There are a lot of consequences to cheating.
Not all of them are advertised, and not all of them are consistent. They might feel unfair sometimes, but you make choices and you live with them.
Eighteen years ago, tournament Magic was a different animal. There were many players that believed that cheating at Magic was akin to fouling someone in basketball. If you get called for it, you pay the penalty, but that's just part of the game. Some even glamorized it, believing that it was using your intelligence to beat the house, like a group of students beating the casino at Blackjack by counting cards.
In my estimation, somewhere around a third of early Pro Tour players were cheaters. That is an absurd amount. Imagine playing in a tournament, knowing that you were likely to face multiple people a day that were actively trying to cheat you.
I was cheated against in my very first Pro Tour. Three important facts:
-In those days you weren't allowed to play with sleeves.
-While Wizards of the Coast uses the same printers for each set now, that was not always the case. During the early years of Magic, different sets were printed by different companies, which lead to minor differences in the card backs that some players exploited to know what cards were from their backs.
-The original mulligan rule was that if you had all land or no land, you could reveal your hand, shuffle it back, and draw a new seven (and if one player took a mulligan, the other could too).
One of my opponents pile shuffled my deck in such a way so as to sort all of the cards by set. He then put the Ice Age, Mirage, and core set cards together. He also put all of the Fallen Empires, Alliances, Homelands, and Chronicles cards together and put those on top. On top of it all, my lone Antiquities card, because I, like so many other young naive players, had a single Strip Mine (restricted to one copy in that tournament) as my only Antiquities card.
The result? I draw my hand, and sure enough, my only land is Strip Mine. I am forced to keep it, but I obviously can't cast any spells and go on to lose that game easily. It was only after the event that I learned about the "Strip Mine Shuffle" and many other common cheating techniques that the anti-cheating faction in the Pro community was trying to warn people about.
My whole world changed. In some ways, my innocence was taken from me. Once I knew about the cheats people were running, I couldn't not see them. It was heartbreaking to see how often people were running cheats that were relatively easy to disrupt if you knew about them, but hard to enforce.
For instance, I used to catch so many people doing the "Double Nickel," but judges wouldn't do anything. Remember, the judges were not always as sophisticated as they are today, and it took diligent effort from players like Chris Pikula and the rest of Team Deadguy, as well as some key visionary judges, like Sheldon Menery, to change the philosophy of the playing community and the judging community.
For those not familiar, the Double Nickel is a deck stacking technique for Draft decks.
Step 1: Have your Draft deck separated, lands together, spells together. Easy enough. That's how it starts during deckbuilding.
Step 2: Cut the deck very close to where the line is between lands and spells, shuffling the top intensely, and the bottom intensely. This makes it look like you're really mixing the cards up.
Step 3: Put the piles together and cut the deck a lot. When players side cut decks repeatedly, it looks like they are mixing the cards up, but any number of cuts to a deck are actually functionally identical to one cut. Part of the beauty of the Double Nickel is that it doesn't matter where the deck is cut to.
Step 4: Pile shuffle in piles of five. If you want you can even cut the deck a few more times after picking the cards back up, to really sell it.
Step 5: Pile shuffle in piles of five again. A few more cuts and you're ready to present.
Now, no matter where your opponent cuts your deck, you will get a good mix of lands and spells, and your first few draws will smooth out whatever you might be missing. Yes, if they shuffle your deck, your work is undone, but many players would just cut their opponents' decks to increase the probability that they just cut theirs. Then, if their opponent actually shuffles theirs, they go back and shuffle the deck they had already cut.
Seriously, it is important to understand this kind of stuff to be able to protect yourself from it. Try taking a Draft deck, sort all the lands, and follow the steps above. Then look through the deck and observe how great of a mix there is of lands and spells. Part of what made the "Double Nickel" so ingenious was that even though it leads to a fantastic mix of lands and spells, it is not uniform at all. Sometimes two lands touch. Sometimes there are several spells in a row. As a result, when early judges would look through a deck that had been stacked by the Double Nickel, they wouldn't even realize it was stacked.
To get an even better feel for what is going on in that cheat, try doing the pile shuffling with the cards face up. While the cheat can seem subtle, shuffling face up quickly makes clear what's really going on.
While the Double Nickel has been basically completely eliminated from Pro Tour matches due to increased awareness, it and cheats like it still take place at lower level tournaments against players that are familiar with them.
And that sucks.
However, times have changed. There is a lot, lot less cheating than there used to be. I would guess somewhere in the ballpark of 2% of Pro Players cheat, maybe 3%. Cheaters don't rise to the top as often anymore either, as it is much riskier to cheat on camera in a top 8 or a feature match or at the Pro Tour.
And those that do are cheating a lot less than people used to. Despite cheating less, they do get caught eventually (usually). It helps that the community is extremely anti-cheating now, and with good reason. Cheaters are stealing from everyone else. They ruin the game and the experience. Fortunately, there is significantly less cheating than in years gone by, and the majority of the community is fighting against it whenever it's discovered.
Cheating is not cool.
The World Championships and The Magic World Cup
Two weeks ago, the World Championships and the Magic World Cup took place in Nice, France. It was a week of incredible Magic, largely defined by top-notch competition and good sportsmanship. Cheating and unsportsmanlike situations are going to emerge from time to time, but all things considered, there really weren't that many situations this time around. That said, there were a few situations that deserve some discussion.
See, the reason there's 1/10th the cheating there was during the "Wild West" days of the Pro Tour is an increase in awareness of the community as a whole, as well as people actually standing up to cheaters.
Chris Pikula made a lot of enemies in the early days of the Pro Tour. After all, when you go after all of the cheaters and a third of the Pro Tour cheats some amount of the time, that's going to add up to a lot of people that hate you, that go to great lengths to try to smear you, insult you, threaten you, anything to try to silence you.
Pikula missed being inducted into the very first Hall of Fame class a decade ago by a single vote. One vote. You think any cheaters had votes? Because guess what? Pikula wasn't super popular with the cheaters.
That's how these things go. Most people remain silent, not wanting confrontation, not wanting trouble, not wanting to be in the middle of drama. However, sometimes, a player is willing to stand up to the cheaters, even if it means a backlash, even if they get hated by loyal friends and fans of the cheater. While it can hurt the stand-up guy and their efforts are rarely appreciated in the moment, it is these people that change the perspective of the community as a whole.
Magic players can be very tribal. There is such a natural desire to defend people from your game store, even if you don't know them. Players from relatively small countries are often fiercely protective of their fellow countrymen, even if they don't know them. This is certainly not the majority, but it is a common experience, and those people are often the loudest, making it seem like there are more of them than there really are. The truth is, there are actually far more that are ashamed of the dishonor brought to their store or country as a result of someone they feel doesn't accurately represent them.
Last week at the World Championships, Hall of Famer Paul Rietzl got hit with some backlash for his contributions to the DCI investigation that lead to Marcio Carvalho being disqualified. Team Portugal was facing Team Israel in round 5 of the Magic World Cup.
From the official WotC page:
"Marcio Carvalho has been disqualified from the 2014 World Magic Cup for intentionally presenting an illegal deck. After evaluating the specifics of this case and given the unique nature of the World Magic Cup, a determination was made that this will not affect the rest of team Portugal. The remaining three players will be allowed to continue in the tournament, and the disqualification will not affect their standing."
Of course, it was not this simple. After a match had begun, a member of Team Israel noticed a card "hidden" (or forgotten, as Marcio claims). That card was Hornet Queen, a card that was not only the best card in the matchup, but an ideal card to remove from your deck at the start of a match (you don't want it in your opening hand), that is the perfect topdeck later when you need it.
Marcio immediately called a judge on himself and received a loss for presenting an illegal deck. He claimed that the card had been exiled from Whip of Erebos and that it was an honest mistake. Team Israel's captain, Shahar Shenhar, tried to escalate the situation, making sure the judges were aware of exactly just how convenient of a situation this was and the potential for abuse. While the judges recognized how bad the situation looked, the loss meant that Team Israel won the match, so the judging staff decided to take a little more time to investigate the situation before taking further action.
In the course of their investigation, they were reminded by Paul Rietzl, who was on-site but not watching Marcio's match, of two allegations against Marcio at Pro Tour Amsterdam in 2010. The allegations were not from matches involving Rietzl, but he was aware of them and wanted to make sure the judges knew that there was relevant information from that event that was related to this exact cheat.
At Pro Tour Amsterdam 2010, Tom Martell alleged that Marcio Carvalho drew off his sideboard during a Pro Tour match. At that same event, Matt Sperling made the same allegation against Marcio. An investigation followed, but they weren't able to prove anything.
Let's be clear about something. Paul Rietzl did absolutely nothing wrong. When a spectator sees something or has relevant information, they absolutely should tell a judge. Attempts to silence him or others that would help fight cheating are disgusting. His reputation is beyond reproach, with a long spotless career. He is the epitome of sportsmanship and fair play. To attack him for sharing relevant information that is 100% undisputed truth?
After all, Martell and Sperling definitely made those allegations. Marcio also was definitely not banned. It doesn't prove their allegations are true, but there was an investigation, and that investigation included collecting a lot of relevant information that was reviewed by the judges that may have contributed to their becoming convinced that Marcio probably knew his deck was illegal when he presented it. However, the Amsterdam situation was not the only factor involved. It was part of the lens WotC used to view the situation, but there was far more damning evidence.
The most damning?
He literally pile shuffled his deck.
Yes, it is possible to pile shuffle a deck and not realize it's a card short. Without question, the pressure to pay attention to the other matches happening next to him increases the chances that he could have missed his piles ending on the wrong card, the count being off.
Here's the thing though. We are already being asked to accept a very unlikely situation that looks bad as being a fluke. What percentage of games does a 10+ year veteran like Marcio forget to shuffle all of his cards into his deck? I would estimate less than 1% of the time. However, the revelation that he pile shuffled his deck and "didn't notice it was the wrong number of cards" makes the situation even more unlikely.
When I pile shuffle my deck, the primary thing I and most other pros are doing is counting it. After all, riffle shuffling is where the real shuffling is. Pile shuffling is generally too orderly to be a primary randomization method. What percentage of the time that I pile shuffle would I not notice my deck is the wrong number of cards? It's hard to say, since in all my twenty years of competitive Magic play, it's never happened once.
Now, I have presented decks that were missing cards due to exile in playtest games, though never after pile shuffling, as far as I can tell. It is certainly conceivable that someone could though. What odds should we assign such an unlikely scenario? Is it even 1%? Now, instead of being asked to accept a 1 in 100 chance scenario that looks bad and is exactly the way things would look if you were cheating, we are being asked to accept a 1 in 10000 chance of two unlikely scenarios happening at the same time. One could argue that there is some covariance and that the conditions that lead to one increase the chances of the other, and that's fair; but there is no denying that the situation is less likely than in either situation independently.
And that's the real evidence that makes this scenario look so bad given Marcio's history. Because make no mistake about it, Marcio's history is equally responsible. If he had not been caught cheating before (he has been banned for cheating), and if he had not gotten away so many times (for instance, Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif alleges that he caught Marcio stacking Guillaume Wafo-Tapa's deck), there is a chance he would be given the benefit of the doubt in this situation.
That's one of the important takeaways from this situation. When you lie, cheat, or steal, people are less likely to believe you in the future. That might not feel fair, but life's not fair. You make choices and you live with them. I am not advocating cruelty towards someone that has made past mistakes, and I am not suggesting people can't change. Far from it. I'm just saying, practically speaking, it is part of the consequences, and the more young people that realize that, the better; because hopefully, for some number of them, they decide it's just not worth it. They value their own reputation too much to throw it away like this.
Do I know that Marcio was 100% to be cheating this time?
I think anyone that claims to be 100% sure is likely not being logical. There is some amount of doubt. After all, Whip of Erebos exiling a Hornet Queen and then it being forgotten about is a situation that could happen. Miscounting during pile shuffling is a situation that could happen too. People miss fetchland damage. People accidentally take the wrong amount of damage in combat. People forget a ruling they knew before at times that it benefits them. People make mistakes.
The thing is, all of these mistakes add up. Everyone plays "sloppy" at some point. Fatigue is a real killer. There's a ton of benefit of the doubt that gets doled out. However, you still note all of those situations, because they add up. Anyone that plays hundreds of matches on camera is likely to eventually play an extra land on video, or cast a spell they didn't have the right colors for, or take the wrong damage, or not lose a creature that should have died. However, not everyone is going to have a pattern emerge.
A pattern emerging generally tells only one of two tales. Either the person is cheating (even if only occasionally and opportunistically), or the person is habitually sloppy. Being habitually sloppy isn't okay! You are required to maintain a proper gamestate. You are required to follow the rules. If you are so sloppy, so often, as to regularly be making illegal plays by accident and regularly "accidentally" breaking the rules, you shouldn't be playing in sanctioned tournaments. The ability to play in tournaments is a privilege, not a right. It's also one that carries with it a number of responsibilities.
So yes, Marcio says he was not cheating this time. Maybe he wasn't. It does look bad though. Some of the biggest cheaters of all-time were banned after situations in which they claim they weren't really cheating that time. The game is better because of them being kicked out. This isn't a court of law. Someone who never cheats being banned would be truly terrible, but someone that has been banned for cheating and that has a long history of situations that look really bad not getting the benefit of the doubt when he makes some pretty damning "sloppy plays?"
The game goes on.
Maybe Marcio wants to play clean now. Maybe he already does. The thing is, he still doesn't admit the many things he has already done that are wrong and against the rules. This makes it hard to trust him. Him focusing on trying to convince people he didn't cheat "this time" is not going to make much difference. If he wants to convince the community he doesn't cheat anymore, there are a lot of things he could do to regain some of that trust. For instance, he could write a lengthy article about all of the times he did cheat, how he did it, and what players can do to protect themselves against people that try to cheat against them.
Instead, he is outraged to suffer penalty, when as he put it:
"I know I don't have the best reputation, but if I was going to cheat, I would have hid the card better." -Marcio Carvalho
The "I am so good at cheating, you know I would never get caught" defense is just about the worst defense there is. If you cheat a ton, you're going to get caught sometime. You never expect any given time to be the time you're caught, but sometimes you will be. The arrogance that stance requires, the disregard for other people...
In a strange twist, one of the most bizarre features of this situation is the outrage some of Marcio Carvalho's fans and teammates have expressed at the sharing of the above quote, which I tweeted verbatim when the situation was going down.
Was their outrage at some wrong quote being attributed to him? Or perhaps something taken out of context?
No. They acknowledge that the quote is exactly what he said.
Their outrage is that I could even know it to repeat it. Marcio's teammate:
"Another thing that also went wrong regarding Hall of Famers was Patrick Chapin tweeting this: 'I know I don't have the best reputation, but if I was going to cheat, I would have hid the card better.' People are free to tweet wherever they want, but this 'quote' was something that Marcio only told the Head Judge (and after that, to his teammates, in Portuguese). So, how is something that is told to the Head Judge during an investigation, which I think should be kept in secrecy, is know [sic] by a Hall of Famer?" -Hugo Diniz, Marcio's teammate
These attacks are obviously an attempt to deflect, to try to put other people on the defensive. For instance, there is an insinuation of corruption, that judge-player conversations should be like lawyer-client, and that the judges and players are the ones doing something wrong.
First of all, just to be clear, no judge told me anything. I wasn't even in the room! However, you know who was there? A lot of people that speak Portuguese!
There is a strange sort of assumption made by some of Carvalho's fans that everyone that speaks Portuguese, or perhaps everyone from Portugal, should blindly support him out of loyalty. What they don't realize is just how many of his countrymen are ashamed that he is the first player people think of when they think about their country. Yes, there have been a few outspoken Portuguese players that have come to Marcio's defense, most who weren't at the Magic World Cup. However, a greater number have expressed their shame and disapproval, both in public forums and in private messages (not wanting to cause themselves problems in their local community).
The important thing here is that the quote is accurate.
"Not to be an ass, but you're the last person who should be gunning for someone to have the book thrown at them."
"Is that really your position in this case? Once a cheater always a cheater? It would sound very hypocritical coming from you."
Fighting against cheating always makes some people angry, but there's no profit in taking it personally. Despite a twenty-year career of clean play, the insinuation here is that I should not speak on matters regarding cheating at Magic because I served time for being involved in drugs fifteen years ago.
What does that have to do with anything?
One thing it does give me is a sense of empathy for Marcio. I understand what it is like to be judged differently than others. I have missed the last several Pro Tours in Japan because of the Japanese government holding it against me what I did fifteen years ago. That doesn't feel fair, but life isn't fair. You make choices and you live with them. I will live with the consequences of my choices from fifteen years ago for the rest of my life.
So, I understand how frustrating it might be for Marcio, if he really has been playing clean, to be accused of cheating. The truth is, if you cheat a lot, you are going to get treated unfairly from time to time. You can get mad about that or you can learn and grow from it. For instance, Marcio could have used this as an opportunity to warn other young players about the dangers of giving in to the temptation of cheating, sharing his experiences with how frustrating it is when people don't trust you. There's still time. He still can.
One final note on this matter is that Team Portugal was allowed to continue, rather than being disqualified as teams would have been in the past. When Marcio was disqualified, he fought to ensure that his team was able to still play without him, which was ultimately the way they ruled. There are arguments in favor and against this, but this was the policy for this event, and that's fine. There are a bunch of innocent people that suffered as a result, however.
Yeah, I feel bad for the other guys on the team that didn't ask to get stuck with Marcio; however, what about Team Japan? They finished 33rd. If Team Portugal had been disqualified, they would have made day 2.
What about Team Switzerland? Marcio was given his original match loss in round five. Then he was allowed to keep playing and contributed to Team Portugal defeating Team Switzerland in round 6. At the end of the day, Switzerland was a win short of day 2.
I don't know that anything should have been done differently, but I do think it's worth looking at the situation from the perspectives of everyone impacted by it.
As for Marcio, I hope he really doesn't cheat anymore and that this is all just a big misunderstanding. If he wants to win back some of the trust of the community, it would go a long way if he acknowledged the things he's done in the past (and not just the things people know about), as well as providing advice on how to protect yourself against people that would try these same things.
Lee Shi Tian
Let me just preface this by making this clear cut and dry statement:
I do not believe Lee Shi Tian cheated.
However, he was accused, and there are things we can learn from this situation, as it is related to the overarching subject of this piece.
During the Magic World Cup, Lee Shi Tian played an extra land in a turn in his match against Team Lithuania. They were able to repair the gamestate, as there was a Sylvan Caryatid that he never tapped that could be tapped to pay for the Commune with the Gods he cast with the second land Forest. His opponent actually suggested the fix.
Some viewers watching the match (which was on camera) accused Lee Shi Tian of cheating, of intentionally playing a second land. Their reasoning is that playing the extra land was actually much more convenient than it looked.
The turn started with Lee playing a Flooded Strand and then casting Dig Through Time, delving four cards. He keeps Commune with the Gods and Retraction Helix, adding to his hand of Dragon Mantle and Forest. He then plays the Forest, which means that if his Commune with the Gods hits a Jeskai Ascendancy, he wins that turn. However, if he tapped the Sylvan Caryatid to pay for the Commune with the Gods, he'd be a mana short. Doomwake Giant, Reclamation Sage, and Thoughtseize ensured there was a lot of incentive to end it here, rather than a turn from now.
Did Lee Shi Tian cheat? Did he know he had already played a land, tried to cheat during a very complex gamestate, and just played dumb when it was revealed?
I believe he probably did not.
While his sloppy play was convenient and could have led to an advantage, his history is clean enough to give him the benefit of the doubt here. If the judges believed he was doing it intentionally, they would have disqualified him immediately. Lee Shi Tian has played a lot of high level matches and doesn't exactly have a history of shady play. As mentioned above, anyone that plays hundreds of matches on camera is going to accidentally take the wrong damage, play an extra land, resolve a spell incorrectly, or something at some point.
Part of what makes opportunistic cheats so insidious is how hard it is to prove intent. What you do is make a note of the situation and keep track. This situation should be noted, and if over time, an unusual number of situations seem to pop up, they all take on a new light. I don't know Lee Shi Tian personally, but I think he was probably not cheating here.
In a Facebook thread about this topic, another situation involving Lee Shi Tian was brought to my attention. Korey McDuffie has publicly alleged:
Friends and I were watching him play a round Day 2 against Christian Seibold and Lee Shi... had to use a Cryptic Command to try and stay alive. Lee had a Snapcaster Mage in play, that he could block with to live, but Christian was close to Bolt range, so ultimately, the game was close, especially if Snapcaster Mage could finish off the last 2 damage.
(During) Seibold's combat, Lee uses Cryptic Command to bounce a permanent and tap Christian's team. Christian sacrificed the targeted permanent and waited for a response from Lee and then Lee paused and said ok. Seibold then tapped his team, and stared at Lee, thinking everything was right. Lee then paused, looked at Seibold, and after the awkward 5 second staring contest he quickly untapped and drew and continued playing.
I ran very quickly to go find a judge... and we came back in time to where they were able to rewind to make all of Seibold's permanents untap, in which then, Lee was defeated that turn. -Korey McDuffie
The allegation here, of course, is that Lee Shi Tian knew his Cryptic Command should fizzle and misrepresented the gamestate by letting his opponent tap all of their creatures from it. I don't know anything about this situation and can't speak to its legitimacy, but it is another situation to note. The more situations like this emerge, the worse it looks.
I am still of the opinion that Lee was not cheating and should be given the benefit of the doubt; however, he should take extra care to ensure more situations like these do not keep happening. If a pro player finds themselves in a situation that looks bad, it is worth the extra effort to tighten up the sloppy play.
While Marcio Carvalho and Lee Shi Tian's situations took place in the Magic World Cup, Dezani's situation was connected to the World Championships. For context, remember that there were no dealers on site prior to the World Championships. With just 24 participants, the belief was that it wouldn't be worth the time of a dealer to come. This led to an above-average amount of card availability issues. For instance, I had to play without a Hibernation I wanted for my sideboard. Lars Dam could not acquire the Fatestitchers he wanted for his Ascendancy combo deck in Modern. Amusingly, he still pulled off a 3-1 record without them.
A number of Worlds competitors attended Grand Prix Strasbourg, just days prior to the World Championships (which, bizarrely, started on a Tuesday). Something strange happened. Here's Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa's take:
"After semi-settling on decks, we went to the event to buy the cards we were missing, since we were informed there would be no dealers during Worlds. We went to two dealers and bought some cards from each, and were ready to leave when Tom Martell spots one of the dealers we had just bought cards from talking to Jeremy Dezani. Apparently, said person was reading to Dezani from a list that included every card we had bought, as well as cards that previous Worlds competitors (e.g. Sam Black) had bought earlier in the day.
Once we realized what was happening, we were furious... We expressed our concern to the TO and to Wizards officials that this was not OK, and they said they would investigate. We decided it would be fair to tell the other Worlds competitors that Dezani knew what they were playing, which prompted the same reaction from basically everyone we talked to." -Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa
When I heard about this situation, I was extremely troubled. I had placed an order with this same store and was under the impression it was a reputable business. To hear of such corruption and unethical conduct was repulsive.
I confronted Jeremy Dezani face to face. After all, maybe there was an explanation. Everyone deserves a chance to defend themselves, particularly when accused of something scummy like this. After all, if he owned up to it and told the truth, that he had been told this information, that would help restore some amount of trust in him. After all, maybe he didn't ask for it. Or perhaps he would own up to it, admitting it was wrong. Perhaps he would even just own it, arguing he was just scouting and that it wasn't illegal.
To my face, point blank, he lied to me.
He told me that he did not receive any information whatsoever, and that he did not know the contents of any other competitor's orders.
During the course of the next 24 hours, it quickly became apparent that this was not true. After all, his teammates (which include some extremely trustworthy players) knew and were completely honest about the information they had. Judges investigated the situation and determined it was an ethical issue, not a rules issue. Personally, I find this offensive. He literally lied during an investigation. However, I have the utmost respect for the judges handling the situation, and if they say it's not a rules issue, I believe them. If nothing else, it absolutely is an ethical issue and people need to know about it.
The next day, Dezani changed his story.
"I was told of a couple cards, but I never asked for this information, the dealer just started telling me randomly, and after he listed some of the cards Shahar and Martell had bought he was told to stop because this wasn't OK." -Jeremy Dezani
Of course, this new version didn't take into consideration that there were witnesses that saw him not only receive information about more than just Shahar and Martell, but also saw him listen to the list without stopping the dealer.
During the Magic World Cup, I confronted Dezani again. After all, he had lied to me to my face. His new official story contradicted what he had said to me. I asked him why he lied to me. After all, it may be shady to collude with a dealer to scout, but to outright lie to me about it? That's super scummy. My hope was that he admitted that was he had done was wrong, that he was embarrassed, anything to demonstrate some amount of regret or having learned something.
Instead, he changed his story again. This time, he claimed that while he knew what cards I had purchased, he already had his deck locked in and didn't change anything as a result. He also claimed that if anything, the information hurt him. He claimed that not all of the cards he was told ended up being in their decks, so really, he was given misinformation.
I tried explaining why people were so upset, why this wasn't okay, and why it was worth trying to do something about. It was clear he wasn't hearing anything of it and didn't believe he had done anything wrong. I asked about the lying specifically. Even if he believes nothing else he did was wrong, surely he knows that lying is wrong. However, to my great sadness, he just kept repeating his latest version.
Maybe colluding with one of the dealers isn't illegal, but he has set fire to a lot of bridges in the Magic community, not just with his initial actions, but more so, with the lying. I'm not suggesting Dezani can't mature, can't grow as a human being. I hope he does. He is an incredibly strong player and a passionate one. He could be a respected role model, a leader in the Magic Community. At the moment, he's just a guy with a lot of bridges burning behind him. If he wants something to change, he's going to have to change. Similar to in the Marcio situation, if he wants people to ever trust him again, admitting the mistakes he has made and making clear that he would never do them again would be a start.
A dealer using customer information in order to attempt to influence the outcome of a major event is beyond the pale to me. This was a massive breach of trust. In their defense, it is my understanding that after this corruption was discovered they fired the employee involved, or at least one that was directly observed. However, they never apologized or contacted all of us affected. They were even on-site during the Magic World Cup, but not once did anyone representing their organization reach out to us or publicly apologize. I would think they would go to great lengths to try to make reparations and to convey that this action is completely unacceptable.
Now, you might be wondering if this is common practice. After all, a lot of people place orders with StarCityGames, Channel Fireball, TCGPlayer, and many other sites that sell cards and have players and teams competing in Pro Tours. You know what though? These websites have integrity. They would absolutely not be okay with using private business information for an attempted competitive advantage. And those players? They have integrity. They would never ask to begin with.
I hate to have to dwell on so much negativity, but there is a lot that can be learned from these situations. What to watch for, how to help combat cheating, how to decrease the risk of accidents that look bad, what's okay and what's not, and how to handle a situation after mistakes have been made.
I absolutely hope Marcio Carvalho plays clean these days, and is willing to take steps to help combat cheating. I absolutely hope that now that a week has passed, Jeremy Dezani realizes that he made some mistakes, apologizes, and resolves to hold himself to a higher standard in the future. I absolutely hope that the dealer in question cleans house of unethical behavior and makes a public statement condemning this breach of trust.
They all have an opportunity to make the Magic community a better place if they hold themselves accountable and to a higher standard, if they do what they can to right past wrongs.