Let me preface this entire discussion by noting the following: It is not my intent for people to harass the DCI or Wizards of the Coast in an attempt to have Jon Medina receive an official ban. While it is likely that Jon is guilty of many, many instances of Tournament Error – Failure to Follow Official Announcements, without being present to have heard the official announcements it is impossible for me to know this with any certainty.
Now onto what I want to talk about…
For some time now, trading cards has become a bitter ordeal. Medina’s popularity has create a race of “binder grinders” who do nothing but value trade at tournaments and stores. While these people are beyond annoying to deal with, it’s impossible to avoid them because they’re usually the only people you can find who are looking to trade or who have stuff that you need. Not only that, but if you’re holding a binder (or even if you’re not), they will attack you like heroin addicts looking for a fix. I discussed the similarities between value traders and drug addicts after my trip to GP Providence last year so I won’t go into it again, but it’s pretty brutal to watch. This behaviour has been growing and spreading to the point where I can’t even make a fair offer to a 14 year old who’s been playing Magic for about 3 months without having the little shit try to nickle and dime me.
In the interest of fairness: yes, I trade for value sometimes. I do this when I’m trading something that I don’t particularly want to trade and need to be incentivised, when I’m trading hot cards for cards that, hot or not, I don’t actually need and am just going to have to invest time trying to move, or when I’m trading for something that’s kinda cool but I could take it or leave and need to be incentivised. These make up the vast minority of my trades. The majority of my trades, the ones where I trade cards I don’t need (Any cards I need/may need/want are in separate “no trade” binders) for cards that I do need or want, are done on a “it’s close enough” basis.
Back on topic, this trend in trading is beyond fucking irritating and can be considered harmful in a way, but it’s not grounds for any action. However, a number of months ago, I don’t remember exactly when, Medina was ejected from a tournament for buying cards at a tournament. The impression I got from his Twitter feed was that he felt it was some big joke and there was no reason for him to have been thrown out. We all should have seen the writing on the wall back then.
Shit Just Got Real
While the previous trend of value traders ruining that aspect of the game was bad enough, the line has now been crossed. Actually, the line was crossed the first time Jon offered to buy or sell cards at an event. Jon has now defecated on the line whilst smoking a cigar lit with a Black Lotus and invited the world to join him.
You see Medina was recently fired from Star City Games. On the most recent episode of The Eh Team (Episode #67, Red-Sleeved), Jon described the final article he submitted that was never published. And with good cause. Jon reads part of his article on the air and it described how he is teaching these people not just to be traders, but to be dealers. Except he isn’t teaching them to be dealers. Dealers understand how business works and recognize the value in purchasing a table from the tournament organizer at large events. Medina is teaching these people to be scheming douchebags. He describes how to go about buying and selling cards at tournaments without getting caught and thrown out by the organizer, and this is reprehensible.
As I said before, I can’t say with 100% certainty that Medina is violating any DCI rules. However, any major tournament I have EVER been to has always had an announcement from the organizer stating that only the vendors are allowed to buy and sell cards. By his own admission (I would produce a citation but that man talks way too much for me to find a several month old tweet), he was thrown out of an event for doing this once before. If you listen to him talk about how to get away with it and what behaviour would make an organizer suspicious, it is hard to believe that this is not a man speaking from considerable experience. Medina has decided that he is entitled to do whatever he wants, and that anyone who wants to wave “rules” in front of his face can go fuck themselves.
Why Is This Such a Big Deal?
You may not see this behaviour as a big deal. Maybe you think “Well fuck those greedy vendors, let the little guy have a chance!” You also may have no clue how the business work operates. A single person operating this way at an event with 1600 players may not be a huge deal, but when you have a well known figure in MTG finance instructing his thousands of drones how to also operate in this fashion, it can become a huge problem. Why would anyone buy a table at a large event from the organizer when every inch of table space that isn’t dedicated to sanctioned matches is filled with these fake dealers who are undercutting them? Many premiere organizers are store owners who set up at the events they run as well. As an organizer, why would I bother to go through all the effort of organizing and running an event where my store is making no money and I’m not making any money by selling tables? These people aren’t running tournaments because you’re entitled to them or out of the goodness of their heart. It is a LOT of work to put on a large event, and without adequate compensation, they aren’t going to bother (Or they will drastically cut prize support). Maybe someone else would step in and try, but it wouldn’t take long for them to realize it’s a losing proposition either.
Welcome to America, Bitch
Here in America, a private organization has the right to refuse service or admission to anyone for any reason. This extends to Wizards of the Coast (A publicly traded company is still privately owned; it is not government owned), the DCI, and the individual organizers. This is also why there is no official burden of proof in disqualification investigations or for DCI bannings (A player was banned not too long ago just for accumulating too many gameplay error warnings without ever receiving a DQ). But as I said, this is not a cry for a DCI banning. This is really a warning to all tournament organizers out there.
As organizers, it is our responsibility to keep this shit under control. This behaviour has always existed, but with such a large public figure presumably taking part and irrefutably instructing and encouraging others to take part, it is only going to get worse. Organizers need to take a stand and make an example of Medina. People need to understand that these rules exist for a reason, and they will be enforced. I implore all tournament organizers to ban Jonathan Medina from events that they run. He also seemed to argue on Twitter today that it isn’t violating DCI rules if you’re not in the tournament. I respond to this in two ways: first of all, I have seen judges enroll people who had DCI numbers but were not participating in an event into the event just to officially DQ them. More importantly, while the DCI may not have reign over you if you’re not playing in the tournament, the tournament organizer still does and still gets to throw your ass out on the curb.
It could easily be argued that this behaviour is extremely difficult to catch, but I have to disagree. With the number of staff members most events have, yes it probably is. I think it is well worth the investment for an organization like Star City Games to hire a couple people for events specifically to watch for this, however. Oh, and Jon recommended in his unpublished article that people find a nearby location to conduct their business so check the closest Panera as well. Anytime I see someone try to buy or sell cards in my store, I always make it very clear to them that it is not allowed. If they go outside to conduct their transaction, they will find that the doors have been locked behind them (The majority of our tournament time is while the store is officially closed). If they left their cards inside before the doors were locked, well they can come back during business hours to claim them.
But He’s Such a Nice Guy!
Who the fuck cares? If someone walked into your store and took money out of your register, would you say “but he’s a nice guy!” and just let them walk out? I surely hope not. We all saw how quickly the trading habits of the entire Magic community changed when Jon hit the scene, so you can imagine how quickly this behaviour is going to spread as well. The most effective and fastest solution to this problem is for tournament organizers to unite and collectively ban Jon Medina from their events.
And because I know you all came here expecting me to troll instead of use logic and facts, I’ll leave you with this: Isn’t it funny that LegitMTG is run by a guy who advocates illegitimate business practices and that the “company” website is nothing but a pointer to a sales thread on an trading forum?