Two Years On

Written by Weedmonkey on December 22, 2011

It has now been two years since I first got tapped on the shoulder and asked to join the staff team. Since then, it has been quite the rollercoaster ride. There have been its share of ups and downs, as well as its share of challenges.

In my end-of-year article, I'll be taking a look back on the last year for the league, as well as reflect on issues that have impacted on the league in the past twelve months.

I Have a Life!

Where my first twelve months were epitomised by adjusting to life as a staff member, 2011 has been a battle of trying to balance my duties as Coverage and Website Content Director with the increasing demands that life has brought. I've moved (twice), started a new job a hour and a half's travel from home (and subsequently left it), attempted to return to study (and failed miserably), and started a manuscript for a publisher due in February next year.

With the changes to my life, there was also a marked decrease in activity levels on Magic-League. At times this caused a breakdown in communication in other staff members on certain issues, which in hindsight I could've made far more painless than it actually was (contrary to what some people believe staff are constantly communicating between each other). I've tried to do what I can when I've been around (I've done small projects when I've been able to throughout the year), but when Magic-League is at its most active when you first wake up of a morning, it can be difficult to involve other people in the process when you don't get any downtime until late in the afternoon.

Coming into Christmas and the new year, I think I can finally say I've settled into my role as a staff member. The key over the next twelve months is to consolidate this by being able to develop effective networks in the areas of the site I'm responsible for. As I'm unable to be around when I'm most needed in some areas (it's not possible for me to sacrifice a full night's sleep in order to write tournament coverage for example), to ensure I can keep development moving I need to structure it in a way where I can effectively facilitate it without being intensively involved in all areas.


Coming into this year, I was hoping the Coverage Framework would provide enough information to members that I'd be able to get people willing to volunteer their efforts on a semi-permanent basis to build up a coverage team. Put simply, that crashed and burned like Alex Bertoncini's professional Magic career (sorry, had to throw that joke in somewhere). However, I was blessed by gaining a couple of permanent volunteers to replace neosystems and EarthPunk, both of whom stepped away from Magic-League in mid-2010 to focus on their education. Firstly, moscowdemon came on board to lead tournament coverage in my absence. This was a boon to revitalising interest in tournament coverage, and for the first time in over a year we now have regular tournament coverage again for Masters and Invitationals. Then, over the past couple of weeks I've had Noremac come back to Magic-League and offer to lead a big push in boosting Magic-League's presence on social media sites.

The biggest challenge for coverage always has been finding enough personnel to fuel the developments that people want. Because of the nature of Magic-League, members are more interested in playing in tournaments rather than write about them. This makes it more difficult to get a semi-regular team of volunteers together to write coverage. Now that I have a couple of offsiders again, my goal for coverage for the next twelve months is to try and rope together people who have voluntered consistently for coverage into a definite team, and organise coverage in such a way that it can continue moving on its own even if I'm not around 24/7.

Also, I'd like to give a big thanks to the members who've taken time out to help with coverage. People like TheOneEye, xJudicatorx and archmage521 have helped where they can in assisting with tournament coverage (and apologies if I've left anybody out), and it is much appreciated.

Website Content

2011 was always going to be a year of reviewing documents and updating them. Whilst upheavals in circumstances have meant it's still a work in progress, there are a number of changes both visible and invisible to the entire community that are being undertaken. The two biggest are a complete overhaul of the How to Start Guide to better aim its content to helping increase player retention and getting new members hitting the ground running, and a review of the Floor Rules document.

The goal for the next twelve months in this area is to prepare everything for the new site. There is a possibility that the new website will go live next year, and if it is then I need to be ready to streamline the transition for players through guides to using the new site. This will bring benefits to both new and old players alike.


From a purely personal standpoint, I've come away from 2011 feeling like my judging abilities have hit a plateau. Whilst hitting plateaus in professional development is a normal part of the process, as a high-level judge it is frustrating when you are struggling to find the correct doors to open to begin the climb again to greater levels of ability. Over the next twelve months, the key will be to determine what methods of thinking are going to break this plateau.

For the judge department as a whole it has been an interesting side-effect of my reduced level of activity that I've been able to better observe other judges and identify exactly what levels they're at in terms of judging ability and how they think in regards to different judge issues. Over time, patterns begin to emerge in judge rulings that can indicate what gaps judges have in their knowledge and skills, as well as glean an image of a judge's competency and willingness to undertake what is necessary to function effectively as a judge.

However, the judge role as a whole has always been a contentious point between players and staff (and this is something I touched on in my last article). Various issues attached to it have been discussed and debated to death prevously on numerous occasions, and this has more or less degenerated to a stalemate where players put forward the same arguments and plans to solve issues such as tournament numbers, and staff put forward the same arguments explaining why it is not feasible to implement. Having been on both sides of the debate for a number of years, I understand both points of view. However, no progress will be made on this issue without new points being raised.

With the new year will come a cleaning up of the judge department. We will be removing all inactive judges and resetting the judge test at the same time (which is why we have delayed the test reset for a month). In regards to judging ability, I do have some ideas which I will be mulling over before approaching staff in the near future. Over the next twelve months, I want to try and take definitive steps to lift the quality of judges as a whole, as well as separate the judges that are serious about their positions from the judges that just want to hold tournaments. For the latter, these judges (both the current judges as well as members of the community that wish to become judges) need to seriously consider taking the judging element of being a judge on Magic-League seriously.

However, as the least-experienced J3 as far as I'm aware in terms of judging years (February will mark three years as a judge for me; other staff have been judging longer if not concurrently to the best of my knowledge), I'll need to look more into staff's philosophy of judging on Magic-League and how to strike the right balance of judging vs frequency of tournaments before figuring out how to best attack this. However, I am firmly of the belief that quality judges comes before tournament spamming.

I Probably Missed Some Things

Between this article and my last one, I think I've managed to cover everything about both the past year on Magic-League and where to go next year. I will do my best to continue to develop and grow both as a judge and a staff member. I'll probably have a few stumbles along the way, but I'll be doing my best to learn from my mistakes also.

To round it out, I'm going to answer some of the questions from Gerrardfo's upcoming better end of year article:

  1. Who is the best player currently active on the league? Why? Good question. There isn't a clear-cut crop of players at the top like there was in years past. I'll probably put it down as MitchMachine, as he has consistently performed well in tournaments.
  2. What would you like to see out of the league in the future? A return to 2009 activity levels, a quality judging team, and a team of volunteers working on coverage ;)
  3. Did the staff of magic-league do a good job this year? Why/why not? I've mentioned I've made my share of mistakes over the past year, but as a whole I feel staff have done well this year. We know our strengths, and we know where we can improve. I feel we're running this site effectively, and I feel that adds up to a solid team.
  4. Were you happy with magic-league this year or not? Why/why not? About as happy as I could be. There are some things which could've been handled better, but those I addressed in my last article.
  5. Will 2012 be a good year for magic-league? Why/why not? It should be. We've got momentum behind us, and we've got a number of changes we're working at implementing which should both improve the Magic-League experience for members and increase player retention. Fingers crossed!
  6. PWPs or ELO? Neither. I did a lot of research for this a couple of years back intending to write an article about it (but never did). There are a number of issues revolving around Elo, and the PWP system as it currently is implemented I feel doesn't inherently have what is needed to achieve what it needs to achieve for Organised Play.
  7. Who is most likely to become a j2 or staff member? That would be telling ;)
  8. What was the best year for Magic-League? 2008 sticks out in my mind as the best year for Magic-League, as there was a combination of a large active member base, excellent staff team and ease of play. 2005 would be a close second, but issues surrounding users behind firewalls were still rife at that point.

Here's to another twelve months!

- Roo

Back to Magic: the Gathering Articles

by ishocrone on 2011-12-22 17:41 CET


by ShottyHorroh on 2011-12-22 23:19 CET

did you forget about Straca3? I like both players, but Straca3 should be number 1. Terri has some sort of fight here too I suppose.

by Steveman on 2011-12-23 01:04 CET

Remove by de-judged for life status and I'll sell my PS3

by Mitchmachine on 2011-12-23 03:43 CET

Thank you weedmonkey i am flattered :)

by xJudicatorx on 2011-12-23 06:07 CET

Thanks for the shout-out WM. Your humility in this article is evident almost to the point of self-degradation, but I think I understand where you;re coming from. If you ignore or hide a problem, you can never grow from it.

by LordHawk on 2011-12-23 17:16 CET

Moscowdemon, Noremac and I have spoken alot about the issues running through M-L right now. I am not a judge nor am i a staff member to overly have any real say in how it gets corrected. However if M-L keeps the way its going you will see an end to Magic-League in the not so distant future.

by Djinn on 2011-12-23 20:22 CET

you wish, hawk. m-l never gonna die

by straca3 on 2011-12-23 20:58 CET

Id be helpful if they pay the cash they owe to the players who won masters.

by LordHawk on 2011-12-25 02:16 CET

Djinn i do not wish lol. I dont wanna see magic-league die either. Just saying there are issues that are not being addressed.

by Shagy on 2011-12-25 02:37 CET


I used to love that game lol

by GunsAndDope on 2011-12-27 06:53 CET


by Bigshow on 2011-12-28 20:42 CET

The likelihood of magic-league shutting down is about the same odds Rocky Dennis has of getting laid.

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