Jeremy Dezani While Marcio Carvalho and Lee Shi Tian's situations took place in the Magic World Cup, Dezani's situation was connected to the World Championships. For context, remember that there were no dealers on site prior to the World Championships. With just 24 participants, the belief was that it wouldn't be worth the time of a dealer to come. This led to an above-average amount of card availability issues. For instance, I had to play without a Hibernation I wanted for my sideboard. Lars Dam could not acquire the Fatestitchers he wanted for his Ascendancy combo deck in Modern. Amusingly, he still pulled off a 3-1 record without them.
A number of Worlds competitors attended Grand Prix Strasbourg, just days prior to the World Championships (which, bizarrely, started on a Tuesday). Something strange happened. Here's Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa's take:
"After semi-settling on decks, we went to the event to buy the cards we were missing, since we were informed there would be no dealers during Worlds. We went to two dealers and bought some cards from each, and were ready to leave when Tom Martell spots one of the dealers we had just bought cards from talking to Jeremy Dezani. Apparently, said person was reading to Dezani from a list that included every card we had bought, as well as cards that previous Worlds competitors (e.g. Sam Black) had bought earlier in the day.
Once we realized what was happening, we were furious... We expressed our concern to the TO and to Wizards officials that this was not OK, and they said they would investigate. We decided it would be fair to tell the other Worlds competitors that Dezani knew what they were playing, which prompted the same reaction from basically everyone we talked to." -Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa
When I heard about this situation, I was extremely troubled. I had placed an order with this same store and was under the impression it was a reputable business. To hear of such corruption and unethical conduct was repulsive.
I confronted Jeremy Dezani face to face. After all, maybe there was an explanation. Everyone deserves a chance to defend themselves, particularly when accused of something scummy like this. After all, if he owned up to it and told the truth, that he had been told this information, that would help restore some amount of trust in him. After all, maybe he didn't ask for it. Or perhaps he would own up to it, admitting it was wrong. Perhaps he would even just own it, arguing he was just scouting and that it wasn't illegal.
To my face, point blank, he lied to me.
He told me that he did not receive any information whatsoever, and that he did not know the contents of any other competitor's orders.
During the course of the next 24 hours, it quickly became apparent that this was not true. After all, his teammates (which include some extremely trustworthy players) knew and were completely honest about the information they had. Judges investigated the situation and determined it was an ethical issue, not a rules issue. Personally, I find this offensive. He literally lied during an investigation. However, I have the utmost respect for the judges handling the situation, and if they say it's not a rules issue, I believe them. If nothing else, it absolutely is an ethical issue and people need to know about it.
The next day, Dezani changed his story.
"I was told of a couple cards, but I never asked for this information, the dealer just started telling me randomly, and after he listed some of the cards Shahar and Martell had bought he was told to stop because this wasn't OK." -Jeremy Dezani
Of course, this new version didn't take into consideration that there were witnesses that saw him not only receive information about more than just Shahar and Martell, but also saw him listen to the list without stopping the dealer.
During the Magic World Cup, I confronted Dezani again. After all, he had lied to me to my face. His new official story contradicted what he had said to me. I asked him why he lied to me. After all, it may be shady to collude with a dealer to scout, but to outright lie to me about it? That's super scummy. My hope was that he admitted that was he had done was wrong, that he was embarrassed, anything to demonstrate some amount of regret or having learned something.
Instead, he changed his story again. This time, he claimed that while he knew what cards I had purchased, he already had his deck locked in and didn't change anything as a result. He also claimed that if anything, the information hurt him. He claimed that not all of the cards he was told ended up being in their decks, so really, he was given misinformation.
I tried explaining why people were so upset, why this wasn't okay, and why it was worth trying to do something about. It was clear he wasn't hearing anything of it and didn't believe he had done anything wrong. I asked about the lying specifically. Even if he believes nothing else he did was wrong, surely he knows that lying is wrong. However, to my great sadness, he just kept repeating his latest version.
Maybe colluding with one of the dealers isn't illegal, but he has set fire to a lot of bridges in the Magic community, not just with his initial actions, but more so, with the lying. I'm not suggesting Dezani can't mature, can't grow as a human being. I hope he does. He is an incredibly strong player and a passionate one. He could be a respected role model, a leader in the Magic Community. At the moment, he's just a guy with a lot of bridges burning behind him. If he wants something to change, he's going to have to change. Similar to in the Marcio situation, if he wants people to ever trust him again, admitting the mistakes he has made and making clear that he would never do them again would be a start.
A dealer using customer information in order to attempt to influence the outcome of a major event is beyond the pale to me. This was a massive breach of trust. In their defense, it is my understanding that after this corruption was discovered they fired the employee involved, or at least one that was directly observed. However, they never apologized or contacted all of us affected. They were even on-site during the Magic World Cup, but not once did anyone representing their organization reach out to us or publicly apologize. I would think they would go to great lengths to try to make reparations and to convey that this action is completely unacceptable.
Now, you might be wondering if this is common practice. After all, a lot of people place orders with StarCityGames, Channel Fireball, TCGPlayer, and many other sites that sell cards and have players and teams competing in Pro Tours. You know what though? These websites have integrity. They would absolutely not be okay with using private business information for an attempted competitive advantage. And those players? They have integrity. They would never ask to begin with.
I hate to have to dwell on so much negativity, but there is a lot that can be learned from these situations. What to watch for, how to help combat cheating, how to decrease the risk of accidents that look bad, what's okay and what's not, and how to handle a situation after mistakes have been made.
I absolutely hope Marcio Carvalho plays clean these days, and is willing to take steps to help combat cheating. I absolutely hope that now that a week has passed, Jeremy Dezani realizes that he made some mistakes, apologizes, and resolves to hold himself to a higher standard in the future. I absolutely hope that the dealer in question cleans house of unethical behavior and makes a public statement condemning this breach of trust.
They all have an opportunity to make the Magic community a better place if they hold themselves accountable and to a higher standard, if they do what they can to right past wrongs.