Hello Judges! Welcome back to our ongoing feature showcasing the L4+ judges of the program. This week we are lucky enough to present Argentina’s own Damian Hiller! Let’s let Damian introduce himself before we go any farther.
Name: Damian Hiller
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Judge start date: Not sure but I think around 2000 for L1
Occupation: Business and system analyst
Favorite card: Mind’s Desire
Least favorite card: Gaea’s Blessing (I lost an event because I didn’t know how to use it properly, so it’s better to hate the card than the player, right?)
Favorite format: Invasion Block Constructed
Commander general: No commander for me, thanks!
Favorite non-Magic Game: Tough one… probably “El Grande”
Best tournament result: 21st at GP Santiago 2001, a couple of PTQ wins (in the old times when no airfare was given)
Random fact about yourself: I’ve studied (and almost finished my degree, still have 1 more class and my thesis left) Electroacoustic Music composition, so I know quite a lot about music in general, instruments, art, etc.
Why did you become a judge?
I was very much into Magic as my only hobby and was playing something like 3 or 4 times a week. There were some events for which I either didn’t have a deck, didn’t have enough money, wasn’t qualified (Nationals) or just didn’t fancy playing but I still wanted to be there somehow! Judging seemed like a fun choice so started helping informally and then a bit more and more formal!
How did you become a L4+?
No clue, probably some guys were kind of drunk and decided to make a prank on everyone. But seriously, I was taking more and more on my shoulders for a long time, particularly taking care of the Latin American community (before the RC program was established), and was active in some international projects both as member and lead (most notable being the redefinition of L2 requirements) which showed me as someone capable of community and project leading.
What’s it like being a L4+? What would you like the community to know about being L4+ is like?
It’s awesome to know that I belong to a group of some of the smartest people I’ve met in the world, where trust and confidence in your skills is given and your opinion is respected even when in disagreement. Being a L4 is not only about head-judging GPs (which is quite a challenge on its own), but also crafting policy, driving the program as a whole, and working on your sphere to improve that particular area of interest you take care of (Conferences in my case).
How does it feel to be a role model for your community? How do you use this to improve the judging community?
My community expanded quite a lot with my work for the region, particularly when I became RC (I was RC for the Latin American Spanish-speaking countries for four years), and being the person to look for in many aspects (RC, L4 in the region) is a very nice experience. Knowing that your actions impact others, that others rely on you to seek growth and counsel and in turn, be able to help others achieve their own goals is the reason I like the program and I’m happy to be somewhat in the spotlight and be someone some part of the community can turn to and be inspired by.
What is your primary role as an L4+ in the judge community?
I lead the Conferences Sphere. This involves many aspects such as the logistics involved in getting support for them, making sure they are organized in the best way possible, recollecting content from various conferences around the world and spotlighting the best of them, improving how presenters spread their knowledge, gathering pictures from conferences around the world to share the enthusiasm, etc. Thankfully there’s a lot of people helping to get all these done who tirelessly contribute to make every conference better than the last one!
What are you currently working on within the judge program?
Apart from my L4 duties, I’m in charge of helping the L3 candidates in South America, to analyze where they are getting blocked, helping them to find solutions, poking (the very much needed poke!), etc.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis for the Judge program, outside of events?
Read a lot of emails and answer some of them! 😉 Actually, sphere related work means checking back on the planning of conferences to make sure things are running OK, be available to support when organizers or RCs are in need for solutions on them, checking back with the various projects and project leads to help them with roadblocks they find. Since conferences involve many parties, documentation is an important part of it and making sure changes are reflected on said documentation is an important thing for me.
What are some of your goals for the Judge Program as an L4+?
Keep making it enjoyable for everyone, inside and outside events, and provide to the great community that we belong to as much or even more than what the community gave me.
Tell us your favorite judge story.
Not sure I have a single one. There’s traveling with friends, meeting up with new people who days later I’ve had the honor to call friends, visiting places I’ve never hoped to visit, missing trains, lost paperwork, sleepless nights in foreign visits, sleeping on floors between fearsome snorers… Too many things added into the mix which make judging my favorite story! (Though I could probably use a little less snoring!)
How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
How has it not? My vacation time has been entirely dedicated to Magic for quite some years (and in return, most of my trips abroad and the places I’ve have been thanks to judging), many of the skills I use on a day-to-day basis at work I’ve learned through judging and many of my friends have come from being either a player or a judge.
What is the best part about the Judge Program in your opinion?
Its people. Smart and affectionate people who find through the judge program a way to make their hobby a better experience for many others’ hobby.
What in your opinion is the greatest challenge for the judge program at this time to overcome?
Communication, quality and keeping it fresh. The judge program is constantly getting renovated, through review and changes to its policy to get judges acclimated to new environments, the great increase in event numbers, and how to transmit all these changes to such a huge number of judges.
What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
Again, singling out one is very hard! Likely because they are still fresh on my memory, the trip shared with Federico Donner to Las Vegas and Miami and then around the south of Spain with Alejandro Raggio and Adrian Estoup are very fond memories.
How do you make events you judge at fun, and what do you do to help judges under you have fun during events?
I try to do as much planning as possible before the event so everyone comes to the event with as few unanswered questions or “unknowns” as possible. So that means getting things done as easy as possible so we can all enjoy a relaxed and well run event.
What country/continent is your favorite for GPs/PTs, and why?
Definitely Latin American ones. Not only do I get to see many of the Latin American judges who I rarely get to see otherwise but there’s the players. Since Latin America doesn’t have a ton of big events, every time the GP hits, everyone is excited to be there and brings a very positive vibe to the community.
What’s the farthest you have ever traveled for a Magic event?
Worlds in Yokohama. That’s 18395km (11430 miles) if I went straight. It was actually longer since I had to fly through Paris so a total of 20808kms (12930 miles).
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
Though not doing them as much due to time constraints, I love playing board games. I have also picked up on cycling since last summer and enjoy just going around the city, visiting neighborhoods I don’t go through often. Sometimes there are so many places in your own city that you don’t know about!
Moments that made me very proud: my first GP as a judge when 3 different players came to me to tell me how much they had enjoyed the event and one in particular wanted me to have a pic together because he recognized me as one responsible for it; my promotion to L4 (due to weird circumstances, my promotion to L3 was not as cheerful as I would’ve dreamed); announcing Federico Donner’s promotion to L3 (as he’s someone I really like and I feel like I’ve put some effort in helping him get there).
How do you not lose your mind?
Get things done, one by one. Be responsible and do not get more things on my plate than I can handle (and when things get out of control, ask for help!)
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements about Damian are true, but one is not. Figure out which is which!
- I used to have a lot of hair but lost it once I got to L4.
- My L4 superpower (because you know all L4s get one) is to answer to emails I have not yet received.
- Seattle is the city I’ve been to the most often in all the world (excluding my hometown).
That’s all for this week. A big “Thank You!” to Damian for taking time out of his schedule to talk with us today. Also thanks to you for reading, as this feature would not be possible without you! Don’t forget to nominate someone you feel deserves to be recognized, and we’ll see you again for another edition of Judge of the Week!