My Thoughts on the Hall of Fame

Tuesday, September 2nd – In a few days, the new members of the Hall of Fame will be announced. I doubt that, at this point, what I am going to say will influence the results in any way, but after so many voters shared their thoughts on my situation, I could not stay silent…

In a few days, the new members of the Hall of Fame will be announced. I doubt that, at this point, what I am going to say will influence the results in any way, but after so many voters shared their thoughts on my situation, I could not stay silent.

First, I’d like to talk about the incidents I’ve had with judges since I started playing on the Pro Tour. The point is not to defend myself, only to make what happened clearer to all the people who are reading the latest columns on the Hall of Fame. I want everyone to form their own opinion on my situation.

* The first incident occurred during Pro Tour: New York ’99. It was my second individual PT, and a draw in the last round would place me in the Top 32 and almost put me on the Gravy Train (back then, the Top 32 qualified for the next PT). The pairings offered me a well-known pro. When I offered him the draw, he answered “no, I don’t want to draw… all I care about is money”. Therefore, I offered to concede the game to him and give him some money, which he refused. Apparently, I had misunderstood his intentions, and so I started playing. The person who denounced me on this was not a judge, but a player we had to play again in a team event the same night (“we” being my brother, Florent Jeudon, and myself).

I was very logically disqualified, but the fact that my opponent said the words “all I care about is money,” and the intentions of the person who denounced me – apparently hoping for a double DQ – pushed the judges to show a little mercy and not ban me.

* Incident #2: Malmo 2006. Dodgy shuffling, or looking at cards, call it as you want, I’ve been stupid enough not to try and justify myself anymore in this case. I’ve been disqualified for not listening to several warnings from judges (about my shuffling methods), and I was banned for six months for unsportsmanlike conduct.

* The latest (and hopefully last) incident happened in Brisbane last year. In the final round of Day 1, my opponent was sporting sunglasses around his neck, hanging down on his shirt, and at some point in the third game I realize I can see his hand in the reflection. To be honest, and I’m not sure it’s legal, but the temptation was too strong, and I looked at this reflection until the end of the game. When the judge came to interview me at the end of the game, I panicked.
I had tried to be as clean as possible since the end of my suspension, and this ruined everything. As the necessity of an interview tells me that looking in the glasses was illegal, I knew I’d be disqualified and banned, and would likely never touch a Magic card again. No matter the obvious nature of the upcoming situation, the above perspective makes me panic… and I lie to the judge, and get disqualified for the third time.

The next day, I’m told to go back to the site, as I might be reinstated to the tournament. I was told that what I did was actually legal, but lying to a judge was obviously illegal, so therefore, just like in New York nine years previously, I’m disqualified but don’t get banned.

Would any player other than me have been disqualified for the same offense? I doubt it. I’m not using this as an excuse, as I definitely screwed up here. I only mention this to demonstrate that I’m being watched very carefully ever since my suspension, and that if I were a cheat, it would be harder not to catch me.

The three points I mention are definitely good enough reasons to take your votes elsewhere. However, now I’d like to give you a few reasons to actually vote for me.

The mail sent out to the Selection Committee included the following:

Voting shall be based upon the player’s performances, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, and contributions to the game in general.

Concerning integrity: I can’t blame people for not trusting me, as I managed to get disqualified three times in thirteen years. I’ll do my best to regain everyone’s trust, no matter how long it takes. That is the only thing I can promise.

I’m second in lifetime pro points, first in Grand Prix Top 8 appearances (even though I must be first on GPs attended too!). I’m between first and third in lifetime winnings (I could not find recent ratings), I have five PT Top 4, I’m a five-time member of my National Team, and I’m currently second in the Pro Player of the Year Race. I also won a Planar Chaos Prerelease.

Playing ability
My only gift is hard work. I know many players much more talented than I, but I’ve dedicated myself to the game so much that I’ve elevated my playing skills enough to get close to the best.

Many friends yell at me when they watch my games, because I often let my opponents come back into the game in a sorting fashion. In a Team Grand Prix, an opponent had his hand on the top of his library, and I put my hand on his as a reflex to remind him to pay the echo of his only creature. I think my brother would have killed me if we had lost that game, and the 2 pro points and $800 it represented. I know… it’s not even sportsmanlike, it’s stupid. At some point, when it is your job, you have to act like a pro and not try and make your opponent your friend. But it is just the way I play the game. I could put pressure on my opponents and play the bad guy. It would certainly win me more games, but I don’t see the point. If I were not having fun playing Magic, I would have stopped a while ago.

Contributions to the Game
I wrote articles for French magazines for 10 years, and even created my own magazine three years ago with my friend and roommate Alexandre Peset. It was called Level Up, and it talked about strategy and pro events. We had to stop after a year, but I never stopped writing about this game I love, not even during my suspension, during which I was hired by Mana Rouge, a French magazine about collectible playing cards, in which I’ve been writing for now two years. I also wrote for the Sideboard and Sideboard.com for several years, and for a year on Magicthegathering.com . I only wrote about pure strategy for one English speaking website, but as I’ve still not been paid for these articles, I now focus on my current employer, Mana Rouge, and on a book I just wrote for them that should come out soon.

I’ve dedicated myself more than anyone to this game. I’ve made mistakes in the past, I admit it, but I consider I’ve paid for them. The six month suspension cost me about 20k, and a reputation. You would hardly imagine how much effort it took me to come back, in both time and money (I will soon have paid back all the money I’ve borrowed to get back to Level 8) are concerned. The Magic pro player is a myth. The players at the top are just players who live their passion fully. And for them, the ultimate achievement is the induction to the MTG Hall of Fame.

If you still consider I’m not worth picking for this year’s HoF, fair enough. I’ll do my best to regain your trust and to get great results from now until the next ballot, so voting for me will appear less questionable next time.

And by the way, as we are talking about the ballots, here are the people I have voted for:

Dirk Baberowski: With three PT wins, Dirk is one of the most brilliant players in the history of the game.

Jelger Wiegersma: This is not even questionable… the guy has been one of the 5-10 best players in the world for 7 or 8 years.

Masashiro Kuroda: Every time he plays, he finishes in the Top 8 or close. Despite being a hard worker and having a family at home, he still gives much time to his passion and writes a lot about the game. And he might be the nicest person I’ve ever met.

Carlos Romao: Carlos has much in common with Masashiro. They both are great guys, and gave their continents a first PT win, which had a gigantic impact on Magic in their countries.

Mike Turian: Mike has great stats and, as he’s working inside R&D, he’s the #1 contributor to the game in this ballot.

I nearly voted for Patrick Chapin, as the only “old school” player (alongside Finkel) who managed a successful comeback on the pro scene.

Thanks for reading.

Olivier Ruel