Force of Will - USA - Level 2 Judges

Level 2 Roles


Rulers, judges, and prospective judges, welcome to part two of our description of the 2019 United States Judge Program. In our previous article, we discussed the various levels judges can strive for in the program. In this article, we are seeking to disclose further specifics of the Level 2 role for those wishing to gain its title. We will also discuss the current Level 2 judges, as well as their specific roles within the system. If you wish to see their individual backgrounds, please scroll to the end of this document.




Responsibilities for All Level 2 Judges


Each Level 2 judge is expected to have the capability to Head Judge any event of any size in the United States as well as to Floor Judge the World Grand Prix in Tokyo.  They are also considered the central ambassadors for the Judge Program, and as such they are expected to compose themselves with the utmost professionalism. These are the judges that players should private/direct message, tag, or otherwise contact with any urgent matters involving the United States Judge Program.


The list of current Level 2 American judges and their profiles/tournament histories can be found at the conclusion of this document.  Some of the more specific titles will also be delved into in the following paragraphs.




Judge Council



Building on the previous article, the Judge Council is a group composed of five semi-permanent members that handles any and all US-specific issues, such as:


  • Disciplinary issues regarding American judges;

  • Domestic policy requests for the company (for example, the United States’ [Energize], token, or [Force] die policies);

  • Assigning Head Judges for all Level 2 events (World Grand Prix Qualifiers and Grands Prix) in the United States;

  • Dissemination of judge-related information to Level 1, Level 0, and prospective judges;

  • Any other domestic-specific issues.


These judges must retain Level 2 status every year to remain on the Council.  The initial five judges are drawn from the existing Level 2 pool, other than the American Program Director (discussed below), who is ineligible for the position.


The following judges constitute the 2018-2019 United States Judge Council:


David Nikolaus

Derrek Gillespie

Frank Closser

Stefan Letica

Stephen Schneider


While any concern of/for a specific tournament should be addressed with that tournament’s Head Judge or Tournament Organizer, any Americans with questions or concerns for the overall United States Judge Program should please contact any of the above judges instead.



Program Director


Beginning with the 2018-2019 season, there will also be two new positions, titled Program Director(s), who will serve as the point of contacts from the American and Asia-Pacific Judge Programs, respectively, to the company and managers of other regional programs, such as the various programs throughout the EU. While regional differences will always be respected, the creation of these roles is intended to promote communication between regional leads as part of our commitment to encourage optimal international unity in the judge program.


During the 2017-2018 season, these two Program Directors were in charge of setting up the World Judge Program for this current season in the Southeast Asia (SEA), United States (US), Australia-Pacific (APAC), and China-Taiwan-Hong Kong (CTH) regions.  As such, these Directors are also tasked with the responsibility to ensure a consistent and harmonic application of the World Judge Program throughout all regions they govern. Currently the Asia-Pacific Program Director supervises most of these regions, with the American Program Director only overseeing the United States, but there does exist the possibility of expansion into other countries as well, if their regional leads request so.


The Director of the American Judge Program will also provide the primary point of contact for the United States Judge Council to get in communication with the company and, conversely, will also have the responsibility to notify the Judge Council of any international or company concerns. The Global Liaison will provide a secondary point of contact for the Judge Council in cases of urgent matters, unavailability, or any other reason the Council wishes to do so.  


In addition, the two Directors are the only judges eligible to administer the Level 2 examination for prospective Head Judges.  However, any Level 2 judge (including the entirety of the Judge Council) may proctor the Level 1 examination in the United States.  Other than the Level 2 examination administration, the American Program Director will not have any other involvement with domestic issues; these will all be the responsibility of the Judge Council.


As such, in general, American players and/or judges should contact the Judge Council first with any concerns, as they are more likely to be domestically-related.  However, it is okay to contact the Program Director if discussing an issue with the program itself, an issue with documentation, a question about the judge examinations regarding a subject other than their administration, or another topic that you believe holds international interest.  In addition, it is okay to contact the Program Director (and/or Judge Council) with any needs related to their general Level 2 positions, such as ruling/policy requests or other generic inquiries.


However, any foreign players or judges should contact a regional Program Director directly if in need of contact with their specific region, but it is encouraged to inquire with your own regional leads first before doing so.


Due to required judge knowledge needed to maintain the World Judge Program and the value of past experience in the program, each Program Director title must be held by a Level 2 judge. However, as explained in the previous section, the American Program Director is ineligible for membership in the Judge Council for as long as they hold the position, in an effort to avoid a potential conflict of interest.  Due to the international nature of the Program Director position, any judge holding this position is also considered a Level 3 judge for as long as they maintain this role, in order to better match titled positions in the EU and as a demonstration of eligibility to Head Judge the World Grand Prix.


The first American Regional Program Director will be Stephanie Shaw.  The first Asia-Pacific Regional Program Director will be Chia Seng Leng.



Conclusion


Thank you for your interest in the United States Judge Program; please stay tuned for further announcements, including the article on judge compensation, as we will post them as they become available.  In addition, please read below for a profile on each American Level 2 judge, as well as their tournament history.


We hope to see you in yellow shirts soon!


~ Force of Will, Ltd.


USA - Level 2 Judge Backgrounds


Andrew Bustrack:


While less-known by players, Andrew has remained a constant force in the judge scene since his first event at AGP Dallas in 2016. He is known to be solid on rules and diligent during events, aiming to help make tournaments as smooth as possible, and his logistical work (such as post-tournament reports) is top-notch. He may be the newest Level 2 judge, having just earned his stripes in August 2018, but he has been an exceptional help to the program for quite some time prior.


Accomplishments:


> Floor Judge for AGP Dallas, February 2016

> Floor Judge for AGP Collinsville, June 2016

> Floor Lead for GP Los Angeles, March 2017

> Head Judge for GP Denver, August 2018



David Nikolaus:


With the most events under his belt of any judge in the United States, David is one of three Level 2 judges who have been involved with the US Judge Program since its inception in the 2015 season, in fact having served the longest of any current judge. He is tied for 2nd amongst active judges for most Level 2+ Head Judge opportunities, and he frequently goes out of his way to work smaller events to ensure players have judge staff on hand. He is well-known by players and judges alike for his dedication and impartiality, having given up multiple opportunities to play in order to help ensure tournaments follow accurate rulings for the benefit of the playerbase.  He is usually one of the most familiar faces at American events, as his resume showcases.


Accomplishments:


> Floor Judge for WGP Providence, July 2015

> Floor Judge for AGP Richmond, February 2016

> Floor Lead for AGP Pittsburgh, April 2016

> Floor Judge for ARG Nationals, August 2016

> Floor Lead for AGP Providence, August 2016

> Floor Judge for GP Collinsville, January 2017

> Head Judge for GP Atlantic City, July 2017

> Floor Judge for ARG Nationals, August 2017

> Floor Judge for US Masters, September 2017

> Floor Judge for the World Grand Prix, September 2017

> Head Judge for GP Richardson, February 2018

> Head Judge for GP San Jose, April 2018

> Head Judge for GP Providence, May 2018

> Head Judge for ARG Nationals, August 2018

> Floor Judge for the World Grand Prix, September 2018

> Head Judge for the WGP Revenge Tournament, September 2018



Derrek Gillespie:


Originally a Rules Advisor in Season 1, Derrek was the second judge amongst active American staff to pass the Level 1 exam and did so convincingly. From 2015-2017, he was a constant force on the tournament scene, Head Judging six Level 2+ events during that time, including US Masters and the Day 2 event at the 2016 World Grand Prix. He was part of the team that originally proposed certain American floor rules, such as [Energize] and token policies, and, despite having been outside the public eye for the last year, has continued to be as strongly committed to the furtherance of the judge program behind the scenes as he has been in the past.


Accomplishments:


> Floor Judge for WGP Houston, August 2015

> Stream Judge for AGP Dallas, February 2016

> Head Judge for AGP Las Vegas, April 2016

> Head Judge for AGP Collinsville, June 2016

> Floor Judge for the World Grand Prix, September 2016

> Head Judge for the WGP Revenge Tournament, September 2016

> Floor Lead for GP Collinsville, January 2017

> Head Judge for GP Columbus, May 2017

> Head Judge for GP Phoenix, June 2017

> Head Judge for US Masters, September 2017





Frank Closser:


A longtime player-turned-judge, Frank burst onto the scene last year, becoming one of the fastest risers in judge program history by Head Judging his first Grand Prix eight months after his introduction into the program. Even more impressive, both events he Head Judged had high player attendance and a relatively high player-to-judge ratio, yet he completed them without a single hitch. While he still plays as well (in fact, winning GP Richardson in 2018!), he is a guaranteed bet to Head Judge at least one Grand Prix a season due to his devotion to the program and for the players.


Accomplishments:


> Floor Judge for GP Columbus, May 2017

> Floor Judge for US Masters, September 2017

> Head Judge for GP Atlanta, January 2018

> Head Judge for GP Collinsville, June 2018



Stefan Letica:


While not quite as well-known publicly as the other judges due to his focus on his intense academic work, Stefan’s name is perhaps the most trusted within the confines of the judge staff themselves. Stefan’s calling cards are his encyclopedic knowledge of the Comprehensive Rules and his integrity-first approach to anything involving the program, bringing both to every tournament he attends and every discussion he takes part in. He is a firm proponent of professionalism and ensuring a constant aura of objectivity, and he helps ensure that these underlying principles and his past judge experiences for other games are the bedrocks supporting any American proposal.


Accomplishments:


> Stream Judge for AGP Richmond, February 2016

> Stream Judge for AGP Charlotte, April 2016

> Head Judge for GP Atlanta, February 2017



Stephanie Shaw:


While you may know Stephanie as the former Head Judge of the United States for Force of Will, her main focus has actually long been on the international program. Even during her 16-month break from the United States Judge Program, she worked to converse with regional leads towards the goal of unanimity between their and the American programs wherever possible. She also maintained her prior contacts in the American program, utilizing those to help foster international conversation, especially between the United States program and the Japanese company. This work should continue in the confines of her new role, though you will still see her working domestic events from time to time.


Accomplishments:


> Stream Judge for WGP Houston, August 2015

> Floor Judge for ARG Nationals, December 2015

> Head Judge for AGP Dallas, February 2016

> Head Judge for AGP Richmond, February 2016

> Head Judge for AGP Charlotte, April 2016

> Head Judge for AGP Orlando, July 2016

> Head Judge for AGP Providence, August 2016

> Floor Lead for the World Grand Prix, September 2016

> Head Judge for GP Collinsville, January 2017

> Head Judge for GP Los Angeles, March 2017

> Head Judge for ARG Nationals, August 2017

> Floor Judge for GP San Jose, April 2018

> Stream Judge for the World Grand Prix, September 2018

> Head Judge for WGPQ Minneapolis, October 2018



Stephen Schneider:


While Stephen didn’t join the program until 2017, he hit the ground running, acing his role as Floor Lead at his first event in Atlanta and ultimately working key roles at four major events that season and the following World Grand Prix. He is one of the most communicative judges in the program, being available nearly any day for any reason to discuss proposed schedules, rules questions, the division of Head Judge opportunities amongst judges, etc.  He goes out of his way to attend events, working at any event he can afford to travel to, and devotes a significant amount of his personal time to the betterment of the tournament experience for the players.


Accomplishments:


> Floor Lead for GP Atlanta, February 2017

> Floor Lead for GP Columbus, May 2017

> Floor Lead for GP Atlantic City, July 2017

> Head Judge for GP Tacoma, August 2017

> Floor Lead for the World Grand Prix, September 2017

> Head Judge for GP Minneapolis, April 2018