I had the pleasure to be one of the few who were given the chance to lead a team on the Sunday of GP Montreal. First things first, a quick presentation of myself – Level 2 from France, with a few amount of GPs on my back, this was my tenth. Already quite happy to be selected on a GP overseas, since it is always a treat, I was thrilled when I saw my name on the Sunday schedule as a team leader. So as the title and my introduction suggests, this report is about team leading and some thoughts after my first experience on the matter.
Here is what happened before the event started, I don’t give you all the details, just some thoughts that crossed my mind, and maybe you will find missing pieces. Well, in this case, I forgot.
So… I am a team lead. I am in charge of the team floor and coverage. I have never been in the dedicated floor team before so I wondered about the goals of such a team. Is it just flooring without specific task? Or maybe should I make a map for floor coverage? Is there anything else? Well let’s ask our head judges and be sure. I mailed a week before the event the whereabouts of the floor team. Basically the answers from Matteo Callegari and Carlos Ho were no need for a precise coverage map since the number of players will be low enough so that a loose one will do (and that makes sense) but the team floor is also responsible to ensure that the floor is actually properly covered. I do now have my answers and I thought that there is actually not much things to do, just to ensure that all areas of the tournament was covered properly.
What a team I had! I had 3 very experienced judges with me in the team, L3 Steven Zwanger who needs no introduction, (if you however need one, check his Judge of the Week interview: www.blogs.magicjudges.org/jotw/steven-zwanger), L2 Lamberto Franco and L2 Elliot Raff. Each of their resumes is worth somewhat at least twice mine in terms of big tournaments so I had no doubts about their knowledge and experience. I had the opportunity to interact with each of them I the past, Lamberto and Steven as judges on many GPs and Elliot whom I met as a player in Somerset NJ for a SCG open last year.
It was prior to the announcement of the L2 TLC, but I got similar goals for the event to the ones described in Alfonso’s article, especially two that gave me a hard time: Team-building and Mentoring. Intrinsically the team will be quite split on the floor, without any assigned zone and the feature area that seemed quite remote from the regular playing zone, so team-building will not be easy and given the missions and the numbers, I cannot pair people. There is no “specific task” to stick the people in the team together (like DC or paper for example where gathering is part of the activity) and giving people opportunities to interact with each other is something I wanted to do. The other part is mentoring, what I can do to complete this task in the context of experienced people, who already interact with each other reasonably (except Lamberto and Elliot , and I was not even sure since they shared 5 or 6 GPs.), was also a puzzle that gave me some difficulties.
Let’s just go through the day, and observe people, fetch some ideas and well… observe the floor teams this day and talk with their team leads to get some last minute inspiration.
Breaks are important right? Well I realized at this point that no break schedule had been diffused for the day 2. I had some doubts but after checking several past GPs, no specific conclusion, some had one, some others did not so I asked Carlos about it and well “Oh you want to make one? It is yours”. Ok, something more to do, but the exercise was interesting, what should I think of?
- Give all the teams a round and a half break before the end of round 15.
- Take into consideration team activities to craft this schedule.
- How to organize team replacements during breaks?
That is at least my list of things that I kept in mind, so I started to go to all the Sunday’s team leaders and asked about preferences and any constraints that their team may have and basically if they wanted a specific round for their breaks. It is probably way better that way since they are in charge they know how busy they are through the day and can give you quick answers while if you try to do things on your own and ask if it is ok afterwards, it is likely that you have to do it again later because you forgot something. Once I had gathered all wishes I just folded the paper and worked on it after my shift.
I will not be able to develop much further this part since I have been quite… let’s say not very good at it. As said previously I found the task quite hard to accomplish given the parameters. What I can say is that if the team is not naturally meeting often, then you should create those meetings regularly so that each judge does not spend his whole day alone.
Finding things that do not look boring or forced on some people is hard and I did not manage to do it. Whenever on a big event I do not recall having a very interesting team building activity that made me think “yes ! I also want to do that too”, I have honestly found most of them not very appealing for me at most. Maybe I do not like imposing discussion topics for people because I sometimes dislike it when I am on the other end, anyway I am still trying to find something that suits me, so I am trying to be part of some people’s team, who are often said good at team building. I am not going to force myself throwing topics if it does not even interest me, which would not work.
Meeting the D-Day
Here we are, TL meeting, I ask last minute if teams are allowed or not to take a break during drafts then I print the break schedule. It passes the Carlos Ho barrier as he says “OK”. I do not like round-by-round reports so I will avoid it. I just want to shed the light on specific points.
Things that Went Well
I am quite satisfied with how I devised the break schedule. Every team leader knew before the first round when the breaks will be.
I also was quite satisfied with how I divided the tasks. I felt that my explanations on how we will handle out the limited product were good, as my instructions about the other teams replacement where I named I leader for the replacement for the round. Basically, 2 people were sent for the replacement when needed, 1 for the features and I stayed on the floor.
As I talked with Raymond Fong on Saturday, I decided to have an almost-set of each token of the format and 1 mythic token to the members of my team with a task to distribute them during the day as a contest. I had no idea about team activity so it was the most interesting thing I had found, even though it does not really check team activity. It is a form of customer service and it incentivizes judges to watch matches, so it was indeed useful. Things worked very well and 2 rounds after all the judges on the floor were carrying tokens and by the end of the day, asking for tokens and having them was kind of expected from players. I do not know if the end result is wanted or not, but I was happy that this became a big thing throughout the day. (Note that the SOI-EMN format was very inclined to having many tokens and clues on the battlefields, this might not me so necessary for other formats or constructed).
Things that Went Less Well
Was I too scattered on the tasks I wanted to accomplish? Maybe, maybe having my team as the only replacement team was not good. I planned so many things that the things I was assigned on were not done correctly as some rounds had missing feature matches and that the floor coverage was not ideal. This is a problem of mine; I want to do many things, so not many things are done correctly.
I knew I was not very good at giving feedback. I had very few things to say at the end of the day, because I felt that were were so spread across the room that I had no opportunity. The truth is that I probably should have made more team meetings to get updates during the day, and that I was so focused on assigning tasks that I forgot the other sides of the team leading activity. This will probably get better as I get used to what I have to do and then free some time to watch people.
Round 15. Is it that obvious? I forgot until the last moment that the final round was not like the other rounds. Funny how the same things do not appear obvious when you change tournaments. It is routine for PPTQs and I did not even think of the 15th round for the GP. This last round is important as you all know, people play for many things, even more when it is the last GP of the season to lock pro players club statuses.
I also discovered that WALTER was pairing players randomly after I thought about the coverage for the last round, so I was totally lost on how to cover properly when tables are set at random.
I wanted to cover some of the things that seemed important, this is not very detailed but it is OK since it is not the objective. I hope this can be somewhat useful to some people who want to try this role. It was however a very interesting day, even though the end was not what I hoped to be before the event.
(Editors Note: Join in on the discussion in the forum!)