12 Years of the Pro Tour (Part 2)

Some time ago, I posted a blog entry labelled as “Part 1.” It seems wrong that I should leave that hanging. At long last, I will continue…

Judge Responsibilities and Assignments

Some aspects of working a Pro Tour have been the same for a very long time–the same tasks that you see at a GPT, PPTQ, or GP even now were part of the Pro Tour in 2002. Judges did deck checks. They handed out result slips. They posted pairings. They answered calls on the floor. They pushed in chairs. What has changed most is in how those tasks are assigned. Here’s a quick look at team assignments from 2002:


Notice anything interesting here? What does the Blue team do? The Gold team? You needed further instruction from the HJ or your TL to know your specific responsibilities. Also, your team’s responsibilities might change from round to round. I think the intent was to reduce monotony. Now, things are a bit clearer up front; we just call the teams by what they do–Logistics, Checks, Features, Paper–and let you do your job.

There were a few specific assignments. Mark Rosewater (then L4) and Shawn Doherty (L3, even then) were the feature match judges. Feature matches were not completely different, but were on a much smaller scale. I’ll talk more about that later. Paul Barcley was assigned as the Oracle Guy. Why was that necessary?

In 2002, the internet was around, but it was nowhere near as developed as it currently is. Cell phones were around, but were not the reliable devices we carry today. Tablets didn’t exist. This event was the extended format (also known as type 1.x at one point) a format that allowed cards from Tempest through Onslaught–years of evolution in rules and templates. What was the rules text of any given card? Today, we would pick up our phone, open an app, and there it is. But in 2002, the only reliable answer for the pro tour was a PRINTED version of the oracle text. I was a bit of an outlier in that I had a Palm Pilot with a copy of the oracle text–but my answers still were not official, should someone need the official answer. It was Paul’s job to provide those texts when necessary.


I worked only 1 day of PT Houston in 2002. At the time, I had a spouse who was less than supportive of my judging hobby, so it was what I could do. Admittedly, this would affect anything I might have received… but I got nothing for working PT Houston 2002. I was local, so no need (or expectation) of travel help. I also received: 0 foils, 0 cards, 0 cash. I bought a lousy hot dog from the concession stand for lunch, and I may have even paid for parking.

A few judges received travel sponsorships. These were a fantastic way to start pulling the worldwide judge community together, something we enjoy now. These were highly sought, and well-deserved were awarded. Sponsorship here was flight and hotel, not a lot more.

I know other judges received a box and foils. If you worked side events, there was a separate compensation plan. I’ve heard side event judges were paid $1 per player for side events at the PT. I don’t know how much this amounted to, but I suspect it wasn’t very much. There weren’t many players for side events at the PT, because they were there to play in the PT! (This was particularly true for day 1.) I would also guess this was a headache for bookkeeping, but I really have no idea there!

For current PT events, judges are independent contractors paid directly by wizards. I won’t disclose amounts or exact contract details, but what I will say you may have heard already from other sources: it covers expenses, but it’s not enough to quit your day job! Obviously, it is highly unlikely that any of us will get rich by working as a judge. Yet, I include this section because it is a part of what enables to continue doing what we do. I also think it is important to remember that what we do requires specialized skill sets and our time is valuable.


Not much has really changed in 12 years in terms of players and judges. In fact, a number of players from 2002 are still playing on the PT or have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Rather than write a lot here, I’ll simply gather some statistics here. These are correct to the best of my knowledge as of this posting.

Player Counts
351 players in PT Houston (November 2002)
349 players in Atlanta for PT Journey into Nyx 2014 (May 2014)
358 players in Portland for PT Magic 2015 (August 2014)
356 players in Hawaii for PT Khans of Tarkir 2014 (October 2014)
Hall of Fame Members
36 current HoF players
25 eventual HoF players played at PT Houston 2002
10 eventual HoF players won money (made Top 64) at PT Houston 2002
=69.4% of eventual HoF members played at PT Houston 2002
=27.8% of eventual HoF members won money at PT Houston 2002
$48,855 won at PT Houston 2002 by eventual HoF members (of $200,130 prizes)
=24.4% of prize money in 2002 were won by eventual HoF members

Digging Through Time

Thanks for hanging out with me while I delve through the Pro Tour Past. I promise to write at least one more in this series to review what I think it the biggest change since 2002 — the show itself!

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