Judge Levels and Maintenance

Level 1

The process for Level 1 candidates will not change from current requirements. For new members, once you have all of the prerequisite classes completed, and an endorsement review from an L2 or L3 judge, the membership tab on your profile will allow you to add the L1 membership to your account. Starting today, the cost of an L1 membership will be lowered to $75 USD. If you already purchased your membership new this year, since you paid the previous membership price, you will still be eligible for the old 2021 welcome bonus, but please remember the welcome bonus must be redeemed at a 2021 conference.

Level 2

The Level 2 process is also remaining the same. You must hold an active Level 1 certification, complete the non-elective branches of the Level 2 Skill Tree, and have a recommendation review from judging together at a Wizards Sanctioned, In-person Competitive REL event written by a Level 2 or Level 3 Judge in the previous 12 months.

You will notice that while a specific number of events is not mandatory, you will need to work at least one (maybe more) Competitive Event with a Level 2 or Level 3 Judge in order to get your review. This is one of the most asked about requirements for L2s, so we want to take a moment to address this. We had a long discussion about the role of L2s and whether or not someone without prior experience should be able to go from Uncertified to Level 2 without ever having worked a Comp REL Event, or even any events at all. Our goal with this requirement was that L1s who gained the needed experience prior to the COVID pandemic would still be able to advance without lowering the bar for all L2s.

Now, “pre-COVID” is quite a long time ago, so why is it still 12 months? A lot can change about a person’s skill sets, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations in a year. Most judges will not feel comfortable recommending someone and discussing how they did at an event they worked on over a year ago, so we did not want to set the baseline any further out than that. Anything older than 12 months will be looked at on a case by case basis, but is considered an exception to policy, so it needs JA Approval. If you are an L2 Candidate and a Level 2 or Level 3 wants to submit a review from an event that was over 12 months ago, please have them contact us for approval and permissions.

Level 2 Badges and Level 3

The Level 3 process is fairly similar to what was previously sketched and planned, although there have been some small changes. Now that all of the base classes for Level 3 have been uploaded, you’ll find extra modules at the bottom of each Pillar, which contains spots for the Pillar-specific self review, and the Level 3 Recommendations. The full Level 3 Advancement Process will open at the start of 2022. However, in the meantime, Steps 1-4 Below can all be completed by anyone wanting to begin or continue their process. Over the next few weeks the Level Requirements resource page will be updated with the information below, and any sign-off forms will be published and linked there.

As we mentioned previously, candidates will need a Self-Review and 2 Recommendations in each of the first 5 Pillars approved before attempting the practical for their Side Events Lead Badge at a Large Tournament or Convention (~410+ players). For those who may have already had experience in a similar role, we will be processing Waivers for the practical (you will still be required to complete the modules and reviews). To get the waiver, you’ll need a sign-off from 2 TOs for previous performance as Swiss or Overall Side Events Lead. The form for Sign-offs by TOs will be available within the next 2 weeks, and will be posted on the updated Level Requirements Page.

Once you have the Side Events Lead Badge, you’ll need the Self Reviews and 2 Recommendations for the last two pillars (Penalty and Policy Philosophy and Investigations) in order to take the L3 Preliminary Exam, which will be available online in January.

The full L3 Process is below:

L3 Testing

Historically, the previous Level 3 Process relied on hundreds of hours of volunteer time from judges. At launch, Judge Academy attempted to transfer and keep the entire process. The 2020-2021 Level 3 process cost $750 USD for each candidate plus additional expenses for roles like the VC, TLTP, PEI etc. All of those fees were paid out directly to contracted judges by Judge Academy without cost to the candidate. However, this was not a sustainable model long term, and we needed a new solution.

Rather than creating an additional financial barrier to advancement, we’ve streamlined the process without lowering the bar for Level 3. Additionally, since those L2s working their way up to L3 are some of the most active and involved members of the community, we have made the decision to cover the cost of L3 testing so that candidates do not have to cover the testing fees for their advancement process.

  • L3 Practicum: After a candidate has passed their L3 final exam, any Large Tournament can serve as their L3 Practicum. For this, the candidate will need to Team Lead on Day 1 of a Large Tournament with an L3 on your team as a shadow or support. We’ll contract with that judge to observe you, help where needed, and gather feedback. Your practicum is still a learning opportunity, and any feedback will be used to help guide your Prep Interview and ensure that you walk into your Evaluation Weekend ready to succeed.
  • Prep Interview: Designed to be a guided review of your L3 Practicum, and help the candidate determine what they need to work on and improve before they schedule their Evaluation Weekend.
  • L3 Evaluation Weekend: Once the candidate has finished their Prep Interview, JA will schedule their Evaluation Weekend for an upcoming Large Tournament that they have been staffed for. The candidate will Team Lead on Day 1 of the event. They will have a Level 3 Judge contracted to observe and gather feedback. That judge may or may not be on their team, but they will be in an observation role, not a supporting role. On Day 2 or after the event is finished, the candidate will sit down with their Evaluation Observer and an L3 Evaluation Lead. They will review feedback from the L3 Practicum, Prep Interview, and the day before, and evaluate whether the candidate has met the base expectation of an L3 for all 7 Pillars. If needed, the evaluators may run any roleplay or scenarios needed to confirm the candidate’s success.

L3 Evaluation Lead Badge:

If you are interested in becoming an L3 Evaluation Lead, there is a process to do so.

First, since you are expected to evaluate candidates based on the 7 Pillars within Judge Academy’s L3 process, you will be required to take and pass the L3 courses to be an Evaluation Interview member/observer.

To become an L3 Evaluation Lead, you must have participated in at least 3 Evaluations or Panels. Then, you will be contracted with another Evaluation Lead serving in the Observer role. After you have submitted the L3 Evaluation, your experience will be reviewed for approval.

If you have former Panel Lead experience, and wish to get the L3 Evaluation Lead badge, we’d love to help! We still ask that you complete the necessary L3 modules on Judgeacademy.com, in order to ensure that you are up to date and current, and to understand what has been taught/expected of Level 3s through the process. Once you have completed all of the Level 3 modules, please email me directly at Nicolette@judgeacademy.com.

Large Tournament Head Judge Badge:

While we test L3s on Team Leading at a Large Event, and expect all Level 3s to be able to Head Judge mid-sized events (L3s recommended as HJ for events over 226 players), there will be events that occur that are larger, more logistically complicated, or have high enough prizes on the line that the level of experience needed of a Head Judge to ensure all appeals, investigations, round turnovers and breaks are handled appropriately is not necessarily expected of all Level 3s.

For events 410+ players, 2 day events with over 10+ rounds, or specialty invitations and other elite prizes, we have created an additional badge available for Level 3s. Requirements are below:

    1. Hold an active L3 Certification.
    2. Complete all required L3 modules.
    3. Serve as Team Lead at a Large Event for each of the following, submitting a short event-based self review after each event.
      • Paper -OR- Pairings AND Slips
      • Stage -OR- End of Round
      • Deck Lists -OR- Deck Checks
    4. Endorsements from 2 LTHJs to attempt the LTHJ Practicum
    5. Passing L3P Exam within the last 6 months.

Once Steps 1-5 are completed, you’ll be able to schedule your Practicum, where you will serve as an Appeals Judge for a Large Tournament.

After the first event (your LTHJ Practicum) you will need an assessment/recommendation from the Head Judge of the event. Regardless if you receive your recommendation or not, you’ll complete an event-based self review covering both areas you excelled in, and those areas that need improvement, including any steps you plan to take to improve those skills before the next practical.

After receiving a successful Practicum Review, you’ll be awarded the LTHJ Badge. It is our recommendation that new Large Tournament Head Judges continue to serve as appeals judges 1-2 more times before acting as a sole or Primary Head Judge, as they continue to grow and tone their skills in their new role.

If you previously held a Grand Prix Head Judge Certification, and are interested in obtaining your Large Tournament Head Judge Badge please let us know! We still ask that you complete the necessary L3 modules on Judgeacademy.com, in order to ensure that you are up to date and current, and to understand what has been taught/expected of those L3s serving as your Team Leads.

We also ask for recommendation review from a former GPHJ(or current LTHJ), and a Sign-off from a Tournament Organizer for whom you have served as a Head Judge for a large event (410+ players) previously, as well as a general self-review to help internalize what pillars/skills may have become rusty and how you plan to work towards polishing those skills as a LTHJ.

Once you have completed all of the Level 3 modules, please email me directly at Nicolette@judgeacademy.com to express your interest and to receive appropriate links/forms needed.