Zhaoben Xu

Good day, everyone. Our current Judge of the Week lives in Shanghai, China. It’s Zhaoben Xu! He was nominated by one of our previous JOTWs, Fabian Peck. Fabian says:

He’s a great representative of how an interested and involved judge can learn so much over such a short period of time from GP Singapore last year until now. He always brings a great sense of fun to events and has done a lot to help get more involvement between China and the rest of the judging community.


Occupation: Business Intelligence Developer
Favourite card: Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero (I even tried to make a EDH deck with her)
Least favourite card: Counterspell, especially when I am playing against it.
Favourite format: Chaos Draft! (Especially when foreign languages are involved!)
Commander general: Kaalia the Vast, but building a Radha deck now.
Favourite non-Magic Game: I play League of Legends a lot recently.

Why did you become a judge?
My interests towards becoming a judge grew with my interests in doing translations, translating articles, tournament reports, even policy documents (CR translation team, MTR and IPG) for the Chinese Magic community. While doing all the translation, I figured out that if I want to contribute more, the better way would be doing so as a judge. That’s where all the stories begun.

Informally… I am bad at playing this game, so I have to find out an alternative way to attend tournaments. ๐Ÿ˜€

Tell us your favourite judge story.

Try explaining THIS without words!

It was the one where body language was heavily involved. It was at Magic Weekend Nagoya and I was judging at a public sealed event with Tooru Hayashi and Takasumi Ito.

Tooru was called at a table where a Japanese player and a young Dutch player were playing against each other. The Japanese player wanted the judge to explain how a card works to his opponent as only Japanese cards were used in that event. So Tooru called me over to help him with the English translation part. However, it turned out that the Dutch player was so young that he couldn’t speak English, so Oracle texts offered no help. I tried showing him German version of the card in question, but it wasn’t helpful either.

So the only option left was using Body Language. Maybe you are wondering which card we were trying to explain? It was a Razor Swine. And we *thought* we succeeded.

I still use this as an example to show how language barriers can be overcome. ๐Ÿ˜€

How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?

It taught me a lot, especially on how to provide customer service and how to handle cases where real human beings are involved (lol). Additionally, actively participating in translation projects after being a judge has offered me a great number of materials to practice translation with, which in turn (kind of) ultimately earned me the opportunity to study in one of the best foreign language universities in China.

Fabian nominated you because of how much you’ve improved as a judge in such a short period of time. Do you have any tips about how a judge can achieve a constant improvement in their skills?

Fabian has already pointed out the essential part: keeping interested and involved! How you can keep devoting to this program varies from person to person, but if you find your way, you can make outstanding progress within a relatively short time.

For me, it turns out to be the satisfaction coming from knowing there are so many people, players and judges alike, out there using/reading something you have contributed. This in turn causes me to be more and more careful when handling the tasks/projects I take part in โ€“ I donโ€™t want those documents people end up reading are full of mistakes. The same is true for improving judging skills.

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


Katsudon is spelt โ€œd-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-sโ€).

Sightseeing or (in Grand Prix Kobe’s case) Sight-eating! I had the most delicious katsudon and beef steak (Kobe beef) while sightseeing in the city of Kobe with Hans Wang. He made out a comprehensive list of top-rated restruants around Kobe and suggested we try them one by one. It was quite a pity that we had only one day’s time and one stomach each.

If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Noah Chomsky. As a linguistics student, we have a joke that โ€œif your paper didnโ€™t quote Chomsky, then it probably isnโ€™t anywhere near linguistics paper.โ€ The universal grammar theoretical system he put forward has become the fundamental of modern linguistics. However, this theory has been challenged by Daniel Everett based on his new findings. I would like to know Noahโ€™s response to this and then find a better way to overcome language barriers other than body languages.

What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?

Magic was once somewhere near non-existence in China, but I survived that…by finding ways to prompt it. After all, for me, Magic is something I am willing to spend most of my spare time working on while meeting and making friends, in addition to an attractive game. It would be hard to imagine my life without it.

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

1. I can tell the difference among the six tones in Cantonese.
2. I canโ€™t drink beer.
3. I can speak Chinese, Japanese, English and French.

Thanks to Zhaoben for his excellent work in the Chinese judge community and for his help translating all the rules documents! We hope to see great things from you in the future!

The answer to last week's Two Truths and a Lie...
Francisco is NOT a salsa-dancing master!
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3 thoughts on “Zhaoben Xu

  1. Sad. I thought 1 must’ve been wrong, since there is no count that has less than 9 tones for Cantonese…

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