This week we’re going to dive deep into the topic of video replay on the Pro Tour. At PT Dragons of Tarkir, in round six, Patrick Chapin was involved in a lengthy on-air judge appeal. Towards the end of this appeal, Chapin tried to argue that the judge could review the video in order to see that Chapin was not trying to gain an advantage or cheat but that he had honestly made a mistake. The hall of famer hoped to get his game loss downgraded, but the judge reminded him that according to the DCI floor rules, video replay is not allowed. The game loss stood. In the following week there has been much debate over whether or not the DCI floor rules should be amended. Today we’ll dive into that debate.

The Incident

The Youtube video below is from round six of Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir. The incident we’ll be discussing in detail is captured here, live from the Twitch stream of the tournament coverage. Take a look at the video and watch the events for yourself.

The sequencing of events here is very straight-forward so I won’t break things down by time-stamp. If you’re interested in that, Cedric Phillips has provided such a breakdown in his article which we’ll talk about more later. What’s important to know is that Chapin activated Ajani, Mentor of Heroes +1 ability to look at the top four cards of his library. He found a creature card and three lands. He put the creature in his hand, which was face-down on the table, and put the three lands on the bottom of his deck. At this point Patrick had committed a rules violation and a judge was called to the scene.

Magic Infraction Procedure Guide Effective March 27, 2015

Magic Infraction Procedure Guide
Effective March 27, 2015

Chapin failed to reveal a card to prove that he had chosen a creature. His opponent can’t verify the legality of the choice so the penalty should be upgraded. This is how the table judge, Kevin Desprez, makes his ruling. Chapin begins to argue that due to a [casthaven]Courser of Kruphix[/casthaven] that had been in play (you’ll need to rewind the video if you want to see this for yourself), his opponent should be able to verify the contents of Chapin’s hand. In theory, Chapin argues, his hand contains cards that Ancona has seen and the creature he just added there via Ajani. Of course his opponent is under no obligation to keep track of this and does not verify the legality. Chapin appeals to head judge Riccardo Tessitori.

As a final appeal to the head judge, Chapin argues that even though his opponent can’t verify the legality of the penalty, the video that is recording this match for the Twitch audience should be able to verify the legality, and therefore the penalty should not be upgraded as per rule 2.5 above. Tessitori informs Chapin that he incorrect, and the penalty is a game loss knocking Chapin to 5-1-0 in the Pro Tour.

DCI Floor Rules for Video Replay

Despite Chapin’s passionate plea for the judge to review video that would prove the legality of his plays, and result in his penalty being returned to a warning instead of the upgraded game loss, head judge Tessitori informs Chapin that he cannot use video replay. This is because of rule 2.1 in the M:TG Tournament Rules:

Magic: the Gathering Tournament Rules Effective March 27, 2015

Magic: the Gathering Tournament Rules
Effective March 27, 2015

This rule is pretty cut-and-dry. Judges can’t use video replay to make rulings during a match, but the DCI retains the right to use video replay for investigations after the match. We’ve seen many cases of the latter part of this rule applied as recently as at this very Pro Tour, and very publicly not too long ago when ex-Rookie of the Year Jared Boettcher was stripped of that title as a result of cheating while on-stream at a Pro Tour.

The first part of the rule is the one that came into play during Tessitori’s ruling on Chapin’s infraction. Judges are not permitted to use it to assist in making rulings during a match. End of story, right? Wrong. It turns out that a lot of people are torn on this issue and plenty of people had plenty to say about the use of video replay in judge calls and as part of tournament coverage.

Community Reactions

Evan Erwin is the host of The Magic Show which is presented by StarCityGames.com and he was immediately displeased with the call against Chapin. You can see the battle-lines in the burgeoning debate begin to emerge in the replies to this one tweet by Erwin. The majority of early replies are in-line with the official rules but there are plenty of people who believe that since the information exists it should be used.

Cedric Phillips, who we’ll get to more in a moment, is the content manager for StarCityGames.com and his opinion is in-line with the ruling and opposed to Erwin’s. Danny West, who is a contributor to a variety of sites including Gathering Magic, MTG Price, and Quiet Speculation, agrees with Phillips and points out the relevant part of rule 2.5 of the Infraction Procedures whereby the only person who had to see the infraction was Chapin’s opponent.

Phillips went on to write an entire article for StarCityGames.com on this very incident, and he covers a much broader set of topics therein. The bulk of Phillips article is around the handling of the situation on-camera and by the coverage team, a worthy topic but not what I want to look at today. What I want to look at is the rationale behind Phillips dislike of video replay in this situation.

The biggest reason is because feature matches then become more important than regular matches. With access to a camera to correct mistakes like this, it gives an unfair advantage to players in the feature match area.

Phillips main argument, and what he believes is the most important factor, is creating an imbalance between matches which are on-camera and every other match held. Many people on social media agreed with this main argument including Richard Feldman. However, many other people were not so quick to agree with Phillips. First off, this is in stark contrast to the actual rule in the Infraction Procedure Guide. Interestingly the rule actually explains why it exists, which is “because of the delays inherent in video replay.” Renowned Pro Player and Vintage Super League competitor Chris Pikula brought this point up.

You may have noticed that this was also in reply to some comments by Sam Pardee, who writes for Channel Fireball, a direct competitor of Star City Games. Pardee is focused on the argument that Phillips presented on the “fairness” of feature matches using video replay. Pardee is actually more concerned with feature matches revealing his deck list, but that spawned another entirely different debate which we won’t cover here.

Pardee’s arguments about video replay resonated with a lot of people who are mostly concerned with the integrity of the game. This isn’t terribly surprising in the wake of several high-profile cheating incidents which were later verified by video replay. Phillips counters with arguments that many sports fans should be familiar with. How often do you use replays? When can they be used? What can judges do or not do? We see these arguments come up frequently in major sports and Phillips see the comparisons with Magic. It’s worth noting that Football, a sport which already has lengthy pauses between plays, uses video replay to great advantage while Baseball, a sport that already takes far longer than it should, has been very slow to adopt more video replays. Where does Magic fall on this spectrum would be an interesting discussion but one that did not materialize.

Video Replay in the Future

It’s clear that video replay is a hot topic. Not surprisingly Helene Bergeot added her two cents and made it clear that Wizards has considered it and has envisioned a future with video replay but that it is a far more complex feature than it may appear to many people.

Phillips, who is clearly passionate about defending Chapin (who writes for the website Phillips manages the content for), is right that video replay should not have been used here, but his arguments about the “fairness” of competition have struck a major chord in the community. Or so I thought. In a single day he generated a ton of discussion and debate about a variety of topics. Video replay was one of the major topics but also included were scouting, feature matches, and tournament integrity. What’s more surprising than the broad range of topics was how quickly the discussion completely died down.

The next day Phillips was back to tweeting about the NBA. Sam Pardee and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa were busy preparing for GP Krakow. The community seemed to move on as quickly as it had become outraged. Only fellow Hipsters writer Brendan MacNamara wrote about the topic. Across a variety of websites that produce Magic content there was virtually no further discussion on the point of video replay, or any of the other points such as fairness, integrity, or scouting. Everyone just wanted to get back to talking about playing Magic.

Video replay will surely be a thing one day, but for a few hours after round six of Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir it was generating incredible debate and discussion within the Magic community. Now we’re all talking about burn decks and the new limited environment. How long will the video replay discussion last the next time an incident like this occurs on camera at a Pro Tour? PT Origins is in three months. Maybe we’ll find out there. I’ll leave the final thoughts to Patrick Chapin himself.

The Quick Hits

  • Andrew Rogers talks about the difficulties of losing your Magic group and having to find a new one, an experience we all eventually go through for a variety of reasons [Gathering Magic]
  • John Dale Beety analyzes traditional structures of stories in western culture and applies their philosophies to the upcoming two-block paradigm shift we’ll be seeing beginning with Battle for Zendikar later this year [Star City Games]
  • Have you ever quit Magic? I have several times and I’m sure many of you have done the same or have thought about it. This video is for you [Tolarian Community College]
  • Corbin Hosler also has some thoughts on quitting Magic but from the perspective of someone who buys people’s cards when they quit. Corbin will personally never get rid of his Merfolk deck, and I can’t fault him for that. Despite having sold 80% of my collection (the rest is going away at GP Atlantic City) I still have my Legacy Dredge deck sitting on my desk and I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it [MTG Price]
  • Jim Davis shared his #MyTop8Cards and the trend has gone viral across Twitter and Facebook and whatever other social media you may be using [Star City Games]
  • Danny Brown looks at the new Topps Star Wars trading cards on iOS and wonders if it will explode in value like Magic (spoiler: not likely) [MTG Price]
  • I very rarely share tournament reports in this space because they’re usually incredibly uninteresting. However, this report by Adrian Sullivan is definitely worth the read. Early in my career as a competitive Magic player I was infatuated with the Sullivan Solution and Adrian’s deck theory [Star City Games]

Wallpaper of the Week

Next up is [casthaven]Dragonlord Ojutai[/casthaven] whose artwork is very impressive. It isn’t very often you get a flock of scale dragons in a piece of art. Ojutai was featured on several other pieces of card art, but none more popular than [casthaven]Contradict[/casthaven] which spawned an interesting rendition. There’s no doubt that Ojutai is one of the more menacing dragonlords, despite hiding behind his zen-like poses. He was the architect of the destruction of the ancient Khans and was the new Narset’s mentor. His artwork definitely lives up to the grandeur.

Grade: A

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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