Endgame 2011

Written by Gerrardfo on December 31, 2011

Endgame, 2011

by Gerrardfo

Two weeks have passed, so let’s take a spin for my final article on magic-league. There are still a few hours remaining in 2011...


A little while ago, I asked people to complete a survey in which I asked eight questions. The responses are below.

1. Who is the best player currently active on the league? Why?
Tidus-: PV.
xJudicatorx: jfc (jcaetano). That guy can win any format any time he feels like it against any group of players, but he doesn’t seem to be particularly lucky with draws like some people.
Richi: Pretty easy question: Gracco is and will be the best player in the league, his knowledge is infinite and he is an awesome player, he doesn´t even need sb to win trials
Djinn: It depends on what you consider active. ovmlcabrera has a great winning rate when it comes to the few tournaments he plays (trials/master/invitational), caith has always been a force in the league but he seems to prefer limited/other now, becoming thus less active. If I had to choose someone with over 500 team points (meaning they are probably quite active) I'd choose truth- without any doubt.
moscowdemon: Due to what I have seen recently, I would vote maybe MitchMachine or the up and coming The_Youth.  I think The_Youth has potential and hasn't met his peak yet, so MitchMachine gets the vote for his good placements.
Az-cz: Obviously PV if you count him. Maybe  1OR513N if you don't. He's got a really strong limited game (speaking from experience) and he's also top 10 constructed. Few players are near the tops of both charts.
Truth-: I think this could be based on sheer number of team points acquired within one season. For this, my vote should go to "khim" hands down, but I like to think of myself to be pretty good.
GunsAndDope: Selkie, he's great in any format and I've lost some epic games to him.  But it's not just enough to be a good player, he's all one hell of a sportsman.  I can't say that I've played against a nicer guy.

2. What would you like to see out of the league in the future?
Tidus-: I would like to see the community to grow so that it can rival magic-league hayday when i first joined maybe a decade ago. More Swiss and Site Based drafting would also be a bonus.
xJudicatorx: The update that has been promised for years to the site, particularly on-site drafting.
Richi: Give Djinn level 2 again and change the judge director
Djinn: A bigger community. Our main room averages 100 users, it should be more. Our product is good enough, but we don't get to enough people to become as popular as we should.
moscowdemon: I want to see more activity from judges along with a stronger player base. I realize most players who are around now are very active, but we can always use more.
Az-cz: An easy way to do draft minis, preferably without the need for a separate program.
Truth-: I would like to see a better homepage and more staff involvement. As it is now, many of the players in the community don't see or know what the staff members do.
GunsAndDope: I would like to see a channel with a bot where, when judges aren't around, players can organize themselves into casual tournaments.  The room could be called #casual.  Also, I'd like to see a class taught on how to be a judge.  I know many resources are available, including practice tests at thedci.com but sometimes it helps to learn from someone whose already been there.

3. Did the staff of magic-league do a good job this year? Why/why not?
Tidus-: The Staff on Magic-league are awesome as ever, to give up free time to help others is a nice thing to do. Special kudos to moscowdemon for his eagerness to learn and make this place better.
xJudicatorx: I think the staff made some bad decisions this year, particularly with the draftbot situation. Most of it boils down to not having/keeping active judges.
Richi: I dont think so,the director is awfull and they -j2ed djinn. They did well giving eender j3.
Djinn: Probably they did. However, personally, I think they stopped doing a good job when I got demoted to J1. I was so motivated as J2 that I could spend inf hours working for the league as judge trainer, answering doubts in #j4u and supporting new players. I even got the facebook page to become popular after I started spamming it on our main room every hour (got us almost 200 followers!)
moscowdemon: Yes, they +j'd me so of course! But in all truthfulness, I think this year was well done by staff and hope this trend continues of good years :)  They came about good fixes to many things and are making good choices for the league.
Az-cz: I think so. They took care of problems pretty well and I don't have any big complaints.
Truth-: I feel like the staff did a fine job, just like each year. The site still exists. I have some thoughts and questions here and there but overall everything is great.
GunsAndDope: Weedmonkey has done such a great job of being the heart and soul of magic-league.  He is very much like the mother.  Flippi has done a great job of yelling at people and maintaining a strict, German order.  He is very much like the father.  The rest of the staff is like distant cousins that only come around when they need money.

4. Were you happy with magic-league this year or not? Why/why not?
Tidus-: Hell of a lot more douchebags than normal, continuously trying to get free wins out of people has lead this to be one of the most stale years in my service here.
xJudicatorx: Overall, I’m pretty happy with ML. No matter what complaints you make, it’s still a fun place to play for free.
Richi: Cant complain at all but id make some changes so wouyld be more minis and more judges
Djinn: Players were good as usual. The masters I TCed were great, almost no delays but in one. The masters other people TCed were sometimes good (jfc first master was a mess). There was a point this year when we were lacking active judges, and that decreased the amount of players as well. I think that got solved quite nicely with the new batch of judges. I also got my store credit the two times I ordered from Nico, so it was a good year for me. I still have a small sum to invest on shiny cards for Faerie Stompy though :D
P.S: On the negative side, getting demoted sucked.
moscowdemon: Yes and no. I was happy we revamped coverage to get going but I am unhappy the player count is receding like a bad hair line.
Az-cz: Sure. It's still the best place to play, so....
Truth-: I was happy. I personally saw a swell of new players and I feel that the site adapted to change this year well.
GunsAndDope: ISD isn't doing too much for me right now, so sealed and booster draft haven't been as high on my priorities list.  As far as constructed goes, I just can't find a format or a deck I like, so I haven't been around ML as much as I would have liked.

5. Will 2012 be a good year for magic-league? Why/why not?
xJudicatorx: I see this really hinging on the promised restructuring in January.
Richi: I hope so, but if you dont get more active judges (like noremac or farseer), we are fucked
Djinn: The popularity of MTGO and the increasing number of players that don't mind paying for playing a game is affecting magic-league, and I don't see how to stop that leak of players or how to reverse the trend for making m-l appealing for the majority of online players. I mean, there is market for big online sites have plenty of followers (SCG/Channel Fireball for instance). We should be able to get the players who are watching SCG live streaming to idle in our room and get to play a match or two between rounds. I am sure 90% of them will come back. The same goes for everyone who keeps checking our site for decks, or other sites for articles. The majority just stops by, but doesn't join our league. If we could get to more people, our community would be bigger, without a shadow of doubt.
moscowdemon: Based on the speculation of the new site, I believe yes!
Az-cz: Dunno. I think Phantom events on MODO might steal a good bit of thunder from Magic-League.
Truth-: I am not a fortune teller, but if I become a j3/staff member I would say good things would come.
GunsAndDope: I can't wait for the next base set.  Hopefully, next year will bring another ravnica-flavored set with the two-color guilds.

6. PWPs or ELO?
Tidus-: ELO as i live in the uk and PWP’s fucks us
xJudicatorx: ELO, though somewhere in the middle would be ideal.
Richi: Both have their good and bad things. I liked more pwp til 3 days ago when they change the multiplier of fnm´s so rigth now i dont know whats better
Djinn: Definitely ELO. We already have team points to reward players who play 24/7
moscowdemon: Fixed ELO with rating decay. I am hoping to sometime put in a very good effort to constructing this formula.  I believe just having the K value be the pts you can win or lose (obviously the K values would be much lower) and having a rating decay (be it for inactivity or for just over time) will lead to more "correct" looking ratings. I hate PWP with a passion!
Az-cz: ELO. PWPs are just a terrible terrible system. Just look at the fact that it's gotten Brim qualified for the PT. ;) But seriously they totally reward the wrong things and need to be fixed.
Truth-: ELO with a decaying rating due to inactivity over time.
GunsAndDope: I think PWPs are just around to make Wizards more money, but I see what they meant by forcing players to not just set on a fat rating for fear of losing points.  I could care less, I can't afford to play real Magic now anyway.  Viva la broke student.

7. Who is most likely to become a j2 or staff member?
Tidus-: moscowdemon
xJudicatorx: moscowdemon, he really puts a lot of his personal time into the site.
Djinn: Truth and Farseer (in that order) are the only good candidates for becoming staff members at the moment. I don't think staff needs more people, being good as it is now, though. As for J1s, Noremac deserves a mention, for he is doing a great job as J1, but is still far away from J2 in my humble opinion.
moscowdemon: Being I am j1 and wish to move up the ranks, I will biasedly say myself. :D but for J2 I would also like to say Noremac is putting in good pull.  I believe he is doing quite well on his return. I would have to overview things to think of more.  For staff: I think it is perfectly fine where it is now. :)
Az-cz: Moscow Demon
Truth-: I feel like Moscowdemon is the best j1 this site has had in many years. I would like to put my vote in for myself as I have attempted to thrust myself forward into that position. As for J1s moving up,
GunsAndDope: If SB were staying around past the next year, I would say him. He's a great guy and a close friend.

8. What was the best year for Magic-League?
Tidus-: Cant remember the year but back in the days of We Fuck the world and #5-kings #-1 #-2
xJudicatorx: Can’t really comment on this one, all I know for sure is that 2009 was better than 2011.
Richi: Ive been here since late 2009 so i cant say nothing
Djinn: The years I was judge manager, of course!
moscowdemon: Considering I have only been here just over 3 years, I believe the best year I witnessed was the first one I was here. Very lively crew and staff along with some outbreaks of good players. Keysam was definately doing well with his deckbuilding there!
Az-cz: The year O-gaming died? I dunno.
GunsAndDope: When I first came to Magic-League, during Ravnica-Kami Standard.  I learned more about magic in a month than I had in my entire life and I met Ayame, Noremac, Hawk, and all the rest.

Here are my answers to these questions, if anyone wishes to read them.

1. It has to be BarneyStinso because I enjoy watching How I Met Your Mother. I don’t have any other heuristics to use because my choice boils down to the rating list.
2. Team sealed (swiss). Back in the last days of o-gaming they held a team – swiss – sealed tournament; I believe it had a few teams participating, even if they were mainly from magic-league. Although the tournament took hours, the idea was still incredibly appealing—and it might be more enticing nowadays because of the reduced in real life team format support.
3. I get Christmas cards from Weedmonkey, so if he can afford those, sure.
4. Why not.
5. Why not.
6. ELO always.
7. I have an anecdote with which to answer this question. Years ago (circa 2006), the promotion system was mainly accomplished through LordHawk recommending people to nico. As such, if you were on great terms with LordHawk, you had a higher probability of being promoted. I benefited from this system, but supposing that this system was not in place, it’s hard to ascertain how this league might have evolved. (Yet, keep in mind with this argument that Hawk was on good terms with many of the good judges.) For all I know, people who became inactive, had massive behavioral issues, or didn’t know the rules as well as they should have for the j2 position might have been promoted otherwise, and that would have permeated a weaker league. But nevertheless, it’s incredibly iffy to have a system that people could argue was based on being friends with all the right people. Yet, these people became friends and were interconnected plausibly because they were all pretty competent, and were likely fit for the position. Moreover, some people who weren’t the closest of friends with the admins were still promoted, so it is an unfair categorization to claim the j2 club was some manifestation of “admins and friends.”
8. In 2006, I went from being a j1 to a j2 to a manager to a director to a j3. That might have been a good year for me, so hey, let’s be liberal. But, 2006 was also a year when there seemed to be many good candidates for j2s, multiple judges were willing to help work on the judge test, and administrators always came out of the woodwork to help out.


This season I am searching for a team to join. I have the ability to create tournaments because I am a judge. I am looking for the following in a team:

-A captain who somehow has infinite time to invest into magic-league to win the prized title of “team champion.” This man knows few boundaries when it comes to personal sacrifices, as he is willing to forsake his family for a shot at a few points in an eight-man tournament. When he learns that his girlfriend broke up with him months ago, he shrugs and asks if he was playing Caw-Blade at the time or if that was before or after the team point reset. His mother will not know the answer. When I have failed to garner something on the magnitude of thirty points in a single day, he will wait for me online and send me a private message to remind me of my “obligations” passive-aggressively. I will seldom see so many mixed-message smiley-faces elsewhere. He will accuse me of trying to sabotage the team or being a weak link on a team that is held together by a longing for something I cannot grasp.

-A founder who became excessively excited upon reading the announcement that team points were reset. He will message me in either all caps or with numerous exclamation points about how we will overcome our foes who reside in another channel. He will invite me to a channel that I do not want to idle in because most of the conversation is inane or boils down to minibegging. He will ask me why we do not have mini-runners on magic-league, and I will squander two hours of my life explaining the problems with this idea by recapitulating elements of an ancient argument. He will disappear for two weeks for reasons I will not recall, but upon his return he will excuse his absence by blaming somebody or something about which I care minimally.

-Other members: maybe one of these people will be a fellow judge of whom I have never heard. Upon learning his backstory, I will become irate at how out of touch I am with his activity. He will go inactive for several months about two months later when he realizes that the year has activities outside of magic-league. There will also be a bad-boy who inevitably tries to bribe his way out of a match; when he is banned, he PMs me and begs for me to unban him. I explain the spirit of the laws, yet he constantly begs anyway.

On the bright side of things, I’ll be kicked off of that team in no time.


What is the origin of my nickname/handle? This topics sounds viable! In the early 2000s, EFnet could only accept up to nine-character nicknames. If my facts are mistaken, somebody should correct me. I was logging onto the chatroom and had to think of a clever nickname. There were three rules:
a)    Don’t be the direct name of a Magic card without any modifications: there aren’t enough characters in the nickname, and the originality and cleverness factors will be shot.
b)   No numbers: if I wasn’t going to be using 1337-speak in my name, there was no sensible reason for a number. I’ve held the conviction that people having a long string of numbers after their handle caused me to perceive them as not as adept as others (or just younger, I guess). Or, I was clinging to an irritation around the time I would be heading off to other activities in real life and people would say “Oh, my e-mail is my name + my phone number + my area code,” and I’d lose their contact information in a mess of numbers.
c)    Don’t pick a super-common nickname: anyone can think of a movie or comic book character, and I don’t know if I want to be lumped into that crowd.

I don’t think I followed all of the rules too strictly, but nevertheless, my pick was Gerrardfo[two other characters I’ll probably reveal next year]. The character limit cut my nick to Gerrardfo, and I stuck with it. Years later when I joined the league, I was referred to as Gerrardfo for a good year or two. However, one night I decided to buy into randomly setting your nickname as x|Away (I didn’t see any reason to otherwise), and chose to shorten my nick to Gfo|Away. Those three letters, Gfo, stuck with me.

Judges: Roos and Years

Weedmonkey recently posted about how he was the least-experienced j3 (aside from eEnder, I presume). When I read that statement, I reflected a bit on my time in a similar position several years back.

Five and a half years into my past, I am the newest member of staff. Azania is discussing a to-do list with malkolis. Nico is reviewing the behavior of a j1. Koen even logged in once or thrice and implemented the box on the main page that allows you to read more articles, news, and coverage pieces. And, well, I was the new kid on the block, age-wise and position-wise (the coverage director position didn’t exist prior to my reign of ter...erm, burst of activity). My age sometimes drew skepticism, but I learned to handle that. Or, well, there would always be strange private conversations that normally were to the tune of:
*Some other judge*: “Oh, you’re 30, right?”
*Me*: Uhm.

I think I endured that conversation twenty or thirty times back in the day.

Back then the complications that arose were novel to me, and we were beginning to formalize various policy documents (or re-write them). Maybe I can only sense the gravity of what I was trusted to do now, though it seemed a matter of course back then. The problems I encountered back then seem different than the challenges today. Perhaps I am a relic of the past these days, or the people with whom I’m interacting now have a different flavor from the ones I used to see.

Even when I consider these names I am suddenly overwhelmed by the same fear: one day in the distant future I’ll choose to log onto magic-league and I will recognize few or none of the names of judges or players. When I log on nowadays, I occasionally receive messages about who I am and how I became a staff member. Was I recently promoted to staff? I think six or seven people have joined the official league staff after I did. When did I become staff? Read up. I was a judge director? Must have had something to do with a horse, old friends, and the world in decay. The conversation with these people tends to converge upon one question: how can they move up the judge ranks or up in the community otherwise?

Back when I was starting out, people found their niche activities when they wanted to contribute to the site. I galvanized the development of articles and formalized coverage into a consistent facet of masters, assisted with revamping the judge test (many iterations ago), handled singles matches protests, ran masters, scheduled the trial calendar, compiled invitation and bye lists, and yes, ran minis (I was at approximately 30/month before I, erm, had to shift my priorities). One afternoon after a master, I approached Koen and asked him to guide me through how to input master results to the website. I honestly felt abashed about having to drag koen through that process at the end because he inevitably had to insert the matches (aka do most of the work anyway) and edit the database to add the late-joins. However, I think that investment paid off for magic-league: for around two years I was the one who imported the master results to the site as soon as I could. I think I was also moderating the forums at one point too. There may have been a reason why, at one point, when a judge was asked who to consult for a rating issue, he immediately replied: “I don’t know, but Gerrardfo does everything.” This statement is of course untrue; I just looked the most active because I was posting to the main page quite frequently. Whereas, I believe other administrators were more active than I am. I have since relinquished those responsibilities as I’ve moved on with my life.

Speaking of life: I am incredibly happy that Weedmonkey feels he has a life nowadays. When I was in high school, balancing the league was a challenge, yes; there were classes, extracurricular activities, other demands, and the league. Yet, there was a way to achieve a balance, and if there wasn’t I would refer to what nico first told me five years ago: real life comes first. So, I think if you have a moment, you should PM Weedmonkey with a thank you for his activity on the league and encourage him to live a little in real life (and pester him about his manuscript).

As an aside, I pray that Weedmonkey isn’t barraged by too many private messages (or, if he is, better for him). One of the more frustrating moments of running a master to most judges is handling the fifty private messages popping up from players inquiring about pairings, standings, rulings, and byes. Yet, that is to be expected when running a master, so it isn’t as bothersome when you acclimate. But, one time I was not expecting to be massacred by messages was when I was running a trial several years back. I was waiting for entries to close and about to pair when suddenly, out of nowhere, I have twenty private messages. It turns out another judge had spammed the main channel with: “Due to an unforeseen error, not all players are fully registered for this trial. Please message Gerrardfo to verify you are signed up for today’s trial.” Ouch.

I’ve deviated from my initial commentary about moving up in the league. To summarize, my advice is simple: find something unique to contribute or figure out where you can make an impact. Weedmonkey certainly was effective in this respect. Weedmonkey is the only person to date who surpassed the rate at which I ascended from a player to a staff member and IRCoperator, and for good reason! When I returned in the summer of 2009, he was rebooting the coverage program-- and was figuring out all sorts of ways to add to the site. I think one of my few contributions that summer was to collaborate on the CUBE Sealed project to insert the set into the database so that crazy (fun) format was possible. And maybe I held a master?

Invitationals: Now and Then

Moscowdemon asked me during the invitational to write a segment about the history of invitationals, or for a perspective on the invitational between 2006 and 2011. Usually I’m quite proud of my memory, which has even elicited a compliment from Kalegozer (whom I still miss and is actually the best thing since sliced bread), but in this instance I was at a loss for words. I cannot even recall the major events of some invitationals, even though I’ve TCed one or two of them. I can recall that Thalai top8ed one of them, perhaps even with Battle of Wits. I might have also TCed some kind of invitational where it was sealed cutting to top 8 draft, which I believe was the first time we tried such an endeavor. At the time the event was momentous: we finally were mirroring a limited event. After that, my memory fades. So, I guess I have a mission for whoever has the memory or has been around long enough: what were the major highlights of invitationals between 2006 and 2011? Which invitationals stood out to you?


I’ll be relocating out of Chicago next year. Stay tuned for the news.


I pop up occasionally in Weedmonkey articles, which actually may be a trend I developed by referring to nico quite frequently. I will one-up Weedmonkey by responding to references to me:

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

Oh, that was nice of him.

“Under Gerrardfo's reign as Judge Director, a number of users felt the strict line Gerrardfo took was unreasonable.”

One of the problems I faced coming into the position of judge director were that there were myriad loose ends left from a very relaxed policy. I was more militant about enforcing the rules and increasing the standard, but in hindsight, yes, that was perhaps “too far.” That, or people saw a need to blow small issues way out of proportion.

“2008 was also the year that Gerrardfo stepped down as Judge Director, to be replaced by Flippi (CMA-Flippi/derflippi).”

Funny thing about that switch: we had our meeting to discuss this matter a week or two (or three?) prior to the news announcement. I was heading to college soon afterwards (and subsequently was at college when I posted the item), but CMA-Flippi was busy and wanted for me to delay the announcement. This occurrence would differ from what had happened with transitioning from nico to me. I was leaving for three weeks about a week after nico stepped down, and I wasn’t posted as the next judge director until after those three weeks concluded. Notice that, again, nico stepped down in June, and I took the helm in July. For a while, I suppose there was no official judge director, even though I was slated to succeed him.

“Gerrardfo and Flippi gave me a lot of independence regarding writing articles and submitting tournament coverage even as a level 1 judge.”

Use whatever writing style suits you as long as it’s coherent. People felt I was unexciting in my portrayal of games when I did coverage, and when Weedmonkey was rising I didn’t think restricting article topics (aside from a few cases) was that productive.

“This time last year, the shoes of Coverage Director were filled by our goat-loving administrator and former Man Upstairs ™ Gerrardfo. His regular grab-bag articles were both enjoyable to read and contained a lot of useful information.”

This is a total lie. My articles contained little in the way of helpful or useful information. I do like goats though.

“With Gerrardfo at the Judge Director helm, I was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the league. I saw him as a brick wall that stuck to the rules like James Blunt to bad music.”

Actually, at one point in my life I enjoyed James Blunt music. Then I stopped being an idiot.

“ took this to Gerrardfo, who passed me along to niknight (he was informally in charge of policy at the time).”

I redirected questions like a champ.

“By and large, we know when we don't have the resources available to do the job to the best of our ability. Gerrardfo stepped back from first judge and then coverage director for that reason.”

As I’ve said before, it’s not healthy for the league if players feel the top administrators are too busy to care or are invisible/unreachable.

And then...

So may you all--happy new year. I’ll see you in four months.

Back to Magic: the Gathering Articles

by RiQuSP on 2012-01-01 02:41 CET

Gfo, Kalegozer writes really nice articles for a Dutch poker site right now, unfortunately they are in Dutch :(

Happy new year to you too! And the rest of the league of course! (except Atobe-, he's a racist..)

by Djinn on 2012-01-01 05:28 CET

Happy new year to you all as well. Thanks gfo for publishing everything! :D

by Adiref on 2012-01-01 21:57 CET

Good player prefer ELO, obv.

by Laplie on 2012-01-11 00:43 CET

"Even when I consider these names I am suddenly overwhelmed by the same fear: one day in the distant future Iíll choose to log onto magic-league and I will recognize few or none of the names of judges or players."


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