Someone ‘Predicted’ the Splinter Twin Ban and Eternal Masters Set: Did Some Magic: The Gathering Traders Have Inside Knowledge? – Magic: The Gathering Leaks
Just when you thought the leaks were over, think again.
In December, three cards from the new Magic: The Gathering set Oath of the Gatewatch ([card]Kozilek, the Great Distortion[/card], [card]Wastes[/card], and [card]Mirrorpool[/card]) were prematurely spoiled on the internet via MTG Focus Podcast’s Twitter account. Roberto Gonzales, the podcast’s host, believed the leaks to be official spoilers but instead found himself the target of a three month ban, along with a large handful of high level judges from the Southeast region of the United States.
The leaks were found to have originated from a Facebook group. Fortunately for organized play in Southeast U.S., all but two of the suspended judges have been reinstated. Gonzales is also still under a DCI ban.
Then there was the unintended leak that occurred this weekend, where the MTGO beta showed [card]Summer Bloom[/card] and [card]Splinter Twin[/card] to be no longer Modern legal. Hours later, Wizards of the Coast was forced to confirm that both cards would soon be banned in Modern and they released the Banned and Restricted Announcement a few days early. This mistake was merely an oversight, but it resulted in pandemonium among the Magic community.
Everyone assumed that a card from Amulet Bloom would be banned, but nobody saw the [card]Splinter Twin[/card] ban coming. Or did they?
A Reddit Mystery
Almost a week before the banlist update was scheduled to go public, and a few days after Grand Prix Oakland, an unknown user created an account called “temp_acct_leak“.
On January 12th, the newly created account attempted twice to create a thread on Reddit with insider information – the first on the magicTCG subreddit and immediately deleted by the user, the second on the spikes subreddit (a subreddit for competitive Magic players) that was deleted for not having the right tag in the title – but the user succeeded on the third try to post the thread, again on spikes.
The thread, titled “[Legacy] Overheard at Oakland : Eternal Masters” began by referencing a comment on a recent magicTCG thread. The thread in question, “Wizards MAY be cracking down on unsanctioned proxy events”, was posted a few hours prior in response to Wizards of the Coast’s recent stance on proxies used in unsanctioned events.
A comment in the thread speculated: “Maybe that’s why they’re enforcing now, to pave the way for Vintage Masters next year. A guy can hope.” The new thread, created by temp_acct_leak, claimed that the above comment jogged the user’s memory, reminding him/her of a conversation overheard at Grand Prix Oakland a few days before. The post reads:
“So I saw this comment, and I remembered something I saw during rounds at GP Oakland, 2 person who were NOT players were discussing prices of certain eternal cards, and the name eternal masters came up, they were discussing specifically Show and Tell, Wasteland, Zendikar Fetchlands, Swords to Plowshares, Lotus Petal and Rishadan Port. Once again, this is just a rumor, but the 2 person I heard talking about this were not players, and looked important.”
In the comments of the thread, the user specified that the conversation took place between two people who were visibly not players of the tournament. Half an hour after posting the thread, the user went to the proxy events thread, posting this comment (which has since been deleted):
“I remembered something I saw during rounds at GP Oakland, 2 person who were NOT players were discussing prices of certain eternal cards, and the name eternal masters came up, they were discussing specifically Show and Tell, Wasteland, Zendikar Fetchlands, Swords to Plowshares, Lotus Petal and Rishadan Port. Once again, this is just a rumor, but the 2 person I heard talking about this were not players, and looked important.”
A few minutes later, the account replied to a comment on another thread. Here is the text of the exchange:
Over the course of the next few days, the user was involved in discussions in both threads. The user indicated that the information about the upcoming bans and the unconfirmed “Eternal Masters” had been overheard from a conversation at a vendor at Grand Prix Oakland.
When Leaks Become Reality
A few days later, the official announcement was released that [card]Summer Bloom[/card] and [card]Splinter Twin[/card] would be banned in Modern.
On Saturday temp_acct_leak posted a new Reddit thread, entitled “Bans forewarned from insider info during GP Oakland, but no one believed me.”, pointing to the user’s original comment predicting an [card]Amulet of Vigor[/card] and [card]Splinter Twin[/card] ban. The new thread exploded with almost 200 comments.
On Monday the user was messaged on Reddit by Ben Bleiweiss, General Manager at StarCityGames.com. A screenshot of the message was posted in a new thread:
Bleiweiss commented on the thread with some clarifications:
Temp_acct_leak claims that the official announcement for Eternal Masters will take place during Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, which will be this year’s Modern Pro Tour. If these rumours are true, heavily played cards not on the Reserve List are slated for reprint, including [card]Force of Will[/card], [card]Wasteland[/card], [card]Rishadan Port[/card], [card]Show and Tell[/card], [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card], [card]Lotus Petal[/card], and Zendikar fetch lands.
Of course, the comment about the Modern bans could have been a lucky guess. Sure, that particular comment was made after the thread about Eternal Masters was created, but the user could have been hoping to gain credibility by taking a stab at guessing what would be banned by naming two of the most popular Modern decks (the comment did name [card]Amulet of Vigor[/card] rather than [card]Summer Bloom[/card], after all).
What Happens Now?
This incident does raise some interesting questions. First and foremost, the Magic community wants to know: Are Magic: The Gathering leaks out of control, and what is Wizards of the Coast going to do about them?
First there was the leak of [card]Kozilek, the Great Distortion[/card], [card]Wastes[/card], and [card]Mirrorpool[/card]. All three cards featured a new mana symbol and the Magic community went nuts trying to figure out what it meant. Finally, Wizards came out and announced that the new symbol represented colourless mana.
In the meantime, many judges indirectly associated with the leak were hit with three month bans that were only recently commuted.
Then there was the leak that went online a few weeks later on Reddit (linking to imgur) showing the Expeditions for Oath of the Gatewatch (which, wisely on Wizards’ part, almost all create colourless mana and were a chance to show off the new colorless mana symbol), some uncommons, rares and mythic rares from the set, a card from an upcoming duel deck, and two cards from the upcoming Shadows Over Innistrad set. Some have speculated this leak could have come from one of the printing locations, but there’s no way to know for certain.
With an anonymous account on Reddit now claiming to have insider information overheard at a Grand Prix, there would appear to be a big problem containing leaks within Wizards. The timing of spoilers and announcements of upcoming sets is carefully planned. Reprinting Eternal staples and banning cards crucial to popular decks are not decisions made lightly, and to have them leaked ahead of schedule is one more thing to worry about for Wizards of the Coast.
The final question we should consider is: How will Wizards of the Coast respond?
Bans were hastily issued when [card]Kozilek, the Great Distortion[/card] was first spoiled, most of which were eventually overturned. The source of the mass imgur leaks has not been uncovered, nor has the vendor who was the alleged source of the Eternal Masters rumour. As the source of leaks become harder and harder to locate, Wizards may need to focus instead on how to prevent such leaks from occurring in the future.
This could lead to some unfortunate measures being taken before long, such as limiting how the development and release of future sets is handled. Wizards wanted to send a message by making an example when [card]Kozilek, the Great Distortion[/card] was spoiled, but that message became muddled when they had to reverse most of the bans issued due to innocent judges being suspended.
It is uncertain how that message can be made clearer, but with a growing problem with leaks, rumours, and counterfeits, we can be sure that an example will be made soon.
In the meantime, let’s all enjoy the new cards released with Oath of the Gatewatch. This set is a lot of fun, and the premature spoilers have done nothing to diminish that. Ultimately, that’s what matters most.
Community Question: Do you think Magic: The Gathering leaks are out of control? If so then what can Wizards of the Coast do to stop them?
Thanks for reading,
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