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Message from Channelfireball Regarding the Disqualification of Tomoharu Saito at GP Florence

As a professional Magic player and editor-in-chief of this site, I’d like to address the recent disqualification of Tomoharu Saito from Grand Prix Florence. I, as well as the rest of us here at Channelfireball, am very disappointed in this turn of events. Cheating undermines the integrity of the game and is one of the most harmful actions possible to both the tournament experience and public perception of the game. While we here at Channelfireball in no way support cheating of any kind, we have received a statement from Tomoharu regarding the events in question. These events, regardless of the circumstances behind them, reflect poorly on both Tomoharu and professional Magic in general, not to mention this very website.

Here is the translated statement that Tomoharu sent us:

Regarding my Disqualification at Grand Prix Florence

Here is the link from the official coverage.

As some of you know already, I was recently disqualified from Grand Prix Florence.

First of all, let me apologize to those who have always supported me. This disqualification is the realization of the worst possible consequences and is inexcusable.

The stated reason for the ruling was that “After confirming that there was not very much time left in the round, it appeared that this player intentionally stalled.” I do not deny the comments and observations of other players claiming they observed the same thing; all I can say is that at the time I truly did not believe that I was stalling.

Disqualified players write a report to the DCI concerning what happened and what they were thinking during the circumstances leading to the disqualification. I wrote a report and submitted it to the DCI in Florence and now await the results of their investigation.

-Tomoharu Saito

After considering the above statement and the events in question, we feel that we must unfortunately part ways with Tomoharu, and we will no longer be running his content on the website. This isn’t a decision we make lightly, but it is in everyone’s best interests. I will please ask that the discussion stay civil, though I understand that this is a very touchy subject; trust me, no one here at Channelfireball is happy about this situation.

LSV

Click here to read Saito’s statement in the original Japanese.

370 thoughts on “Message from Channelfireball Regarding the Disqualification of Tomoharu Saito at GP Florence”

  1. Just reiterating LSV’s call to keep things civil. We understand this is a passionate topic, but try to keep things reasonable. We don’t really like moderating, but we will do so if necessary.

  2. FIrst.

    That’s tough, but I think this is probably the right move – props to you guys for laying down the law.

    I respect Saito’s honesty, at least.

  3. 🙁

    Ah well… I don’t think dropping Saito is exactly necessary, but I understand the desire to protect the brand name.

  4. i think you should have waited until the official wizards reply to his objection. judges in gran prix can be really bad.

  5. Although this seems to just be a PR move, I honestly think that people overall would prefer to see him stay. Personally, I don’t really care about what allegedly happened and have seen DQs over small miscomminications, mistakes, and bigger things too. I would much rather read Saito’s writing because he is still a fantastic player who has good things to say. You can’t write good strategy articles by being just some random cheater.

  6. Wow, that’s such a let down that such a high profile player would do something so disappointing and embarrassing.

  7. I think stalling is the least offensive thing that is considered cheating With that said, i have heard of him doing this in the recent past at other events. I think it looks bad to have someone like that on your line-up. I think he is an amazing player and i would learn a lot from future writings of his, but all things considered i think this is the right call.

  8. I very much enjoyed reading Saito’s articles, but this was a good move by Channel Fireball. Integrity is important, and Saito has demonstrated repeatedly now that he is willing to bend or break rules in order to win.

    It’s a shame, because he is one of the best of all time and could have gone down in history as such if he hadn’t tried to cheat. I feel like now any discussion of him has to include the ugly side of his game as well.

    His statement contains zero apology for what he did. He seems sorry he got disqualified and not sorry that he was stalling. I would have felt better about the situation if he had admitted what he did and shown remorse for it.

  9. I also agree that Saito should not be dropped from the site, at least not until the final ruling comes out

  10. i think stalling is a very “relative” incident and not really as bad as other cheating types. what’s the rush lsv? will you resign if someday get you disqualified and accused wrongly?

  11. Would you guys be willing to pick him up again if his appeal is successful?

    It’s too bad this had to happen, but I really respect CF’s professionalism in the matter, since it would be really easy to just not do anything about the situation – sometimes you just gotta make the tough decisions I guess. =/

  12. It is sad to see a member of Channelfireball being removed but I fully appreciate that Channelfireball is taking this stance to support the integrity of the game. Thank you Channelfireball for seeking to maintain a high level of integrity and remaining to be role models for the gaming community.

  13. Well, guess this is rough but the safest move. Guess every reasonable person will understand it and only time will tell whether he deserved the DQ or not.

  14. copy pasted from a fb message to my mom-
    “He got in trouble for stalling. I don’t know much about him but I can only assume it’s impulsive and beyond his control. He probably feels bad about it, but he’s such a competitor that he NEEDS to win. his NEED to win is why he’s in the hall of fame. There are plenty of people who cheat in sports, or would if they could. Magic just happens to be easy to cheat in because it’s mostly self regulated. I don’t really blame the guy but it’s annoying to deal with.”

  15. Saying he is honest is ridiculous considering he denies intentionally doing it in his letter imo, this is not the first we have heard of him doing this and I think it is an absolute necessity to cut cheaters out of the loop to try to maintain the integrity of the game.

    This is obviously one of the gray area cheats which makes it unfortunate, but him saying he didn’t do it intentionally to me is ridiculous and dishonorable. There is no way the judges would have come to this if it was at all reasonable.

    I really think cheating is more of an issue than we can control, and I hope that wizards continues their efforts on cracking down.

  16. I’d be fine with you keeping him, but I imagine that in the association with him would harm CF’s name in the long run.

    Saito’s defense is fascinating: he says that even though he intented on win by time manipulation, he thought that it was ok as long as he didn’t slowed beyond the reasonable.

    This raises the question: what is wrong, the intent or the form? If you start punishing intent, you get the following situation: Player A, who usually takes 10 seconds each turn, starts taking 1 minute each turn and is punished for stalling. Player B, who usually takes 45 seconds each turn, starts taking 1 minute and is not punished. Is that fair?

    Anyway, just playing devil’s advocate. Hope there are no hard feelings with Saitou.

  17. Call me a n00b, but having never played in a large format tournament i do not understand why he was DQ’d. Stalling such that his opponent would run out of time for the round and he would get the win?

  18. Understandable, I wish a cheater wasn’t in the hall of fame but you cant always get what you want.

  19. I’m really confused when people congratulate cheaters for being ‘honest’ by admitting their deeds. Being honest NOW isn’t what counts, it’s being honest when playing Magic, which Saito isn’t. At that is not respectable.

    Does anyone know the procedure for changing the Hall of Fame Nomination/Induction since it is still before Worlds?

  20. I cannot fault CFB for this move, you guys have my full support for making sure nothing damages the integrity of the game.

    Am I right to say that before stalling DQ is given there usually should be a couple of slow play warnings(even in past events), and that if Saito deliberately chose to ignore them he is no doubt a savage cheater.

    Anyway, I personally would have placed his content on indefinite hold until his appeal results came out. Just because I believe in the good of ppl.

  21. @TravisW: I feel like that is basically what is going on. The situations that he has gotten in trouble for have happened in game 3’s where he was losing. That may not sound too odd, but when you compare to other famous cases, there is a real difference. He hates to lose and is not good at controlling his emotions (you can see this even when he wins sometimes, irl and on the coverage). If this were casual magic, I would feel sorry for him, but given that thousands of dollars are on the line, I can’t have any sympathy.

  22. of course he will not apoligze because he does not agree that he was stalling. you witch hunters, you angry mob ,are you that quick and swift to judge yourself as well ?let he who is without sin, cast the first stone

  23. ON THE OTHER HAND…

    Stalling is really the most subjective offenses in tournament play, and I’ve many a times seen “pro” players call the judge on lesser players for “slow play” or “stalling” just to intimidate them or get them to lose focus.

    Perhaps DCI should do something that gets rid of the issue once and for all. Like on MODO there are ZERO chances of stalling.

  24. It is really unfortunate that such a talented and thoughtful player would stoop so low to win. While I understand that Magic for some is a means of life, I feel that when professional players are willing to step to this level to win, the game is no longer fun for the other 95% of us who will never make a living playing this game, who only play because it is fun.

    That being said, can someone actually define what stalling is? I mean, is there a certain formula for how long a turn should take or is it just an intuitive judgment as to when someone is stalling?

  25. To be honest, stalling is probably the most subjective ruling possible and its surprising that they were able to rule effectively after 3 rounds. (Saito has 3 byes)

    As the report from GP Florence doesn’t go into detail as to what occurred during round 6, I’ll hold off judgment until some more solid statements come forward. Regardless, the ruling seems quite rushed if the DQ was due to observations during a single round, especially since while the report states that he changed his pace due to time concerns twice during round, I find it hard to believe that there would be any reason to change ones pace more than once per round, nearing the end of the round. I can’t comment on Saito’s actions during the match since there is no coverage on it but I guess we just wait and see what comes of the player appeal.

    CFB did the right thing as a business in cutting Saito. There is no clear resolution to this incident since the DQ in question is stalling and not something more concrete but the risk to CFBs image for supporting a cheater once everything clears is higher than their expected return for supporting Saito. However, it is surprising to see Saito cut so readily.

  26. This is not surprising at all, considering his previous incidents with really wondering what Jace does.

  27. I’d say this was a quick jump of the gun since the appeal hasn’t been processed, but given his history I think it’s actually the right call to do it now rather than risk further harm to the team’s image. Even from his statement, he clearly states that he doesn’t disagree that the people watching him could have come to the conclusion that he was stalling, but that he doesn’t think he was. How is that possible? Either he’s stalling and lying about it, or he truly thinks everyone else is wrong to conclude that he was stalling. He’s been around long enough (and had enough issues in the past) that he should clearly know what stalling is, and how the judges will enforce it. Everything put together makes it pretty clear in my mind that he’s just trying to save face at this point, hence I’m glad you’re cutting him now.

    PS: The PoY image still needs to be updated to reflect the change.

  28. “all I can say is that at the time I truly did not believe that I was stalling.”

    If he does not think he was stalling, then why drop him for cheating? I am confused.

    However, this just goes further to prove the integrity of CFB (while being reminiscent of the NFL/Roethlisberger controversy, punishment while denying fault).

  29. @Louis S.: This is not the first time he has engaged in this behavior; for example, there are widespread reports of him doing the same thing at Columbus earlier in the year. The judges were likely watching him specifically for this pattern of behavior and busted him as soon as they saw it, which seems fine.

    Stalling may be the most “minor” cheating offense, but cheating opponents out of wins is still cheating them out of wins, regardless of how you do it. That there is still such a distinction in players’ minds between “minor” and “major” cheating just goes to show why it still plagues competitive Magic. It is NEVER okay to do bend the rules in order to win, no matter how slightly (although a more rigorous definition of stalling would probably help).

  30. @alan

    Stalling is subjective. Judges have to use their experience and judgment to figure out what is stalling and what is a difficult board state.

    Personally, I have taken 2 minutes to finish a turn with the judge watching and neither my opponent or the judge minded much considering it was the turn that would define the game.

    Stalling is defined as deliberately slowing down one’s pace of play with consideration to non-game related concerns in an effort to prevent the match from finishing in a timely manner. IE, you play slower in order to draw out the match with time ticking down or to get the 1-0-1 win due to time.

    There is no function to define a reasonable turn length, but if your turn on a board consisting of 1-3 creatures is draw. Shuffle hand. Tap mana… Untap… Shuffle hand… 30 seconds later, go. And have no responsive spells in hand to play on your opponents turn, you just might be slow playing. Course, there are times where that is a fine way to play out your turn, but others it is slow playing. My opinion on this is you just have to play a lot of matches and you’ll eventually get the hang of what is deliberate slow play and what is a player considering all of his options.

    Mind you, it’s not against the rules to force the game to a draw by playing the game out to prevent your opponent from winning at the cost of your chances of winning the game.

  31. @Dosa: they both write for CFB.

    As for why they aren’t dropping Ruel, people are oriented towards the present. It doesn’t matter how bad the ‘crimes’ of Saito and Ruel were in relation to each other, just that Saito’s happened two days ago, while Ruel’s were several years ago.

    Also, I don’t know if this is meaningful or not, but the language of this is “fired” rather than “resigned”. In business, statements like this often explain that the guilty party chose to leave ‘voluntarily’ to avoid further problems.

  32. The biggest issue I have is the loss of the Japanese perspective. I like how there are a number of diverse authors with unique nationalities, and i enjoy learning how people from other countries play in order to diversify my own style. Perhaps the site could try to lure another Japanese pro, although that may be difficult. On a separate note, perhaps Tomoharou will take this as one of his patented “wake-up slaps”…

  33. I say Bravo! We are too forgiving of cheaters in Magic. A move like this shows that ChannelFireball is about integrity above winning.

  34. 3rd party account as told on Billy Moreno’s blog: http://billymoreno2.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/more-on-saito-from-an-undisclosed-but-personally-vouched-for-eyewitness/
    ————————
    Anonymous:
    “I personally watched this and it was outrageous. He should have been DQ’d immediately.
    Play was proceeding normally as Saito was winning. There are 6-7 minutes left.
    Kid then cunning wishes for Tsabo Decree and decrees Merfolk.
    Saito tanks for 45 seconds then reveals his hand of 2 merfolk. He bins his 2 in hand and 2 in play.
    Kid untaps and casts Jace. Saito then counts kid’s sideboard, reviews graveyard and says ok. Kid fateseals and leaves a daze on top. He activates factory and attacks. Saito spends 45 seconds debating wasteland before taking 2. He rereads Jace again.
    He untaps and draws daze. He reviews both graveyards and spends 30-40 seconds before saying go.
    Kid fateseals and leaves a land. He activates factory and attacks. Saito repeats his 45 seconds fingering wasteland before taking 2. He then stops to read Jace.
    Saito draws the land and reviews both graveyards. He spends 30 seconds before playing land. He then stops to read Jace for 20 seconds. He then fidgets with wasteland and then fetchland for 20 seconds before saying go.
    Kid fateseals a land to top. He then activates factory. Saito reviews kids graveyard and finally takes 2. Kid casts pernicious deed with 4 mana up. Saito considers dazing it until time is called.
    Rest of game takes under 1 minute.”
    Slightly reformatted to make it clear this is a second hand account.

  35. I think that either way saito’s integrity will be fine. He is a great player, writer, and wonderful example of what pro level magic player should be. He doesnt need channel fireball really. I might have found saito through here, but i will always follow him no matter where he ends up. And anyways LSV you have played/beat him before, only you would know…is he a cheater? If he is guilty, now we can go around replacing “wescoed” with “saito’d” I guess……. Seems pretty awful that you guys would would fire him over something that still hasnt been investigated. Just to save face. Ouch.
    /Uninstall channelfireball.com

  36. “Playing and Enforcing an Honest Game

    To put it strongly, this is a game that allows for the possibility of all kinds of cheating. You could cheat or be the victim of cheating. However, you absolutely must not cheat. Judges and players will catch you, and you will have to leave the tournament and will be banned from tournament play. Cheating does not even provide you with the chance to win a tournament, and besides this it will spoil the satisfaction you get from playing. Thinking of being banned from tournament play now is scary because I think that my day-to-day feeling of satisfaction and enjoyment would drastically decline. I am not saying this simply because I am a professional player, as I think that among my readers there are many that for whom this would be the case. Even if you are aware of your loss, after you give up the chance to play in tournaments your day-to-day satisfaction will not return.”

    Thats from Saito´s last article
    Its hard to belive that he is a cheater, im sure he didnt wanted to cheat but, seeing it from a comercial point it could be the right move to part your ways, or maybe not, who knows :S

  37. justin richardson

    you people dont seem to realize that stalling and slow play are 2 different things, slow play is when you are taking too much time to make a play and results in a warning and is not cheating.

    stalling is when you knowingly slow down the game to take advantage of the clock and is cheating and was penalized correctly with a DQ.

  38. Quote from “Dave”:
    “And here we have the first channel fireball superbestfriends member to get busted for cheating; confirming many of our suspicions. We all know there’s more to follow. No group of above average players keeps placing well in tournaments without bending the rules in some way. About time one of you gets stopped. The only question is who the judges feel like taking on next.”

    You are an idiot. So, by your logic, Kai Budde is not the best player in the history of Magic. He is simply the biggest cheater. I sure do love mental midgets with baseless allegations ranting about strong players being cheaters due to consistent results. Get your head out of your ass and one day you’ll realize that this is a skill-based game, and great players will consistently succeed because they’re playing better Magic. Just as many of the best poker players consistently do well. Your ignorance disgusts me, and it’s people like you who make public forums with anonymous nicknames such an irritating place.

  39. Saito is pretty deliberate. His pace changing was probably from regular, deliberate Saito to a super fast tempo when it looked like he might win, then back to slow. Obviously he did it, but it makes sense to me that it was natural to him. I take him at his word that he wasn’t intentionally stalling. You can cheat without consciously thinking about it. That’s how most cheating happens.

  40. So if negative(slowing down) pace change relative to the clock is considered cheating, is positive (speeding up) pace change relative to the clock cheating or not? It seems like it shouldn’t be because it doesn’t contribute to a situation where you win game 1 and draw in game 2 to get a match win, but the rules say that manipulating the pace of play relative to the clock is cheating, not specifically slow playing, at least by the way I’m reading…

    Sorry I know this isn’t a rules forum but it seems relevant to the topic at hand.

  41. Not that I don’t like Saito, as I do, and he is a fantastic magic player (at times). However, dropping him from CFb is truly not something I wanted to see, nor even imagined that this termination could/would happen. I guess its bigger buzz than one would have expected. That being said, I do understand the value of protecting your (CFB) sites brand. Which I guess leaves me w/this…I feel just as strongly about the topic as anyone else. I literally watched saito take 5+min (literally, this isn’t one of those “I caught a fish this big” tales, it was 5 min and 27 sec. exactly, and I timed it) to BLUFF a daze against my buddy in GP Cbus. Finally, after many interrogating looks from my buddy to saito and to the judge, then after the judge gave saito a warning, my buddy calmly, and in an arrogant way said, “U don’t have the daze, if u had it u would play it”, and saito let the spell resolve. (He also literally did not have the daze, I checked his hand) (Go chrandersen!) However, I also wonder if this would have been someone else on the CFB team, i.e. a much more predominant CFB figure (just pick one), would have the situation resulted in similar terms? (Assuming all other circumstances held constant). Also, is this setting a new policy for future ‘Dqers’? (Not saying in any way/shape/form that this is a trend, that there are other people associated w/ CFB that are, and/or that this will actually ever happen again in the future) Lastly, in my personal opinion, I feel that this was a very minuscule incident that has been blown way out of proportion. I agree with an earlier post about Saito’s urge and NEED to win, which I believe has clogged some of his mind, inevitably causing him to think wayyyy to deep into his plays. Or maybe he is just a cheater and pulls the ole “I’m from outta country” card when in big tourneys, but I like to see the better in people (even if these ‘people’ have a history of, not necessarily documented, ‘unethical behavior’ in game play situations). Again, agree with his DQ, as there are rules for a reason, and slow play is not only frustrating and annoying as hell, but also gives the slow player a competitive edge so to speak, and stalling is just plain cheating, but I’m not too sure how much I agree with releasing him from CFB. But as they say, “There aint no such things as half way crooks!” (Sorry for the length, really bored).

  42. I may be wrong but hasn’t he basically been caught trying to get away with far more flagrant rules violations in his earlier tournament years?

  43. @ MM

    Do you want to buy 1,000 chess clocks for every major tournament organizer in the world? 😛

  44. Having witnessed the events that Billy Moreno’s blog mentionned (they’re true), I do think that CFB’s decision is advised. I applaud their integrity.

  45. The correct choice. I like that you came right out and said it. I approve, and you’re certainly not losing anything from me over this one.

  46. @TacoMaster

    Chess tournaments somehow pull it off? You can require that people bring their own clocks. And I’m sure WotC will be happy to sell you magic themed chess clocks in another way to pry money from your wallet.

  47. This is bull Saito is 10000x better magic player than anyone on this website. Its a darn shame. You are the best Saito!!!!!!!! Thank you for playing the game right, with a brain, take advantage of everything about the game including time. Skrwe everyone here that says anyways. You guys are trash compared to him. He is too good for this website. Im not coming here again.

  48. @MM I agree with the concept. One of the only reasons I sometimes prefer MTGO to paper is the timing system (unless it’s a 500+ PTQ, then it can be a little annoying). I have always felt that each player should get a set amount of time, instead of the players getting shared time. That way, u could, “stall yourself out” But, as the Tacomaster points out, it would be pretty costly, time consuming, and ultimately, would make the game longer, and tourneys would be longer as well, think about a gp, and instead ppl having life total dilemmas, there clock didn’t start, or they forgot to stop it last time they passed the turn, etc…And still, people would cheat, or find ways to ‘bend the rules’.

  49. I think Channelfireball and wizards are over-reacting to this kind of “cheating.” Have you ever watched a game of football???? They stall the whole way through; it’s a strategic move to make sure you don’t lose. That’s all, simple as that.

    This a game of time and information. If wizards really wants to fuss over this, they need to add a timer to the game somewhat like they have on MTGO. IF Saito or any other player runs out of time first, they loses, there is no draw.

    As well, Saito wrote excellent articles, and on the back of that, there is no reason to part ways with him.

  50. Chess as a game also doesn’t have nearly as much complexity with regards to active and non-active player as MTG. Hitting a chess clock phase after phase does not seem particularly exciting to me.

  51. @JonH

    From the DCI Penalty Guidelines:

    “Cheating — Stalling
    Definition
    A player intentionally plays slowly in order to take advantage of the time limit. If the slow play is not intentional, please refer to Tournament Error — Slow Play instead.”

  52. I would prefer hitting the chess clock every time I do anything, it’s a very satisfying feeling. We should bring in chess clocks in all aspects of life. On dates you can make sure neither you nor your partner is talking more than the other. On interviews you’ll know exactly how much time you have left, so you’re not boring everyone.

  53. Yeah, the other downside of the Chess clock is…

    Upkeep*CLICK*
    Pass*CLICK*
    Draw*CLICK*
    Pass*CLICK*
    Main Phase, Duress*CLICK*
    No Response*CLICK*
    Combat Phase*CLICK*
    Pass*CLICK*
    Declare Attackers, Tap Frost Titan, ability triggers and targets your Forest*CLICK*
    Pass*CLICK*
    Declare Blockers Phase*CLICK*
    etc…

    MISERABLE MATCHES, especially if your opponent wants to eat your clock.

  54. Well, this is a sad bit of news. My condolences to Saito and to ChannelFireball.

    Zayll (and others confused about the penalty / saying it is too subjective): Stalling and Slow Play have nothing to do with increasing or decreasing your rate of play. Rate of play changes naturally, as some situations are more complicated and require more thought. When a judge is observing for Slow Play or Stalling, they look for two things: players who “go in the tank” even when they have no options and players who take actions that are not relevant to the current game state (for instance… “I Fateseal you with Jace….Okay, let me look at both graveyards in detail first.”)

    That being said, judges are very careful with this infraction. An L4 would not hand it out unless it was undeniable that Saito’s play was unreasonably slow. I can’t speak on Saito’s intent (notably, it is natural for players to slow down and consider all options when they are losing) but I can assure you that the infractions in question are hardly “subjective”.

  55. I don’t like the clock idea. Some decks WANT long games, so players could run out of time even if they are trying to play quickly. And this would happen often… think about how many times you have gone into “5-more-turns-mode” on game 3. I don’t want to lose just because my clock happened to run out first (maybe I took the first turn).

    Punching clocks is fun and all, but I think the current system is much more fair. Judges are trained to catch slow play and stalling, and they won’t issue an infraction unless they are sure they’ve caught it.

  56. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

    Normally I would reserve judgment regarding allegations of this sort. However, given Mr. Saito’s less than sterling record, I think it is a wise move for this site to drop his content however much I enjoyed his articles.

    It’s really too bad, even if the situation was overblown and Mr. Saito is innocent, he’s pretty much branded as a cheater given his past transgressions.

  57. @TacoMaster: MTGO?

    @JohnH: Football is a game where not only are there strict timing requirements for just about everything you do, but also has multiple refs each covering different aspects of the game, not to mention the recorded aspect of the game. MTG usually has none of that except for the end of rounds and the top 8.

    It is also not against the rules to play to not lose the game. No one is telling you to mulligan that 4 force of will 3 blue spell hand with 2 minutes left in the round when you’re 1 up on your opponent. No judge will DQ you for stalling if you don’t try to win the game, but he will DQ you if you have no plays and are still not passing priority to whittle down the clock.

  58. Dropping him was the right thing. I’m not sure I respect his “honesty” this time, after his second DQ on cheating.

    By the way, what kind of a weirdo would “like” this post? lol.

  59. @Connor Scott

    You can still have longer games, you’ll just have to play faster. As for losing on time, it’s unfortunate, but it’s the nature of putting time limits on games and becomes part of the game. You’re doing it inherently on MTGO, and it’s much more “fair” than carboard magic because you don’t even need judges.

  60. Seems like good metagame strategy to be honest. No one condemns NBA teams for intentionally fouling or stalling with the ball at the end of a game, it’s the DCI’s fault for not stipulating rules providing unambiguous rules regarding stalling like those that exist in tournament poker.

  61. MM: MTGO is not the same as paper Magic. I know some judges who go so far as to say, “MTGO is not Magic.” Anyway, my point is that what works on MODO doesn’t always work in the real world. Someone already posted a link to Riki’s article about why clocks are a bad idea (tl;dr, it actually makes it easier to cheat on time).

    Also, I think that MTGO does need judges, but it can’t get them. I’ve heard of people berating their 8-4 opponents with insults, trying to get them to leave the match… sounds like a great time for a judge to step in.

  62. Saito has been one of my favorite authors here, but I after reading the Moreno blog I think you guys did the right thing. I don’t think the judges would have taken this decision lightly, and it sounds like it’s been a long time coming. Does anyone really believe that Saito is unfamiliar with what Jace does?

    I still have a great deal of respect for him, as a person and as a player, but it’s increasingly clear that he has a need to win that can potentially override his integrity. This choice was best for CFB, and for the game.

  63. Sigh…I would still like to hear the final verdict, but I must admit that I am getting tired of defending him to my friends. He’s been my favorite player for a long time, but there’s just been too many infractions to, you know, rule out coincidence on every one.

    Still, I agree with what someone said earlier about “losing cultural diversity” or something along those lines, since he was the only Japanese pro in your line up.
    …any chance of Watanabe or Nakamura?

  64. “Good magic skills” and “Cheating” are 2 different entities, Some good players cheat, some good players don’t, some bad players cheat, some bad players don’t.

    Its just like elbowing others in sports, (almost)everyone does it, all that matters is whether the referee catches them.

    Obviously some good players get to the very top by cheating. but the rest of the magic players arent stupid, and you risk losing everything. The question now is whether talented players show cheat should be given a second chance BECAUSE their talent can befit the community.

    For saito, I’ve seen him play, and controlling the tempo of the game can have a devastating effect on his opponents, affecting decision making process and general cognition. But given various rumors revolving around him(and some other prominent jap pros) I’d say someone needed to be made an example of to prevent things from getting out of hand and further damage to the reputation of magic is done.

  65. Also, the contrast between stalling in Magic and stalling in football, basketball, et cetera… well, it just holds no ground.

    When Kobe stalls, he has the other team on his ass, trying to get that ball. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

    When Cheatyface stalls, his opponent has to sit there and wait for him to pass priority. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

    Not quite the same, is it?

  66. You could do it like when they play chess at higher levels, with a clock consisting of two, when you pass priority you click your side of the clock and the other timer starts. Would be more awkward in Magic though, with priority shifting back and forth every few seconds, but it would also clear away misunderstandings regarding priority.

  67. First – I’m am not the other Dave that has been posting.

    I have heard 3rd and 4th hand accounts of this behavior, and am sad that they might be true. The DCI does not take DQ’s lightly, and it will be investigated. However, the above story doesn’t have any relevance, because he was DQ’d from a Scars of Mirrodin Sealed GP, and that account is of a legacy event.

    Chess clocks are terrible things to implement. Some players make upwards of 10 actions per turn sometimes. And how would it work? Everyone gets 25 minutes? So the R/W aggro deck gets a big advantage over the UB control deck, which might not be able to win 2 games in that amount of time. As is, each player knows how long the round is, and each is expected to
    A) Maintain a reasonable pace of play and
    B) Ensure that the opponent does as well.

    I have been the victim of this, in a situation without a real judge. A player should not be allowed to eat the last 5 minutes of the round to force a draw/loss for their opponent, and I am glad to see the Judges and the DCI trying to prevent it. This isn’t football, don’t say that stalling is acceptable. Or be prepared to never win a match after losing game 1.

  68. Hephlathio: there are some problems with that.

    What if I forget to hit my clock for awhile? What if someone searches my library with Memoricide, and then I shuffle for 4 minutes while their clock is running down (yes, their clock, because their spell is resolving).

    Plus, it’s unreasonable to hit the clock every time you pass priority, because that disrupts the way that we already play Magic (specifically, it would eliminate the possibility of shortcuts and out-of-order sequencing). But then if you say you just hit it after every turn, you run into more problems: what if I do a bunch of stuff on your turn? If you want to do something on my turn after I say Go, do I still hit my clock?

  69. umm you cant really bluff people if you play ultra fast and say go right after drawing, its alot harder i honestly dont think he shouldve gotten dq’d, ive had some shady judges give me warnings cause im trying to pull off a bluff and get some extra damage in making my oppenent think i got something. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesnt but to call him a cheat is absurd, hes a fantastic player and he got screwed IMO

    theres ALOT of subpar judges who dont know all the rulings like when michael jacob got screwed cause a judge did the wrong ruling

    im disappointed in cfb =/

    and gz to shuhei nakamura on his top 4!!! (hope i spelled his name right)

  70. Brian Weller-Gordon

    Definitely read the article that Zalem Beg posted, I don’t think it’s even a reasonable topic to discuss at all, clocks are just a terribly stupid idea no matter which way you look at it and there is no way that they could ever be implemented or operated without causing far too many unnecessary problems.

    On the topic of the firing I think that it was probably the right decision.
    Yes, it was a PR move.
    Honestly the first thing I thought upon seeing the article header was “Wow! that makes channel fireball look bad.”
    To the people wondering whether this would happen to any of the other writers on this site if they were disqualified. Honestly? No. Maybe the Ruel since he’s had an issue before but this is very much not a “first offense”. For Saito this is not an “oops, I didn’t mean to be doing that” it’s an “oops, I didn’t mean to get caught”. He has a bad history and was almost discounted from the hall of fame for just that reason.

    “Have you ever watched a game of football???? They stall the whole way through; it’s a strategic move to make sure you don’t lose. That’s all, simple as that.”

    There’s a big difference between what is a strategic move in one game and cheating in another. There’s also a bit of a difference between how harshly these things are judged, 5 yards is not quite the same as being disqualified from an entire event.

    Charizard and others, no one cares about your bromance with Saito, there are clearly people on this web site just as good as him who don’t cheat to get wins, this website will be better without you.

    I don’t think that they 100% had to remove him but I wouldn’t fault them at all for trying to avoid association with someone who was already skating on extremely thin ice

  71. @LSV – I applaud your decision regarding Tomoharu Saitup, but frankly don’t understand the completely contradictory approach toward giving employment to Olivier Ruel …

  72. Personally I liked reading Saito’s articles; as a student of the Japanese language who plans to go live in Japan for an extended amount of time in the near future (and hopefully not have to quit Magic as an effect of this), learning about Magic in Japanese is really helpful for me.

    However, I think this was a good move for CFB. Saito has a bad rep for doing things like this, and if he was truly stalling, then he gets what’s coming to him. I find it ironic that this happened shortly after he wrote that “don’t cheat” article. Either he’s telling the truth, in which case his DQ will be revoked and (hopefully) CFB will re-hire him, or he’s a giant hypocrite, and I have no respect for hypocrites, even if they are better than me at Magic.

    As for the “chess clock” idea, I’ve never played competitive chess, but it seems like a good idea if it can be done in a practical way. However, it doesn’t seem practical currently, so it’s a bad idea.

    @”Dave”: You’re a moron. Magic is only partly a game of luck. It’s primarily a game of the wallet (or at least Standard is; thanks Wizards!), secondarily a game of skill, and only thirdly a game of luck. Some people are just better than you.

  73. Correct decision. He already had a reputation for this and it has to catch up with him sooner or later.

    The MTGO clock can be very frustrating when you’re both down to the wire but it does somewhat deal with this.

  74. Well, maybe he’ll receive another banning after the appeal…good move on removing him from the stable of authors, it helps keep the integrity of the site. From what I have seen from the content offered by the players who post videos of their drafts, I can say that their skill warrants their inclusion on the site. Win or lose, from Brad to The Ocho, even TSG, there was a sense of competency and integrity. When you have been caught cheating, you are always suspect, until the day you die. Ask any betrayed woman. Saito has been caught again. 99 year bans have been levied against offenders, in effect a lifetime ban from competitive M:TG – based on prior history, Tomoharu may get the same.

  75. Wiki Entry of his

    “Tomoharu Saitou reached the top eight of the 2001 APAC Championships as the number 1 seed after two days of competition. He was disqualified for bribery, along with Satoshi Nakamura and Peter Chao”

  76. Firing Saito was unnecessary. Someone else will pick him up and the people who love and hate him will both read his articles and the authors of whatever that website is regardless. I seriously doubt anyone would stop coming to this site if Saito was still writing here. Upholding integrity is a nice thought and all, but its stupid to act like like wouldn’t have continued after a formal apology from Saito.

  77. I would say that they should have waited for the final verdict to come out but I’ve heard multiple stories recently about him blatantly stalling but the other person didn’t call him on it. I have a feeling that his DQ will stand.

  78. I am happy to see Channel Fireball take a firm stance on this situation. Taking a stance against cheating is very admirable.I think they made the hard decision, but the correct one. Cheating cannot be tolerated, especially within the team itself. Channel Fireball cannot present the safe haven for cheaters to come to.

    As far as the incident itself. I can guarantee that the DCI did not take this decision lightly. Saito is a staple name in MTG right now. He is a Hall of Fame inductee and is very known within the community. This means that the DCI had quite an issue on their hands, and would have to be absolutely sure he was breaking the rules. I am fairly confident when we hear the official DCI appeal decision, we will know that their decision made sense. We all know the DCI rules when we sign up for an event. Saito probably knows them better than most. We all have to play with a time limit which is why rounds are timed. Saito is not above this rule and must abide by it.

    Saito’s reputation also plays a lot in this situation. I understand that many of you are Saito’s fans,but I bet your tune would change if Saito timed you out for the 1-0-1 at a GP or PT. We have already heard a couple instances where this has been noted. This probably wasn’t ignored by the judges.

  79. I believe this was done too early. Wait to see what happens when the DCI looks into it. I hope he comes back if they find him innocent, but at the same time I hope he tells you guys to eff off for dropping him ASAP.

  80. the guy on the couch

    glad to see the site in ok with cutting ties with a HOF player and not just ignore. kudos good sir’s

  81. i’m just a casual player, and i don’t think this will get answered, but what is wrong with taking one’s time playing MTG?

    sorry for the noob question, i just really don’t understand how “time to think” is bad?

  82. 1) Kudos to LSV for coming out and addressing the issue. I like that guy.
    2) I support Tomoharu Saito
    3) I find it amusing that people are acting like the blog by Billy Moreno’s friend is a sworn affidavit. Was he there with a stop watch?
    4) This is pretty unamerican, Saito has not been proven guilty, seems like his allegedly sketchy past is taking precedence in people’s minds.
    5) His “sketchy” past in question happened years ago, he has not been DQ’d since.
    6) For CFB to dump a team member without waiting for the final decision is pretty unloyal.
    7) If his appeal is successful, I fully expect you to apologize and take Saito back.
    8) If not, please get “Chief” up in the mix! But I doubt he’ll join your team now, the Japanese are big on loyalty, and it’s apparent that you value PR over standing up for a teammate.
    9) I doubt Saito cares about the 120 bucks an article he will now be missing out on. He owns a store.
    10) I will no longer be coming to CFB. The lack of loyalty is appalling. Couldn’t even wait for the official decision from Wizards.

  83. Are you allowed to increase your pace of play based on the clock? i.e., if there’s only 5 minutes left in the round, and it looks like you’re going to win the match with enough time, are you allowed to play much faster than you normally would (nevermind how your opponent plays?)

  84. I really doubt that the people at CF would cut ties so quickly unless they knew that it was pretty legit. I have to think that if I were playing with/against a guy a lot, I would tend to pick up on things like that. I don’t think it was a quick decision, and the guys in charge of CF might have known that if he was DQed, it was probably rather serious.

    I doubt that judges just DQ people without having more than sufficient proof. Nobody mentions the judge who gave out the DQ. I would imagine it takes a lot to be a judge, and there is a lot of honor in being a high level judge. I doubt that the level four judge would risk his credentials to DQ someone on a whim.

  85. I had the honor of competing against Brad Nelson in our very own winter 1k this weekend. I can say without a doubt that his wins are the result of hard work. He most definately had one of the best decks in the room and played it with superior skill. There is absolutely no way he “cheated” his way to the player of the year.

  86. I just can’t wrap my mind around this DQ though. The DCI statement itself is very vague and uses language like “appeared” and “seemed” followed by “had no choice but to disqualify him”. This is all very nebulous. A player should not be disqualified without the judges being able to point to recorded infractions of specific rules. If this decision was very carefully made, where are the specific examples of incident in the announcement? Even the idea of “stalling” is pretty vague. I know there are certain rules about time usage but why haven’t these been referenced? Is it too much to ask as a fan of the game and Saito in particular that these things be presented so, at the very least, players can learn from the incident and not accidentally get dq’d for stalling? I mean, as a non-professional player that enjoys high level events, this sort of ruling makes me very nervous. If time usage is going to be this drastically enforced should there not be some measure available by which to gauge the situation and make a decision based on objective facts instead of “well, it seemed like he changed his pace so we DQed him”. I mean, I change my pace all the time based on the difficulty of the situation. Some might argue that Saito shouldn’t have to slow down and think as much as other players because he is so obviously more skilled at the game than most people but even the DCI floor rules forbid exceptions to be made based on the player’s skill level or experience.

    Unless there is an unseen conversation of which we are unaware, I think that dropping Saito from CF so quickly is a rash decision. His articles and insights have been enlightening and it has been refreshing to read somebody with a different style and focus in his writing. One of the things I love about CF is how much the website clearly cares about the welfare of the game and so I can understand the concern about keeping a writer on staff after an incident like this. But I really do think that the circumstances surrounding this DQ are very vague and it’s really not clear to me that any wrong doing occurred. I’ve been in situations where I felt like my opponent was taking a long time and even running down the clock. But I’ve also been in situations where, faced with a difficult, complex or confusing gamestate, I’ve needed to slow down and really think about what is going on. Maybe Saito is one of the best players in the world because of his careful approach to the game. We all know that mtg is very complex. It’s often stated that even the best players make multiple mistakes per turn.

    It’s a difficult issue to be sure, I just hope that a decision like this can be made on hard facts and evidence, rather than vague judgement calls by judges that do not have any specific examples of actual rules infractions.

  87. I know for a fact the chess clock idea is impractical. When i was a kid I used play competetive chess and I recently tried the idea out, every turn the clock is hit roughly 16+ times (upkeep, draw, main, beg com, com, tricks in com, m2, end and response to spells). It is completely impractical and destroys any player focus. As for the stalling issue, its tricky, tbh we all know its done subconsciouly by a lot of players, however for wotc to pick it up and dq him, it would have had to be pretty blatant. I trust the channelfireball team, however am sad to see saito go, even if he plays time unethically, (which im not sure of) he is still an excellent player, and has advice to give.

  88. @rampmage: 99 year bans are for people who assault others, commit massive massive tournament fraud, or steal from WoTC or from players on a large scale. The worst repeat cheaters (i.e. people who committ match fraud, add cards to limited decks, etc;) get is 3, if they offenses are severe enough.

  89. Seriously people, all this snap judgment in the comments is a bit ridiculous. As a matter of fact, LSV’s and Channel Fireball’s snap judgment on the whole matter seems a bit ridiculous too.

    Of course, I do not know the story as well as LSV does I’m sure, but it seems like getting fired for “stalling” at an event is VERY harsh. On top of that, the fact that CF is firing Tomoharu IMMEDIATELY and without getting an official statement from wizards or DCI is implying to the community that he is a bad guy and is getting what he deserves. This is a guy’s reputation, his source of income, his LIFE. All because he “stalled” at an event!? Are you joking?!?!?!

    Stalling is not cheating. Cheating is stacking your deck. Cheating is marking your sleeves. Cheating is keeping extra cards in your pockets. It is having a 30 card sideboard. It is drawing extra cards when your opponent isn’t paying attention. Taking a little extra time in the second game because you won the first is STRATEGY. The same way tricking someone into misplaying is strategy. Stalling deserves a WARNING, not a DISQUALIFICATION.

    Yet none of this surprises me because 90% of judges are well . . . assholes. They want to reprimand as many people as they can as often as they can. Or at least in my experience.

    When ROE was first released my friends and I went to a PTQ. One of my friends was playing burn and cast staggershock. He then placed the staggershock sideways in his graveyard to signal that it would rebound next turn. A judge randomly walked by and noticed this. The judge then disqualified (no game or match loss, DQ’d from the tournament) my friend WITHOUT WARNING for “Cards in illegal zones” or something to that degree. This is the kind of bs that I see judges pull on a consistent basis, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the same kind of injustice that Tomoharu is dealing with.

  90. If the link posted by a reader is an accurate account, having someone repeatedly check the graveyard and sideboard seems rather shady, and having to read and reread Jace seems rather bad, as all people who play FNM know what Jace does.

    It is a rather rough situation, though I think that if the judge makes a decision like that, it was not something trivial that warranted a warning. (There was no mention of warnings for slow play). In reality, most people can tell when someone is flat out stalling, and when someone is thinking harder on a decision.

  91. @Aidenn, if your statement “Taking a little extra time in the second game because you won the first is STRATEGY” is correct, he wouldn’t have been DQed, would he? Because you feel that stalling deserves a warning does not mean that those are the rules. The rules say that stalling is a DQable offense, and rightly so. If you don’t want to deal with the judges, play on the kitchen table

  92. @Aidenn: For all DCI porpuses, stalling IS cheating. The argument that “it is strategy” is too subjective: one could easily say that shuffling in a highly intelligent way that no one thought before, in a manner that no one can notice, that makes you draw a certain hand without you peeking or marking the cards, is strategy and not stacking.

    Any way, I think you are letting rotten apples spoil the bunch. That DQ you described in the ROE PTQ is ridiculous and that judge should lose his license; even so, stalling is still an offense by the rule books.

  93. As a judge, I would like to again point out that there is nothing vague or subjective about the slow play and stalling infractions. They have specific definitions outlined by the IPG, and it is not hard to identify when the infractions should be issued. Furthermore, slow play is not stalling. A judge can issue a slow play warning whenever he feels that someone is over-thinking a play. Stalling is a much more serious offense, and only applies when the player is DELIBERATELY playing slowly.

    Aidenn: I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences with judges. For the record, most judges I know actually DON’T like giving out infractions, but it’s our job. That’s why I like judging Regular REL; I don’t have to punish anyone, just explain things to them. Certainly, if your anecdote is true, that judge isn’t worth his stripes.

    And lastly, please stop saying that stalling is strategy. Your opponent can’t defend himself from stalling in any way. If stalling were not considered cheating, then the entire match would be decided by game 1. This would be a legal scenario: “So, I won game 1, and it’s my turn. 40 minutes left in the match…. I’m not passing priority. Ever.”

  94. I’m concerned about all these people saying ChannelFireball is disloyal.

    ChannelFireball did not jump the gun here. The “official ruling” has already been made. He was cheating, and he was disqualified. Regardless of whether or not he intended to cheat, that was the ruling and it’s not about to be changed.

    The investigation is really more like a police report than a trial by jury. It’s not like they’re going to say, “Oh, I guess you were innocent, let’s take away that DQ and re-do the whole tournament with you still in it…” No, that doesn’t happen. Depending on the results of the investigation, he might get a DCI suspension; other than that, the decisions have already been made.

  95. I didn’t know DCI is like a fascist regime, I guess they don’t have an appeal process. Also Connor, were you there at the tournament?

  96. You durdles, the account on Billy’s blog is from an incident at Columbus. Merfolk isn’t a very popular deck in Scars Limited.

  97. attn people who keep repeating “didn’t wait for an official decision from Wizards.” as some sort of gospel.

    The decision was made already. He was DQ’d from a Grand Prix. The fact that he was DQ’d WAS the decision, this isn’t something that’s going to be overturned and the HJ statement is likely the only information you’ll hear from the judging staff as the DCI Judging staff handles it’s matters in-house.

    Let’s be real for a minute here though. You do not get DQ’d from high-level events unless the judges are sure you are cheating. If anything, you would expect the maximum amount of leeway given considering the awkwardness of a possible future suspension to a HOF inductee.
    The only thing you people will see in the future is if his name ends up on the suspended players list, which unless they suddenly speed up his processing, won’t be for at least a month.

  98. @oh: I was not at the tournament. I have no idea whether or not Saito was deliberately stalling.

    And I never said that the DCI is fascist, or that there isn’t an appeal process. What I meant is that he is never going to be un-DQ’d. In the opinion of an L4 judge (and a number of other judges, according the account), he was stalling.

    Is it possible that the investigation will remove the DQ from his record? Yeah.
    Is it possible that the investigation will result in a DCI suspension? Yup.
    Is it possible that Saito can still play in GP Florence? No.
    Is it possible for the ruling that was made that day to be changed to say that he was not cheating? No.

    So in that sense, ChannelFireball hasn’t been disloyal at all. He was given a cheating infraction, that’s not going to change, and if that’s enough for ChannelFireball to let him go, that makes perfect sense to me.

  99. Brian Weller-Gordon

    What Connor said, it’s not like they’re going to have a computer recorded stopwatch on them to monitor the turns of the player, this and other rulings are at the discretion of the present judge.
    To the person who said stalling is not cheating: Sure, it’s not cheating, but let’s look at it this way: cheating is breaking the rules, stalling is breaking the rules, one way or another, Saito is (probably) deliberately breaking the rules.
    With all of the issues now and always with cheating in this game I think that it is wise for CFB to take a no tolerance policy (though I still think this is only happening due to Saito’s previous infractions) it is important to show the community that the sites that they respect do not accept bad sportsmanship. You may be concerned about how CFB is being unloyal to Saito, but he is being unloyal to the game, they aren’t.

    I don’t get why people are so hung up on him “not being guilty”, honestly, if just to call your wait and see method stupid I’d like to see them not appeal it at all and hold a decision that was made by the original judge in question.
    Let’s think about it in the general law sense even though god knows I’m not a lawyer.
    He got convicted in a district court, floor judge presiding. What about this makes people think innocent until proven guilty applies? He’s been judged. Guilty.
    Now he’s appealing to the Circuit Court panel, but does he suddenly become innocent again just because he’s doing everything in his power to not stain his name more? No. He’s already been kicked out of the tournament, now all he’s doing is hoping that the judges will for no reason at all, ignore the ruling of the previous judge just because he gives them some wimpy story about “not thinking that I was stalling”.
    Sounds pretty unconvincing to me

  100. apparently you get DQ’d from GP’s because your “play speed SEEMED to change” and you “APPEARED to change his play speed”

  101. Too bad about Saito. His content was some of the best on this site. He’s obviously cheating and should be penalized for this and hopefully he adjusts his play in the future. Still, I would like to continue to read his content regardless…

  102. so if I get arrested by a level four cop, my family should disown me because…”well he got arrested, he MUST have been in the wrong!”

  103. @oh: We’re not talking about family here, we’re talking about employment.

    If you were arrested for torturing animals, you would get fired from your job writing articles for PETA (even before your trial… PETA doesn’t want THAT kind of publicity, and ChannelFireball doesn’t want THIS kind).

    And I agree with you that Nick Sephton’s commentary makes him sound unsure of himself, but some people talk that way. The fact that he issued the infraction should tell you that he was confident enough.

  104. Everything is a matter of perception. The judges only have their senses to rely on. Saito knows this. It seems amateurish to me that a player of his format to ignores that fact. Regarding his content I much prefer LSV, PV, Wrap, Ocho and Brad (And that judge that writes from time to time (not ricki)), so I don’t see a great loss there.

    I also don’t like the fact that he says he had honest intentions. Just don’t get into it. He probably wanted to win. A lot. Getting caught is always regretable, so express that instead.

  105. Would it be possible to get Tomoharu’s original letter (in Japanese) posted up ? I assume if there is no issue posting a translation, then posting the original would be fine ?

    I ask because I have enjoyed reading his articles, and respect his strategic insights and so am curious on the exact Japanese “wording” of his letter. Yes, I read/write Japanese fluently, so it is only for my own benefit.

  106. First of all, I think that the spirit of what CFB did was right, although the execution was a little to Hap-Hazard. What should have happened (and what DOES happen on a lot of other professional teams) is that Saito should have been “suspended” from writing articles and playing under the CFB logo until the official call was made. That way he could be let go if the ruling stuck, or reinstate if it fell.

    Now onto the actual violation. I’ve read the blog, as well as the official Wizards coverage, and it sounds to me like he was being thorough and it was mistaken for cheating. It’s obvious to US that it was needless, but not to him and his opponent. He was just trying to make ABSOLUTELY SURE he wasn’t missing anything, as legacy is rampant with tricks and such.

    This also reminds me of PT Honolulu 2005 (the PT with the best top-deck of all time).
    Max Bracht was playing Oli and was called for time violations repeatedly, and he was losing. He had just forgotten what he had left on the top of the deck with top and was playing criminally slow. Maybe it was the difference between a GP and a PT Top Eight.

    Alot of people get DQ’d without realizing they’re cheating. I myself was DQ’d early in my tournament career for “Pile Shufflng”(that wierd thing Flores mistakenly taught a bunch of players how to do) without even knowing that I was. I just like things the mathmatically hamonize. The Judge stopped the match before the third match when he saw me doing it again and told me I was DQ’d and what the reason was and gave me a chance to refute it. I simply asked “What’s Pile Shuffling?” The judge and Head Judge conferred and then the head judge took me to a table off in a corner and showed me what I was doing. I insisted that I didn’t know it and got the DQ reneged, then immediately dropped because I was, even ignorantly, giving myself an unfair adventage.

    I really hope CFB thought this through the whole way, as this sets a precedent. If in the future one of the other people on the sight gets a DQ call on them and isn’t immediately fired then they’rd be in for a S**t storm.

  107. “Who cares what my name is” summed up my thoughts on this quite nicely

    Saito’s a great guy and you don’t top 8 5 pro tours purely by stalling, but it upsets me to admit that the correct DQ was almost 100% made here. What annoys me though is the double standards being shown. Saito already had a “reputation” when you employed him, and there’s no real discussion to be had regarding O.ruel’s shady past, but you still employed him. At what point do you draw the line on somebody being “too cheaty” for the site? Saito’s articles are greatly popular and whether he’s been dq’d or not won’t detract from their enjoyment.

    I also think it’s ridiculous to do this as a way of retaining “professionalism” or whatnot. At the end of a day magic is, for most, a hobby, nothing more. If people are reading a website for articles about their hobby then do they really care whether the site has great PR or not? so one of the writers is known as a bit cheaty, doesn’t mean people will now refuse to read the site because it’s too unprofessional?

    basically, I don’t care that you dropped saito because your reasons are sound, but it does bother me that you a) employed him in the first place (with this reasons considered) and b) employed and continue to employ olivier. If brad nelson (or anyone else) got DQ’d because they offered a prize split the day after it was made illegal and they hadn’t heard the new rules would they get dropped? or even for being falsely accused (or even cheating!) or do you need a shady past for that to be the case? (in which case why employ saito in the first case – circular logic)

  108. kinkuma – That’s a good idea. I’ve included a link at the bottom of the announcement to the Japanese version of his statement.

  109. Oh and I also just remembered you had a nats report by Mori who is now at the point where people have got bored of accusing him of cheating because it’s so obvious he does

  110. He should have been DQ’ed in Columbus already. That Columbus game was streamed on GGs Live and it was hilarious to watch Saitou re-read Jace 2.0 a hundred times.It was just a matter of time he’d be caught again. It’s just his spirit.
    I hope Wizards reconsider their Hall of Fame inductees, or set up a new Hall of Shame.

  111. Well if the situation in Billy’s blog was depicted accurately, the DQ is more than justified and so is CF stance. A player of this calibre really needs to be more careful.

    Also I think deliberate stalling is a pretty harmfull offense. I always play control/slow decks and I attended around 5 constructed GPs with a deck of that kind. As you are all aware time is a very big concern on GP and there are many draws because of 50 minutes rounds. There were a couple of times where my agressive opponent could easily achieve to manipulate the clock so that he has time to win the third, but not enough time to loose it.

    I always called a judge when in doubt to get him watch the game and even if I was sometimes berated for bad etiquette, i know I did the right thing. It really sucks to get timed out when you now you are playing fast enough (I never get timed out on MODO if some kind of lag isn’t involved and played there with decks like wake, teachings, mono U, UW sacred mesa control (that was hard on MODO)).

    I hope Saito will use this opportunity for personal growth and that the story will persuade some players to not act this way.

    P.S. just a quick disclaimer: The biggest majority of my opponents in tournaments, was fair and I didn’t want to sound like I’m accusing everyone. Most of them always made sure we try to finish the games before clock.

  112. tl;dr on thread. But Olivier Ruel was DQ:ed from a GP as well and was suspended for six months (not directly related to the DQ) iirc. Katsuhiro Mori also accumulated enough warnings to warrant a six month suspension. Those people are still on the site, no? Olivier Ruel is in the Hall of Fame, so is Bob Maher who also was suspended from the DCI for a period. I don’t know what’s so special about Saito and I think he’s a great player, I think it’s the wrong move to drop him from the site.

  113. Wizard didn’t want another Japanese POY.
    Wizard wanted to make sure an american player would be POY this year.

    This explain such an arbitrary decision not taken in Columbus.

    Mori cheats more but nothing is done to him (since he is not winning enough).

    just my 2 cents…

  114. MTGO system is far from optimal.

    I got a loss in an 8-4 when game 2 took so long that I eventually got killed by decking with my opponent on 2 life.

    We had very little time left for game 3 and I lost to the clock with my opponent sitting at around one minute on the clock, no board, dead on the next attack and surviving only becuase he activated trigon of mending twice to stay alive. The guy even admited that he sideboarded in two trigons as part of his strategy since his deck was very slow, and I had less time left then he did so his best chance of winning was that I´d run out of time.

    That´s pretty much worse then stalling in my book and still it´s a perfect valid tactic on MTGO even though in my eyes it´s very unsportsmanlike and bordeline cheating to do so.

  115. Way to kick a guy while he’s down.

    The ruling seems pretty sketchy. How do you DQ someone so early in the tournament for something so subjective? I am guessing that Saito probably didn’t get a warning or game loss before this, since none was mentioned. Given Saito’s history of playing slowly, I think he needed a punishment to show him that there are consequences for playing slowly, but a game loss would have been a better start. Anyone could slip into playing slowly if he/she is not mindful of it. Since I have never heard of Saito even getting a game loss for slow play, he really had never been given a reason to be mindful of it.

  116. with regards to Oli ruel, i’d like to make an annology to starcraft. first lets begin with the oli situation.

    Oli has, admittedly, gained unfair advantages over his career leading up to his DQ in 2006. however, past that, i understand that he has played a fair and honest game.

    How does this relate to the starcraft community?

    Testie, a canadian player, was a top player in starcraft for a long time (this is pre 2004 from what i remember). However, he was a hacker. Yes, he cheated in competitive play. this is a great sin in any niche competitive community (starcraft, warcraft, magic). However, what Testie did was prove that he was a top level (albeit forgein) starcraft player by putting up impressive results as a completely legit player.

    How does this relate to magic?

    Well, Oli has proved that he can play completely legitly as a competitive magic player. On the other hand, we have players like saito (who manipulates time in a completely abusive manner, gaining an unfair advantage.) and, much to my chagrin, the completely absuvive cheat Katsuhiro Mori, remain unrepentant. they have made no efforts to change their cheating style and to play a clean game, they continue to abuse and manipulate for their own gain. Both are talented players, and both are capable of reaching the pinnancle of the game (much like Matteo Orsini Jones mentioned) without the 1337 haXX0rs, however, they do not change and prove themselves legitimate like Testie and Oli Ruel.

    This is the major problem. Everybody should be willing to give a second chance, which in the case of Oli and Testie, has proven to be a worthwhile venture. the problem lies when the cheats, Saito and Katsu, remain unrepentant and continue to play the game with the intention of cheating. this is what is unforgivable.

    So, please think before you righteously denounce the website for employing now clean writers such as Olivier Ruel, as a defence for the true cheaters in the game.

  117. @MB

    you just scoop g2 there… if you do that irl you’ll still get blown

    @CFB & Oli haters

    Olivier it’s one of the greatest, he’s been dqed some time ago but even the DCI allows him to continue playing and considering all that he was still named hall of famer.
    We’ll see what happens with Saito’s hall of fame position now… the problem at hand is what people were considering a “shady past” could be actually just an unavoidable shady person, past, present and future. Who will just fall to temptation over and over. And even if CFB knows that’s not the case because they been there or they trust Saito, there’s no way the readers will get over that impression / doubt.
    Anyway, I didn’t personally like Saito’s articles. I didn’t think they added anything to the site, besides the japanese condiment.

  118. Hi,
    I understand your position, but I think Saito can continue on. Everybody can make a mistake. And was the first time. Please, just wait until the official position from DCI and give him a chance to do different.
    I understand the professional level that you guys mantenned your site/time, but even in sports the first time a atlet is dopping, It only received a suspension.

  119. I’m going to write this in caps because, well, in 141+ comments I want Eric Levine to read this…

    @ERIC LEVINE:

    W E T O L D Y O U S O. <——————————————————–

    So many times when you would post about T Saito about this magic luminary, many of us would reply with "Well, if you need to read a Jace TMS to stall, how legit can his wins be?" and you would all like "OMG stop accusing him, steer the discussing away from this blah blah blah".

    Once a cheater, always a cheater…

    Now if they could just catch and ban the rest of the old school cheats… Willy Edel, Gerard Fabiano, the rest of your cheating teammates… watch out!! DCI is finally cracking down!

  120. RT Gatsu:
    Wizard didn’t want another Japanese POY.
    Wizard wanted to make sure an american player would be POY this year.

    hmm.

    Honestly though, regarding the Jace, the Mindsculptor reading, who doesn’t reread cards when they get nervous/uncomfortable with the state of the game. It’s both a way to clear thinking space in your mind and increase your awareness of how to deal with the board state. This is completely different from stalling, but again it all depends on the context of the overall situation in Florence [which is unsurprisingly not detailed in any coverage]. If multiple witnesses and a judge are able to recount exact details on how Saito was stalling [board state involved], then it’s a fair DQ. If a majority of their decision was based on historical inferences and biases, then it was possibly an unfair DQ. Unfortunately it’s not likely any of these details will be released by the DCI.

    It will be interesting to see what the backlash will be for MTG in Japan if this escalates any further. Saito seems to be a very strong and influential figure in the japanese MTG community, and I don’t believe CFB should have parted ways with Saito with such haste. Unless CFB has more information regarding the situation than we do, it appears somewhat irrational and destructive to such a well integrated and community-led team. It’s not about publishing his articles, and whether CFB readers like them or not, but it’s about trusting and believing in a teammate, which CFB seems to have totally buried, in order to uphold “integrity”.

    Anyhow, I don’t mean this to sound too contentious, but team CFB may need to rethink their stance on what it means to be a ‘team’ after this incident.

  121. Why they made this decision so quickly ?

    Use your brain:

    They obv already kinda knew/ had an idea of saitso behaviour..

    right decision

  122. bon etc: How do you know Oli has “proved that he can play completely legitly as a competitive magic player”? Cause he didnt get caught at event x? Im not saying he cheats now, maybe he does maybe he doesnt but to say that you know for a fact that he doesnt is just ridiculous.

  123. Honestly, I am not too surprised on his disqualification. I’ve seen him enough at events to know what kind of player he is. What I was surprised about was the speed at which he was ejected from CF. I mean at the very least, should you (CF) not let Wizards finish their inquest first before coming to a decision? By disowning him immediately, it gave a sense of how ruthless CF is in my opinion.

    An alternative might be an announcement from CF suspending him from writing on the site until Wizards came up with their decision? Not only he might be proven not guilty (extremely unlikely), but it will send a better message to both writers and readers alike.

    Though having said all that, I fully respect the decision. So who is replacing him then?

  124. It’s sad how most people posting in this topic have absolutely no idea about anything yet they keep trying to sound like they do

  125. “He should have been DQ’ed in Columbus already. That Columbus game was streamed on GGs Live and it was hilarious to watch Saitou re-read Jace 2.0 a hundred times.It was just a matter of time he’d be caught again. It’s just his spirit.”

    This is a blatant lie. The Columbus game in question was against Jason Ford, and it was not a feature match.

  126. Could we please get a statement from CFB why they didn’t even wait for the outcome of the appeal?? You guys might’ve as well waited till then or at least post something like: “We temporarily freeze our connections to Saito till the DCI made a final ruling.”

    Or did you guys observe something similar on other accounts and are glad for the opportunity to get rid of him? Don’t get me wrong here, as I love this page. I’m, however just trying to figure this hole thing out.

  127. sorry for posting twice but something else just came to my mind:

    maybe it would have been a more intelligent move by Saito to post a more detailed account of what happened from his perspective. Basically we do not anything else than this small piece of coverage we have.

  128. I totally agree with Pile.

    I understand this must be a EXTREMELY sensitive time for the CFB team, but this announcement is dividing and alienating their readership, their members and ultimately, their community.

    I’m sure a more detailed statement of how the CFB TEAM made their decision to simply let go of Saito would be more than welcomed by their readership. It would also provide us with some basis as to discuss the overall outcome of this decision, as well as give us more account of how CFB is feeling on this matter [more transparent, more integrity].

  129. Chess clocks are never ever going to work in real life. The defence against slow play/stalling is more or less the same as the defence against most other cheaty bits and pieces – vigilance.

    If you sit down against an opponent who is playing slowly in game one, then it does no harm to mention it to them early on in the match that the pace of their play is not going to make finishing games tough. I do this all the time, not to rattle anyone, but just to ensure that we don’t get mired in the draw bracket without good reason. Calling judges on slow play is really tough if you leave it to the end of the round, because there isn’t much you can do about it.

    Stalling, which is different to slow play, is something that is much harder to police. I’d say that it is probably the hardest thing for judges to judge on. The way that I deal with my opponent maybe stalling (changing the pace of their play to try to engineer a draw/win) is again to call a judge, and fairly baldly state that they need to watch the pace of the game, which seems to have slowed down. I’ve seen players just sort of giving judges looks, hoping to telepathically convey this sentiment, or draw out warnings. While this is more likely to get their opponents warnings or worse, it is a hit and miss affair. At least by calling a judge, they will know to watch out, your opponent will know not to play as slowly and you maximise the chances of the game finishing. Do opponents get ticked off when you do this? Yes, normally they do, but you don’t really have any good option besides. Judges are also not all made equal at issuing these penalties. This isn’t really a slight on judges, but in this subjective area, there are certainly some who are very hesitant to apply slow play rulings.

    Did Saito stall? I wasn’t there. I’ve certainly seen him play slowly, but as we have already established, this is not quite the same thing.

  130. Due to not being as smart as most other magic players (damn!), I tend to have to think a lot longer about my plays to make sure they’re correct. Unfortunately, this quandary affects me both at 50:00 on the clock and at 2:00 on the clock. I’m not saying Tomoharu’s actions weren’t underhanded, but I will say that I feel his pain if they weren’t. Slow play calls are my perpetual enemy and I empathize with others who suffer the same fate.

  131. @Zaiem Beg

    his original Japanese text ended with phrase like “below is the same text what I sent to DCI”
    SO where is the text same as the report?

    I just doubt you guys or Saito miss some part of the article.

  132. it is what it is. I do want to know though, was he issued a warning? He had to be right? Or, do judges just go around DQ’ong ppl for the heck of it? sighs***

  133. Honestly… I always found it a little strange that in these 1000 person tournaments the same familiar names keep making top 8. Yeah top pros are better than the rest of us but there’s so much RNG in magic that it shouldn’t be possible to win that consistently. So I’m glad to see wizards is starting to crack down on cheating.

  134. It is a pity that the heart warming content of Saito’s articles won’t be posted here anymore.
    Stalling is fairly subjective, since it depends heavily on interpretations that may be one-sided.
    I hope this situation gets sorted out as fairly as possible.

  135. You don’t get warnings for stalling, you get disqualification.

    Contrary to what many of you may believe, stalling is not an escalation of slowplaying, but rather a completely different thing. That’s why you don’t get warnings or verbal cautions for stalling, if you’re doing it, then you’re doing it.

    That’s regarding what judges might have done there. Other than that, I see how the CFB writers here are mostly refraining from making an opinion, which is probably for the purpose of “politically correctness”, but it’s probably the opinion we’re all looking for right now.

    There’s 3 arguments who matter. Your argument which will form your personal opinion on Saito, cheating and the whole matter. The argument on CFB decission, which probably has less to do on what they believe but rather on what people will believe. And the DCI argument, which will determine if Saito will be banned or not and if it’ll be eligible for the Hall of Fame.

    The second argument is probably done with this announcement, we can give some feedback, but it’s probably about percentages or image in general so it won’t matter, at least for this decission.
    The third argument is probably one in which we have no way to participate.
    So just focusing on the first one… if you have your mind set on something then it’s useless to come here and flame that all pro cheat (which I strongly think and hope is untrue), it won’t help you and you won’t convince people with your comment.

  136. And why should a dq consist of saito not writing for this site??
    His articles were extremely helpful!!!
    Bring him back, cheating is in the game..in all games!!

  137. When Saito was banned for bribery, he claimed ignorance of the rules. This was believable, perhaps. He has since written at least one article explaining how it is important to both understand and play by the floor rules. If, as it sounds, Saito is claiming that he did not understand what would constitute stalling, this is blatantly inexcusable.

    Intention is a hard thing to measure. Based on the coverage and the comments of the head judge, it sounds like DQ was based on an accumulation of warnings combined with evidence given by several witnesses. The DCI does not operate on a burden of proof model like the US justice system. The warnings to not prove that he cheated, but serve a different purpose. They show that he was made aware, on several occasions, of the rules, and was made aware that further incidents of a similar nature could lead to more serious penalty.

    Ignorance is easy to claim, and popularity can be garnered. Neither can be allowed as an excuse to break the rules. An accumulation of warnings followed by a DQ, for someone who has already been suspended, warrants serious consideration for a subsequent and longer suspension, Hall of Fame or not. The DCI should investigate and review the evidence, of course, but I would call on them to take significant action if they find that it holds up. There are some players who will eke out whatever advantage they can, regardless of rules or ethical considerations. I don’t want to compete against these players.

    So unless the DCI overturns the ruling and clears Saito of all wrongdoing, I applaud and support the position of LSV and Channel Fireball in breaking off ties.

    I also fully support the use of chess clocks in every aspect of life, including forum posts. If only we had a clock that measures relevancy…

  138. If anybody else would have stalled they would’ve let it go, but considering his past I totally understand and appreciate why they would part ways with him. This is his third offense!

    Good move CFB.

  139. Is it not hypocritical of you to get rid of Saito, while you have Oliver Ruel on your writing staff who was DQed and later banned a few years ago? I will miss Saito’s musing on Magic. I’m all for second chances!

  140. Wow…

    There are a few dozen trolls here with 0 pro tour experience, 0 matches with or against Saito, have never MET Saito, and have no concept of competitive magic. I agree ENTIRELY with the things said by both PV and SiegeX.

    I could literally write a ten page article on this topic and responding to specific comments in this article but I want to keep it short, as non rant like as possible, and civil.

    CHESS CLOCKS- Will never happen, nor should it. You’d have to literally click it after every phase, and there are many situations such as playing a combo deck, counter wars, control on control mirrors, upkeep triggers, etc etc where it would be obnoxious, time consuming in itself, and entirely impractical. This is not a realistic solution.

    “IN FOOTBALL”… “IN CASUAL MAGIC” etc etc- ENTIRELY irrelevant. Competitive GP and PT level Magic is not football, it is not casual magic, and it is not any other game or sport. Football has rules and you and your friends have rules. Competitive Magic also has rules and it is stated EXTREMELY CLEARLY within these rules that intentionally playing slowly or attempting to abuse to clock is CHEATING. Staying with the horrendous football example that someone mentioned above, in Football not only is there no rule written anywhere against this but it is one of the most common, practical, and ENTIRELY ACCEPTED strategies and a fundamental part of each and every game. Clock management is something teams practice week in and week out and coaches try to abuse and it is entirely legal. This has nothing whatsoever to do with magic and this argument is ignorant and entirely invalid.

    “SAITO GIVES ME _______ IMPRESSION”/”SAITO SEEMS LIKE A ______ TYPE OF GUY”- Have you met him? Have you tested with him or played with or against him? Do you know anything about him besides reading his articles and looking at his Magic resume? For 99% of you on these forums the answer is no and you should stop talking immediately. If you are going to make a judgment based on what kind of player he is, or worse, what kind of PERSON he is based on his articles you are a fool.

    “THIS DQ WAS BS/THIS DQ WAS CORRECT”- Were you there? A disqualification, especially for something subjective such as stalling, is entirely at the judges discretion. They were there to observe the incident first hand and you weren’t and they are trained and experienced with watching for this type of thing and you aren’t. Not AT ALL saying judges don’t make mistakes, but they are MUCH more informed and in a much better position to make a judgment call on this particular matter than you are.

    An important note that I wish I had the option to bold and underline- SLOW PLAY AND STALLING ARE NOT THE SAME THING. Slow play is exactly what it sounds like- playing the game slowly. Stalling as defined in the comprehensive rules is INTENTIONALLY playing slowly to abuse the clock or gain an advantage and is defined within these rules as cheating.

    My two cents… I was not in attendance for this particular GP and have absolutely no idea what transpired and if Saito was stalling or not. What I do know is this- 1. Saito has a known reputation among those in the loop for this type of behavior before. 2. What SiegeX posted is COMPLETELY AND ENTIRELY TRUE and I agree with every word of it. In my opinion, which of course is nothing more than my opinion and only Saito knows the truth, Saito was absolutely stalling and intentionally cheating in this matter and deserved a DQ and similar situations have come up repeatedly with him. 3. From drafting both with and against him in “pride drafts”, Saito is not at all an especially slow or deliberate player and plays entirely differently in tournaments than he does in side drafts and such.

    As for CBF dropping Saito from the team… It is what it is. It is the safest decision for their own reputations and integrity is extremely important in Magic. Once you are labeled a cheater and your credit is lost it is very very hard to get it back. There is a reason none of the CFB members have ever been banned from the DCI or DQed from major events… This decision at the end of the day belongs to Luis and Luis is one of the most honest, trustworthy, non scumbaggy guys in the world. If I drafted against Luis and he had 3 Hoard Smelter Dragons in his deck I wouldn’t for one moment believe that anything fishy was going on. He opened them or got passed them, period. Luis has integrity and regardless of whether I personally like or agree with this decision I do entirely support it.

    If you actually read this novel make of it whatever you please. My only request out of all of this is that people who are not intimately familiar with professional level Magic, have detailed knowledge of the rules at the pro level, or have personal experiences with Saito simply stop commenting. As PV said you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

  141. It’s a tough call. Sorry to see the author go, but happy to see that you chaps want to stick to a sqeaky-clean image.

    Props to the judges in Florence for making a tough call. It’s never a simple decision to DQ someone.

  142. Saito appears to maybe the most polarizing and controversial figure in Magic. It’s a little like Kobe back in 2004, That saying he is one of the top magic players of all time and I don’t think that can be denied. His resume is outstanding but maybe he wants to win so much he will try and bend the rules as much as he can. Hopefully this won’t reflect poorly on the Japanese Magic community as they are some of the most honest guys on tour. That saying I will miss Saito from the site but I can’t say I blame CFB from making this choice.

  143. This is to the people who question honesty from a cheater, and an alleged cheater as it stands right now. He is honest because he admitted that looking back on it, it could have seemed like stalling.But at the time he didn’t think what he was doing was wrong. Hence why they have different charges in real life as well 1st degree murder is the planning and execution of murder where 2nd degree is murder without the planning. Now another point I can bring up is that most of us do not play Magic as a lifestyle, we don’t get paid to play nor do we play so that we can earn money to live. Now let me ask all of you people and let’s see how honest most of you are.

    If you were in one of these tournaments and in your head you knew you were down in a game and also knew there was 3 minutes left for your time. Now if you lose you get 1 thousand dollars if you win you are guaranteed at least 5 thousand dollars. Would nerves kick in and you start looking at cards more carefully or planning your turns in your head more appropriately. Of course most of us would because the reward is far greater especially when that reward is what pays your bills.

    Stalling is a hard thing to call and who knows he might have been stalling or he might have been weighing his options a lot more carefully because there was a lot more on the line. I know for one even if I had Frost titan in my deck and played with it all the time, if my opponent dropped it I would be reading it a lot just to make sure I have all the wording and everything ingrained in my mind. When there is nothing at stake throwing down cards can be easy but when there is money involved the mind can easily slip up and we can make wrong decisions in a heartbeat.

    So I say this ChannelFireball probably did the right thing to cut ties before the actual verdict was cast because they have an image to uphold. Us as viewers, readers and casual players should wait until the outcome before we say he’s a cheater.

  144. @ryan spring I understand the argument that its unfair to judge him unless you’ve played him however if there have been numerous confirmable complaints from multiple folks about the same player doing the same thing I highly doubt its a massive conspiracy against Saito – he’s obviously either really slow, or he’s trying to stall – which he’s admitted to. Seems the only real call here is whether ban or dq were justified. According to the rules dq was the prescribed punishment for the offense, and lsv can make whatever call he wants as he’s the boss.

  145. So when I was on the pro-tour I played versus another CFB writer…and boy did he stall when I was on the way to beating him Game 3 to make Top 16. Lets be honest…”pro” players = finding ways to win unwinnable games. DK ended up getting a judge called on him, and he was clearly stalling, but he had enough options to ‘justify’ taking 10 minutes to play his turn (which involved casting one spell) and we ended up drawing in the match.

    When they know that if you play correctly that you will certainly win then they try to figure out a way to get you to not play correctly. Whether that involves outright cheating, such as what was described by observers accounts of the match that got Saito DQ’ed, or just sitting there playing with their cards so that you forget what your game plan is…they will almost certainly try to get you to misplay.

    So, like it or not, its what you will get a full taste of if you get to the pro-tour.

    Honestly what I would like to see is judges with video cameras with timers. That way you can video tape exactly how long someone is taking counting graveyards, shuffling, etc. and not speculate on whether the judge ‘didn’t want another japanese poy’ or other such nonsense.

  146. Im confused, isnt this the same saito who would go so far as to remind his opponents to pay for pact triggers?

  147. First the people watching give the judge information on weather or not someone is slow play. That doesn’t seem like a fair thing to many factor can go wrong. 1. what if they have a different view of slow play. 2. what if they are friends with the other play or hold a grudge at the other player. We really need to get a better system for slow play because this is stupid really.
    I’m not claiming i know anything because the PRO player are good. But doesn’t everyone cheat? If you say no your probably lied. Bending the wording of cards to other players who don’t understand it is cheating. list of some people that have admitted it Patrick Chanpin and Cedric. That doesn’t give you and advantage? Every Pro plays hour on end every day to get better and stuff which makes them PRO. But to act like no PRO has ever bent the rules or cheat is really far fetched. Look everyone does it move along in life Saito said Sry to his fan and didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. I believe him and i stand by him for that because he learned from past mistakes.I have made mistake I have taken Cards when i was a kid and learned from it. You learn from it and move on. You really think Saito was trying to bend the rules? Just leave it be He only knows that for real. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But I’m going to stand by him because i have been where he has been. He told you what he believes to be the truth at this time respected him for that because most pro players wouldn’t.

    PV says: November 29, 2010 @ 5:32 am

    It’s sad how most people posting in this topic have absolutely no idea about anything yet they keep trying to sound like they do

    I don’t really think its that PV i think its the fact you cut a better writer for slow play. and everyone is pretty pissed about it. It’s sad how you let someone go over slow play.

    I am not trying to offend anyone by posting this just my feelings on the matter

  148. I am not going to comment on Saito specifically.

    I will say a big “well played” to ChannelFireball.com for showing a zero tolerance for cheating. Their policy is important, for all the reasons they stated.

    Yet one more reason this is my favorite Magic website (aside from those I write for, of course.)

    PRJ

  149. @Zamiel – I’m not sure that your logic holds on this. Please note that in all that follows I am not commenting on Saito’s moral character – simply pointing out an alternate view.

    Saito says that he can see that what he has done could be seen as stalling, but that he didn’t feel that he was stalling. This has no bearing on his honesty. He could be lying about his motives. Given that he was DQ’d it seems silly that he would argue the fact that he was playing slowly, much safer to argue on his motives, where there is some grey area to work with.

    When it comes to stalling, often games do not come down to winning or losing; manipulating the clock will typically be about engineering a draw rather than a loss, or a win rather than a draw. In a close game it is reasonable to think hard about your plays. However it is not reasonable to adjust the pace of your play in order that the outcome of a game is determined by the clock. It’s not dishonest to think hard. It is dishonest to manipulate game materials (in this case the clock) to alter the score of a match.

  150. @Ryan Spring +1. You’ve really hit the nail on the head.

    For the people who are complaining about “seemed” and “appeared” in the official DCI statement, those are regarding suppositions about what is going on in Saito’s head. Everything they saw is described with “observed.” Everything that they’re arriving at by applying their observations and reason is couched more subjectively. Unless you expect judges to be telepathic, this is a mark of well-executed reasoning.

    At a GP, it doesn’t take multiple rounds of stalling to get you a DQ. One round where you attempt to cheat another player out of a win is plenty if it is clear enough. Even if you don’t know it is against the rules, it is still cheating and still DQ-worthy at Competitive REL.

  151. To the morons who are comparing stalling in magic to stalling in stick and ball sports-

    There a rules preventing stalling in basketball and football. Its called a shot clock and the play clock. When you violate those rules you get penalized and then they stop the clock for you so you cannot abuse it or else the first team to score would always win.

  152. I think it’s correct of CF to drop Saito. Regardless of whether he was DQ’d correctly or not, many doubt his integrity. I haven’t met the guy and am not passing judgement, but i’ve heard people complain that his Hall of Fame-inducted career was launched by cheating. If this is true, I’m glad he got caught again. If not, then hopefully he goes on with his life. Regardless, dropping him is the right call

    That said, maybe remove the CF icon from next to his name on the POY standings?

  153. First, I don’t know why people are discussing if he is guilty or, not, if he got DQed is because he cheated, what the DCI is going to do now is not deciding if he cheated or not, but how big he cheated.

    Second, judges don’t take a dicision like this lightly (usually), and specially in this case. Is hard for a judge to DQ a player for stalling, because you can’t be 100% sure about ir, and the pressure is even bigger when the player is a pro, so he’s been DQed after alot of “incidents” where the judges where “unsure”. What I mean is, any amateur player in Saito’s place would have been DQed like 4 or 5 times already…

    Of course ChF has to fire him, he lost his credibility for cheating, and a person witheout credibility has no place here.

    I’m not even arguing if stalling is cheating or not, because that would be stupid.

  154. Interesting, at GP Toronto Saito was also accused of cheating (flipping the counter on a tumble magnet ‘accidentally’)…no punishment, but just thought I’d mention it.

  155. I read Saito’s DCI report on his own website (I think Brian David Marshall linked to it through Twitter). He said that up to just before time being called, the board was at a total stalemate, with nothing to do on either side so they were basically playing draw-go. Then, as the end of the round drew nearer, the opponent made an all-out alpha strike. Saito’s defence is that naturally he slowed his play in order to make the correct blocks, and that this seemed a particularly drastic change compared to the speed of play prior to the alpha strike.

  156. Hard call, Luis and CFB Staff. Right or wrong (and its definitely right from a business and branding perspective), it’s impressive that you had the courage to do it.

  157. I completely disagree with his dismissal from this website and of the general perception of him as a “cheater.” There is an enormous disparity in the nature of his offenses versus someone like Mike Long. The difference between having cards in your lap or stacking your deck is light years away from something like trying to stretch a competitive advantage by carefully using the clock.

    Saito has had DQs for mistranslations, misinterpretations about what one can and can’t do to warrant collusion and now, for “stalling.” He has received warnings for slow play, but the infinite calculations he does is part of what makes him such a great player. Sometimes, sure, it takes too long, but that certainly doesn’t label him a cheater in my mind. Not even close.

  158. …Waiting for the other, much larger, Brad Nelson sized shoe to drop…

    @CFB quite the precedent has been established here. good on ya

    Did we not hear rumblings of something like this in nashville as well? Saito seemd pretty pensive stumbling through opreyland after the CFB dinner. Pretty wasted too. This was right about the time he told us passersby how drinking was dishonorable to himself and his family…

  159. Having read Saito’s blog about this issue where he is more specific about what happened, I would like to offer up some more details on the event as reported by Saito himself.

    Basically Saito and his opponent had a stalemated board with his opponent’s ten creatures to Saito’s five (or six?). There has been no attacking for several turns and suddenly with a few minutes left on the clock his opponent topdecks removal to take out one of Saito’s guys, and then swings in with the entire team.

    This is where I believe Saito was observed to slow his play as he was trying to figure out blocks. Once the turn was over the board state was much clearer and Saito’s pace quickened again.

    The judges picked up on Saito’s double change of pace, but they do not seem to have believed (or understood?) Saito’s explanation.

    His blog posts are very heartfelt and I do honestly believe that he really did think he was playing fair. It is unfortunate that Saito’s entire blog post wasn’t translated for international readers, because it puts the entire situation in a very different perspective.

    As far as the decision by CFB, it’s completely up to them really. I will say though, that I doubt very much that the same would have happened if the “perpetrator” had been one of the actual CFB team members. (That test and brew together before upcoming events.)

  160. Anyone can do infinite calculations, what makes you a pro is doing it in the right amount of time.

    Playing in an appropriate pace is a MUST, making the right play is OPTIONAL. If you need too much time to make your decisions, think faster, test more, choose a simplier deck or just take the risk of not doing the right play.

  161. I quit playing paper about 5 years ago because of cheating. MOST players I know down here that play paper cheat. It is a cheating game. I love playing online and I’ll go play paper with my son when he is in town because he likes to do so, but for myself I got tired of people drawing extra cards, stalling, using cards not drafted or opened in sealed (which in most small events this is pretty easy because of lack of store preperation), stacking decks, etc. Not only does it not surprise me that this has happened, but I’m sure it happens much more than we hear. I already assume that most pros are just good cheaters in one way or another. Not to say they have to cheat to win or be good. They are great players. But with all that money on the line and chances to play in more tourneys for more money I would shocked if their wasn’t a lot of cheating going on. Some players just get away with it because they are better at it.

  162. Well I will certainly spend less time on this site if he’s not writing for you guys anymore.
    I’m not saying you did the wrong thing. I’m just pointing the consequences as far as I’m concerned.

  163. I don’t really understand how stalling is still an issue in high-level Magic. Slow play? Of course your pace is going to change when you’re losing as opposed to winning, you have more decisions to make. You have to make sure every move is the right one compared to everything else you can do. If you’re beating down and your opponent has no cards in hand, you can swing without consideration. But, if you’re down a game and down on life, the difference between making an attack that might lose creatures but would threaten lethal versus only attacking with creatures that might go unblocked is one you wouldn’t take lightly.

    Maybe it’s because I’m used to MODO, but I feel like Magic should adopt play clocks, like in chess. Each player has 25-30 minutes on the clock, and if they run out, they lose. Every time you pass priority, you hit the clock and your opponent’s time starts. That way, stalling would never be an issue. Sure, it might bring up some other issues, but when this much is on the line at these events, surely there is some non-subjective way to fix it.

  164. Seems everyone is a better player, more honest and a lot more deserving of the HOF slot than Mr. Saito. Like I’ve said before, I’m sure a lot of people are not scrubs that play awful decks in awful ways that don’t earn their much deserved glory because the tricksy pros are always plotting a new cheat against their immaculate intentions.

    For what I’ve seen from these cases before, they’re not quite focused on what happened on that particular event, but they come from a long string of rumors, observation and investigation. I think in this case he had accumulated one too many close calls for stalling across many tournaments, so when many witnesses and a judge came with yet another one, they decided to draw the line (much like they did with Oli Ruel and the infamous “watching cards as they are shuffled” dq).

    This should be understood as a situation where all enforcing parties envolved did their job, and if Mr.Saito thought he wasn’t stalling then maybe he should reflect upon his game pace and if his desire to win is not warping his ethics and playstyle. I’m quite sure he’ll recover from this and will keep performing better than people with not much to offer except big egos, angry words and questionable skills.

  165. A sad sad day for mtg. I think Saito is a great great player and I think CF should give him another chance, maybe.

  166. Wizards has a vested interest in their pros and they prop them up as best as they can, so they do not DQ or ban them lightly. Having read the description of the GP Columbus incident and how they let that one go, I suspect that this one must have been even more blatant. In any case, I agree with CFB and Luis. We come here to read strategy articles written by the best players and if it turns out that those are only doing so well because they’re cheating, then what merit is there in their articles?

  167. i think it may have been a little harsh dropping him from the site because his articles were quality i thought and we arent reading his articles to adopt his play style but i understand channels decision

  168. I think it’s good for the health of the game that Saito finally got caught again as he’s likely facing a suspension for his DQ (Which would be awkward then for him to write for this site). I feel like Saito getting caught cheating reflected poorly on the entire Channelfireball team and think the move to drop him from the site is simply a good PR move.

    It certainly would have tainted the entire site if CFB acknowledged that Saito was cheating and then proceeded to keep him on as if saying “We support cheaters.”

    I love Channelfireball and I’m glad you guys made the right move in dropping Saito.

  169. @Modred: Wizards’ market research has also shown it that players actually like it when someone gets DQed/suspended, because it signals there is accountability. Pros aren’t coddled as much as most would believe.

  170. Pingback: Tomoharu Saito Disqualified at GP Florence for Stalling | ManaSHIFT

  171. While cheatingis obviously awful I think deliberate stalling/ slow play is a lot less straight forward than people seem to think. THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS TO THINK ABOUT IN MTG, and sometime making the ‘best’ decision does take a long time, is it cheating if your just taking a long time to make the best plays (as you would normally), even if this might mean you can’t end the round? I would say no, the real problem is that determining intention (which is what slow play comes down to) is basically impossible, I think judges might come a bit harsh on the side of cheating because that is their job and because the mtg community is so hostile to cheating. Like I said this is a lot less straightforward than people think and Saito may well have just been playing at his normal speed: slow.

  172. There are a lot of comments here that say that they should have waited for more information. We have no idea how much information they have, though. The post is very diplomatic, it doesn’t condemn Saito or directly call him a cheater. It says “We feel we must unfortunately part ways with Tomoharu.”

    That kind of diplomatic writing should not be mistaken for a lack of information or a lack of an opinion. If LSV somehow knew beyond a doubt that Saito had not only cheated in this case, but had consistently cheated throughout his entire career as a player he would still write the same kind of diplomatic, parting of ways type of post. That’s just what you do when you are running a business.

    The same goes for people who are saying that the report only says he “seemed” to be stalling. That kind of polite language is what people put on paper, but they wouldn’t have DQ’d him in the first place if they weren’t entirely convinced of what was going on.

    You may believe that the DQ was wrong or a mistake, but polite language is not evidence of that.

  173. I have yet to ever hear a response when filing a judge complaint with Wizards. My friends and I have filed at least 3 of them total. I don’t feel it’s necessary to wait for it. I respect the decisive action taken by CF.

  174. @Ryan Spring : It does not matter whether most of us here dont know the rules, never met Saito or even talking from our arse. you may be the best judge in the world, know saito from his childhood etc… the point is we people who post here make this website what it is today. And our perception is our reality. Whatever you say is totally irrelevant if we do not believe it. So whatever pro you are, take your judgment and shove it.

  175. I agree that this was the correct decision for Luis and CFB.

    Any prolific and successful Pro player should hold themselves to the highest standards. Clearly Luis holds himself and his roster to this, and therefore it doesn’t seem unlikely that Saito would be severed after his actions.

    Saito made a mistake no matter if he intended to “game the system” by stalling or not. When you are performing at a high level of publicity all of your actions need to be considered. I believe if Saito was truly a guiltless player, this situation – as well as other situations involving Saito in the past – would have never arisen.

    Regardless, he put himself in a situation where his actions were able to be defined as something worth disqualification. I feel like he has only himself to blame for this, and therefore is guilty of something. Whether it be lack of foresight or straight-up cheating, I can’t say, but this event happened the way it did for a reason: Saito’s actions.

  176. Regarding Saito, I don’t know what to think here. On the one hand, he is one of the best players and deck finetuners in the world, as proven by multiple premier events during the last decade. On the other hand, we’ve already heard several times about his somewhat shady behavior (two suspensions notwithstanding), the most recent one being Columbus GP. Maybe it’s just a subconscious thing, a price tag that comes with the winner’s mindset, or maybe it’s intentional cheating… I honestly don’t know.

    Here is what I don’t understand though: if you’re so strict about cheating, why the hell did you let Katsuhiro Mori write a tournament report for you? I mean, seriously: Mori is probably the most obvious and the most repetitive cheater in contemporary Magic and everyone knows that. He cheats all the time, in all tournaments he plays and there are even respected people saying that plain and clear in their articles (i.e. Rich Hagon). I can understand letting Saito or Oliver Ruel write here but I’ll never understand Mori. Please, don’t do it again.

  177. Saito already had issues with cheating some time ago and he was definitely using his status as pro player in advantage over random kids. Im completely fine with his DQ but i can’t really blame him, personnally i think i wouldn’t do such thing but hey, he was on his way to player of the year and its hard to determine whether he was really stalling or not.

    However i don’t think that this does change in any way the quality of his articles and i think that is what players come here looking for. I understand that you don’t want CFB to be hurt from keeping Saito on it’s crew but maybe you should had waited until wizards replied to this appeal. I couldn’t care less whether the article writer is a cheater or not as long as he provide valuable info which is what im seeking for. If i’d be looking for moral referents then i would be somewhere else, really. I think he should be punished at the full extent of ‘magic laws’ just to stop these attitudes from pro players, though, yet that wouldn’t make his articles any better or worse.

  178. I think its ridiculous to kick him off of channelfireball. Stalling is in no way like slipping cards into your deck. Who knows, maybe he froze up. Give the kid a break, its not like he has a serious (or any) past of cheating.

  179. I like Saitou and think this is too harsh, give the guy a break, slow play is very ambigous and he is a good writer and seems to be a nice guy. I would not think less of Channelfireball if you kept him onboard.

  180. By the way, for those who keep suggesting chess clocks, have you ever played competitive chess? I did for ten years and let me tell you, Zeitnot is not funny. When one player is short on time, it’s manageable, because the other player still has to write down the moves, so if something goes awry, the game can be rewound by the judge. If both players have a minute left on the clock, chaos ensues. And that’s with the simplest turn structure possible. Now imagine that with passing priority a gazillion times in a topdeck war.

    As imperfect as relying on a judge’s opinion may be, it’s preferable to the alternative.

  181. Just posting to ask you to bring Saito back. As many said, “stalling” is a really subjective offense and it is not unlike judges don’t make mistakes.

    The report on Saito’s blog seems very plausible. Could as well be a slow play offense misinterpreted as stalling, mostly based on previous bias against him. It is impossible to prove or demonstrate “intent’, and even though judges can DQ based on whatever, it doesn’t mean the readers will think less of Saito because of it. I know I wouldn’t.

    Considering that and the fact that there is no official DCI decision regardign a ban, I see no reason to exclude Saito from the writing staff.

  182. I have to say I agree with Connor Scott’s points on this regarding the Saito DQ. I feel the judging team would not have entered into such a decision lightly or subjectively. It may be they were warned in advance of Saito past behavior regarding clock management and where able to quickly indentify the same pattern of behavior he exhibited before.
    I have very little concern with the less than fact filled WotC posting on their webpage announcing the DQ, due to the fact that is pretty normal for them. Very seldom do they make a big deal about a DQ publicly. They usually just provide the barest of details. Why you ask? #1 is it hurts the Magic brand every time they have to make a decision to DQ a big name player for cheating. They are as concerned with the integrity of the game as much, if not more than anyone else involved. They naturally aren’t going to make a big deal of it. In fact if the DQ’d player was an unknown we likely would not have even seen an announcement. But because of his status as a HoFer and top Pro, people would start asking a lot of questions about what happened to him if he suddenly stopped playing in a tournament he was doing well in.
    As for CF’s actions regarding Saito, I think it was a tough position for them to be in and I think that it is compounded for them when you take into consideration that it is default to separate the team CF from the website CF. It’s much different for a group of players to disassociate themselves with a player that lacks integrity. If there was no website, then the team CF would have to decide as a team whether or not it wanted to continue to associate with someone who has the stigma of cheating and the associated harm that could cause the collective group. However, a website is not in and of itself about integrity, it is about 1) providing entertainment and 2) providing information. The result of which if done well enough will generate profits (either in sales from the store or web ads). So that is why you see Oli Ruel writing here, he is a followed Magic player, people will come to CF website to read his material. So is Saito, people will visit CF website because they want to read what he says. So that makes it all the gutsier a decision to fire him. So what’s the biggest difference between Ruel and Saito? Time! It’s just a by-product of internet driven world; there was a time when Kobe Bryant was hated and taboo for sponsors, but time has faded his Colorado incident into the far recesses of people’s minds, and now he advertises for Black Ops. Tiger will be back in ads again sooner than you might think, LeBron the Traitor too. All in due time. Ruel has time on his side right now (it’s been a while since his last incident), for Saito it’s against him (for now).
    By the way, I know it is on a competing site, but Sam Stoddard recently wrote an excellent article on small cheats and their impact on the game. Many people have stated this is a small cheat, I invite you to check out Sam’s article here: http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/fundamentals/20564_The_Danger_of_Small_Cheats.html

  183. I don’t understand. Ruel has admitted to cheating before he wrote for CF but its ok for him to write for this site while Saito can’t? What Saito did was wrong but he shouldn’t be band. No offense Ruel.

  184. ^^^ Saito got caught cheating while being employed by the site, and Ruel got caught several years ago. Big difference.

  185. I don’t understand how Saito can be DQ’d but you allow Ruel to write. Feels like a double standard. I may write an article on this DQ and the consequences it carries

  186. Other than the fact that he is not writing for this site anymore, there is nothing relevant for this amount of discussion to be warranted.

    Facts: He was DQ’d for cheating. CFB dropped him as a writer

    Speculation: The details that surrounded the DQ. what warrants “slow play”.

    Unless you were one of the 1000+ people in florence that actually saw what was happening at the time just prior to and all the way to the DQ, your opinion, while maybe not entirely wrong, is a moot point. You really need epistemic evidence to support any kind of claim or judgment in this regard.

    In regards to CFB protecting their brand, that is something I can opine on: Good Show. Who gives a crap if he doesn’t write here anymore. In another few years, some other up and coming pro will replace him both in terms of win percentages and quality of writing.

    I am rooting for Brad Nelson or PV.

    People on MTG sites can turn an ‘lol’ into a great big ‘omg’.

  187. Clearly cheating (maybe without realizing) makes him a worst player and builder…

    SRSLY??

    I know that it is kinnda bad for Channel Fireball, but he isn’t less “genius” ’cause he cheated…

    He has a bunch of top 8’s, with a bunch of good brews like UB merfolks, Mono red, Pizza stompy, A BUNCH of zoo decks, AN combo, etc..

    really, you should keep him, ’cause he makes Channel Fireball team the best, with the best players in the world…

  188. Saito should have been dropped long ago, he has a history of cheating and has been warned several times about his “slow” intentional play…and continued to do so anyway…CB is fully aware of his history including his intentional slow play….I for one applaud CB ….. Saito is the new Mike Long….end of story

  189. @Someguy:
    What?
    You spent your time making baseless conjectures that were incendiary for the sake of being incendiary while I focused on the facts at hand. I never posted that Saito was some “magic luminary.” If you look back at my posts, I was considered and even-handed, unlike you now.

    If all you have is ad hominem attacks and “LOLOLOL HINDSIGHT BIOTCH” then I think perhaps you need to stop posting.

    It’s also telling that you go straight for Edel and G-Fabs at the end of your post. You’re simply out to get people, and it shows. Edel is such an easy target, what with the long-standing stereotype that South American players, especially Brazilians, are cheaters. As far as Gerard Fabiano, I’ve never seen anything but clean play from him. He might try to catch his opponents out in a rules mistake they’ve made once in a while, but lots of people at the high levels of play do that because part of being good is knowing the rules.

    I’ve watched Saito play before. I’ve had him in feature matches multiple times. I’m not saying he didn’t stall in the above tournament – if my good friend Nick Sephton DQed him for it, then I’m going to have to stand behind him on that, because he’s a great judge – but I am saying that the evidence I had, and indeed, the actual evidence that we all had amounted to approximately nothing.

    I’m a judge who travels the world to work at Magic tournaments, runs events five days a week, and is generally regarded as at least pretty good at what he does. Your credentials seem to include hiding behind the rather telling handle “someguy” and drawing conclusions based on nonexistent evidence. I’m willing to stand by everything I’ve said in every single Saito comment thread, and I’m willing to put my name on it.

    What have you got?

  190. Agree with the comments about people posting and not knowing what they’re talking about. I’m a PTQ-level player trying to get better (like most of you) who has never met Saito, and was not at the event (though I have read the DCI tournament rules, and am somewhat shocked at people’s lack of familiarity with them), so I’m not going to pretend to have any insight about what actually happened. That said, it is a lot easier to trust multiple judges than it is one guy who already has a DQ on his record.

    As far as whether or not CFB made the right decision, I probably don’t have enough information to judge that accurately. I can say that, from a PR perspective, it probably makes more sense to suspend until the DCI investigation is complete (saving face in the event that the DQ is removed from Saito’s record), and then fire, but I’m sure that LSV and whoever else made the decision did not do this lightly. The have a business to run. They probably have good reason to do what they did.

    Also, CLICK sign me up CLICK for the CLICK chess clock CLICK idea CLICK.

    P.S. Since people seem to be completely unfamiliar with the rules that govern competitive, here’s a Copy/paste from the document in question, with important stuff put in all caps. Original is available at http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dci/doccenter/home . If you play in PTQ- or higher-level tournaments and haven’t at least skimmed the document, you really, really need to.

    Tournament violations
    5.1 Cheating
    CHEATING WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. The Head Judge reviews all cheating allegations, and if he or she believes that a player has cheated, he or she WILL ISSUE THE APPROPRIATE PENALTY BASED ON THE INFRACTION PROCEDURE GUIDE. All disqualifications are subject to DCI review and further penalties may be assessed.

    5.5 Slow Play
    Players must take their turns in a timely fashion regardless of the complexity of the play situation and adhere to time limits specified for the tournament. Players must maintain a pace to allow the match to be finished in the announced time limit. Stalling is not acceptable. Players may ask a judge to watch their game for slow play; such a request will be granted if feasible.

    ..and, from the Infraction Procedure Guilde (avalable at same link):

    4. Tournament Errors
    Tournament errors are violations of the Magic Tournament Rules. If the judge believes that the error was intentional, he or she should first examine the Cheating infractions to see if one should be used instead.
    A second or subsequent Warning for a Tournament Error offense in the same category should be upgraded to a Game Loss.

    4.3. Tournament Error — Slow Play
    Penalty: Warning

    Definition
    Players who take longer than is reasonably required to complete game actions are engaging in Slow Play. IF A JUDGE BELIEVES A PLAYER IS INTENTIONALLY PLAYING SLOWLY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A TIME LIMIT, THE INFRACTION IS CHEATING — STALLING.
    Examples
    A. A player repeatedly reviews his opponent’s graveyard without any significant change in game state.
    B. A player spends time writing down the contents of an opponent’s deck while resolving Thought
    Hemorrhage.
    C. After 3 minutes into a round at a Pro TourTM Qualifier, a player has not completed his shuffling.
    D. A player gets up from his seat to look at standings, or goes to the bathroom without permission of an official.

    Philosophy
    All players have the responsibility to play quickly enough so that their opponents are not at a significant disadvantage because of the time limit. A player may be playing slowly without realizing it. A comment of “I need you to play faster” is often appropriate and all that is needed. Further slow play should be penalized.

    6. CHEATING
    This section deals with infractions that occur as the intended result of an action taken by a player. In some cases, it doesn’t matter if advantage was gained, only that the potential for advantage exists. The philosophy for all these infractions is the same – they are unwelcome behavior that undermines the integrity of the tournament.

    6.1. Cheating — Stalling
    Penalty: Disqualification

    Definition
    A player intentionally plays slowly in order to take advantage of the time limit. If the slow play is not intentional, please refer to Tournament Error — Slow Play instead.

    Example
    A. A player has two lands in his hand, no options available to significantly affect the game, and spends excessive time “thinking” about what to do to eat up time on the clock.
    B. A player is ahead in games and significantly slows down his pace of play so the opponent has little chance to catch up.
    C. A player playing slowly appeals a warning in an attempt to gain advantage by having more time to make a decision.
    D. A player intentionally exceeds the pregame time limit before the third game in an attempt to make it harder for his opponent to win in time.
    E. A player losing a game starts slowing down the pace of play in an attempt to run out the clock.

    Tell me, does that seem vague, or anything like football, to you?

    /end book

  191. I love Eric Levine

    That is what I got. You are always the voice of reason on these “ZOMG! CHEATYFACE IS A CHEATER” threads.

    A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people sometimes, as I can be reactionary and just downright spiteful at times. But I admit it. Eric Levine, I respect you and your diplomacy.

    :cookie:

    I came here to man up to mistakes that I made. I came here to say that I’ve grown as a person and I’m sorry.

    I’m not a haterrrr, I-I’m not a haterrr. I-I love Conway.

  192. Also people who suggest chess clocks are simply crazy. I just played a 300 man ptq in a cramped church basement. Sweaty fat bellies smooshing into the side of your head, constant elbowing and muttering under ones’s breath, huge heavy backpacks smacking into you constantly…..

    Now add to all that sweaty fun clocks and everywhere and players slamming their big fat meaty hands down on the table every two or three seconds. Plus, do you know how many times you actually pass priority? It has to be like hundreds of times per game. Not to mention the fact that only about 2 percent of players actually understand the rules of priority and how it works… Not to mention the millions of judge calls and pleas to put more time on players’ clocks for this or that. Uggh. It would be the biggest nightmare you ever imagined.

  193. Without having been there it’s hard to know. However, judges at major events like this have dropped the ball man times, with pretty much arbitrary rulings (theWescoe check DQ for example). Who knows if they got it right or not.

  194. @EricL:

    “All I got” is the certainty that T Saito always was, is and will be a cheater. Cheating undermines the integrity of the game. So I got nothing.

    Paying any respect / money / CF points / product / etc to a cheater only enables and ecourages cheating.

    I’m glad you run tournaments, sink time into this game, etc etc. Kudos for that.

    No Kudos for moderating, defending or in any way enabling known cheaters like all those “pro’s” you defend.

    <3

    Someguy (yeap some random idiot randomly typing on a random post at random internetzz)

  195. @ConnorScott

    You wrote: “As a judge, I would like to again point out that there is nothing vague or subjective about the slow play and stalling infractions. They have specific definitions outlined by the IPG, and it is not hard to identify when the infractions should be issued. ”

    From “Practical Approach to Slow Play” (by a L3) (http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=judge/article/20070924a):

    “Objectivity and Subjectivity:

    Slow Play and Stalling are the only infractions described in the Penalty Guide that do not rely on definite criteria. If Game Play Errors can be identified as soon as the Comp Rules see print, if Unsporting Conduct is described pretty accurately, Slow Play is defined with notions like, “longer than reasonably,” or, “quickly enough.” Slow Play is therefore a subjective notion whose evaluation is all up to the judge. “

  196. What an unfortunate situation. I would not think that such a fantastic player as Saito would have to stoop to stalling in order to win a game, and I do not think losing as even such a high profile event would be a devastating turn of events for him.. I hope that this is some sort of misunderstanding, but I think channelfireball’s reaction is reasonable. I am sure Saito will be around and accessible in many different venues, and I hope his Magic career continues.

  197. Idk…I really couldn’t care less about this. ya, stallings sorta cheating but its not that bad and the dude writes really good articles. Its not like he was pulling cards out of his sleeves. I get like the whole “integrity of the game” thing but meh. Doesnt seem that bad

  198. Doesn’t 8-ball and other professional billiards have “extensions”? Sorta like timeouts in basketball and football where 2 or 3 times a game or match you can take an extra period of time to make your play. You could use these to bluff or just think out a hard choice. I guess youd have to have a way to track these, but since you keep a sheet of paper for life totals and other information anyways, it seems like it would be easy to do.

  199. I don’t understand how Luis can straight-faced attempt to distance himself from Saito, when he, himself cheats blatantly. He posts videos of himself collaborating with other players in magic online 8-4 queues – discussing what moves to make. Is that not cheating? How is that any less blatantly cheating than game stalling?

    Either you’re going to take a stand against cheating or you’re not. But if you do – then don’t be a hypocrite.

  200. It’s against the rules. He’s getting outside input. Watch his drafts and you’ll see him change his mind in them due to the other players input.

    Is he the stronger player? Of course? But is he breaking the rules? Yes. And any judge would tell you the same.

  201. From what I have heard from players who have competed against him, Saito had a few cheating incidents in his past. I do not hold this against him because he is innocent until proven guilty, but if this is truly not a first time offense, I believe that Channelfireball made the right decision in dropping him from their list of tenured writers.

  202. I don't know why I even bother to answer, but...

    @Chris what rules is he breaking? And what judges would tell him? MTGO has no judges, and it has no rules. It has a code of conduct, and nowhere in that code does it say you have to be alone in the room and disconnected to the outside world while you are playing.

  203. How did this cheater get into the hall of fame

    i guess he cheated his way in?

    this unbelievable he needs to be banned from hall of fame SLOW play to draw a game is bannable imo and this kid should be perma banned what a cheating jerk

  204. The sheer volume of responses to this thread alone show the public distaste for cheaters… Here’s hoping ten more get some permabans at worlds!

  205. Interesting that Saito’s last article went into great detail about the importance of not cheating, and his own reasons for being sure to play a clean game.

    If we take that at face value, I find it perfectly believable that Saito’s error was innocent. That doesn’t mean excusable, but again, taking Saito’s 11/14 article at face value, it means that he wasn’t trying to cheat.

    At the very least, I’d prefer to believe that his DQ was the result of inadvertence rather than willfulness.

  206. If top tier professional players are getting disqualified due to stalling issues, you’d think they’d just start using timing mechanisms – like chess clocks.

  207. Just so CFB knows, on the player of the year race on the Home Page, you still have Saito marked as a member of CFB. I know you guys are busy but just wanted to make sure you knew.

  208. I Dont care if he was the reaper of souls in DCI’s eyes, not much at least. What he did and was “judged” for in Italy has a span-width that doesnt justify DQ from whole tournament. What DCI should consider is how this looks for the average MtG-player, yes those Pro’s are in their own league skill-wise, but rules are rules and SHOULD be equal for all levels of play.

    How does this look regarding the average GP-judge when some high-judge comes swooping in like this ?

    Lastly I even consider smth redicolous: Saito himselves in on this ? to give DCI a convey-msg-situation because their game-rules-book have some vitally important weak parts ?

  209. @Canape The penalty for stalling is a DQ. If he was stalling, this isn’t some kind of special pro player only penalty, its what the infraction procedures dictate.

  210. Dfasdfa: Rules, yes ok. But consider Saito’s skill and tournament exp. If even the best players can be SWOOPED like this then this paints for a picture where players sit on needles during tournament play. It just doesnt rhyme, DCI must fix some rules to create less, idk what to call it, “stuff”.

    And no: I defo dont think theres any judge-agenda going on from DCI’s side, nor on individual level. DCI just have to perform a re-think on certain parts of their rule-book(s).

  211. @dfasda
    why are you arguing with someone who can’t type coherent english. might as well talk algebra with dinosaurs.

    no one wants to admit it but cheating will get you pretty far in paper magic. yeah you have to be at least decent, but a large part of the competitors are just clueless fodder that won’t know any better when they’ve been had. it makes it pretty easy for scrubs to do well.

  212. Chris has a (small) point, actually – collaborative draft videos are technically against the Tournament Rules.

    That said, I’d hate to see them go. The TRs about outside assistance are impossible to enforce for Magic Online, generally speaking. It may be worth some thought/effort on Wizards’ part to rationalize the outside assistance rules with regard to online play.

  213. Regardless of this whole kerfuffle, I feel sad that the only players from Japan is recent months who having getting attention on Western sites are Saito and Mori, people who have proven pasts of cheating.

    Maybe we should turn our attentions to the likes of Nakamura, who is one of the most classiest players I’ve ever watched, and a nice guy to boot.

    It feels like we’re going back to the bad old days of the nineties all over again, only on a far bigger stage than ever before due to the bigger role of the internet. It won’t be just the cost of the game that kills Magic at this rate but the total lack of trust between players if we’re not careful.

  214. Again, in case aanyone missed it, from Billy Moreno’s blog:

    “Anonymous:
    ‘I personally watched this and it was outrageous. He should have been DQ’d immediately.
    Play was proceeding normally as Saito was winning. There are 6-7 minutes left.
    Kid then cunning wishes for Tsabo Decree and decrees Merfolk.
    Saito tanks for 45 seconds then reveals his hand of 2 merfolk. He bins his 2 in hand and 2 in play.
    Kid untaps and casts Jace. Saito then counts kid’s sideboard, reviews graveyard and says ok. Kid fateseals and leaves a daze on top. He activates factory and attacks. Saito spends 45 seconds debating wasteland before taking 2. He rereads Jace again.
    He untaps and draws daze. He reviews both graveyards and spends 30-40 seconds before saying go.
    Kid fateseals and leaves a land. He activates factory and attacks. Saito repeats his 45 seconds fingering wasteland before taking 2. He then stops to read Jace.
    Saito draws the land and reviews both graveyards. He spends 30 seconds before playing land. He then stops to read Jace for 20 seconds. He then fidgets with wasteland and then fetchland for 20 seconds before saying go.
    Kid fateseals a land to top. He then activates factory. Saito reviews kids graveyard and finally takes 2. Kid casts pernicious deed with 4 mana up. Saito considers dazing it until time is called.
    Rest of game takes under 1 minute.’

    Slightly reformatted to make it clear this is a second hand account.”

  215. Sorry for second post. Here is what Saito’s opponent had to say about the above quote and the match:
    “This is the opposing player. Pretty much all of this is factual. I cleanly had the game wrapped up and he began pulling these shenanigans. Two things of note:

    1. I did not call a Judge for potential slow play. This is my fault, and I felt like an idiot because of it. However, there were a lot of people watching and I didn’t want to make myself out to be an ass in front of an obviously accomplished and renowned player while I myself am some nobody. Additionally…

    2. There was a table judge there the entire time. We had gotten deck-checked, and as our match was proceeding into the extra time, we had a table judge pretty much for the entire duration of these “shenanigans.” I figured that he would be prompted to take action as necessary (which clearly I felt there was, though as stated above, did not express such).

    All in all, a super frustrating situation. I know nothing really about floor rules/judging, and I probably should have done more. Alas…”

  216. Sad. I liked Saito. I understand reasoning for both sides, and my only real opinion is that it is just a bad situation.

  217. So the person everyone always thought was a cheater turns out to be a cheater. go figure and good riddance. You’re better off without him CF.

  218. @Chris:

    Magic Online terms of service:
    http://wizards.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wizards.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1358

    and Magic Online code of conduct:
    http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Article.aspx?x=magic/magiconline/coc

    The link to the tournament floor rules applies to paper tournaments only. When playing Magic Online, you also are not required to shuffle your opponent’s deck, have a pen and paper to record life totals, or make sure your sleeves aren’t marked. The same rules absolutely do NOT apply to Magic Online as they do offline play.

  219. @jwc: Is that supposed to disprove me? I’m allowed to disagree with an L3. First of all, that was probably written under a different version of the IPG (notably, the goal is to make it more clear after every new version). In the current IPG, the stalling section outlines specific behaviors that qualify as slow play, and they’re not vague or subjective. You can read them in KramlmarK’s post.

    @Chris: The same rules do NOT apply to MTGO (and it even says so in the link you provided). As I said before, MTGO is barely even Magic. There’s no face-to-face contact, a diminished bluffing aspect, a diminished ability to read tells, and no shortcuts or out-of-order sequencing. Also no judges, no pre-game or post-match procedure, or anything like that.

  220. I’m sad to see him go but understand why the decision was made. I’m still interested in his writing so does anyone know if he has a blog where i can continue the read his thoughts? I’m sure another website will pick him up

  221. Stalling is not cheating. If he scooped extra cards on someone that would be one thing but playing slow? gimme a break.

  222. I think Saito wasn’t all that great a writer anyway, every time he wrote an article it wouldn’t be that great and it would take up extra space with the japanese version. Good riddance

  223. @Connor: Even under the current IPG stalling is subjective.

    It gives examples of when stalling is obvious but this does not clear up ambiguities as to what is stalling and what is taking your time. It is easy to say, well, you have no plays, pass priority or you’re stalling, but what if you have plays that can stall the game and want to stretch time even further to force the time out.

    Example I had playing merfolk (me) vs countertop proj at a local legacy tournament. Game 1 was prolonged by him having counter spells for my few threats and my drawing of only counter spells and lands that were not muta vault. Anyways, after a good half hour game 1 where decking was a distinct possibility *Cough* standstill *Cough* i eke out a win by forcing him to make a move by finally dropping a mutavault on turn 30 or so. Resulting counter wars and his miscounting of lands he had in his deck led to my win at the 15 minutes remaining mark. Needless to say, there was a distinct possibility that I could force the win by drawing the game long if need be. After side boarding, shuffling and mulligans, 10 minutes were remaining and I look down at a hand of 2x force, daze, fetch, wasteland, reej, lord. Definitely not a hand I would keep if I were 1 game down but a fine hand to stall out with.

    Now with 10 minutes remaining, how much time should I spend searching my deck for one of my 4 underground seas? If I find it and decide I’d rather have a basic island, do I get the extra 10 seconds to go back and thumb through my deck to find one of the 3 I run?

    My opponent goes turn 1 top. I WILL let it resolve but do I pass priority immediately or can I spend 30 seconds thumbing my force and daze considering the play? 45? 1 minute? If there were the start of the round, would your ruling change?

    Moving on, I had played merfolk before countless times so I’m familiar with what I should be doing so of course I know my plays and the sequence of plays above took all of 15 seconds and by then I had already drawn my card for the turn and passed again.

    What if I were a new player? Picking up merfolk or for the first time, questions I’d be asking would be, wasteland or fetch? Does he have a turn 1 play that I would want to daze? If no, wasteland is the most disruptive play if my goal is to draw out the game. Do I crack main phase or on his turn? What land should I be getting? Do I even want to crack or do I want to slightly increase my land density? Is top a spell I want to fight over? Force or daze? For a new player experienced in magic but not the format, these questions are ones that are important to answer and I wouldn’t fault anyone for taking their time and mulling through the possibilities, possibly taking 1 minute to come to the same line of play. Am I stalling? Am I slow playing?

    The rule on stalling explicitly has the words “if a judge BELIEVES” and “INTENTIONALLY.” What part of those words are not subjective? Yes, examples are provided, but examples are not catch all, there will always be situations where a stalling DQ may be warranted, but not covered in the IPG.

  224. When you commit a misdemeanor IRL the cops give you a ticket. This is considered a warning. When you commit the same misdemeanor again, they give you ANOTHER ticket this is considered your second warning. If you continually commit the same misdemeanor you will eventually be given a real repercussion.

    This is what I call . . . LOGICAL.

    People are going to do stupid things, it’s in our nature. This is why there is a huge difference between committing a misdemeanor and a federal offense – or crime. If I were to compare stalling in magic to an offense IRL, I would assuredly put it into the misdemeanor category. You should get a warning the first time you are caught doing it, a game loss for the second time, and then a disqualification for the third or fourth time. I am unsure whether or not Saito has officially been prosecuted for stalling before, and I believe this is information that should be present in the article.

    Furthermore, how many of you have stalled to win a tournament? I’m not afraid to admit that I have, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the people writing “Good call CF! Let the cheaters get what’s coming to them!” have stalled to win as well.

    It’s just not anywhere near the same as stacking your deck, or increasing your sideboard, or drawing extra cards intentionally. These are things that deserve a DQ, not taking an extra few minutes during your turn.

  225. On the other hand, I do agree with everyone’s statements saying “There is too much luck involved with magic for the same top players to place in 1000+ man tournaments consistently”.

  226. @Aidenn: Untrue. I do not know of any jurisdiction that gives tickets for all misdemeanors. Regardless, it is within the officer’s powers to arrest you for speeding, take you back to the precinct office and go through all the normal procedures for an arrest.

    Regardless, the laws state the punishment, not the enforcers. The rules clearly state that Stalling is a DQ, not a warning.

    Mind you, arguing that the rules regarding Stalling are unjustified and that a DQ should not be give so hastily is a valid argument, but it is unreasonable to argue that the rules do not apply, logical or not.

  227. The number of people attempting to refute Chris’ point is exactly the problem. It’s very clear that this is misconduct – but since it’s minor and everyone knows it’s exactly that it will go unpunished, it’s forgiven, since we all love LSV.

    People need to understand the difference between doing whats right, and doing what’s going to be enforced – or there will continue to be disqualifications and cheating.

  228. @ Louis: Yes you are technically correct, but the cop would have to be an asshole to arrest someone for the sole reason of speeding – which is actually one of the points that I was trying to convey (albeit with judges, not law enforcement).

    There is quite a bit of speculation surrounding stalling anyway. It’s not the same as getting caught for speeding, because you either were speeding or you weren’t. It is nearly impossible for a judge to know if a player is actually stalling or if they are deep in thought. On top of that, how long of a time is it enough to DQ someone for?

    Regardless of all my points, the #1 thing I want to say is that it is completely unfair that he did not receive a warning first. Hell, even a game or match loss would’ve been somewhat fair.

  229. @Garrett, it’s not just people “trying” to refute Chris, Chris is simply wrong. The Magic paper tournament rules do not apply to MTGO. MTGO’s code of conduct prohibits bribery and playing on another’s account, but says nothing about talking to people while you’re playing. Do some research before you decide something is “misconduct.”

  230. @Aidenn: The Tournament Rules don’t allow for such leeway. Once a the table judge and head judge have determined that the player in question is Stalling (Subjective) they must disqualify the player for cheating. We can argue that the ruling in question was wrong, or that the IPG should be amended to allow for warnings in cases of suspected Stalling, but at present time, there is no such allowance. Tie in to common law would be Misdemeanor/Felony hybrid crimes, but Magic at the moment does not have such a system.

  231. To all those who thinks stalling is “too subjective.” It is rather subjective — but which is better? One player out of 100s is DQed incorrectly, or everyone can stall as much as they want? Seriously, fewer than 1% of players are disqualified at all – only a fraction of those for stalling – and presumably at least some of those DQed for stalling were, you know, stalling. Whereas if stalling were not illegal, I would never lose a match after winning game 1. Never. And neither would you, or Saito, or anyone else with a shred of sense.

    This isn’t a court of law. If someone is DQed incorrectly (not what I think happened here, but who knows for sure), that sucks, yeah, but the rule is Absolutely Necessary to the functioning of the game.

    Cheating in all its forms can be difficult to distinguish from accidents – but we cannot allow people to repeatedly receive minor penalties when it becomes more and more likely that their actions are deliberate.

  232. @ Louis S.
    The answers to your questions are simple: Play as you normally would, or, if you wish, play faster. That would be the moral thing to do, and at the same time you wouldn’t be going against the rules, which were obviously set in place for a reason.

    To your example with an inexperienced player: Again, simple. If you don’t know the deck well and are playing slow as a result, then it’s your fault if you get DQ’d for slow play. It’s that person’s responsibility to be able to operate their deck at a reasonable level and in a timely manner, especially in a sanctioned event that is beyond FNM-level.

    To your last comment about subjectivity: Any experienced player (including the judges) can tell when someone is slow-playing… in fact, generally all this requires is deck / card familiarity. We already have an eyewitness account of Saito slowplay and confirmation by Saito’s op. himself that that’s basically what happened… and the witness is also a known player. Saito is a top-ranked pro and he kept reading his op’s JTMS… in the last ~5 minutes of the match. The fact that he read it at all is evidence of slowplay, IMO… it’s just ridiculous. Then you add to that everything else that he took exorbitant amounts of time doing in the last minutes of that match, when he had no real outs at all….

    That aside, for the judges there is no option other than to be subjective in regards to issues of slow play, and thus their ruling will inevitably have to be subjective (re: worded in a subjective manner), too. There’s no way around it. You can’t make absolute statements about someone’s INTENTIONS when you’re in such a position.

    Lastly, I want to make a comment about my second paragraph here. If you have a country of 300 million people, and 100,000 (or whatever #) of them are allergic to peanut butter, you don’t ban peanut butter. If one of those people eats it and dies, you still don’t ban it. Why? Because it’s either their responsibility or the responsibility of their parents / guardian(s) to not let that happen. If you’re a newb and you can’t play your deck at a normal pace, and you get DQ’d for it, it’s your problem for not being prepared. Changing the way things are or ought to be because ‘some’ people can’t handle it or whatever is purely a commie move that ALWAYS involves pretending that this thing called PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY doesn’t exist.

  233. Way to cut easily the second best pro player/deck builder on your staff. And all of this “shady past” business is bs. Saito addressed both situations recently in an article on this site and there is video widely available of the infractions. Anyone making a case that his “shady past” contributed to his dismissal is being petty. I also question if it were one of the American regulars who share hotels with hotels and are closer friends with the cfb staff if they would have been so easily dismissed. On a side note, is there any particular reason Mike Flores won’t write for you guys? He’s obviously a very good writer and a lesser site like tcgplayer.com getting such well written articles seems strange.

  234. Louis, I really don’t see how it’s subjective at all. Here’s how I handle slow play:

    Observe and investigate. Try to determine if it’s slow enough to intervene, and if it’s stalling or slow play.

    If I confirm stalling via one of the examples listed in the IPG, I get my head judge.

    Otherwise, I issue a caution or warning for slow play (usually start with a caution, because it’s easier for me).

    Now the player has received specific instructions from a judge. If he continues to play slowly, I can disqualify him at my head judge’s discretion, or else start handing out upgraded penalties, since this is now a repeat offense.

    Conclusion: when a judge can’t confirm stalling (id est, when it’s subjective) they don’t issue the infraction. In such a case, if the player IS actually stalling, then they will still receive higher penalties in the long run, because now they have to stop cheating or else they’ll get a repeat-slow-play offense (namely, a game loss).

    So the stalling infraction is never subjective because we don’t issue it when we can’t confirm it. Does that mean some cheaters get away with cheating? In a sense… they don’t usually get a DQ even if they are actually cheating, because judges don’t like to be suspicious of people without a perfectly good reason. But they still get penalties, and that’s usually good enough.

  235. To make this decision as quickly as you have feels like you guys don’t care about each other at all, just the monetary aspect. This decision should have waited at least a few days so it didn’t feel so devoid of thought and emotion.

  236. @Matt Sayers
    Saito has been DQ’d for bribery as well. Doesn’t matter how long ago it was, that = shady past. But, personally I don’t really care about this, just wanted to point it out real quick-like since you seem to think he is an angel sent down from Heaven by God Himself, LOL.

    I also find it amusing that rather than believe the judges and eyewitnesses, you believe the very person who was convicted, instead. That is indeed some blind nut-huggery, if I ever did see it.

    “Anyone making a case that his ‘shady past’ contributed to his dismissal is being petty.”

    Can’t say I go either way on that. But you’re right, I imagine, in that he probably wasn’t banned for reasons involving his past, but rather for this one incident, which, yes, alone, should’ve gotten him removed from the site, not only for business reasons, but moral ones as well.

    “I also question if it were one of the American regulars who share hotels with hotels and are closer friends with the cfb staff if they would have been so easily dismissed.”

    Totally irrelevant and unimportant. Simply an attempt to cast shadows on the CFB team / staff.

    “On a side note, is there any particular reason Mike Flores won’t write for you guys?”

    Won’t he? Did he say he refuses to write for CFB?

    “He’s obviously a very good writer and a lesser site like tcgplayer.com getting such well written articles seems strange.”

    Perhaps because 1) you can only write so much for so many sites, 2) he might not have any significant relations with anyone here at CFB, 3) possible contractual issues, 4) just doesn’t care to, 5) possibly want to get paid, due to the fact that he prob. gets paid to do these, at least at MTG official site. Lots of possible reasons. But again this is just you trying to use stealthy shaming language to piss on CFB. My advice is to get over it.

  237. Saito is such a cutie, though.

    I’m just sayin’; I would drag my testicles across a mile of broken glass just to hear that man fart into a megaphone. I would fucking drink his bathwater.

    And, someone said that Magic is primarily a game of money, that is HORSE SHIT. I have literally NEVER owned a Magic card in my life, and I have been playing competitively for well over 10 years now. Magic is a game of community, and of contacts. I have met many great people in my home state, and all the states around it. It is not only feasible, but a CERTAINTY that I will have a deck to play at any event I travel to, because of the amazing people that play this game. It is all about making connections, getting friends, being cool with people. And my dick is SMALL AS SHIT!

  238. @Josh Milliken

    Things are tough in the real world, especially when business is involved. It’s a nice thought, thinking they should’ve kept him around and whatnot. While a business can keep a less than savory individual around, it can’t keep this person plastered on their front page writing articles for them, as it would be highly corrosive (re: damaging), especially in the long-term, to the site.

    MTG’s official site booted Olivier Ruel (sp?) as a writer for them when he got DQ’d. Just a little tidbit for you.

    “To make this decision as quickly as you have feels like you guys don’t care about each other at all, just the monetary aspect.”

    Reality is that you don’t know why they did it. The two likely reasons revolve around money and morality. The moral issue alone would’ve been enough for me to fire that person, let alone the plausible damages to my business if I didn’t.

  239. @Connor Scott :

    So the Stalling infraction is definitely never subjective, even though a L3 calls it fundamentally subjective.

    Ok… No, that doesn’t disprove your opinion at all.

    Good luck at judge school.

  240. @Bobby Duckett

    Me too. I would swan dive into a 4-foot deep pool full of broken glass, lemon juice, salt, pepper, ketchup, crutons and rusty double-barbed fishin’ hooks just to have him sign my newborn baby’s forehead with a permanent marker.

  241. @jwc: As I said before, I am allowed to disagree with an L3. I’m a judge too, ya know. The way I handle slow play, there is basically no room for subjectivity. If it isn’t specifically stalling as clearly defined by the examples in the IPG, then I rely on slow play penalties (which can be handed out much more liberally). I’m sure there are judges out there who have handed out DQs when they couldn’t confirm stalling, but I think that’s a mistake.

    I’m done arguing with you about this. If you think that the IPG is vague, all I can say is thank God you’re not a judge.

    And by the way, I’m done with “judge school”, and I passed with flying colors.

  242. Hi,

    I got a chill when I read this.
    Man this sucks.
    I don’t understand why channelfireball had to say anything at all about the subject?
    Saito could have just agreed not to write any more articles for you, without explicit reason given, and an embarassing situation could have been averted. Maybe that would have been a better way of handling it.

  243. @ Druidess
    Yes he was DQ’d for bribery. Take a second to watch the video on youtube. He openly asked for a split during match IN FRONT OF A JUDGE. Hardly the shadiest of mistakes. And he served a 1 year ban for it. Yes it is petty that this is what gets brought up as proof of his “shady past.” Perceived stalling is not the worst of infractions and I would care to bet that most pros could have been accused of it at some point in their careers. My frustration is with the “shady past” accusations at Saito when really they’re pretty small infractions. And I shouldn’t have brought up Flores. But thanks for breaking down and responding to every sentence of my post. I feel very loved :).

  244. “We disqualified this player for Stalling, after it was observed that his play speed seemed to change based on his observation of the clock. It was observed by a high-level judge that twice in the round he appeared to change his play speed based on considerations that were outside the game. Consulting among the senior judges we decided that, on the basis of what we had observed, we had no choice but to disqualify the player.”

    Well, it seems he was cheating indeed and deserved to be disqualified. And LSV can’t have an active cheater who was just DQed from an event writing articles. It sends the wrong message.

    I applaud CFB decision.

  245. Since we are on the topic of cheating, can anyone actually explain to me what is wrong with offering a split with an opponent? Assuming it is the last round of the tournament, and someone is bound for T8. Player A offers a split, and player B accepts and continues playing the game. How is this wrong? Do they really deserve a DQ for splitting? I see this as nonsense, as a prize split is most of the time mainly to ensure that both sides are happy playing the game regardless of the results, even if they miss the T8.

    Back on the Saito Issue, I think DQ-ing a player who is intentionally stalling is fine. HOWEVER, there is an option to call for a judge to watch for slow play. If you think your opponent is slow playing you, why did he only get DQ-ed after so many rounds? As PLAYERS, it is our responsibility to watch out for our opponents, to prevent cheating. As a DCI JUDGE, isn’t it your responsibility to walk around to observe the games? Sure, it’s a big tournament. HOWEVER, it is their responsibility to do it. Too many times have I seen judges at GPs slacking around, grouping up, not doing their job. I think this is mainly why more and more people are finding ways to take an unfair advantage over their opponents, because both players and judges are not doing their job to keep the game clean.

  246. @Whatever: The situation you described would not get anyone disqualified. People split prizes all the time. Also, you can always intentionally draw with your opponent, concede to your opponent, or ask your opponent to concede to you. What you CANNOT do is offer your opponent some incentive to concede or draw, such as a share of your prizes.

  247. See, for everyone who has ignorantly wrote in these forums
    “See! All the good players cheat or they couldn’t be doing as well as they are so consistently!” or “Cheating happens all the time on the Pro Tour/in paper Magic”…

    This is the EXACT reason CFB has dropped Saito. The quoted statements above are entirely false and when something like this happens it incorrectly gives off that impression about the pro tour and as LSV said in his statement “Cheating undermines the integrity of the game and is one of the most harmful actions possible to both the tournament experience and public perception of the game”, and this is entirely correct.

  248. @Connor Scott:

    You make it out as if it’s completely uncontroversial, even going so far as to be rude about it – “thank God you’re not a judge” – despite the fact that there is at least controversy (if not consensus) to the contrary among high-level judges. A brief survey in #mtgjudge received multiple responses that Stalling/Slow-Play is indeed one of the areas that involves the most subjective involvement. You’re allowed to disagree – but the fact that I’m able to reference a judge-document explicitly to the contrary by a high-level judge should be your cue to be a bit more humble or at least careful with your words.

    The ‘subjectivity’ doesn’t come in handing out the penalty once you decide whether it’s slow play or stalling; it comes in your assessment of the situation — is it intentional, or isn’t it? This involves important spot judgment on the part of the judge.

    I’m not sure what level judge you are but from what I understand judges are supposed to keep testing – i.e. learning – i.e. judge-‘schooling’ – until they reach the highest levels, and even onward. DIdn’t know you could finish learning, and “with flying colours” at such a low-level?

  249. @Matt Sayers
    “But thanks for breaking down and responding to every sentence of my post. I feel very loved.”
    You must be pretty damn lonely to feel loved just because someone was thorough in responding to one of your comments.

    Saito has been DQ’d multiple times. He has completely misrepresented at least one of them, saying that his opponent “made a mistake,” when actually what had happened was that he was about to lose so he grabbed his library and started savagely manipulating the cards around right in front of his op, then he handed it to his confused op as if to offer for cut, and when his op went to cut it, Saito immediately called a judge to try to get his op disqualified (again, because he was inevitably going to lose [the next turn, IIRC]).

    I suggest you stop trying to rationalize the immoral things people do. It’s really quite a stupid position to take. You just need to get over it, IMO.

  250. @jwc
    What other judges think about it is not important because they weren’t there bearing witness to it, unlike the judge who was there, sitting there the entire time, and Saito’s opponent.

    Also, there was another eyewitness who was right there, and recounted what had happened. Saito’s opponent later confirmed what this witness had said to be true. The end.

    Only one part really needs to be read: Saito reading his op’s JTMS over and over again. Mind you, this was of course when there was only about 6 minutes left, and only 1 of a number things that made up his obvious slowplaying.

  251. 300+ posts and I have read them all, sad, but true. I figured I would throw my 1000+ words in for debate! I will continue to follow the thread here, but I won’t respond to childish crackbacks, so if you must, you must, and the internet gives you that privilage!

    1. Did Saito stall? Only the people who saw this knows for sure. The judge made the call. Does the judge always get it right? No, I have seen over the years judges get it wrong, but they are human and sometimes judgement calls are really tough for anyone to make. They do the best they can and hopefully always judge based on the game state currently being reviewed. At no time, IMO, should a judge base a decision on the past errors of a player. The only thing that should matter is what is happening at the time of the decision. We are not talking about putting a crack dealer away for his 10 offense, so please don’t tell me at a court of law looks at the past of an individual. Does WOTC/DCI have a PDF with the 20 “other” times that this situation “possibly” occured where a judge had to moderate the game due to slow play/possible stalling? I don’t know, but if not, the judge should not go by some rumors that the player is a cheater or staller.

    2. CFB dropping Saito and doing it public for all to see. I think that the CFB “brand” is trying to protect its image and I don’t see a problem with this at all. I have seen a few people reference Ruel and how can they let him post and ban Saito. Ok, not comparing Magic to sports as I know the difference, but look at Mark McGwire from St. Louis. He cheated, disappeared for a while, then was given a chance to coach with St. Louis many years later. They let the dust settle, he kept his nose clean in public, and then was given a job. I really enjoy most of the articles on here and will miss Saito’s writing, but CFB is their own entity and they need to do what is best for their own brand.

    3. Chess clocks, lol, that is too funny. I like that MTGO has that idea, but in real life it would be a total joke. I think I will try this with some players in testing situations, just to see how screwed up it is, but I am sure it is totally a bad idea. I might get a sprained finger from pressing it a thousand times in a match, but I will try it anyway.

    4. The same players always making the top in every tourney. For anyone who has ever attended a GP, you will get this. For other people who have not, you might not. Most pro players start with 2-3 byes in each GP. So, when you go 4-0 (with no byes) and they are 4-0, you are already behind most of the time due to the math involved. I will give a quick example: PRO guy with 3 byes plays GP grinder with no byes in round 4, both are 3-0. He wins and his OMW % is 75.0% to start. If you have no byes, go 4-0 and played several other people who are 2-2 after 4 rounds you are at 50%. You are way behind at this point. You just have to hope that your opponents, either win or drop since if they lose more, you go down from there. Some players will drop X-3 without blinking, but I know a few people who have played round after round getting smashed in the face because they wanted to play for the sake of it. The Pro Players don’t have to deal with that situations in GPs (most of the time). Most of the people they will face will drop when out of Day 2 contention or out of the money. In sealed/booster draft, you are behind because most of the time, they are just way better than the average grinder at card selection, reading packs, and making less play mistakes. Watch some of the draft videos. Sometimes it looks like they drafted a pile and still do well with it. MTGO is not allowing them to cheat, so get over the idea that all PRO are cheaters.

    5. If you are a PRO Player and get compensation on this or any other site, please don’t take this personal as it is not ment to be. Don’t bad mouth posters on here or anywhere else. Some of the posters may be knuckleheads, but don’t look foolish getting involved in debates with them. They win every time (in their mind), because their only goal is to bait you. Don’t allow them the satisfaction of doing it. I assure you, with no response they will either go away or cry since no one is paying attention to them.

    6. Cheating in general has and always be part of the game. YES, I said it! I started playing in 1994 and still continue to play today. I could tell you stories about some of the best cheaters in the game and witnessing it first hand, but who really cares about that. The facts: read and learn the rules, don’t be afraid or intimidated to call a judge, and most of all, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it probably was a duck.

    Sincerely,

    BVeg

  252. @jwc: I don’t mean to be rude. I really am thankful that you’re not a judge if you think that you would have trouble deciding when to issue a stalling infraction. If anyone is being rude, I think it’s you. Your sarcastic comments from two posts ago were not well-received on this end.

    And of course judges can always keep learning, but it’s very rare these days that I learn something new about judging (I mostly learn about how to organize tournaments, as this is the sort of thing you start learning for your L2). I’m an L1, to answer your question, but that says nothing about my skill as a judge. Even if I had all the know-how of Toby Elliott, I would still be stuck at L1 until I’ve been judging for at least six months.

    That being said, I have no qualms about saying that I am a good enough judge to be a higher level, even right now. I’ve read the CR, MTR, and IPG in one sitting, multiple times. On several occasions, I’ve corrected higher-level judges about intricate card interactions. And yes, I did pass all my exams “with flying colors”. I got 100% on my Rules Advisor test, and I also got around 85% on my L1 exam (and the judge who gave me the exam said that normally he would never test someone as quickly as he tested me, but he knew it wouldn’t be a problem… and he was right).

    And, after reading your explanation of why it IS subjective, I’ve decided that we’re having slightly different arguments anyway. You’re talking about PRIOR to issuing anything… a judge has to be subjective in deciding that a player is intentionally stalling. To some extent, I agree with that. However, I think that in a given slow-play situation, there would be minimal variance between the calls that different judges would make. That’s because we’re all trained to spot the same things, and those things are pretty good at giving away intentional stalling.

    Anyway, the above paragraph is pretty unrelated to my original post about subjectivity. If you recall, I was originally trying to explain to Zayll that stalling is not simply about decreasing your rate of play (which would indeed be very subjective). And that is why I say we’re having different arguments.

    Now, let’s please stop this. In closing, I apologize if I seemed rude. I’m sure you would make an excellent judge, should you ever have the inclination. And if you need help learning when to issue a stalling infraction, I’d be happy to help 😉

  253. Pingback: MTGBattlefield

  254. It seems like Channel only cares about it’s own reputation not a pro-players one. Saito didn’t say a word he did it intentionally. I think that firing him is a big loose fore u guyz.

  255. I can only assume people who are confused by why CFB had to and did drop him after the DQ have never held a real job before. That’s what it is, after all, a working relationship, and an employee who gets caught with reasonable evidence of cooking the books doesn’t get a slap on the wrist, they get shown the door. Of course it’s a shame it went down like this…

  256. I really don’t care about the rubbish that happened in Florence, I just want to read more of Saito’s articles. Big fail >.<

  257. Even if i think that’s more than a reasonale call to drop him in these circumstances being he DQ for the second time, i think probably that the most right one would be to just suspend his collaboration until Wizards makes the definitive call.
    I also believe that you at CFB have obviously more inside information about that event and i believe that if you choosed to drop him instead of just suspending him it must be because you already know that the disqualification will be most certainly confirmed.
    I am sorry for what happened since i really like what Saito has to give to the game, being him a master in tweaking the decks.
    Stalling is the minor kind of cheating that i can imagine of; still it’s offending and probably the most common kind of cheating. I’m glad to see that judges can actually make something to contrast it and hope that it will lead to a better play experience for us all.
    As a point in favor of Saito, it seems like he’s accepting the DQ with dignity, thing that not everyone is capable of.

  258. What a pussy. No outs, game is over, and he sits there fiddling with his Wasteland for 15 minutes like a baby who can’t take a loss. Ever seen Finkel lose? He concedes, shakes his opponent’s hand and picks up his cards. That’s how a hall of famer acts. Man up, show your opponent a little respect, and show the world a little class.

  259. Why do people keep citing the situation from GP Columbus (where Saito rereads his opponent’s Jace), when what is at issue here is his disqualification from GP Florence? The last time I checked, they weren’t printing JTMS or Wasteland in SOM.

    The only account of what actually happened at GP Florence that I’ve seen here seems to suggest that Saito slowed down to calculate blocks on a complicated board position, which on its own does not appear to warrant a DQ.

    While Saito’s conduct during the match in question at GP Columbus is certainly suspect, he was not punished for it, and theoretically it should have no bearing on how he is judged at GP Florence. But given the only account of the actual game situation at GP Florence that I’ve seen, it seems like some consideration must have been given to Saito’s reputation and record.

    Was this an attempt from the DCI to make an example of someone with a known background in order to send a message about cheating? Are they going to be putting players with a history of cheating on a shorter leash? (I’m not a judge, but maybe someone knows of a policy already in place?)

    If that’s the case, I have no problem with it. I would just prefer to be told upfront that consideration is going to be given to prior (sometimes unpunished) offenses.

  260. Not getting punished before means we should give him the benefit of the doubt this time. Right. The judges in Columbus dropped the ball, nothing you can do about that, but you can’t expect this type of behavior not to come around and bite you in the ass. It’s too bad that he didn’t get caught before the HOF voting.

  261. Well, i’m sorry to see Saito go. If he will start writting for another site i’ll make sure to read his articles there. Also, i think it was kind of rash to fire him… could have at least waited to see how his appeal fares. And i think it’s the DCI job to punish him, not ours.

    Also @Ryan Spring:
    Don’t tell people to STFU. It’s only normal that they want to express their opinion on an important subject such as this.

  262. @Confused — I highly doubt that the DCI had it out for him. The guys going into the HoF, do you really think they want this type of conversation going on 2 weeks from Worlds, where Saito will stand up there and get his ring. The DCI would have to be a bunch of idiots to plan the timing of this on purpose to prove some anti-cheating point. Not bloody likely.

  263. The cold reality is that business decisions are made without compassion. Decisions in general are often based on history, rather than the relevant facts. And no matter how skilled and thorough a judge may be, he is unlikely to truly understand the mental state of the accused.

    This is not to say things could have been dealt with differently. However, I’m not convinced that justice has been done here.

    The mind is a complicated thing. Most people are way to eager to assume they know what another person is thinking.

  264. it’s embarrassing for Saito
    it’s embarrassing for Wizards (who supported Saito)
    it’s embarrassing for this site (who supported Saito)
    it’s embarrassing for LSV (who supported Saito)

    there’s a reason why Wizards are moving away from the professional side of the game to the more casual side, this event illustrates why

    embarrassing

  265. Chess clocks don’t have to be used every time a person is given priority. You just hit it when your opponent goes into the tank on something for a while. It’s not like we’re talking about “speed magic” or something.

  266. @chaosorbit – It was not my intention to imply that the DCI had it out for Saito. If you would like, you can read the offending paragraph out of my comment, since it was merely idle speculation and unnecessary to the main thrust of what I was saying. My question was whether a player’s conduct at prior tournaments has/should have any bearing on a ruling made in a future tournament.

    People in this thread have made references to the fact that Saito has previously received warnings for slow play, and many have cited the incident at GP Columbus (for which Saito was not punished) as if it was somehow relevant to the DCI’s ruling at GP Florence. Is that the case? Or are all of these comments just confused about the difference between Columbus and Florence?

    What I am really curious about is what Saito actually did at GP Florence to get DQed. If the judges were taking his reputation into account when they made their ruling, then I can see how bringing up his record or prior incidents might be relevant. But if he was DQed on the sole basis of his conduct at GP Florence, shouldn’t it be important to know what actually happened there?

  267. I commented earlier that it seemed suspicious that the same pros keep top 8’ing 1000+ person GPs. But someone above pointed out that pros tend to get 3 byes at GPs, which I forgot about. So it actually makes a lot more sense now. Thanks for clarifying.

  268. Here’s my 1,000 word take on it: I’m about to talk about the NBA, and don’t worry, I’m not going to say that stalling is an acceptable tactic. This incident reminded me of how Rasheed Wallace used to be treated by refs. After he got his reputation, all he had to do was look at a ref the wrong way and he’d get T’d up. Sometimes all he’d do is clap his hands in frustration. Meanwhile, squeaky clean guys like Tim Duncan would routinely bulge his eyes at refs while raising his arms in a “what??? how did you not see that I got fouled!” manner and get away with it.

    People have mentioned that there are a lot of folks talking on here without having any facts. This is true, most of us have no idea what went down in Florence. Most of us have never met Tomoharu Saito. However, I think the following statements are irrefutable facts:

    Fact #1: People, even refs/judges/authority figures, are sometimes biased
    Fact #2: Players have been wrongly DQ’d before, many, many times
    Fact #3: Just because a player has cheated in previous tournaments, doesn’t mean the player will cheat in the next one.

    I can personally attest to this one. Yes, a habitual cheater is much more likely to cheat in a tournament than a Brad Nelson or a LSV. I used to cheat back when I was a teenager in the late 90s, mainly because it was so easy to do so at my local store by slipping in an extra card or two in my draft pool. Then I grew up and stopped. Now most of my opponents don’t even cut the deck when I present it to them, and they would never believe that I used to cheat.

    Fact #4: Even top professional players, during key, stressful points in a game, have stopped to read a card they’ve playtested with many times.

    Fact #5: Make up calls happen; in sports, in other competitive arenas, and in life.

    A make up call; all basketball fans seen this happen many times. A ref blatantly misses a call, the home crowd boos lustily as the replay gets shown on the Jumbotron repeatedly — then they call a touch foul on the other end to “make up” for the previous blown call.

    The biggest make up call in history: OJ Simpson. They botched his murder trial, so they make up for it by getting him for being a loud belligerent black man brandishing a gun in a hotel room. Bank robbers, who go into public places, and point automatic weapons at dozens of people, while attempting to steal a lot more than just sports memorabilia, get sentenced way less years than what OJ got. Yet no one complained because, well, it’s OJ, he deserved it.

    Someone in an earlier post said they were amused because people are acting like Billy Moreno’s friend’s account of what happened in Columbus was a “sworn affidavit”. At the end of the day, it’s still just one person’s account. But let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that the account was 100 percent accurate. Then it really seems like Saito-san was stalling, and he should have been DQ’d. Maybe DCI in retrospect, realized they dropped the ball by not DQ’ing him then and there.

    I find the statement issued by the Florence judge a little vague/weak. He claimed that Saito appeared to change his pace of play after being told about the limited amount of time left. Really? Saito is a master, and if 80 percent of you are correct, he’s a master cheater and stalling is his signature tactic and knows how to get away with it and has been getting away with it for a decade. He could probably pound 8 beers, stand on one leg, touch his nose, and silently count in his head to 50 minutes and be accurate within 30 seconds. Does he really need to be reminded about the time to trigger his alleged stalling tactics? I stopped cheating back in the day because I could feel the heat from fellow players (“how did you draft that much removal?”). Saito has thrice the brain power I do, I doubt he was oblivious to the heat he was drawing from Columbus. Would he so blatantly start stalling AFTER he was reminded about time constraints at the very next GP?

    What if what he is claiming is the truth? That the board was stalemated for many turns while both players played draw go. Then the opponent top decked removal and alpha striked his 9 or 10 creatures into Saito’s 5 or 6. Is that a good enough reason to “appear to change his pace of play”? Oh heck yes. Frankly I find that a lot more plausible than him starting to stall just because some judge reminded them of limited time. It’s also plausible that the judges there had a heightened awareness of Saito’s reputation given recent events, and made a “make up” call, if you will.

    That being said, I’m not defending Saito-san. He doesn’t inspire peoples’ confidence a la Brad Nelson and the like. And I’m not upset that CFB let him go, it was an unfortunate situation for all. He probably has cheated in the past. Probably as recently as Columbus. But I don’t think he did at Florence.

    What’s really bothering me is the way he’s being instantly vilified and judged with no hard facts. It’s really unamerican. And as hard as the moderator has been working to filter out racial slurs, I’ve had a chance to read a few before they had a chance to take it down. I’ve seen words like “gook”, “chink”, “rice picker”, and “slant eye”.

    Fact #6: Racism exists.

    So, to all you ignorant folks out there casting aspersions on the entire Asian race, and you know who you are, I leave you with one question that I’d really like you to ask yourself:

    What if it was Brad Nelson or LSV who got DQ’d with no warning (I understand stalling does not require a warning before a DQ, and rightfully so) while the presiding head judge issued a weak/vague statement? What would your posts look like then?

  269. It’s more the whole thing of him acting like this before (stalling) and never been DQ’d for it, but finally gets caught doing it and DQ’d for it… It felt like a longtime coming really.

    Did anyone read the article defending Saito back when they were voting for HoF? Author said he would abuse the Warning system as part of the game, and thought it was bad not to. A different view of what cheating truly is. So it’s certainly believable that Saito did not feel he was cheating (Felt as though he was just bending the rules to his advantage)… However what he was doing is outlined in the rules as cheating.

    I just can’t understand people not viewing Saito as super guilty here. He basically just got his hand in the cookie jar and there have been numerous stories of Saito’s famous stall tactics/cheats.

  270. My opinion of Luis has improved as a result of this decision.
    I have suspected for a long while that he was a moral fellow. Some interviews he has done have supported this notion. Now it is more clear.

    The rules are the rules.
    Obey them or accept the consequences for your choice. (For those who love the real world analogy, if the speed limit is 65 and you choose to drive 66+, you are breaking the law. Your choice. No crying. No grey area. No “66 isn’t that bad. It’s not like I was doing 100.” You might get away with it every day for 40 years, but if one day you get a citation, keep your mouth shut. You knew and you chose.)

    If you don’t like the rules, attempt to change them. However, your disagreement with the rules does not excuse you from them.

    Perhaps Luis had a sit down with his team and said, “Zero tolerance. Consider carefully your choices as a member of this team. While you wear our gear, you go forth as a representative of all of us. Conduct yourselves accordingly.”

  271. This really is a shame. I enjoyed reading his articles, and will continue doing so – regrettably not on this site though. Personally speaking, I am against the decision to drop him.

  272. A couple points I’d like to mention:

    Some of you have asked about whether or not judges take people’s bad reputations into account when judging. The IPG outlines a specific philosophy on this: if a player has a bad reputation, then a judge should watch that player carefully, but they are not given any less leeway with their actions. For instance, a player who usually never shuffles enough should be watched carefully while he shuffles, but if he shuffles improperly when you’re watching him, you still start with just a warning or a caution.

    Another point: some people have been saying LSV is a moral non-cheater. Others have been saying that all CFB members are cheaters. For those who don’t know, LSV is a former judge, and the only reason he stopped is because he liked being a pro (and he was good at it). He still appreciates judging and judges, and wants to protect the integrity of the game. He did not fire Saito for any reason other than that he does not tolerate cheating (and I’m not saying that Saito definitely was cheating, but he definitely was judged to be stalling, and as we have pointed out many times, that’s more than enough in the business world).

  273. Wow, the amount of nuthuggery from the wanna-be pros is atrocious. How many commenters were actually there and watching the proceedings? Exactly.

    The fact that so many wannabes are defending Saito speaks volumes about why “pro players” are viewed as such douchebags (not an unfair assessment, from my experiences). Saito clearly has a reputation and history for breaking and stretching rules, and that is not the way the game should be played if it wants to be taken as a “professional” game.

    Now, if CFB is truly anti-cheating, why then ..
    1. Is notorious cheater Ruel associated with the site? Leopards don’t change their spots.
    2. Is a known rules-lawyer like Matt Nass associated with the site? Getting an opponent DQ’d for having foils in their decks is hardly better than intentionally stalling.

    I applaud CFB for trying to keep a clean reputation, but given the amount of cheating and rule stretching that goes on with the “pros”, they’d have to fire most every writer if they really wanted to be clean and white as fresh snow.

  274. @Johnny – So if someone has a reputation for shoplifting, you can arrest them as soon as they pick something off the shelf? That’s a dangerous inference to make. How can you say that “what he was doing is outlined in the rules as cheating” if you don’t know what Saito was doing to get DQed or exactly how things went down in Florence? Unless you have a more detailed account of the events, then all you’re doing is convicting someone on the basis of reputation and rumor alone–or in other words, because “he looks guilty.”

    @Connor – Thank you for clearing that up. Though that makes me even more curious now what the situation was, how much of a warning was given out, etc.

  275. As a long time chess player rated USCF 2100+, I agree chess clocks will not work. However, I can still envision a turn timing strip akin to the same on MTGO. It would actually be two strips detailing all the various phases connected by a cord in the middle. It would display the time of course and light up at the current phase. You can set stops for it, possibly hidden somehow so the other player can’t see the stops set. It’s start/stop mechanism (the button) extends from another wire at the end of the strip for more convenience.

  276. want to give a shout out to Connor for being, hands down, one of the most reasonable and helpful people writing on these comments.

    also would like to second the guy who pointed out the racism. I’ve always wanted to think more of magic players than that, but the number of people who are dropping racial slurs over the possibility that someone broke the rules of a card game…. it’s a little unsettling.

  277. Frankly, I’m not sure why everyone cares now. And I dont get why ANYONE is defending him.

    1. Do you have any evidence that he did NOT cheat, other than his own bias word?
    2. You just don’t get DQ’ed as a pro possible HOF’er unless you’re really cheating
    3. He WAS really cheating. He read Jace the Mind Sculptor, a hugely popular card that anyone who has ever even been to a Pro Tour knows off the top of his head in order to stall. Then, he read it again. He also counted both graveyards, a sideboard, etc, etc.
    4. Saito’s lying to himself if he says he wasn’t cheating. The honest thing to do would be to own up and make sure it never happens again.

  278. Sometimes pros don’t even know what the cards they’re playing with do. I forgot who, but in a recent extended event, a pro talked about how he lost because he forgot that his Pernicious Deed couldn’t kill a planeswalker, he assumed the text said non-land permanents when instead said artifacts, creatures, and enchantments, and lost as a result. He should have taken the time to read the card, a card he’s should be very familiar with, a card that was/is abundantly popular, a card he presumably playtested with. Let’s move past the Jace thing, that was at Columbus. I’d like to know the board state in question at Florence.

  279. Question to LSV, which echoes other sentiments expressed thus far: if you feel cheating is so bad for the game, why hire Saito or Olivier Ruel to begin with? Is the take-home message here that supporting cheaters is okay up until a certain threshold of bad PR is reached?

    I like this site and its writers, so I’m working hard to try and maintain my former level of respect for CFB, but it’s proving difficult in the face of the heretofore unexplained inconsistencies regarding this site’s attitudes toward cheaters.

  280. I want to offer my support to Saito, letting everyone know that he’ll never lose the trust his supporters have in him. I saw you win GP Columbus, I know you are a great player and will wait for your return. Please keep on going, and in the meanwhile, take care of yourself.
    Truthfully
    Roxane

  281. suspended list updated

    Tomoharu Saito suspended for 18 months.

    Now we wait and see what effect this has on the HOF, Saito’s influence on the Japanese magic community (in particular his store and fellow japanese GP and PT travellors), and the PT in general.
    18 months seems long enough to knock someone out of the PT and possibly even MTG altogether for a while.

  282. Yeesh…18 month suspension. He just went on about how that’s effectively a prison term in his last article, too.

    I think Saito’s stalling came from an insane drive to win. He wasn’t doing it to be a jerk or to throw a tantrum, he was playing a separate game, a gambling game: walking the line on a facet of the rules that can often be fuzzy while praying it might work out in his favor. It’s easy to tell yourself this isn’t cheating, because the line can be so blurry between taking your time and stalling, and you’re just so desperate to win you should be trying everything in your power to come out on top, but the simple fact is that the Head Judge called him for cheating, and cheating has consequences.

    Whether he deserved his previous suspension or not, Saito has said himself that he has since been a marked man with the unfortunate but necessary baggage of always having to be on his best behavior. He let that slip too far (twice now, one might argue) and he’s paying for it, as he knew he would if his gamble failed.

    Such wasted talent is a shame, though–he really didn’t have to cheat to be one of the best players in the world.

  283. @Ryan Spring

    HERE are the facts that we know for sure:He has three offenses of being caught cheating. He wrote an article last week about how cheating is terrible and we should learn from his mistakes. And now here he is disqualified by an official judge at a grand prix for cheating. I think its fair to make a judgement at this point. Saito is not an ethical player. Period.

  284. I dont care why he did it. He cheated, that simple. I’m glad that he will no longer be featured on the site. CFB did the right thing taking this decision as quickly as they did. Much respect for CFB.

  285. I’d like to talk about Olivier Ruel.

    He has cheated in the past, yes. That was BEFORE he was employed by ChannelFireball. The same is true of Saito. But when ChannelFireball hired them, they had served their time and were back to playing presumably fair games of Magic. This website gave them the same second chance that was given to them by the DCI itself.

    But now Saito has been indicted for cheating WHILE employed by ChannelFireball. You don’t get second chances for that, because you should know that you represent your team, and your team doesn’t cheat.

    There is no double standard here.

  286. Not surprised, not fazed that he was fired from this site. It is the easiest type of cheating to do in Magic and the fact that he got away with it so often unpunished before now was a bad example for Magic players everywhere. It is not okay to intentionally stall when you are ahead a game. While some are saying that his actions at Florence didn’t deserve this, he has been repeatedly reported for doing this behavior, as recent as his win in Columbus. I mean, the guy took 2 min every turn his opponent used Jace TMS. The card isn’t that complicated or strange, Saito. And to others that say “he was blinded by his drive to win”….what? All cheaters cheat because they are driven to win. You wouldn’t cheat if you wanted to lose, would you?

  287. To all the people saying CFB decided too quickly & should have waited to find out more about the situation first… I think it’s probably a safe assumption that they know more about it than what’s contained in their brief public statement. Just because they didn’t post a complete transcript of every discussion they had with Saito & anyone else about this, and a complete brain-dump of everything they know about this… That doesn’t mean they don’t have way more information about what’s going on than us random readers of the site do.

    I’m willing to trust their judgement that the decision wasn’t made without a lot of thought, discussion, and information going into it. I don’t feel the need for them to tell me every last detail of it, either.

  288. Pingback: Tomoharu Saito Suspended 18 Months by DCI | Eternal Central

  289. You will stop to publish his articles for that? Oh my god… LSV you are a loser.
    Incredible decision… this webpage is running bad … and usually it’s not a good signal.
    Why the cheater Ochoa it’s still writing here?
    bah … good job… really….

  290. Ah yeah I forgot the other great cheater Olivier Ruel!
    And the stalling it’s far away from that form of cheating… maybe in some days… some others of you will be accused wrongly by DCI and I will made a lot of laughs!

  291. Alberto Mazzucato

    Hello everyone I’m an Italian boy and I attended gp florence. Saito absolutely did not commit any infringement. I think it was a serious plot or similar, I think I have the evidence. With regard to channel fireball, I do not just remove it from the team, is in these moments that a team from the support. greetings

  292. I’m sorry to see that an obvious great player felt the need to user different means than just his superior skills to win that match. The people at the DCI have made up their mind and came with a suspension. I am happy to see support from an important party in the community (i.e. CFB) for a zero tolerance policy towards cheating. This is very necessary!

    If you, the community, wants a cheat free environment, then it’s you, the community, who needs to do a couple of things: 1. zero tolerance towards cheating; 2. speak up when you think you see something shady.

    Judges catch a cheater when they can. And they can do this so much better when they know where to look.

    Jaap

  293. “I think it was a serious plot or similar, I think I have the evidence. ”

    SO GOOD. It’s a conspiracy, folks! The DCI is out to get Saito!

  294. I’m a native speaker, and the above message seems to have been mistranslated. You should check again with a few other Japanese people.

    Whether he cheated or not remains to be seen, but I hope he doesn’t get fired because of a mistranslation.

    A word for word translation for the last part:
    “I can’t completely refute that it (may have) ‘looked’ that way to others, but I wasn’t stalling at all.”

    To put things in context, right before this sentence he recounts how he was told that he’s getting qualified because he “looked” as if he was stalling. If he were American, he might have put the above sentence like: “They say I ‘looked’ as if I were cheating. I don’t know what I may have ‘looked’ as if I were doing, but I wasn’t stalling at all.”

    The English translation you posted seems to add a lot of extraneous words to smooth out the sentence, and in the process makes it sound like he acknowledges that the observer’s opinions are true.

    Your translation:
    “I do not deny the comments and observations of other players claiming they observed the same thing;”

    A word-for-word translation of the original Japanese:
    “I can’t completely refute that it ‘looked’ that way to others, but…”

    The way the words “I do not deny” is being used makes it look as if Saito acknowledges cheating, which is not what he’s saying.

    The last half of the sentence is even more mistranslated.

    Your translation:
    “…all I can say is that at the time I truly did not believe that I was stalling.”

    A word for word translation of the latter half:
    “…at the time, I wasn’t stalling at all.”

    Your translation makes it sound like he’s acknowledging that he was stalling and he just didn’t realize what he was doing it at the time, which is not what he’s saying. A lot of superfluous words appear in the translation which I don’t know where they came from, and they affect the way the statement sounds.

  295. One of the things that may have confused the translator is the fact that Saito apologizes in the beginning of the letter.

    Japanese people will apologize for getting hit by a car. That is because it causes people to worry about that person (even if it wasn’t their fault.) Sometimes it is more of a formality, sometimes they are really sorry about making people worry about them. But anyways, he isn’t saying he cheated.

    This is a misunderstanding comparable to something like:
    “My pet cat died today.”
    “Oh, I’m sorry.”
    “What, you’re sorry? Why? So you were the one who fed my cat poison?”

  296. I guess my stack of Saito Pro Player cards just went up in value!

    Sad to see a player of Saito’s caliber go down like this. Guilty or not I think that CFB is taking the correct actions to distance itself from the very appearance of shady play.

    Once Saito’s suspension has been served and he comes back and plays again (which of course he will) then I absolutely think the door should be open for him to write here again. If Oli can write here then any player attempting to atone for past mistakes should be able to write here. The man is a genius so his writing deffinitly has value for the rest of us.

  297. Has anyone considered the cultural differences in this situation? I am not absolutely sure what I am getting at here, but I do know that there are many differences in the way I, an American, and most other countries view many subjects. I have learned a lot about this by just reading Saito’s articles and reports. the way he lives and dies with every game, how he can be up 2-0 in a best of 5 finals and still believe that there is no way he can win. to me this thought process seems completely ridiculous, and yet there it is. I am in no way trying to appear culturally prejudice or anything, but it seems to me that from a social viewpoint Japanese people value success very highly, perhaps to the point that things that some view as cheep or shady, are viewed as necessary at times to be the best. I have heard of similar things in other games, such as Starcraft. In America, we always want to cheer for the good guy and hate the bad guy, well perhaps in japan they cheer for the best and hate the worst. not saying that this is true, just that there are differences and while I may not know exactly what they are, I do not want to pass judgment based on my own cultural biases. I also disagree with LSV’s decision, however I respect him for making one. It seems hasty to lay judgment before the issue is even resolved with the D.C.I. and while it may prove to have been necessary I for one will sincerely miss the insight gained by Mr. Saito.

  298. You bring up an interesting point, but I dont think its completely true. I think the Japanese do value honest competition over winning. For example, in Japanese mma, some fighters lose several matches in a row and still get contracts to keep coming back and fighting, because they put up a tough honest fight. And fans still love them. You dont see that in the US.

    I think its his personality more than his culture. Everyone knows someone thats overly competitive and will do ‘whatever it takes’ to win. Whether they’re from US, Germany, or Japan doesnt really make a difference.

  299. The mental gymnastics people go through to try to justify the things he’s done, and that people romanticize him and Japan in general, is hilarious.

  300. Rather than all this talk of chess clocks, it would be much easier to just have experienced judges adjudicate incomplete games. Without going in to anything more controversial, you could just have a player be awarded a win, if he can demonstrate that he has to borrow chess terms “a forced win” and shows how he can win irrespective of what the opponent may do. This would solve a majority of the truly unjust situations.