Now that that’s out of the way…
Hello Europe – East judges!
As you’ve probably read by now, big changes are ahead of us. After decades of Wizards being entwined with the judge program, a decision was made to separate the two entities. While WotC will still provide some cool foils for us (we have our own expansion symbol!), they will no longer be directly involved. To fill that void, a new company, Judge Academy, was created by Tim Shields, with Nicolette Apraez acting as the Judge Program Manager, and other prominent judges acting as advisers and community managers. Changes can be scary, but they bring new opportunities, too.
While the plan is for Judge Academy to have a worldwide coverage, the time-frame and legal restrictions require some parts of the world to be outside of Judge Academy’s service area when it rolls out on October 1st. As it happens, Europe – East is one of the affected regions. Some regions are completely outside of the service area, but Europe – East is spread-out geographically in a way that parts of it will be covered at launch, and other parts won’t. I’ve been doing everything I can to try and get coverage for as many countries within our region as possible, and I’ll continue to do so. Since this process is a work-in-progress, things may change before the official launch day. What will definitely happen, though, is that just like a token in a graveyard, Europe – East, as a region, will cease to exist. Our regional conference in Serbia will probably be our last activity as a formal region, and I will stop acting as Regional Coordinator soon after.
What will happen to us, out-of-service judges, in the meantime, you ask? First of all, we can still judge in our local events, and nothing is stopping us from working for big TOs like CFB. To try and maintain continuity, the PCs announced that with help from the JudgeApps team, they will try and retain our judge levels and allow for certification of new judges through JudgeApps until we can join the new organization. For the time being, JudgeApps will also be available for event staffing and using the forums. Additionally, Judge Academy will help out-of-service areas with conferences however they can. I know this is not great news, but I truly believe that in the long run, this change is for the better.
Finally, I know people have some concerns about paying dues, foil distribution, and other major changes. Those changes are relevant only for judges under Judge Academy, but if you live in a country that will transition on October 1st, or just interested to know what to expect once you do transition in the future, I encourage you to read the Judge Academy FAQ. If you have any further questions, you’re welcome to reach out to me, and I’ll try to give you answers as best I can.
I wish I had all the information, and that the changes wouldn’t affect any of us, but any new process has growing pains, and I’m sure we’ll see them through. I wish you all the best, and I’ll see you all in Belgrade!