Dustin de Leeuw

Goedendag Judges!  Welcome to another great feature in Judge of the Week!  This week, we’re featuring Dustin de Leeuw, L2 from Amsterdam, the Netherlands!  Dustin certified to L1 on  January 19 2009 and reached L2 on July 4 2010!

He was nominated by  Michèl Theissen because “he is one of the most relaxed and nicest Judges I have ever met.  His methods of doing prereleases is amazing, I think everyone will agree with me on that.  He is a great judge in terms of knowledge, as well as being very able to explain them in a kind and understandable manner.

Dustin de LeeuwFavourite card: Bouncing Beebles, because of the awesome art (although Diminish is a close second), and Tromp the Domains, because it was my favourite archetype during Time Spiral block, when I started playing.

Least favourite card: There are two kind of Judges: those who love Humility, and those who hate it. I’m of the second kind.

Favourite format: Booster Draft! I play draft at least twice a week, but hardly ever play any other format.

 Commander General: None… I just don’t like Commander, and I think playing with more than 40 cards is unethical.

Favourite non-Magic Game: Bridge, although I hardly play it anymore these days

 Best tournament result: I can proudly say that my worst GPT result is 2nd place! It is also my best. OK, I once played a 16 person GPT, made Top 8 by going 2-1-1, then drafted quite a solid deck that took me to the finals. It also taught me that playing Competitive events is way less fun than judging them!

 Random fact about yourself: Before getting involved with Magic, I was very passionate about magic. I used to perform as a magician at children’s birthdays, weddings and Christmas celebrations.

How did you get involved in magic in the first place?
My neighbour and I were close friends and both loved playing games, so frequently we would gather and play some card games or our favourite game, Saint Petersburg. After a while, we were in for a new challenge, so he suggested to go to his place and play with some of the cards he had laying around, teaching me that cool game of Magic.  I reluctantly agreed (another friend of mine tried to teach me the rules, but it was all too complicated and fuzzy for me), and soon I got hooked. Luckily, my neighbour had enough cards, unopened boosters and preconstructed decks lying around to not get bored any time soon, as he is the owner of Netherland’s largest Magic webshop.

Dustin at his Theros Prerelease.
Dustin at his Theros Prerelease.

How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?

Judging has taken away almost my entire non-Magic life! I spend so much time judging, answering mails and helping players and TO’s, that Magic has easily become my most predominant hobby. And of course, it taught me how to manage, organize and communicate on a whole lot of levels.

Why did you become a judge? My local game store was organizing a weekly booster draft, where I quickly became the go-to-guy for rules questions. When the TO wanted to make the event sanctioned, I thought it would be nice to have a “real” Judge around, so I contacted Teun Zijp and asked him what to do to become L1. Initially, I didn’t like it a bit: I wanted to help players, not do stupid stuff like giving out Warnings and Game Losses for simple errors. So I was pretty sure I would never again judge at a competitive event after my certification, all I wanted to do was continue running my local draft. Well, it quickly turned out that judging is a lot of fun, so not much later, I started roaming the PTQ circuit, organizing my own events and certified for L2 at Nationals a year later. Despite the Warnings, making players have a great experience is right up my ally and I quickly became addicted to wearing the zebra polo.

You were nominated by Joran Heimering because you spoil the casual players with legendary ‘free-snack’ pre-releases, are always there to help, and one of the nicest judges. How do you manage ‘free-snack’ prereleases, and what inspires you to host them?bitterballen

I firmly believe that when you don’t do something with passion, you should stop doing it. I just enjoy judging, and am not afraid to show it.

Prereleases are meant to be a celebration, and with celebrations come snacks. When I organized my very first prerelease, I wanted to distinguish myself from the other events in Amsterdam, and bought “bitterballen” for all my players (a traditional Dutch snack consisting of deep-fried beef ragout). That instantly became my signature, so every event I organize will have 4th round bitterballen!

For the M14 prerelease, I really felt sorry that there was no special activity for the players, so together with the TO, I made up the “Guard your Spark” game, in which players should protect their Planeswalker Spark against the army of Slivers.

Here is how you play:

For the Guard your Spark game, we gave almost each player a random Mana Symbol sticker; that represented their Spark, associated with one of the Lorwyn Planeswalkers. Some players (we did some math and settled upon a little over 5%) would receive a Sliver sticker depicting a Monster. As you can see in the picture, we used a system very akin to the Dragon’s Maze prerelease game: all Planeswalkers start at zero and have to reach the center, which takes 15 steps. Players had to write their Planeswalker type next to their name on the result slips, so at the start of each round, we would move the Planeswalkers on the poster.
If a Planeswalker wins a round, he advances 1 step, but if he wins from a Sliver, he advances 3 steps instead. However, losing from a Sliver is a very bad thing… not only does your Planeswalker go back 1 step, but you lose your Spark and become a Sliver yourself. The Sliver then takes your Spark sticker as a trophy!
There were prizes for the first type of Planeswalker to reach the end of the path (we managed to have that happen at round 4 of every prerelease), and at the end of the event, the Sliver who had eaten the most Sparks also won bonus prizes.
If your event has less than 50 players, I recommend cutting back on the number of Planeswalker types; sunday evening, with only 24 players and 4 rounds, we used 3 Planeswalkers and 3 Slivers to start with, and it worked just fine (of course, we let people vote which planeswalker was the least cool and did not earn his representation in the game!).
Dustin's 'M14 Prerelease Guard Your Spark' Game
Dustin’s ‘M14 Prerelease Guard Your Spark’ Game

Although it was just an excuse to give away more booster packs, it turned out to be a fun game that the players really enjoyed.





What motivates you to continue being a judge?

I do what I like and I like what I do (chim chim er-oo). I see Magic events just as performing a magic show, when players come to thank me afterwards that just makes my day. But most of all, it’s the people (judges and players alike) that I get to meet and spend time with which makes this such a unique hobby.

What is one tip you have for other judges? 
Just sit down and visualize how life would be without Magic and judging, then realize how much you would be missing. Appreciate how much fun you are having, and don’t be afraid to show it!

What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
I made a lot of friends playing Magic, wonderful people I would have never met without the game. Although we may have very different backgrounds and personalities, we share a common interest and have good times together. The friendly, jovial and jokingly teasing atmosphere, even while battling each other for booster prizes, is awesome.

What is your favourite non-magic hobby?
I enjoy weightlifting and cooking.

League Finals in his LGS
League Finals in his LGS

What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
Not a specific moment, but the judge gatherings before and after GP’s are super. Exploring a city with judging friends is the cherry on the cake for me.

What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
The only GPT I played in was a Sealed Scars of Mirrodin block. I had Phyrexian Crusader and some other creaures, and wiped the board with Slagstorm. Yup, I wiped the entire board, including my own Crusader… which probably cost me the game and the match.

What has been your favourite magic event that you’ve judged?
Very tough call! I really like the magnitude and chaos of GP’s, where I get to see a lot of other judges and can enjoy the journey to a nice European city, but I also love the unique party atmosphere at prereleases…

If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Rosa Parks; she showed an incredible amount of courage by challenging the generally accepted fact that Blacks had unequal rights, which was ridiculous in itself. I hope a new Rosa stands up in Russia.

What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Probably I would get back into playing bridge, become a certified arbiter quickly, and continue organizing and judging events in a card game.Garruk_Wildspeaker_640

What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
Garruk Wildspeaker: make a lot of new friends, gather more knowledge and strength every day, and build up to an amazing finale.

Two truths and a lie!
Two of the following statements is true, and one is false.  Figure out which!

1) I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t eat the bitterballen I give out at prereleases.

2) After my studies of Mathematics, I also studied General Linguistics (with a minor in Dutch Sign Language).

3) Before picking up weights, I used to run marathons, with the 2010 Amsterdam Marathon being my personal best in slightly less than 3 hours.

It has been a while since we had Two Truths and a lie, so perhaps you’d like to review the 3 answers from Carlos Rada’s interview.

The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
Carlos Rada does actually like animals.  “I used not to like them, but after meeting Mary and her Brownie I became a fan of all animals and pets.”
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