Jeff Morrow

Recently, Raoul Mowatt of the Judge of the Week staff combed through the Judge Exemplar Program nominations, and when he saw this Judge’s name appearing more than once, Raoul asked us to reach out to him. Today’s honoree is considered the go-to guy for dining at major events, has driven a moped in Hawai`i, and lives the gamer lifestyle by being an executive at a game company. From Oakland, California, we present L3 Judge Jeff Morrow!

Name: Jeff Morrow (a.k.a. J-Mo)j-mo_cropped_1
Judge start date:
Certified September 2004
L2 June 2006
L3 December 2007
L4 May 2010
L3 December 2013
Occupation: President of SlugFest Games. (Shameless plug – our Kickstarter campaign for The Red Dragon Inn 5 is now live!)
Favourite card: Lightning Angel
Least favourite card: Right now, Siege Rhino
Favourite format: Draft
Commander General: In the handful of occasions when I’ve been unable to avoid playing Commander, Numot, the Devastator
Favourite non-Magic Game: Right now, probably Hearthstone
Best tournament result: Split in finals of a 60-ish person Mirrodin Sealed GPT at Worlds San Francisco 2004 – I certified for L1 the next day!

Why did you become a Judge?
Because of Saturday School! Way back in the stone ages, Rune Horvik (and later, John Carter) wrote a weekly rules article for the Wizards website.

jeff morrow 3I decided to try my hand at judging at Worlds San Francisco in 2004. In fact, after reading Carter’s articles, I was a little bit starstruck when it turned out to be Carter who gave me my L1 exam!

Random fact about yourself:
I’ve recently gotten back into playing Dance Dance Revolution, because I need more exercise!


How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
I’m better at prioritizing, at conflict management and I’m much better at giving people constructive feedback, especially in regards to giving it in a way that is effective. I can give a gentle tap when necessary, and I can give a hard shove when that’s necessary.

I’ve also met a ton of lifelong friends. When people outside of Magic ask me why I’m doing this, one of the main answers I give is “I have couches I can crash on all over the world!”

jeff morrow4 In exchange, I have fewer free weekends than I otherwise would…  🙂

You were nominated by Raoul Mowatt for your repeated appearances on the Judge Exemplar nominations site.  What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as a Judge?
I’m very proud of the work that my team and I did to revamp the L3 advancement process. We made it more streamlined, more concrete and more objective. We also increased the bandwidth, so that more Judges can be tested for L3 than ever before. In addition, I believe that we did it in a way that ultimately gives L2s more faith in the process.  I’m hearing fewer complaints these days about L3 being all about “who you know” or about it being “an ol’ boys’ club”.

What is one tip you have for other Judges?
Introduce yourself to other judges! If you’re on the floor of an event and there’s someone in a black shirt that you don’t know, talk to him or her! There are a ton of really fine folks wearing that uniform out there.

What is your favourite non-Magic hobby?
Games, games, games, and more games! I play them (computer, console, paper, etc), I design them, I manufacture them. When I’m not doing something involving games, I often find myself wanting to be doing something else (involving games). That’s probably an illness of some kind…  🙂

What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges?
The day after PT Honolulu 2012, I rented a moped to go to nearby Manoa Falls. I got to the trail head, parked my moped, and hiked up the trail to the waterfall. I snapped a few pictures and was generally enjoying the scenery. On my way back out, it started to rain. I hawaii jeff morrowgot to the parking lot (by this point, it was pouring pretty hard) and my moped wouldn’t start! So there I am, getting wetter and wetter, struggling to get the engine to turn over. I finally get the moped started as the rain is starting to lighten up a bit. As I’m leaving the parking lot, a bus pulls up. A small army of judge friends get off the bus and see me in my waterlogged state. Honestly, I wasn’t in much of a mood to be social, but the other guys thought this was one of the funniest things they’d ever seen. And, with the benefit of hindsight and dry clothing, it kinda was…  🙂

What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
GP Columbus 2010. It was my first GP in burgundy, and I felt like I really brought my A-game. In addition, the staff was great, the hall was awesome, and it was just a great time all around.

Also, any event in Honolulu – because, Honolulu!

What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Playing plenty of other games. For me, “gaming” is more important than any particular game, so, honestly, if Magic didn’t exist, my life probably wouldn’t look all that different!

What is your favorite “after event” story?
Well, that moped story is great, but here’s another one. The Monday after Magic Weekend Paris, a handful of us decided to do a “chocolate walk” around the city, where we just wandered from chocolate shop to chocolate shop, sampling and purchasing stuff. We had all been up late the night before, drinking and drafting, and one member of our party (who shall remain nameless) was devastatingly hungover. I’m not sure why he decided to join us – every time we stopped somewhere, he just put his backpack down on the sidewalk and sat on it with his head in his hands. We were a little concerned, but luckily it wasn’t any worse. Mostly, we just had a few laughs at his expense…  🙂

If you were a Planeswalker, what would be your ultimate?

-8: Stop time for a while so you can catch up on all of your work!

jeff morrowWhat hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
Well, games, of course, but you’ve already read too much about that (but also games).

I’m a big foodie. In fact, I managed to get a reputation around the judge program that if you want to find good food after an event, follow J-Mo.

I also have a lot of musical training and have been dabbling in electronic music production lately.

Proudest moment of your Judge life?
It’s been great to see judges that I’ve helped mentor and train go on to do big things in the program. In particular, I was very happy to see Sean Catanese get to L4.

Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following answers are true, the other is a lie! Figure out which!

1. I’ve administered more L3 exams than L2 exams, and more L2 exams than L1 exams.
2. Back in the day, my regular FNM draft crowd included Luis Scott-Vargas and David Ochoa.
3. I’ve never played in a Grand Prix.

The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
Rob McKenzie admits: “I have never been trapped in a truck that drove into a lake.  It was on the way to the lake, and almost got there, then my dad caught up to it on foot and managed to stop it before it went through the guardrail.”  Lucky him! Except for the other two…

Thanks for the wonderful stories J-Mo and we are glad we could highlight one of the Exemplar-y Judges. If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!

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