My view on… Grand Prix events in 2018

My view on… Grand Prix events in 2018

Magic is a complex game, made of several facets; there is a paper version of the game and there is (at least) one electronic version of the game; there is the story and there are the social aspects of the game environment… and there are surely other important aspects that just don’t come to my mind now… I believe I even heard about a movie!
Focusing on the game play, we have the very casual version, which I often hear called “kitchen Magic” and there is the more competitive version that is the mix of all the tournaments.
Then, when we take a look at the tournament scene, we have the tournaments in the local games stores and the huge tournaments on the international scene.
OK, today I want to talk about this last aspect, specifically the Grand Prix circuit and, even more specifically, a recent announcement from Wizards of the Coast about a change in the organization of these events for 2018.
Here you can read the announcement.

I regularly judge Grand Prix events, and it looked to me that this announcement brought to the most discussed topic of the last couple of weeks: “What is going to happen?”.
The comments ranged from “Everything will be exactly like it was before” to “Everything will change and I will not be able to judge any more”.
I was a little surprised by this wide range of comments, and I decided to speak about it to some of my colleague-friends.
We spoke about the practical aspects (Who is going to organize the events? How staffing is going to change, if there will be changes? What will remain the same? Who are the people to talk to? …) and also about the more ephemeral aspects (I call it “sociology analysis”).

My first conclusion is a psychological one: *humans are scared by the unknown*.

It’s understandable.
Stability is reassuring, because we know what to expect.
Instead, the unknown can be destabilizing or even frightening.
I have a message to the judges about this: *changes are opportunities*.
I know, I know, changes are scary; they are scary to me too; trust me, I want stability and I don’t want to see everything I built be washed away by a huge ocean wave, but I have been thinking about what is going to remain stable and therefore reassuring.
*I* am going to remain the same.
*My colleague-friends* are going to remain the same.
*The people who support me* are going to remain the same.

Then, starting from these points of stability, I will do my best to see any changes as new opportunities.
If you want to read more about my view on changes, opportunities and new adventures, you can read the “2016 in review” article, especially the part about Spring.

Then, in addition to the psychological aspects, we have the practical aspects.
Tournaments will be exactly the same; actually, I wish there will be even more GPs every year; wouldn’t it be great to see a 2018 GP schedule with 70 GPs? I keep my fingers crossed!
Main event, side events, staff roles, we will have plenty of opportunities to dedicate our weekends to our favorite hobby.

I received many comments and many questions, and I will try to give my best answers.
First, a couple of disclaimers.
1) This is just my opinion, not Wizards’, not ChannelFireball’s, not the leadership of the program’s… just the personal opinion of one of the judges and writers that you like the most in the world… ok, ok, maybe I’m exaggerating ^__^ but you are reading my words, so I can pretend to be ^__^
2) I may be direct and blunt with my thoughts; if you know me, you already know that I’m often a very direct person; if I have to say something negative, I don’t wrap it in a series of compliments.

OK, let’s see the most frequent questions or worries I heard.

“Monopoly is very dangerous”

My answer:
Actually, we have always lived in a tournament world with a monopoly, as we have a company that produces a game and manages the organized play.
If we were safe and satisfied about how it was before, I really think that there is nothing to worry; we may see a specific logo much more present than in the past, and it doesn’t seem worrying to me.
In other aspects of business, yes, there are even laws against monopolies, but I don’t see how the laws about the supply of electric energy (for example) would be needed in our case. No worries.

“But what if they try to abuse the system to just gain more money at the expense of everybody else?”

My answer:
This is not a rational worry; this is only an emotional reaction due to the fear of changes (see the part above about the psychological aspects).
Wizards is extremely interested in the success of the game in the long term; ChannelFireball is interested in the success of the game and of their tournaments in the long term. I haven’t seen any action or heard any word that would make me even imagine that any of them would do anything to harm their business.

Remember, companies of success invest on the future and they wouldn’t have arrived to today’s successes without investing on the future!

“They have a core team, and I’m not part of it; I will have no opportunities”

My answer:
Do you want to know how many times I judged a Grand Prix organized by ChannelFireball?
ONE, only one, and I don’t even remember if it was 2016 or 2015.
More, my schedule for 2017 has zero of their tournaments at this moment.
Starting from these numbers, I count that you will trust me when I reply “I know your worry”.
OK, this is the current situation, what can we do?
If you want to cry and shout, feel free to do it, but I will not be at your side to cuddle you.
I can tell you what *I* will do.
I will do my best to do a good job at my current tournaments (and also online), so to build (or improve) a good reputation. If I will be recognized in the Magic judge environment as a valid judge, I count that they will want to select me for their event.
Then, when I will have the opportunity to show them my value, I will just need to do exactly what I have been doing in the other tournament: *do a good job*.
Now, starting from what we said so far, I would like to ask you a question:
*How the future is different from the present?*
Don’t we go to tournaments to do a good job?
Don’t we need to show to all organizers and colleagues that we are able to offer a value?
How is the future different from the present?

Let’s roll up our sleeves (it’s an Italian expression, but I guess it has a similar meaning in English too), let’s do a good job, let’s contribute to an efficient system and let’s be proud of ourselves!

“OK, OK, I listen to your motivating speech, but I still have some doubts”
My answer:
I’m listening, always.

“I’m writing to them, and I’m not receiving any replies”
My answer:
I don’t even want to know how many mails they are receiving in this period.

We are so used to receive very quick replies from other judges that we forget that they are travelling all around the world to get in contact with current GP organizers, they need to build a system much bigger than the one they have now and who knows how many other things they have to do.
I have another question for you: if you were extremely busy in your work, what would you like to do after a very long day of work… go back to your family or reply to my mails?

“I’m not sure that they are interested in the wellbeing of judges”
My answer:
WHAT?!? (second time ^__^)
If you have been a judge for some years, you may have met or at least heard of Chris Richter and Jason Lems; they are much less active than a few years ago on the judge scene, but I can assure you that they have been pillars of the current judge program and I’m very confident that they still care a lot about judges.
If you are reading this article and you read until this point, I can say that you trust me, right? OK, so I put my face on it (another Italian expression that means “If you trust me, I tell you that you trust them; if they disappoint you, you can blame me, because it’s me who convinced you to trust them), and I’m sure that, in a year, you will realize that today you worried too much.

I met some of the other members of the ChannelFireball team a few times (actually, very few times), and they were all available to listen to our opinions and interested in building a very good environment together. I’m not worrying, at all.

“Who should I talk to, if I want to judge GPs?”
My answer:
Well, actually, my answer is the same that I would have given one year ago.

You need to show your value; first, you have to have the skills, so work hard to build them; then, you have to demonstrate that you have them.
Speak with your Regional Coordinator, with the L3 judges of your country…
Do exactly what you have been doing so far.
Has it worked until now? Keep doing a good job.
Hasn’t it worked so far? It means that you need to do better; I’ve been taught that efforts pay, so make your best efforts and you will collect the reward!

“And if you are completely wrong”
My answer:
If I am completely wrong, join me in Tenerife and we can have a wonderful restaurant or two on the beach; where are you from and what type of cuisine will you take care of?
Wouldn’t it be great? 😉

Changes are opportunities and life is an adventure; *we* decide *how* to live our adventures.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

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