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Ben’s Ten: The 10 Most Memorable DQs of All Time!

Tuesday, September 14th – In the wake of Drew Levin’s high- profile disqualification at Grand Prix Columbus, Ben presents the 10 most memorable DQs of all time!

Magic is a competitive game, with stakes rising into the hundreds of thousands of dollars at Pro Tournaments. While Magic is primarily a game of skill, sometimes people try to get an illicit advantage in the game through cheating — while others are boneheaded and just have momentary lapses in judgment. Today, I present for you the ten most memorable tournament disqualifications of all time!


10) Casey McCarrel and the Magical Cheaty Shuffle


When and Where?

2001 U.S. Nationals


What was he DQed for?

Illegally manipulating his opponent’s deck


The Scoop:

Casey McCarrel’s opponents had a string of bad luck. It seemed that multiple people he was playing against had mulligans aplenty, and this pattern continued across several high-level events. It got to the point where many people suspected he was doing something to his opponent’s deck during the shuffle, to stack all (or no) lands on the top of the deck.

Brian Hegstad had been on the receiving end of this shuffle beforehand, and Zvi Mowshowitz (who was doing coverage for that match) pointed out to the judges that it appeared Casey was looking at the bottom card of Brian’s deck as he shuffled, then moving all spells to the top of Brian’s deck. A judge investigation took place, and it was found that Casey — whose shuffle was quite odd and deliberate — was, in fact, stacking his opponent’s deck.


The Aftermath:

Casey was disqualified from the Top 8 of Nationals with no prize, and was subsequently shuffled out of the game for three years.


Source:


A Bird’s-Eye View of the Casey McCarrel DQ


9) The Main Event: Amiel Tenenbaum vs. Jaap Brouwer


When and Where?

Worlds 2006, in Paris


What was he DQed for?

Cheating — Deliberately failing to correct and error


The Scoop:

Amiel Tenenbaum was paired against Haluk Ornek for round two of Worlds in 2006. After the first game, Amiel realized that he only had a fourteen-card sideboard. Instead of calling a judge to rectify the situation (and potentially take a game loss), Amiel waited until the match was over, and asked Haluk if he had the missing foil Disenchant. Haluk called a judge, and a massive investigation ensued. Amiel admitted he knowingly played games two and three with an illegal fourteen-card sideboard, and was promptly disqualified from the tournament.


The Aftermath:

Amiel wasn’t the only one disqualified from this incident; inexplicably, Haluk decided it would be a great idea to lie to the judge about owning the Disenchant! As it turns out, the missing Disenchant was being used as a token by Haluk — and once this was revealed, he claimed it was his own. Amiel was able to easily verify that the Disenchant was in fact his, and Haluk was DQed out of the tournament as well for lying to a tournament official!

The story doesn’t end there: Amiel was so infuriated by the disqualification that he allegedly challenged Jaap to a fight! Thankfully, Amiel calmed down before this challenge was taken seriously — I say “thankfully,” because I’m sure threatening a Level 5 DCI judge is not good for your future ability to play in Magical tournaments, and also because Jaap Brouwer is a much, much larger man than the diminutive Amiel.


Source:



News: Two Players Disqualified in One Match


8) Charles Gindy gets himself DQed for trying to help his opponent play better!


Where and When?

Worlds 2009, in Rome


What was he DQed For?

Tournament Fraud


The Scoop:

Charles Gindy was running Master of the Wild Hunt, but hadn’t had much practice playing with the card in the past weeks leading up to Worlds. After he won his sixth-round match, he questioned his opponent about a perceived play mistake. His opponent called a judge, and the situation escalated to a full-on investigation by head judge Sheldon Menery. In the end, it was ruled that Charles had knowingly and intentionally ignored damage that came from a Wolf token after he activated his own Master of the Wild Hunt. As such, he was promptly disqualified from the tournament for fraud. This also took out his teammates, Todd Anderson and Adam Yurchick, out of the team portion of the event.


The Aftermath:

According to eyewitnesses, Charles Gindy
got himself disqualified for not understanding how his own cards worked!


Here’s what Tim Aten said: “Well for one thing, the opponent’s creature
was

a 2/2, meaning he could choose to assign damage to just the 3/3, resulting in nothing dying.

“What actually happened was, Gindy attacked with all his 2/2 wolves, leaving back just the 3/3. Only wolves untapped at the time of Master’s activation enter the Arena, so the 3/3 was actually the
only legal target

for the two damage from the opponent’s dude.

“In essence, Gindy was DQed for playing his card correctly but not realizing it.”

It didn’t help that Gindy’s defense (as relayed by eyewitnesses) included, “If you want to call me a cheater, then I’m a cheater!” — though most agree that if Gindy had known how his own cards worked, or knew how to better explain the situation to the judges, this DQ would have never happened.


Sources:



Worlds 2009, Round Six: Disqualification



Northwest Magic Forum Thread: Worlds


7) Drew Levin bets himself out of the Top 8


Where and When?

Grand Prix Columbus, 2010


What was he DQed for?

Wagering on a match


The Scoop:

Drew Levin was playing for the Top 8 in Columbus, and Craig Wescoe was jockeying for a top 16 finish. Drew won the match, and then uttered the immortal phrase, “[A friend] laid me on 50-to-1 for the Grand Prix, and I took him on for $10.”

Craig called a judge. As he explained later to the community, he didn’t want to potentially be disqualified from the tournament himself by not reporting a disqualifiable offense. This judge call took just around an hour to resolve — and by the end of it, Drew Levin found himself disqualified from the Grand Prix for gambling.


The Aftermath:

This was one of the more polarizing DQs ever, and there’s still a fair degree of nebulousness about the veracity of either side’s story. People who doubt Drew Levin claim that it wasn’t a real bet point to his specific choice of words for the wager (“50-to-1 at $10”), as opposed to saying something like, “I bet my friend I’d win the GP!”

Critics of Craig Wescoe, on the other hand, claim that he was only fishing for a win, and any claims about worries of disqualification due to non-reporting are bogus.

Either way, the DCI made it clear that any sort of gambling on Magic in-tournament is not to be tolerated. Drew Levin walked away from this incident with community support. Craig Wescoe walked away from this incident as a pariah of the Pro community.

Wescoe Check!


Sources:



StarCityGames.com forum thread: DQ at GP: Columbus


An Open Letter To
Drew Levin and the Magic Community


My Story



Player DQed for Betting On Self?


6) Olivier Ruel reflects on his DQ


Where and When?

Grand Prix Brisbane, 2007


What was he DQed for?

Lying to a judge.


The Scoop:

A year off his DQ at Grand Prix Malmo, Olivier Ruel was once again disqualified at a Grand Prix in Brisbane. It seems that his opponent was wearing highly reflective glasses on his shirt — reflective enough so that Olivier could see his opponent’s cards in said reflection. When confronted about this by the head judge of the tournament, Olivier lied about what he was doing — and was promptly DQed from the tournament both for illegally gaining information,
and

for lying to a tournament official.


The Aftermath:

Olivier had been suspended for six months following his previous DQ, and so he was so paranoid that he was doing something illegal, that he lied to the judges rather than face the consequences of his actions. The kicker here? After a lengthy review, it looks like there was nothing technically illegal about what Olivier was doing to begin with!

The action was potentially shady, yes —but if your opponent shows up to a tournament wearing a full-body mirror and a rear-view mirror, then it’s their fault if you get to see every card they draw for the entire game. If Olivier had told the truth here (that he had been trying to read his opponent’s cards in his opponent’s glasses), then there likely would not have been a DQ.


Sources:



Day 2 Blog Archive: A Disqualification



Forum Thread:
Olivier Ruel Disqualified at Grand Prix Brisbane


5) Tomoharu Saito cuts himself out of the tournament!


When and Where?

Grand Prix Kobe, 2001


What was he DQed for?

Unsporting Conduct – Severe


The Scoop:

Saito had recently come off a DQ for bribery, though that incident seemed to be the result of bad judgment over prize split rules and some poor translation, more than anything overtly shady. In this second incident, Saito was about to lose the game. Did he go into the tank to think? Did he calculate his
outs by the percentages? No! Instead, he picked up his own deck, moved some cards around, and then offered up his deck for his opponent to cut…
for no reason!

His opponent, completely confused at this point, cut Saito’s deck — at which point Saito called for a judge, and tried to get his opponent a game loss for performing an illegal game action!


The Aftermath:

There have been variations on the “try to make it look like your opponent is performing an illegal action to get them a game/match loss” trick, which was a long-time a favorite cheat of some East-Coast players in the early years of Magic. They skipped drawing a card at some point during the game, then tried to game-loss their opponent for “drawing extra cards.”

But in this case, you have to ask yourself what Saito was even thinking! This wasn’t subtle, or even smart — it was a case of a young Saito trying a trick that doesn’t even make sense, and is easy for the judges to discern.

On the back of this DQ, Saito was given an 18-month period in the sin bin.


Source:


Statement Regarding the Disqualification of Tomoharu Saitou


4) Nick Eisel and the Ravenous Baloth that wasn’t


Where and When?

Grand Prix Boston, 2003


What was he DQed for?

Adding cards to a Sealed Deck


The Scoop:

Nick Eisel had a meteoric rise to the top of the Magic Limited world. He was the top-rated player on Magic Online, and had several strong finishes at high-level Magic events. At Grand Prix Boston, a suspicious mark was found on his deck list — and after a deck check, the judges decided that Nick had swapped out a Words of War for a Ravenous Baloth in his deck. He was DQed from the tournament in the fifth round…. and that’s just the start of all hell breaking loose!


The Aftermath:

This DQ has the most in common with the Levin/Wescoe DQ in that it became a huge community issue. Nick publically defended himself on this here website, and was held accountable by the community by agreeing to write for free for six months — even
after

getting a three-year ban from Magic! Things went south for Nick even quicker, though, as people started to come forward with game logs from Magic Online showing Nick offering bribes in exchange for concessions/ratings points on Magic Online, showing just exactly how he got to be the top rated player on Magic Online.

In the end, Nick faded from the Magic scene and moved to Poker, but this incident remains one of the most memorable DQs in Magic history. It’s even spawned jokes about the Eisel Defense: “I wouldn’t have done it because I have a girlfriend, and I might lose that girlfriend if I cheated at Magic!”


Sources:



Forum Thread: Facts As I See Them — Cheatin’!



My Side Of The Story: What Happened At GP: Boston


3) Dave Williams and the bent Accumulated Knowledges


Where and When?

2001 World Championships


What was he DQed for?

Marked Cards – Severe


The Scoop:

Before he was the darling of the Poker world, Dave Williams was a very high-profile Magic player. His shining moment was to come in the Top 8 of the 2001 World Championships — but it was not to be. Right after game four of his quarterfinals match, the judging staff swooped in and determined that three of the four Accumulated Knowledges in Dave’s deck were bent slightly, allowing them to be cut to each game — a huge advantage for a card where you potentially want to draw one early, and in multiples.


The Aftermath:

The general consensus from the community was that Dave was not intentionally trying to cheat, but didn’t take enough care to make sure that his Accumulated Knowledges were unmarked — kind of like when people get disqualified for having four slightly-warped Figure of Destiny Prerelease cards in their otherwise non-foil deck (you know, the ones you can also cut straight to). Dave was banned for a year for this incident, but luckily found a lucrative second career in poker to make ends meet.


Sources:



Dave Williams Disqualified



Wikipedia: Dave Williams (card player)


2) Mark Justice: Star of Grand Prix Cheatlanta


Where and When?

Grand Prix Atlanta, 1997


What was he DQed for?

Adding cards to a draft deck


The Scoop:

Mark Justice was one of the best and brightest players in the Magic World, and the star of the PCL: Pacific Coast Legends Magic team. It all came crashing down on him after the first Rochester Draft at Grand Prix Atlanta in 1997.

Mark drafted three Muscle Slivers for his deck, but wrote down four on his deck sheet. He then went to Rudy Edwards (a dealer at this event), got a fourth Muscle Sliver, and added it to his deck. All this would have been good and unnoticed — except Mark’s fourth Muscle Sliver was from a different print run from the other forty-four drafted cards in his deck, and was noticeably a different shade!

This led to a lengthy investigation — yes, Rudy had given Mark the Muscle Sliver. Mark claimed that he had gotten the Sliver to replace a from-the-pack defective one, and he had thrown out the supposedly pack-damaged Muscle Sliver. So the judges asked the next logical question: “Which trash can did you throw the Muscle Sliver into?”

Mark couldn’t remember, and the judges made a very generous offer:
You help us search all four major trash cans in the hall. If we turn up the Muscle Sliver, you continue to play in the tournament

. Mark declined this offer, and was disqualified for cheating.


The Aftermath:

Between this incident and some less-than-gentlemanlike behavior at the Invitational and other events, Mark’s shine as the Magic Golden Boy took a dark luster, and Mark quickly left the game of Magic.


An interesting side-note to this event:

There was a huge judge call during one of the last rounds of Swiss on day one, in the match involving Mike Long and Mark Justice. In the last game of the match, Mike Long drew a card, and then yelled “Goddammit!” knocking over the die he was using to keep his life total. What happened next is one of two scenarios:

1) Mike Long reset his die to a higher number, when fixing his life total, or

2) Mark Justice quickly adjusted Mike Long’s life total downward on the score pad, while Mike was fixing his die.

Undoubtedly, one of these two players was cheating in this incident, and the judging staff took nearly half an hour to try to work through this mess. In the end, they decided to go with Mark Justice’s life totals, since Mark was keeping track on paper. This allowed Mark to untap, then kill Mike with two burn spells on the following turn, for just enough damage to win the game.

Now at this time, Mark and Mike were fairly chummy, but Mike was fuming mad after the match. Legend has it that as the two of them left the tournament hall together, Mark was overheard saying, “Well, I guess this proves that they really hate you, Mike.”


Source:



Forum Thread: Hall of Fame Ballot: Mark
Justice is cheater?

Plus, I was personally there for this one – Me


1) Dave Mills and the Pro Tour Riot


Where and When?

Pro Tour Los Angeles, 1997


What was he DQed for?

Playing his spells before tapping his mana.


The Scoop:

For those of you new to the game, yes, you read the DQ reason correctly. Dave Mills was disqualified in the
finals

of Pro Tour Los Angeles for repeatedly playing his spells, and then tapping his mana. This was against the rules back in the day (and in fact, for the first decade of Magic, more-or-less) — and after several warnings against playing in this style, Dave was disqualified out of the Pro Tour, without prize.


The Aftermath:

This disqualification led to a riot (as much as one can be called at a Magic Tournament), where several players stormed the stage during the trophy ceremony, grabbed the microphone, and demanded justice for David Mills. The entire Pro Tour had been decided on something that, quite honestly, every casual player has done with every spell they’ve ever cast ever. Seeing the light, Wizards eventually changed this rule to allow people to announce a spell, and then tap mana.

This disqualification was so unpopular that Wizards eventually relented on the “no-prize” part of this DQ, and gave Dave Mills a full second-place share of the Pro Tour money.


Sources:



Wiki: Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour Season 1996-1997


Honorable Mention #1: Trey Van Cleave DQed by the Grand Prix Coverage photographer!


Where and When?

Grand Prix Boston, 2003


The crime?

Sneaky Peeking!


The Scoop:

Let me save myself a thousand words.

Trey, Looking Intently


The Aftermath:

First of all, the coverage team at the time labeled this picture “Van Cleave covets Zvi’s YMG shirt” — really, guys? This is probably the most famous “cheating” photograph in Pro history — Trey caught in the act of blatantly (trying to?) look at Zvi’s draft cards.

Second, Trey had other shady plays at that tournament, as highlighted in
Matt Cory’s Second-Place Tournament Report

(arguing extra turns, forgetting upkeep effects multiple times in one game, etc). The net result? A two-year suspension for Trey.


Sources:



The original photo


Forum Thread:
Nick Eisel and Trey van Cleave suspended


How I Placed 2
nd

In A Grand Prix With A 1600 Rating


Honorable Mention #2: Mike Long and the Cadaverous Bloom in his Lap

Let’s just say that I would get killed for not including probably the most famous incident of cheating in Magic’s history in this article (“Bloom in
the lap” is still common knowledge to people today, most of whom don’t even know how the Pros-Bloom deck worked). But Mike received a
match loss

for this incident, and was allowed to continue playing in the tournament — and that speaks to the state of rules enforcement in 1998!

Next Time: An Open Letter to Mark Rosewater