Good day, judges! This week’s rock star is the Regional Coordinator of China. His involvement in the program has taken him around the globe, working with judges and players of all types. Meet Edwin Zhang!
Name: Edwin Zhang
Location: Beijing, China
Judge start date: 2004 Canadian Nationals
Why did you become a Judge? I was planning on playing 2004 Canadian Nationals, but I missed day 1 due to family issue. I showed up on day 2 anyway, and noticed people were taking judge tests, so I joined since I like rules and got tested by Mike Guptil.
Favourite card: Dark Confidant
Least favourite card: DFCs
Favourite format: Draft (Chaos draft is the best out of all draft formats!)
Commander General: Karador, Ghost Chieftain
Favourite non-Magic Game: Agricola
Best tournament result: PTQ top 8 multiple times, haven’t played in GPs so far.
Random fact about yourself: I used to be a Chinese citizen who lived in Canada, then turned into a Canadian who lives in China
One of the areas that you’ve earned Exemplar recognitions for is mentorship. What suggestions do you have for becoming a better mentor?
Treat people nicely, level is just a number and we are all judges who volunteered valuable time to the program. I feel it’s very important to tell people why you think a certain way works better, and give suggestions and recommendations instead of orders. Judges are all reasonable people who want to be better; they will follow the suggestion if they agree with your reasons.
What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
Travel and meeting friends!
I’m currently making 10 to 15 trips for Magic tournaments per year, which gave me a chance to see the world. I have also started a blog to write about my trips, to encourage others to join me. I have met a lot of people from judging, which built a good portion of my social network.
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
Play the game is a common language for Magic players and judges. It’s very often to see judges struggle when they don’t speak a common language with the players when they get a judge call. Look at the board situation, look at the cards in hand, you may be able to figure out the question easily. Use simple words, use body language, the players can often understand you too. (However, be sure to call a translator if you think players need detailed explanation or investigation.)
What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges?
I had a small wedding ceremony in Florence without other family members; it was Christian Gawrilowicz and Matteo Callegari who celebrated it with us, it really meant a lot to me! (Gianluca Bonacchi was planning to be with us too, but had to cancel the trip since a family member passed away.)
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
At GP Kobe 2015, I was judging a side event with Grand Melee, spell range 1, Chaos draft tournament packs, no basic lands provided (you have to draft them from tournament packs). That was a lot of fun for both players and judges. They prepared some Christmas hats to represent active players, and the sponsor provided local goodies as door prizes.
What is your favorite “after event” story?
After PT Yokohama 2007 which was also my first trip to Japan, I traveled around with another judge, Jeff Fisher. After seeing the beautiful cherry blossoms, we went into a small restaurant on the side of a street. None of us speak Japanese, and they don’t speak English. After a bit of work, I got the idea “any of those dishes is this price” and “lunch special, you can get a bowl of rice with discount”. We couldn’t really tell what those dishes are based on the pictures, so we just randomly ordered a dish each with a bowl of rice. Later we found out, we actually each ordered a bowl of noodles.
What was the proudest moment of your Judge life?
That got to be the moment when I got promoted to L3 at Worlds Chiba 2010 (together with Nathan Brewer, Fabian Peck, Alexis Rassel, Claire Dupre, Joel Bantiles, Monsuporn Lauhaphand, and Eric Levine.)
Being RC of a large area is very interesting, since most of RC duty involves unify the judges within the region and make a group feeling.
What’s it like to be RC of a region as large and diverse as China?
I haven’t been able to meet all the judges in my region yet, especially the ones from rather isolated parts without large tournaments. However, that doesn’t stop us to form such group online, which makes GPs and conferences a great opportunities to hang out with those friends you have only spoke to though the internet. At the same time, we always have a mountain of food from everywhere of the region at our conferences!
What do you see as your greatest strengths as a Judge?
Laser eyes. No, I don’t have them…=(
Community building and leadership are my strength as a judge. Sheldon Menery once told me, good leaders let everyone shine, and that’s exactly what I had been trying in the last couple years. I’m very open to suggestions and encourage people to carry out their ideas. At the moment, we have some very good regional projects in action, and they are all lead and run by some great judges.
What do you see as your short-term and long-term goals within the Judge program?
My short-term goal is to expand and improve my local judge community. My long term goal is when I leave the program in the future (it won’t happen anytime soon), the judge community is in a great shape that I’m not needed anymore.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- All members of my last L3 Panel (Chiba 2010) are no longer in the judge program.
- I have a blog to write about my GP/PT trips, but I don’t mention tournament themselves at all, only what I see during the trips before/after the events.
- I’m the first Chinese citizen who got promoted to L3.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!