Another cheating incident in a recent tournament has put into question the integrity of competitive Pokémon TCG. The incident happened over the weekend at the Malmö Regionals in Sweden, and it was caught live on camera in the official broadcast.
Regional tournaments are one of the ways a player can get points to qualify for the World Championship, and, therefore, if proven to be true, these allegations could put those points in question. Considering the incident involved two players who were high-ranked in the tournament, this matter could result in disqualifications and bans.
Pokémon TCG is no stranger to cheating allegations. Just last year, another incident was caught on camera at another Regional Tournament in September. The player Irida Bradner was accused of taking two item cards from his deck instead of taking a water-type Pokémon and an item, as he was supposed to.
His opponent, however, noticed right away the confusion and asked to see the cards, only for Bradner to show them two different cards which were not the item cards he had taken from his deck. Viewers, fans and players on social media considered this to be condemning evidence that Bradner was indeed not playing fair.
To further add insult to injury, there were no consequences or even a follow-up to these allegations. Bradner continued to play and advance in his career as a competitive Pokémon TCG player and seemingly didn't get punished, investigated or banned.
The latest incident, however, can be perceived as even more infuriating in that sense, as neither the players nor the judges noticed anything amiss in the game, though it was clear to audiences what had happened.
In the Malmö Regionals, in Sweden, the match in question was Oliver Barnett x Lasse Puisto, who had both ended their campaign with a 9-2-1 record, and were qualified for Day 2, with plenty of points conquered already. Barnett was playing Lost Zone Box, and Puisto was playing Fusion Mew VMax.
There were only two prize cards remaining for both players when the cheating occurred, reports say. On camera, Barnett is seen taking his prize cards after a move that knocked out Puisto's active Pokémon, but, as he does so, he seemingly takes a peak at the prize cards he was going to get, and puts a few cards on top of the pile, a very illegal move.
The match continued with no one interrupting it or reporting the incident, but it was caught live, and viewers online noticed the now-infamous sleight of hand.
The outrage online comes from the fact that these incidents are neither uncommon nor addressed at all by the official representatives. The only hope for punishment is if the Head Judges address the situation immediately, as The Pokémon Company has only banned a few players in all of its history, with the most notable one being Michael Long, who was banned for hiding a card in his lap.
It seems like a dire situation for anyone who wants to play Pokémon TCG competitively in official events. The only thing players can do is ask for a judge's referral anytime they notice something odd going on in their match, but the track record of Judges' good judgement calls has been questioned lately after the pronoun incident.
If you see anything amiss in your games, don't hesitate to ask a judge.