The Pro Tour is usually a great spectacle that showcases the game’s greatest putting their all into competing for a sizable prize purse. While I enjoyed much of the coverage of Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir, there was a portion that was simply handled terribly. There is no reason that we should have had to watch Patrick Chapin appeal his game loss for ten minutes while Randy Buehler did his best to make competitive Magic sound like a terrible thing.
The scenario was that Patrick activated an Ajani, Mentor of Heroes and failed to reveal the creature that he grabbed before putting it into his hand. Then he appealed for a very long time while the producers refused to cut away from the scene.
Patrick’s “this sleeve touched this sleeve” argument was dubious and didn’t represent any reason to not give a game loss for drawing extra cards the way that the rule is consistently enforced. If it touches your hand, you drew it, and if you drew it you get nothing. You lose. Good day, sir.
That said, there is an argument that Chapin could have made that carries more weight. Seeing as there is a spotter who records the cards in each players hand and there is a camera reel that could prove what Chapin grabbed with Ajani, it could be demonstrated that he grabbed a legal target. Ultimately, the only reason that you have to reveal in such instances is to prove that you didn’t do anything that the card didn’t let you do. A quick replay could easily repair the game state.
At this point in time, replays are not used to repair game states or overturn such rulings. There is an argument that could be made for this being bad for coverage. In this instance, a player got a game loss in game three to chalk up his first loss of the tournament. Such a thing just isn’t enjoyable to watch.
Ultimately, the argument against reviewing the tape in order to make judge calls is that it provides special treatment to those in the feature match area. One person might feel cheated when they get a game loss that the camera could easily overturn, but a lot more people will feel cheated if they get a similar game loss while not on camera while some other person gets absolved because their infraction happened to happen under the camera.
So what do you think? Should feature matches get special treatment because the tape is there anyways? Or would such rulings generate too many bad feelings and compromise the integrity of the game?
Between writing this and publishing it, Cedric Phillips put a great article on this topic up on SCG. Check out his article here.