Academy Blog: Ghosts and the Modern Era of EOR

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Hey, remember that “Logistics Champion” title? Let’s talk about event logistics then!

I’ve recently worked on several larger competitive events, and I’ve noticed that there are two areas that have the potential for evolution. End-of-Round and Deck Checks.

I want to start by saying that these are both ideas that I haven’t had the opportunity to test in any meaningful way, so there may be significant holes in the processes. Don’t try this at home, unless you’re willing to run the risk of the unknown.

A significant part of optimizing the logistics for an event is reducing turnover between rounds, making it so that players have the opportunity to play more Magic and have less time being bored between their matches.

This article isn’t about competitive REL league-style play, with asynchronous rounds, but that’s a challenge that I’ve thought about and might show up later. Anyways…

End-Of-Round has historically had a few primary goals:

  1. Make sure that matches go to turns when appropriate.
  2. Have a judge watch as many tables as possible, so as to minimize time extensions in case of a call.
    • Judges who have the expertise and permission to perform rewinds etc… are a priority of their own, as they’ll already be there.
    • Getting the head judge and appeals judge to the last few tables means that they’re already aware and focused on the game in case there is an investigation or other involved call, and they don’t need to spend as much time getting caught up.
  3. Let the scorekeeper know about any matches that haven’t been reported yet, don’t have any players at it, and have no match slip.

This last point has turned into “Ghost” matches* – and these are a priority, as they won’t resolve on their own. Even if a match doesn’t have a judge at it, eventually the players will end their games or call a judge if an error occurs. A result that hasn’t been submitted is very unlikely to be submitted unless the players are reminded.

The task of tracking down ghost matches has generally been assigned to the EOR team, as it is, well… part of ending the round. However, this is sometimes complicated by the fact that the EOR team is also trying to make sure they have judges on time extensions and covering ongoing matches. Ghosts are, of course, difficult to spot, because looking at the tournament area, they look exactly like a match that has completed and has submitted their match result.

This has added a high-priority, low-visibility task to what is already one of the most logistically intense roles at events.

My proposal is to give this job to another team – the slips team!

Okay. So match slips haven’t really existed for a few years because of digital result entry, and so their task, and therefore the team, has disappeared. However, one of the other key tasks assigned to that team was sorting all of the match slips during the end-of-round procedure to help narrow down no-player, no-slip matches, and get results back to the scorekeeper.

Even if this task does stay with the EOR team, it should be identified as a clearly distinct task. While I’ve prioritized identifying ghosts for EOR teams in the past, ghost hunting and table coverage are two distinct tasks and even operate off of different information.

Separating the tasks does mean you need at least two judges so that the unique responsibilities can be performed, and that number scales up with larger events to accomplish in a reasonable amount of time. For large enough events, these may need to be two separate teams, but in any case the tasks should be separated in a way that they are often not.

Keeping one judge or team focused on ghost hunting and the other on EOR should help smooth out the process. Rather than trying to accomplish two logistically complicated tasks at the same time, maybe just one for each of the two teams.

I did mention deck checks, but I’m going to save that for another time. For now – how have you been approaching end-of-round? Do you primarily use Purple Fox? Clipboard? Discord communication?

I think that continuing to use Purple Fox and Discord (or a clipboard at smaller events) is still important for the traditional end-of-round tasks, but we should create a new team, perhaps something like…

If you have this conversation in the Judge Academy Discord, feel free to tag me!

*I’m curious to track down the origin of the term “ghost” – the first I remember using it was Flesh and Blood Nationals in Orlando 2021. Let me know if you know of an earlier use! Message me on Discord or send me an email!


  1. Dave

    is the blog dead? We used to get an update at least once a month here…

    and did the email notices get fixed? notifications were broken for at least a month…might be worth an update on the blog 😀