Ahh Knoxville! It’s not every day you get to judge a major even right in your backyard. The fact that I could drive to and from home made this a slam dunk tournament, and I was grateful and happy for the opportunity to work alongside such amazing judges! This TR is a story of such a swing in perspective from Day One to Day Two, and making the adjustments to be successful.
Day One – Sides
While the Standard Main Event had slightly more than expected numbers, side events were down. In the entire day, we saw only two drafts and four Commander pods. This, I feel, is indicative of the Knoxville Area, where drafting and scheduled events are just not a big pull. Most of the players went for the big event, and if they dropped, they left. This left us on the side events team in the unique position of being overstaffed for the majority of the day. My scheduled events never capped 20 players (13 for Modern, 10 for Standard, 8 for Legacy) and one of the Sealed Challenges never even fired.
You might think, “Jeez, that must have been boring as all get out!” On the contrary, I was some of the best judging I’ve ever done with a team. We were stacked with experienced judges who knew what they were doing. When our Team Lead L2 Patrick Cobley went on break, we discovered that all four events running would all turnover within five minutes of each other. The word “cluster” came to mind, along with a few other choice words, but we worked out a system of sending which judge at which time so we could turn the rounds over without inundating the scorekeeper with too many result slips. The system worked beautifully, and when the team lead came back, nothing was on fire; a success in my books.
Snapcaster Mage + Serum Visions
“Judge! On my end step, my opponent flashed in Snapcaster Mage targeting Serum Visions and then cast it. He drew a card before I called for the judge and said “He can’t do that right?”
In my head: “Sadly, no. Serum Visions is a sorcery.”
What my mouth said: *durdle durdle durdle* “Let me double-check that for you guys real quick.”
Have you ever been asked a question where the answer is in your head, you can see it plain as day, and your mouth just locks up and you feel like a fish out of water? Yep, that was me! I had the answer in mind but I just drew a blank. Luckily another Judge was close by and I was able verify my answer with him. Also, the drawn card off of Serum Visions never touched the player’s hand and both players could identify it.
This was an example of just my brain stalling for a bit. This has been something I’ve always been working on and I fell like I get a little bit better with each event, each ruling I give.
Takeaways from Day 1
Since we had a surplus of time, I was able to really analyze how to seat and place Scheduled Events and ODE’s. We were never pressed for space, but we still tried to make sure we were condensing down tables and it was a very good exercise in proper organization.
Day 2 – Legacy Classic
The Flex Spot
When Legacy fired at 9:30, we had 52 players.
It bears repeating: 52. Players. A 6-round Classic. I was thinking that the day was going to be much like the previous, where we had a surplus of time in order to really shore up some of the logistical facets of tournament judging.
However the day had other plans for me. There were some staffing issues with the main event and Modern, and so after those issues were sorted out, I became the Flex Judge. I would start the round clock for Legacy and cover the floor while deck checks happened. Then once those were finished, I would bounce over to Modern to cover floor and assist, when I could, with a mid-round deck check. In practice, most of the time I was bouncing from one end-of-round to another end-of-round, running slips to and fro, answering calls in two different formats, and being available in any capacity the HJ’s could think of.
To say I was anywhere and everywhere would be an adequate assessment of how I was feeling. Time blitzed past because I was so engaged all the time. However, I learned a lot about myself in that time frame. I learned what I could and couldn’t do by myself, when I needed to sit down, when I needed to push through and, probably most importantly, when I needed to sort my priorities. It was very fast and educational. I was on the Top 8 for Legacy at the end of the day, a nice respite after a long and adventurous day.
A Pre-game Appeal
One of the more unique appeals I’ve ever had. There were two players late to the player meeting for Legacy, and because of the time crunch, both players were late in turning their decklists to the judges. This carried an infraction of TE:Tardiness, and I was given one player to administer. I informed her that because of the late decklist it was considered Tardiness and she would receive a Game Loss. After some consideration, she decided to appeal the ruling, claiming she was told the player’s meeting wouldn’t be started until 9:30, and that was why she was late. I found HJ Jonathan Holland was in charge of taking appeals, and told him what was going on. We consulted for a bit and he went to uphold the ruling.
I feel like I could have done a better job of explaining the initial ruling to avoid any confusion. I don’t mind being appealed, but when I am it feels like I’ve done something wrong in my delivery to a player. When I’m appealed for a wrong call, I’m actually very thankful because I messed up and I need to amend my error and learn from it, but this one seemed fairly straight forward. I think I could have said a few other phrases to ease the sting of, admittedly, a unique penalty.
The Right Questions
This was the first time I’ve ever been called for a match not the calling player was a part of. AP controlled a Chalice of the Void with one counter and the NAP let it resolve. My gut feeling was this was a Missed Trigger infraction with the detrimental upgrade, and I went to HJ Matt Karr to confirm. I informed him of what went down and he was confused as to why this was an issue.
I went back with a few additional questions that I had not considered previously, because the minute Matt’s eyes lit up, I realized what the potential penalty could NOW be, but I just had to ask the right questions. How long has Chalice of the Void been in play? Has anything else been countered with Chalice of the Void in this game? These questions get to the heart of whether or not the player may have been just trying to gain an advantage and slide in a Lightning Bolt under the radar.
I went back to the table and conducted my brief investigation. Thankfully, the Chalice of the Void had been out in play for a while with nothing being countered by it, so I believed the players that it was simply forgotten. Since they agreed on the damage being done, that was allowed to stand since we’ve moved past that point, but the missed trigger would be considered Detrimental and so the AP would receive a warning, which he understood. Players seemed a little embarrassed at missing the Chalice of the Void trigger as a matter of fact, but I tried to keep the mood lighthearted.
It’s all about what you ask. Sometimes things may seem innocent enough, but as a judge you should be sure that shady means are not being used to gain an advantage.
Overall, this was a fantastic event and I feel like I learned a lot about myself as a judge. Things were thrown my way that I’ve never really experienced before, and I always relish the opportunity for a challenge. I met some old friends and made new ones in the judge community, and I want to thank everyone for such a great weekend!