Wow, first off let me say thank you so much to all the blog’s fans who appreciated what I was doing by posting the Seena Ghaziaskar tournament report. I made it clear in the original post that the views expressed were from a tournament report written by Seena, and are his views only. However, now I’d like to take a chance to express my own views: first, on the purpose this site serves; and second, offering a bit of perspective on the judges’ side of this controversy.
Purpose of HeyTrainer, and How /blog Content is Chosen
Free Pokemon; free speech; free dumb
With very limited exception and deviation, those have always been the goals of this niche within a niche we call HeyTrainer.org. A key element to that is the free exchange of ideas: Even if the ideas themselves are offensive, or the people sharing them are, we rarely shy away from topics that are of substantive value to the competitive community. In the few short months we’ve been back, we’ve covered everything from a major archetype’s birth to why women won’t touch competitive TCG.
When guest columnists post blogs, I rarely exercise creative control over what they choose or don’t choose to say. The main editorial control I exercise is in presentation, scheduling, and maybe a few recommendations. I certainly exercise ultimate authority over what gets posted or removed, and have a strict set of rules I follow for what guest columns stay up.
However, a player being DQ’d is not one of those rules. In fact, a DQ’d player offers unique perspective into the competitive experience because they somehow reached the most egregious violation of the rules. Players rarely get DQ’d, but considering it’s the ultimate death-knell in one’s tournament aspirations, learning from the mistakes of DQ’d players is actually helpful.
No matter how you feel about whether Seena intentionally did anything wrong, or even if a DQ was the optimal penalty, pretty much everyone agrees a penalty was appropriate. Some big takeaways therefore are as follows:
A) You can lose a tournament over marked cards, so take your choice of sleeves seriously; and
B) Don’t use clear sleeves (unless they’re just double-sleeved)
Thoughts about the NAIC Judging
While I love sharing all sorts of different perspectives, I personally am not in the business of second-guessing the judges’ decision, or any decisions TPCi may make based off of those judging calls. In fact, I have a ton of respect for the judges who made this particular call. DQ’ing a player is rarely done lightly, and with so many checks and balances at the NAIC, any claim of bias is pure and utter nonsense.
Furthermore, most if not all of the judges directly involved in this situation can’t share their story. While judges are rarely paid and almost always volunteers, they still have a level of elevated professional expectations that normal Play! Pokemon members don’t. In the case of a DQ, keeping the drama to a minimum is actually an explicit requirement laid out in the penalty guidelines, so I doubt you’ll be hearing from those specific judges any time soon.
However, an anonymous source with some personal knowledge of the situation reached out to me. In Seena’s case, they claimed the way the issue began was with several players raising serious concerns about the clear sleeves. This “sketchiness” prompted the decision to deck check multiple times. Why the first deck check did not result in a DQ remains a mystery to me, but the source mentioned serious issues with the Double Colorless Energy and the Shaymin EX. The Double Colorless Energies’ condition were determined to be “most likely from play,” but still created an egregious marked card situation regardless of intent. That, combined with the Shaymin EX, resulted in the DQ.
I get the impression that penalties across the board were elevated at the NAIC. Between warnings for not having decks aligned North-South, match losses for writing on hands, and a game loss for a single tall sleeve, the NAIC judging staff were not playing around. However, I’m also 100% sure that the judging staff thought very carefully before deciding to DQ a player. Having judged several tournaments in the past, I can tell you: the hardest part about judging, and the reason why we have judges in the first place, is so that someone is there to make tough decisions.