A Change to the L2 Certification Process

We’re announcing a change to the L2 requirements today. You can read them here.

In order to talk about why we’re making this change, we first have to talk about what it means to be a new L2 and the Organized Play changes that prompted adjusting the definition.

Under the old system, the distinction between L1 and L2 was very clear. L1s were certified for Regular REL enforcement, and L2s were certified for Competitive REL enforcement. As a rule, L2s were expected to be involved with their community (in particular making new judges), but that was about it.

With the advent of the PPTQ system and the requirement for L2s to Head Judge them, it introduced a new constraint – L2s needed to be familiar enough with tournament procedures that they could run them in an environment where they might be in charge. The previous L2 definition didn’t provide that confidence. Sure, they could make the correct rulings, but running a PPTQ is a lot more than just making rulings.

The first attempt at defining the requirements for achieving/maintaining L2 focused on the HJ aspect. The theory went that if they could demonstrate the ability to HJ a tournament with people working with them, that would be sufficient. However, after putting that into practice, a couple of problems emerged.

* The opportunities to HJ a multiple-judge tournament as an L1 were few and far between. The main tournament at that level is a GPT, but those don’t usually have multiple judges. An L2 is needed for the PPTQ, so that wasn’t an option. The “correct” way to do it involved engineering an artifical situation, such as a 12-man GPT (or random “competitive” draft) with multiple judges. Having to engineer these situations isn’t what we wanted, because…

* Judges weren’t learning what we wanted them to learn. We know these judges know Competitive REL policy, and nothing else would arise during these artifical events. Success at one of these events checked a box; it didn’t actually imply that they’d gained the tools and experience they’d eventually need.

Based on this, we took a further look at the requirements. How could we feel comfortable that judges were learning what they needed to know? The main change of thinking came from the idea that the “Head” Judging part wasn’t something that needed to be checklisted. It should be derivable from a combination of tested rules/policy knowledge, good past experience as a floor judge that they can draw upon, and demonstrated diplomacy. And now we do have a great new venue that needs multiple judges and will allow judges to gain this experience – the PPTQ system itself.

So, the major change to the requirements is that the “HJ two multi-judge tournaments” has been changed to “judge three ‘high-level’ tournaments.” Those are Competitive PPTQ+ tournaments, where we normally expect a substantial number of players along with one or more other judges to learn from. The list there is not exhaustive, and large regional events may qualify – check with your RC! Combined with the other prerequisites, and the interview process, we think that’ll give everyone confidence that these certified people are ready to run their own PPTQ.

We’re also giving Regional Coordinators the ability to – in consultation with the Judge Manager – modify these requirements to suit the specifics of their region. This is especially important for less-developed regions, who may need help bootstrapping into the PPTQ system. If you think you’re in a unique situation your RC may be able to figure out something appropriate that works for you.

Better, faster, stronger. The new L2 will be a tournament machine, and we’re always going to be looking for better ways to train and certify them.

11 thoughts on “A Change to the L2 Certification Process

  1. While what you write here makes sense, and seems clear from the perspective of what’s coming in the future, what comes down the official announcements from Andy seems to say “We have too many L2s, so we’re going to make you all jump through some hoops to thin the numbers a bit”.

    1. I can honestly say that’s the first time I’ve heard this interpretation of the changes, and I’ve had a LOT of discussions on it.

      I feel strongly that the bar has been set higher simply to push us to be better. PTQ’s (and magic in general) have grown to unprecedented levels and a new L2 simply wasn’t equipped to handle it. Standards had to change because the needs of the magic community changed. That’s my interpretation anyway.

      1. Really? The sentiment that Simon expresses has come up in almost every discussion that I’ve noticed. But perhaps I see it that way because I share that interpretation myself.

  2. New requirement: work three “large” events, such at PTQs, SCG Opens, or GPs.

    While I find these requirements to be reasonable, I feel that the abovementioned requirement will be the hardest for most judges, since the mentality of large events is not “staff the L1 to give them experience,” but “staff the L2 and use as few L1s as possible, for they lack experience.” Hopefully with the rise of the PPTQ/PTQQ (whichever you prefer), more L1s will see staffing opportunities to help them in this goal. However, unless a shift in judge staffing occurs, I do not foresee more L1 staffing at major events like GPs.

  3. These changes are amazing! This was the only complaint I had about the new l2 requirements and they totally nailed the fix. Great job wizards of the coast

  4. As a L1 from Finland I’m happy that this change was made. I understand and agree completely with raising the L2 requirements but the original change was not well thought out considering areas with smaller playerbase combined with the L2 head judge requirement for PPTQs.
    The previous requirements raised some great discussion here about how to distribute head judge positions to allow current L1:s to qualify at least at some point for L2. Our current L2:s were great and accommodating and basically all of them felt that as long as they have secured their continued L2 qualifications arrangements can be made. Also our TO:s have been understanding and willing to give head judge positions to L1:s in competitive tournaments in order to let them qualify for L2. But even with all that the situation really felt like we were jumping through hoops here to allow the possibility for advancement.
    The updated requirements seem to be what was wanted in the first place. Require L1:s to participate in larger and more complex events and learn from the current L2:s and L3:s head judging those events.

    1. Copying my reddit answer:

      The tournament report serves three purposes:

      You have to demonstrate that you paid attention during the tournament. Also, writing down what happened helps you internalize the lessons

      It improves community and helps spread knowledge

      As the role is defined by being able to HJ PPTQs, L2s will, on occasion, have to DQ someone, with all the associated paperwork. The tournament report requirement ensures that they are able to describe a Magic situation in at least somewhat cogent fashion.

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