Welcome back, Judges! This week’s post takes us on a trip to Finland to hear from a Judge who values community, motivation and helping each Judge find their unique place in the program.
Location: Grankulla, Finland
Judge Start Date: 14th of April 2012 (at the very first Finnish WMCQ, where I was the TO as well)
Why did you become a Judge? I was a gaming store manager before I was a Judge. To be honest, I took the Judge test because I wasn’t allowed to play at my own store’s Competitive events. Johanna (my RC) straight up forbade me from playing in my own store. So I needed to find another role that let me be a part of the Magic community that I felt I had created at my own store… still, there are no regrets! Taking that exam was the second best thing I did that year! (The first being going on that first date with my now wife.)
Occupation: Student and part time HVAC designer (studying to become an engineer in the same field).
Favorite card: Rakdos Charm. It’s such a versatile card! I’ve had it in almost every Modern sideboard (that can cast RB) as it is a catch all for most opposing strategies. There is no better feeling than seeing an opponent filling his board only to go “so how many creatures do you have?”
Least favorite card: Any and all Counterspells. From the day I was introduced to Magic, I’ve disliked blue. Counterspells are the reason why. Not letting the opponent even play Magic is so annoying.
Commander General: Saffi Eriksdotter. Both for the name and for that is the kind of control Magic that I can relate to. Saffi + Sun Titan is lovely <3.
Favorite non-Magic Game: Star Realms. It is the only game I play more than Magic, just because I have it on my phone at all times and I can pick it up and play a few turns exactly when I want to.
Best tournament result: I was the Finnish German Highlander Champion 2017. Well, a German guy actually was but I was the best Finn!
Random fact about yourself: I am one of very few Finns that doesn’t drink coffee. (Finland is the #1 consumer of coffee in the world)
You were nominated for your ability to empower the Judges with whom you work, especially by finding tasks that will help them grow or progress. Why is it important to you that opportunities for improvement are individualized for each Judge?
Since I was a teen I’ve been taught that good leadership meant finding the right task for the right person. Everybody is good at something. You just have to find what they are good at and motivate them to do more of that, or teach them to become better where they are lacking. Even at officer’s school in the military, I was taught to empower the people beneath me to keep them motivated to work harder (mostly because if I was shot, someone needed to finish my task…). This way of thinking has translated well to the Judge Program. It is not just about delegating but also about making sure everybody gets a chance, that they feel heard. We all have to do things we don’t always like to do, but if I feel I can influence my own future, I will be motivated to work harder at everything I do.
What are some tips you have for other Judges?
The same way we instruct player to communicate more, I urge my fellow Judges to talk more. I am not a mind reader, nor are you. Tell me what you want to happen, what your goals are, what motivates you. Also talk to me when you have an opinion, but also be ready to receive feedback from others. The Judge Program IS a Self-Improvement Cult and we all want each other to succeed. Don’t be afraid to use your voice and communicate your feelings!
What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges (or after event story)?
I’ve had a lot of late nights with a lot of lovely Judges during GP trips. I do not have a specific favorite but I do want to use this space to let others know how great a time you can have if you “live a little”. Don’t do anything that will have a negative impact on your time at the actual GP, but do go out and meet new people! A lot of fun things happens after the doors to the GP close for the night. Use that time and meet those around you. And don’t forget to share a drink or three… (which of course can be non-alcoholic!)
What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
I hate conflicts. I’ve actively tried my best to avoid them. Not running away or something like that, but doing my utmost to stop a conflict from even happening. If there is anything I can do to ease someone away from a conflict, I will probably try it. Sometimes that has been a problem for me. I don’t mean that you should go out looking for conflict in your life, but you shouldn’t shy away from it either. Some things need to be confronted and dealt with in an effective manner, even if that means some interpersonal conflict. And that is something I am still working on.
How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
I’ve met a lot of new friends via Magic. I’ve seen so much more of the world thanks to going to GPs. I’ve learned new skills that I’ve been able to translate to the non-Magic world, and vice versa. I am just a more confident and happier person thanks to Magic.
What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?
I am a gamer of all sorts. I love learning new games and trying to find out how they work. I am not a hard core gamer that can pick up any game and just win at it. I’d rather figure out how the game mechanics work, for the fun of it. I’ve always had an easy time learning by doing, and I feel super proud when I “get something” before someone else and I can play the teacher. It is not about arrogance but about the feeling I get from teaching someone something new that I just figured out myself. Some do find that annoying however… sorry!
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
This is one of those “no matter what I answer, I will want to change my answer next week” type of questions.
Right at this second, I would want to talk to one of the great inventors in human history. It could be someone like da Vinci or Newton or Tesla. I would want to know where these guys got their ideas from. What drove them to figure things out that nobody had ever thought of before? What was their muse? A lot of people dream of leaving their mark on the world and these guys certainly did. I would want to know if they knew that when they invented stuff or if they thought they were just improving something.
If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
You get an emblem with “Spells you control can’t be countered.”
See my hate for blue above…
What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
Squee, the Immortal.
We have a saying at home. “Fan ta den som ger sig.” “The devil may take whoever gives up.”
It’s not about being the best or the brightest. It’s about perseverance and not giving in at the first sight of trouble. You don’t have to always win. You don’t have to go again right away. Just don’t give up. Follow your dreams and try, try again. Even if you never succeed, just as long as you didn’t give up. Play smart, do your best, accept defeat and then restart when you’re ready.
(This is very close to the well-known Finnish sisu as well, come to think of it.)
What is the proudest moment of your Judge life?
Definitely when I made L3. I worked hard for that. I failed my panel, took some months to do what was asked of me and came back even stronger. It wasn’t even about the level as much as the feeling of being rewarded for the two years I put into getting there. Now I also feel like I am in a spot where I can use my strengths as I have “access” to the tasks that suit me better.
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
I would be focusing on my studies, on my new career and on my family. Hopefully I’d find a new hobby where I’d be as satisfied but I doubt it… Magic is life!
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- Although I am not a violent person by nature, I do own some weapons (a small-arms pistol and a sword). This is in part because of my military training and in part because I use them in my hobbies.
- Because of a bad back, I always bring with me my own pillow to GPs. Nothing is worse than having to work a full GP day after sleeping on a bad pillow…
- I’ve been driving cars since the age of 15 (the legal age in Finland is 18).
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!