Photo: via Concerned Reader/Flickr. Grand Prix Austin 2012
Update: Added explanation of why timer was set at 55 minutes.
For the first time in the Philippines, a Magic: The Gathering card shop in Makati City lost the support of the Philippine Judge Group after the shop owner/tournament organizer decided to issue a game loss to a player due to being late in a round of a Magic tournament.
In a post on a local MTG Facebook group, Judge Vince Balean issued a statement announcing that the PH Judge Group will no longer support The Vault Card Shop. You can read the full post below:
"In light of what has transpired yesterday and today, the PH Judge Group has decided to impose an informal moratorium with regards to MTG Vault.
As of today, November 28, 2017, we will no longer be accepting any solicitations from the said store and TO. The last event that the PH Judge group will be leading with the TO will be in January 20, 2018, as arrangements have already been made weeks prior, and we will maintain our professionalism by keeping our word, despite the utter disrespect from MTG Vault's resident TO.
We, the Judge community, feel that continuing to support this individual is detrimental not only to the members of the PH Judge group, but also to the PH Magic Community as a whole. As such, after the event in January, we will be leaving MTG Vault to its own devices. We wish the owners and its patrons good luck with their future endeavors.
In his words. Happy Shuffling people."
Judge Vince, who was the head judge of The Vault's Fae Modern Series tournament that took place in Century Mall, told me what happened: In the middle of Round 4, Gerald informed tournament organizer/shop owner John Layson that he had to leave the tournament, and players RC Ong and Daryl Afane would help Gerald out, but according to John, he was not aware that the players would accompany him out. RC Ong was scheduled to play in the feature match area for Round 5, but he wasn't there when the round started. John claims that when RC's opponent had been waiting for 3 minutes in the feature match area, he felt alarmed. He asked the head judge Vince what the policy for tardiness is, and his reply was, "5 and 10, 5 minutes game loss, 10 minutes match loss."
When RC Ong returned to the venue, John met him and issued him a game loss for being "8 minutes late" without consulting the head judge, who was unaware about his decision until after 30 minutes since the beginning of Round 5, when he was surprised to see that the match slip was turned over and the result was 2-0. According to Vince, he saw RC and Daryl arrive when there were only 46 minutes left in the round, and that he had already distributed match slips and was doing floor coverage at the time John made the decision, although he wasn't exactly sure when exactly John issued the game loss. Vince went to their tables and told them to play at a reasonable pace and no time extension since it was within 5 minutes. So after Vince saw RC's match slip, he asked RC what happened, and what he told him took him by surprise because since Vince never mentioned him as part of the judge staff, he has no authority to make the call. RC thought that he was an official judge so he signed the match slip, thinking that John is authorized to make the decision. As Vince explains, "Normally for a mentee, whenever a mentee will answer a judge call, at least a certified judge should be with the mentee to ensure a correct ruling would be done. And if the mentee would make a mistake, then the certified judge can call the mentee aside coach the mentee of the proper ruling." After realizing that John made a bad call, RC asked Vince if they can play the match out but Vince told him that they technically can't do that because RC and his opponent already signed and submitted their match slip.
After talking to RC, Vince asked John what happened, and explained to him that additional 5 minutes were added to each round, which is why the timer started at 55 minutes (5 minutes buffer time for players to get seated and players to proceed to their seats), so technically, RC shouldn't have received a game loss since he arrived before the 5-minute mark. After a few minutes, John comes back to tell Vince his idea with regards to how he should be running his time like wait for players to be seated, etc. John told Vince that he didn't remember RC and Daryl informing him that they will assist Gerald before Round 5 started. Vince also learned that Daryl was also given a game loss for being late.
Before RC left the venue, John approached him and apologized for his mistake, and offered to shake his hand, which RC took. In a Facebook post on The Vault's Facebook group, John claims that he was willing to offer RC a refund for the entry fee, but RC told me that he never offered him anything. He just told him, "If I could do anything...".
Word quickly spread on social media, mainly on the MTG Tambayan Facebook group. John wrote long replies defending his position, explaining that he was just following the policy, and eventually, admitted that he made an "honest mistake" then apologized to RC. Here's what RC told me: After he apologized, John kept on insisting that RC did not accept his apology, then he started giving him "If I were you" scenarios. Then John told RC, "I hope you don't make a mistake, and if you ever make a mistake, I hope no one treats you like how you're treating me now." At this point, RC was wondering if he did anything wrong to John that made him say that. All he wanted was to get a clear answer, and he sincerely accepted his apology when he shook his hand before leaving the venue. The Facebook chat war escalated from there. According to RC, John and his supporters blamed him even after John admitted his mistake, and when RC asked John why he was blaming him after he already admitted his mistake, John never responded since then.
According to Vince, the decision to stop supporting the shop wasn't just based on that incident alone. The group, which has roughly 30 active judges in the Philippines, collectively made the decision based on a "series of bad experience" and the issue with RC was the last straw. Vince said that this wasn't the first time John undermined an official judge's decision, and based on the comments made by members of the Facebook group, his claim sounds accurate.
It's important for Magic players and those involved to have a positive and fun environment. After all, Magic is about "The Gathering". Happy Shuffling!