Nonbinary Magic Champion Replaces Pro Removed From League After Harassment Accusations

Autumn Burchett playing in a February Magic: The Gathering tournament (Photo: Wizards of the Coast)

In the wake of allegations that Magic: The Gathering pro player Owen Turtenwald behaved inappropriately to female friends and fans, it appears he has been removed from publisher Wizards of the Coast’s budding esports league. Replacing him is Autumn Burchett, a talented nonbinary player who won February’s Mythic Championship.

Late last month before the new Magic Pro League’s first $US1 ($1) million tournament in Boston, which WoTC described as the “biggest Magic: The Gathering event of all time,” WoTC mysteriously announced they’d removed Turtenwald from the game with a brief tweet.

WoTC offered no explanation, but in interviews with Kotaku, women who knew him had some inkling of why he would be removed. Three people told Kotaku that for years, Turtenwald exhibited predatory and unwanted sexual behaviour toward female Magic players.

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

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.

Read more

The people we spoke to corroborated these claims with screenshots. One month later, WoTC still has not clarified why Turtenwald was removed from the tournament.

Autumn’s headshot on their new MPL page (Image: Wizards of the Coast)

Today, Magic Esports’ Twitter account announced that streamer and top player Autumn Burchett will be joining the Pro League for its 2019 season. Turtenwald yesterday deleted the contents of his Twitter account and all references to the Pro League.

He has also been removed from the MTGesports website’s roster of players. Turtenwald, Burchett, and WoTC did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment by press time.

Burchett is a medium-scale streamer and co-host of a Magic podcast. They became widely known after February’s Mythic Championship, where they awed spectators with their ability to build, wield, and win with a hugely risky and notoriously difficult-to-play deck.

After Burchett defeated their opponent in the finals, fans’ hearts melted as their friends rushed the stage to tackle-hug them.

WoTC is working hard to transform the image of their blockbuster card game’s fandom from “boys’ club” to “come as you are,” Kotaku reported last month.

Mary Louke, one of the Magic players alleging that Turtenwald acted inappropriately toward her, says that while she is happy he was removed, she’s confused about why WoTC still has not made a statement on the incident. “Generally I’m frustrated with WoTC and how they’ve handled it,” she said in a Twitter DM.

Burchett is the first person in the league who isn’t a cis man. Pro players reportedly receive $US75,000 ($106,829) in contracts a year. Citing the success of other top players who aren’t cisgender, straight white men, Burchett explained after their February victory, “It made things feel safer and better for everyone. If this even has a tenth of the impact that both of those occurrences had on me, I lose my words thinking about it.”


Comments

    Oh wow, my sleep deprived brain saw the title and thought, "Nonbinary Magic Champion?! What is it, sounds awesome!!"
    (Not that it isn't awesome in its own right, just wasn't where my head went first lol)

    She dresses like your grandmother's crazy sister.

      Article is clear that Autumn is nonbinary and uses they/them.

      And also, that's a really weird jab for a hobby/passion where people frequently costume as wizards and fantastical beings.

      *They

      • This comment is not available. This comment is not available. This comment is not available. This comment is not available.

        This comment is not available.

        As far as I'm concerned, non-binary people get called whatever first comes to mind at the time, be it he or she. Both would work. Choosing to get offended at it would just be an unempathetic waste of time for the rest of us binary folk doing our best to be inclusive.
        Also, Autumn is pretty much a female name.

    Take away the fact she identifies as non binary and this article would not have been ever written.

    This is not news.

      "Mythic Championship winner replaces disgraced veteran in 2019 Pro League line-up" is news even if you're too blinkered to acknowledge it.

      basically. If the whole point is what they identify as there is no point. The fact we keep getting articles like this only prolongs the normalisation of it. If you want something to be normal, you do NOT treat it like its special. Parenting 101.

        Id take a bet and guess these people want to be treated the same as everyone else and not held up on a pedestal.

          I'd take a bet and say they are pretty proud of their achievements that have got them to where they are and would be happy to be celebrated for being a success story in a field where their identity is usually seen as the "other". They would probably like the ability to show other people that don't identify as the prevailing norm that they can belong and succeed.

          However, I would also bet that they wouldn't want to be treated the same as everyone else when it comes to their performance in the game and would not want or expect preferential treatment regarding rules or handicaps. But in terms of reporting, positive visibility is a good thing.

            Ugh, that moment when a spelling error changes the entire point of your spiel but you cannot go back and edit it.

            Correction: However, I would also bet that they would want to be treated the same as everyone else when it comes to their performance etc etc

              Meanwhile... The chance to be treated just like anyone else all but disappears when 'gaming' articles like this are constantly being frontloaded with the person's choice of identity, that has precisely zero bearing on the game, as opposed to their skills or accomplishments in said game.

                I think the important thing is they are treated like everyone else during the tournament. I do see where you're coming from, when an article heavily leads with the players gender identity and how that can seem reductive to their skill, but this article does cover recent events that made them a notable player to watch regardless of their gender. I do agree it could have been written a bit better. Instead of:

                Replacing him is Autumn Burchett, a talented nonbinary player who won February’s Mythic Championship.

                ... maybe: "Replacing him is Autumn Burchett, a medium-scale streamer and co-host of a Magic podcast, who recently won February’s Mythic Championship. Burchett, who identifies as non-binary, hopes that their inclusion in the tournament will continue to foster a culture of inclusivity and safety in the Magic competitive circuit."

                I'm not a journalist or anything but, to me, puts more weight on their achievements before talking about why their gender identity is notable.

                Lastly, before I get carried away:

                Citing the success of other top players who aren’t cisgender, straight white men, Burchett explained after their February victory, “It made things feel safer and better for everyone. If this even has a tenth of the impact that both of those occurrences had on me, I lose my words thinking about it."

                This quote implies that they are hoping that coverage of their appearance in WoTC makes people feel safer and more included, and that would lead me to believe they are happy with this type of coverage.

    The big question I want to ask is this.

    Where they selected as a PR move or do they actually have the skill and knowledge to be competitive in the tournament? I ask, mostly because I don't follow Magic much. But also, sexism is sexism, even when it's positive'...

    If it's only a PR move, then its as bad as doing nothing to the one they kicked out.

      Of course not! Everybody knows that only straight white men have DaSkillzz(TM) that allow a human being to excel at anything. Anybody else who attains such position must be suspect of being a PR token granted as a concession to the petty, jealous masses who not being made naturally "elite" by the Lord, unfairly demand the boons that only those chosen by chance of their birth deserve. Good eye spotting this usurping interloper!

      The big question I want to ask is this: would you question or doubt their skill or knowledge if the replacement was a man?

      The article regarding the Mythic Championship, which was linked to in this article, seems to talk about their skill in glowing terms, including how they "expertly piloted [their difficult deck] through dozens of tricky game states and pressure-packed moments" which saw them "earning rave reviews from pros".

        Please... This article wouldn't even EXIST if it was a man. And to be real clear, I'm not saying it should if it was a man.

        My issue? It always comes across a little bit slimy on the author's/outlet's part when I see articles like this highlighting (and therefor looking to capitalise on) X aspect of a person that has nothing to do with the main topic at hand, which in this case would be the replacement of competitors in the pro league of a game.

          I have to agree. It is absolutely slimy, HOWEVER, I believe the intention is representation and exposure for mariginalised people in the world of gaming. If Kotaku was more primed towards being up-front about that part, it would seem less like they are trying to be "hip and woke" for the kids. These articles don't work well with our Australian readership either, as they communicate things in that vaguely condescending manner that asserts politeness over the transference of information.
          Basically, I'm at the stage where I can't be fucked wasting time on articles that seem to be primed towards click-baiting the people who keep this site relevant. Yet here I am. In an article communicating a whole ot of nothing as an excuse to show pictures of a person that looks like a Hogwarts teacher.

            If the intention is representation, then wheres the article about the men that get sexually abused? Wheres the article about men getting falsy accused of sexual harassment? Or even follow-ups to articles that have or about accused people that are now taking it on in court, ala Vic the voice of Brolly suing Funimation as well as former work colleges over his firing and accusations against him for sexual harassment.

            All we ever see is accusations and the 'fix' that the company comes up with to get them some nice PR. As far as I have seen, Kotaku has never written anything in relation to defending or supporting men who have been accused and then found to have those accusations be false. If someone can link me to an article where they do this, please do. Would love to see it.

          Well of COURSE the article wouldn't exist if the replacement was a cis man. But it does exist because someone OTHER than a straight white man getting ANYTHING is still so uncommon that it actually counts as NEWS.

          If you're sick of hearing about it, you should be praying for the day that something like this actually become mundane enough to not be worth reporting on. As it currently stands, it still is, whether you like it or not.

            Meanwhile you don't get that acting though things like this are a bigger deal than they actually are means it can NEVER be considered normal, or 'mundane enough to not be worth reporting on' as you put it.

          I feel like it probably would exist if it were a man. There has been coverage of Owen Turtenwald's behaviour on Kotaku, and elsewhere, so I'm not surprised to see an article about his removal. And an article that discusses his removal would naturally outline who has been selected to replace him.

    So who else won beside the woman? I only see her but the article keeps referring to them and they, I mean if more than one person won shouldn't they all get coverage and credit?

      I see what you did there. :P

        I see what they were trying to do, except “they” had been used as a gender non-specific singular pronoun since the 14th century, so their attempt to pick faults in the grammar is wrong.

        (Did you see what I did there, though)

          Only in regards to a person whose gender is unknown.
          We know the gender here, female.

            Knowing the gender of the subject doesn’t preclude the use of “them/they”. It’s still grammatically correct.

            It doesn’t take much to find an interview where Burchett discusses their gender identity to see that your assumption that they are, or ever were, female is incorrect. But I don’t wasn’t to speculate or debate someone’s gender identity further, it’s not really an appropriate thing to do.

              “Don’t wasn’t” is not good grammar, however. Apologies. *Don’t want

              You don't need to correct your grammar or typo's its fine if your point is made and I can understand it, it's a non issue for me.
              Political correctness and fabricated social justice virtue signalling aside you are either male or female not from a social construction stand point but from a biological scientific one.
              This person has XX chromosomes, this will never change naturally, making that person biologically female.
              Yes you are correct KNOWING the gender of the subject does not preclude the use of Them/they.
              However NOT knowing does preclude the use of them/they simply because you wouldn't be able to assume the persons gender. In this case we see pictures of the person in question and we can see that she is a female (or maybe even a transgender person who has transitioned to female, in which case it would still be proper to refer and accept her as she/her while biologically she would still be male with XY chromosome)
              Nonbinary is a social construct.
              Gender is not.

                I'm a little confused with this statement:

                Yes you are correct KNOWING the gender of the subject does not preclude the use of Them/they.
                However NOT knowing does preclude the use of them/they simply because you wouldn't be able to assume the persons gender.

                The first part, you are saying that you can use the singular "them/they" if you don't know the subject's gender (which I agree with), but the second part you say you can't use singular "they/them" if you don't know the gender of the subject. Previously, you said that you can use they/them "only in regards to a person whose gender is unknown". Just to clarify, "preclude" means to prohibit or rule out. I'm not sure if that's where the confusion is stemming from (sorry if you knew this already and I'm just misunderstanding).

                In regards to your statement that gender is not a social construct, I assume that you’re implying that it is a purely biological one. It is widely accepted in medical, academic and semantic discussion (and beyond the circles you would call PC, SJW virtue signalling), that there is a separation between "biological sex" and "gender". Biological sex is a physical and scientific classification (chromosomes, sex characteristics). Gender is separate from biological sex, in that it is how a person identifies in a social context: masculine, feminine, societies perception of man and woman, and the spectrum between. Depending on which literature you read, gender is accepted to be either a wholly social construct, or a partially social construct which intersects with a persons biology. Even these studies that suggest a that there is a biological component to gender still refute a gender binary and support the existence of transgender and non-binary identities. Either way, to say that it is not a social construct and that someone cannot be non-binary is to ignore the prevailing consensus.

                So, if you accept for second that gender exists beyond and separate to the XX/XY chromosomal configurations and that there are varying degrees of masculine and feminine identities, how then can gender be a binary beyond which no one can identify outside? And I'm not even going to touch on the fact that biological sex isn't a binary either, when you start to consider the spectrum of intersex phenotypes (XY intersex and XX intersex) and other chromosomal configurations like XO, XXY, XXX. Basically, to claim that anything to do with sex or gender is a binary is to ignore all the other variations that exist in biology and society.

                In this case we see pictures of the person in question and we can see that she is a female (or maybe even a transgender person who has transitioned to female, in which case it would still be proper to refer and accept her as she/her while biologically she would still be male with XY chromosome)

                You're almost arguing the point of gender being a social construct when you state that regardless of whether Burchett has XX or XY chromosomes, or whether they were assigned female at birth or transitioned from male, they can be properly referred to with female pronouns. I can only take from that that you accept that gender is distinct from biological sex and physical sex traits, since you're happy to refer to them as female in either situation, therefore making it a socially determined concept.

                Someone identifying as non-binary is them saying that they cannot place themselves within society’s binary of male or female, that they do not identify wholly with either gender. This exists beyond how their chromosomes or anatomy are classified, because neither of those things determine gender.

                My self-reply was me poking fun at myself for making a grammar error in a post where I was being picky about grammar. I feel like I'm rambling a bit, I hope you were able to follow, even if you disagree.

                  No Collossuss, Mog just knows how to not act like a dickead. You might wanna take notes, brah.

    @collossuss

    Me? Not currently, but I have studied at uni. Is it the way I write or the fact that I replied at 2am on a Monday morning that made you think so?

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