UK Flesh And Blood National Championship Winner Sanctioned For Unsporting Conduct Following Cheating Accusations
Joe Parlock
Embodiment of Lightning by Nikolay Moskvin
Embodiment of Lightning by Nikolay Moskvin
The winner of Flesh and Blood's recent UK National Championships has been formally sanctioned following accusations of cheating at the event.
Matthew Foulkes won the Flesh and Blood UK National Championships last week with his Briar deck, and almost immediately there were questions raised about the legitimacy of some of his plays. The biggest concern raised, and the one Legend Story Studios focused its investigation on, involved Foulkes missing a trigger on his turn to make an Embodiment of Earth token.
Embodiment tokens are advantageous Auras, with Embodiment of Earth giving your non-attack action spells an additional defence point when defending.
As can be seen in stream footage at approximately 55 minutes in, Foulkes quietly adjusts the dice on his Embodiment of Earth that signifies how many copies he claims he had, despite the trigger for it happening having already been missed. To make matters worse, he then called a judge over to the table on his opponent's turn minutes later (at 57 minutes in) to question whether they had missed their own trigger to create an Embodiment of Lightning token.
This, as well as numerous other alleged misplays and missed triggers raised in the comments of streams for the day's matches, resulted in the Flesh and Blood community accusing Foulkes of "angle-shooting" (the practice of proposing a play and taking it back to gain information about how an opponent can react) and "sharking" (unreasonably and rigidly following the rules to intimidate or deceive an opponent).
In response to the accusations, Foulkes defended himself in a tweet on November 2 to say that he "did not cheat", and that he simply made "a bunch of sloppy plays on camera" as he is "very new to the game and [being] far from perfect". Foulkes won the tournament with an undefeated 15-0 streak.
In an article outlining the findings of the investigation, Legend Story Studios acknowledges that "Flesh and Blood is a complicated game, and there is often a level of tolerance amongst players when play sequences are not executed strictly in accordance with the rules". However, they also said that Foulkes "expected that a level of leniency should be applied to inaccuracies in their play sequencing, but then fails to extend the same courtesy to their opponent".
Legend Story does give Foulkes the benefit of the doubt and says it believes these were genuine misplays, rather than any attempt to gain an unfair advantage. Foulkes has also never been found guilty of cheating in either Flesh and Blood or his previous Magic the Gathering career. As a result, Foulkes has been given a formal warning for unsporting conduct. As outlined in the findings article, formal warnings are a permanent mark against a player that can result in more severe punishment being taken against future infractions.
Foulkes is a controversial figure. In 2018, he was caught lying to tournament organisers in order to gain a second copy of the tournament promo, the popular fetch land Flooded Strand. Despite not exactly being the crime of the century, it was a severe enough issue that Foulkes was handed an 18-month suspension from organised play.