Cristiana Dionisio L4

Ciao Judges! This week we continue our tour to meet the Level 4+ judges, and stop in Italy to talk with Cristiana Dionisio, who is making her second Judge of the Week appearance. Let’s meet her!

Name: Cristiana Dionisio, but everybody calls me just Cri.
Level: 4
Location: I’m Italian. I was born in a small quiet city 50km to the south of Rome but I currently live in… hmmm… somewhere in the world
Judge start dates: L1: January 2003, L2: September 2003, L3: December 2005, L4: April 2011
Occupation: Hasbro Contractor
Favorite card: Vesuvan Doppelganger
Least favorite card: Sinkhole
Favorite format: Standard
Commander general: I don’t play Commander… sorry. The best General ever is Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Favorite non-Magic Game: Taboo XXL
Best tournament result: 20th at Italian Regionals. I also won 2 Prereleases.
Random fact about yourself: I love lions! When I was 9 years old, while I was playing at the beach with my brother, an Arabian man who was carrying a very small male lion in a leash put it in my arms asking if I wanted to buy it. It was love at first sight and I cried for hours when my parents said no. How can you say no to such a request?

Why did you become a judge?
My 2 brothers and my ex-boyfriend introduced me to Magic in 1994. We used to play every night until 4 AM, upsetting my mom with our lack of sleep and the noise we used to make (with laughs and arguments) while playing. I became a L1 judge in 2003 when a certified judge was required for the Italian City Championship and my friend Maurizio, owner of the store I used to play at, begged me to become a judge so that we could have our own City Championship.

How did you become a L4+?
In 2007 Davide Bonati (former Italian Office responsible) asked me to become the “Italian Judge Manager” – it was a new role to take care of judges, talk to TOs, solve issues, prevent problems, select HJs. In 2010 the “local judge manager” Role became what today is called a Regional Coordinator; Andrew Heckt divided the world into Regions and designated a Regional Coordinator for each one. After 4 years of performing the role with good results, Andy and the other L4+ Judges decided that I was doing well and I fitted the role of RC Coordinator and assigned RCs as my sphere.

What’s it like being a L4+? What would you like the community to know about being L4+ is like?
Being a L4 requires a lot of patience, dedication, time and especially passion.
When you are a L4 you feel the responsibility to be always an example, always consistent with the philosophy of the judge program, always updated and when you don’t do something today you have to do it tomorrow, you can’t ignore it.

How does it feel to be a role model for your community? How do you use this to improve the judging community?
It is a great feeling, especially when you see that others have actually taken something from you, made it theirs and became a success. I always tell my judges that they have to see the whole picture, that when they act or speak something that is Magic-related they have to feel they are anywhere in the world, not only in Italy. They have to look at their goals every day and have to remind themselves why they are important, keep the focus on what they are going to do and act on it.

What is your primary role as an L4+ in the judge community?
I take care of RCs, I guide them and lead (with them) projects related to Regional Communities. Our focus is the people.

No, the happy look on their faces does NOT mean did just demoted someone. :)
No, the happy look on their faces does NOT mean they just demoted someone. 🙂

What are you currently working on within the judge program?
Together with RCs and Sean Catanese we are especially taking care of misconduct and procedures to demote/de-certify L1-2s who misbehaved or don’t have the requirements anymore. We are finding the best ways and practices to handle these cases. RCs are also talking about new L2 requirements.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis for the Judge program, outside of events?
As RC I answer e-mails of local judges who need help, TOs who need judges and support, players who want to praise/complain about judges and I organize local projects with L3+ Judges to improve the Italian community and keep it active. As L4 I prepare GPs that I am going to Head Judge, I write reports of those, I participate in discussions/conversations/propositions on how to handle the Judge program in all aspects.

What are some of your goals for the Judge Program as an L4+?
As I said my first focus is the people. I want judges to be happy, dedicated and passionate. My goal as L4 is giving judges (through RCs) a sense of positiveness and constructiveness. Always remember that Judges, TOs and Office Staff are part of the same team, we all love Magic and we all want to serve the players and keep the game at its best.

Tell us your favorite judge story.
My first DQ was to a guy who had slightly different sleeves added intentionally. The guy admitted he was cheating. At the end of the investigation, when I told him that he was DQ’ed, he asked to talk to me in private and he pointed to a girl that was seated in a corner of the room. He said ‘See that girl? She is from Brazil and doesn’t speak Italian at all, I told her that I am the worldwide Magic champion to convince her to date me. So today I cheated because I need to win this PTQ to keep the story believable. SO please DQ me but do it in a quiet way.’

How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
I met the most amazing people while, and because of, judging; they are my family and my best friends. They are so important to me that I couldn’t even think of a life without them.

What motivates you to do what you do within the community?
The passion and the involvement I see in some people makes me feel alive, active, inspired.

What is the best part about the Judge Program, in your opinion?
The cultural differences of Judges that gather together and have a common reason to perform, to act. In the judge program we are all the same and all different at the same time. You are able to be yourself and to adapt to differences like it would never happen in other contexts.

How do you communicate the goals or values of the judge program to the greater community? Which of these would you like to see pushed more?
I think I am the biggest supporter of quality in all the aspects of the Magic world. Players, Judges and TOs look to me as experts, as special. So, even if I am lucky to see and speak with great people every day, I would love to have more quality at all levels. I try to enforce the courage to be better. I try to teach others that you will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor and Magic Judges, first of all, have honor.

What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge for the Judge program at this time to overcome?
The growth (in numbers) of GPs opened new doors for challenges. We need to be able to handle events with thousands of players. And we need more Judges, we need more resources that are prepared and motivated. RCs and L4+ have now become the actual managers of the Judge program; WotC is always present to help and support but everything is in our hands. And in the TOs hands – we need to sell what we do better so that TOs will support and consider judges as their main resource to have great events and more players.

What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
After Magic Weekend Paris 2011, Matteo, Gianluca, Mirko, Riccardo, Simone and I rented a tandem bicycle in Versailles. Simone and Riccardo chased one another forgetting where they were, Gianluca and Matteo got lost in the gardens and were late to return the bikes so they had to pay extra for the delay. I couldn’t use the pedals because I was laughing, Mirko had to ride by himself and carry me too. We looked like a group of insane people escaped from a mental hospital. I couldn’t even breath with that much laughing :).

If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
The actual person that was known as Jesus Christ. I would like to know what he would think of the current times and all that comes with it.

What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
Vesuvan Doppelganger. I am very adaptable to people and situations, trying to be always empathetic and ready to listen, absorb and make others’ needs mine but always maintaining my “color”, my personality.

Who are (were) your role models in the Judge Program? What are (were) their certain qualities that drew you to them?
Andrew Heckt taught me what a leader is, how to challenge myself and how to face fears.
Davide Bonati, former responsible of WOTC Italy, taught me how to think without limits, to ask for everything I want, to be ready for “No”s and fight for what I believe.
Collin Jackson, former L5 (now Emeritus), showed me how to evaluate candidates in a fast and fair way, how to focus on the important points in an effective way.
Jaap Brower, former L5 (now Emeritus), taught me how to involve judges in your staff during a big event, how to make them feel part of a big project from the start to the end, even after 15 hours of a hard judging day.

Please recognize a few outstanding members in the Program.
The former and current Italian L3s+, Matteo Callegari, Gianluca Bonacchi, Mirko Console, Davide Succi, Walter Zarà, Luca Simone, Riccardo Tessitori and Diego Fasciolo taught me that my vision can be at times incomplete and my judgement darkened by anger or disappointment, that more brains together make more noise but at the end they create amazing beautiful monsters.
Scott Marshall, L5, teaches me every day that smiling and being kind, open-minded and prepared to unexpected problems makes you a better person.
All the RCs deserve a special recognition because they rock! Believe me, being an RC is hard. You have to be empathetic and adaptable, flexible and firm. Patient and involving. RCs help each other every day, they lead their regions because they have passion, love and pride.

What do you feel needs to be improved in the Judge program?
The communication to lower levels by all L4s. I feel that we should be closer, first among us, then to others. We should explain more often what we do and how we do it; we should make ourselves known.

What is the largest change that you’ve brought to the Magic rules/Policies or the Judge program?
Locally, I changed the relationship between TOs ,Players and Judges. The Italian Magic community is the most united that I have ever seen; TOs, Judges and Players get along very well.  Complaints and arguments are very few and in general very handleable. Most of all, the relationship with the WotC Office is just incredible, based on mutual respect, trust and support. Internationally the procedure to demote/de-certify I created with Sean Catanese. There is still room to improve it, but I see it is working well and it makes me happy.

What has been your best experience in the Judge Program?
My L3 exam (both the written exam and the interview) has been one of the moments I have learned from the most in my entire life, both Magic and non-Magic related.

What is the strangest card interaction you have seen in a tournament?
A player destroying his own creatures because in his country “you don’t attack an enemy who doesn’t have defenses. It is dishonorable”.

What advice would you give to a Judge growing up through the program?
A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

What is your favorite “after event” story?
At a GP I DQ’ed a guy for intentionally playing a card in the wrong way; he argued a lot during the investigation and I really had a hard time getting away from him. After the event, I was gathering my stuff and the player gets close and asks if we can date as an “apology”. I said “no thank you, I’m involved in another relationship” and the player replied “I see you have a ring… but… is this relationship serious or just a temporary meaningless thing?”

How do you make events you judge at fun, and what do you do to help judges under you have fun during events?
When I am a Team Leader or when I belong to a team I like to make that team special: I like to take pictures of my team, I like to talk to them about life outside Magic, knowing them better, going to lunch and dinner together and especially laughing a lot (we do jokes and disrupt the event – don’t tell anybody – once we declared we were on strike from Deck Checking).

Tell us a story of a challenge or problem at an event, and what did you and your teams do to overcome it?
GP Baltimore was the first GP I HJed alone, with no other L4s+. I was scared, concerned, excited, thrilled; we had an unexpected high attendance and few judges, but most of all we didn’t have chairs! The logistics team, led by John Alderfer, did an amazing job in finding chairs and adjusting them so that all the 1600 players could play without delaying the event. A great successful challenge.

If you were a creature what would be your creature type?


What country/continent is your favorite for GPs/PTs, and why?
I love the trust that European PTOs give to RCs, the respect and patience that Canadian players show to Judges and the professionalism, positiveness and support that American PTOs give to HJs.

What do you do to make GPs/PTs special?
Since my main focus is the people, I like to have all clear and prepared (logistically and communications as well) before the event so that at the event itself I can be focused on caring for people, both  players and judges. I try to raise good positive emotions to make Judges have a good day. My reaction to issues is always positive and this makes Judges feel comfortable and secure.

What’s the coolest event you ever been to, and why was it so amazing?
PT Amsterdam 2010. I wasn’t judging because my application got declined, but I went there anyway, together with other declined judges and we formed a special “rejected team”. I had a blast watching the event from the outside, talking to many judges and especially I created some strong bonds that will never break.

What’s the farthest you have ever traveled for a Magic event?
PTs/GPs in Japan or in the American West Coast.

What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
I love lions, books, swimming, playing board games, watching movies and TV series; my favorite ones are The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries, Breaking Bad and House of Cards.

What was the proudest moment of your Judge life?
At PT Amsterdam 2010, during the Judge Dinner, all Italians (11 of us) were asked to stand up and we received congratulations and applause because we had shown we could integrate with foreign judges and finally we were considered international judges, not only Italians.

How do you not lose your mind?
I actually lose it at times and I pull out a gun and shoot randomly… no, just kidding. 🙂
I breath, I think 3 times on what I am about to say and I try to keep firm, fair and open-minded.

Anything you would like to add?
I started Judging because the owner of the store I used to go to play forced me to study and get certified… It has been the best gift a Friend can give. Grazie Maurizio Mantua!

Two Truths and A Lie
Two of the following answers are true, figure out which!

  • I am very selective
  • I see things as black and white.
  • I am very evil!

Thank you Cristiana for your time and for all the insight you gave at the amazing job you do! Join us again next week, see you then!

The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
Mr. Beuzelin may be well-traveled but he does not speak fluent German.
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