The investigation was quick, and the response was swift. Wizards of the Coast has already sniffed out the people responsible for the New Phyrexia leaks, and has dropped the banhammer. 2010 Player of the Year runner-up and Level 8 Pro player Guillaume Matignon was given a 3 year ban by the DCI, and Level 8 Pro player Guillaume Wafo-Tapo, Martial Moreau, and David Gauthier were each handed 18 month suspensions. Wizards’ explanation and all the juicy details can be found after the jump!
As Caleb Durward wonderfully detailed on CFB, the New Phyrexia set in its entirety was leaked in PDF form across the Internet during an IRC chat by a user with the name B-Boy, a French player whose real name is David Gauthier. During the IRC chat he let slip some information that he was a writer for the French magazine Lotus Noir, which probably turned the investigation into a very narrow pool of candidates for who actually had access to the set information.
With this information in hand it appears Wizards of the Coast was able to quickly trace the leak directly to Guillaume Matignon, who is a writer for Lotus Noir. As part of their regular promotion of new sets WotC will often share upcoming cards or the whole “God Book” (an Adobe Acrobat PDF document containing images of every card in an upcoming set) with other media outlets. In a statement to WotC on April 28 Matignon admitted to the leak, saying:
“For the last few years, I have been writing articles for a French paper magazine. Thus I’ve been writing reviews for the newest Magic sets in there. Writers are provided with a ‘Godbook’ for reference on the new sets,” said Matignon in a statement made to Wizards on April 28. “I received the New Phyrexia Godbook, and decided to share it with my friend Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. I wanted his thoughts on this excellent set, to help me to write my article. However, he shouldn’t have had access to that document. Not at all. The ‘Godbook’ has been leaked on the internet. I don’t know exactly how. But it all comes from my mistake. I am responsible for that leak.”
“Magic the Gathering is an immense part of my life. More than the game itself, the community of players, judges, organizers and WotC employees is fantastic. And by my stupid actions, the game and the community has been hurt. If there is a single player quitting the game due to that leak, a single booster unsold, that will be my fault. My own fault. For someone who loves the game as much as I do, that’s horrible. I feel destroyed. I don’t have the words to express how much I feel sorry.”
So Guillaume Matignon had full access to the spoiler and leaked it to his teammates, who then leaked it to the rest of the world. While that is great for all of the fans out there eager to see the new cards, it reduces the traffic to Wizards’ website for spoiler information and reduces their ability to control the flow of information, which needless to say they are not fans of.
A three year ban for Matignon and a year and a half ban for Wafo-Tapo is huge news that will resonate for quite some time within the competitive Magic world, as they were two of only six Pro Magic players who had reached the mythical Level 8 status in the Pro Players Club. For Magic’s two most famous Guillaumes to be suspended it once again shows that the DCI is not afraid to suspend any of the top players in the world, much like when they handed Tomoharu Saito an 18 month suspension this past December. To put Matignon’s and Wafo-Tapo’s suspensions in financial terms, as a Level 8 Pro they will each lose the $2250 appearance fee for each Pro Tour or World Championship he would have attended, the $500 appearance fee for each Grand Prix he would have attended, as well as automatic qualification and expenses-paid air travel and hotel accommodations to all Pro Tours and the World Championship. Realistically that’s a loss of about $20,000-$30,000 per year per person just in appearance fees and travel expenses (depending on how many Grand Prixs attended), not to mention the potential income from actual tournament performance on the Pro Tour and Grand Prix circuit (realistically anywhere from $5,000-$50,000 per year for each of them, based on past performance). So not including any sponsorships or associated writing deals (SCG, Lotus Noir, etc.), that is an annual loss of about $25,000-$80,000 annually for each of the Guillaumes. That is a big loss of potential annual income for two of the strongest players on the Pro Tour circuit, and for Matignon a ban for the next three years will probably drop his chances for racking up more awards and a chance at the Magic Hall of Fame. For Wafo-Tapo, who was tenth place in the voting for the Magic Hall of Fame in 2010, this year and a half layoff will certainly hurt his chances and possibly his reputation in the eyes of voters, but I have a feeling he will eventually end up in the Hall of Fame down the road three or four years from now.
Reviewing the DCI Suspended Players list it appears that John Parker was suspended on 09-24-2008 through 09-24-2011 (3 years) for ‘Dissemination Privileged Information,’ which we can probably assume is a leak (and judging by the time frame was probably leaking the Shards of Alara set). Steven Bruce and Bryan Neal were both suspended on 02-17-2009 through 02-17-2012 (3 years) for ‘Dissemination Privileged Information’ which was most likely for leaking the Conflux set. Tony Hatzigiannakis was suspended on 09-15-2008 through 09-15-2013 (5 years) for ‘Dissemination Privileged Information,’ which if this was also a punishment for leaking set information would mostly likely have been for leaking the Shards of Alara set as well, but judging by the length of the suspension compared to the others this quite possibly may have been for a different offense or type of leak. So there is ample precedent for a three year suspension for leaking information. The only question is, if this is the case, why did three of the players who received suspensions for this particular leak only receive 18 month suspensions, rather than 36 month suspensions like Matignon and previous offenders? Even with this important discrepancy that will probably go un-addressed by WotC and under-reported by other Magic media outlets, this continues to serve as serious notice that if you disseminate private information Wizards of the Coast will seek all potential remedies, including suspending some of their most famous players, and ones who have become the face of their game.