Magic: The Gathering Hall of Famer disqualified from London Mythic Championship after accusations of cheating


Former Player of the Year alleged to have tampered with his card sleeves

A Magic: The Gathering pro player was disqualified from the game’s recent Mythic Championship tournament in London after being accused of cheating.

Yuuya Watanabe, who is a Magic Hall of Famer and was named Player of the Year in 2012, was expelled from the competition after a deck check discovered what were alleged to be marked cards.

According to a statement released by Watanabe following his disqualification, he replaced his deck sleeves after losing to Thien Nguyen in round 12 due to excessive wear and the need to “change my mentality”. Watanabe said that he occasionally swaps his sleeves for similar reasons, and that the replacement sleeves were provided by staff running the event.

Watanabe proceeded to play three more rounds, during which his cards were apparently checked and returned multiple times without issue.

At the end of round 16 – which put Watanabe into the final eight spots in the tournament – a judge checked his deck again and identified what were alleged to be marks on several of the player’s ’Urzatron’ lands that signified that the cards had been deliberately tampered with. Watanabe was subsequently disqualified.

‘Urzatron’ lands are significant in that the set consists of a trio of cards – Urza’s Power Plant, Urza’s Mine and Urza’s Tower – that can be used together to create seven colourless mana using just three cards, allowing players to quickly gain the mana required to deploy powerful spells and creatures.

In his follow-up statement about the allegations, Watanabe said he accepted the judge’s decision – calling it “correct in the context of evidence” – but added: “I honestly don’t know how my Urzatron lands became marked.”

The player then suggested that the marks could have been caused by his ‘tutoring’, a spell in the game that allows the player to search their deck for a specific card.

“I think maybe it’s because I tutored for them a lot from my deck,” Watanabe wrote. “This requires touching the cards more, and the repeated exposure might’ve caused damage to them, giving them distinguishable marks.”

Watanabe closed his statement by saying that he was waiting to hear from Magic: The Gathering publisher Wizards of the Coast regarding his future ‘treatment’ in the game’s tournament scene, and apologised to fans who had been ‘worried’ by the situation.

Read his full statement, via the Team Cygames Twitter account, below. The team also posted images purported to be of Watanabe's marked card sleeves on its website.