Multiple Magic: The Gathering judges to receive suspensions over their alleged involvement in recent set leaks
(Author’s note: This article contains spoilers for the upcoming set in the Magic: The Gathering card game. If you wish to remain unspoiled on cards, please do not continue reading)
For both casual and hardcore players of the competitive trading card game Magic: The Gathering, any hopes of remaining spoiler-free for the upcoming Oath of the Gatewatch were quickly dashed on seeing the top thread of the day in the game’s dedicated reddit sub-forum.
The thread, simple titled “Mythic and Full Expedition Spoilers”, was not just a spoiler of certain cards to build hype, but rather a massive leak of cards, most of which were weeks away from seeing the light of day.
The cards in question included this set’s Zendikar Expeditions, special reprints of highly-played lands from non-rotating formats such as Modern and Vintage. Further information on the Zendikar Expeditions can be found in these articles from our site.
Other cards to be leaked included some of this set’s Planeswalker cards, which represent major character’s from Magic‘s lore.
Given the magnitude of the leaks, many players were left wondering who had been behind the leaks, or if there would be any repercussions for leaking this information.
Statement Concerning Recent Suspensions
On December 21st, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) released an announcement concerning suspensions for eleven of their judges, ranging from local to area to regional level. All judges received 3 month suspensions for “[involvement in] collecting, accessing and disseminating Wizards’ confidential and proprietary information before it was officially made public”. 2 year and 3 year suspensions were also handed out to three additional judges on December 18th; it’s currently unknown if their suspensions were related to the December 21st suspensions.
Notably among the judges suspended is Justin Turner, the USA-Southeast Regional Coordinator.
On December 22nd, the Judge Manager released a statement confirming the reasons behind the judge’s suspensions.
“It’s bullshit of the highest order, we didn’t do anything wrong.”
Reactions to the suspensions have been mixed to negative on Magic: The Gathering‘s reddit sub-forum. Other regional judges were quick to give their sides of the story; namely, that of the suspended judges, only two were actually involved in the leaks and the rest were “disproportionate response.” This includes the person who brought the leak to WotC’s attention and was helping them with their investigation.
Turner also weighs in on the suspensions, saying that he was only given two hours notice before the information regarding the suspensions was made public. He also alleges that the judges who were suspended were not involved in the information leak and that WotC did not differentiate between who was and wasn’t involved in the leak.
Moving forward – Future of further leaks
CJ Shrader, one of the 3 month suspended area judges, confirmed that he and other suspended judges were in an appeal process with WotC. It’s unknown how long the appeal process will take, if the suspensions will be overturned, or if Turner will return to his position as Regional Coordinator (now currently occupied by Scott Marshall).
Of bigger concern for Southeast players is the sheer number of regional and area judges that received suspensions, leaving many concerned that there simply won’t be enough active judges to cover regular events and upcoming tournaments, specifically the Atlanta Star City Open in January. As judge rulings on card interactions and player behavior is an integral part of Magic games, having a large event understaffed can have tremendous impacts on tournament play.
It’s unknown whether the remaining Southeast judges will walk over their fellow judge’s suspensions.
Protests by other judges are underway currently. James Bennett (also known as “ubernostrum” on reddit and Twitter), a regional judge, has discontinued service for popular judge services in protest of the treatment and public-facing statements given by WotC.
While leaks like this are few and far between, there has been similar punishments handed out to previous leaks — specifically the leak of the entire New Phyrexia set, which earned the leaker of the “Godbook” a three year suspension.
For many players in the reddit Magic sub-forum, the approach taken by WotC is dissatisfactory. As WotC rarely, if ever, gives the rationale behind it’s suspensions, players are left wondering if similar “scorched earth” policies will be implemented in future scenarios.
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