RPTQ for Pro Tour Dominaria

RPTQ for Pro Tour Dominaria

Despite travelling four times already this year to staff large Magic events, it occurred to me recently that I have not judged at an event since Tournament Center unshackled me from the registration desk at GP Madrid in December 2017 and I spent a day on the papers team. It was with this in mind that I readily accepted an offer from the owner of Fan Boy Three in Manchester to help out with their Regional Pro Tour Qualifier and associated Last Chance Qualifier.

Due to some communication issues, final arrangements for the event weren’t put in place until the weekend I was in Amsterdam and the few days after I got back. Fortunately, due to my current working situation my last minute availability was pretty good. I eventually agreed to Head Judge the Last Chance Qualifier on the Saturday and work as a Floor Judge on the Sunday for the RPTQ proper.

I arrived at the shop nice and early on the Saturday morning to make sure I had chance to survey they space and make sure I was able to visualise things like where I would put papers and how best to lay out the room. Luckily the team at Fan Boy Three had already set up the room and numbered the tables, so all I had to do was sort out deck lists and product for the sealed event.

Logistics has always been a strength of mine, so I had no concerns about being able to run the event from that perspective. I had all the product prepped, deck lists printed and WER set up with time to spare. We had everyone on their seats and the player meeting wrapped up ready for the players to open their boosters bang on the start time we had announced. It was from here that the rust started to show.

My round one deck check took an age. I’m not as up to date on card names and the sets on general so finding cards on the check list was not as easy as I had remembered. My eye for marked cards has also diminished, so I spent an extra thirty seconds on that. All in all, a solo Australian method deck check with no problems took almost fourteen minutes! My best time from when I was judging every weekend was under five minutes for one deck. My personal best (at a judge conference under non-tournament conditions) is under two!

Despite my rust, the format is rather quick, so we were able to make up time over the course of the next few rounds and on one occasion I had to insert a mini lunch break as we finished so fast that starting the next round early would have caused more problems than it would solve. My rust also started to wear off as we went along. I found myself looking up cards and policy less often and by the last round of the Swiss I felt that I was back up to the level I felt was acceptable for judging these sort of events and I hoped that this would help me raise my game for the RPTQ tomorrow.

The final wrapped up about ninety minutes ahead of schedule which meant I could catch the much better train home and be back in Preston in time for a reasonable dinner time.

I learned a lot from this event and much more than I used to get out of the weekly PPTQ grind. Not only did this event highlight some weaknesses that I have let creep back into my judge-game, but it also reminded me why I love officiating this game. The people.

The fun of Sunday trains meant that I ended up driving to Manchester for the RPTQ. It’s been a while since I last braved the inner workings of the city centre but I was able to find my usual parking site and arrived at the venue at the same time as the Head Judge and the TO. I had taken the liberty of spending some of the free time between judge calls at the LCQ to do some small jobs in preparation for the event, but we still had eighty sealed pools to prepare and promos to sort. Despite the relatively short time between arriving and the event starting we got everything done and I was particularly excited to be doing some judging as part of a team again.

The rust of Saturday had mostly dissipated, but I found new problems to work on as we progressed through the event. I’ve gotten out the habit gf talking to other judges. I noticed that I was getting involved in a lot of things with a head judge attitude and not communicating things to the actual head judge. A downside of spending a lot of judging in a leadership role is that it is sometimes a difficult transition to step back from that desire to lead and work as part of a wider team.

Something that I was proud about during the event was that I gathered enough material to write a decent review. The corollary to not judging often is not writing or receiving reviews. I was able to check both of these off my list this weekend.

The RPTQ went pretty smoothly from an operational point of view. There was an unfortunate moment in the final rounds where we had to end someone’s event prematurely, but overall the event was fast with few hiccups.

I ended the weekend feeling like there was a lot of catching up to do. Complacency is a difficult obstacle to overcome, especially if you feel you are a high performer. There were plenty of areas for me to work on in the coming weeks and one of the bigger takeaways is that I need to don the black for judging more frequently.

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