Mark Young

Good day!

Our Judge of the Week this time around has the honour of being nominated by NINE judge levels. You might think, “Wow, this judge must be flying around the world saving the day at every Grand Prix or something!” Well, that may happen in the future, but as of right now, he’s just interested in learning about the ins and outs of running a Grand Prix Trial.

It’s Mark Young, L1 from Alberton, South Africa! Mark was nominated by L5 Jason “Lems” Lemahieu and L4 Chris Richter. Here’s what they had to say:

“Mark came online into #mtgjudge with a slew of questions from his first ever GPT as Head Judge. He ran the tournament alone, made notes of the penalties he had given, and came to discuss them with us afterwards. He was really enthusiastic about learning as much as he could, but at the same time, he helped the other 113 people in the room learn from his experiences.” ~ Lems

“He seemed really receptive to feedback, wasn’t afraid to admit mistakes and wanted to improve his knowledge and his events.” ~ Chris

Let’s find out a little more about Mark…


Occupation: Substitute Teacher (6th and 7th Grade English and Math)
Favourite card: Genesis Wave (Getting to drop in a bunch of permanents at once is always fun and few opponents expect it. Their faces almost always drop when I announce X=7 or more 😀 )
Least favourite card: Iona, Shield of Emeria She just kills any of my Mono-Coloured decks :-p
Commander general: Sliver Overlord (Yes I play Slivers, great deck if I manage to survive the first few turns :-p )
Favourite non-Magic Game: Settlers of Catan/Munchkin (Tough choice)
Random fact about yourself: I have terrible hay fever and tend to sneeze 9 – 11 times in a row, all of which is normal for me. (My sides hurt like hell afterwards though)

Why did you become a judge?
I always like to understand the “Why” of things. I like detail and knowing how things work. Also, I love Magic and saw that I could have a bigger influence on growing communities and meeting more of the players as a Judge, rather than just playing in my local store. Now that I am in the programme, I see that there is so much that I can do to grow and encourage players. Magic will be a life long passion for me, if I could earn a living that involved Magic/Judging, I would 😀

What motivates you to continue being a judge?
I want to learn more about the game but also grow the community. The players cannot have high level events if there are no judges to enforce the rules and ensure fair play amongst them. If Magic grows, it allows me more opportunities to judge as well as play and more people to interact with. Seeing that “light bulb” moment come across a players face when you explain a rule or interaction to them is great. You can almost see the gears go into high motion as they try to think about how they can now use this new knowledge to make them a better player.

You were nominated by Lems and Chris because you have been so active on #mtgjudge IRC channel. Please explain us how you believe the #mtgjudge channel can be used as a powerful tool by e-learning, and why other judges should use it to improve their Judge experience.


Mark, directing players.
Is this the computer he uses to chat on IRC?

Any form of e-learning is beneficial. I have learned so much from the greater Judge community through forums, video streams and the IRC channel.

I might never meet the judges that I interact with on those platforms but they have a wealth of knowledge to share with anyone who is willing to ask and listen. I have long held to the statement that, “The only stupid question, is the question not asked.” If one happens to look on the UK Judge forum, they will find threads I have created with questions that are 3, 4 or 5 pages long!

These platforms also allow a person to share experiences and get feed back as to what might have been done better, but also allows others, who might have made the same mistakes in the future or have the same question but are scared to ask, from making those mistakes because I did it first and gain the same knowledge.

If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
John Cleese. I love British humour and would love to hear all his anecdotes and experiences. How he, with Monty Python went from a small radio show to a world wide phenomenon and what keeps him going. What his outlook on the world is. As a beginner comedian myself, I would learn all that I could from him.

What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Magic will live on FOREVER!!!!!! Lol, honestly I am not sure. I would probably get back into mpiring cricket. (Again I went from playing a game to the rules enforcement side of it in order to know more and to understand “Why”)

What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?


Mark, playing at his local store.
Is this the Sheoldred game?

Hmmmm, I might be greying the line here but it was during one of our WCMQ’s earlier this year.

I was playing a home brew version of U/B Zombies while my opponent was playing Mono-Black, focusing on Rune-Scarred Demon and Sheoldred, Whispering One. (I have played this opponent many times and we always have closely contested matches which makes each meeting a highly-anticipated match)

We called over a floor judge for upkeep interactions. (I have long learned not to judge my own games and happily tell my opponents to call a judge.) A floor judge came over and had a look after we explained what was going on, he then called the Head Judge for help. The look on the Head Judge’s face, when he saw which table he was coming to, was priceless. It was a look of surprise mixed with a bit of “Really? You have to be kidding me!”

Needless to say, I managed to get around Sheoldred on the board and won the match 2-1 😀 (I had Call to the Kindred on my Cemetery Reaper. I kept exiling targets from my opponent’s graveyard to minimise the threat of Sheoldred and to make tokens to sacrifice to her ability and allow the Kindred’s ability to resolve 😀 )

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Magic is a great game! I have met many great people by playing and judging. I have learned form almost all of them. Players are helpful to new players and it is encouraging to see the “old hats” passing on their knowledge to the new guys in order to keep the community going.

As a judge, you will make mistakes. I have made my fair share but the key is to learn from them. I have even gone back to players, apologised for my error and given them the correct ruling after the fact. I have never been shouted at or been treated in any hostile way at all. I think that this humanizes us to the players and lets them know that we too, are human and make mistakes.

These mistakes are what drive me to learn more so that I do not make the same error again and I have shared many of my slip ups on the irc channels or on the UK judge forum. The help is almost instantaneous and I appreciate everyone who has helped me along the way to my Level 1 and to where I am now. I hope, with the same help, to challenge Level 2 in the up coming months. Hopefully one day, I can get to meet some of the judges who have helped me face to face at a GP or the like and I endeavor to teach any judges/players that I can.

Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true, and one is false. Figure out which one!

1. I played Magic for 15 years before anyone told me about the competitive scene.
2. I am a stand-up comedian
3. My grandfather, father and I are all ordained Ministers

Thanks to Mark for the excellent interview! We here at Judge of the Week encourage you all to keep asking questions and learning more about judging because who knows – you might just become the next Judge of the Week!

The answer to last week's Two Truths and a Lie...
Carsten was “decent” with the Rubik’s Cube, but he never entered any competitions.
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2 thoughts on “Mark Young

  1. Great Article!

    It is very cool that SA’s own Online-wonder is now residing in Durban! We are looking forward to his contribution to growing our little community here.

    It would be great to have him mentor some Level 0’s with his good contacts and approachable personality!

    Could he be SA’s next level 3 hope!

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