Who What and Where
As this was a higher prize payout than most GPTs ($500+) it was run at Comp REL, with myself (L2) head judging, assisted by Liam Mullens (L1) on the floor. Games Lab is a large store with a separate floor that larger events are run on, so we are separate from most of the store’s hubbub and have screens to display pairings and the clock on.
Fabian Peck (L3) was around working at the shop, got the event started and helped me score keep for the first time, and use RTools. Aside from a few DCI number issues he cleared up, from round one until prize payout, Liam and I ran the event ourselves, which was very enjoyable.
I get anxiety around judging, primarily before events I am head judging. It was worse this time, as I’ve taken about a half year break from judging, and the last event I head judged was a GP side event that suffered a WER problem that delayed it by over an hour. But, I’ve been picking up management strategies for this, and I thought some people might like to hear what I do to manage.
I did an exercise where I envision the best case scenario for an event, the worse cast scenario, and then think of what is the most likely thing to happen.
For example, event length!
Best case: Rounds finish early, top 8 gets smashed out in an hour and a half (8 linear decks?).
Worst case: there is a plague of slow play and I’m in the store from 10:30am until 10:30pm by the time top 8 is done, and the players and myself are tired and grumpy.
Most likely case: each round runs a little over time, top eight takes 2-3 hours, I get home and have a late dinner.
For me, the main categories to do this were types of
- judge calls (no judge calls at all/I need to DQ half the event/there will be some rules Qs, some mistakes, and the odd other call)
- deck checking (it’s done fast and efficiently/I take ten minutes per check/some are fast, some are slow, either way I know to stop before the delay is detrimental to the tournament)
- using WER (everything works perfectly/WER crashes, wont’ start and I have to run the event manually/there’s a couple of simple problems but they’re fixable)
- non-Magic interactions with players (nothing happens/someone collapses and I need to call an ambulance/some players want to chat between rounds)
This forced myself to consider that the most likely thing to happen was nothing particularly interesting or difficult. And I could prepare for the mildly difficult, and had backup in the form of the L3 who works at the venue (also the TO), or in a pinch, the Australian/New Zealand Judge Slack, which has an SOS channel to immediately grab the attention of anyone free.
I hand wrote some notes on the most recent IPG changes and any elements of the IPG I felt I wasn’t able to recall confidently, as I usually have to write information down to internalise it properly. With this preparation, I felt my anxiety go from sleep-robbing to bothersome, but not actively distressing me. By the time the event had fired with no problems, I felt a lot better.
Do you experience anxiety around judging, or magic events? Do you have techniques for managing it? I’m always interested to hear what other judges do.
Outside assistance strikes again
Sadly I had to give a match loss for outside assistance when a player looked at the match next to them while being deck checked, and told the players what one player was on as they were drawing opening hands. It wasn’t intended to help either player, he just wanted to talk while waiting for his deck to get back, but it was a clear-cut case of OA. The player understood he had to receive a penalty, but was shocked when he heard it was a match loss. Feels bad, but what can you do? Thankfully his deck had no issues, or it would have felt even worse.
Modern is good, modern players are better
All six rounds ran within a minute of the 50:00 time limit, and the top 8 was done within two hours. I was expecting to have to tell a few players about the change to pile counting, but no-one did it more than once, and games were generally played very quickly. I didn’t end up giving any kind of speech at the final round, but I regret not doing so because I like thanking players when they play clean, clearly and quickly. I am a big believer in positive reinforcement for things done well, so I will try and do this at my next event.
The event was a wonderful return to judging for me. My anxiety didn’t flare during the event, problems were dealt with quickly, and I believe all the players had a great time despite it being a very hot day. It was a great confidence boost, and I feel much more prepared to take on more events in the coming months. Shout out to Liam for being a great judge to work with, especially for his second ever Comp REL event judging, and to Fabian for being a wonderful mentor as always and a great Tournament Organizer to work for.
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