Pokemon TCG player left in tears as ‘time-wasting’ opponent ruins competitive battle

Andres Velez
Pikachu in tears

A young Pokemon TCG player was left in tears after an experienced opponent allegedly engaged in unsportsmanlike behavior. 

The Toronto Regionals are the second-largest Play! Pokemon event for the Pokemon TCG every year, second only to the Pokemon World Championship. It’s not surprising, given the significant prizes of cash and scholarships, that these events are highly competitive.

The prizes should go to the best Pokemon TCG battlers, but occasionally bad sportsmanship and cheating can ruin otherwise strong runs for talented players.

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The accused opponent, Karl Mattern, is said to have stalled for time until his opponent was ‘in tears, begging him to take action’.

Pokemon TCG player accused of stalling opponent to tears

Ashley Cai, the young player devastated by the final result, was newly eligible for the masters division when she played at the Toronto Regionals tournament.

Cai was said to be playing a stall deck, which can be stressful to face off against. Mattern is being accused of excessive slow play after being put in a difficult position where he ran out of win conditions, which led to a tie.

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As reported by WrecklessguyTCG on social media, the girl was “literally in tears begging him to make an action,” describing the incident as “heartbreaking.”

One user replied: “Stalling and slow playing is considered a win condition and even promoted by the casters as a legitimate way to one.”

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Others were left questioning the accused player for their tactics.

What is slow play in Pokemon TCG and is it legal?

This kind of move in the Pokemon TCG is classed as ‘slow play’ which is acting unreasonably slowly in an attempt to manipulate the timer.

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It also has the indirect effect of annoying an opponent, at times. The tactic typically results in a warning penalty. After the warning, the double prize card penalty is usually given for further slow play infractions. The typical response when facing excessively slow play is to call a judge.

Judges are there to keep up a consistent and ideal pace of play, as slow play can occur for a number of reasons.

In this case, however, Mattern had allegedly run out of win conditions, and the judge showed up by the time the set was over. Ultimately, in the Pokemon Trading Card Game, the timer is usually there to be forgotten about.

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The players, where possible, should be picking their best moves and maintaining a tempo of play that is ‘lively without being excessively fast’. When it doesn’t play out like that, things can get messy.

About The Author

Andrés G. D. Vélez was a Pokémon reporter at Dexerto, covering the Trading Card Game, mainline games, Pokemon Go, and the wider fandom. Before joining the company, Andrés freelanced as a content writer and digital marketer.