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JAELOVE's Smooth Journey
Article 32: A New Era Begins

April 6, 2005

This past Sunday was the Shonen Jump Championships in Pomona, ushering in a new era for Yu-Gi-Oh! This was the first major tournament using the new ban list format; most of the coverage is posted on the official Upper Deck Yu-Gi-Oh website, but plenty of it isn’t. Pojo.com is proud to bring you the official scoop on the most important events of the Shonen Jump Championship from the eyes of a firsthand observer, JAELOVE.

The actual tournament itself was composed of a variety of different deck types, but Chaos Warrior themes were still very prevalent. The monster lineup of most decks featured D.D Assailants, Blade Knights, and Magicians of Faith, with D.D Warrior Lady, Breaker the Magical Warrior, Sangan, Sinister Serpent, and Tribe-Infecting Virus serving as the 5 monster “staples.” Quickplay spells dominated the format, and most traps were limited to the big four (Torrential, Mirror Force, Call of the Haunted, Ring of Destruction) with some variance.

The top eight was composed of a numerous variety of decks. I personally knew about five of them. Evan Vargas, a.k.a. Sandtrap, from Pojo.com and a member of my Team Savage, placed in the top eight with the primary version of Soul Control, a unique deck focusing on Soul Exchange and tribute monsters. Eric Wu and Wilson Luc, two attendees of the dominant store Comic Odyssey, had tested versions of decks featuring Vampire Lord and Black Luster Soldier, attaining high levels of success.

Andrew Ferdeloa from Boca Raton, FL – Won the Main Event, and claimed some cool cards.

Mike Rosenberg, another member of Pojo.com and a shining light for all original players out there, playtested and excelled with a Tsukiyomi lock deck. Keanson Ye, the runner up in the main event, attends a store called Games of Berkeley that I run tournaments at, located in Northern California. This was his first regionals that he top eighted in, and I’d like to congratulate him for his fabulous performance.

The final three slots were occupied by players that did well but whom I did not recognize. Needless to say, the main event proved that originality (Tsukiyomi lock, Soul Control, Phoenix/Vampire Lord hybrids) could prevail.

I personally ran a hybrid control deck that was profiled on Metagame.com. Tony and I volunteered to work the side events to try to win a Cyber Stein for Team Savage; my first loss came in sudden death (first life point change) and my second loss came to a unique equip deck. After winning my third match (Tony was 2-1, I was 1-2), we both dropped to enter the side events, winning 5 tournaments combined for Team Savage in the side events.

The side events were action packed. Another member of Team Savage, Tony Lee, who also works on Pojo.com, managed to place in the finals of that tournament. He encountered yet another member of Team Odyssey, Kevin Hor, and losing a hard fought battle for the second Cyber Stein.

This was fitting enough; after all, the primary focus of the event was on the team battle between Team Savage and Comic Odyssey. While our bid for the two Cyber Steins came up a bit short (we are an eight man team compared to Odyssey’s 20-25), excuses are not made. In a game that requires elements of luck and skill, the duels were hard fought and close.

And yet there were more important things afoot at the Shonen Jump championships. The battle for team supremacy also took place in Pomona, a team five on five between Team Odyssey and Team Savage in which I partook. In an effort to keep the main event a Pojo exclusive, the match was started at 7 p.m on Sunday night, and Pojo.com brings you the exclusive Team Odyssey versus Team Savage team battle!

The match took some time to organize and begin, but after much coaxing by Team Savage the 500 dollar pot was accumulated and play began. We each drew cards from two separate piles and matching cards would match players together.

Round 1: Team Savage’s Hugo Adame versus Team Odyssey’s Dwayne Nunez.

Hugo Adame is a former member of Team Odyssey that has won multiple regionals events, and top eighted at the first Shonen Jump Championships in Gencon only to lose to Team Savage’s Miguel Flores (who was the runner up to John Umali).

Dwayne Nunez is a Nationals qualifier who managed to eke out a 2-1 victory over Sandtrap in Saturday’s main event but finished 5-3, and finished 4-3 at the Sunday regionals after losing 2-0 to me, JAELOVE.

Hugo was running a deck that he had just constructed which hadn’t been tested, while Dwayne was running a Warrior Chaos beatdown. At a crucial point in game one, when Hugo’s resources had been exhausted and Dwayne had 3-4 resources, Hugo attempted to play a Metamorphosis without having his Fusion deck on the field. This was not a tournament event, yet Dwayne and Comic Odyssey’s manager, Nirut Poonsombat, attempted to prevent the play.

Evoking images of a Charles Hopkins (who famously prevented a kid from using his fusion deck at Nationals), Nirut’s blustery face continuously yelled in frustration, desperate to hold on close to Comic Odyssey’s first win. He stated, quote, “I don’t give a **** what Charles Hopkins did. If that’s what we have to do, we’ll take it.” When it was revealed that Dwayne had options such as Smashing Ground in hand to destroy the Thousand Eyes Restrict, Team Savage conceded the first game. Dwayne then won the next game, winning the first match for Team Odyssey.

Team Odyssey Ahead, 1-0.

Round 2: Team Savage’s Evan Vargas versus Team Odyssey’s Theerasak Poonsombat.

Evan Vargas, known as Sandtrap, placed in the top 3 at the Shonen Jump in Pomona. He also placed in the top twenty at both Gencon Shonen Jump and Las Vegas Shonen Jump, qualified for nationals both this year and last, and placed in the top 20 at the National Championships 2004.

Theerasak Poonsombat has also won a large number of regionals. He is the current reigning Nationals Champion and has top eighted Las Vegas and Orlando Shonen Jumps.

More importantly, he is a very respectable, quiet, and controlled player.

This was a star-studded match to say the least. Theerasak elected to go first. After a few turns, Evan had Apprentice Magician and Magician of Faith set while T set Sangan, Sinister Serpent, and two spell/traps.

Evan used Soul Exchange with Magician of Faith to sacrifice for his Sacred Phoenix. The next turn, T played Heavy Storm, used Enemy Controller on Phoenix, and used D.D Warrior Lady to bring Evan’s life points to a low amount.

The next draw phase, T attempted to Ring of Destruction Evan’s Phoenix; he promptly chained Enemy Controller to seize D.D Warrior Lady. After Warrior Lady’s attack was blocked by Scapegoats, Evan sacrificed for Thestalos. 

T topdecked a Black Luster Soldier removing a monster, and then set two spell traps. Evan, realizing which card was Torrential Tribute, played a Breaker with an Apprentice set and a Torrential of his own set. Evan broke the other card inexplicably (he admits it was a mistake), and T chained Scapegoat. Evan played his own Torrential to that, then played Premature Burial to which T responded with his Torrential Tribute.

Both players were topdecking; T then drew a Blade Knight and attacked for the win.

The second game ended quickly after T drew a nice opening hand with Pot of Greed and Graceful Charity. His Magician of Faith set up another Pot of Greed, and the overwhelming advantage in resources led to Evan’s loss.

Team Odyssey Ahead, 2-0.

Round 3: Team Savage’s David Simon versus Team Odyssey’s Wilson Luc.

David Simon, known as f00b, is a Nationals qualifier for two years running, and has only played in the Gencon and Pomona Shonen Jump Championships, finishing both events with two losses.

Wilson Luc is the winner of a Cyber Stein at the Las Vegas Shonen Jump, and has placed in the top eight in numerous Shonen Jump championships. Like all players taking place in this match, both are unquestionably the best players in the United States and the world.

At this point, Wilson and David realized they were playing for the match. With Tony and myself in reserve, Team Odyssey knew that they would have to close this match out, although one of their best players, Kevin Hor (the only winner of two Cyber Steins), was playing. The first game opened rather slowly; advantage was spread between the two as resources were switched.

David was playing a unique draw engine deck while Wilson was playing his Shonen Jump Championship deck. The game ended on a crucial Return from a Different Dimension in David’s favor, and both players side-decked and began the second match.

This is where things grew interesting; Wilson opened with a few sets, and David began with a Delinquent Duo, discarding both of Wilson’s Vampire Lords, then proceeded to play both Pot of Greed and Graceful Charity. Unfortunately, the cards he drew were not enough to sustain a heavy offensive, and David was forced to set a Magician of Faith, a Waboku, and a Ring of Destruction.

The two had played before and had grown accustomed to reading each other’s bluffs. David had set an Apprentice Magician the duel before; Wilson had realized this and saved his Crossout for the opportune time. In this particular case, Wilson made an expert play and crossed out the set.

David then set an Apprentice Magician while Wilson had a Pyramid Turtle onto the field. In response to the attack, David made the mistake of playing Ring of Destruction before Turtle’s attack resolved. The tide began to turn once Wilson used his Magician of Faith’s effect twice on Graceful Charity.

He then played Premature Burial on Vampire Lord, which attacked only to find David’s Call of the Haunted. After Jinzo killed Vampire Lord, Wilson cleared the field and encountered David’s Cyber Jar.

David had set a Return from the Different Dimension and a Royal Decree for much of the duel. The very last turn played out with David’s Dark Magician of Chaos, Sinister Serpent, and two Magicians in the graveyard with Wilson at around 4000 life points. David played Return, got back Monster Reincarnation, and summoned Black Luster Soldier, expecting a Scapegoat. When Wilson played Bottomless Trap Hole, David responded with Royal Decree, to which Wilson chained Mystical Space Typhoon! The monsters only attacked for 3700 life points, leaving Wilson the victory.

The third game was one of the best I have ever seen as a player. David set a Cyber Jar and a spell/trap. Wilson, calling out that the set monster was either of the two jars, summoned Blade Knight and attacked. David responded, and the monster was saved. David flipped Cyber Jar, giving both players a massive hand. Wilson set two spell/traps and ended. The field had a face up Morphing Jar for David, and a Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer and a face down Siniser Serpent for Wilson

David decided to play Card Destruction, but set a Monster Reincarnation (to get back Black Luster Soldier). Wilson responded with a Dust Tornado, then incredibly set his Pot of Greed with the effect. David CALLED OUT the expert play of setting a Pot of Greed, playing a Mystical Space Typhoon on it, then sacrificing for Airknight Parshath. When it tried to hit Kycoo, Wilson played Book of Moon on it.

The game progressed until a key juncture where David played Swords of Revealing Light, revealing Pyramid Turtle along with the already face up Kycoo and D.D Warrior Lady. A Lightning Vortex (discarding Dark Magician of Chaos) destroyed all 3. Later in the duel, a Snatch Stealed Jinzo hit an Apprentice Magician, allowing David to grab a key Magician of Faith and grab a few spells. Wilson then set a monster, Magician of Faith, which was promptly Nobleman of Crossout fodder during David’s next turn. This crucial swing in resources proved key.

The duel was sealed when David’s Black Luster Soldier and Dark Magician of Chaos hit the field. David’s Royal Decree nullified Wilson’s Mirror Force with no Mystical Space Typhoo to chain this time. They hit Wilson’s life points, breaking through for the 5800 damage that was required.

Team Odyssey Ahead 2-1.

Round 4: Team Savage’s Tony Lee versus Team Odyssey’s Christian Martinez

Tony Lee is a Pojo.com personality who has placed in many regionals. He was both a Nationals qualifier last year and this year, making it with a Strike Ninja deck.

Christian is also a nationals qualifier this year, doing well at numerous tournaments in California and across the nation.

They both felt the pressure; Tony won the dice roll and elected to go first. After a few opening turns, Don Zaloog was summoned by Christian and hit into Tony’s life points. He elected to save the Waboku, and Premature Burial was discarded. The next turn, Tony summoned Blade Knight, hitting Don Zaloog, and Christian was effectively out of options.

Tony drew into Graceful Charity, discarding Sinister Serpent and Ring of Destruction over Torrential Tribute (which would cost him). When Christian played Book of Moon on Jinzo and summoned Airknight, Tony played Torrential Tribute, losing four monsters to Christian’s one.

Later on in the duel, Tony played Black Luster Soldier and won both the battle of resources and life points. It was a relatively easy game; the second one would prove tougher.

Christian set a monster and a spell/trap. Tony set a Kinetic Soldier. During the next turn, Christian summoned a D.D Warrior Lady and hit into Kinetic Soldier, taking 2300 life points and removing it from play. Tony next set a Waboku with 5 cards in hand.

Christian summoned Don Zaloog, Tony played Waboku, and Christian then set two spell/traps and a Sinister Serpent. This turned out to be the fatal mistake. On Tony’s turn, he played Heavy Storm, destroying Scapegoat and Enemy Controller, then gradually took control of the game.

Eventually Tony had a Kycoo and two resources compared to Christian’s two resources, and continually hit his life points. When Christian attempted to Book of Moon and follow up with an attacking monster, Tony played Ring of Destruction. After Christian used his Mirror Force on only one of Tony’s monsters, the game swiftly ended.

Teams Tied, 2-2.

Round 5: Team Savage’s Jae Kim versus Comic Odyssey’s Kevin Hor.

I had been on a tear against Comic Odyssey, defeating about 8 of their players in a row at the tournament and side events. I was matched up with Kevin Hor.

Kevin Hor is, in my opinion, the third best player on Comic Odyssey after Wilson and T (the Wu brothers don’t count because they’re my buddies! Scoop scoop). He has won two Cyber Steins and has played well in almost every tournament I’ve seen him enter.

The pressure was on; Kevin felt the tension and we both had a quick talk before the game. We rolled dice, I won and elected to go first.

The first two cards I pulled from my deck were Thunder Dragon. My opening hand was terrible, but I set a Scapegoat and managed to buy some time with a Thousand Eyes Restrict. It absorbed his D.D Warrior Lady and attempted to attack. When Kevin set a monster, I passed about 6 turns in a row simply drawing cards to make a push. My Magician of Faith and Night Assailant were both Crossed out.

He made the first attempt at an offensive, summoning Tribe Infecting Virus and killing my Thousand Eyes. Unfortunately, by then it had become too late. My saved Thunder Dragons and Sinister Serpent were rewarded by Graceful Charities and Card Destruction, blowing the game wide open. The game ended in about two turns from that point, when I had the LIGHTS and DARKS to follow up with Black Luster Soldier.

He set three spell/traps and passed. I had a monster and a Mobius the Frost Monarch. I was expecting Torrential Tribute. I sacrificed for Mobius, erasing two of his spell/traps; he couldn’t play Ring of Destruction because of his low life points, but the third one (that I had missed) was Bottomless Trap Hole. All three traps were cleared, leaving open a wide field. I played Call of the Haunted on Slate Warrior and won the game. 

Game two was hard fought. He opened with a decent hand; I could not draw resources. In rapid succession, my draws were Thunder Dragon, Night Assailant, Night Assailant, Sinister Serpent. Nevertheless, a Scapegoat helped block the field for me and once the first Night Assailant hit the graveyard, I was able to continually manipulate Kevin’s draw phases with Winged Phoenix Blasts.

I assumed complete control of the game at a certain point, having destroyed his Mirror Force. Tribe-Infecting Virus, Mobius, and others all hit the field. I cleared Scapegoats with one Night Assailant discard, and he had to respond with another Scapegoats. I cleared those in Main Phase 2 with another Night Assailant discard.

Kevin was reeling from a lack of resources, and was eventually able to summon Sangan with defensive support. My Card Destruction blew open the game, however, and eventually his Sangan was sent to the top of the deck. My monsters hit his life points; he was forced to summon a Kycoo, attacking Tribe, and finally limited my Night Assailant recursion.

After my turn, he played a D.D Assailant, hitting my Breaker, but by then he had two cards in hand and I had about 7. My next draw, I played Black Luster Soldier, Slate Warrior, had Jinzo, and another monster, and attacked for the game.

Team Savage wins, 3-2.

The match was a very hard-fought one and close to the bitter end. When our team was down 2-0, I told David all he had to do was win the last game and Tony and I would take care of the rest. Our predictions proved true and Team Savage prevailed.

My respect level for Comic Odyssey increased quite a bit during this match. Their top players, Eric Wu Wilson Luc and T conduct themselves with dignity and grace that’s rarely seen by Yu-Gi-Oh players, and their play was quite solid. While some of them have a tendency to mouth off, they are generally a good group.

The Shonen Jump Championships was about more than the actual tournament this time. In this rare case, a battle between teams actually eclipsed the main event in fervor, leading to a new era within the new era of the Yu-Gi-Oh ban list.

While others sat and bickered over Team Odyssey’s unprecedented success, the members of our team decided to organize and do something about it. We managed to create a force that fell just short in the side event and main event (where we were outnumbered eight members to twenty five), but prevailed in the team battle.

I extend respect to Comic Odyssey for creating the power of the team concept, and for managing to win some more Cyber Steins by organizing themselves into an efficient, powerful machine that ensures their best players place well. I don’t entirely agree with the “ensure” portion, after all they systematically scoop to each other, but they are unquestionably one of the best teams in the nation. In fact, they were unquestionably the best team until last Sunday. Now their reign has ended. Indeed, a new era has begun.

Look for the Blue Eyes deck to be constructed later on this week. We will begin constructing a bunch of new decks for the new ban list; Sorry for the delay but I’m back for the new bans and we’ll continue the Smooth Journey Stronger than ever. I’m still answering every e-mail at JAELOVE@gmail.com.

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