Ask the Pro: August

Posted in Feature on July 31, 2006

By Wizards of the Coast

During the investigation and after the announcement of his six-month suspension, Olivier Ruel received many emails about his situation. Now that the investigation has concluded, here are answers to several types of emails showing up frequently in his email box, serving as a conclusion to Olivier's run on this feature.

In keeping with the European flavor of this feature, Raphaël Lévy has been selected as the new "Ask the Pro" columnist. Seventh on the lifetime Pro Points list, Lévy began his Pro Tour career back at Pro Tour-Paris in 1997. He became a regular on the tour starting at the 1998 World Championships. Since then he hasn't missed a Pro Tour, an astounding streak of 47 consecutive events. Send your question, along with your name and location, via this email form. Answers will be posted every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

August 11, 2006

Q: Can you tell us about what happened in Malmö precisely? And what do you answer to people who say it's not surprising as all Pros are cheaters?
-- Ryan Smith

A: At first you need a little background to understand better the decision the judges took. I've always looked down to the backs of the cards while shuffling. I had been warned by judges twice before this event (once in a PT, once in a GP), that it was wrong, as I could possibly see the cards while looking down while shuffling. So I was asked to change my way to shuffle. Both times, I've made my shuffling different until the end of the tournament, just like I would have changed my sleeves if a judge had asked me too, but as I didn't take any profit of the situation, I didn't think I could actually ever get into real trouble for this. I was wrong.

After finishing my seventh round in Grand Prix-Malmö, I was convoked to a table with the head judge and two other high-graded judges. After a little reflection, I supposed it was for shuffling issues and I would get away with another warning. Instead, I was disqualified for unsporting conduct for not listening to repeated warnings from the judges, which seemed a little severe. But considering I could have avoided it and assuming it had to happen someday as only this kind of decision could make me understand my fault, I can only blame myself.

A few years ago, there were still a few cheaters on the train, but they were known and the DCI finally caught them. Now the Pro Tour is the healthiest place to play Magic. I've seen Regionals and PTQs in many countries, and I can tell you players are a lot more honest and there's more fair play on the train. Some people think they nearly never make mistakes, and as they still don't do well, people who do better than them must be cheaters or play with the rules. One of the keys to getting better as a player is to be able to realize your mistakes and to learn from them. It's much more useful than making these kinds of comments.


August 11, 2006

Q: Olivier, how did you react when you learned about your suspension? Do you think the sanction was appropriate?
-- Juan Alvarez

A: Since the day I got DQ'd, I felt really bad for I knew this could happen. So I went down to southern France to stay at a friend's for a few days and try and change my mind and not to think too much about a possible sanction. The day after, I received an email, informing me of my six-month suspension. At first, I thought it was really unfair, as I consider myself as a very sportsmanlike player. I could have won many games in PTs and GPs by putting a little pressure on my opponents, or simply by not letting them come back shortly after he had made a mistake. But that's just not the Magic I like. So I received that suspension for unsporting conduct as a bomb. I recognize I have made a mistake and for this I deserve a sanction, but I thought a DQ without prize and a reputation being ruined was enough. Then I was told my sanction could have been a lot worse if I hadn't admitted my mistake. I can't really consider myself lucky, but at least in six months I can still come back if I want to.


August 11, 2006

Q: I've heard you've decided to quit Magic, is that true?
-- Ted Miller

A: Hard to say at the moment. On the one hand, I'm 25, I've been playing Magic for half my life. My job is Magic, my No. 1 hobby is Magic, and my friends are Magic players or people I met thanks to Magic. The game gave me so much, but maybe is it time for me to move on to something new. I'll take these six months to see how life is on the other side, and then I'll take a decision. In between, I'll follow carefully the release of Time Spiral and of course the events coverage.

But on the other hand, there are people I don't want to disappoint. When Kenji Tsumura became Player of the Year, the words he said about me in his interview nearly made me cry. Once again, my friend wrote me a long mail in which he told me how much he would regret it if I stopped. My brother Antoine promised me he'll do everything to become the best player in the world in these six months to push me to come back. Tiago Chan wrote me a very nice mail, and I've received many messages of support from friends and even from people I don't know at all. For all of them, and for the competitor inside me, I don't think I can definitely quit Magic. But at the same time, considering that suspension costs me about $27,000, I'll have to find a job in between, so I can't be sure Magic will fit into my life next year.


August 11, 2006

Q: What happened? Your were like my role model for Magic. I took French in school because of you. Thanks for crushing dreams. I guess there's no faith in Magic.
-- John Zylstra

A: I've received many mails such as John's, during the investigation, and I've tried to answer to most of them. Part of my motivation has been to defend myself of course, but also because it made me feel really bad to realize I had disappointed people. I did answer John, and simply explained him I had made a mistake but not cheated, and there is the new mail he sent me:

    Dear Mr. Ruel,

    From a Magic player and admirer.

    I'm sorry about the results of the investigation. So, as you depart, I salute you. Your charisma and perseverance inspired all of those who wish to cruise the Pro Tour as you once did. I speak for the Magic-playing community as a whole when I say that we wish you a safe return and that you will always be welcomed with open arms.

    Thank you,
    John Zylstra

I was surprised to receive many mails of the same type. I want to thank everyone who supported me, with a special mention to Luca, Kyla and Sara, you guys make me want to come back stronger in a few months.


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