I feel obligated to speak on the issue both because I am fortunate enough to have a platform from which to do so, and because the event took place not just in my home region but at my home store, with a personal friend as the TO.
I don’t have any first hand information about the allegations made against Cat beyond what people have already seen clipped from the stream, and didn’t personally witness anything shady myself. That being said, the shuffles appear stacked. If you haven’t seen it, check this post. https://www.reddit.com/r/swdestiny/comments/aht2li/so_what_do_you_think_is_this_proper_shuffling/
In one match (round 3) a Truce was slipped from the bottom to the top, then a lot of shuffling happened thereafter. Prior to the Truce going to the top, cards were put one at a time from bottom to top. After Truce, cards were taken from the bottom and placed into hand then mashed into the deck after quite a few piled up. I cannot determine with absolute certainty from the video if the Truce was kept on top throughout this process but it appears so. Then a Vader’s Saber is slipped from the bottom to the top. The entire deck leaves field of view for a few seconds thereafter but every visible partial riffle leaves what is on top, on top. Cat did not cut Mike’s deck, nor did he offer to allow Mike to cut his. In the mulligan for that same match, a Friends in High Places was slipped from bottom to top and kept there after more partial riffles. Once again, he declined to cut Mike’s deck and Mike also declined to cut Cat’s. In his hand we can see the Friends In High, and he starts the round with Truce into Vader’s Saber.
In one match (round 4) a Vader’s Saber and Truce were slipped from the bottom to the top, then kept on the top after a few partial riffles. Cat did not cut Justin’s deck, nor did he offer to allow Justin to cut his. In the mulligan for that same match, a Friends in High Places was slipped from bottom to top and kept there after more partial riffles. This time Justin did cut the deck.
And that’s all I really needed to watch. If a sleuth wants to dig deeper into the archived footage, they are more than welcome to.
During the actual tournament, both myself and the TO were made aware of the issue and looked at one of the clips (I can’t remember which one, but think it was the first shuffle against Mike). When asked for my advice by the TO, I said it was his decision but that it was very clear to me that it was a stacked deck and that I would issue a disqualification, or at the bare minimum, a game loss. The TO decided to issue a warning, at which point I advised that Cat be kept at Table 1 (as the higher fidelity of the two streams running) for the remainder of the tournament.
I don’t think it should take too much convincing for anyone to reach the same conclusion I have, but because I am a numbers guy, I wanted to see just how unlikely it was that this were to occur innocently. There’s two ways to look at it.
The first way is just to see how likely it is to start with the Truce/Saber combo. Ignore everything else and just look at the end result. A very quick, and very dirty way to do it is to calculate the odds of drawing at least two copies of either of the cards off of the top 10. Heading over to https://stattrek.com/online-calculator/hypergeometric.aspx put in 30 for the pop size (deck), 4 for the number of successes (assuming 2x Truce and 2x Saber), 10 for the sample size (full mulligan), and 2 number of successes (what we want). Percentage comes out to ~40%. Cut that in half because out of all 8 success conditions we calculated for, half are duplicates of the same cards and are failures in actuality. So we’re left with ~20%, decreased by the fact that we only calculated for the top 10 of the deck and not the actual mulligan process. The odds of it occurring twice in two rounds back to back are ~4%, again decreased by the fact that we didn’t calculate true mulligan odds.
The second way to look at it is purely from the percentage that he happened to stop flipping cards from the bottom to the top at just the right moment. Doing it like this, it is ~6% each time. Even if we ignore the two Truces we see get pulled to the top because he didn’t truly stop until Vader’s Saber, the odds of getting 2x Saber, and 2x FIHP to the top of your deck like this randomly are 0.001296%.
Straight Flushes happen in real life, and looking at the numbers is really just a waste of time anyway, done purely for my curiosity. Neglecting to offer a cut is a natural mistake that is perfectly reasonable for any player to do at some point. Stopping a shuffle on a specific card can happen. Some players learn poor shuffling habits and don’t get corrected. Sometimes when you play against Vader he does end up just blowing you out with a great series of draws because that’s what Vader is supposed to do. I am more than willing to be charitable and to assume the best of people on any one of those things. Asking me believe that all of those things happened at once? You’d be stretching my charity pretty thin. Asking me to believe it twice in a row? Sorry, I just can’t. I have to call a cheat as I see it.
I don’t make accusations lightly, and I try to compartmentalize things as much as possible.
I have absolutely nothing against Cat as a person. When playing against him online, and in person, he was nothing but accommodating and kind beyond any reasonable expectation even going so far as to give me a longer break in between rounds due to a chronic hand/arm pain problem I have and offering advice to alleviate the issue. I’d absolutely drink a beer with him, and I’d absolutely play against him again.
I would absolutely shuffle his deck myself again too though.
There’s a rabbit hole we can go down here. Topics include:
FFG’s casual nature as a company bleeding into their unwillingness to take action against people caught cheating and how that influences certain peoples ethical decision making.
FFG’s lack of TO guidance for how to handle any issues that arise during a tournament.
The expectations we have in general for tournaments ran by a volunteer player (as the TO was for this regional).
What the community response needs to be when dealing with this issues.
What the corrective action should be in this specific case.
This is long enough so it’s best to leave most of those for another day, and it shouldn’t be too hard to guess my positions on any of those topics anyway.
I’ll close this out by publicly calling upon Cat to apologize, and to relinquish the entirety of his Top 4 prizing to the person who came in ninth place at the San Diego regional. I have contact information for both players, and can act as an intermediary between the two of you. I will even pay for the shipping of the prizes. It isn’t a perfect solution and it does nothing to alleviate the disservice done to any of your opponents (especially Joe, your top 8 opponent), but it is the simplest and most direct rectification I can reasonably recommend.
Agent Of Zion