The past few months of Magic seem to be teeming in controversy. It's a factor that plays a large role in my endeavors to finally write about it. Just as my previous post about the Tucking Rule changes from back in March are a bit "outdated", so too is this topic. Though, the Chapin fiasco is one I plan to reference in future posts regarding WotC, rule changes, and more current controversial matters at hand.
Where to begin...
I suppose with the subject that will bring me the most hate so early in my "career" of maintaining this blog. Two posts in, no less. It is what it is.
Back in April (10-12/2015) the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir took place. During this tournament, Hall of Fame alumni Patrick Chapin had a judge call made on him by his opponent, Michele Ancona. Patrick had forgotten to reveal a card, before placing it on top of his face-down hand, but when realizing this, apologized and then revealed it. I wasn't watching the "live" feed, but came across video feeds of the event.
Hopefully I'm getting this right, but due to not revealing the card before placing it in his hand, the ruling is that extra cards were drawn, resulting in a game loss. From my understanding, there was the chance to downgrade the ruling to a warning, if the game state could be maintained. More or less, if Michele already knew all of the cards that were in Chapin's hand, but it was claimed he didn't. From what I've read it sounds like there may have been some unknown cards, enough that it wasn't considered, so the requirements for meeting the downgrade weren't met. A game loss was issued eventually after a 15+ min appeal on Patrick's end.
There was an uproar over the ruling, people citing it was a technicality, that it wasn't fair, that everyone watching (via the live feed) knew which card was the card to be revealed (Tasigur, the only one of four cards, looked at from Ajani's trigger, that was legal to play) and that the gamestate could be maintained, that the video feed should be reviewed and that it would prove the game loss was ill-deserved.
Roll That Beautiful Bean Footage
Well, let's look at the video...
Yep! He placed the unrevealed card in his hand, and the judge made the right call! Moving on! But seriously...
One thing I notice, right away, was that the unrevealed card was not only about halfway overlapping Chapin's hand, but he was literally picking it up before remembering the need to reveal. Not that that matters, though, because the card is considered drawn to the hand as soon as it touches said hand. It doesn't have to be physically held vertically by the player. The card is clearly placed on top of the pile (his hand) and almost picked up completely. In fact, after watching the video again it seems that when he [Chapin] is about to lift his cards fully, it's the judge that interjects about the reveal, to which he apologizes and attempts to follow through with revealing. Had the judge not done so, would he have just continued playing without revealing?
During the appeal, Chapin mentioned being rushed (I feel this is irrelevant, but I can see how this can add stress and lead to mistakes) and tries to imply that the unrevealed card was set way farther apart (barely touching) than it was. He asks for the video to be reviewed to help his case, and many of his supporters also called foul when it wasn't used. He was hoping it would show that he had no ill intent and that the positioning of the card hadn't changed and was the correct card to be revealed off of the trigger.
The irony is, in my honest opinion, the only thing the video would have proven was that Chapin had indeed placed a card he should have revealed into his hand. That ruling is: extra cards drawn. That results in a game loss. Period.
Chapin fans in an uproar, I get it, you feel he was cheated. He made a mistake, it shouldn't be a game loss, just a warning. However, I maintain the judge made the right call.
I guess I'm on the fence with one Magic personality's (Cedric Phillips) opinion that that appeal shouldn't have been on cam. It's argued nothing was added by airing it, in fact, it may possibly hurt the community showing those aspects of the game. Then again, I think the same could be said in reverse. That is part of the game. It's a reality. It shows how judge calls/rulings work, how appeals work, etc. And, afraid to say, it helps prove discrepancies claimed during those situations. There are clearly pros and cons in this matter, like most.
As it is, it's obvious I am in agreement with the game loss ruling handed down to Chapin. But wait, there's more. Those fans touting and lamenting Chapin, pay attention...
If the title of the video above didn't already give it away, there was more than meets the eye in regards to the footage provided. Again, I can understand people getting upset with their idol, hero, whatever, being given a game loss. Unfortunately, fans are more prone to being bias, and the judgment can become clouded. This is most apparent by a slew of comments made regarding the act of blatant cheating taking place by Chapin before the Ajani/Tasigur incident.
Watch the video between 13:30-14:40. During this time frame Chapin is seen playing two lands, which allows him to cheat out an Elspeth.
When this point has been brought to light, fans come up with an onslaught of excuses for Chapin. He's tired. He's rushed. He's shaking, he is clearly nervous (some claim a condition causes this, I've no idea one way or another). Oh, you'd be surprised at how common it is to forget you've played a land. Really? Those are your excuses for a "Pro" Hall of Famer, who is a "cut above the rest" and a "pillar" of the Magic community?
Look, I've played a lot of Magic. I think almost every single time (and there aren't many, trust me) there has been a question about whether or not a land has already been played, a dialog has been struck up among the players. Sometimes attempts at counting and assessing (granted this game was too far in session to do so). There is none of this, though. Chapin just plays the land he just drew and proceeds to play the Elspeth he just drew. Like it was nothing. I've witnessed cheaters on cam before, and its proven that "being on cam" does not mean a lack of intentional cheating (for those arguing why someone would cheat if knowing they are on cam). In fact, I feel it's quite the opposite. Some have become so used to doing so, it's just ingrained, and especially if they have gotten away with it so many times, the cautious mentality melts away. Brazen slights of hand are made. It is what it is.
So, sure, maybe this was a one time thing. But after witnessing Chapin's false claims during his appeal, and then having that moment [playing an additional land] brought to the forefront, I begin to doubt innocence. Doubt honest mistakes. I've watched Chapin in one video, just one, and in that one video I see him cheating. Nonchalantly. I see him attempt to twist a situation around in his favor. And I can't help but think... How many other times has he cheated on cam and it was missed. This video was placed under extreme scrutiny due to a game loss ruling. How many other feature matches went, more or less, under the radar, due to a lack of controversy causing enhanced viewing counts?
Then there are also questions like... Why didn't the judge see that? Were they not paying attention at that moment? Worse yet, the announcers giving detailed play by play accounts completely miss it?
Whatever the answers, the fact remains that Chapin clearly cheated earlier in that same match, and so a game loss (or worse) was apparently immanent. A karmic happenstance perhaps.
I came across this:
I can't help but be curious what those incidents were that resulting in temporary suspensions. Wouldn't cheating result in something similar? Why, with so many people highlighting the fact that Chapin cheated during the match was there no investigation launched? How does someone initiate one?!
Intentional or not, it happened. It's not up to you or I to decide whether it was intentional. An investigation and review of feature matches, and due process will determine that.
Sure, you have your opinions, I have mine, but it's not specifically our job to maintain fair, unbiased systems and policies. That's WotC's duty. We can, however, keep them honest and hold them accountable if they aren't doing so, when it should be their number one priority.
What is your opinion of the Chapin game loss ruling? Do you feel it was the right call? If so, or if not, why? Should Chapin's cheating earlier in the match be addressed? Do you feel instances like judge calls and/or appeals should be on camera or omitted? Why? How much hate am I going to garnish from this piece? *Sigh*
I hope not all of it is negative! Which reminds me, if engaging in discussion, be constructive, courteous and civil with one another!