Two Pokémon TCG Players DQ'd in Day 2 of NAIC 2024

The community is torn on whether these two TCG players cheated or not.

Updated on June 11 2024 to reflect a response from one of the players.

The Pokémon North American International has wrapped up after a humid and intense weekend in New Orleans. But not everything went smoothly for every player. Two top TCG players saw themselves disqualified on Day 2 and the community is torn on whether it was deserved or not.

The first player to be accused of cheating was Noah Sakadjian, who was disqualified from NAIC on Day 2. At the time, he had an incredible 8-1-1 run but was eliminated following his stream appearance after judges felt he was stacking. Stacking is when you purposefully place certain cards on top when you are shuffling, an attempt to get the cards you need seemingly at random.

This was heavily debated in the Pokémon TCG community, with some feeling frustrated at all of the cheating in the game as of late while others felt he was not stacking at all. In fact, some players even slowed down the clip of him shuffling to prove his innocence. Unfortunately for Sakadjian, this slowed down clip only made players more suspicious of him — a lot of TCG fans noted that it looked as though he was only placing certain cards on top "blatantly."

Said on viewer: "The first and second card remained in the same position and if you watch his shuffle AFTER the Reset Stamp, it doesn't look like this awkward stacking shuffle."

Another said: "The top card changes from first to second to first."

On June 10, Sakadjian shared his own POV on what happened at NAIC. He called the situation a "misunderstanding" and claimed he didn't stack his deck at all. He showed some videos that further explained his shuffling technique, which had many more competitive players convinced that Sakadjian was innoncent. Many called the disqualified "unjustified" after reading his side.

The second player to be accused of cheating was Gabriel Fernandez, who was in the Top 8. Fernandez was eliminated at 10-3-1 when judges accused him looking at his cards while shuffling. Fernandez argued against bot instances on X.

Fernandez explained that he was facing a Snorlax stall deck, which doesn't take any prizes. Snorlax wins by decking out the opponent, meaning once they reach zero cards, Snorlax wins. For this, Fernandez only received a warning. After that, while facing Iron Hands, judges claimed that Fernandez was looking at his deck while shuffling during Unfair Stamp.

"I was not looking at my deck while shuffling," he stated, "and there was zero cards I needed at that moment and I was going to win by simply attacking."

The TCG community didn't react fondly to Ferndandez's telling of the day. A lot of players said that he was not taking responsibility for his actions and commended the judges for catching him. Others gave him advice on how to avoid being accused of cheating in the future, like holding cards differently or not looking directly at his deck while shuffling. But some did feel that players from LATM were being scrutinized more than other regions and felt for Fernandez in this situation.

Still, others felt that Fernandez was simply arrogant for accusing judges of trying to stop him from winning.

No officials from the Pokémon Company have responded regarding the rulings at the time of this article's publishing.


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Olivia Richman

OLIVIA RICHMAN

Olivia is a long-time esports journalist and editor who covers just about every game but has a deep love for the FGC. Her goal is to find community-driven stories that bring a new perspective to the esports scene. In the past, she has worked for Team Liquid, Rogue, Inven Global, Dot Esports, Upcomer, and more. Outside of esports, Olivia enjoys Kirby, Pokemon TCG, Fallout, and writing science fiction. She can be found trying out new foods, traveling, or hanging out with her two orange cats.  Fun fact: Olivia can do some video game and cartoon impressions!