I worked on the Saturday Scheduled Sides team for GP Pittsburgh. There was a 1:1 ratio of team members on the am shift and scheduled events that they had to fire, so each judge was assigned one event to run. I was assigned to the 11am competitive REL Legacy Championship Trial, with instructions to shadow the L2s on the team until it started.
Before the scheduled side events started, the team was sent out to help distribute materials and collect decklists for the main event. I was a member of a small group of judges assigned to a table that was cut off in the middle in order to distinguish players with different registration packages, and the resultant confusion amongst the players ensured that all three judges at the table were receiving a constant stream of calls. As decklist collection ended, a player approached me, handed me a decklist, and said that he was late to the players’ meeting and had not received his promo. He then told me that round 1 was starting and walked away. I informed the L2 I was working with of the call I had received, learned the player’s name from his decklist before handing putting it with the other lists, and began the roundabout journey of checking this player’s table number, checking and receiving his package, then finding his table and delivering the promo.
By the time I reconnected with my team, prep for the first side event was in full swing. After a brief check-in, I moved out to the tables and began working. At 52 players, the Legacy Championship Trial was the largest event I have ever run, as well as my first legacy event and the first competitive REL event I had HJ’d. I had spent a lot of time studying and discussing the IPG, but I still found the idea of being responsible for a group of players at competitive REL nervewracking.
These concerns were compounded by difficulty giving opening announcements. Without any experience addressing more than 20 players at a time, I was unsure exactly how to get the attention of 50. These difficulties, compounded with the impact of a chaotic venue, caused my first set of opening announcements to be largely lost in the wind. In addition, my nervousness around responsibility for a competitive REL event led me to double check even the simplest of rulings with the L2s around me.
As round 1 continued, I became more comfortable with the event and recognized that I wasn’t doing anything that I hadn’t done before (albeit on a smaller scale). My round 2 announcements were still hampered by the challenges of the space, but were clearer than announcements had been in Round 1. The L2s that had been supporting me and bussing slips to the scorekeeper slowly dissipated throughout Round 2 as the chaos at the beginning of the event calmed, and the remainder of the round passed uneventfully until it was discovered that three of the match slips had not made their way to the scorekeeper.
Handling the lost match slips meant a lot of running around and checking with anyone who might still be holding onto them before deciding to call the players to the stage to take their results again. In retrospect, the time I spent looking for the match slips was wasted time that did nothing but delay the start of the next round. I was hoping that I would find a way to avoid admitting that administrative errors had occurred on my event, which is not a valid reason to take actions that disrupt the event further. I should have let it go after a cursory check and just called the players so that I could have started the next round in a much timelier manner.
When Round 3 started I was immediately called by a player that had lost their deck. While the response felt fairly straightforward-have one of the L1s that had joined me watch the event while I brought the player in question to the lost and found and informed other judges that a deck had been lost, dealing with a player in that level of distress was a new experience for me. I was disappointed that I couldn’t actually locate the deck for this player, and found the “you can’t play the next round” conversation disconcerting. The idea of giving bad news to a player that was going through a difficult experience seemed a little bit heartless, and I found myself going out of my way during the conversation to make sure the player understood that he had my sympathy and support.
The remainder of the Legacy Championship Trial ran fairly smoothly, with a couple of interesting calls. The most interesting call I received was whether or not Wear // Tear revealed on a Counterbalance trigger counters a fused Wear/Tear on the stack. It does not, as the split card on top of the library has two sets of characteristics, while the fused spell on the stack has only one set that doesn’t share a converted mana cost with either side of the card, and is rather the sum of the card’s converted mana cost.
After the Legacy Championship Trial ended, I began floating between the other side events and assisted my team with table organization and materials setup. My jobs from that point until the end of my shift were clear and straightforward, without any significant occurrences.
The lessons I learned from my first GP were almost exclusively focused on how to prioritize and otherwise organize your duties at a large event. Working at a GP demanded more flexibility from me as a judge than any event had before, which required a level of focus on how I was managing space that had not previously been demanded of me. I am much more aware of the importance of understanding where you need to be at all times and familiarizing yourself with the rhythm of the event-both of these dramatically cut the time required to transition from one job to another. I also understand much more clearly what it means to put player concerns first and how to approach issues so that the players don’t suffer for errors that come up. Overall, I thought the event ran fairly smoothly considering the issues that came up, and found that there was a lot for me to learn in the areas where problems arose. I’m confident that the lessons I learned at this event will prove extremely valuable as I work future GPs.
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