Update on Sluis’ Disqualification

On April 18, 2012 by Kyle Schrader


Update of Sluis’ Disqualification

Halifax, April 18, 2012 – United Gosus released a statement over the weekend addressing the decision to disqualify Stephan Sluis at YCS Toulouse. I have since revised that statement because some of the comments were out of line and overly biased. The statement was rushed, from a frustrated viewpoint, misrepresented and undermined the Judge’s decision, and lacked the information necessary, at that time, to support its main objective. The main objective was to dispel any and all vicious rumours that Stephan Sluis was a cheater or had intentionally cheated at YCS Toulouse. This was and is a huge concern, because there seems to be a tendency within a niche of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG player base that seeks any and every opportunity to undermine player’s accomplishments and believe that high profile players only attain that status through underhanded tactics and not through skill. For this niche, perception is altered on simply the accusation.

The initial press release was revised, but it was not retracted due to fear that a retraction might produce thoughts that we were hiding the fact that Sluis was disqualified, subsequently validating that he actually did intend to cheat. We would never want to do this. It would damage the brand and send the message that we supported cheating. If we had felt Stephan had intended to cheat, he would have been in violation of our policies and would have been subjected to a dismissal vote.

I was also concerned that the Judge may have misrepresented Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH with the decision, by subsequently damaging potential sales for the upcoming Gold Series: Haunted Mine and marginalizing successful members of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG player base. Furthermore, I was concerned that the decision had threatened two aspects of our triple-pronged mission statement. To put that last sentence into perspective, at the time of the initial statement, I was concerned that the Judge’s decision threatened some of the very reasons United Gosus exists. Some of those reasons being (1) to have consistent success at Premier level events and (2) to improve the quality of the game by educating the community.

Obviously, consistent success is difficult if our players are halted from competing during the preliminary rounds. It is also difficult to improve the quality of the game, if there are Judges making malicious decisions. If we felt they were, then we would want those Judges removed or re-educated. No ill-will was ever expressed toward Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH.

As the President, it is my responsibility to make sure that the goals set out in our strategic plan are accomplished and that my vision is brought to fruition. However, it is also my responsibility to remain objective and to make informed decisions and statements. I have to be aware and cautious of the impact those decisions and statements have. I misrepresented the power of my position and the situation in my initial press release. For that, I apologize. I know now that none of my concerns were nor ever were the case. Although, please understand that while the way that they were conveyed was far from ideal, the concerns were pure and coming from a good place.

I have gathered a lot more information about the situation from a wide-variety of anonymous sources and will present that information shortly. Before I begin, I must reiterate that Stephan Sluis had no intent to cheat nor was ever under the impression he was doing anything malicious. He is a stand-up individual.

Stephan Sluis was disqualified at the start of Round 5 of YCS Toulouse following a random deck check because some of his cards were, unintentionally, marked. The usage of marked cards constitutes cheating as it produces an unfair advantage for the player using them. The cards in questions were two copies of “Mystical Space Typhoon” and one copy of “Heavy Storm”. All three cards were Gold Rare versions. There was initial concern over his third copy of “Mystical Space Typhoon,” a Parallel Rare, but those concerns were believed to have been dropped. All three cards in question followed a pattern of high-profile spell and trap removal.

Most Gold Rares, like most holographic cards, carry a slight inherent bend, but this is counter-balanced or flattened by the usage of fresh sleeves. They also have a tendency to further bend more easily than other rarities, but it is the player’s responsibility to make sure they do not. This is likely why they are not illegal for tournament play.

Stephan, like most players, shuffles his hand during gameplay, and also plays his cards a lot. A bit of force is applied when doing this, so all of his cards have a slight bend to them from wear of extended use. Although, because of the very nature of Gold Rares, they have more of a slight bend to them. It likely would not have been an issue if all of his cards carried a consistent slight bend to them, but the Gold Rares were more so. Thus, the difference was visible and the cards were easily identifiable apart from the other cards in his deck.

In YCS Leipzig, Stephan was given a warning about a similar infraction, his Mind Control; it was an older card and had a mark on the top of it when viewed from above. He did change his Mind Control before Toulouse. Sluis was not informed of any issues regarding the Gold Rare cards in question at Toulouse during random deck checks at YCS Brighton or YCS Leipzig. Otherwise, he would have changed them before Toulouse. He did offer to change his Gold Rares with other rarities in Toulouse, but was not afforded the luxury of doing so. He has since changed his cards and will be much more mindful of what could be perceived as marked cards in the future.

After considering all of the new information gathered, I completely understand the decision. I disagree that it should have been as extreme as a disqualification, but nonetheless understand why it was. The ruling followed policy and came from a good and proper place, regardless if the intent for Stephan to do anything malicious was or was not present.

Please also keep in mind that I have not directly contacted administrative representatives of Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH about, nor the Floor or Head Judge involved in, the decision nor do I have any intention to do so. I do not feel the need to raise awareness of the situation, their representatives acted accordingly in the decision and all of my initial concerns have been addressed.

Moving forward, there are many things to be taken away from this situation that have not been mentioned; (1) be mindful of your cards and your sleeves during every round of Organized Play events; (2) you never know when a random deck check will occur, or if your cards could constitute the use of marked cards, it is the players responsibility to ensure this is not the case; (3) if you are in doubt, it is safest to change those cards with newer, fresher copies as well as to consult with a Judge; and (4) have extra copies of the cards in your main, extra, and side decks prepared, as well as packages of fresh sleeves.

If you are ever in a situation similar to Sluis’ or ever feel you are on the wrong end of a Head Judge decision, there are several steps you should take, (1) remain objective and rational, (2) acquire the names of all of the personnel involved in the decision, (3) acquire a copy of the report produced on the decision, if applicable, and (4) consult with the personnel involved in the decision to gain more context.

As a final note, somewhat unrelated, but still very much relevant; be clear and cautious to write out the full name of the cards you are submitting in your decklist for an event. If you intend to use “Effect Veiler”, write out “Effect Veiler”, because simply writing “Veiler” is too ambiguous. It could mean “Effect Veiler” or it could mean “Extra Veiler”. There have been incidents in the past where players simply wrote “Black Luster Soldier”, and ended up using the Ritual Monster after deck checks when they intended to use “Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning”.

United Gosus is an international organization, founded and initially focused in Germany, which competes in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game. We are committed to becoming a world leader in our industry, with a roster dedicated to being the best they can be, in a game state, where players places a premium on knowledge, innovation, competition, and skill. To learn more about us, please visit www.unitedgosus.com.

Kyle Schrader
President, United Gosus

Claudio Kirchmair
Vice-President, Internal and Acting Vice-President, External