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Importing Judges! (You Wouldn’t Believe the Shipping Charges)
Jason Grabher-Meyer
In addition to the retinue of judging regulars here this weekend, four volunteers have been brought in from the US especially for this event. It’s unprecedented and very good for the event — all four are veterans of the Shonen Jump Championship circuit, and each traveled here after performing judge duties at last weekend’s American National Championships. Hey — consider it some friendly reinforcements from our neighbors to the south! With four Level 3s in attendance this weekend, the National Championships tomorrow should be the smoothest ever, and since this is a unique situation it seemed like a cool story to cover.


Metagame writer Jerome McHale is no stranger to our regular readers, nor to tournament aficionados. Hailing from Pittsburgh, the 22 year-old Head Judge of last year’s American Nationals became a Level 3 Judge at just age 18. His most recent claim to fame is his Top 16 finish at SJC St. Louis with Counter Fairies in May. With a reputation for firm but fair player management decisions, Jerome’s presence is a pre-emptive strike against shenanigans of all description.


Chris Goff (on the right) hosted a workshop at last week’s judge conference on deck checking, and there was nobody better for it. It seems that whenever there’s a deck check team at a major event, Chris is the one heading it up. The veteran of thirteen Shonen Jump Championships and three National Championships, he’s been deck check lead a whopping eleven out of sixteen events he’s judged. As Jerome put it earlier today, “That’s what happens when you’re the best at something.” Goff has defined himself as one of the best deck checkers in existence, which means good things for the integrity of the decks we’ll see in contention tomorrow.


John Danker has a similar track record, with thirteen Shonen Jumps and three National Championships under his belt. At 46 years of age, he narrowly dodged the recent flooding in his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Possibly because he’s simply too tall to drown. I could talk about how great he is with rulings, or discuss his countless hours spent on the official Upper Deck message boards answering player inquiries. Instead, I’ll choose to note that he’s the really tall guy on the left in that picture up there. The really tall guy. While John has many great qualities as a judge, my personal favorite is the fact that his arms are like the trunks of mighty California redwoods. Should a certain former National Champion appear this weekend and need to be politely extricated, I’m sure John will be able to handle the situation.


Finally, 41 year-old Andrew Bowling hails from Madison, Wisconsin. With five Shonen Jump Championships under his belt, he’s quickly gained a reputation for strong rulings and extremely strong player management. But according to judges that have worked with him in the past, his true strength is his awesome attention to detail and his superior organizational skills. Andrew is a sharp table judge and extremely punctual in everything he does, which bodes well for tomorrow’s round turnover times.


They’re joined this weekend by regulars like Matt Weaver and Jason Luckhardt, and there are more highly-certified judges here at this event than there were at both 2006 and 2007 Canadian Nationals combined. With a diverse team like this one, this should be the best Canadian Championship we’ve ever seen.
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