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Jae Kim: Theory and Practice
JK7: SJC Minneapolis (A Bit Cleaner)

April 15, 2008

Congratulations to Paul Levitin for winning the Shonen Jump with Gladiator Beasts. He beat friend and teammate Mario Matheu (his second runner-up finish, second is the new first <3) in a wrenching series of games.


The Light and Darkness Dragon build started as a modified version of Vanity Fiend control that Hugo Adame and I created. Mario and Hugo then had the brilliant idea to transform it into Light and Darkness Dragon. Odyssey and Overdose's creations definitely deserved such high finishes at the jump!


Talking about the Actual Shonen Jump Event Itself


After what happened on Sunday, I am forced to write about star player Cedric Sequerra.


I met Cedric Sequerra in a big circle right before the first round pairings were announced. Top Yu-Gi-Oh players tend to group up in circles right before the event and either play hacky-sack or perform some “8 Mile” style rap lyrics.


As I kicked the hackysack (or hot rap bar, if you prefer), to Cedric, we shook hands and he introduced himself. Cedric is quite a dashing figure, resembling disgraced Overdose superstar Emon Ghaenian (who can now be seen playing in seedy back alley duels featured on Youtube). He is also an incredibly friendly and humble individual.


Unfortunately, being friendly and humble has nothing to do with whether or not somebody is a clean player. And as I briefly perused the message boards, I noticed a lot of players, fans, and haters expected me to immediately churn out an article slamming Cedric. One bright player remarked that doing so would hurt my credibility. I agree entirely.


Again, I want to stress the purpose of the Stallaway article. I did not write it because of a personal grudge, or ulterior motives leading to my own gain. I wrote it because I was 100% certain he was a cheater, in every sense both soft and game-breaking, and was disgusted at the desecration of Yu-Gi-Oh as a brilliantly competitive, inspiring game. Players like Jason are deliberately sucking the soul out of the game.


Other players, such as Cedric and a few others who shall go unnamed, also most definitely cheat or play dirty. However, it is the height of irresponsibility to simply go after them on a public forum, while trying to retain the public’s trust. The body of witness accounts that surround Cedric as a cheater do not come close to reaching Jason (who has about fifty+ stories in my e-mail box alone). Losing to Cedric in the Metagame featured match (which was cleanly played to my knowledge) was a pleasure. It was simply a game between two super fast decks that illustrated some of the imbalances of the format.


About the Metagame Featured Match


We had respected judge Simon Sangpukdee viewing our match. Matt Peddle did coverage, but some of the match was so lightning fast that many of the finer details were lost in the encounter. I wanted to talk briefly about the deck I was playing to a disappointing 20th place finish.


The deck was basically a speed version of Dark Armed Dragon, packing the maximum copies of draw cards, while also using three copies of Reckless Greed to fuel both Cyber Valley shenanigans and easy access to the kill cards such as Crush Card Virus, Gold Sarcophagus, and Dimension Fusion.


I was actually quite excited to play Cedric in the first round, since I wanted to see him in action. We both drew relatively good opening hands to start, although he managed to hit Snipe Hunter, Destiny-Hero Malicious, Crush Card Virus, Scapegoat, Destiny Hero - Plasma, and Dimension Fusion with multiple Darks removed from play.


The problem with such a hand is that Scapegoat into Plasma and Snipe Hunter into Malicious into Crush Card Virus are incredibly broken set-ups. Now my deck intentionally forsook the use of Crush Cardable monsters (I played three Dark Armed Dragons, a Dasher, a Dark Grepher, a Stratos, and a Dark Magician of Chaos to avoid such crippling CCV’s).


With no really playable monsters, I ended up setting two Reckless Greed and passing. He summoned Snipe Hunter, pitched a Malicious (I activated Reckless). He didn’t attack, but set a second spell or trap and passed. I end phased another Reckless to get -1 draw on the next turn instead of -2, and started with a pretty solid hand.


Now removing the Malicious to bring another out, with two backfield, telegraphed the Crush Card Virus. My hand was something like Dark Grepher, Reinforcement of the Army, Destiny Hero - Malicious, Premature Burial, Monster Reborn, Dimension Fusion, Sangan, and Brain Control. The original plan was to try to bait out the Crush Card Virus, then find a way to swing for game with his Snipe Hunter, my Dmoc, Stratos, Grepher.


However, Cedric made a mistake that made me change my frame of mind. As he went to play Crush Card Virus, he flashed a set Scapegoat first on accident. This was a huge intelligence coup, since I could basically Scapegoat lock him for a few turns while hopefully trying to fade Crush Card Virus, or at least gain some information on his deck. Unfortunately, it was also the worst card in the deck (other than Threatening Roar) for him to flash, since it was the only card that would keep him alive that turn.


So I Rota’ed for Stratos, and he then Crush Card Virused taking out my Grepher and Stratos. With no spell/trap removal, I couldn’t really force the Scapegoat activation without him in the graveyard. I also didn’t want to draw cards from Disk Commander (since the chances of now drawing a Dark Armed Dragon were immensely high). Cedric had two cards in hand, so I thought I could buy a few turns while waiting on his goat lock.


I Prematured Grepher, sending Malicious to the graveyard to bring out a Dark Magician of Chaos with Reborn, which then Reborned Stratos to pop his Scapegoat. I had about three cards in hand including Brain Control, but couldn’t really afford to take Snipe Hunter and try to roll on multiple sheep tokens. Instead I swung into Snipe, left him with four tokens, no back-field, and two cards in hand and passed.


When he dropped Plasma on me, I was appalled at the horror of the moment. If he had simply passed a turn, I could have Dimension Fusioned, forced the return of his Zerato or Snipe Hunter (since it forces you to return monsters), and Brained it for game. Instead, the goat lock was removed because of the special summon of Plasma. Cedric’s own Dimension Fusion was played, then his last card in hand (Rota) was played to discard with Zerato, swinging for an immense 6k+ of damage.


I drew and lost. Then in game two, I opened with Double Dark Armed Dragon. I Dustshooted his hand, revealed Stratos, Reborn, Premature Burial, Dimension Fusion, Allure of Darkness, and Destiny Draw (!!!). I realized I was going to lose within the next two draw phases, so I summoned Necro Gardna for some aggressive beatdowns. I lost the next turn.


After the match, I shook his hand and actually gained a good deal of respect for him (I’m not sure if he stacked his deck) because of his demeanor at the table.


The Circumstances Regarding Mr. Sequerra's Banning


I was not going to write about Cedric until the events of Sunday morning. To those who are not clear what happened, Cedric was banned for attempting to bribe his FTK-wielding opponent in the top sixteen. After offering the absolutely adorable sum of a hundred dollars, Cedric and his opponent played a practice match to “feel each other out.” After Cedric beat his opponent 2-0, he suggested that the opponent would have no chance in the actual match. They agreed to a scoop for a hundred dollars (in this scenario, both players should be banned).


Prior to their Sunday morning match, the opponent called Cedric voicing second thoughts about the arrangement. Cedric was relieved at this, because he wanted to cancel the bribe as well. Unfortunately, the savvy opponent decided to set up Mr. Sequerra by going to the judge staff and alerting them of Cedric’s intentions. The trap was set.


Once Cedric went to the judge’s table and told them of the opponent’s desire to scoop, the judge staff quickly realized Cedric was indeed performing the bribe according to the allegations. As a result of this, he is now (rightfully so) banned. Ignore the other stories, this one has been corroborated both by Cedric and higher ups in the Upper Deck hierarchy. His actions, as stated, most definitely include trying to bribe an opponent to pass the top sixteen round. I think it is very fair and just to ban a player for this.


But Does This Mean He Actually Cheated in Competitive Play?


Cedric remarked, correctly in my opinion, that this instance of cheating outside the realm of dueling itself will tarnish his in-game reputation as well. Since he was banned for something that has nothing to do with cheating while playing, the question then becomes whether he knowingly cheated while actually dueling (bribes don’t count for the purposes of this discussion).


He claims, quite vehemently and with conviction, that he has never knowingly cheated in a game of Yu-Gi-Oh monsters. Rather, due to his limited understanding and lack of skill with the game, he has broken numerous rules in the game on accident.


When respected Yu-Gi-Oh authority Matt Peddle agreed with Cedric’s own assessment (‘he’s too stupid to cheat!”), I began to agree with him. I heard Cedric’s anecdote of removing a dark and Stratos with Strike Ninja, in front of numerous spectators and judges, and then flipping Escape from the Dark Dimension targeting Stratos to attack for game. He also claims to be the beneficiary of extremely good luck.


Now I was undecided as to whether this star player actually cheated in game. The question that kept popping up in my mind was, can a player really be this bumbling to make such plays unknowingly?


Yet I then hear numerous stories from players, and witness with my own eyes, incredible stretches of play that seem nearly impossible from a good, consistent player. You have to understand that the best of the best make very few misplays, perhaps one or two total, in an entire Shonen Jump.


1) Cedric plays “Jerry Wonder” Wang in a match for stakes in front of me. With Return, Mind Crush, Dark Armed Dragon, and two Darks in the graveyard, Cedric baffles me. He first tries to D.D Crow Jerry’s graveyard, but Jerry has nothing in there to remove. He then flips Mind Crush and calls Exodia the Forbidden One (rather than a card that may reasonably be in Jerry’s hand, which he could then Crow). In addition, Jerry’s hand is full of monsters (four turns have passed), so any competent player would immediately assume he was filled with either tributes or Dark Armed Dragons. Since he misses the Exodia, he discards the one copy of Dark Armed Dragon to Mind Crush’s effect and loses!


2) In that same game, Cedric tributes a spent Elemental Hero Stratos for a Destiny-Hero Dasher! Jerry has a board of a face-up Cyber Valley and two set spell or trap cards. By all accounts, tributing Stratos for Dasher in such a situation is a terrible play.


3) Cedric is playing in the Shonen Jump and has a Stratos, Destiny Draw, Destiny Draw, and a few other cards in hand with no forum of recursion. When he summons the Stratos, he picks up a Disk Commander to discard with Draw instead of the more standard Dasher or Malicious. Of the two cards he draws, one is a Monster Reborn.


Now there are also a few stories on message boards and such about Cedric cheating in the past or whatnot. Since I haven’t seen any of this first-hand, and Cedric is already banned, there’s no point in going over every bit. Cedric has been banned for something else entirely, which was an offense entirely worth being banned for, and I simply wanted to relay what I heard from the man himself on Sunday. I also want to leave you with some definite food for thought.


A lot of players are aware, due to the irresponsible leaking of such information by judges, of the “black list” that’s in effect at premier events. This list, circulated amongst the judges, lists a number of players that should be watched closely because of illegitimate play and dirty cheating.


Unfortunately, part of the purpose of the list (the players shouldn't know they're on it) has been lost because its contents were leaked through judges to all of the top players of Overdose, who then leaked it in turn to other players. All of this can’t really be helped, since human beings are prone to gossip and look out for themselves.


I think I will be the first to vouch for Cedric. After talking to Cedric, I don’t think he knowingly cheated in a premier event. Sure he might be dirty, sloppy with his play, and inexperienced enough to try stuff like double summoning and bribing his opponents. But in terms of knowingly manipulating the game state, intentionally breaking the spirit of competitive play, and other Texas-like pursuits…. I don’t believe he did.


I think the biggest vouching one can do for Cedric’s innocence as a player (not as a briber and general vagrant) is that he showed up to Shonen Jump Minneapolis knowing he was marked for watch. Now he is guilty of a number of things, including possible deck stacking, numerous rules infractions and sharking, and trying to bribe his opponent. But if he did this all due to his inexperience, a rather reasonable version of the “insanity” defense, or as Peddle eloquently put it the “stupid” defense, can emerge. This type of portrayal is immensely, immensely, immensely different from a shady dirt bag who intentionally stalls out the clock then sides into burn, or palms cards from his sleeve, or employs the 8-to-5 shuffle, or twists life points due to using pen and paper over a calculator, or even twists game counts because their opponent has a bad memory.


This raises an obvious question. Now that we know all of these consistent superstars of the format know they are on this potential “black list,” who chose to show up to the Shonen Jump Championship? Cedric was there, but many others weren’t.


I think if you took a look at the “superstar” players from the U.S who have attended every SJC this format but mysteriously decided to sit this one out, you can decipher which cheaters on the black list are scared to face the music.


And at this very moment, there is an "unholy trinity" of cheaters that have dozens, or more, insider accounts of witnesses that have seen them cheat and stack shuffle. One, I have called out in public. Another was just banned at this Shonen Jump.  Personal reasons, private confessions, and friendship prevent me from calling the last one out in public. This will likely change in the future.


As I read over this column, I am disgusted by how sensationalistic and disturbing my writing tends to be with the last few pieces I have submitted. But this cheating in Yu-Gi-Oh is rampant and widespread, and reminds me a lot of Baseball’s steroid scandal. The simple fact of the matter is that these dirty cheaters and thieves are making many people fall out of love with the game.


The cat and mouse game between the dirty pros, who have discovered their positions on the black list, and the team of investigators at Premier events is only ramping up.


Immense congratulation to Upper Deck Entertainment for cracking down on the disgusting cheaters on the current list, who all have every right to be sent to the removed from play pile. It is my prediction that by Nationals, the other two members of the trinity (and perhaps even more big names) will also be stomped out by the UDE decree. The stakes have apparently grown too high to simply play cleanly and respectably.


The morale of the player base is galvanized by the Sequerra banning (for better or worse, whether it is fair or not, he is the face of competitive Yu-Gi-Oh cheating), and honestly hope has never been higher. When the other cancers of the game are removed, I am quite certain Upper Deck will get a hero’s welcome from the community. Save our game!


Jae Kim is a creative contributor to Pojo.com. You may contact him (every e-mail will be answered) at JAELOVE@gmail.com. He can also be found contributing to the Message Boards and the Card of the Day.




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