, each led by one of them.

Before moving into the description of the new Spheres, we want to say a big “thank you” to Ben McDole for his dedication to the former Education sphere. Without his help we could not be at the stage we are today. He recognized the scale of this challenge when the PCs missed it, and he was generous in giving others the opportunity to address it.

We would like to share with you some words from Sophie and Ivan about the new organization of their Spheres:

Our goal is to exchange methodologies and techniques between the projects that are grouped together, thus achieving an advantage over them being “stand-alone” (non-sphere) projects.

What we came up with was to divide the projects by those who are focusing on two areas:
Documents and written materials that facilitate learning mostly Magic and tournament-related skills (Learning Sphere, led by Sophie, generally speaking, these are “hard” skills).
Teaching interpersonal and communication skills (Coaching Sphere, led by Ivan, generally speaking, “soft” skills).

As mentioned, methodologies for teaching those two skills are very different. On the other hand, the methodologies used within the hard and soft skills fields are similar.

One detail we spent time on was choosing the appropriate name for the two spheres. We wanted to avoid having the word “Education” in the name since almost every project run in the Program has to do with education in one way or another. We also believe that this was the reason the original Education Sphere ended up being very bloated (and treated as the “other” category).

Another detail we spent time on was agreeing on mission statements. The reason behind is that a mission statement is an elegant way to help the organization find its purpose, motivation, and focus. Here are our proposals:
Learning Sphere:”Provide judges with tools to improve skills that they need at tournaments”
Coaching Sphere: “Provide judges with skills that enable them to grow as judges and individuals”

We wanted to make them distinct enough from each other and have the “hard” and “soft” skills concept built in.

So you may expect some changes in the near future. If you’re leading a project that was in the Education Sphere, Sophie and Ivan will soon contact you.

GPTs and Level 1 judges
At the start of the year, WotC announced that store-based Grand Prix Trials would be ending with the events feeding into Grand Prix Las Vegas. For some Level 1 judges, this change removed future opportunities to gain experience at competitive local events. This also came soon after these events were shifted from Competitive to Regular.
Of course, the Judge Program doesn’t decide the rules enforcement level of events, and we don’t decide the future of organized play events like Grand Prix Trials. But we do recognize that many judges found significant purpose and value in running these events, especially Level 1 judges, who focus on Regular, local events in their communities.
For some of these judges, Grand Prix Trials were their only opportunities to run Competitive REL events. Even though Level 1 judges are focused on Regular REL events, all Level 2 and Level 3 judges started their competitive experience somewhere, and we recognize the need to create that opportunity.
One of the tools we have at our disposal is conferences. Recently we have begun testing a new type of conference focused on helping L1 judges gain the Competitive experience. Early testing in China, Germany, and elsewhere has been positive. With that in mind, we will soon introduce you to Judge Tournament Qualifiers – we will be publishing an article by L3 Edwin Zhang explaining all there is to know about these events. This will not bridge the gap for every L1 judge who aspires to L2, but we expect it will help.

What is a Sphere Leader?

Sphere Leaders are the judges responsible for coordinating groups of projects related to a specific area. Sphere Leaders are responsible to coordinate the projects inside their Spheres, set the goals of the Sphere, create the necessary projects and assist and advise other judges suggesting projects related to their Spheres. Sphere leaders are also responsible of recognizing the extraordinary contributions in their Spheres.

Sphere Leaders are empowered by the Program Coordinators to make decisions in their respective areas. However any major program driving decision must be checked with the Program Coordinators.

Sphere Leaders are not an Advanced Role and do not rotate every 18 months. The Spheres and their leaders are decided by the Program Coordinators.

At this point you may be wondering, “What about projects that don’t fit into an existing sphere? Who coordinates those? Who supports advice and look after those?”

The Program Coordinators do. Some projects just don’t fit into one of these areas easily, or they need some specific attention from a Program Coordinator.

If you have a question about where your project fits (one you’re already involved in, one that’s just the start of an idea, or somewhere in between) you can reach us at