Greetings, judges! Our rock star this week is here to share some great stories and important lessons! Say hello to Italy’s very own Matteo Callegari!
Name: Matteo Callegari
Location: Parma, Italy
Judge start date: 2006
Occupation: Decide, defuse and motivate in a pharmaceutical company
Favorite card: Survival of the Fittest
Least favorite card: Vengevine (see above)
Favorite format: 2HG Sealed deck
Commander General: no Commander for me 😮
Favorite non-Magic Game: 7 Wonders
Best tournament result: I won a few Pre-Releases, most of them in 2HG format of course 🙂
Random fact about yourself: I graduated from high school twice, each time in a different continent
Why do you judge?
I play Magic as a way to make new friends and spend time with old ones. Once I got into judging, I found a way to do the same without mana screw! What still motivates to wear the Magic Judge shirt is the challenges that keep arriving that always push me to improve.
Tell us your favorite Judge story.
Plenty of them and you can always poke me for one after an event. 😀
The best story for 2016 happened in GP Rimini this summer. I was very excited as it was my first time as HJ of an Italian GP so I was very careful not to mess with anything and to behave properly and professionally. And yet, the first call I got involved with 5 minutes after the start of round 1 was memorable. Once the FJ brings me to the table (“I’m not spoiling anything for you, you need to hear it for yourself”), I see an Ancient Tomb and plenty of artifacts on the table and the player instantly turns around and tells me: “But juuuuuudge, I swear I read GP Rimini Legacy on the website!!!!” (hint: it was a Standard GP organized by Legacy Distributions). I stifle a smile (you know I have to behave properly and professionally) and I start talking to the player who tells me that he came with his friend from a very far away town specifically to play some Legacy. Wait, a friend? We quickly search for him while I’m wondering why there was no judge call there. We arrive at the table with a single player who looked at the other player, started to smile and said “Yes, my opponent never showed!”. Well, since already 12 minutes passed, this guy won a match at a Standard GP playing a Legacy deck! Great job! And yes, I couldn’t stifle a laugh at this point as well and I shook his hand! 🙂
What are some tips you have for other Judges?
Be humble: there will always be someone who does that thing better than you and who will be willing to share his or her secrets with you. Just ask them!
Be proud: recognize what you are doing great and help other judges reach your skill level.
Be serious: you will have to maintain the event’s integrity and command the respect of players.
Be happy: wear your best smile out by smiling to all players and judges you interact with at your events. A single smile can do more wonders than a thousand words!
What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
For a very long time, I was terrified of making mistakes, as I’m a perfectionist inside and I always super-prepare for all my activities (big surprise! 😛 ). I remember when I was an L1, there were some situations at the table that I was not able to solve, so I brought them up to my L3 HJs. I was in awe because they always knew how to tackle even the most difficult problem in a very nice and easy way. So I leveled up to L2, I kept studying the policy documents up to a point that I remembered all of them and I was still not able to have an answer to all the situations. I was still afraid of making mistakes when there was no document telling me what to do and I probably appeared insecure several times. Then the magic happened when I started preparing for L3. My mentors explained me that there are no secret documents with all the answers you need to have, but there is the philosophy that will guide you in making them up when the documents will fail. Wow, a new world opened in front of my eyes! Nowadays, instead, I have to keep reminding myself that we also have the documents and that sometimes I should be applying them instead of following the philosophy and providing some creative solutions to well-known problems. You never stop learning, I guess. 🙂
Who have been some of your biggest mentors in the Judge Program, and what did they teach you?
I’m an ancient one, so most of the names would have no meaning to you. 🙂 Yet, I want to share how much 2 judges taught me and influenced me during these 10 years. I would have been a very different judge or maybe I would not have been a judge for so long without them. Mirko Console convinced me that I could be not only L3 (yes, I was a very happy L2 with no desire to advance to L3) but a great one and showed me with his example how to be the best judge I could. And Riccardo Tessitori convinced me that I could also wear the burgundy at events. He threw me into the water by leaving me with a mic on a stage with thousands of players watching me and no time for preparing anything to say for an entire players meeting. After I stopped thinking about the best way to kill Riccardo, I realized how much that players meeting meant to my growth. Sometimes you may study and prepare for months, and you cannot realize if you are ready or not for it. Just do it! 🙂
What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?
Travelling: see new places, meet new people and learn new cultures. Even if now it kind of blurs with judging as I’m trying to judge in new places every time I get the chance, and it requires now some intercontinental travelling as I visited most of the usual locations for European GPs 🙂
My current goal for travelling is to visit all the 7 Modern Wonders, and right now I got the Coliseum (easy), the Great Wall, Machu Picchu and Petra under the belt. Next year I plan to hit the Cristo Redentor and maybe Chichen Itza as well. Wish me good luck and see you at a Brazilian or a Mexican GP!
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
George R.R. Martin, and it won’t be a very pleasant chat unless he publishes the last 2 books before then!
What was the proudest moment of your Judge life?
When Gianluca Bonacchi tested for L3 and passed his panel. He and I grew pretty much together in the judge program and I saw him improving month after month both as a person and as a judge. He went through some tough judge moments (for example, both he and I failed the L2 test!), yet he bounced back always with great energy and passion. I was very sad that I could not attend the GP where he tested, yet we made up afterwards with some hard partying through the years. 😀 And still now, my happiest moments are whenever I see the judges I had a hand in their growth and helping them achieve their goals, be it getting selected for their first GP or passing the L2 exam or completing their L3 checklist. The joy they bring me is limitless 🙂
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Always remember that the judge program may be a safe haven where you can pour all the good you keep inside. It will have a deep impact on the people that are around you and they will in turn give you a great bump whenever you feel low. So understand that there may be some ups and downs even in this program, yet you will always have someone that will be willing to share your sadness and to provide you with plenty of reasons to cheer up!
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I collect Tolkien’s books from the countries I’ve been judging and I currently own editions from 3 different continents.
- I know how to pronounce “beer” in 28 different languages.
- The city I have visited most times in the world is Dublin, yet I have never played or judged at an event there.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!