Recognizing Level 1 Judges

A message from Kim:

“Hello judges!

Firstly, I just wanted to update you on the mailing associated with Exemplar Wave 2. We’ve just sent an email to everyone who received a recognition during the wave with a link to a form where they can fill in their mailing address. The deadline for this will be in two weeks’ time. It was sent through JudgeApps, so if you have received a recognition in Wave 2 and haven’t received this email, please ensure that you are checking the email account that you have associated with JudgeApps (and that it isn’t in your spam folder), then email us over at to let us know there’s a problem.

The window on Exemplar Wave 3 has now been open for two weeks, meaning that there are about 6 weeks left on the window. This seemed like a good time to talk about recognising L1s – take it away, Carlos & Jasper

Written by Carlos Ho & Jasper Overman
Level 4, Spain & Level 3, Netherlands

Although the Recognition Writing Guidelines also take into account Level 1 judges, many judges have had trouble identifying exemplary behavior in Level 1 judges. This is caused in part by a lower visibility of Level 1 judges. After all, they rarely act as Team Leaders, and Head Judge relatively few events. Note that you can observe judges and observe exemplary behavior on many occasions, not just when they are judging alongside you. For example, during conferences, on the (local) forums, or events in which you are playing.

In some ways, recognizing Level 1 judges is easier than recognizing higher level judges; after all, the expectations of a Level 1 are much lower than for higher levels. In a sense that can mean that you’re effectively recognizing behavior you would not recognize in a Level 2 or higher.

Here are some examples on how to recognize Level 1 judges, using a similar structure to the one in the Recognition Writing Guidelines:

Recognizing Event Performance

“During last month’s PPTQ, your effort to read up before the event on the MTR and IPG really helped you get rulings correct.”

“Your interaction with the players during rulings was stellar; even when you had to give out your first Game Loss for a misregistered deck, you stayed professional, calmed the player, and correctly explained the philosophy behind the infraction and penalty.”

“During deck registration, you not only picked up the booster wrappers, you collected (most of) the lands and tokens, making sure there were none scattered around later in the tournament. You were also able to provide players with the correct tokens during play all day long.”

“I was very impressed when I saw you handle that missed trigger ruling. You not only knew what you were supposed to do, you understood extremely well how the missed trigger policy rules work.”

The first point is not really something worth recognizing. If you’re judging a competitive event, you’re expected to know the relevant rules. The others are — doing a great job at a hard part of what we do, and providing excellent customer service above and beyond normal expectations.

Recognizing Leadership

Normally, Level 1 judges are not in a position of authority when interacting with Level 2 judges or higher. But leadership is so much more than that, and can be shown and recognized at all levels:

“Thanks for getting the different stores in Gotham City to coordinate their Grand Prix Trials. Because they now have a rotating schedule, there is an event every week.”

“Thank you for sitting me down at the end of round 5 of the PTQ, when end of round procedure had been handled. I really needed that break, but didn’t realize it until you talked to me in private.”

These things are not really based on judging skills, but on standing in the community, and on being a genuinely nice or thoughtful person. These things are important as a judge as well.

Recognizing Mentoring

This one is an odd one out, as in contrast to the other points, this one is likely to be harder to do. It’s not that Level 1 judges cannot do any mentoring, it’s often that when a higher level judge is around, the mentoring role shifts to the higher level judge. That said, if you see a Level 1 do a good job mentoring, there is no reason not to recommend them.

“I liked how you interacted with Batman at your Gotham City Games. You really made him part of the judge team, and more than just the scorekeeper. He approached me last week to test for Level 1, and he said that you motivated him to get his level. Keep up the good work!”

“I’ve heard a good deal of good things about the judge classes you’ve been teaching at your local game store. You understood that you had less time to judge and tried to at least get some players to learn the important part of the rules so there could be someone who could answer rules questions on those events which you couldn’t attend. Thanks a lot!”

Recognizing Community Work

Anything that increases the amount of fun a group of Magic players, or a group of Magic judges have is a significant contribution to the community.

“Thank you for hosting the judge draft. By inviting us to your house, you created a great atmosphere to discuss not just the letter of the IPG and MTR, but also the philosophy behind it. Your preparation and organization skills really made the evening work!”

“Your input at the discussion on cheating during the judge conference was invaluable. It really showed many judges the perception of a player when confronted with this kind of questions.”

“I’ve noticed that players often ask you whether you’ll be judging a specific event, and if your answer is affirmative, more players usually show up. That means they’re having more fun when you’re working events, probably because you make an effort at keeping things fair and fun and creating a great atmosphere. Keep up the good work!”

To round up, Level 1 judges can be recognized for the same things higher level judges can be recognized. In some cases, you can also recognize Level 1 judges for stuff that is ‘normal behavior’ for Level 2 or higher judges. However, be careful not to phrase the recognition as a nudge in a way that it seems that you’re pushing the recipient towards advancement. If a Level 1 judge wants to pursue Level 2, and is showing exemplary behavior, by all means help him to achieve the next level. But willingness to advance is not exemplary behavior, and it’s not necessary to be recognized to be level up.

Level 1 judges are the cornerstone of the judge program, they are the ones judging the vast majority of the events worldwide, and they deserve as much recognition as the Level 4 running a GP. Hopefully, with this short guide, we’ve helped you understand what kind of behavior you could look for in order to recognize Level 1 judges.

If you have questions, suggestions, or feedback, feel free to get in touch with either of us.

Carlos & Jasper