Wizards releases statement on Pro Tour disqualification


This weekend, Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 took place, and the event sparked a lot of buzz. Bant Nadu's absolute dominance is extremely memorable and may signal the need for an incoming ban. Meanwhile, the Player of the Year award has been renamed the Kai Budde Player of the Year Trophy in honor of one of MTG's greatest players of all time.

However, the most attention-grabbing event of the weekend was the disqualification of pro player Bart Van Etten. A feature match between Bart and Javier Dominguez saw a huge mistake that went unnoticed in real time. While some argued that it seemed like a simple mistake, Bart was ultimately disqualified after an investigation.

Notably, Bart has been under fire for cheating in the past, so having this incident on camera definitely wasn't a good idea. Let's take a look at the events that led to the investigation in the first place and ultimately his disqualification.

goyf error reappeared

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The events leading to the disqualification happened in game three of round 13. On the third turn, Xavier cast a copy of Fledge, Titan of Fire Fury from his hand. When it entered the battlefield, he targeted Bart's Nethergoaf to deal three damage and gain three life. At this point, Nethergoaf was 2/3, as two card types were in Bart's graveyard.

With Fledge's triggered ability on the stack, Bart cast Not Dead After All, targeting Nethergoyf. He then let Fledge's ability resolve, returned Nethergoyf to the battlefield by tapping it, and put an evil role token on Nethergoyf. Apparently, this was used to indicate that Nethergoyf was dead and had returned to play via Not Dead After All.

The problem here was that once Not Dead After All resolved and went into Bart's graveyard, Bart now had three card types in the graveyard. Thus, Nethergoyf would be a 3/4, and would naturally survive beyond Fledge's trigger. This means that Nethergoyf should not have been added the Rogue role token in the first place. This could be a big deal in the game, especially considering how much of Xavier's removal is damage-based.

At the end of the day, it's not at all uncommon for mistakes like this to occur, nor for any player to notice them in the middle of a match. There have been several judges' calls due to Tarmogoyf math over the years, usually when Tarmogoyf is targeted by damage-dealing instants such as Lightning Bolt. With this in mind, it's understandable why there weren't any disqualifications initially.

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Decision

Fledge, Titan of Fire's FuryFledge, Titan of Fire's Fury

Despite the fact that the incident happened in Round 13, the actual disqualification decision didn’t come until midway through Round 14. In fact the issue wasn’t reported to the judging staff until Round 14, long after the match had ended. However, it did prompt the judges to investigate.

Generally, investigations are used to help determine a player's intent. The reality is, game rule violations (GRVs) happen all the time in major tournaments. Accidentally drawing a second card because two cards are stuck together will also constitute a GRV. Most often, simple warnings are issued. From there, judges keep an eye on the player's GRV, as repeated offenses can result in major penalties. However, when judges determine that you committed a GRV intentionally to gain an advantage, things get tricky.

This is what happened in Bart's case. Although we don't know what happened during the behind-the-scenes investigation, it is quite likely that the judges would have asked both Bart and Xavier for their side of the story. By combining this information with the match footage, a conclusion can often be reached.

Some players speculate that Bart's immediate desire to attack for 4 damage with Nethergoyf on his next turn played a role in the final decision. The argument is that, by declaring attack for four, Bart would have clearly identified three card types in his graveyard along with the Rogue role token, which should not have been attached in the first place. There is certainly more to the story, but specific details were not made available to the public. What we do know is that Bart was disqualified for intending to GRV, and the result of the Round 13 match was later overturned.

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Player feedback

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When the footage of the underlying error first surfaced, many players immediately reacted to what they saw. From the initial clip alone, it's understandable why many players believe this was nothing more than an honest mistake. However, one of the reasons this clip blew up on Twitter the way it did was due to Bart's previous encounter with cheating problems on camera.

Years ago, Bart was caught cheating on camera on Twitch. After breaking Mishra's Bauble and seeing that he had a mediocre card on top of his deck, he broke his Bloodstained Myr on the opponent's upkeep in response to the bauble trigger. He then semi-shuffled his deck in a very strange way, seeming to mess with the order of the cards himself. After this, he didn't give the opponent an opportunity to cut his deck, then drew a copy of Terminate which helped him win the game.

This incident, as well as other incidents, caused many players to doubt Bart's intentions, believing he should not be given the benefit of the doubt. Bart's past problems likely played a role in the intense scrutiny that occurred, as well as the article that was released to the public. A disqualification like this has not been reported since Yuya Watanabe's disqualification some time ago.

Unfortunately cheating is something that players and judges need to constantly keep an eye on. It's nice to see written reports being released to keep people updated on the current situation. This disqualification also shows that action can be taken even long after the problem originally occurred. Players aren't sure if Bart actually cheated or not, but whatever investigation took place ultimately led to his disqualification. Be aware of any bad intentions from your opponents, and don't hesitate to involve the judges if anything looks suspicious.

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