The second Magic: The Gathering Mythic Championship in London was full of controversy and debate, and yet many fans are overlooking an old rule that needs to be revamped.
As of day two, round 16 of the Mythic Championship in London, at least six players were guaranteed to make it into the top eight (playoffs) if they agreed to an intentional draw (ID) in the round 16 match. Players who make it to day three and the top eight are determined from a point system kept throughout the tournament. In a Swiss rounds match system, a win provides three points, a loss grants zero, and a draw gives one point.
Of the top eight Magic: The Gathering players at Mythic Championship II, only three of them played matches in round 16 without an intentional draw.
Eli Loveman, Adrian Zhu, and Matthew Sperling respectfully won their round 16 matches. This bumped Loveman up to 39 points, Zhu to 37, and Sperling to 36. If Yuuya Watanabe hadn’t been disqualified, Sperling wouldn’t have made the top eight in London. Heading into round 16, Watanabe and Hayne each had 36 points and chose to ID the match, giving them 37 points for the tournament.
If the six players who chose to intentionally draw during round 16 played an actual match instead, the top eight would have looked much different for day three of Mythic Championship II in London. According to the MTG standings, seven other players finished day two at 36 points.
The six players who chose to intentionally draw instead of playing a match were Thein Nguyen, Alexander Hane, Brian Braun-Duin, Chris Kvartek, Javier Dominguez, and Watanabe.
Not having to play the final match prior to the playoffs while still receiving a point to secure a top position seems unfair for those who actually played all 16 rounds. But according to the official Magic: The Gathering rules, players choosing to ID is legit and legal.
“Intentional draws where no games were played are always reported as 0-0-3 or by using the ‘draw’ button (0-0) in Wizards Event Reporter,” the Magic: The Gathering tournament rules read. It also says under the same section heading, however, that “if a player refuses to play, it is assumed that he or she has conceded the match.”
So, according to Wizards of the Coast logic, a player can’t cheat by marking their card sleeves, but can legally cheat by pretending to play a match that leads to a draw. And yet, the six players at Mythic Championship II in London who did ID didn’t even pretend to play a match.
The MTG tournament rules are contradicting themselves. It’s legal to ID a match, which is the same as not playing one, and players are awarded one point for a draw. But at the same time, not playing a match means a player concedes. Since conceding equals a loss, no points are awarded.
The tournament rules need to be revamped regarding intentionally drawing. Intentional draws are wrong and unfair to those who earned legitimate wins in a tournament. Top players heading into the final round (pre-playoffs) shouldn’t be allowed to guarantee themselves a spot in the top eight.
Play your match like everyone else and get into the playoffs based on merit and skill, not a loophole in the Magic: The Gathering tournament rules.