An Interview with Can Nats Head Judge Shahin (theroyalfalcon)

Shahin (theroyalfalcon), the man behind the PoweredAV stream for Canadian Dice Masters Nationals, took some time out at the end of the day to chat with me.

Shahin is well known in the Ottawa & Gatineau area as a fair judge and has held this role for Canadian Nationals since 2016. We talked about his Dice Masters journey, why he judges, and what he expected to see in the 2019 event compared to what actually happened.

Shahin, thanks for sitting down with me today.  Let’s start at the beginning – how did you get into Dice Masters?

I started playing right at the beginning, with AvX, so I’ve been collecting since the start. I’m the only active player in this area that has been around since then. However, I almost left the game not too long after starting.

Why is that?

Almost every single person at the first event I went to was playing Green Goliath, Gobby, Tsarina, Torch. I walked away thinking, this isn’t for me. But I stuck with it. I managed to convert a few Yu-gi-oh players to play locally. Nick V, who was playing today, is an example. There were a few others, but he’s the only one still playing from that time.

What keeps you in the game, as so many other people have dropped away?

It’s honestly hard for me to stop collecting, and the change to Campaign boxes made it much easier to collect and thus stay in. We also have a great local community, not a big one, but between Ottawa & Gatineau, about 12-14 players.

I’d say that’s probably the biggest community in Canada. In Toronto we get 4-5, I think about the same in Calgary, and once in a blue moon some folks in Vancouver get together.

That’s a comment I’ve made before as well. I’d say the biggest reason I do it, though, is for the community. I enjoy it, enjoy the social interaction, and I like deck building.

I see your stats on the WIN*, you’re obviously an excellent player, but you step out of these big competitions so that you can judge and commentate, why do you do that?

It goes back to the first Nationals. One of the players was Matt S, a young guy, didn’t have a credit card, and lived across the street from me. I signed him up and paid with my credit card when I signed up myself, to help him out. The event runnerscreated multiple accounts under my name as a result for the event. The person running the event paired us together for the first round and didn’t notice he had paired two Shahin Y’s or change it when I pointed it out.

*Shahin is currently ranked 5th overall on the WIN for lifetime DM in Canada, despite not playing in National events since the 2015, and playing only a few WKOs as he tended to judge those as well.

Sounds like a bit of an oversight.

It’s things like that, I strive as a judge to avoid. Like today, we had Christine & Claude, who are daughter & father players, I always make sure, any event we do, they don’t play each other first round. If they get paired later, then they get paired later, at least they don’t start that way. The same with you & Rob, if you’d been paired to start, I would have fixed that, because that’s not fun.

It’s the person you play with most often, it’s better to play someone different to start.

Yeah, it’s just one of those little things.

I also find that I sometimes, like everyone else, get a bit tilted when I play. But by being the judge, there’s nothing for me to get tilted at. There’s not someone who made a bad call or anything else like that. I mean, I could have still made bad calls. I do. That happens. But I can only be mad at me.

I’m here, trying to make the best event I can for everyone else. I just really like community building, and playing games, and having a consistent judge helps the community.

You mentioned bad calls.  Have you had calls you’ve made before that you’ve regretted afterwards, or times you realize you’ve made a bad call?

It happens to everybody, and when it happens, I admit it, and try to make it right if I can.

It happened even today, where I made a mistake in Swiss at what happens if you reach the end of turns and there is no definitive winner. I thought it was most life remaining, but it’s actually a tie in Swiss. I was very honest about that with the group, and I corrected the results when the mistake was brought to my attention.

As a judge, what do you want your players to know?

Ask about rulings as soon as you can. While you’re team building if you can. If you know who the judge is, reach out to him or her in advance directly. If you don’t know, post questions in the event. Just like you, and ccm00007, and others did. It’s better to get it out of the way ahead of time. You want to know what you’re playing works the way you think it does.

That’s also why I talk to the group at the beginning of each event, to see if anyone has questions about cards, to make sure they saw and understand the rulings I’ve posted. Sometimes the questions I get asked are clarifying and don’t need an official ruling, and sometimes they do. I want everyone on the same footing. No one wants to be halfway through a game and receive a ruling from a judge that screws their team over.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a judge. If something in the game doesn’t look or feel right, doesn’t make sense, ask for a judge. There’s no harm. It’s always better to ask and move forward, than to go like, oh, I guess it’s okay, and then lose and feel bad about it forever.

I’m the only judge for this event, and I can really only actively judge the last game of the day, because I have other tables during the rest of the rounds, and I’m commentating, but judging always takes precedent. Even sometimes, before I’m called over, I’ll hear someone say, let’s ask Shahin, and I’ll just go over to speed up the process. It’s a balancing act.

In addition to judging, you have a SWEET stream and commentating set up. How did you come up with the set up? It is truly impressive. It’s a step up from even last year’s stream, which I thought couldn’t get much better.

One of the jobs I have is I run a small business as an audio tech and DJ company, so I have all the gear. It’s also why the stream is called PoweredAV, that’s the name of my company.

For this year specifically, it spawned out of the fact that I’ve watched enough live streams and videos of Dice Masters where you can’t read the dice. That was my biggest concern, you need to be able to read those dice. Last year, if you go back and look at the videos, I had two cameras, one was an overview of the whole table and one was a close up of the centre. The problem was, you couldn’t see what people were rolling, or what energy they had. So I said, let’s rebuild this, and I added the third camera, so you see the three stripes.

Check out the stream on (PoweredAV) or on YouTube. It looks way better than this screen capture I made.

I literally spent 10 hours on Wednesday, messing around with gear, moving things around, sharing pictures with some of the players to find out what looks better, because I wanted a really good view of what’s going on. It’s better for the audience and it’s easier for me to commentate.

For sound, I use headset mics, and I run my equipment to the other end of the room. That leaves all the other players in the between me and the players on stream. I don’t have to speak loudly thanks to the head sets, and you as the viewer get full immersion into the streamed game. I also have a mic set up so you can hear the players chatter if I have to step away.

It’s fantastic. I like that you can hear the player chatter in between commentary. It’s a great set up, and I think all the viewers are really going to appreciate that.

Let’s talk about today’s event. What did you think was going to shine today?

She’s banned now, but Shahin still expected to see some Attune

Going into US Nats, I expected Attune to still be very strong, even without Yuan-Ti Pureblood: Epic Humanoid, and then it was nowhere in the top, we just saw Atom, Collector, etc.

I honestly expected Collector to do well again this time, I was playing Collector up until Nationals 2018, and it was strong then, but not quite fast enough. This year, Collector got faster, everything else got a bit slower, and it won US Nats. I also recognize that it’s a team of shenanigans, and I know how to play it inside and out, and not all players do. We only saw two Collector teams today, and they faced each other at one point, and neither made it past top 8.

Shahin did not expect to see The Atom rise to the top, yet it took top spot this year. Congratulations again to DM North’s very own ccm00007

The second one I expected was Iceman: Right on Schedule.

I never considered The Atom: Professor team to be as good as it turned out to be. I played it a few times, in a previous incarnation, and it didn’t flow for me. The way that it was tweaked by ccm0007 really took the team up a notch. That Storm: Morlock Champion for removal on this team is a really good card.

But this team will never be as good as it was today, again, after the ruling on Energy Field.


Was there anything in particular that really caught you today?

Watching JT play a team that he literally told me he put together because of my advance rulings on Madame Web: Cassandra Webb and Poison Ivy: A New Leaf. I fully expect that if it had won today, we’d get an errata clarifying it doesn’t work, but the way it’s worded, it does.

*NOTE: on Monday, July 15, we received a ruling clarifying that this interaction indeed does not work.

So you’d say JT’s team is the biggest surprise of the day?

Yeah, I did not expect it to show up.

Shahin, thanks for your time today. I think you’re a fantastic judge, and do a great job. All of the time and effort you put into this event, as Laurier said at the end of today’s stream, is very much appreciated.

Shahin hard at work at the 2018 Canadian Dice Masters National Championship

Until next time


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