death's shadow
26, Jan, 23

MTG Cheater Apologizes After Winning $20,000!

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Article at a Glance

As long as MTG has a competitive circuit using physical cards, cheating will be an issue that pops up from time to time. Because many MTG matches do not have any form of moderation, like judges watching a player’s every move, it can be easier than people think to take an extra card off an effect or pay less mana for a spell than needed. Most of the time, these are honest mistakes, but drawing a line between a mistake and someone fishing for an advantage is quite difficult. That’s why when someone is caught cheating on camera, that individual tends to lose all integrity in the MTG community. Even if an MTG player wins a major online tournament, where cheating is nearly impossible, some players are not ready to forgive the individual, even after apologizing.

The MTG Cheater Issue

MTG player Bart Von Etten won the Magic Online MOCS tournament this past weekend. This massive achievement has granted Etten a seat at the 2023 MTG World Championships, and a whopping $20,000 USD, more than even most competitive MTG players will ever win throughout their lifetimes. The online MTG community knows Etten as one of the best Legacy players the game has ever seen but is also known by tabletop MTG players as a cheater. It should be stated here that it is incredibly difficult to cheat in a streamed online tournament – that’s not the issue where that the community has. The problem is, instead, from a tournament caught on camera more than five years ago.

What Happened?

This YouTube video from HarryMTG explains things pretty well. Basically, the cheat involved a typical interaction between the cards Mishra’s Bauble and a Fetch Land – something that finds a land in your deck with specific parameters. Mishra’s Bauble, when activated, looks at the top card of a target player’s library. Past that point, Mishra’s Bauble draws its owner a card at the beginning of the next upkeep.

The idea with this common interaction is that you can look at the top card of your Library with Mishra’s Bauble. If the card is no good, you can use a Fetch Land to shuffle the deck and draw something else. The issue occurs during the shuffle.

As pointed out in the video, it seems that Etten shifts a card to the top of the library while looking for the land and does not present it for a cut or shuffle to the opponent, which is considered a standard procedure. Etten then draws the card that may have been illegally shifted to the top of the deck during the shuffle, winning a (likely) lost game as a result. Once reviewed, this video earned Etten an 18-month ban from competitive MTG.

Many MTG players who know Etten for this were not pleased to hear he won a major MTG tournament, let alone that he was still allowed to play Magic at all:

“Congratulations, you should be banned from Magic :)”


“Cheating is in most cases a repeatedly behavior that gives you more W’s than L’s because of the money you can win by cheating vs 18 months of chilling is worth. You might win legitmately but if I make any decisions at WOTC cheaters wouldn’t have chance to play (nor win) anymore.”


“ya, that dude who won the mocs from that video is a savage cheater. Good lord.”


The Apology

After a few days following this situation on social media, Etten posted this apology, admitting to cheating during the incident five years ago. While many see this as a big step in the right direction for Etten, many community members remain adamantly against this previous offender:

“Admitting to it is a small step in the right direction, but framing a cheat as casual and smooth as that one as an isolated incident and “stupid decision” is dishonest at best. very disappointed to see people fawning over this response that he’s been all but forced”


“My issue with this is why wouldn’t I just cheat at events until I get caught. I’ll jus apologize and keep grinding. The reward for cheating outweighs the punishment. Not faulting Bart since I don’t know him or the situation well enough. But wotc discipline is a joke for cheaters.”


“This admission is overdue. I would love if you stick to digital magic. Obviously you can play well without cheating. It is incredibly stressful to play against someone in paper who has cheating in their history.”


Community Stance

While some are unwilling to accept the apology, the majority of the MTG community seems to be falling into two different camps regarding the matter: There is a subsection of people who want Etten to be more precise with how often he has cheated since in their words, it’s likely that getting caught on camera cheating means you’ve cheated more than once, and players who are happy that he has finally apologized and wished him luck at worlds.

Regardless of the camp you fall in, Bart Van Etten will be trying to win it all at Worlds this year. We can only hope that the past will not repeat itself.

Read More: Rampant MTG Cheaters Are Finally Facing Repercussions

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