The Year of the Cheat

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According to the Chinese Zodiac, this is the year of the horse. People born in the year of the Horse are great at communicating and enjoy the spotlight. Horses should avoid marrying rats and rabbits because they would kill their spouse attempting to consummate the union. Even though 2014 isn't officially the year of the rat, it's starting to feel like it.

Alex Bertoncini

Trevor Humphries

Jared Boettcher

A lot of high profile players were found out to be cheats and frauds this year and there is still nearly an entire month left for us to ferret out a few more cheats. The hits kept coming this week as we had a high-profile disqualification at the Player Championship. Wizards released a statement that mentions that Marcio Carvalho received a disqualification for presenting an illegal deck but it doesn't really delve too much into what happened. I had to go to social media to find out a bit more.

Per Frank Lepore's Twitter, Marcio Carvalho has pulled a similar cheat in the past, and Matt Sperling has this account.

"For anyone who doesn't know, Marcio has done this cheat time and again, such as vs me AND Tom Martell in PT Amsterdam after he did it against Tom and I begged Toby Elliott to have a judge watch my match with Marcio the following round but he declined. I tried to watch him, I really did, but he had the life totals wrong and I go to score pad to correct it and there you go he topdecks a situationally perfect sideboard card (some falter effect) that wasn't good against me or Tom generally but was topdecked in the final turn against both of us after some distraction tactics. Tom had warned me Marcio cheated him but didn't say how so I didn't know EXACTLY what to look for, just to ask Toby for help. After that draft pod Tom and I compared notes and it was same cheat - card "topdecked" off sideboard or from hidden zone after distraction tactics."

Carvalho had a Hornet Queen underneath his lifepad and presented a 59 card deck to the opponent so he would always have a queen stashed. The source on the Hornet Queen allegation was Tom Martell.

This is pretty cut and dried scumbaggery of the highest magnitude and Carvalho has disgraced himself and his home country whom he was at the event representing. Don't cheat, you guys. Don't do the Boettcher shuffle, don't stash Hornet Queens under your lifepad and don't Bertoncini Brainstorm. Don't cheat.

What is less cut and dried was another story out of the event, this one involving Jeremy Dezani. In addition to his glacial play during the Legacy Masters draft that resulted in disciplinary action, he is embroiled in something the internet has dubbed "Dealergate" because everything needs a "gate" at the end after the first scandal named this way, "Watergate" which involved president Richard Nixon and the Water hotel. Dealergate is detailed in an article by Paulo Vitor Damon da Rosa. According to Paulo,

After semi-settling on decks, we went to the event to buy the cards we were missing, since we were informed there would be no dealers during Worlds. We went to two dealers and bought some cards from each, and were ready to leave when Tom Martell spots one of the dealers we had just bought cards from talking to Jeremy Dezani. Apparently, said person was reading to Dezani from a list that included every card we had bought, as well as cards that previous Worlds competitors (e.g. Sam Black) had bought earlier in the day.

Wizards is investigatin and the community is castigating, Dezani that is. I'll leave it to WotC to conduct an investigation and while I have heard the name of a vendor bandied about, we're not reporting anything until the official investigation names a vendor. Right now all we have is some hearsay from Paulo, but it is compelling enough to get the internet in a butthurt tornado.

So let's talk about "Vendorgate" or "Dealergate" or whatever you'd like to call it. Is Dezani a scumbag for trying to find out what his opponents were buying? Is the vendor a scumbag for offering the information? Is Paulo overreacting? Are gamers just gonna game? Let's get a really divisive fight started in the comments section and I'll pop a bag of Reddenbacher's finest and watch the fracas.

Cover photo courtesy of Mishra's Photoshop - @MishrasFotoshop

18 thoughts on “The Year of the Cheat

  1. Dezani is literally being accused of talking to people when not playing in a sanctioned event.

    Think about that for a minute.

    Scouting, in all of its forms, has always been completely legal even if people do get butthurt about it. If anyone wants to get worked up, I think it should be at dealers who are sharing the information.

    Why? Because players clearly have some expectation that their transaction would be private (else why the outrage?). That’s the core of the issue … but it seems like the anger is misplaced (probably because they don’t feel like they can effectively go after the vendor).

    There’s never anything wrong to ask for information though and Dezani’s just shooting an angle that seems fine here.

    1. Dezani probably shouldn’t have taken the information offered to him (if you were really hyperbolic, you could say it was fruit of the poisonous tree but whatever). I agree that the majority of the fault lies with the sleazy dealer who offered him the information in the first place.

      And you are also dead on with the point about scouting, there is nothing wrong with it. Scouting is used in sports all across the world. I don’t know of a football club worth its salt that doesn’t have a raft of scouts on the payroll. E-sports teams (specifically League of Legends) will scout their opponents to know what to pick and ban against them. Is that unjust? No, of course not.

      If Dezani get’s sanctioned for this then I think Wizards need to ease off with the banhammer a bit. The better course would be to find this dealer and put him out of commission.

  2. This behavior makes Dezani a less respectable character, but I don’t see a reason for this to be penalized, as I don’t believe there are any rules about things like this.

  3. Personally I believe in buyer/seller confidentiality, and the most respectable vendors honor this code. For example, remember when people were posting in the forums “Ben bought me out of card XYZ! SCG is buying these up!” and Ben was very upset. He kindly noted which sellers were disclosing this information so that he never bought from them again. I fully respect Ben’s wishes and I try to hold myself to the same level of conduct when selling cards.

    So from this perspective, I believe it is nobody’s business what I or anyone else bought from a specific vendor. If I wish to disclose what I bought from where that’s perfectly fine. But I don’t need a vendor advertising what I’m buying from them. It’s just not professional.

    1. I agree w/ this expectation — but that’s not on Dezani if a specific vendor is willing to give that vendor up.

      The vendors should be called out here, not the player that’s taking freely-given information.

      1. If Dezani is comfortable with accepting the prestige of being the ‘player of the year’ or whatever, I think it is perfectly reasonable that we, as an mtg community, ask him to be a model of sportsmanship. He is not just some random grinder trying to eke out percentages wherever they can as long as it is not formally dis-allowed. He is a professional, a notable and prominent member of a community, and has been formally honored by that community for his excellence.

        We should be holding him to a higher standard. If other prominent members of the community state unequivocally that this is not acceptable behavior, I feel confident that this is not too onerous of a demand.

        1. If it’s unacceptable behavior then it should be codified in the rules as such.

          Until it is, then while it’s completely understandable for people to disagree with certain behavior, those are just opinions and not something on which to actually sanction a player.

        2. The reason he’s not just some random grinder is because he goes above and beyond. I honestly think his behavior is not only fine but commendable and should set an example. If it makes you win and its not against the rules you have all the reasons in the world to go for it.

          As for the vendors I could see peaple being a bit angry about this but having a few vendor friends of my own I know this happens quite often at lower levels and is fine because nothing is at stake, but hey if you want to risk buisnes by being ‘that guy’ who’s gonna tell the tournament what deck your on then more power to ya.

  4. Maybe if Dezani had spent more time preparing to play mtg at a high level, instead of relying on this sleazy form of “scouting” of whatever you want to call it (rationalize it as), he wouldn’t have performed so dismally in the actual event.

    None of the defenses offered for Dezani are convincing to me. PV’s contention is that this is distinct from scouting because a) it was before deck submission, not after, and b) it involved uncovering private information about purchases, rather than public information. The effects are compounded for this event specifically by the fact that this tournament is c) abnormally small, and d) teams cluster around the same list. PV is especially upset because e) a large part of his personal contribution was in the manner of a transformational SB Gifts package, which is uniquely vulnerable to this sort of spying.

    I don’t see how general statements of ‘people scout all the time!’ are responsive to these particular points.

    1. I’m fairly certain that is a false dichotomy at the beginning of your statement. I understand your view point however but consider this, this is a competitive event and he broke no rules, in my opinion this is something everyone should have been doing not just him. Is it wrong to stand by a vendor as someone make a purchase? Then why should it be morally or explicitly wrong to do this, where should the line be drawn? The only real thing that could be done about this is vendors adopting a privacy policy, till then I commend his innovation.

      1. Ah, the old ‘What I did was not explicitly dis-allowed by existing regulations!’ defense. Always convincing. Now, how one gets from ‘I did nothing specifically designated as wrong’ to ‘I did something commendable’ is a mystery to me – it seems like there would be a wide distance between the two, no?

        As for your other points: it was not a false dichotomy, it was a joke at his expense. Re; the ‘ethics of standing there’ or whatever – Given what PV has said, it seems clear to any rationally minded person that PV would not have continued with his purchases with Dezani, or any other of his competitors, standing right there while he did it. This one is not hard to puzzle out for yourself.

        The fact that Dezani’s story on this has shifted around to something approximating ‘the dealer came to me with the information and I had to stop him’ is, in my opinion, a clear demonstration that he himself understands that he did something untoward. Why shouldn’t he be boasting about this commendable, virtuous act to all who would hear? Dezani, the paragon of humility.

        If you actually believe that this behavior is ‘commendable’, I would suggest you go defend said commendable behavior against PV’s attacks on his twitter feed. Because if you honestly believe what you claim to believe, PV is doing something approaching the slander of an upstanding citizen and you should feel obligated to stand up for Dezani’s righteous action.

        If you can’t tell already, I think your position is laughably absurd, and I have doubted many times over the course of writing this comment whether you actually hold these opinions or if I am just feeding a troll.

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  6. I agree with the previous poster regarding the sub-par writing of this article and the lack of objective analysis/content. It is possible that you have spoiled me with the high quality of previous articles but in all honesty, I think this is an article that would benefit a lot from a good revision and/or rewriting.

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