Jeff Zandi is The Southwest Paladin
Nobody Will Ever Cheat On the Pro Tour
Ever since this yearís Nationals, there has been a lot of discussion about cheating. The topic has moved back and forth from who is cheating to how they are cheating. Magic players can be a superstitious lot. Whenever cheating becomes the topic of the day, you can count on competitive Magic players to get excitable, uneasy, even paranoid. Of course, just because you are paranoid does not mean that everyone isnít out to get you. Competitive Magic players are always looking for an explanation for why they lose. Players blame their losses on everything but their own skills. This summer, everyone is sure that the other guy is cheating. Articles and discussions have swirled all around the Magic community about which players are cheating, how players are cheating and about what should be done to cheating players. This is not one of those articles. I am here to tell you that the players that really matter to the game of Magic, and I hope Iím talking to you, are not cheating. Iím here to tell you why nobody will ever cheat on the professional tour.
Remember when you first started playing in tournaments. You were a scrub. You knew it, and the really good players in your area knew it. You always had a good deck, thanks to magazines and the internet (oh, yeah, and because of your AMAZING personal deck-building skills) yet you rarely seemed to win when it mattered. Remember, you used to talk under your breath about how your opponent must be some kind of ďoperatorĒ, drawing extra cards or stacking their deck or something else tricky that allowed them to beat you. Later, as your increased tournament experience helped make you a better player, you realized that you probably werenít being cheated by the players that beat you. The reason you know that is because you became the guy winning the tournaments, defeating opponent after opponent seemingly by sheer willpower, always drawing the right card at the right time. Suddenly, as your proficiency increased, you became the one that less successful Magic players wondered about. They canít believe how easy you make winning look.
The players who are winning the most matches, who attend the most professional tour events, and who win the most tournaments, are not cheaters. They are the elite players in the game. If you have joined this tight fraternity of regular pro tour participants, you are the best of the best. You got here because you simply worked harder at this game than most other players. You played in more tournaments, you learned from more of the better players and took less advice from fewer of the bad players. If you are one of the best players in the world, trust me, you earned it. DCI ratings rarely lie.
You know players that really do cheat. The reason you know they cheat is no longer based on your own petty fears and paranoia. Your knowledge is based on their confessions to you. You have thought about cheating yourself, but there are any number of reasons why you would never lower yourself to that. Cheaters think that they do what they do because winning is so important to them. You know, however, that winning is too important to cheat for. If you werenít good enough to compete at the pro level, what good would cheating do? Do cheaters think the risks of getting caught are small enough to deal with? Itís hard to be just a little pregnant, and harder still to be just a little bit of a cheater. You are simply not willing to risk all the things you have worked for in this game. You know a lot better than that. You just traveled half way around the world to play in another pro tour event. Late at night, when you are alone trying to get a few hours of sleep, you have thought about how much of your life you have thrown at the game of Magic. The game has continued to be fun for you, and you love hanging out with your pro tour friends while traveling with the wild Magic pro tour circus. On the other hand, you know that you have had to let a lot of other opportunities in the non-Magic world go by because you are dedicated to winning the next game, the next match, the next Pro Tour. You are not interested in finally making it to the top eight of the a pro tour event, to the semi finals or even the finals only to get it all taken away from you because you got caught for cheating. You didnít make the sacrifices that youíve made to the game of Magic just to have them taken away from you like that. It just wouldnít make sense. Can you get all the way from scrub to the highest levels of Magic by cheating? Absolutely not. Since you have to be truly great to compete at the highest levels, there is simply no way you would allow yourself to cheat in the pro tour. Magic is a skill-based game. The players that win the most have the most skill. The natural laws that surround Magic donít have anything to do with the moral implications of right and wrong. In Magic, if you play enough games, the best player will always win. Cheating is just another way to lose, in the big picture, and you simply wonít be that loser.