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Tomoharu Saito Suspended for 18 Months

The DCI did not take long to decide Tomoharu Saito’s fate after his disqualification without prize at Grand Prix Florence last weekend. Today, they announced that the Hall-of-Famer-elect will be suspended until May 30, 2012, a period of 18 months for “Unsporting Conduct – Stalling.”

No announcement has been made about his status for his upcoming Hall of Fame induction at Worlds in two weeks.

114 thoughts on “Tomoharu Saito Suspended for 18 Months”

  1. HOLY!! A Year and a half without tournament magic and probable HOF stripage?!!

    Saito must be wondering if god him

  2. I’m not going to condone Saito for stalling, but I think 18 months a bit harsh for stalling. He didn’t “Mike Long” anyone.

  3. I am half Japanese, and although I don’t know the full story behind the situation I fully support this decision. If cheating did happen, it cannot be tolerated among anyone. I believe showing such consequences keeps the game from disintegrating and helps people play fair. I hope he (assuming he did actually cheat) learns from this and comes back for a fresh start.

  4. “Did not he just write an article about not cheating?”

    If i recall correctly, he wrote that before HOF voting(correct me if im wrong). While i doubt it was a huge influence, I’m sure it was in the back of his mind as he wrote the article.

    I don’t know the severity of his stalling, but if a group of judges and the DCI deemed that it was cheating, I’m going to agree with the choice.

    They wouldn’t suspend one of the best magic players in the world on a whim.

  5. I love how quickly the little fireball next to his name on the PotY race disappeared. Good work CFB:)

  6. That decision is a bit harsh, since he will not be able to come back before may 2012, let’s say he’ll lose 2 complete years, even 3 including the end of the current year, not 18 months. The decision was made really quickly, it took only a few days, I wonder if there is anything behind it especially when he is banned so long for one of the less punishable cheating method. If he doesn’t quit playing, that’ll only be because he loves the game so much, and I guess he will take care of his store, but I doubt if we will ever be able to make a comeback. A few months would be enough to screw up this year already and probably the next one.

    I don’t say he didn’t cheat, I don’t say he did either, but the decision was quick and an maybe exaggerated. Some other players got only DQed without prize for bribery or waging like Drew Levin at GP Columbus, (witch allowed Brad Nelson to make top 8 BTW)

    Anyway, all this to say that I hope a decision to shorten the sentence will be announce soon.

  7. I was at GP: Col, and lets just say that watching Saito play was… interesting. From that event (that was blogged about) his biggest “slow-play” syndrome was reading JTMS multiple times in the same game; turn after turn in succession. It’s not the first time he’s slow-played….

    He has been notorious for this and that probably factored into the DCI’s decisions.

  8. He might be reading JTMS many times, that doesn’t deserve a suspension for 18 months. Stress is lived by anyone, he’s not a superhuman. He uses to slap himself to be aware and concentrate, verifying the board state is an other way. I’d read every cards in the world to be sure I don’t make any mistake in a event as important as a GP, even if it is a card used in every format ever. Some pro’s lost due to misreading or thinking they remembered the card.

    EVEN, if he did “stalled”, my argument is the sentence is a bit excessive.

  9. It’s sad to see such a big name take such a harsh punishment, but we all need to remember something very important: This is Saito’s second career suspension by the DCI. That had to factor into the length of the sentence as much as anything else.

    And I know the difference between someone who honestly doesn’t know what Jace does and someone who is trying to 1-0-1 the match. Cheatyface strikes again, and it makes me glad that the Player of the Year trophy is likely coming back to the US this year.

  10. Afaik this isnt Saito’s first suspension which probably doesnt helped his case that much. That would also explain why the period is (relativly) long

  11. The fact that the DCI made this announcement without mentioning his HOF status shocks me. There is NO WAY they can let him into the hall of fame a week after suspending him for 18 months. I believe that he will most likely be excluded from the ceremony, serve the suspension, come back to the game, cheat again, and get banned for life.

  12. @Roxane

    The reason he is being suspended for so long is because he’s been convicted of cheating like 10 times already (that’s an exaggeration, but my point is valid). He’s off the train now, and if he wants to come back to the PT in 18 months, he’s going to have to jump back on the PTQ bandwagon like the rest of us (except for the rest of us weren’t derailed by cheating).

  13. While stalling is unfair and against the rules, I have no idea why it is being considered “cheating.” Assuming he was given sufficient warnings beforehand, I agree that he should have been disqualified for stalling, but an 18 month suspension for playing slow? Come on, it’s not like he swapped cards around mid-game or had marked cards.

  14. Oh man this is completely ridiculous. Banned from tournament play for a year and a half. This guy’s career is magic, it’s his best skill. No warning, no game loss, no match loss, not even a tournament DQ is enough – DCI has to basically ban him from magic? Either we’re not getting the whole of the story, or I lost all my respect for DCI / Wizards.

    Do you all even know how Saito’s first suspension happened?

    “. . . Later the same season, he made his first standout finish by reaching the top eight of the Asia Pacific Championship. His quarter-final opponent was to have been Peter Chao of Singapore. However, Chao was not able to attend the final day of competition, and asked Saitou for a prize split. The judges ruled this to be bribery and disqualified Saitou, Chao, and Satoshi Nakamura who had acted as their interpreter . . . ”

    On top of that, the prize split ruling had just been passed right before this occurred (I’m talking like within a few weeks or less) and was rumored to not have been told to the contestants at the beginning of the event.

    So Saito didn’t even accept Peter’s offer, the fact that he merely discussed it was grounds enough for a 2 year suspension. Seriously DCI, it’s not good enough that you’ve screwed this guy once; you have to do it again?

    How is it okay to suspend a player for something as minor as slow play WITHOUT a warning first? How is it okay to suspend someone for DISCUSSING a prize split? How many of us here at CFB have won game 1 using UW control and slow played the second game to ensure the win? How many of us have split in a tournament?

    How are these grounds enough to deprive someone of their career?

  15. This is definately a harsh punishment. I’ve traded with this guy several times at GP KL, I’ve watched him play (never got to play him but my friend did) and he is a super nice guy and a tight player. I would never suspect him for intentionally cheat. I’ve played with several players who stalled and called on the judge and the head judge just pass out warning for slow play. Just because he is a POTY contender and HoF inductee probably make DCI hand him a harsher sentence as compare to a rookie…

    Harsh, harsh, harsh.

  16. I’m glad WotC decided to man up and take care of this before Worlds rather than very quietly afterwards.

  17. “Cheating – stalling”, that’s what reads in the official document concerning these things. How come some people think it’s OK, or at least more OK than stacking your deck or whatnot. No matter whether you stack your deck or abuse the tournament clock, if you willingly do something that is against the rules in order to get a better match result for yourself, that is wrong and there should be a punishment. If you never get suspended for “merely” stalling, shouldn’t you just do it more often? It’s impossible to catch all the instances when someone stalls, so there should be a big penalty when someone gets caught.

    And in Saito’s case, it seems it was not the first time he’s playing with the clock and DCI officials seem to have taken that into account. The decision did come very quickly.

  18. in saitos defense, he may of just had to think over his moves before he made them and channelfireball is lame for just kicking him to the curb. he is one of the best in the game and doesn’t deserve these remarks from all these geeks who will probably never make it to a pro tour, or accomplish what he has. watch videos in the past of him playing, he always played at a slower pace. and off topic, how is conley woods on channelfireball but not a actually good player like nassif?

  19. Stalling is such a dumb ban, a DQ is bad enough if you’ve travelled to a tournament. I mean really, if someone has a history of stalling, get judges to pay a little extra attention to the person, and DQ him again after you warn him. I mean really, if you tell someone to speed up and stand behind them watching they’re going to speed up. If it happens often, start handing out DQs and watching more closely. But a ban, for stalling? And 18 months no less? Eff off DCI, that’s bull.

  20. @amartin

    So, if there are 30 players in a 1500 player GP with “a history of stalling” playing, they should have 10-20 judges watching just these guys in case a DQ needs to be given? How about if you just suspend a player that keeps on stalling, so maybe he will _STOP_ doing that in the future if he’ll return to the tournament circuit?

    See, if the toughest penalty for stalling is a DQ, what would you do in a win or out situation? If you tie the match, you can’t make the day2 of a GP. The opponent is winning the game2, and the only thing you can do is to stall a bit so the match will end 1-0-1. You either play it fair and don’t make day2, or you try to cheat-stall, in which case you will make day2 OR still just get a DQ when it does not matter anymore. Don’t you think that sounds a bit stupid, as the “correct” play in this case is always to stall.

  21. I don’t think you guys understand. A decision like this is not made lightly, and for it to be this severe judges would have been following him over several tournaments for evidence of this slowplay, just like they did with mori.

  22. For everyone thinking this is a long suspension: Not only is this his second time being suspended. but his first one was ALSO 18 months. Granted, the first time around seemed much more malicious and scum baggy, this seems to fit given his history. If he had tried to manipulate a game like he did the first time around ( found here http://www.wizards.com/sideboard/article.asp?x=GPKOB01\780dq<—That) he would have gotten a lifetime ban. Not that this is that far away from that.

  23. We all new from the second he was spolied that Jace 2.0 would have a huge impact on tournemnt play but keeping one of the all time greats out of the HoF…just wow

  24. This is pretty ridiculous. Usually the DCI takes a few weeks to review any DQ before making any judgment as to whether it warrants a suspension or not. There is only one reason that this process was sped up, and that is because of the HoF induction at worlds.

    As for the actual “cheating”. I wasn’t there, and am not going to make a comment on what happened. But it seems to me like stalling is a call that is not black and white. Now if he was drawing extra cards, stacking his deck, or some other outrageous action then it would be a simple issue. But speed of play is dependent on many things: board complexity, life totals, cards in hand, possible outs, and so on.

    My point is that “Unsporting Conduct – Stalling” is not a black and white cheating issue. It has nuance and subtly that makes this sort of infraction unsuitable for a rushed judgment and lengthy suspension. A week seems rushed to me, and unprecedented. It’s a shame that Saito will not be playing at Worlds, and won’t have a chance to get PofT. Not to mention his well deserved HoF induction. Unless keeping him out of the HoF (regardless of the ballots) was the DCI’s goal, but that’s just silly. They would never stoop so low.

  25. Suspension doesn’t necessarily keep him out of the Hall of Fame. It wasn’t a lifetime ban, it was a suspension. He’s more A-Rod than Pete Rose. But, regardless, cheating is cheating. For all of you whining about it being too harsh, shut up and deal with it. Have you ever been on the wrong end of a staller? It sucks, and it’s tough to prove. So, if they felt it necessary to call him out on it, it must have been blatant. And for all of you saying “he’s great, don’t suspend him, blah blah blah,” that’s ridiculous, too. If you cheat, pay the consequences. And about CFB booting him? OF COURSE they had to boot him. You can NOT associate yourself with someone of dubious character if you appeal to the general public. It was self-preservation, and I applaud them for it.

  26. Even if you can show somehow that Stalling is a lesser “sin” in the realm of cheating, it’s still cheating. The real culprit is the “intentionally”-part of it. Even if you could prove that the judges were wrong on the “intentionally” part, it should be the (pro)player’s responsibility not getting yourself in a situation in which your actions become vague and ambiguous, especially if the general perception is that you often appear playing slowly.

  27. “I hope Saito is still going to the ceremony.”

    That would be wonderfully awkward.

    I guess we’re going to get some official word about his HoF status very soon. My guess is “No, he won’t get in”. But would that mean he’ll get in after his suspension ends, or does he have to go through the voting process again (which would probable destroy his hopes of ever getting in).

  28. Wish someone would translate Saito’s blog & twitter comments.

    Babel Fish’s translation “With the circumstances of personal of the sponsor, the selfishness 3rd unspecific magic human drinking meeting discontinues. There is no excuse truly” isn’t very helpful.

  29. Speaking as a judge stalling is near impossiable to prove, so for judges to DQ him means it was obvious. As for is it “cheating” how is it any different from looking at the top three cards of your opponents deck and putting the ones you dont like on the bottom, they are both deliberate manipluations of game resources to gain and unfair advantage.

    As for the speed in which the descion to ban him was made, this was likely to be the result no matter how long they thought about it and can you imagine the up roar from the magic community if he went on to say win worlds and then the DCI decided cheating from the previous tournament was banable and he technically shouldnt have been playing?

  30. Sounds pretty hars to me. I mean 18 months is a freaking long time. Tough I haven’t seen the crime itself so can’t really say anything. Atleast they are making it clear that you gotta play fair, or you won’t play at all.

  31. Wow.

    18 months. They’re really taking Saito to task here. I really hope the DCI aren’t just making an example of the guy.

    Whether or not you agree with the call, stalling is definitley unsporting conduct. Anyone on here who is talking about playing to draw the game after winning game one are admitting to being unsporting and ultimately cheaters as defined by the rules. But I digress, the DCI obviously feels strongly enough about the evidence in this instance and the previous play of Saito to make this call.

    I wasn’t there so I’m not going to speculate on whether the player was stalling or not. 18 monthis is a really long time though. I’m interested to see if the DCI makes any kind of a release on the banning of such a high profile player to maybe explain why they felt it was necessary.

    I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this story yet…

  32. This is ridicolous. Beeing banned by DCI for slow Playing for such a long time does not make sense. Who knows the playing style of Saito, really knows that Saito is choosing his actions and choices very careful.

    This takes time. Like on GP Collumbus he was also a bit slow. Nobody declined that an he won the GP in the end.

    I do really think, that a 18 month suspendation is too much for stalling during games in an GP with an actual REL Competetive.

    Saito, please do not accept this decision!!

  33. My opinion?

    Just shame on dci and wizards, shame on channelfireball that just wash his hands like ponzio pilato.

    18 months for stalling? crazyness

    and for sure there is some kind of manipulation behind

  34. If slow play is a problem and hard to define why dont they introduce chess clocks? The only downside imo would be the cost.

  35. Adam, I don’t know if you’re joking or not, but let’s not start that shit in THIS thread, too.

    If you’re actually serious: the idea has been explored been many, many judges. It just doesn’t work. In the end, it actually makes it EASIER to cheat on time.

    Riki wrote an article about it awhile back. You can find it with the search function.

    “The Definitive Chess Clock Article”

  36. On Saito’s suspension:
    The DCI has a committee of judges that reads DQ reports and decides whether or not to suspend players and, if so, for how long. Check out http://community.wizards.com/judge/blog/2010/10/20/investigation_-_q42010 for more information about suspensions, posted by Kevin Desprez, who is on the aforementioned committee. Usually, as Mr. Desprez says, they don’t rush judgment on any cases other than assault, but with the HoF induction coming up, I am sure they were asked to pass judgment immediately by Wizards.

    As far as saying 18 months is crazy for stalling, the committee uses a document which, if I remember correctly, is called the Suspension Guideline to determine how long to suspend a player for a given infraction. Various mitigating or aggravating circumstances can shorten or lengthen the suspension as well. The biggest examples of this are not knowing what you did was illegal, which reduces the likelihood of a suspension, and premeditation, which would make a suspension very long.

    If they hadn’t suspended Saito so quickly, I guarantee you that many people, even some of you who are currently saying “18 months wtf,” would be saying “how can they NOT ban Saito before his HoF induction? this needs to be investigated before he’s in the hall of fame etc etc.” Obviously, it needs to be investigated before he gets inducted in like a week. Will he be in the Hall of Fame? Will he be at the ceremony? We don’t know. What we do know is that the only correct PR move on WotC’s part was to have the suspension committee look at the DQ report immediately. Was the suspension committee’s decision based on PR or were their hands forced by Wizards? Knowing some of the judges on that committee, I very much doubt it.

    On chess clocks:
    This has been covered in literally dozens of articles at this point. You just can’t do it in real life. Do you really want to play a game where you have to do this:

    “Untap, upkeep.” *bash clock*
    “Pass back.” *Bash clock*
    “Draw.” *Bash*
    “OK.” *Bash*
    “First main, play a land, cast Goblin Guide.” *Bash*
    “No responses.” *Bash*
    “Move to attacks?” *Bash*
    “Okay.” *Bash*
    “Beginning combat.” *Bash*
    “Ok.” *Bash*
    “Attack with Goblin Guide, put the trigger on the stack.” *Bash*
    “No responses to the trigger.” *Bash*

    Sounds fun, right?

  37. Wow, I don’t think people realize just how harsh of a penalty that is. I am not saying I agree or disagree with it, I just want people to put it in perspective. Between appearance fees, prize money winnings, writing endorsements, and obviously his pro level which will be entirely removed, do you know how much money this is going to cost him? He seriously lost 5 figures worth of cash because of this suspension… I’d not be surprised AT ALL if this was the final straw for him and if we never saw Saito play on the pro tour ever again.

  38. The issue of chess clocks has been visited many times . . . by people who do not like them. They could be made to work, but people don’t want to do it, so they don’t.

    Cost is prohibitive, and that sinks it, also.

  39. The various double-standards make me puke:

    – Saito getting a 18 month ban, and Ruel getting a 6 month ban for the same violation (Ruel was also repeatedly warned before)

    – Saito very likely be deprived of his HoF status, while verified cheaters like Ruel and Maher are in it. This harsh punishment shows that Wizards cares about the integrity of the HoF. But the Hall already wasn’t clean to begin with.

    – Saito dropped from CFB, Ruel still writing for it

    – The biggie: Saito not playing in Worlds, but quite a few hard-core cheaters are. If Wizards want to keep the pro circuit clean, they really need to enforce it and take out the cheaters there. LSV and Co and guys regularly competing on the Tour should have a pretty good idea who these cheaters are.

    I’m not saying Saito is innocent, he probably deserved some punishment. But these hypocritical double-standards have to stop.

  40. Mister Miyagi:
    -So you were there and you know Saito’s situation and Ruel’s situation are exactly the same?
    -Repentant cheaters (Ruel/Maher) vs. Unrepentant ones (Saito) are different?
    -Again, repentant vs. unrepentant is the issue here
    -Name these “hardcore cheaters.” Or don’t – you’ve failed to respond to being called out for being vague before.

  41. “- Saito very likely be deprived of his HoF status, while verified cheaters like Ruel and Maher are in it. ”

    Because of this, it seems to me the fair thing to do would be letting Saito in after he has served his suspension, without having to go through another voting process. Doubt this will actually happen, though.

    “-Repentant cheaters (Ruel/Maher) vs. Unrepentant ones (Saito) are different?”

    I don’t think we can call saito unrepentant.

    6 months would have been understandable, 18 feels highly unfair when you look at the list of banned players and compare their “crimes” and penalties.

  42. You can’t get inducted if you are currently suspended. So for those wondering if he will be inducted, we will have to wait until 2012.

  43. I wonder how worlds is going to be like this year in Japan? Would this circulate around Worlds for 4 straight days?

  44. I really would not have wanted to be in the DCI’s shoes on this one, I mean no matter what you have a rough decision on your hands. On one hand, Saito has been tracked for this before, and was probably stalling. And I agree that’s just as much of a cheat as anything else. A lot of people would probably lose faith in the DCI if they kinda lame-ducked this and kept allowing it to happen. And I’ll admit there may be inconsistencies here and there with rulings – but that’s true of any legal system, so you really can’t attack the DCI for being unjust – they know more about the rules than anyone.
    On the other hand, no one, and I mean no one, can argue with any merit that Saito cheated his way to every one of his accomplishments, He never could have, he would have been caught and thrown out – like now. So you’ve gotta believe that most of those wins were probably genuine. What I’m saying is, whether you like him or not, or feel that cheating should be punished severely(it should by the way), he has been a very prominent figure on the professional circuit. To basically end his career, and strip him of his HoF status…I mean it’s kinda…well, harsh.
    I guess the point I’m making here is regardless of how you feel about what happened, don’t blame the DCI, because they had one hell of a decision on their hands. Personally, I would not have stripped him of is HoF status(pretty sure suspended players can’t get in, right?).
    One thing that I kinda have to wonder is, was he really foolish enough to cheat at something as minor as one Grand Prix a few weeks before being inducted?

  45. @Eric Levine:

    This is the first time I’m posting on this issue, so I don’t understand your accusation of me being vague. I hope you’re mixing me up with somebody else.

    I was not there at either situation. But by that logic, you cannot judge any crime because you weren’t there (if that’s what you’re implying). For more info on the Ruel situation, I recommend checking out the blog post by AJ Sacher (provided by Marin Baraba above).
    Calling Saito unrepentant is a pretty strong accusation – can you back this up? Ruel has been caught multiple times, too. So if you call Saito unrepentant, you’d need call Ruel unrepentant, too.
    About the cheaters on the Tour: you know that calling out names on forums leads to no good ends. I have no hard evidence, so this would be pointless. If I had hard evidence anyway, I would have told the DCI asap.

  46. This current situation is the slippery slope I was hoping for WotC to avoid by advocating banning players from the Hall of Fame who had been suspended for cheating.

    Some people who get caught cheating and get a suspension have cheated only once and did it so clumsily that they immediately get caught. Some people cheat then grow as a person and quit cheating.

    But I’d hazard a guess that the vast majority of people who cheat just don’t have enough respect for the rules are are selfish enough to continually cheat other people in the tournament out of their money (aka entry fee) and ratings points. Cheating isn’t a victimless crime or stealing from a giant, faceless corporation (which some people seem to think is more excusable). Most Magic tournaments prizes are paid for by entry fees.

    Cheating is no different than taking your opponent’s wallet and emptying the cash out of it. Maybe even a little worse because its screwing the tiebreakers of everyone who plays your opponent in that tournament plus screwing with your opponent’s rating for everyone one else who plays him in the future. Ever missed a points cut off to qualify for a PT by a point or two? Or missed the cut off for day 2 by a tiny percentage? Or missed the T8 on tiebreakers? Likely you got cheated out of it because the people you were good enough to beat didn’t have the ratings they should have if they hadn’t been cheated somewhere down the line.

    Cheating can’t be tolerated in any competitive sport. WotC has tolerated cheating because they can’t figure out, to their internal satisfaction, if tournament Magic is a sport or a ploy to sell Magic cards. Thankfully in recent years they’ve been coming down much more on the side of Magic being a sport and aren’t specifically tolerating blatant cheaters to gin up interest/controversy at PTs.

    Inducting cheaters into the Hall of Fame seems to be the last vestiges of of their old policy of tolerance. Its time for WotC to close the door on that era. I’d suggest that they pick some year in the past when they think they made it clear to players that cheating would no longer be tolerated. Then say that suspensions for cheating before that point in time won’t disqualify you for the Hall of Fame but cheating after that point will result in disqualification.

    That’s not as hard line of a position as I would like. But some players who have been suspended for cheating claim that cheating was so rampant back in the day that the only way to have a somewhat fair game was for both players to cheat. If that’s true to some extent, excusing long ago offenses, but only long ago offenses, may be a good direction to go. Despite a few voices on this thread, I think the vast majority opinion these days is to hold players who cheat accountable…and that’s not the message being sent when recent cheaters are inducted.

  47. @Mister Miyagi:

    First of all, the vague part to which Eric was referring is the lack of evidence of any specific cheaters going to worlds. If you don’t know any names of cheaters who are going to worlds, why did you say that there were cheaters going to worlds? Good at magic therefore cheater does not follow logically.

    Second of all, please refrain from passing judgment on something where you do not have all the evidence. The judge of a crime is supposed to have all the evidence (even if that actually doesn’t happen), and a casual observer does not. I will not say that the judges were unfair or wrong because I was not there and I do not have all the evidence.

    Third, Ruel was cheating a long time ago, and repented for it (my information could be false, but I’m pretty sure he apologized). Saito recently cheated, and, to my knowledge, has not apologized.

    Additionally, regarding a slight error in the original announcement, stalling is not a type of unsporting conduct in the MIPG, it is under cheating.

  48. Wow, Saito’s really gotten screwed. I have to say, lumping playing slowly in with marking cards and drawing 8 every game is beyond absurd in my opinion. I mean, isn’t a game loss enough? Or even a match loss, if they wanted to be borderline-draconian about it. Getting an(essentially) 2 year ban for reading JtMS more times than deemed necessary is… silly – in my opinion, at least.

  49. I don’t think Saito was intentionally stalling and thus not cheating. However, given the decision of the Judges the punishment is what it is.

    Personally, I think they were just trying to make an example of the guy. The higher you are the bigger the splash when you fall.

    They had a meeting and decided this would be the best way to get people to think about stalling seriously.

    I’m biased of course. I play at his store and I think Saito is a great guy. Nobody knows his intent but him.

  50. @Mister Miyagi

    I think your point is good, the sentence is really harsh compared to other cheaters. I personally got a guy DQ because he stole a deck right in front of my face in a PTQ and he wasn’t even banned.

    I think the fact that he is a Pro Player has influence the decision, I’m pretty sure he is not the only one banned for this reason (or that should be) and “regular” players warned many times just got a DQ.

    @Daniel Chung

    Even if he was “caught” cheating many times and already banned once, he was banned for an other reason ans a DQ would be enough for that kind of cheating, and there is no proof that he was slow playing before or there would be several report about it.

    I really want to see is DCI account and check the number or tie he has.

    And in order to “catch the train” he will not lose is rating, which will allow him to be Qed on rating, and will not have to do PTQ’s. The problem will be retunrning in the middle of the year for the Pro Race, since he will lose the Pro status

  51. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

    I agree with CFB dropping Saito as a contributor, I agree with the DQ (I trust judges to make the right call) and I agree with the suspension.

    That being said, I strongly disagree with how fast it took WotC to come to the decision, and I strongly disagree with the length of the suspension given that the infraction was not a clear-cut, black-and-white issue. I may trust judges to make the correct call, but they are not infallible, and to suspend a player for 18 months over “stalling” is excessive and heavy handed.

    6 or 12 months would have been fine IMO, but I don’t work for WotC so who is to say what their rationale is for the decision? It would be very helpful for them to issue a statement that explains their reasons…

  52. Ugh I just can’t get over how ridiculous this is. It makes me hate Wizards and DCI yet I still support them by playing.

  53. For what it’s worth,

    The DCI are simply making an example out of Saito because he’s a high-profile player and they are trying to a) show that “cheaters” don’t make it into the “Hall of Fame” (*cough* Olivier Ruel *cough* and that b) you don’t fuck with the DCI b/c they will ruin your life, particularly if your life is Magic like Saito’s (is) was.

    Saito slow-rolling = probable, very difficult to prove
    6 months for Oli, 18 months for Saito = bullshit.

    Let this be a lesson for the rest of us – play fair, damnit.

  54. yah i think dci is just a lot more strict nowadays than they were in the past. although oli wasn’t THAT long ago i guess.

  55. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

    If you look at the list of currently suspended players, you will see 2 instances of assault, 12 month suspension.

    assault = 12 month suspension
    “stalling” = 18 month suspension

    I see an issue regarding consistency of punishments.

  56. Just FYI stalling cheats wins not only draws. It is just as easy to turn draws into wins as it is to turn losses into draws…

  57. On assault vs stalling

    From Wikipedia

    “In some jurisdictions, including Australia and New Zealand, as well as the USA, assault refers to an act that causes another to apprehend an immediate harmful contact, whereas the actual contact itself is called “battery.” The word “apprehend” doesn’t equate with fear. While fear encompasses apprehension, a victim can be apprehensive of unwanted contact, yet still not be in fear of it. For example, most people are apprehensive of a cat scratch, but they may not be fearful of such an event. A distinction must be made between the tort of assault, which is a civil matter, and criminal assault, for which the state will prosecute a wrongdoer. Within the arena of criminal law, an assault can result from an attempted battery. Since some attempted batteries might theoretically occur when the victim is sleeping, unconscious, or otherwise unaware of the threat, criminal battery can occur even when no threat is perceived by the victim. With the tort of assault, in contrast, a perceived threat by the victim is paramount.”

    Yelling loudly in an angry manner and making a TO fear there will be fisticuffs is just as much “assault” as bringing a machine gun and threatening to mow everyone down.

    I would assume by the length of the penalty that the DCI recognized those particular assaults as being to the lesser end of the scale and/or with mitigating circumstances such as being provoked by another player.

    The DCI can issue longer bans for assaults which it thinks are more serious. Certainly you noticed that one year bans were not the normal penalty for an assault?

  58. @mdg

    If the intention of the DCI was to “make an example” out of Saito, rest assure that Magic will lose a sizable chunk of its player base in Japan and other Asian countries.
    Should Saito decide to make a personal argument on the matter, and using your example of Olivier Ruel – a pretty solid statement could be said around grounds of discrimination. Whether true or not (we will never know), if Saito were to argue that racism was any factor in the equation, I can guarantee that as a direct correlation, the number of Asian players will immediately drop.
    Saito is regarded as one of the best players in Japan, and should he say that Magic and DCI discriminates against Asian and non-English speakers, a lot of people will believe him.

  59. 18 months just seems like alot to me.
    Especsially compared to what some other people received for things that look far worse to me.

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  61. @Nima:

    I can read Japanese, and Saito has apologized on his blog. So why should he be unrepentant, while Ruel is not?
    You tell me that I should refrain judgment because I don’t know all the facts – well, take a look in the mirror..

    This is not an attack against Olivier. I respect that everyone should get a second chance. But these double-standards have to stop. There were probably good reasons why Saito got punished. But you need to apply the same standards to everyone.

  62. I cannot see that given the banning Saito can now be entered into the HOF this year, the while thing would be a farce if he attends the ceremony.

    However, 18 months it way over the top, is looks like the DCI has used a sledgehammer to break a pecan nut, six months would have been fine.

  63. SPORTS vs MtG

    After discussions with various ppl Ive come more to terms with the fact that MtG indeed is different from sports when it comes to judge-verdicts. Penalty-descission within 1-2 secs is not the same as making judge-verdicts in MtG.

    However, consider this: Isnt ALL rules-violations in MtG cheating – and such validates a DQ ?
    Cheating vs. cheating with intent – are they different ?

    Stalling – touching deck – invalid deck – gamestate – you name it…
    Isnt the Magic-game better served with those put into categories with LIMIT to how harsh/forgiving a certain judge-verdict possibly can be ?

  64. Rumor on the street is that he nerd raged after he got DQ’d. Im sure that helped the DCI’s decision for the suspension. Im curious how CFB responds to one of their writers being suspended.

  65. For those curious, the explanation Saito wrote on his blog, and in the report he gave to Wizards, is that at around the 3minute mark on the round they were involved in a complicated combat where his opponent had 10 creatures and he had 5 creatures, a tumble magnet, and some other relevant stuff. This is when the judges observed his slow play and issued the warning. Then after the combat was finished the board was more clear so he was able to play faster (in the extra turns). It seems like a reasonable explanation but it’s hard to judge without being there and seeing how it went down.

  66. The DCI is very hard on players in certain situations, but even though I fully support Saito in his career, this may have been the right choice given the circumstances. A friend of mine who is an avid Pro Tour follower told me that Saito commonly plays the “language barrier” card whenever he gets into a tight situation. Whether this is quite true or not remains to be seen, but I can fully understand him stopping to get the situation explained to him in detail when his opponent makes strange decisions. When they appear to be playing badly there may be a reason for it, and stopping play can give one time to evaluate this.

    Learning to make choices and follow through in a timely manner is perhaps the most important part of being a professional Magic player. Good luck in your future endeavors, Saito, I’m sure I’m only one of many who will be anxiously awaiting your return to the game we both love.

  67. Come on, the guy has cheated and been suspended before. Just like in every justice system in the world, repeat offenders are treated more harshly. They definitely have made an example of him, so he might have gotten a longer suspension for that reason, which is a bit unfortunate.
    As someone who himself was recently suspended from the DCI for 12 months resulting from a questionable occurrence, I can at least sympathize with Tomoharu on the issue. Magic suffers from this too; though the message gets out to players that everyone is an equal in the eyes of the law, we still lose one of our most interesting high-profile personalities for these 18 months, and we will be a poorer community for it. I hope Tomoharu learns from the experience and joins us in top form 18 months from now.

  68. If you look at the suspended list.

    The first 6 are:
    Match Fraud – 6 months
    Lying to an Official – 6 months
    Match Fraud – 6 months
    Fraud – 6 months
    Fraud – 6 months
    Fraud – 6 months

    And then somewhere on the list is Saito

    Unsporting Conduct – Stalling – 18 Months?

    I’m sorry, but I really think that this is quite harsh.

  69. 18 months is the right call certainly. He’s done wrong before, knowingly or unknowingly. He is a staller, 100% confirmed by many people in multiple circumstances. He needs to quit forever and go run Yuigoh or something.

  70. I was said that’s saito sold some cards on the pro-tour and GPs.
    Maybe hasbro doesn’t want him to sell cards on this events ?

  71. he’s a moron
    he must have known that wizards were aware of his slow play and yet he persisted with it
    i think he’s one of the best players out there right now – as good as any that have played the game – but he’s a fool for not learning from prior mistakes
    it’s sad because he’s devoted his life to mtg and now it’s at an end – perhaps forever, hopefully he won’t do anything stupid

  72. People need to keep thier eyes on the prize…this is a wolrd calibur player, and he has to READ Jace not only in THIS event, but EVERY event he has played for the last so long! We watched him do this SEVERAL times, and he obviously thinks hes surrounded by idiots…..jokes on him! Were not all idiots! He got what he deserves. And HOF…..Not for cheaters! Smac.

  73. This could have been solved by the judge saying “Saito, I’m warning you for slow play, speed it up.” During the tourney.

    I’ve seen several suspensions and bans now that I simply do not agree with. It appears to me the DCI need to change the discretion of judges to include more warnings for different offenses.

    Almost anyone can make a bad decision under the pressure and mental exhaustion that comes at playing at that level of competitive MTG. Instead of ending/damaging someone’s career, a simple “Quit that.” should be sufficient.

    As for me, I quit. Watching people get (in my opinion) unfairly punished bothers me. Especially when there’s no appeal process or fair way to fight back when one feel’s wronged. The DCI system needs to be revamped, until then it’s no more tourneys for me, I’m sticking to the kitchen table and WoW.

  74. Once a cheater always a cheater…
    … if Reggie Bush had to give back the Heisman I don’t think there should be any issue about holding Saito out of the HOF

  75. Stalling isn’t any less of a cheat than marking a card, for example.It gives you unfair advantage.
    He basically ABUSED it to make sure to win that last game when he was in a game winning position.

    That’s like pulling out a jace out of your sleeve while in topdeck mode.
    I’m QUITE sure judges wouldn’t have made this decision if they had a choice.That guy is in the freakaing hall of fame, ffs.
    He probably just thought that stalling can’t be punished and acted dumb (re-reading Jace etc.) to let the timer run out even with all the warnings.

    Unless someone wants to suggest a conspiracy against Saito, that’s probably what happened.

  76. Do people not realize that Saito has been caught for stalling many times before, and has already been suspended. And how can you argue that breaking the rules on purpose isn’t cheating?

  77. Wizards announced that he is no longer going to be inducted in the Hall of Fame. Not only that but the DCI removed Saitou’s name from the list that has all of the players with the highest amount of lifetime pro points

  78. @Danbo: Good riddance to you. People who support cheaters are just as bad as the cheaters themselves. Just think how many people he screwed out of their prizes by doing this. Would you mind it if he did it while playing you? I’m sure you would.

    This just shows that cheating only gets you so far but in the end, the DCI will catch up with you.

  79. Posted by Danbo:
    -This could have been solved by the judge saying “Saito, I’m warning you for slow play, speed it up.” During the tourney.

    While the idea of this is noble, we must understand that not all the time are there judges watching every player in a tournament. And while a player has the right to call a judge if he thinks his opponent is playing too slowly, not all players do. Is it then right to abuse this kind of shy behavior?

    If you can always play slowly (when it’s convenient for you) until you get your first warning, there will be occasions that there is no one to give this warning, and you can get unfair advantage without a risk. What happened to Saito, now, was a DQ without a warning when the judges carefully observed Saito’s play and they came to the conclusion that he knowingly is abusing the time limit to get a better match result for himself. How about if there were no judges? He would’ve gotten away breaking the rules. There has to be a possibility of a severe penalty so that dishonest players can’t just always break the rules until the first warning.

    If people really think that stalling is not that bad, and one always should get warning before any penalty when they stall, _it would be strategically correct to always try to stall when it’s going to improve your chances to get a win instead of a draw or a draw instead of a loss_. How does that sound? I think it would suck.

  80. Proof that there’s some things that work right in the word.

    I’ve lost matches (didn’t get the win) thanks to stalling. …It’s not cool, and cheap.

    Cheers to the judges out there that take their job seriously, and to the players who play!

  81. I don’t think stalling should be a suspended offense. I think a game loss/match loss would suffice. its obvious that wizards does not want him in the HOF

  82. Since he was so determined to cheat, he should at least have picked a different cheat to use.

    Most of the high level players at the event were probably aware of his history of stalling. Even if judges weren’t specifically watching him to start with, how easy would it be for one player, out of all the hundreds of players who had already finished, to alert the judge that Saito was playing at a weird pace?

  83. Well cheating is lying whatever the circumstances are. I think they should banned him for good.

  84. As I read it, an 18 month suspension doesn’t reflect the actual sin, but tells a much bigger perspective: setting an example. Cheating is what first and foremost destroys Magic, and when the all-stars do it that sends ripples through the community. By acting quick and harsh DCI tells the world that whoever thinks about doing this best be aware of the consequences – no matter who you are.

    Sucks for Saito that this is taken out on him, but then again it’s hard to sympathize with a person who has won games unfairly and in the end stolen money from other players.

  85. I just can’t help but notice such severe punishment is dished @ an asian.

    If this is the case why not make Magic TIMED since there is no RULE at the moment that states a timeframe.

    Of course this is not to say he didn’t deserve it, but still there are other frauds and cheat that they should look @ that should give an even more severe punishment since time wasting traditionally gave you a maximum of a game loss, not 18 months.

    So if you get “CAUGHT” by the eyes of whomever that you are bribing, why not take their picture and put them in the perma ban list?

    Just wondering how they judge the 18 months and the severity.

  86. For all here who think that the punishment was harsh for “stalling” are looking at too narrow of a senario. The DCI has been monitoring him for a while to really gauge his true playing style/speed. When severe differences in his playing speed happened, people became suspicious and when the varience co-insided with the tournament clock it was easy to see that he was abusing the clock to gain victories or avoid losses. This suspension is most likely partially punishing him for previous acts of cheating that were not fully realized until off the the evidence could be compiled. I garuntee that this was not once single incident being met with 18 months but most likely a large portion of a HOF career with i’ll gotten wins.

  87. I agree with everyone that said that some sort of action is deserved, but 18 months seems very harsh. But at the same time if someone is such a high caliber player that when they are caught cheating (repeatedly), a 6 month slap on the wrist doesnt seem like enough. Its just very awkward and unfortunate timing that the Hall of Fame situation was going on.

    Someone mentioned Saito had a complex board situation and thats why he took so long to play. In the official DCI Tournament Rules:
    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.

    Patrick Chapin is a great mind in the Magic world and he goes on a 5 minute explaination about Saito in this Magic Show episode on Youtube. It starts at 6:47 and goes until the end.
    The Magic Show #214

  88. Pingback: Tomoharu Saito суспендован! « MTGNoviSad

  89. Definitely harsh. 6-12 Months maybe, if he was actually ‘cheating’ for stalling, but 18 is just too long. Especially on an uncertain conviction.

  90. Pingback: Yuuya Watanabe Suspended for 30 Months, Removed from Magic Pro League and Hall of Fame : Hipsters of the Coast

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