Magic: The Judging

(Yes, it’s another post primarily about Magic. But it’s an exciting one!)

So yes, I’m blogging more on a best-effort basis than with any regularity. But I did mention that there might be something more exciting happening with Magic and I in the next few weeks– and it has now actually happened.

Those of you who are familiar with how good a player I actually am at Magic might have wondered, looking at the list on the last post– “Why is Brendan, no great shakes as a Magic player, going to all these fancy tournaments?” Well, I now have an answer that I am pleased to share. When I went to my first Friday Night Magic this summer, I happened to meet a judge who was playing at the tournament. I had previously given some thought to the judging program, but hadn’t made any firm decisions about it; however, when I heard that he was not only a judge, but a judge of sufficiently high level to mentor a new judgeling for the program, I decided to make his acquaintance.

Before I get too far, I should explain that Magic and the DCI (the tournament organization for Magic) recognize five levels of judges, conveniently numbered 1 (the lowest) through 5 (the highest). Level 1s are fully certified judges. Level 2 adds a mentoring capacity– the ability to teach new judgelings the ropes; it also shows more extensive rules and guidelines understanding. Level 2 is the lowest level to be on the floor of a Pro Tour. Level 3 adds the power to make new judges, as well as more mentoring roles; these judges are Head Judge at important tournaments. Levels 4 and 5 are very prestigious; they have international mentoring roles, often have management roles in the DCI, consult with Wizards on how Magic should be made, etc. Level 4s are often Head Judges at Grand Prix, and Level 5s, at Pro Tours. If you’re curious about numbers: DCIX, the website for DCI judges, shows that at the moment there are 1484 L1, 459 L2, 85 L3, 7 L4, and 6 L5 judges in the world.

So then, the judge I ran in to at FNM was not just “high enough” to help mentor; he was, in point of fact, a Level 4 judge– one of seven in the world. He was kind enough to be willing to take on a new judge trainee, and said that I should start at once– preferably tomorrow, as he was to head judge California Regionals and was understaffed.

So then, I’ve spent a great deal of time this summer learning from different judges, at different tournaments, as well as playing at smaller tournaments. As of Friday evening, I was listed as having judged (as a Level 0 trainee):

  • 1 Regional Championships (California - San Jose)
  • 6 Pro Tour Side Events at Pro Tour - San Diego 2007
  • 1 Grand Prix Trial

And then on Friday, my mentor gave me the Level 1 Judge examination, which I passed– and then had the opportunity to judge my first tournament as a certified judge the next day, for a Pro Tour Qualifier for PT - Valencia, in San Jose.

So what does this all mean?

Well, as an L1, I will be more effective in helping to create a new, bigger, cooler Magic club at Hopkins. (Being a TO will help with that as well, of course; judges can’t sanction tournaments, they just make them better.) But it also means that I can make effective contributions to the Magic community, through being available to help judge at big events, both in the Baltimore area and elsewhere.

Also, of course, I get a striped shirt. And those are just awesome: Pro Tour San Diego Judge Picture 

(Yes, that’s a fourteen-foot-high statue of a Serra Angel behind them.)