This article wanted to be a Judge report about GP Ghent 2012. However because my lack of experience with GP’s i transformed it into a short story about the experience.

I have been a judge for over 1 and half year, but i never went to a GP as a judge. I was as a player and i admired the judges and their work at the GP. I knew they have roles and so on, and one of my passions is organizing events (almost any kind of since i like working on multiple levels with multiple resources and other). I have been applying for a GP for half a year and i was finally selected. I was over the moon with that.

I booked my plane, and prepared. I had room sponsoring from Wizards so that was a non-issue. I was selected to work 3 days : Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In full.

I arrived early on, Thursday, and after spending the night in Brussels, the next morning at 8Am i was on the Train to Ghent. I arrived in Ghent at St-Pieter Station and took Tram 1 to the terminus station : Flanders Expo. Checked in at the hotel and at 10:30 i was on site. GP experience was starting.

As a judge, you have many responsibilities. You are not a player so your conduct must be perfect. Every judge is required to have the Black shirt, black belt, and black trousers. They are distinguishable and must be seen and recognized by everyone. Also they must keep they shirt tucked in and keep an impeccable appearance.

Responsibilities

  • Keep a good/impeccable appearance all the time
  • Know your duties for the day, and also know at least what teams work there. You are required to provide exact information to any player. If you are not informed about some specifics, redirect the player to a somebody that can help him.
  • Always know the tournament policy : Players will always ask question about decklists, legality of cards, alterations, starting times and procedure. Be able to answer them correctly.
  • Get your watch synchronized with the scorekeeper’s (or the timekeeper’s if any). You must always know what time is it, and how much is left of a round (if assigned to such tourneys)
  • Be polite : always, but always use words like ‘Please’, ‘Sir’, ‘You are Welcome’, polite addressing and so on. While we are not the players’ servants, we are required to help them, and make this experience a good one.
  • Report to your Team leader of any actions you take and were not discussed during the team meeting/briefing. You will always have to do something that was not discussed.
  • Help other judges, only after you have finished your direct tasks. You are required to fulfill your tasks completely. If you are unable, get help. If you provide help, do not forget to inform the team leader for how long you are away, or what other tasks you have left. Example: when assigned to work on side events, it is a must that the queues are continuously fed. Help the scorekeepers by directing players where they need to go. Instruct players to have money and DCI number available at every time
  • Report to the designated persons. The GP is a crowded place, and everybody has something to do.
  • Do not crowd areas. If thee is already a judge in an area that is currently on top of that situation, go somewhere else.
  • Take breaks. Yes this is a responsibility. You are required to stay focused and healthy. There is much work to do and you need to eat well, stay hydrated, and sit down as often as you can to rest your feet.

For me that were an overwhelming array of responsibilities with my daily duties on top of those. But after a few hours you get the hang of it and it works out.

I was designated to work on side events every one of those days. It was a please as the team changed every day (almost every one of the members).

We had a lot of work on the Public Event Stage.

Friday

  • we fired over 35 GP Trials (32 player single elimination). This kind of a tourney had to have a HJ to take care of that. So each of us, in turn took one of these tournaments to take care of. We had big lines of 16 tables, so each GPT was known where it is placed. After 3rd round, the top was played in another area, because the original line should be allocated to another GPT.
  • We fired over 15 Chaos Drafts.
  • We fired over 25 Chain Drafts (The winner received a Voucher and could use that to enter another Chain Draft or to redeem it for 3 boosters)

At the beginning of the day we had to set up the environment : queues, logistics, roles.

Saturday

In the morning we had almost nothing to do. We had our team meeting, and we were off to wait for players. Being there a day before, helped the team secure the logistics as i already knew most of the stuff involved.

This was a very busy day, even if the main event, The GP, was over 1300 players, there were dozens of players on the Public event stage. I do not know exactly, but we finished the pool for Chaos drafts (there were 36 total), and fired a lot of Chain Drafts. I witnessed at least 30 (we were using pagers, giving 7 to the players, and when the 8th man joined the tourney we would page the guys and a judge would await them with the product and tourney info), in this way we could manage a lot of tourneys, and not having judges announcing player names all the time or calling for tourneys. This was a good move from the organizers. This was an exhausting day. I arrived at 9AM and left at 9PM. he second half of the day i managed a legacy constructed tourney so i was not on the public event stage.

Sunday

Sunday we expected lots of of players, most of those who did not qualified for the second day at GP, would come to play the Legacy 1500E championship, or the other constructed Championships. We were there at 8:30Am, and my team leader was again Guillaume (L3, which had led us on Friday too). I managed to stay within the organizing team, With Guillaume and David as i have been there for 2 days already and knew everything.

The day started with a lot of players standing at a queue for 2 scorekeepers and it needed organization as at a regular intervals one of the scorekeepers would no nothing because players come to enroll with their friend and thus blocking the way to the other scorekeeper. Separate lines might be a solution.

Main attractions were the constructed championships, where the Legacy one gathered over 250 players and it was a full 9 round with T8 cut. So a team was designated to take care of this, a HJ, a few FJ, and 4 guys for the deckcheck team. The other constructed tournaments were about 6 rounds.

I stayed with the Smaller events, guiding judges and player as my experience from the other day was good, and also running LOST&FOUND. We received a lot of playmats, dice, sideboards, hoodies, even full decks. If you find something that does not belong to you at a GP, please bring it to the LOST& FOUND, which is usually located at the Public Event Stage. Even if the content is tempting do a good deed and help the player that is a lunatic. No good deeds go unpunished. After my lunch break i was off to my interviews with higher level judges, and then to the Legacy Championship, first on paper/floor, then on deckchecks team and then back on floor. That was exhausting. Even if i came at the event site at 8:30, at 19:30 i was still there. 3 days in full 12+ hours is exhausting. But i liked it a lot. This kind of work is liek a glove to me :d

I am happy because i met many remarkable people, i had a lot of interesting discussions with them, and with this occasion i would like to thank Riccardo, Eugene, David, Davide , Philipp, Guillaume, Hendrik, Kenny, Luca and many more. Thank you for your time and lessons you taught me.

So as for my first time as a judge at a GP, i enjoyed it a lot. Even if is exhausting, i liked that so much. Also meeting Karl Kopinski (who is a really great guy) and Svetlin Velinov (who made a marvelous art in Talrand) was nice. At the end of the day i answered dozens of rules questions (one involving Gempalm Incinerator taking down an Emrakul. Funny image :P), HJ-ed dozens of tourneys : GPT’s, chain draft, constructed, interacted with so many people, learned a lot).