Here Are The Magic: The Gathering Cards That Caused Cheating Allegations

Here Are The Magic: The Gathering Cards That Caused Cheating Allegations

This weekend, Japanese player and Magic Hall of Famer Yuuya Watanabe was booted from Mythic Championship II in London after judges found markings on his cards’ sleeves. Here are said cards.

After the disqualification, Watanabe released a statement regarding the cards and their sleeves.

“I honestly don’t know how my Urzatron lands became marked, so I don’t know the exact reason things turned out this way,” Watanabe wrote. “I think maybe it’s because I tutored for them a lot from my deck. This requires touching the cards more, and the repeated exposure might’ve caused damage to them, giving them distinguishable marks.”

In the interest of transparency, Watanabe and Team Cygames have released the following images of the deck. 

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ImageCygames” loading=”lazy” > Image: Cygames
ImageCygames” loading=”lazy” > Image: Cygames
ImageCygames” loading=”lazy” > Image: Cygames
ImageCygames” loading=”lazy” > Image: Cygames
ImageCygames” loading=”lazy” > Image: Cygames
ImageCygames” loading=”lazy” > Image: Cygames
ImageCygames” loading=”lazy” > Image: Cygames



  • Quite clearly marked for a purpose but also not a very well hidden.
    Did he think his deck wouldn’t be checked or wouldn’t all decks get checked at high level play?

    • Some classic crimping there! But yeah, doesn’t really work with coloured cards …

  • “Why yes, I regularly dig my nails into specific cards during gameplay. Don’t you?”

  • I’ve played tournament poker for a long time, and regularly deal final tables and the like. These sorts of marks happen a lot easier than people think. I’ve taken a brand new deck of cards, never used before, shuffled them three times and shown marks on them looking very similar to these. It doesnt take much flexing or bending is what I’m getting at.

    Thats not saying that nothings going on here, the fact its a specific card in the same location does look suspect, but its not as hard to accidentally mark them as you think. One problem I’ve seen over and over though is that people instantly assume theres been cheating. Marking cards in poker is just as bad as it would be here. Moreso given theres potentially a lot of money at stake. But most of the time its just simply through using them.

    The fact it is just a specific repeated card might have also played a key role in what caused it. They could have all been in the same slot in the sleeves, and the whole set of sleeves all got bent or something like that. Or as he said, through repeated handling while tutoring. Surprisingly, thats plausible.

    Or he could have actually been cheating. Only he truly knows. But how this has played out is certainly going to follow him for a long time to come. Part of me hopes it was cheating, because if it wasnt, this will haunt him.

    • The usual way to handle this in traditional card games is to regularly change packs. I wonder if something like that could work for collectible card game tournaments?

      Maybe allow each player list provide their desired deck, and be given a version of that deck made with tournament specific prints of those cards (so as not to affect the after market economy of the regular cards)?

      • These markings are on the sleeves, so it would only take swapping the actual cards to a different set of sleeves to solve any wear problem.

        That said, sleeves are quite a bit harder to accidentally mark than the cards themselves because of the different material. I used to play and later judge tournament MTG here in AU, and this kind of marking needs a conscious effort to fold the sleeve corners in my experience. You have to kinda press down on a fold to get that kind of crease. There’s a slim chance it can happen accidentally, but it’s far too coincidental for the same type of mark to appear on the same type of card. Tutoring doesn’t explain it away.

        • I suspect that would be unpopular too, given that it would mean players would need to handle all their cards prior to the tournament: something they’re trying to avoid by using sleeves in the first place.

          That’s why I was suggesting a move away from players using their personal property. Although I guess tournament editions of cards could also have effects on the secondary market if they aren’t collected/destroyed after the event.

        • It’s hard but not impossible. I play Arkham Horror with a guy who constantly damages cards with his nails. He tries not to but he always taps on cards when he’s reading them or pinches the corners when he’s holding cards up for people to see. It’s completely innocent, he’s a great guy and I wouldn’t believe for a second that he’d cheat at anything, but I’m pretty sure if I sat down with his deck for half an hour I could learn to read the markings and predict every card he draws.

          That said I’ve got to imagine that anyone playing Magic at a decent competitive level has had proper card handling well and truly drilled into their brains.

          • Does your friend pick and pinch Elder Signs differently than any other Unique Item in a way that after a while, you could pick the Unique Item deck and find all the Elder Signs just looking at the card backs? Because that’s what happening here.

    • In your example, similar marks would have had to be found in each of the 4 Aces, Kings and Queens and no other card. Even if marks on sleeves happened so easily, it’d be statistically almost infinitely unlikely to happen in that exact way.

      • Yeah, as I said, it being specific cards doesnt look good. The marks are pretty consistent as well. But his tutoring would mean he’s handling the cards far more than normal, which could do it. Tutoring would also be showing specific strats so its likely he had all those specific cards just to show something. It is plausible.

        If I was teaching someone poker, I’d be using a pre-made hand, often using aces, kings, and queens, so I can see how tutoring would narrow down the cards being used.

        I’m not saying he cheated, and not saying he did. I wasnt there, I dont know the guy, and dont know the situation or game well enough to make a judgement call. I was just saying that cards are far easier to get marked than people realise, and they’re similar enough to these cards to make the comparison.

  • Disappointing. Same marks + same cards = no accident. Could have been framed? Especially if he was showing the cards around…. In any MTG finals event – all decks going to the table need to be sleeved up with something uniform and regulation shuffled. Too much money is involved to leave it upto chance.

  • Just take tournaments digital using their Mtg Arena client would solve this problem.

    • This tournament was for ‘modern’, which uses a lot more sets than are available in arena, and I’m not sure it’s all that likely that they’re going to add the sets going back that far either.

      Standard tournaments I could see going chiefly to the client.

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