The glamorous and fast-paced world of professional Magic: The Gathering play has captivated viewers of ESPN2 from coast to coast. Audiences revel in the athletic endeavor, the sheer glory of a well-honed human body stretching toward its limits, as the young pros jockey for mana or marshall their creature tokens. A sportsman like World Champion Carlos Romao reminds us exactly why the Greeks and Romans gave such honor to their athletes. Romao was forced to play Psychatog against Psychatog in the ultimate match, described by commentators as "an intense final round of action," but his superior strategy and sheer brawn carried the day.
Yet behind the brave glory of the championships lurks a darker world of intrigue and danger. Instances of crime in the high-stakes world of Magic sportsmanship are easy to compile. Some competitors resort to illegal hormone treatments to improve their card-drawing reflexes or the strength of their pre-game handshake. Some players strike more directly against their foes; the famous "fingercapping" of Kai Budde before Pro Tour Chicago nearly succeeded in disabling the champion. Notorious shyster Mike Long was implicated but, of course, never charged.
Even darker whispers tell of a new development in the sport—one that's perhaps inevitable, but deeply unsettling all the same. With hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake in each Magic card tournament, is it any wonder that Yakuza crime families may have taken an interest in the sport?
"The ninja bosses, they are ruining my livelihood!" complained one honest merchant, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. "I used to sell many hundreds of cards to the spotty little boys. Then a soft-spoken man in black came to my store and told me that I'd 'do well' to make a gift of ten Black Lotus cards to my 'protectors.' Ten Lotuses! I cannot spare that! But when I refused, my entire family was slaughtered before my eyes! Oh, and do not tell anyone what I have told you, but I find Jon Finkel [World Champion, 2000] quite compelling in a homoerotic context."
Sports fans understand that, in the world of professional athletes, the love of the game isn't always a top priority. Yet the very best Magic players are heroes to our children. "It's time to end these shameful shenanigans and return the sport to its glorious roots," said fan (and amateur Magic player) Timmy "Baron Sengir" Goerstler. "Magic's more than just a game—for these pro players, it's a way of life. They just need to think about what kind of example they're setting."
The Frisco Kid is generally to be found all likkered up and spoiling for a fight. She's a sexy Wild West gunslinger in the great tradition of Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane, only a little less with the sharpshooting and a little more with the booze-fueled marathons of Star Trek and sodomy.