Welcome back Judges! This week we begin our features on project leads by learning a little bit more about the face behind the Grand Prix leadership meetings. Let’s hear some judging tips and fun stories from Level 3 Judge, Christian!
Name: Christian Gawrilowicz
Location: Europe East according to JudgeApps (my apartment is in Vienna, Austria; my office in Istanbul, Turkey and the time in between I spend in airplanes)
Judge Start Date: unofficially 1994; officially 2000 or 2001
Why did you become a Judge? I love to organise things.
Occupation: IT Consultant
Favorite card: Counterspell
Least favorite card: everything that’s only useful for Multi-Player
Commander General: I don’t play Commander
Favorite non-Magic Game: LEGO (although technically that’s a toy and not a game :-))
Best tournament result: Austrian National Champion 2010; 34th Worlds 2010
Random fact about yourself: I hate discussions about corner cases of all sorts (“Call me when it happens”).
You were nominated for your work organizing the leadership meetings which take place at Grand Prix events. Why do you believe the creation of these meetings was important for the Judge program?
They started at a time when the WotC judge community manager (Andy Heckt) left his position and it was unclear if there would be a successor. Riccardo Tessitori had the idea in order to provide the L3s a forum to discuss current issues, voice their concerns, and also come up with action plans. For the first time ever since the removal of L4 and L5, there was now a forum for the leaders of the judge programs (and L3s are considered and expected to lead the program) to sit together and discuss face to face. And face to face discussions are so much better than online ones.
What are some of the benefits and positive impacts you have seen coming out of the leadership meetings?
As these meetings are held worldwide we have a much better understanding which issues and challenges L3s are facing (and what they are doing to overcome them). One of the biggest change is that we finally have a renewal process for L3s. This was one of the common topics coming up in these meetings that a majority of L3s couldn’t understand that L1s and L2s have things to do in order to keep their level, but L3 was more or less for life. In addition, quite regularly when a L3 is talking about a problem they are having in their area, another L3 can provide help because they were facing a similar issue and had already developed a solution.
What are some tips you have for other Judges?
Tip regarding the meetings: They might only be for L3s, but everyone can put forward a topic for discussion. – Get in contact with any L3 and let them know the topic that you would like to have raised.
Tip regarding judging: Never let yourself pressure into doing more than you want to do. This also translates into “find your level”. If you are happy as a L1 and people try to push you to L2 please think hard and long if you really want to do this.
Tip regarding your professional career: Judging is teaching and training many workplace relevant skills like teamwork, diplomacy, decision making, event organisation, leadership, … Don’t hesitate to put Judging into your CV (I did it and it turned out that my now boss is a former Magic player :-)).
Tell us your favorite Judge story.
Some years ago at a Pro Tour all the players were seated for the first draft and I walked by the HJ (I will not tell his name to protect the not so innocent :-)) and asked him out of curiosity “who’s going to call the draft?” An expression of panic crossed his face and he asked “You? Please!?”. And so I called a draft at a Pro Tour with less than a minute of preparation. … It went well.
What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges (or after event story)?
After GP Kyoto 2017 I went up Mount Fuji (aka Fujiyama) together with Riccardo Tessitori and Luca Romano. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate with our plan to see the sun rise, but that trip was still amazing.
What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
Throughout my life, be it at school, at university, in my various jobs, and also in the early years of my judging career I’ve always been the smartest kid in the room. When I started going to larger events and had to cooperate with other judges I had a hard time accepting that I’m not special and definitely not the smartest kid in the room. It took me a while (and even a temporary demotion from L3 to L2) to accept that other people also know what they are doing. Fortunately this helps me nowadays to see that behaviour in others and help them overcome it. There’s an excellent saying about this: “If you are the smartest kid in the room, then go find a different room.” Do this and you’ll always find challenges.
How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
I’m an IT Consultant and without Judging I would probably not have gotten this job. Judging taught me to work within a team, to lead a team, to mentor and train others and do all this within a multicultural, multi-national, multi-lingual environment (I’m currently working in Turkey with people from Turkey, India, Germany, and Austria and it’s much easier than some events I’ve attended).
Who have been some of your biggest mentors in the Judge Program, and what did they teach you?
Riccardo Tessitori taught me the virtue of patience (with yourself, but also with others); Jaap Brouwer taught me the power of talking a walk; Sheldon Menery taught me to always be a professional; and Dustin de Leeuw taught me to take care of the people.
What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?
I train for and run Marathons. Here I want to thank Riki Hayashi for being an inspiration to actually do this after many years of only talking about running one one day.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
I started in 1994 and back then I was already involved in board games – I was running a gaming club, organised tournaments, published a magazine, wrote for some magazines. I discovered Magic and very quickly started playing, collecting, organising tournaments, creating a ranking list, … and never looked back.
What is the proudest moment of your Judge life?
Being selected for my first Pro Tour. Although I was more scared than proud as I feared that I wasn’t good enough and everyone would point fingers at me.
And being promoted to Level 3 the second time after my demotion. I worked *REALLY* hard for that.
What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
When playing at a GPT I drew an extra card because I misread a card. (I appealed the game loss because I wanted to test the HJ – who was a trainee of mine 🙂 … he did well.)
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Probably be heavily involved with another game. … Or judge LEGO building competitions. … And definitely find a different way to at least partly pay for all my travels. 🙂
Two Truths and a Lie
- I did an interview with Richard Garfield for my gaming magazine.
- I was Europe’s worst board game player two years in a row.
- I did playtesting for Magic in the early days.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!