Hello everyone. My name is Ian Doty, and I am an L1 from Saint Louis, Missouri. I decided to write a tournament report for this event to fill an empty niche I had seen in the tournament reports here on JudgeApps. Many reports come from seasoned L1s or L2s, and while that’s great, I hadn’t seen many reports describing a judge’s first event. This was my first full event as an L1, and while I had done some judging as an L0 to get certified, I had never judged as a full L1 on my own. I’m writing this report to explain the thought process of a dedicated (new) L1.
Night before: I set out all my things to prepare for judging including cargo pants (super important), various pens and pencils, and a tablet running MTG Judge Core. I also prepared my goals for the event, which were:
- To be confident and clear with players about rulings
- To perform deck checks effectively, and in under 8 minutes
- To demonstrate mastery of the MIPG, MTG, and MCR
- To gain experience as a floor judge at a competitive event
Before the event: I arrived 30 minutes before my call time, which admittedly was a little earlier than I had planned, but was fine nonetheless. I used the time to scout out the venue for water fountains, food, restrooms, etc., as well as introduce myself to the Head Judge. The staff at the event was very impressed with my ability to show up early, and promptly put me to work making table numbers and help set up for all the events (there were 5 card games running events that day). This was quite the valuable experience, as I now see how larger events such as Grand Prix are essentially a number of moving parts in a large tournament machine. I think the most valuable thing I learned before the event was the value of asking “What can I do?” I was asked to greet people outside of the convention hall, and had fun offering a cheerful “Good morning!” to hundreds of sleepy players.
Round 1: We had out player meeting, with the Head Judge announcing that 51 players signed up (a record for ARG), and that we would have 6 rounds with a cut to top 8. I was informed that I would also be working the clock, a very cool experience. I didn’t make any notable rulings this round, although Yachu did. Ajani tapped Westvale Abbey, Swamp, and Caves of Koilos to activate the animation ability of Shambling Vent. Narset asked “Take a pain?” at which point Ajani retapped his mana for Shambling Vent, using Abbey, Swamp, and Prairie Stream. Yachu inquired about the whether Ajani took his hand off his 3 lands (players disagreed), and how much time passed between tapping and “Take a pain?” (Players agreed it was “a couple seconds”). Yachu ruled that Ajani could change his land tapping configuration. I happened to disagree with the ruling, but it wasn’t my call.
Round 2: I don’t think there were any notable calls here. I did participate in end of round procedures, which was a valuable experience, but one that wasn’t too complicated with only 3 tables going into time.
Round 3: I was on break this round.
Round 4: This round I performed my first deck check. The player left a Declaration in Stone in his sideboard. I issued a DDLP Game Loss as per MIPG and instructed the players of how to proceed. The whole ordeal took 9 minutes, with the deck check being about 7. I also learned about how to properly write up an infraction on the match slip, something I didn’t know before the event. Later in the round, I had an encounter with HCE. The player looked at 7 cards off of Collected Company. I performed the fix by revealing the smallest set that contained the seventh card, and had the player shuffle 1 card of their opponent’s choice in. My only concern about this call is that I consulted with Yachu before issuing the infraction, despite the fact that I knew it was HCE and I knew the fix. I wasn’t very confident, and I knew I should have stuck with my intuition. Just a personal note for next time.
Round 5: An MPE here with a player drawing 7 off a mulligan to 6, but no other calls all round.
Round 6: 2 players did not show for their match, but after the 10 minutes the room was very quiet.
Top 8: Here is my biggest mistake all day. On stream, Ajani was going for game by casting Fiery Impulse and Ultimate Price on a pair of 1/1 White Humans. The only problem? Sigarda, Heron’s Grace. I was the judge at the table, Narset scooped up his cards, and then noticed. I felt terrible. I mean, I cannot explain how bad I felt (and I still feel). Of all the calls (or lack thereof) to mess up that day, it was forgetting a static ability that I missed. I was sitting with my head in my hands until Anthony (Head Judge) came up to me and told me about his worst mistake when judging. He said it was going to suck today and tomorrow (and this week), but that “time heals all wounds”. I promptly apologized to the player and the Head Judge, told them that I should have paid more attention, and recovered. I learned the value of resilience this round. No one is perfect, and we’re all going to mess up calls at some point. This important thing is to get back up, study more, try harder, and get the call right the next time. I’m going to focus more on judging live games of Magic (at, say, FNM) to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. I’m hoping that my day wasn’t defined by that call, but I’m promising myself that I’ll work harder to not mess up again.
After a quiet top 4 and a split in the finals, I packed up and left. I said goodbye to both Anthony and Yachu, wished them best of luck in judging, and thanked them for working with me. On the car ride home (I can’t drive) I thought about my day. I was still pretty crushed by the Sigarda call, but I realized that I had done a tremendous amount. Going back to my goals, I performed my deck check in 7 minutes, demonstrated mastery of the official documents, and gained experience in the Competitive environment. I could have been more confident, but that’s something to work on.
I’m determined to not let my terrible call trip me up, and I’m going to work even harder than before. My new goals for my next event are to prove to myself that I can get past the Sigarda incident, to perform deck checks in under 7 minutes, and be very confident with my rulings by directly telling a player of the MIPG penalty and fix.
Huge thanks to Alter Reality Games, Anthony, Yachu, and Jim for a great event!
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