It’s not an MMO, but it’s one more example of the problems of competitive gaming: Last weekend’s Magic: The Gathering Mythic Championship II took a dramatic turn when judges disqualified Magic Hall-of-Famer and two-time Player of the Year recipient Yuuya Watanabe after finding markings on the backs of some of his cards.
According to the official statement from Wizards of the Coast, judges found during a deck check that the sleeves of twelve of Watanabe’s cards — four each of Urza’s Tower, Urza’s Mines, and Urza’s Power Plants, a trio of land cards that provide additional mana when all three are in play simultaneously — were “marked in a specific way.” WotC’s statement adds, “No other cards in the deck nor sideboard had any of these marks.” Following the disqualification, Watanabe tweeted that he didn’t realize the cards were marked until the judges pointed it out to him, but he agreed with the ruling.
In a subsequent statement issued via the Twitter account of his team, Team Cygames, Watanabe provided a possible explanation: “I think maybe it’s because I tutored for [the cards] a lot from my deck. This requires touching the cards more, and the repeated exposure might’ve caused damage to them, giving them distinguishable marks.” Tutoring, for those interested, is the blanket term for playing any card that allows a player to search his or her deck to retrieve a specific card. Team Cygames has also released photographs of the cards and sleeves in question, revealing fairly distinct and more-or-less uniform creases at the corners of the Urza’s cards.
Many players have called Watanabe’s explanation into question, noting that he claims in his statement that the sleeves were new, applied after round 12 (with the disqualification following round 16), and that it seems unlikely for the sleeves to receive such wear over the course of four rounds of play. Even more unlikely is the idea that, regardless of tutoring, only the sleeves containing the three Urza’s cards would end up marked. Despite the suspect circumstances, however, other players remain convinced of Watanabe’s innocence, questioning why he would keep the marked sleeves on his deck when he knew there would be a standard deck check prior to the commencement of the top 8 matches. Nevertheless, the disqualification stands. Whether Wizards will hand down additional sanctions remains to be seen.