Well, it’s about time that I set the record straight on the recent events regarding what happened to me at GP Boston. I really wish this could have been done sooner, but I was busy with school, and then spring break. In a way though, maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t have time to write it earlier, because I would have definitely taken a different approach with it and I’m not sure it would garner the impact I’m trying to get across.
Basically speaking, I was pissed. And I probably would have said a lot of things I shouldn’t have, and the overall message would be more heated than it really needs to be.
The fact of the matter is that nothing I can say can really affect anyone’s opinion on the issue, and I gave up on doing so early on when I realized this. Anybody can believe whatever they want, and I’m not going to be the one wasting my time trying to convince people to believe my side over hearsay. Obviously, this is all a moot point now, since I got suspended for three years, and I can cry innocence ’til the cows come home without getting anything in return unless I’m able to push the matter through court and the real truth comes out. I’ll get to that later, though – as the point I’m trying to make now is that at this juncture, I gain nothing from trying to convince the general public that I didn’t do it. And honestly, I don’t care if you believe me or not, and if it makes you feel better to take potshots at me on some online message boards, more power to ya. I’m not trying to gain supporters, or invoke sympathy from you, I’m merely writing this article because I feel that I owe it to everyone to put my side of the story out there and not go down without a fight.
When I was originally going to write this, I was extremely infuriated at a number of people in particular who I had for some reason or another rubbed the wrong way in the past. These individuals were using this incident as a platform to publicly bash me – and it really bothered me at first, because I know the real reasons that each of them is mad at me. I was going to name names and get into the actual reasons they have a problem with me, but I’ve decided that I’m going to be bigger than that and just leave the issue alone. If you want to slam me, you go right ahead; it’s long past the time where it bothered me, and I’ve mellowed out a great deal on the matter over the past week. "Time heals all wounds,” as the saying goes.
Anyway, before I get too deep into this, I should give my side of the actual incident since many people don’t have any clue as to what actually happened. Near the end of deck registration, as I was about to get up from my chair to get lands, I noticed that there was a scratch out with NO written beside it near the bottom of the column by the column totals, and in the checkbox for Words of War. A judge was walking by, and not thinking anything of it, I asked him if it was okay that there was a scratch out and if he should initial it or anything. He said that it should be fine because it said NO beside it in pretty big letters, and at the time I really didn’t think anything more of it.
This was, of course, my fatal mistake – even if I didn’t realize it right then.
The other major thing that really hurt my chances of proving my innocence was that I didn’t get a good look at the judge that I had talked to. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem, as they would remember our conversation, but the conversation wasn’t something someone would recollect, (i.e. no card names or other easy-to-recall information were exchanged) as I simply asked if the scratch out mark was okay while pointing to it on the sheet.
One important thing that many people don’t know is that at the beginning of registration, the guy sitting on my left, Vlad, and I were having a pretty good conversation. I’d never met Vlad before the GP, but he was telling me that he liked my articles and we were talking about Magic Online and other related Magic things. When I opened the deck, (Vlad hadn’t even touched his yet) he watched the Ravenous Baloth come out of the box. He wrote me an eye witness testimony, which I mailed to Wizards and they apparently disregarded it (I’m saying this because in the email stating that I was getting suspended, they gave absolutely zero details of the investigation, or what "evidence" they were basing this decision on). I mean c’mon, the guy saw me open the deck and the Baloth was in the top ten cards with the rest of the green!
So then, in Round 5 when I was playing against my friend Gabe Walls, they deck checked us before we started game 2 (which was odd to begin with), and called me over and accused me of scratching out Words of War and adding the Baloth. I protested for about half an hour, basically in disbelief that it was actually happening, and finally gave up when I realized that nothing I said meant anything to them, and they were basically going to do whatever they wanted. After that, I walked around for a few hours trying to find the judge that I’d talked to, and came up empty. The only thing I really knew was that it was a male, as I didn’t even get a look at his face (it was an over-the-shoulder type of thing). The rest is basically the judging staff interviewing people that were sitting around me, and a few of them commenting that they had seen the Baloth during deck construction.
So what exactly did happen?
The only thing I can say for sure is that I have no idea. A number of possible scenarios have been suggested, but I really don’t know what happened before I got the deck with the Baloth in it. I think the most likely scenario is that the guy who registered the deck thought he had a chance to get it back, but that still doesn’t explain the scratch out, unless he decided this after registering all the Onslaught but before seeing the Legions. Some of the other theories are that I was set up by people that have something against me, or that the DCI realized that if they didn’t convict me that I was going to press for compensation, or they wanted to use me as an example to prove that they don’t go easy on alleged cheating (to show that they don’t play favorites with people who work for them).
Honestly, I don’t know, and I’m not sure I ever will. The only thing I know for complete certain is that the Baloth was in the box when I received it, and I am guilty of complete stupidity by not getting the judge to initial, and also failing to get a good look at him. I really wish I would have paid more attention to it at the time, but unfortunately I didn’t, and I have only myself to blame for that.
As far as having a motive goes, I really have very little to gain and everything to lose. When you look at it from my point of view it boils down to a few very important details: First off, as far as what I had to lose, I was at the time getting paid a large amount of money per article from Sideboard, large enough to be considered a part-time job. This isn’t something I would put in jeopardy through a stupid act like adding a card to a sealed deck (a sealed deck that was already insane with or without the Baloth). Regarding the actual deck, I had a Slice and Dice in my sideboard that I wanted to splash, but nothing else to go with it, and if there actually was a Words of War instead of a Baloth, I certainly would have splashed the Slice and Words.
Second, and probably most important of all is my girlfriend’s role in the matter. I mean seriously, who wants to date a cheater – or worse yet, a liar? Anything that could possibly put my relationship with the girl I love in danger is crossing the line in my book, and I’m not even going to consider doing it. The reward for this ridiculous risk would be a possible good record, and if I did well on Day 2, possibly win some money.
If you think that I added a card to my deck to slightly increase my chances of earning some money or a little fame, you’re kidding yourself. Money and notoriety were already a sure thing just by continuing to write articles for Sideboard and/or StarCity. As far as the people who are bringing up the fact that I have gotten some extremely good sealed decks in the past, I can only say that I was deck checked multiple times at both of the events that I went 8-0 on Day 1 in, and there were no problems.
Hopefully, you can now understand where I’m coming from and that I have absolutely zero to gain, and everything to lose if I actually were to commit such a stupid act.
So that’s my side in a nutshell – and you can believe me, think I’m a liar, believe the DCI, or do whatever you want to do, it really doesn’t matter to me anymore. At least now the story is out there and I’ve made my side of it much clearer than it was before.
The most important thing any of you can learn from my misfortune is to be very careful in the future. It could just as easily happen to you as it did to me if you don’t check and double-check every mark on that registration sheet. And please, if there’s something that’s even the slightest bit out of the ordinary; don’t settle for anything less than a judge’s initials!
As for what I’m going to do regarding Magic now, there are a few things. First, now that I’m back from spring break, I am looking into legal assistance regarding the incident, and would like to ask anyone who knows anything about past cases, or anything in this realm to lend me a helping hand. Any input you have regarding legal pursuit of the matter will be greatly appreciated, and I am hoping to get a good bit of email regarding this to help my decision. As always, you can email me at [email protected].
As far as still playing Magic goes, I plan to do so at least for now on MODO and nonsanctioned drafts in real life. It’s not like I’ve lost my love for the game through all of this, in fact the only thing that’s changed negatively is my view of the way a lot of the people involved in the game act in these types of situations. Reminds me of a big soap opera, which is far from what it should be. I also want to encourage anyone who wants me to continue to write strategy (I’ve received a bunch of emails on this already) to contact The Ferrett and let him know, as he was still unsure whether he wanted me to or not as I’m writing this.
Last, but most importantly, I would like to thank everyone who stayed by my side through all of this, specifically the people who have shown they are my true friends. In particular, my wonderful girlfriend Mandy, who has been there for me through everything, Eileen and Brandon Biondo, Jeremy Darling, Mike Turian, Joe Crosby, and anyone else I forgot to mention, you know who you are.
Please feel free to email me with any kind of feedback – and especially any information you have regarding the legal scene. Thanks for reading, and hopefully I’ll be able to continue to write in the coming weeks about more pleasant things like strategy.