Pro Removed From $1.4 Million Magic Tournament Accused Of Harassing Women

Owen Turtenwald competing at Magic in 2018. (Photo: Wizards of the Coast)

On Thursday, one of the most prominent players in the Magic: The Gathering scene was unceremoniously dropped from this weekend’s first-ever $US1 million ($1.4 million) tournament for the strategy card game.

Since then, as questions have been raised about the unspecified reasons behind Turtenwald’s removal, sources have told Kotaku that the player has engaged in inappropriate behaviour toward female players and fans for years.

Owen Turtenwald has been ranked among the world’s top Magic players for about a decade. In 2011, he won a string of seven Grand Prix tournaments, earning that year’s Player Of The Year award, which he won again in 2016.

Today, Turtenwald is a celebrated member of the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame, a sponsored Twitch streamer, and a competitor in the Magic: The Gathering’s 2019 Pro League, where he reportedly receives about $US75,000 ($105,699) in contracts per year.

This week’s Mythic Invitational tournament at PAX East in Boston, which Wizards of the Coast describes as the “biggest Magic: The Gathering event of all time”, would have been a huge opportunity for Turtenwald, so his thousands of Twitch followers spammed Reddit, Twitter and Magic forums looking for answers in the wake of a brief tweet from Wizards Of The Coast announcing his removal.

Apart from that tweet, the publisher has maintained total radio silence on the decision and did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Kotaku.

The only shred of evidence that fans had to go on for a reason behind Turtenwald’s removal from the event was a tweet from a Magic player named Mary Louke. “Very pleased with this news,” it read. “If you don’t know why… then you don’t know the best secret kept in Magic.”

Louke is one of three people who told Kotaku that Turtenwald has exhibited a pattern of predatory behaviour toward female Magic players that spans several years. Screenshots shared with Kotaku showed that Turtenwald continued pursuing these women sexually and romantically even after they stopped responding or turned him down.

It is unclear whether these allegations played into Wizards Of The Coast’s decision to remove Turtenwald from the tournament. Turtenwald, too, has remained silent on the issue, and did not respond to multiple requests for comment over the past 24 hours.

The Magic: The Gathering Mythic Invitational tournament at PAX East in Boston this weekend. (Photo: Ethan Gach, Kotaku)

“A lot of women in the community have warned other women about Owen,” Louke told Kotaku via phone yesterday.

Louke says that she has had a complex relationship with Turtenwald. It was briefly romantic, she said, but after that ended, he continually made her feel uncomfortable both physically and verbally at hang-outs in real life and over text messages.

She says he asked her for nudes, persistently messaged her while drunk after she stopped responding, and once said that her looks distracted him during a tournament.

“I thought, in my head, it was just because have this history,” she said. “It wasn’t until later when I heard stories from other people of him doing inappropriate things that I realised it was not just me.”

“It’s one of those dirty secrets,” said one man with close ties to the pro Magic scene, who wanted to remain anonymous. He said he has seen screenshots of messages that Turtenwald sent to female fans that he describes as “harass-y”.

Turtenwald, he said, would offer to help women advance as pro players, later implying it would be in exchange for what the source described as “wink-wink”. The man has not gone public with these statements, he said, because of Turtenwald’s fame and power in the Magic community.

“He is a hall of fame member, somebody who was sponsored by Wizards of the Coast, one of the greatest players of all time,” he said.

Another woman, who said that Turtenwald was inappropriate to her in private messages, told Kotaku she felt his presence was a “deterrent” to her remaining in the Magic scene. Many other people in the Magic community declined to speak to Kotaku on the record or did not return requests for comment.

The Mythic Invitational is running through Monday, and Turtenwald’s place in the brackets has been filled by player Brian David-Marshall.


Comments

    I see both sides of the arguement here. if he has been predatory then yeah he should be dropped. that said alll I'm getting is sources have said this and kotaku has been provided with this. I can understand perhaps privacy but there are way too many sabatage campaigns going on without any real evidence for me to take things at face value.

    I'll say this again as I've said a thousand times though. why now? I understand the whole power lose your job arguement. I don't really agree that it's a good enough reason to wait so long but, I do understand. thing is the whole metoo power movement has been going for years. why has it taken so long when we are at the point where metoo has made people trust claims even less for this to come out?

      i had a bunch or replies in my notifications so i'm back here even though almost the entire comment section has been deleted including my posts and the responses. i don't know what it was like when you posted this but i was making essentially the same argument you are and got accused of some very unsavory things i'm glad you seem to have avoided that.

      As to why these things take so long to come out, sometimes it is because the perpetrator has power over you or your career i don't see how that could be the case this time. Sometimes it's a case of finding out that the person is doing this to others not just yourself which triggers a response this doesn't seem to be the case either it was apparently well known that he was a grubby little shit. and the 3rd reason is that the person making the accusation has something to gain from it and i'm not saying that that means they are lying just that the reason they are coming forward now instead of earlier is that the circumstances have changed and there is now something for them to gain from reporting it. Those are the only 3 reasons i know of.

      I don't accept the power argument in any case i know it's shit but you have to at least try and take the fucker down before they do it to others, imagine if people hadn't spent what 30 years keeping silent about Harvey Weinstein might have saved a lot of people from being prayed upon by him.

      it was good to see a well reasoned response rather than well you know the usual hot takes form one side or the other.

        I think I advoided most of the mud slinging because I was an early commenter before things started heating up if I recall correctly. sadly, once the blood gets boiling people tend to have less patience with anything that doesn't outright agree with them.

          that doesn't bode well for me i'm usually late to comment because i like to let the article percolate and sometimes look further into the subject.

          =(

    @alexwalker

    what happened to this comment section it seems to be almost completely deleted, i am sorry to bug you but your the only person i know is a moderator :(

      It's how the parent / child comment relationship works. If the parent comment is deemed inappropriate, all the child comments will disappear. It's an inextricable part of the system, and we'd have to rewrite it from scratch to change that.

        well that makes it easy to control the narrative and destroy entire chains of conversation. Not that i think you are personally like this but i can't imagine any of the mods wanting to change such a convenient tool for censorship.

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