Judge Program for Magic: The Gathering is coming to an end

A new era of judging competitive MTG events is here.

Magic: The Gathering Mythic Invitational MTG Arena
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering and Kotaku

The days of the Wizards of the Coast Judge Program are over. All MTG judging responsibilities will now transfer over to an independent organization.

The judge program for MTG will end on Oct. 1 of this year, Wizards of the Coast has announced. An independent organization called the Judge Academy has partnered with WotC to handle a majority of the responsibilities once held by the Judge Program. 

Seeking to make a mark in competitive esports, the Judge Academy is owned by Tim Sheilds, operator of Cascade Games. The announcement came via Nicolette Apraez, the judge program manager via the Judge Academy. She explained the purpose behind the Academy and the overall transition process. 

“Our mission is to train and certify quality event staff for any company that utilizes organized play,” Apraez said , “in order to create an inclusive community of recognized tournament experts who lead welcoming, fun, and fair events.”

Under the Judge Program, regional coordinators had contracts with WotC. As of Oct 1, those contracts will come to an end and community managers with the Judge Academy will take over. According to Apraez, there will be 10 regions at the time of launch that’ll cover roughly 20 of the current 27 regions (about 75 percent of judges worldwide).

“This is obviously a work in progress, and we will continue to launch into other areas as soon as we can be sure we are in compliance with local laws and regulations,” states Apraez. 

The move towards an independent organization for judging small and large MTG events is a necessary move for WotC. As Magic continues to grow and expand through competitive tabletop and digital (MTGA and MTGO), WotC needs an organization whose sole interest is in providing fair and honest judges.