As you’ve likely read by now, Wizards of the Coast announced the Organized Play event plan for the rest of 2022 and moving forward. This, of course, has a huge impact on the judge program – so what do today’s announcements mean for you? Let’s dive in!
The Path to the Pro Tour
It’s been a long time since there have been regular, large, in-person tournaments. Now, with the announcement from Wizards, in addition to event series scheduled by several large TOs, tournaments have resumed on an international scale! Your health and safety are of the utmost importance of course, so continue using your best judgment when applying to events and take any precautions you feel are necessary.
The new path to the Pro Tour starts at the local store level, with Regional Championship Qualifiers taking place on the local level. The exact specifications for RCQs may vary by region, depending on the requirements of the Regional TO. However, level two judges are qualified to take on the role of head judge for these events. As they scale up, floor judges may be recommended, but are not necessarily required.
Regional Championships are the next step, taking the winners of RCQs, as well as individuals who qualified through various other means, as described in the announcement itself. The championships are large events, held three times a year per region (The regions for Organized Play are not the same as the Judge Academy regions) with an expected attendance that varies by region and player-base, with some expecting 400+ qualified players. As we refined our Large Tournament Head Judge certification we coordinated with Wizards of the Coast’s needs to ensure we could specifically prepare qualified Head Judges for Regional Championships and other large multi-day events.
Regional Championships come with opportunities for judges to utilize the Sides Lead and Day 2 Team Lead badges, as well as get experience on larger Regular REL events and some smaller Competitive REL events. In general, Regional Championships will have a lot in common with MagicFests – experiences with a lot going on beyond the featured event.
The Pro Tour will function similarly to how it has in the past, albeit slightly smaller. It is expected to have three hundred players in attendance and staffed primarily with level three judges. The World Championships will have closer to one hundred twenty-eight players and will be similarly staffed.
Levels and Certifications
While the definitions and expectations of the various levels and certifications haven’t changed, it may have been a while since you took a deep look at what the expectations are for each level.
- Level One: Foundational rules knowledge. No expectation of Competitive policy. Level one judges can expect to act as floor judges on non-competitive events at RCs and potentially accrue some competitive level experience at RCQs. Level one judges with the Competitive Policy badge can expect to have some opportunities to work as floor judges for competitive events at RCQs and RCs.
- Level Two: Advanced rules knowledge. Foundational Competitive policy knowledge. Level two judges can expect to act as Head Judge for RCQs and have regular opportunities to floor judge RCQs and RCs.
- Sides Lead*: Significant logistical experience and knowledge. Sides Leads can expect to regularly lead several judges on scheduled or on-demand events at larger tournaments.
- Day 2 Team Lead*: Advanced rules and policy knowledge. Team-specific logistical knowledge. Day 2 Team Leads can expect to have some opportunities to work as team leads on day two of larger competitive events, such as RCs.
- Level Three: Advanced rules, policy, and logistics knowledge. Level three judges can expect to act as team leads on larger competitive events, or take on roles as side leads. Level three judges can also expect to have some opportunities to work as floor judges on the Pro Tour, with rarer opportunities for team leading at the Pro Tour.
- Large Tournament Head Judge*: Exceptional rules, policy, and logistics knowledge. Large Tournament Head Judges can expect some opportunities to act as Head Judge or Appeals Judge for RCs.
*These are the applications for the Sides Lead Practical and Waiver, Day 2 Team Lead Practical and TLTP Waiver, and Large Tournament Head Judge Practicum and former GPHJ Waiver.
With all of these events, you’re going to want to get out there and attend some of them! We have a little bit of guidance on how to get staffed for these events.
First off, make sure to check your privacy settings on JudgeAcademy.com. The default settings are designed to maximally protect you and your identity, but can make it difficult for Tournament Organizers to find out more about you. You may also want to adjust your notification settings, so that you can be alerted to new events in regions you’re interested in.
Once you have your settings taken care of, apply to events! Taking time to talk with your local TOs and express interest as well as being active in your local community can go a long way to building your judge brand.
This is something that Judge Academy has been planning and communicating with Wizards about for some time, and we understand that it has a significant impact on the shape of the judge community. Our focus has been on making sure that the certifications and services we offer are aligned with the vision and direction of Wizards of the Coast and their organized play plan.
We’re excited to return to events, see our old friends in person, and make new friends. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to join the Judge Academy Discord or reach out to Questions@JudgeAcademy.com.