I’ve wrote this article about half a dozen times by now. It’s hard to put into words. My initials thoughts and feelings on this article were to bash the people involved in my banning and how wrong the judges and committee truly got it. Then maybe take a stab at how to fix the appeal process as it’s clearly broken. The problem is you’re not going to get anything out of that. Whatever I write about how to fix the appeal process will never reach the eyes of the committee. I’m still going to be banned, the people involved still aren’t going to be punished for lying and nothing will have changed. Just for the sake of clarity as to what happened and why I’ve been banned for six months here is my appeal to the WoTC committee. It gives you a pretty accurate point of view as to what happened. The names in my appeal are changed to protect those involved.
I would like to use my right to appeal the sentencing of Bribery with a six month suspension of my DCI.
I’d like to begin by apologizing that this happened in the first place. To my knowledge this is the first time I’ve been disqualified and/or suspended from a magic event in my 15+ years of playing this game. I take this very seriously and going back over everything in my head I wish I had instead of protecting my opponent, simply called a judge at the time he offered me something. I realize that is procedure and I was simply trying to protect my friend’s friend. I would also like to take a second and give you a glimpse of the type of person I am to my local community. I traveled to a PPTQ this past Saturday that I could not play in because I had won a PPTQ the prior week. I went simply to borrow decks to friends and lend them my support. Upon returning home from the event I then packed up two different decks and shipped them to my friend who is competing in the Pro Tour in Atlanta this coming weekend. I’m a caring and supportive member of our community and I just want to make sure everyone reading this understands this type of action involving the incident is not something indicative of my normal behavior.
So what happened? Let me bring everything to light through my eyes. I joined a GPT even though I had my two byes because I planned on conceding to one of my other friends who joined the event. Unfortunately for them they all lost round 1 and I decided to stick it out to win some packs. During my semi-finals match with my opponent ERIC, a friend of mine came up (WILLIAM) and reintroduced me to my opponent, ERIC. Saying he is a friend of his and that his nickname was SIR LIES A LOT, among other things. It’s always nice to meet new people through magic and is a big reason why I travel to attend such events. When I found out during our match he needed the byes I did the “right thing” by conceding to him. I did this out of kindness to my new friend. Before signing the match slip ERIC pulled out of his pocket some prize wall tickets and tried to give them to me. His spontaneous act of generosity towards me by offering me prize wall tickets was him trying to reciprocate that kindness back. I declined this offer at the table, wished him good luck and left.
After the match I walked away from the event where he followed me and insisted I take the tickets. Like an idiot I did take them and a while later I had apparently lost them at some point. What is important here is this in no way indicative of my decision to concede. That decision was made before any attempt of taking any sort of bribe or being coaxed into doing so. This brings me to when I returned to the event to see if ERIC had won his final match and was approached by the judge TIMMY. TIMMY then began to ask questions about our match. I verified that I did indeed concede at the table after finding out that he didn’t have byes. I also told TIMMY he offered me tickets at the table and that I declined. Now TIMMY told me that he has witnesses saying I took them at the table. Which I know isn’t the truth since ERIC came to me away from the event to give me the tickets. At the time of the accusation, it was I took them at the table and that’s what my statement defended and through my eyes that’s all I needed to defend because that’s what I was being accused of. I believe this next part is very important. TIMMY assumed when I denied the accusation I was denying receiving tickets altogether. Every time TIMMY asked me about the tickets I was very adamant I did not take any tickets at the table. The reason why I didn’t tell TIMMY about the tickets away from the event was because I did not want to get my opponent and my friend’s friend in trouble. I was simply trying to protect him and give him a chance to win the event. I don’t think he knew you weren’t allowed to give someone something in return for a win.
Attached I have statements from a couple of people. The first is WILLIAM and the second is MARK. WILLIAM was at our table watching our match and can verify I did not take the tickets there. I believe the reason he did not come forward earlier was the same reason I didn’t tell TIMMY about the tickets away from the event. He didn’t want to get anyone in trouble, especially one of his friends. MARK simply is verifying that ERIC did lie about the tickets at the table saying I took them there. ERIC confided in him after the fact and told him that he lied about it. I also have a text message taken from ERIC to MARK saying he was sorry for what happened and wanted to give me money. This text shows his phone number, although I’m not really sure if this is of much relevance or not.
To recap everything here my original statement was defending what I was being accused of at the time, which was taking tickets at the table. I defended that with the truth as I did not take them at the table. I believe TIMMY just assumed when I denied taking them at the table I denied them entirely, which is obvious at this point is not the case. Had I not lost the tickets altogether I believe this could have been resolved a lot easier as the fact that I had more tickets than I should have would have brought out the information about me taking them away from the event and everything would have been solved much quicker. I didn’t tell TIMMY about the tickets because I was trying to protect my opponent. I also wish to point out the hypocrisy about the banning of myself and not of my opponent. It is not my responsibility to judge the committee based on their findings but my opponent was the one who tried to bribe me. I did not take a bribe and it was only after the fact, with his insistence that I took anything to begin with. But again, I want to reiterate at the table I declined any bribe and my decision to concede was already set in stone. I wanted to do what was right in my eyes and getting someone one step closer to multiple byes while having no impact on myself was just that.
Hopefully with all this new information you will decide that the Bribery charges can be dropped and I can continue playing in sanctioned magic events. I’ve worked very hard to qualify for the next two RPTQ’s, one of which is only 19 days from now. Please reconsider your original decision, it would mean the world to me.
The tl;dr is my opponent offered me prize wall tickets after I conceded a semifinals match of a GPT. I declined and left the event. My opponent followed me away from the event and gave me the prize. The players at the table (including my opponent) said I took them at the table. The judge pulled me aside and asked if I took them at the table and I denied it. The judge said I was lying and I get disqualified for Bribery. In my statement at the event I denied taking anything at the table as that’s what the judge and players accused me of and that even though it was advantageous of the players accusing me of taking a bribe at the table to get disqualified that didn’t really seem to matter. There is of course a whole lot more to it, and if you read the entire thing hopefully you got that, but that’s a lot of reading and I understand if you just want the highlights.
After the committee received my updated appeal that you just read, along with some other player statements who witnessed what happened I received the following response.
Your appeal was reviewed by the committees and while they believed that you where(sic) not involved in Bribery you were less than truthful in your interactions with the investigating judge. Your infraction type has been changed to Lying and the penalty remains a six month suspension. Your appeal is denied and your suspension end date remains unchanged.
Wizards of the Coast”
This proves that I was successful in defending myself of Bribery and unfortunately they decided that it was okay to just change the charge from Bribery to Lying. The most unfortunate part of this is that’s impossible for me to defend because my appeal letter covered the alleged Bribery and cannot cover future accusations such as lying. To be honest I’m still a bit confused as to what I actually lied about. I can take one of a dozen guesses that don’t make any sense but going down that rabbit hole will get me nowhere.
What I wanted to discuss instead is what you can do if this sort of situation or something similar arises. Bribery is a very simple, but very complicated thing. It’s something that doesn’t come up that often and you may never be exposed to it at all. Bribery in the magic definition is roughly “receiving something in exchange for the outcome of a match.” Under normal circumstances this situation arises closer to the end of an event. Usually it happens playing for top 8 of an event or somewhere in the top 8 of an event, but can even sometimes happen early in an event. The proper thing to do in the circumstance that an opponent ever asks you to concede for a monetary gain is to immediately call for a judge. This could be for money, cards or something else entirely. Not doing so can and usually will result in a disqualification for both players if caught.
What if my opponent concedes to me because I ask them to? That is okay as long as no gain is implied on their end. Why would your opponent concede for no reason? Well a lot of the time concessions happen because you are friends with that person. Other times concessions happen because games are going to end in a draw and there is a clear winner on board but not enough turns to see the game through. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve conceded to an opponent simply on the basis of I was dead on board but they needed one more extra turn to kill me. Instead of getting a draw I give the win to the deserving player because its proper etiquette and I would hope in future scenarios my opponents’ do the same thing. It’s also okay for the winner to give something to the person that concedes after the fact, as long as it’s clear that this wasn’t an implied reason for the concession. An example of this would be my opponent concedes to me because I can make top 8 and they mathematically cannot. I appreciate the gesture and after the fact I give that person some form of compensation such as product. The important thing here is that in order for this to be okay it has to be clear there’s no expectation of compensation for conceding. For this to be okay, both the act of conceding and receiving something after a match has to be separate actions from each other. This all can certainly be confusing. If you’re not sure what you can and cannot do call a judge. As long as you’re straightforward and honest with the judges on your intentions there shouldn’t be a problem.
Along the same lines as Bribery, prize splitting can be a gray area as well. When it is okay to and when is it not? Prize splitting can be done a couple of ways and times during an event. The most common time a prize split happens is the finals of an event. This is the only time in which it’s okay for the prizes to be adjusted by the players so that one will concede to the other in taking the specific outcome they desire. An example of this would be you’re in the finals of a PPTQ but have no interest going to the RPTQ. Your opponent on the other hand is quite fond of the idea of attending the RPTQ and only cares about the invite. You two could agree to have first place of the tournament receive zero prize and just the invite and have second place of the tournament receive all prizes associated with first and second place outside the invite. Another prize split that’s common is when the entire top 8 agrees to split prizes evenly. The vote on this has to be unanimous and often times anonymous. In the circumstance in which the vote is unanimous the tournament can be played out if there’s something on the line besides product or cash prizes such as an invite or trophy. This practice can be tried again in the semifinals or finals of an event if the previous rounds weren’t unanimous and you can try again to get a unanimous vote for a prize split. The only other circumstance that comes to mind when prize splitting is okay is the last round of a swiss event where prizes can be received by one or more of the players. This is a common practice in the final rounds of a Grand Prix or Pro Tour and I’ve experienced this on both levels. It’s important here however that although you can agree to a prize split, it cannot determine the outcome of a match. Again, this can be confusing and if you’re not sure what to do or how to do it legally and within the rules or not the best thing to do is to call a judge and explain your intent. I’ve been hard pressed to find a judge who wouldn’t help you in this situation.
It’s a terrible thing that happened. Being banned for six months and revoking multiple RPTQ invites among other things for something I didn’t do. I tried to do the right thing by my books instead of calling a judge the moment my opponent tried to offer me a bribe. Had I called a judge immediately I would never have been put in this position to begin with. I’m in a tough spot now as my resentments towards the toxic people associated with this game makes me want to quit. On the other hand I know I have a lot more to give to the game and the many friends I’ve made over the years. Assuming you can imagine yourself being in my shoes what would you do?
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