Another RPTQ has been played at Dragon’s Lair in Stockholm, featuring a judge team consisting of myself, Kevin Moore and Filip Söderholm. For me, it was an interesting for one reason in particular: the number of players.
As the player meeting started, we had 29 players playing for the four qualifying slots, about half of what we had last RPTQ. We also had a much smaller portion of players from outside of the Nordics, only about five compared to the roughly 15-20 last time around. With the advent of the online RPTQs, travelling to the North no longer seems to carry the best EV. Obviously this leads to funky stuff with the prize pool, like over half of the players getting the “top 16” playmat and only 5 players leaving without boosters (everyone else got at least 18), but this is a judge blog, so that’s what I’m going to write about. Running such a small event with three experienced judges means we had another type of challenge.
Leading a team of judges doing tasks that they can manage by themselves in their sleep can feel pointless. The tournament would likely have managed fine if we had all come there without any plan at all and had just winged it for the entire day. But having a larger team than strictly necessary for the event has great upsides.
Evaluation is one. By having a proper plan e-mailed out to the team in advance everyone had a chance to critique, comment or plan for themselves, which makes it easier to evaluate the plan, the different roles and performances afterwards. It also greatly reduces the risk of something going bad due to miscommunication or ambiguity. By knowing what to expect, it’s easier to compare what actually happened to your expectations.
Customer service is a great boon of being many judges as well and the biggest reason I strongly favor having a minimum of three judges at this type of event. At an RPTQ, where people travel long distances to play, they deserve superb treatment. By having more judges, we were able to accommodate and help players while not reducing our attention to the logistics and usual tournament tasks.
Another perk is the possibility for discussions. Planning a couple of discussion points goes a long way to have judges leave a tournament slightly more enlightened than they were when they came. In this case, our discussions revolved around the new-ish Hidden Card Error policy and its philosophy. Going from “what does policy say” to “what should policy say” is an engaging topic. In this case we discussed if there were cases where the current policy is too harsh in removing a card and if there are any good ways of including exceptions or special fixes in the document.
With only five rounds of swiss, 30 minutes of lunch break and one round of single elimination, we managed to be done before 5pm. This left us with a great opportunity to sit down and talk for a while about our experiences, what went well, what we could improve and what would need to change had we gotten a lot more players, all while Filip’s modern Eldrazi faced Kevin’s storm. Having a relaxed conversation like that after an event really is a great way to wrap up and have everyone remember and process everything that happened and what we learned.
Now, it’s time to get hyped for our upcoming conference in Oslo (where, incidentally, you can attend my seminar about teamwork if you want more). I hope to see you there!