Minutes prior to the top eight standings announcement during Magic: The Gathering Mythic Championship II in London, officials declared Yuuya Watanabe’s disqualification for marked card sleeves.
The news came as a shock to the MTG community and to fans of Watanabe, who was undefeated for the day prior to his loss in round 11. Watanabe, who’s never been caught cheating in his career, is a two-time Player of the Year winner and an inductee into the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame.
Shortly after his disqualification, Watanabe spoke out about the allegations on Twitter. “After the events transpired, I was very confused at first,” says Watanabe. “I’d like to explain things from my perspective.”
In addition to Watanabe’s statement, Team Cygames released photos of the card sleeve markings along with its own statement on the matter.
“I would like to apologize to everyone who is supporting Team Cygames, for having been obliged to convey Watanabe’s disappointing results in this way,” Team Cygames said.
Images of Yuuya Watanabe Mythic Championship II card sleeves
According to Watanabe, he put on new card sleeves after his loss to Thein Nuygen in round 11. The markings on the card sleeves are precise, similar in nature, and don’t typically occur from general play.
During the MTG Mythic Championship II, a new mulligan rule (London mulligan) was being playtested. The rule allowed players to draw seven cards with each mulligan, and then discard the number of cards equal to the number of mulligans taken.
Because Watanabe had Urza’s Mine and Urza’s Tower marked, he could find land cards that give him additional mana on turn one by taking mulligans until he notices the notched card sleeves. In the MTG Modern format, it’s not unusual for a player to win a match by turn two or three. If Watanabe intentionally marked his card sleeves, he’d have a huge advantage over his opponent.
Wizards of the Coast is having the MPL (Magic Pro League) investigate the card markings and Watanabe’s account of what occurred. No official statement has been released yet from the MPL.