Hello everyone. I’m Shanin here, an L2 judge from Thailand. Today I’d like to share my story about my personal experience of my first 2 GPs I ever participate (as a judge.) First of all, I am totally sorry for the delay in this article. It should have been released somewhere in December, but I was so busy around the year-end. Plus, I encountered unexpected news that my shop has to be moved away to a new location because the owner wouldn’t extend the contract. That made me even busier around the year-end. I literally drove around the west side of Bangkok for over 16 hours during the new year holidays to find a new spot for my shop. Never thought driving slowly from alley to alley would be this tiresome, hahaha.
Anyway, let’s get to the meat of this article. As the title goes, I am going to put my personal experience from these 2 GPs into bullet points. This is because I can talk about it in a more organized and easy-to-read manner, and it wouldn’t look too much like my own personal diary, lol.
Didn’t do my homework well enough.
- I thought I already prepared well, but I totally forgot one important thing. Not every judge starts the work at the same time! Some of my work shifts start from 10 AM onward, but I still arrived the venue at 8:30 AM. I should have asked a little more in advance since it would give me another hour of sleep, which is very important when judging in multiple days event.
Was very intimidated.
- We all know how we feel on the first day of an important job. What’s even more special for this job is that you’re standing in front of hundreds of people, and you know that your mistake can really hurt that person’s day badly. I had an instant flashback to the first day I was judging at WMCQ 5 years ago right away. I was screaming inside my head repeatedly “Don’t call me!! Don’t call me!!”….. And just a few seconds later “JUDGE!!” I instinctively responded “Yes!”, but my brain was screaming “SH!T SH!T SH!T…. FCUK FCUK FCUK”. Fortunately, it was just a simple question, and I answered with full confidence, and that really boosted me up significantly. It gets better and better by each call I received. Then, I started to enjoy myself working as a judge again.
- Looking back on it, it was very funny because it’s just almost the same feeling as when I, as a player, participated in a first large tournament with hundreds of players I never know before. We all felt intimidated by the atmosphere and the size of the crowd like that. We don’t feel like we’re a part of this big crew yet….. just until you start playing with others. Then, we finally realized how silly that feeling was. We’re in the middle of a group that loves the same hobby as us, speaks the same language and meme as us, and looks forward to making new friends like us. It was always a very big step to cross over, but after that, it’s only fun and excitement waiting.
Judging in big events isn’t like any other event.
- When you judge at a local event, you’re doing almost every work in the event: flooring, deck checking, scorekeeping, etc. But when it’s a large event like GP, you’ll be assigned into a role that you’ll primarily focus on that for a whole day. This offers a better workflow to the judge team.
- However, the keyword is “primarily.” In real practice, we still do multiple jobs LOL. Team Leaders will always talk with each other to see there is any additional help needed. Sometimes, the Sleep-in team requires more people so judges from other teams would come and help. Sometimes, a sealed format side event is about to start so they may require judges from other teams to help distribute the product, or else, the event could get very badly delayed. In the end, we are one big lovely team that is willing to help each other all the time.
- This is also a very good opportunity to get to talk and interact with more judges when you’re helping other teams. I even get to meet new judge peers from going to help here and there (and that included me coming to the event too early so I got nothing to do as well LOL.) That also includes Marin-san in the last day of GP Nagoya as well. I’m so glad not to only get to know her, but also my previous job was so boring so it’s a lot more fun to help her in Two-Headed Giant Sealed event.
You’ll encounter troublesome players (or even spectators.)
- It’s impossible for a community to have no troublesome guy, and that includes Magic community as well. I encountered a player who just grabbed multiple life pads at a time in the middle of the chaotic crowd, so I had to warn him to take only 1 at a time because we may run out of them before the end of the event. That player was not happy at all. I’m very sure I told him nicely, no shouting, but perhaps he took it as he was offended. He asked me for my name and looked at my name tag. What made it worse was after that for a few seconds, he took a photo of me talking to another player without asking any permission. That surely didn’t come from a good intention, and I don’t feel comfortable at all. Therefore, I went to discuss this incident with the Channelfireball staff. Thankfully, that CFB staff went to talk with the player for me, and everything got settled.
- Another thing you always have to beware is an interaction from the spectator. We understand that not every player understands all the MTG rules, but still, we have to prevent undesired things from happening. For Missed Triggers, our way of ruling is a bit complicated. If a player misses his/her own triggered ability, if that trigger is not a bad trigger, then we’ll most likely just stay silent and let it pass by. However, many players do not know this part, and they tend to remind the players whenever a trigger is missed. We’d always try to avoid that by asking spectators to remain silent.
We never know how valuable it is until we don’t have them.
- For us Thai players, it’s very common to have large even held in a mall that’s still in the city area. That’s not always true for other countries. Thai players mainly focus only on the bad parts about using Central Latphrao as the GP venue (which to be fair, there are quite a lot.) However, after talking with many foreign friends, including Ono-san and Reid Duke, I learned that they are all very thankful the GP venue is located in the middle of the city. This is what I always remind Thai friends that we’re quite lucky in that part.
GP at Japan is so much more fun!!
- I am so glad I got accepted to judge in GP Nagoya. It was a totally priceless experience. This was also my first time applying so I think I am very lucky to get accepted right away.
- First of all, the venue is so huge. It’s probably 4 times bigger than GP Bangkok venue even though the number of visitors are around 3.5 times higher. It allows a lot more moving space for everyone as well. A big guy like me couldn’t appreciate this extra space more. Back in GP Bangkok, it was so difficult to move into the center of the row because the space between each row is very small. In Nagoya, I can run into any players who make the call. Totally made my day a whole lot easier.
- Japanese players are so nice to the judges! Normally, we will always meet players who will demand judges to speak a specific language. Of course, we will do our best to find them one, but that also comes with a very long delay because that judge may not be available right away. However, it’s totally a different story. Whenever I take the call, the Japanese player will always ask me first if I could speak Japanese or not. I would reply back that I can speak simple Japanese. What always follows is that the player will try his best to explain to me slowly in simple Japanese so that I do not have to go fetch another Japanese judge. As a judge, you always feel happy whenever you successfully answer a call for the players, but for this case with Japanese players, the happiness doubles!! It felt so good when you are able to communicate with foreign players, using the most from the foreign language you know so little. This even encourages me to study Japanese even more……. until when I get back to the real world and found that I have no time to do that LOL. Anyway, Japanese players are so lovely. I really enjoy my time judging for them, and without a doubt, I will definitely be back again! Thank you very much, Japan!
- I also got to join the Cultural Exchange Party. I get to know so many new friends from there: Justin, Kazushi-san, Jose, Yano-san, Kentaro-san, Matthew, and many more. This is all thanks to Moe-san for organizing this party. It was great to know many more friends, getting to hang out with many more judge fellows after work. Normally during the day, we’d be so busy and didn’t get much chance to talk with each other. We enjoyed ourselves so much…. almost a bit too much because we literally had to run back to the station to catch the last train!
Neatness No.1 World Ranking: Japan
- This has nothing to do with judging, but I’m always impressed by how the Japanese strongly focuses on neatness. When the end of each day is approaching, I saw event staff starting to organize the tables and chairs again. They align the rows of each chair so carefully so that’s it’s straight in each row and column. I even saw them literally align the sight like when you’re shooting a gun. That’s a whole another level of dedication!
So much positive energy.
- Another fact, which could be the biggest one, that made me enjoy judging at GPs so much is the judge community. We are so full of positive energy all around us. Everyone is willing to help each other. Everyone always encourages others to learn and try new things, and when you make a mistake, there was no negative response to that at all. You’ll only get a nice message like “Don’t worry man, we learn from it.” or “It’s okay. We got you covered.” I may sound like an old man here, but you don’t really get this vibe much more when you’re in the real working life. And that makes me really appreciate how nice this community is.
- It’s never really a written rule or tradition at all, but in every GP there will always be a table in the judging room that everyone will pool in snacks and foods from their area for sharing. We just come in and leave kinds of stuff there for others. No need to say which is from whom. It just shows how much people in this community are willing to share with others. Half of my luggage was filled with snacks from Thailand, and almost all of them were finished by the end of the event. I’m so happy people love the stuff I brought.
These past 2 GPs have been a memorable experience for me. If you’re a judge, I highly recommend you to try to come judging at GP at least once. Not only you’ll learn so much, but it’s the best way of enjoying Magic from a judge point. My next goal now is to judge Japanese GP once every year. Also, I’d like to try judging in the USA or Europe at least once as well. That’ll probably take some time since my free time is so limited, but I really hope it happens someday. Perhaps I’ll have to bribe my family to have a vacation around the same place as the GP, LOL.
Lastly, I’d like to give my special thanks to everyone who made my days so special: Wearn, Yu Win, Christian, Florian,
Hans, Riccardo, Steven, Ito-san, QJ, Eric, Umesaki-san, Moe-san,Yano-san, Jose, Kazushi-san, Marin-san, Sawada-san, Chiaki-san, and so many other judges. I’m sorry if I didn’t name you, but I’m really thankful to all of you that were a part of my great experience. It was truly priceless, and this will be a piece of memory I’ll never forget.