Last night, Magic Pro League member Shahar Shenhar logged into MTG Arena for what appeared to be a normal stream of Constructed Best-of-One…at least at first. But four hours later, he found himself matched up against against a player on Bant Turbofog, featuring Wilderness Reclamation and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.

Unfortunately for Shenhar, the two-time World Magic Champion, his opponent’s first three land drops were Blue/White dual lands, leading him to believe he was playing against UW control. In response to his opponent casting Revitalize at the end of Shenhar’s turn, Shenhar snapped of his own Chemister’s Insight to play around a potential counterspell from his oponent.

“I’m just going to play [mtg_card]Chemister’s Insight[/mtg_card] now. I’m not scared of anything they’ll play on Turn 4,” he said, thinking he’d have to set up to counter a potential Turn 5 Teferi. “I think it’s more important to just not get it Syncopated. I don’t care that much if it gets Syncopated on our turn…”

Shenhar’s Chemister’s Insight resolved, his opponent untapped, played a Temple Garden and slammed Wilderness Reclamation with Shenhar tapped out.

“Oh wow, I had that wrong,” Shenhar responded. “Way off. That’s not good.”

Shenhar Regains Control

Despite his miscalculation, Shenhar was able to right then ship by untapping and casting Teferi, Hero Dominaria, using its minus ability to put the Wilderness Reclamation back on top of his opponent’s deck. But his opponent untapped and played another Wilderness Reclamation, which Shenar destroyed with Cleansing Nova. A turn later, his opponent drew and replayed the original Wilderness Reclamation, which Shenhar Absorbed.

After surviving the scare of an unexpected Turn 4 Wilderness Reclamation, Shenhar had turned the corner and take control of the game. He countered his opponent’s follow-up Teferi and Nexus of Fate, all while ticking up his own Teferi towards its ultimate.

Nexus of Fate Loop: Engage

Shenhar, having correctly deduced that he could answer any threat his opponent could play, with both a Negate and an Absorb in hand, was content to let his opponent begin to chain Nexus of Fates. His Teferi, Hero of Dominaria was at seven loyalty and he just needed to untap to being to start clearing his opponent’s board.

After the third Nexus of Fate resolved, and 15 minutes into the game, Shenhar started to realize where the game was headed. “This game might not end, by the way,” he told his chat. “It’s possible our opponent is going to take a million turns and never give us another turn but won’t have any threats” to end the game with.

Less than a minute later, though, Shenhar’s opponent used the “Good Game” emote. “They said Good Game. I feel like that means it’s over, but I don’t know,” Shenhar said. “I’m going to stay in and keep going and see what happens.”

“Eventually we are going to win because if they have no more win conditions,” he continued. “if Dawn of Hope is their only way to win, then eventually we’ll win the game. Even if they don’t fizzle, it doesn’t matter.”

Shenhar had underestimated his opponent, though. With only 16 card left in their library and an active Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin with enough mana to activate it and cast Nexus of Fate in the same turn, they were able to begin looping Nexus of Fates and never give Shenar another turn.

“It’s possible I’m going to have to concede just because our opponent is going to do this forever,” Shenar told his chat a few minutes after his opponent started to loop Nexus of Fates. “I don’t want to just lose my viewers and have 400 people watching me while I just click space. Unless you guys are enjoying this. If this is funny, I mean, I’ll keep going. But it’s possible we’ve gotten to a point where our opponent can just take infinite turns and we’ll never end the game.”

And, indeed, he refused to concede, continuing to click space bar pass priority and talking to his chat. His opponent was merely trying to lull Shenhar into a false sense of safety, though, and was setting up Shenar to get used to thoughtlessly pressing the space bar. About 15 minutes into their infinite loop, Shenhar’s opponent cast their last Teferi, Hero of Dominaria (the previous three of which Shenhar had countered), and Shenhar accidentally pressed his spacebar and allowed the Teferi to resolve.

Realizing what his opponent had done, Shenhar allowed himself to express his frustration, and then buckled down to answer it. Knowing he had a Vraska’s Contempt in the next five cards of his deck, he activated his own Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, revealed the Contempt, and exile his opponent’s Teferi.

Looping, Roping, and Stalling

After losing their final win condition, Shenhar’s opponent continued looping Nexus of Fates but started to mix in moments of letting their clock run down. This is known as “roping” in MTG Arena—named after the burning rope or fuse that appears on your screen to warn you that your time is running out—and players often use it as a way of stalling a game they know they are about to lose.

This opponent, however, took roping to the next level. They were able to chain Nexus of Fates fast enough to earn “time outs”—which allow you to get a time extension—and then used those time outs to further rope Shenhar.

The time wasting continued for another 20 minutes, until around 50 minutes into the game, when MTG Arena’s Game Director Chris Clay showed up in chat. “I can save you,” Clay said to Shenhar, by temporarily banning his opponent. But it would take some time because he had to clip the game and send it to MTG Arena’s customer service.

Unfortunately for Shenhar, it would take Wizards of the Coast another hour to finally take any action, while he pressed his spacebar as his opponent continued to loop Nexus of Fates.

Finally, 107 minutes after the game had started, Shenhar’s opponent was banned from MTG Arena and Shenhar won the game. “We banned him,” Chris Clay said. But only for two hours.

Nexus of Fate Remains Legal—For Now

Shenhar’s experience is emblematic of one of the community’s biggest complaints about MTG Arena: players are able grind games they are losing to a halt by roping in the hopes that their opponent will concede and give them the win.

Wizards and the MTG Arena team have yet to take any action on the problem, which has existed since the game was in closed beta, but Chris Clay acknowledged the problem in Shenhar’s chat. Here’s to hoping that this (very public) display of poor sportsmanship and Terms of Service breaking will be enough to convince them to make marked improvements to the way turn timers are handled in MTG Arena.

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