One of the most well-known Magic: The Gathering players, Yuuya Watanabe, was found cheating at the Mythic Championship II in London. He was disqualified due to this incident, as his deck of cards was found to have been marked. For a player that had his name everywhere in the Magic community, this was very shocking, to put it mildly.
The player initially stepped back and agreed with the judge’s analysis. Shortly after, he released a statement from the Team Cygames Twitter explaining his side. He then posted another statement on his personal Twitter, which seems more reputation repair than anything else.
Team Cygames published my statement concerning my disqualification at the Mythic Championship London. They've also published a timeline of events. I would appreciate it if you read these articles. Thank you for your support.
— 渡辺雄也/Yuuya Watanabe (@nabe1218) May 5, 2019
Yuuya Watanabe’s personal statement
The most recent statement put out by Watanabe follows the same format most other cheating allegation responses do in any other professional sport. First, he goes over his experience as a high-level Magic: The Gathering player. He then denies ever cheating while playing, describes his reputation, and goes over his awards or qualifications. Finally, the player starts the third paragraph with what most athletes say in interviews when caught using performance-enhancing drugs. It begins, “It doesn’t make any sense for me to throw it all away at this point in my career. There is too much at stake for me to be thinking about cheating.”
That’s just an analysis of his statement, but as for the cheating allegation, there is no evidence other than the judges themselves noticing it. At the time of the incident, the judging team at the Mythic Championships felt that it being an accident was unlikely. Watanabe was disqualified from the tournament, and Wizards of the Coast announced they would investigate the situation.
No official statement has come out from the league about a punishment for Watanabe yet.
Why do athletes cheat?
Many cases of cheating in professional play have happened in recent years, and it all usually boils down to one or two things. Often, the reasoning includes money/income and relevancy.
Like athletes, esports players have to perform at a certain level in order to continue in that sport. In most cases, these players have only known the game and don’t really have anything else to depend on. This is getting less common with the introduction of esports players also doing content creation on the side, or transitioning into coaching roles after retiring. Still, people may consider cheating because of that fear of failure.
One such recent example would be former OpTic India player Nikhil ‘forsaken’ Kumawat, who was caught cheating at eXTREMESLAND 2018 Asia Finals. During an interview, Forsaken talked about how “there was no pressure” from his peers or outsiders. Rather, he did it because of a lack of confidence in his aim and his desire to do something to compensate for it. While the cheat only gave him a slight assist with his aim, he wanted to “be perfect in every aspect.”
Even with a high level of skill, the player still resorted to using cheats just to gain a small advantage rather than risk possible failure.
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