Welcome, everyone! This week’s rock star is a higher-level judge who has been a mainstay in the Latin American judge community and the supervisor of five judge projects (including this one, Judge of the Week). Time to find out more about Carlos Ho!
Name: Carlos Ho
Occupation: Maintenance Engineer
Favorite card: Spiritmonger
Least favorite card: I don’t remember disliking any card in particular.
Favorite format: Sealed Deck
Commander general: What?
Favorite non-Magic Game: Final Fantasy VI
Best tournament result: Winning a few prereleases?
Why did you become a judge?
It began with a desire to run tournaments in Panama. I then learned that there were judges for this game, so I decided to become one. When I read about the requirement to test with a L3, I had a larger goal: I wanted to become L3 so I could test more judges in Panama and Latin America.
How did you become a L4+?
That’s difficult to say. After I became a L3, I started to travel over the world, going to GPs, PTs and Nationals. Since I’ve always loved community work, I ended up testing and mentoring a lot of judges, especially in Latin America and Spain. I guess all this traveling and community work caught some people’s attention, and suddenly I was given more and more challenges when I went to PTs and GPs, and this was kind of my training to become L4. I also continued trying to motivate the Latin American judges to improve their communities, managing to encourage the L3s to travel to other countries‘ Nationals to mentor and test judges. At some point, after the higher spheres were satisfied that I had what it took to be one of the leaders of the program and to head judge GPs, I was promoted.
What’s it like being a L4+? What would you like the community to know about what being an L4+ is like?
It’s busy. Nowadays GPs take up a lot of our time and we also spend a good deal of time discussing topics on the L4 mailing list and on top of that we oversee several projects. But it’s very rewarding when you a GP or a project goes well and there’s an impact in the community.
How does it feel to be a role model for your community? How do you use this to improve the judging community?
It feels weird. I still don’t like it when people believe I’m some kind of legendary judge, too important to be disturbed. I’m just an ordinary person and the fact that I’ve got a lot of judging experience doesn’t make me less approachable. Obviously, as a L4, it does mean I have to be very careful about being a good role model, even when I’m not judging.
What is your primary role as an L4+ in the judge community?
I oversee recognition efforts, except Exemplar. I know it’s a bit weird that it is not within the projects I oversee, but the scale of the project was too big for me to take when it came around, when I had just moved to another continent, started a new job, and had my first baby. However the judge program is full of awesome people, and I’ve got to say that Kevin Desprez and Lemsdid a great at laying the foundations of Exemplar, and Sean Catanese and Kim Warren have been great at taking care of it. (And I’ve got to recognize all of the other L4+, they contributed to Exemplar in some way.) Since it’s recognition-related, I am nevertheless working within the group that assists in running Exemplar, though.
What are you currently working on within the Judge Program?
The projects currently under my supervision are Judge of the Week, Judge Anniversaries, the monthly Judge Advancements announcement, the MOJOs and the Judge Article of the Year, although to be honest, these are well developed projects that require minimal input from me. I’m currently working on a new recognition project, that aims to provide judge achievements or badges. I can’t give many details about it, as we’re still working out its feasibility, but I’m pretty excited about its possibilities.
What is the best part about the Judge Program in your opinion?
The culture of self-improvement and helping out each other. Most of the criticism you find in the judge program is people trying to help you improve by pointing out what you can do better. I’ve changed a lot over the years and acquired many soft skills thanks to this.
What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
PT Hollywood 2008. A bunch of Europeans met in L.A. one week before the event, rented a car, and drove more than 2000 km in 5 days, visiting Death Valley, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Giant Sequoia National Park. It was such a great road trip, with good friends I had met in the judge program.
What is the largest change that you’ve brought to the Magic rules/Policies or the Judge program?
Nothing groundbreaking. I’ve suggested minor changes and edits here and there, but if you’re looking for something big, then it must be the change from PCV to CPV. As I said, nothing groundbreaking.
What has been your best experience in the Judge Program?
Being promoted to L4. I was the last judge onsite at PT Austin 2009. I hurried to get to the judge dinner before everyone left, but I was too late. While I was changing at the hotel room, I got a few extremely weird calls urging me to get back to the venue. Once I got there, everyone was at the stage, and Toby announced over the PA: “Let’s welcome the judge program’s newest L4: Carlos Ho!” It was a complete surprise to me, and it was very emotional.
What is your favorite “after event” story?
After GP Santiago 2014, two judges and I went trekking to Torres del Paine, a national park in the Chile’s Patagonia. We spent five rough days hiking there, and I even got a light frostbite. However, it was one of the best experiences in my life. The views of the rivers, turquoise lakes, glaciers and snow capped mountains were just mesmerizing. And even if I couldn’t stand my legs for days after the trip, I ended up with a warm feeling of having achieved something difficult. We enjoyed it so much that we’ll do a trek this year after GP Porto Alegre.
What country/continent is your favorite for GPs/PTs, and why?
I love going to Asian events, since that continent’s cultures amaze me. They’re so different from western cultures.
Regarding how much fun I have at events, my favorites are always in Latin America. Latins are very passionate and fun-loving, and those events have more than their fair share of funny stories. Often, the TO rents a whole hostel for the judges to stay at, and even though this isn’t the most comfortable way of sleeping for a weekend, I can assure you that it’s the one that fosters the most camaraderie and provides near-infinite opportunities for laughing.
What’s the coolest event you have ever been to, and why was it so amazing?
Likely, the GP Paris that took place in one of Disneyland Paris’ hotels where a bunch of Latin American judges showed up. Because I mean, how cool is it to have a GP in Disneyland, and it’s even cooler with a bunch of funny guys. We also spent some time talking about how to improve the Latin American community and hey, it worked out quite well.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- My favorite pets are parrots.
- I was once the top ranked player in Panama.
- I love the Panamanian Geisha coffee bean.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!