Things in Ecuador have blown up. Somehow I managed to get myself involved and I have a very bad taste in my mouth.

This all started when I reached out to Andrés Lerqué mid-2016. He lives in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and he plays Pokemon. He won the Ecuadorian National Championships in 2006 and ten years later he was picking up the game again. I was very curious about the state of Pokemon in Ecuador because my dad was born there and in general I like the idea of traveling to foreign places to play Pokemon.

Andrés and I quickly became friends, trading stories and experiences about the Pokemon trading card game in our respective countries. Andrés traveled to Florida Regionals in 2016, and although I was not able to attend, some of my closest friends from Champaign went and Andrés ended up splitting a hotel with one of my locals.

In the 2017-2018 season, the circuit started getting better in Ecuador. Andrés attended a League Cup in Autumn and sent me round by round updates during the tournament. He made top four, but afterwards he messaged me something odd. The standings on did not match what had happened at the tournament. For one, players were added so that there were 24 Masters so that Top Eight would get points. Andrés took a picture of the top four before top cut happened. In addition, in a local Ecuador Pokemon group, final standings were posted. Number two had Guido Vera in second place and Ivan Mena as the T.O. However, on, 1st, 3rd, and 4th place were the same but Ivan Mena was in 2nd place instead. How does one play in their own tournament? Ivan Mena Sr. owns the store and is the TO, and Ivan Mena Jr. is the player. However, this is in name only. Ivan Mena Jr. did both of those things on behalf of his father, who never set foot in the store or knew how to run TOM.
Andrés sent in a support ticket. However, he did not make a big public fuss about it. I can understand this. The proof which are the standings on have Andrés’ name bolded. This means that if he or anyone posted this proof, Andrés would be outed. The consequences of Andrés being banned from Pix3l Toys, the main store for events in Guayaquil, would have enormous ramifications. For one, there were multiple leagues in the city that could run Challenges and Cups, but all the ones that ran cups met at Pix3l. This is not how it is supposed to work, but that’s how things were. In addition, the closest league that wasn’t Pix3l that could run League Cups was in Quito, which was a ten hour bus ride away (not worth it for League Cups). So if Andrés was banned from Pix3l, he would be banned from basically all Pokemon ever.

Andrés decided not to go for his invite at this point, having only 32 CP from this T4 at this League Cup. That is, until December when I was poking around in the Event Locator. I found an event in Guayaquil called “Special Event Guayaquil” or something along those lines. I got very excited. Andrés said that I could stay with him but that he wasn’t sure if he would play because he did not own many cards.

Andrés had told me that Ivan Mena was sketchy and changed results of tournaments. He had already showed me the changed results of the Autumn League Cup and he said some stuff about League Challenges that had been changed that he had not been allowed to take pictures of.

The Special Event on the Event Locator was not tagged as a Special Event, and the organizer was Ivan Mena, the organizer with questionable credentials. However, this event never received a tag. At this point, I began reaching out to Cristián La Mota. Andrés said that he was sketchy too because of something that had happened with League Challenges, but I did not understand these specific accusations.

La Mota let me know on January 3rd that the Special Event in its current form had been denied by Pokemon. This was super disappointing. However, on the 9th La Mota surprised me by telling me that the SPE was back on! It was now being run by Raúl Ramirez. Raúl has run video game Regionals in Ecuador, and video game was his main specialty.

I went to the event. There were 31 Masters. I lent Andrés a deck. I sat down across the table from Ivan Mena round two. We tied. He was nothing but cordial to me. La Mota was also very friendly. I lost two consecutive win-and-ins and Mena gave me a Kommo-o GX box because he felt bad, I think.

Raúl was the TO. In my head, I imagined a scenario where Mena was the TO, I would take good pictures, and if there was any foul play I could report back to Pokemon and the community. However, there was no foul play. Everything was ran wonderfully, fairly, and by the book.

I went to the Colombia SPE. I faced La Mota round one. La Mota made Top 4 at the event. Both the Ecuador SPE and the Colombia SPE were run by organizers who were NOT Ivan Mena. La Mota won these points honestly and fairly. In addition, in the paper standings Andrés sent me, La Mota legitimately won that event.

After this, there was another cup. La Mota won the cup. Andrés made top eight but it wasn’t worth points because there were less than 15 players. However, Mena uploaded a tournament file that did not match what actually happened. First of all, in the tournament file that Mena uploaded, there were 40 Masters. This is incredibly unlikely as there were only 31 Masters at the SPE worth four times as many points. This raises red flags. Mena left the top four alone. La Mota won legitimately. However, top eight now received points. And in the standings (places five through eight), Mena added four players who were attempting to qualify for Worlds.

This was awful. Once again, Andrés could do nothing because it would reveal his name in the proof.

However, Andrés made the decision to reveal on Heyfonte what was occurring once a double League Challenge was uploaded. From my understanding, the first League Challenge occurred legitimately. However, on that same day another League Challenge with the same number of players and supposedly the same exact players and standings occurred. This may have happened because La Mota needed those points to lock in his stipend for Columbus. However, I’m not completely sure if these events were faked. Here are the event pages: here and here. These are on different days. It’s very possible that League Challenges were run on Saturday and Sunday. Cristián sent me his points history. He asked me to not share it with anyone. However, he has since blocked me and I feel that showing these helps his case. The attendance for both tournaments is 14, with 13 Masters and 1 Junior. This does not look great. But I think it’s possible that both of these events actually happened and that there was no foul play.

This was the line for Andrés. Before, points were just being added. Now, a $1000 stipend was being taken away from a deserving player. Andrés posted on Heyfonte about this incident. I posted on Heyfonte about the League Cups. There was a huge backlash from the Ecuadorian community. Several people came out of the woodwork to say spiteful, vitriolic things about Andrés. However, Andrés’ popularity in the community is not very important here. Andrés could be the worse person on earth, but the things he said are true, or at least he believes them to be true.

During all of this, I had a conversation with Ivan Mena over the phone. It lasted almost half an hour. I explained the two League Cups and how I believed that he falsified the results after seeing the standings as well as the paper standings. The first thing that Ivan told me is that Andrés could have faked the paper standings because he knew how to use TOM. It is incredibly unlikely that Andrés created fake paper pairings. In addition, Andrés sent me messages several days after going through his tournament experience that for sure confirm that he started 2-0 and lost to La Mota round three, which matches the paper standings.

The next thing that Ivan told me is that there was a TOM error and the paper standings are not legitimate because people were playing under different names by proxy. Andrés insists that he lost to Guido in Top Four, not Ivan Mena like the standings on suggest. Andrés said they have used this method for League Challenges but that it did not happen here.

Lastly, Ivan basically admitted to falsifying the attendance at his Spring Cup. Andrés says there were 14 people.
Cristian: "It's obvious that that's wrong. There were 14 players I think"
Cristián admitted to me that there were 14 people. What Ivan said he did is that he knew that he wanted to give out more points to help Ecuadorians to qualify for Worlds. So what he did was say to everyone in the store that if you buy a pack, I will enter you in the tournament. You don’t have to play, but it will help everyone out.

This is simply not possible. There were 14 players and the paper standings show four rounds and a top four. The standings show 40 players with NONE of those being DNF. That means that according to, no one dropped. If there were 26 proxy players in the tournament, there would have been six rounds and a top eight. This simply did not happen. Ivan’s story would make sense if there were 26 people under DNF, but that is not what the standings show.

One of the players on the standings named Carlos Brandt was from Quito, a city 400 km away and a ten hour bus ride away. He was not in the store that day, according to Andrés. He was not in the city that day! Mena used his name without his consent or knowledge. When I brought this up to Mena, he once again claimed a TOM error and said that people were playing under different names. This is not possible because these weren’t the paper standings, these were the final standings uploaded to Carlos Brandt was not in the store.

The conversation ended here, because I felt like I was talking to a brick wall.

I personally believe La Mota. I think he earned all of his points legitimately. This brings me to the saddest part of the story.

On Friday, May 11th, four people were banned: Ivan Mena Sr., Ivan Mena Jr., Cristian La Mota, and Raúl Ramírez.

Ivan Mena's ban I understand, and I think that he deserves the ban. He has not run his events with integrity and should not be allowed to organize or play in tournaments.

I think that La Mota’s ban is not so cut and dry. I am not sure that he even acted unfairly or corruptly. I personally watched him earn 330 points legitimately and fairly between the two South American Special Events I attended. In the League Cups that Mena changed the standings of, La Mota earned his points fairly and legitimately. However if the double League Challenge at the beginning of May really was not legitimate, then La Mota deserves the ban. He has been a friend, and that would make me very sad, but just because someone is nice does not mean they can’t break the rules behind your back.

Raúl’s ban confuses and perplexes me. It doesn’t make any sense. All four of these players were banned on the same day, but Raúl was not involved in any of this. He organizes and plays the video game. To my knowledge, the only TCG tournament he was involved in was the Guayaquil SPE, which was run fairly and by the book.

Raúl’s POP ID was used by Mena for the Spring League Cup where Mena falsified attendance and said Raúl played in his tournament when he really did not. When this was brought to Raúl’s attention, he asked Mena in a Whatsapp group to not use his ID for that and to not use "ghost" players.

Raúl is a competitive player going for Day Two for the video game. He made Top Eight at the LAIC. He has already booked his flight to Nashville for Worlds and to an SPE in Perú as well as Paraguay. If this ban is not deserved, Raúl is on the hook for literally thousands of dollars that only made sense to spend knowing he would receive a stipend.

My guess as to why he was banned is because he was an Ecuadorian player going for Day Two. However, I think that the ban was accidental or unjustified because he was not involved with Mena. I don’t know what the best way to make this right is, because I’ve seen with Seena’s efforts that TPCi is a brick wall when it comes to these kinds of things.

Here is what Ivan Mena sent to me today, May 11th, at 7:02 pm EST. I have translated it into English.

“Hello Charles. I just realized and in truth I just want to say something to you. I hope that you’re aware of the scope of your irresponsible actions following and supporting Andrés’ malicious intentions. On purpose or on accident, you helped Andrés to get what he really wanted. They banned Cristian and in the process it affected people like Raúl and the whole Pokemon community of Ecuador. We as a shop had the Premier events in Quito, Manta, and Guayaquil, but it is your fault, and I say YOUR fault for being the useful idiot of Andrés that you have left the whole of Ecuador without Premier events.

This Worlds and the next will be unattainable for Ecuadorians because of you. Because there will not be enough Premier Events for more than one person to qualify for Worlds and they would still have to win all of the events.

That was the goal of Andrés and I imagine yours too. There are three players banned, three organizers banned, and we will still have to see how many will be banned and it is YOUR fault.

I don’t care about my ban but people like Cristian and Raul worked hard for more than a year to have a good run and get points for almost a year are affected by the jealousy of Andrés and you who decided to help him.

Both lost more than $1000 in plane tickets and other things.

Thanks Charles.”

If Ivan had never broken the rules, none of this would have happened.


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