A few months after the Chapin drama in March, the Magic scene was struck with a new scandal. During the incredibly successful GP Las Vegas, a pro player — Pascal Maynard — made a controversial Top 8 draft pick. The choice simultaneously begat outrage and backlash from fellow "pro" players, some of which sponsored by the same company (Channel Fireball, CFB), as well as mass fan-backing supporting Maynard's selection.
By now, if you follow any sort of Magic related news, You are sure to know the story, but for those of you who don't, I will recap it here (followed by some recent developments)...
The Art of Rare Drafting
So during this featured Top 8 draft, on the first pick of the second pack, Pascal Maynard had to choose between a Burst Lightning (which would have fit into his current draft pool) or a foil Tarmogoyf, a card worth close to $300. There was some deliberation between the two cards, as the allotted minute ticked by, but in the end, Pascal chose the foil Tarmogoyf. And thus #GoyfGate was born!
For all intensive purposes, he had opted to rare draft (I say this amid claims he could have been potentially hate drafting, which is picking cards in attempts to interrupt an opponent's deck-building strategies). Rare drafting is when a player picks a card based on monetary value over another card's practical use value for the deck they are drafting. It's generally a rare or mythic, but can be any rarity slot. Basically, money over use. It's not uncommon. I've done it (many times), especially when I can't seem to maintain focus on a particular build. And I'm a foil collector, so even if the foil rare or mythic is a junk card, I'll draft it, more often than not.
I, however, am no where close to being a professional Magic player. I've never been Top 8 at a GP. I don't believe I ever will be. I sometimes attend drafts for fun and, at most, I try to make my money back when able. It's a simplistic thought process really. Since prize payout is relatively sub par where I've drafted, my aim leans toward monetary picks. Recoup whatever costs I can.
But if I were in the Top 8 draft of a Grand Prix, would I have rare drafted, or would I have picked a card following suit with my current draft pool? I'd love to say it'd be a tough question, but I'd be lying to myself (and you) if trying to claim I would have passed up such a precious foil for my collection! It would have been a snap, windmill-slam, pick. Period.
Most anyone would have done the same... right? Uh...
Disrespecting the Game
Like wildfire, through social media, various "professional" players were chomping at the bit, ridiculing Maynard. Calling him disgraceful, his actions disrespectful to the game, proclaiming a loss of respect, etc. It was sudden, brutal, and in my opinion, sickening. To witness these so called "professionals" talking shit about a fellow player over something as asinine as a draft pick, was beyond me. I couldn't believe it. We aren't talking simply disagreeing and giving a constructive opinion. They were straight up verbally assaulting him.
I've seen plenty of instances where random "Average Joes" anonymously talk smack on social media during feature matches, or just in general. The internet providing a proverbial "liquid courage" from behind their screens. I don't agree with that either. But when it's specific prominent personalities within the Magic community, whether judges/announcers; "pro" players; columnists; whatever, the affects are felt on a much heightened level. Across a much wider audience.
"I just lost all respect for Pascal Maynard." - William Jensen
"I've devoted my life to Magic. It's very disappointing to see that one of my peers would sell out for so little." - Reid Duke
"You disgust me." - Owen Turtenwald
There were plenty of others. From my understanding, however, some of the most noted "pro" rage originated within a group of individuals who have a group/team via CFB (also from where Pascal hails), calling themselves the Peach Garden Oath (PGO). I am assuming it originates from the "bond" expressed in the Magic card (featured to the left) of the same name.
I'm all about "brotherhood"... if it's not equating to bullying and paddling the same douchecanoe of ignorant hatred. Oh wait, they apologized (likely forced to avoid PR issues/save face, some still to this day do not believe some of the apologies were genuine) and explained how it was based on Love [for the game]. My bad! I guess I've been confused about how that works. Mind you, I understand being passionate about something, but when that passion is administered in such a fashion that it's not actually discussing/debating said passion and instead merely insulting and ridiculing and shaming another? Not likely.
But I digress, I'm very passionate about Magic: The Gathering and I did essentially call the PGO a bunch of douchecanoes, so I'm definitely not the best role model of my own preaching. Maybe there's something to be said about the context? Or maybe about making a point? Maybe not...
Either way, what the PGO (and others talking smack about Maynard) didn't seem to anticipate was the immediate backlash for their commentary. I bet some, if not all, imagined the Magic community would rally behind them in their hate machine and bash their fellow peer for — literally — making a draft pick they themselves disagreed with. Instead, the majority of the Magic community sided with Pascal (despite his later "confession" to believing he made the "wrong play", much to my dismay) and vocally expressed their opinions on the treatment he was receiving.
Many felt like the "pros" were displaying an incredibly elitist mentality, something already a concern (if not already abundantly established) within the Magic community. The very notion of which would be (is) damaging to the game and cause players, new and old, to lose interest in investing their time and money on it. On organized play, if nothing else. Who wants to spend time and money to be essentially berated for their plays, their draft picks, their choice in how they enjoy the game?
What's disrespectful to Magic: The Gathering, and its community, is when people within the said community berate and insult one another. What's disrespectful to the game are individuals ("pros" especially) who feel they have somehow reached some imaginary, elevated status that makes them better than any other player. What's disrespectful to the game and its community is cheating, stealing, and harming one another. What's disrespectful to the game is not being welcoming to those within the community, or interested in joining, that you may perceive as being "different" or "unworthy" based on whatever preconceived ignorant bullshit you've allowed yourself to come to believe as being "right".
What isn't disrespectful/disgraceful to the game and community is someone's deck choice. The plays they decide to make. Their fucken draft picks. Period.
Every Draft Pick Has a Silver Lining
Well, not really, but this one does! With all of the drama and attention this whole ordeal caused, Pascal Maynard decided to use that momentum to focus on a more positive end game. He decided to sell his notorious foil Tarmogoyf (the one featured above with the GP Las Vegas stamp) and declared he would be donating 50% of the final sale to charity, Gamers Helping Gamers! The initial listings on eBay reached over $14000!
But there was a caveat to the auctions involved. There were false bids, which placed an unfortunate damper on the attempted charity, and the auctions had to be pulled/canceled. Maynard, however, remained steadfast, refusing to allow these unfortunate events to put a stop to his goal.
Currently he is running a new silent auction (details here), through Facebook and Twitter, to avoid the hassles that have so far had to be endured with the endeavor. Not only that, but he will now be donating 75% of the final sale price to Gamers Helping Gamers!
I'm hoping that this auction is finally a success, the foil Tarmogoyf finds a new home, and a good chunk of change finds its way into the chosen charity!
To hell with all the naysayers...
What is your take on #GoyfGate? Do you feel Maynard made the "right" choice, or would you have selected a different pick? How do you feel about how the "pros" went about berating Pascal for his draft pick? The aftermath that followed? What would you classify as being disrespectful to Magic: The Gathering and its community? What are some things that may help rectify these issues?
*Sigh* I don't even own a standard Tarmogoyf, let alone a foil... Windmill Slam.