Welcome back to Judge of the Week! This week’s spotlight is on Josh McCurley, the Area Captain for Dallas/Fort Worth.
Name: Josh McCurley
Current level: 2
Current location: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Date certified as a L1: 1st April 2011
Why did you become a Judge? I could not afford to keep up with the game at that time, but did not want to take a break from the friends that I had made in the game.
Occupation: Game Store Employee who gets to be involved in Magic all the time.
Favourite card: Chaos Orb
Least favourite card: Force of Will
Favourite non-Magic game: Alhambra for game nights, or Hearthstone.
Best tournament result: 33rd at an SCG 5K Legacy Open.
Random fact about yourself: I’ve streamed Vintage for over a year on Twitch. My Twitch uploads can be viewed here. Vintage is my favorite format because we are all doing something broken, so it is totally fair for all. Let’s not forget the nostalgia of casting Moxes, it is pretty powerful.
How did you get involved in Magic?
I was involved in Live Action Role Play back in April of 1994 and saw a Revised Rock Hydra. I was instantly intrigued and started playing within a few weeks. I have played off and on since then, but consistently since December 2003.
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
The oddly close-knit feel of such a large community. There are a lot of Local Game Stores in our area, and yet all the stores and the players coexist peacefully and help each other out when needed. Our local Magic community event like the Hunter Burton Memorial Open will pull players, judges, and store owners from across the state to join in and support a good cause. It is also the event that I try to judge every year, as it has a very unique feel to it, with so many of my friends playing and judging. I would hate to miss it.
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
I don’t really have a proudest moment, but I love it when I see judges that I have certified becoming L2, getting their various certifications and I cannot wait for one of them to make it to L3!
What positive aspects has the Judge Program and the Magic community contributed to your everyday life?
The friendships forged through the years from the Magic community of players and judges. At this point, almost all of my friends are either judges or players that I got to know through judging. It also motivates me to continue judging through the years. One of the highlights was being a god-parent to another judge’s son.
Another highlight was being in Ben Johnston‘s wedding. There was a table of Magic players at his reception. During the announcement and the first dance, they don’t seem like they were going to quiet down anytime soon. So, I stepped in to get their attention by going to their table, and saying something along the lines of “Magic players! Your Head Judge needs your attention!” They immediately stopped talking and shifted their attention to the wedding DJ.
Who have been some of your biggest mentors in the Judge Program, and what did they teach you?
Jim Shuman was my mentor who certified me He taught me a ton about judging, running and managing an event size of 8 – 400 players, and how to manage disgruntled players. He has shown me how to be as efficient as possible with my time and attention, which is especially crucial when turnout is a bit more than expected. I have also seen him calm an unhappy player while maintaining his own calm demeanor. Seeing how he has handled irate players from the TO side of things has given me the confidence to maintain my own cool-head during player interactions. One of the disqualifications that I handed out was with an extremely volatile player.
By using the techniques that I had witnessed Jim using previously, helped me calm the player down. These techniques included but are not limited to: listening to the player, while affirming that you understand their issues; keeping your body language relaxed; and separating the player from their peers so that they do not feel like the interaction is on display for the entire event.
Nate Hurley was another mentor who has taught me how to have patience and to logically think through problems as they occur. During a SCG Classic as the Head Judge, I was having some difficult moments. He guided me through my thought process, asking me what I thought was wrong and we were able to work through all of the problems one by one so that I could realize that I was making every small problem larger than it really was. His level-head that day helped make sure that the players did not see my distress. Since that day I have used his approach to analyze other bumpy events and correct things before things become unmanageable.
Being an Area Captain, you have done and observed a fair bit for your area. What are some tips and pitfalls that you would want others to know?
Do not try to do everything yourself. That is the way to madness. Get help from other judges. Try to push everyone, including yourself, out of their comfort zone. The biggest resource I have as an Area Captain is the large amount of talent and intelligence that every other judge in my area can contribute.
What are your short term and/or long term goals and/or projects that you will be taking on in the future?
I am trying to make sure that every judge in my area knows how to use the resources that are available to them. It is actually alot harder than it seems, because there are are many L1s, and new L1s joining in our judge community. The long term goal that I have is to judge in an overseas GP.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Don’t ever forget that you are not alone in this, and asking for help is not a sign that you are inadequate. There are plenty of times where I doubt myself about card interactions and I ask one of the handful of judges that are much better at that than I am for the sanity check.
Try to make every interaction in your judging count. Make the players feel better about themselves, judges, and the Magic community as a whole. Make sure that the Tournament Organisers have confidence in not only you, but any judge you recommend. Make sure that you learn as much, if not more than, you teach. Most importantly! Don’t forget to have fun, so much of life is improved when you are having fun.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- A musician has recorded a CD for me with my name as the title track.
- I maxed out the timer on the original Final Fantasy 7.
- I have had poetry published.
The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!