Sunday for me was arguably the most important day of the GP Denver weekend as I was the Head Judge of the Super Sunday Series (SSS) Sealed event. Unlike some other GPs, this one only had the SSS Sealed with no companion Standard event. It was somewhat serendipitous that I had been chosen to HJ this event. Just a few weeks prior I had started an L3 discussion about whether it was appropriate for L2s to HJ SSS events. My goal wasn't necessarily to set a hard line that L2s could not HJ SSS events, but more to spur discussion on the topic and make sure that we as a Program were taking these tournaments seriously and staffing them appropriately.
I've had similar talks with regards to everything from StarCityGames Opens to PPTQs. When discussion turns to giving people opportunities to learn, I become the voice of caution and conservatism. Opportunity needs to be balanced with the proper support and feedback. Arguably, a SSS at GP should afford those things because there is usually an L3 support judge assigned to such an event being head judged by an L2.
I don't think that I was intentionally placed on this event as a statement ("If you think L3s should be doing this, then you go and do it!") because Side Events staffing was decided by Kyle Knudson, who wasn't privy to the L3 discussion directly.
Part of taking an event like this seriously is preparation. As soon as I knew what judges were on my event, I sent messages to the L2s about what roles I wanted them to fill, not traditional "Team Leads" (since we didn't have enough judges on staff to form full teams) but more like "Task Leads." I also try to send out a message to team members if I am a Team Lead on Day 1 of a Grand Prix. (I just sent one out to my GP Vancouver team for this weekend.) "Pre-gaming like this establishes a good mindset for judges going into the weekend. It can get a few administrative things out of the way. Basically, it's a low overhead way to put set up good expectations.
Setting good expectations applies to players as well. That starts with announcements during the player meeting. Since this was a Sealed event, there were a few more administrative details to talk about versus a Constructed event. For the latter, I'm a big fan of Jeph Foster's methodology: "I know that you guys came here to play Magic, so I'm going to keep this short." I know that I spearheaded the "food and drink pun" movement, but there's a limit to how much players are willing to tolerate with announcements.
Do we really need to announce the Rules Enforcement Level (REL) at the beginning of every tournament? Does the average player care? Does the average player even know how this is relevant? If the answer is "no," that's ten seconds we should be shaving from the announcements. The same applies to announcing the Tardiness policy ("Zero and ten"). If you don't announce it, does it give grounds for a player to complain? "If you had announced the Tardiness policy, I would have gotten here sooner." We don't tell players that the policy for tapping a Mana Confluence for mana without taking a pain is going to be a Warning. Seems like players should just... not be tardy to their match. There's also the matter that the tardiness announcement could be made at any time, like say after Round 1 pairings are posted. Not every announcement needs to happen during the player meeting.
Back to Denver, we had a slightly slow start to the day because we had to distribute sealed product and GP Denver playmats... and coupons for GP Denver playmats. Registration for Saturday's main event went above and beyond expectations. This left the supply short for Sunday, and we had to hand out coupons for players to write down their shipping address. The growth of Magic continues to amaze me. Denver has traditionally been a 700-900 player GP city, and suddenly we get over 1500. That's crazy.
The SSS had 238 players, a little over the 9 round threshold. That's a good day's work for sure. Part of the challenge for an event like this is the ever-changing cast of judges that you get. For a GP Side Event, you usually start with an AM shift of judges, get a relief/PM shift at some point in the late morning or early afternoon. There's also a rotation of judges who come over from other side events. Since the SSS is the premiere Side Event on Sunday, the Side Events Lead makes sure to keep the event well-staffed and supported. That's all well and good, but there does reach a point when more isn't always better. I think this event had a healthy balance for most of the day.
In terms of rulings, it seems like Missed Triggers are still a thing that players are getting used to, especially with things like Prowess. It's the same old thing as Exalted years ago (or every year if you play Modern). You don't have to explicitly announce the trigger when it happens. You just have to make sure to acknowledge its existence before it would matter in the game. For the vast majority of cases with these two triggers, that means when the creature deals damage. Keep in mind that there are a few "Prowess-ish" triggers that work differently. Mistfire Adept, for example, has the second "flying prowess" trigger. This trigger targets and you have to announce your target when the ability goes on the stack.