The Rules Around “Collusion” Disqualifications Need Revision

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I'm writing this in response to Caleb Durward's tournament report about a recent PTQ from which he was disqualified for collusion. You can read his report here (and I suggest you do), but it basically comes down to this: Caleb thought he was properly skirting the rules regarding prize splits and concessions, and those of us around the competitive scene know there is an art to this.

It turns out, the judges disagreed, despite being present for the entire thing. In the end, Caleb was DQed but the head judge didn't recommend a suspension. Even worse was that when Caleb brought up the issue with a Level 4 judge who seemed to indicate that his way of handling it would be okay.


Either way, it's a thorny issue. And really, my problem isn't so much with people trying to work around the rules so much as it is having a non-clear rule in the first place. There really shouldn't be  much room for making judgment calls, in my opinion. Either people follow the rules and can figure out prize splits/concessions, or they can't and don't. But all the gray area isn't good for anyone.

Of course, with that said, I have no idea how exactly to fix it. Any suggestions?

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Corbin Hosler

Corbin Hosler is a journalist living in Norman, Oklahoma (also known as the hotbed of Magic). He started playing in Shadowmoor and chased the Pro Tour dream for a few years, culminating in a Star City Games Legacy Open finals appearance in 2011 before deciding to turn to trading and speculation full-time. He writes weekly at and biweekly for LegitMTG. He also cohosts Brainstorm Brewery, the only financial podcast on the net. He can best be reached @Chosler88 on Twitter.

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17 thoughts on “The Rules Around “Collusion” Disqualifications Need Revision

  1. If you try to be shady, expect to get caught.
    Rules are clear. It’s not allowed. But with words, you can try to bend around them.
    But the real purpose can be very clear. The report is one side of the story. He may tells his side of the story to a L4. I’m pretty sure the L4 said: if that is exactly what happened, than I would do X, but I need to hear the other side of the story.
    Question is: did that really happen? And did the L4 said he disagreed with the given ruling on that PTQ?

    There are many things in the grey zone, and the head judge on the event is the one who decides, if he wants te be sure, ask the judge first. Not doing that is his own fault.
    I agree that getting rid of the grey zone will benefit the competitive scene, but don’t blame the judges. If you know the grey zone exist, and you enter that grey zone, expect to get caught, and don’t cry about it afterwards.
    I’m somehow upset he is playing victim here, while he was trying to be smarter than the rules.

    1. Nobody said anything about there being an investigation. As far as we’re aware, due to the reporting judge not recommending a suspension, there won’t be an actual investigation.

      And while we don’t know for certain, there’s way more reason to assume that there isn’t an investigation than there is to assume that there is one.

      1. Yesterday, I read a post by another judge, who had access to the original DQ report. He indicated that Durward’s description of events was more or less in line with that report, which he said was to be expected with a well-known player (as opposed to some random person spouting off about his/her DQ). He further indicated that there was, indeed, an ongoing investigation, but it would likely not be concluded for about a month.

        I don’t know if the DCI investigates gray-area situations like this, particularly if they involve high-level players, as a kind of internal audit to ensure that judge staff are fairly implementing policy or if they are looking at Durward for an infraction.

  2. I could have done without him acting like the biggest tragedy possible was his DQ leading to Ray Perez making Top 8 where he was “Dead money” and his opponent would “enjoy the bye”. Nothing like being a shit on top of being a cheater.

    1. Caleb clarified in the comments on his article that this was a joke and that he’d even run it past Perez before publishing. Perhaps you are making a similar joke?

      1. The alternative is assuming I can’t tell when someone is joking and think he was cheating. I figured people would get it, but then I should have remembered people thought I was serious when I said Ari Lax knew how to insult people in fluent Japanese.

  3. I love peoples outrage here. ” Nothing like being a shit on top of being a cheater.”
    “expect to get caught, and don’t cry about it afterwards.
    I’m somehow upset he is playing victim here, while he was trying to be smarter than the rules.”


    1. It’s interesting that people automatically assume that Durward is lying. He’d have to be pretty stupid to write about this topic if he had knowingly colluded, since it would make him look worse once the DCI punishes him. In the very recent past, we’ve seen at least one person doing “damage control” (i.e., “stop the witch hunts”) about an ongoing investigation and he looked much worse for simply not speaking on the subject until the investigation was complete. Maybe it’s the actions of Humphries/Bertoncini/Boettcher that have so jaded people.

  4. What is needed is a bright line rule (a rule where it is obvious to everyone when it is crossed).


    “In swiss rounds, no discussion of prize splits may take place until match results have been reported.”

    This would serve to clearly separate prize splits from concessions/draws.

    1. No, I have the same feeling, and I’m not happy about that.

      The rules are clear. And we don’t need a policy about how to break or bend the rules.

  5. I totally agree with you. I used to help make policy for one of the largest universities in the US and while completely eliminating gray areas is impossible (there are always outliers), when a new policy was implemented, we created explicit guidelines which were clear to all users (students, parents, faculty, and staff). The result was that everyone who had an interest in that policy should be able to easily understand and implement it.

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