Greetings Judges! This week we continue our feature on the L4+ judges of the program, and we are especially proud to spotlight the one and only Lems, Jason Lemahieu! Before we pick his brain, let’s get to know him a little better, shall we?
Name: Jason “Lems” Lemahieu
Location: Madison, WI
Judge start and level up dates:
L3: 5/2008 (Pro Tour Hollywood)
L4: 2/2010 (Pro Tour San Diego)
L5: 11/2011 (Worlds in San Francisco)
I guess you could say that California has treated me well!
Occupation: Senior WordPress Developer
Favorite card: How on Earth is this a “Quick Hit?” Asking someone like me what my favorite Magic card is like asking the mother of 15,000 children which one is her favorite. All Magic cards are special and beautiful in their own way. (Though Civilized Scholar / Homicidal Brute is pretty high on the list.)
Favorite format: Cube Draft – but not with most people’s cubes. You can see one of my favorite cubes here.
Commander general: When I first starting attending Pro Tours, I thought I should finally make an EDH deck to play with the other judges. Two games later, I never wanted to play again, and luckily found there are lots of other ways to have fun with judges outside of EDH.
Favorite non-Magic Game: Dominion (and not just because there’s a card painted in my likeness)
Best tournament result: Day 2’d Pro Tour Kobe
Why did you become a judge?
I love playing Limited, but Constructed just never appealed to me (and still doesn’t). Chris Richter invited me to come judge some Constructed PTQs, and it all snowballed from there!
How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
The Judge Program has influenced my non-Magic life in more ways than you could ever imagine. There are some obvious things, like improving my organizational skills and seeing the bigger picture. Then there are the words that I knew the definition of, but realize now that I never fully grasped until I got involved with the Judge Program – things like Charisma and Leadership. Most importantly, though, is that the Judge Program is what helped me get to know some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Long car rides, flights, sharing hotel rooms, and exploring cities around the World with so many amazing people has completely reshaped how I view just about everything.
What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
After so many amazing experiences, it’s impossible to choose a single favorite, but I can share a pretty awesome recent one. After Grand Prix Valencia last year, Alexei Gousev and I went to a huge aquarium and caught a dolphin show. Using my limited Spanish knowledge, I ascertained that there was going to be a dance contest to see who got to take part in the show and meet a dolphin. I told Alexei, with 100% confidence, that I was going to win this dance contest and be part of the show.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Hands down, this would be Wooberg. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to meet Wooberg during one of my visits to WotC headquarters. (And yes, he’s just as charming in person.)
Please recognize a few outstanding members in the Program.
Kevin Desprez is straight up the best judge in the program. Toby Elliott’s one of the smartest people I know. I owe my entire involvement in the program toChris Richter. John Alderfer doesn’t just go to a lot of events – he’s a significant factor in the success of every one he goes to. I’d never heard of Guillaume Beuzelin before I was assigned his L3 panel, but he’s proven time and time again to be one of our top Level 3s. I can’t imagine a better Regional Coordinator than Steven Briggs. I wish Seamus Campbell was still active. David de la Iglesia gets a lot of credit for the amazing work he does, and it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the amount he deserves. Joel Krebs is way more than just an awesome developer. Rob McKenzie wouldn’t give me the WiFi password at GP Minneapolis when I didn’t really need it for judge work – that’s impressive! Jeff Morrow should still be Level 4. Bryan Prillaman is everything that’s right about Florida. Every judge in the program owes Brian Schenck dinner for everything he does behind the scenes. I will always make positive comments about Giorgos Trichopoulos when he applies to the Pro Tour. Justin Turner gets stuff done and keeps an often needed not-so-serious attitude about everything. I will cherish every opportunity I get to have dinner with Naoaki Umesaki. Johanna Virtanen is Johanna Virtanen (a great friend and a great judge).
What is the largest change that you’ve brought to the Magic rules/Policies or the Judge program?
First of all, thanks for asking this question – it’s made me think back over the years and see just how much has happened. I think that the biggest changes have been JudgeApps and Judge Blogs.
JudgeApps moved us off of mailing lists, and into forums, which was a goal of mine since I first started getting involved in the judge program – and I think it’s just an astronomical improvement (and I obviously have to give HUGE props to James Bennett andAlexei Gousev for this). A mailing list simply can’t support 5,000 members, and being able to control notification settings for different forums and threads, and still participate just from your inbox, is amazing.
I also love what we’ve been able to do with Judge Blogs. It’s made it quick and easy to get judges to share their thoughts, and greatly reduced the barrier regarding how large or seemingly important something needs to be before sharing it with others. Maybe something wouldn’t hold weight as a full-fledged ‘article’, but it might still be a fine blog post. One of my favorite things to do is help people start or improve their blogs. I also can’t help but smile every time I see a link posted to a judge blog on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc.
What advice would you give to a Judge growing up through the program?
Document your memories and your progress. In terms of progress, consider writing small Judge Center self reviews, or find another more private method if you’d rather, but have *something* you can look back on as you grow as a judge.
Regarding memories, I can’t recommend keeping some kind of journal enough. While today it might seem like you’ll never forget that time the old man who lived with his dog on a boat in an Amsterdam canal helped you find the venue, eventually your memories will fade and become jumbled. And get a picture of yourself, ideally with another judge you spent time with, at every single event you judge. Years from now, when all the result slips have been collected and all the table cloths folded, these memories will be priceless to you.
If you were a creature what would be your creature type?
If I had to answer this based solely on the t-shirt I’m wearing today, I’d have no choice but to answer Mutant Ninja Turtle.
What’s the coolest event you ever been to, and why was it so amazing?
Pro Tour Amsterdam stands out for me. To start, it was a lot of firsts for me. It was my first Pro Tour as a Level 4, my first (and last) high level judge dinner, my first time to Amsterdam, and the first time running the Judge Booth at a large event. The venue itself remains my favorite venue to date – an old warehouse alongside a canal, with lots of catwalks going across the upper areas. The Pro Tour then hosted the most amazing party to promote the upcoming Scars of Mirrodin set, complete with a DJ and a crazy dance party. I was fortunate enough to return to Head Judge the World Magic Cup and World Championships in the same venue last year, just before it was to be demolished to make ways for condos. And so it goes.
Then again, I was also one of the judges on the original Magic Cruise, so scratch everything about Pro Tour Amsterdam.
How do you not lose your mind?
When you get deeply involved in the program, you’re going to have a lot of amazing experiences and witness a lot of great stuff. Unfortunately, you’re also going to, at least occasionally, see things that frustrate you. It’s important to have (or develop) good judge friends that you can openly talk about the latter with.
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
I love kayaking and playing with LEGO brand building blocks. I also recently got SCUBA certified, and am really looking forward to exploring a whole new dimension of the planet.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements about Lems are true, but one is not. Figure out which is which!
- I had a pet shark in college.
- I began college as a Horticulture major (before switching to Computer Science).
- I’ve recreated over 40 Magic cards in LEGO form.
That’s all for this week. A big “Thank You!” to Lems for taking time out of his schedule to talk with us this time, and also thanks to you for reading! 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!