Greetings, judges! As 2018 starts to wind down and we begin to look towards 2019, we provided the program’s Regional Coordinators with the opportunity to close out the year by telling the world what they believe is their region’s strongest asset by asking them: in what areas of the program do you feel your region stands out or excels? Here is the first collection of responses; we will publish the second half at the beginning of the new year.
Yuval Tzur (Europe-East)
In one word: inclusiveness. Europe-East is the most diverse region in the program. Stretching from the Balkans to the Arabian Gulf, it consists of 17 countries (7 more than the runner up), who speak different languages and have vastly different cultures. If you’ve ever been to one of our regional conferences (or found yourself in a pub with a group from Europe – East), you know how easy it is for us to just accept anyone. The next time you want to sit in a table with Bulgarians, Greeks, Croatians, Romanians, Emirates, Turks, Israelis and more, just come to us and ask to join. We always have room for another chair.
Jack Doyle (United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa)
I think UKISA strives as a brand. It’s synonymous with community, with care, with understanding, and with inclusivity. In the past years, we’ve developed a number of swag items that judges from the region have been proud to wear. We’ve had individuals forge forward with projects close to them — Winter Hughes setting up a swath of judge dinners across the entire region; Kirsty McIntyre leading the charge on the #I’llGoWithYou badges at GP Liverpool; Dave Gale with the Five Minute Magic series; Rhys Bainbridge, Norman Ralph, Nick Murphy, and Imogen Tilley (and many, many more) being recurring names devoting a lot of time to the UKISA Judge Booths at in-region GPs. Overall, UKISA is a community that is proud of its identity. I’ve never been more proud to be a part of something, let alone to be honoured with the leadership of a great bunch of judges.
Adrian Estoup (Hispanic America-South)
Undoubtedly one of the great strengths of my region is the community aspect, centralized in the constant help between members of the same community and also the resolution of conflicts in events. It is a shame to say that for years we were dealing with poor structural conditions, organizational failures, little commitment from some organizers, etc. However, that made the community in the face of adversity is strengthened and before a problem that could happen, always have a way to move forward, both inside and outside the tournaments.
Rob McKenzie (USA-North)
The USA North region is extraordinarily giving and charitable. Matthew Westfox runs charity tournaments in Madison regularly. Weirdcards Charitable Club is based in Rochester and has multiple judges as part of their core team. Robert Graves has run some great streamed charity events in Sioux Falls as well. We do a lot of random community work – judges in the region donate time to libraries where they play Magic with kids, Judges do fundraisers for cancer research, for the local school gaming clubs, for aid to hurricane victims, to local food shelves, to all sorts of things. We believe in giving back to the local communities we are a part of, and we do it very well and very often. It makes me proud of the people doing these donations, proud of the judges for putting these things together, and proud of the communities for being so welcoming of the different nonprofits running around in the Magic community here.
Eric Levine (USA-Central)
US-Central has a wide geographical spread, but in spite of that, I think one of our biggest strengths is our sense of community. Our local communities are thriving – dinners and meetups are organized in different parts of the region regularly, and our mini-conferences help foster friendships and mentorships between judges in neighboring areas. As far as our regional community, we have a very active Slack as well as wonderful regional project teams that include judges from all over the region, and we’re working on ways to help judges all over the region get to know each other better. The community aspect of judging is the one from which I derive the most happiness, and the judges in my region are amazing at supporting our community!
Jon Goud (Canada)
There are two particularly Canadian cultural trends that I think express themselves in the Canadian judge community in positive ways – a) we’re generally very polite and cooperative, and b) we appreciate the company of friends. Canada is a very very large country and as a result judges don’t get to see each other as often as more compact regions. Whenever I see a group of Canadians in a room it always feels like a reunion of long-lost friends. After-dinners are always a blast, and I see a lot of genuine concern and affection among Canadian judges. Canada is also a culture which places a high priority on social manners and politeness – we hold doors open for each other, we are generally friendly to strangers, and place a high value on social harmony. If you are of settler ancestry your descendants have been huddling together against the cold for hundreds of years. If you have Indigenous ancestry, then communitarian harmony and cooperation in the face of the elements is an inspiring heritage that stretches back tens of thousands of years. The result is a community of judges who, in my humble opinion, have a natural gift for teamwork and diplomacy.
Until, of course, its hockey playoff season or a Canada vs USA gold-medal Olympic hockey game. Then we’re a nation of outright hooligans 🙂
Eric Dustin Brown (USA-Midatlantic)
I’ve spent most of my time judging in the Midatlantic and over the years I have watched our region be consistently excellent at tournament operations. We’re very lucky to have the SCG Tour and a high volume of stores, giving lots of opportunities to our judges to learn from others. We currently have 5 Grand Prix Head Judges calling the Mid-Atlantic home, along with a former Grand Prix and Pro Tour Head Judge. These judges are working events at the highest level, as a result they are able to bring their experience and expertise back home to the region. By educating our new tournament judges on best practices we can continue to build an even stronger base of events judges in our future.
Hans Wang (Greater China)
Within the program, I’d say Community; but if speaking more broadly, I’d say Passion. It’s kind of the both sides of one thing: Without passion, we won’t be able to build our community; Without community, there’s no way we can keep our passion.
While we don’t have that many big events (GPs or Opens) in our region, all the judges treasures every chance they can join a event, no matter it’s a Grand Prix with more than 1000 players, or a local event barely get eight players. They focus on their task, try to squeeze any experience out from the interaction with players, the philosophy of every judge call they answer, or the process of the tournament organizing. They are thirsty to anything they can get from being a judge, and that supports the fantastic community we have.
We discuss ruling and policies, we learn from others for running events; We share all the wonderful things in our daily life, and of course, encourage others when things are not going that well. We fly thousands miles for a judge conference, or take already-not-enough days-off to join other judges’ big life events. This is my community. It’s not only about Magic: The Gathering, it’s not only about judges, it’s about friends, it’s about sisterhood and brotherhood. And that’s what my region stands out in the program.
Johanna Virtanen (Europe-North)
I’m very proud of the way our region has come together as a community and developed our own identity, despite the fact that we are eight separate countries with more than eight official languages. All North has come to embrace the Tarpan as our regional symbol – we are faithful and true.