On Monday, January 7, 2019, Alex Bertoncini was given a lifetime ban from Magic by Wizards of the Coast and the DCI.

Multiple Game Rule Violations

Bertoncini’s name was added to the list of Suspended DCI Memberships with little fanfare and no explanation. However, this suspension may be the result of accumulating multiple Game Rule Violations. Bertoncini’s second suspension, back in 2014, was for committing multiple GRVs, including mis-tapping to cast Supreme Verdict and failing to put two cards back on top of his library after casting Brainstorm.

Since returning to Magic in 2017, Bertoncini has reportedly continued to pick up GRVs, including using marked cards, consulting outside information, and finding a Hardened Scales with Ancient Stirrings. It’s possible these incidents were enough to trigger another suspension for Bertoncini. But, as per company policy, Wizards of the Coast declined to comment on this (or any other) DCI action. We also reached out to Bertoncini via Facebook but he had not responded by the time this article was published.

Possible Collusion at GP Oakland

Ken Kauffman, an attendee of Grand Prix Oakland at Magic Fest Oakland this past weekend, told Hipsters of the Coast that he witnessed two conversations involving Bertoncini at the event. Those conversations indicated that Alex was caught attempting to collude with his opponent in the last round of the Sunday PTQ on January 6, 2019.

Kauffman says that his friend, Sebastien Kane, played Bertoncini in Round 3. Both players were 2-0 and, though Kane lost, he was satisfied no cheating had occurred. As the players were finding their seats for Round 6, Kaufman heard a conversation in which a group of judges told Bertoncini that he had made an illegal offer to his opponent. After the round, Kauffman stood in the line to collect prize tickets just behind Bertoncini and heard him express annoyance to that same opponent, saying, “You were still live for Top 8 and I wasn’t, so I concede to you and you give me 90% of the winnings.”

Alex Bertoncini’s Planeswalker Points page. You can match the DCI number to the DCI number listed on the suspension list above.

We can confirm that both Kauffman and Kane were participants in Sunday’s PTQ at GP Oakland. We were also able to confirm that Bertoncini played in that same Sunday PTQ via his Planeswalker Points page. He received 105 Planeswalker Points from the PTQ—30 participation points and 15 points for each win, putting him at 5-1. This means that it is entirely likely Bertoncini was 4-1 with poor tiebreakers going into Round 6 and could have been paired against another 4-1 player with better breakers.

However, it is unclear if Bertoncini’s actions at the PTQ on January 6 were reported to the DCI. Additionally, the DCI tends to conduct investigations that can take weeks before suspending players, so it’s possible that the DCI was unaware of any infractions at GP Oakland last weekend when determining whether to suspend Bertoncini. Despite that, the alleged collusion at GP Oakland only reinforces the notion that Bertoncini has continued to break the rules since returning to Magic at the end of 2017.

We reached out to the tournament organizer ChannelFireball but they declined to comment.

Bertoncini’s History of Suspensions

Bertoncini’s first run-in with the DCI was in 2011 after he was caught cheating on video at SCG Kansas City. He cast Explore on consecutive turns, then counted his lands and played a third (illegal) land off of his second Explore. He received an 18-month suspension that December.

Bertoncini returned to Magic in 2013 only to start racking up Game Rule Violations, including mis-tapping to cast Supreme Verdict and failing to put two cards back on top of his library after casting Brainstorm. As a result of his accumulation of additional GRVs, Bertoncini received a three year ban in October 2014.

At the end of 2017, Bertoncini once again returned to competitive Magic and immediately ran into trouble. He was given a game loss for marked cards and a match loss for consulting outside information on the same day. After finishing with 30 points at GP Sacramento in July 2018, Bertoncini made the Top 8 of GP Los Angeles a month later—and was greeted with boos when his name was announced.

Bertoncini’s Top 8 caused the Magic community erupted in anger about why someone with multiple DCI suspensions was even allowed to play in Grand Prix at all. In response, he released a statement on Facebook titled, “My Statement and Commitment to the Magic Community.” In it, he attempted to explain his past actions, apologize, and make the case that he had learned from his mistakes.

However, it appears that Alex Bertoncini has continued to break the rules of Magic, resulting in a lifetime ban from Magic.


Update: It appears Bertoncini has deleted his original statement from Facebook. We’ve replaced the link with an archive, and if that fails, here is a reddit post that quotes the statement in its entirety. 

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