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Jae Kim: Theory and Practice
JK4: Touring SJC Columbus and the Filth I Saw

April 3, 2008

I would like to start this article by saying I am not a jealous person, or a hater of players who have more success than me. Anytime a good person such as "Jerry Wonder" Wang or Lazaro "Maker and Creator" Bellido wins a Shonen Jump, I will always be there to congratulate them. Congratulations you two!

 

But some things must be said.

 

My first Shonen Jump Championship was a bit disappointing. I arrived in Columbus with Hugo Adame and met Brian Bodkin, Metagame writer and rising Yu-Gi-Oh superstar on the circuit. In a solid show of unity, solidarity, and brave hearted heroism, Hugo and I chose to play an extremely well built Plasma control deck of his creation.

 

Hugo is unquestionably the best clean, legitimate American Yu-Gi-Oh player in the game at the moment, with scorching hot performances at the last five or so Shonen Jump Championships. However, I think the deck he chose to play at this event is perhaps the most mind boggling creation of all.

 

Being an old failure at life, he doesn’t generally peruse the internet (other than to read my articles that feature his name). As a result, he did not have any access to a notion of “Plasma Control,” as played by OCG players or casual tournament players on the message boards. He basically came up with the Destiny Hero - Plasma build by himself. Using cards like Phantom Skyblaster and Fires of Doomsday to summon the 1900 monstrosity, the deck absolutely crushed Dark Armed Dragon consistently.

 

Now I know many of you are scoffing at the credit I’m giving to him. However, it must be said that his original build (with my input we ended up changing about eight cards), was far, far better both in terms of synergy and consistency than the stuff I saw posted on various message boards on Friday night. And he basically came up with the concept of Plasma control by himself, just independently of numerous players across the country. The deck was definitely top-tier, but prone to extremely bad situations and draws.

 

In a desperate bid to shake up the format, Hugo and I did not play Dark Armed Dragon - Return at Shonen Jump Columbus.

 

Smooth Sailing and Then My Encounter with the Dirtiest Player in Yu-Gi-Oh

 

I won my first three rounds smoothly, but was rather dismayed to find that Hugo had lost to one of his worst possible matchups in round one. The deck he was facing off against decided to pack multiple copies of Newdoria, one of the few effect monsters that Plasma does not negate. I don’t really understand the wisdom of running a 1200 non-floater in a format where nearly every monster that hits the board has paid for itself with an effect (Stratos, Fear Monger, Sangan, Spirit Reaper, Don Zaloog, Armageddon Knight, Prometheus, etc etc), but that’s what happens in the early rounds of a Shonen Jump.

 

I was then paired with Jason Holloway, a consistent performer at Shonen Jump Championships since my absence, and a player from Texas that I’ve known for almost three years. We first met through Evan “Sandtrap” Vargas at Shonen Jump Las Vegas, and had a cordial relationship up until the point.

 

I had noticed his recent success, feeling pretty good that a friend of a friend had been doing so well and getting name recognition. At first glance, our match looked like a Metagame feature considering the circumstances. In retrospect, the watchful eye of Jason and a few judges might have been good and actually given me a chance to win.

 

Jason won the dice roll and we began shuffling decks. I was amazed at how quick he was with his hands, employing a shuffling technique that looked like a magician. He was pulling cards off the deck with lightning speed and piling them together with feline grace. The hands were very quick, and the sleeves were very long.

 

He opened with RoTA for Stratos (a standard play), played Destiny Draw on a Dasher and then a Destiny Draw on Disk Commander, followed by an Allure of Darkness for Snipe Hunter, then set a spell trap and passed. When I drew he turned up Trap Dustshoot and revealed my hand of Morphing Jar, Destiny Hero - Plasma, Cyber Valley, Scapegoat, Trap Dustshoot, and Premature Burial. He chose the Cyber Valley (I presumed he had an answer for Plasma and put his s/t at either Mirror Force or Torrential Tribute). I set Morphing Jar and three of my backfield card and passed.

 

With two Darks speed loaded to his graveyard and five cards in his hand, I couldn’t really afford to slow roll the Trap Dustshoot. Having seen the Dustshoot, he could expertly set multiple spell or trap cards before I could see them, and that would be a huge problem. So I Dustshooted his draw phase, revealing Mind Crush, Strike Ninja, Dark Armed Dragon, and Dark Magician of Chaos. In essence, Jason had drawn into Stratos, Dark Armed Dragon, Allure for Snipe, Trap Dustshoot, and Mind Crush within the opening turn with two Darks. I didn’t think much of it at the time, chose to send back DaD (they would be dead draws with 4 darks in the graveyard), and told him to continue.

 

He set Mind Crush, summoned Ninja, and attacked. We drew new five card hands, and then the amazing sequence began. He made his first misplay by forgetting to declare with Stratos. He then played Reborn on DMoC, Reborned Disk Commander, dropped Dark Armed Dragon clearing my Premature and Scapegoat. Dark Armed destroyed his Disk. He then special summoned Dark Grepher, sending Armageddon Knight, Jinzo and Zerato to his graveyard. He removed all three darks to pop three sheep tokens, ending with two cards in hand.

 

By the conclusion of his action packed turn, he had five monsters on the field, two spell or trap cards, and five cards in hand (three wasted to Grepher, telegraphing a Dimension Fusion), versus my five and draw phase. I was pretty astounded at the time, to see Dimension Fusion, Reborn, Dark Armed, Grepher off the Morphing Jar. Following his Stratos, double Destiny Draw with Disk Commander, Dustshoot/Mind Crush, and presumably Monster Reborn within the next three draws, this seemed highly questionable.

 

I drew for the turn with one Scapegoat token left. I had a non-stacked hand of Phantom Skyblaster, Destiny Hero - Plasma x2, Fires of Doomsday x2, and Dark Armed Dragon (I played one since Hugo was using the Crush Card Virus!). I summoned Phantom Skyblaster, obviously telegraphing the Plasma (it was the only card that could bring me back into the game). With a set Mind Crush and two cards in hand, and five monsters that could swing for game next turn (including Dark Armed Dragon), Jason refused to Mind Crush my Plasma. So when I actually summoned the Plasma, he Torrential Tributed his five monster field.

 

This was a mind-bogglingly sick misplay. I had already pieced together the fact that he had Dimension Fusion in hand, but Mind Crushing the Plasma would have had me scooping next turn to an unbeatable field of DaD, Dmoc, Strike Ninja, Stratos, and Grepher. Apparently I had head-gamed him into playing terribly.

 

I summoned DaD, popped the Mind Crush to remove Sky blaster (my only live card for Dimension Fusion), set Fires of Doomsday, and passed with a sad face.

 

The next turn, Jason drew to three cards in hand. He then played, in sequence, Mystical Space Typhoon on my Fires of Doomsday (I triggered), Dimension Fusion for a full field and Monster Reborn. He Reborned his Disk Commander, popped it to Dasher, then played Premature Burial on Disk Commander. So for those keeping track, he drew Grepher, Reborn, DaD, Dimension Fusion, and Armageddon Knight from the Morphing Jar, followed by Mystical Space Typhoon, Premature Burial, and a mystery card.

 

At this point, he had five 2800ish monsters with Snipe Hunter versus my Dark Armed Dragon, Phantom Skyblaster, two tokens, and two cards in hand. Here he made another terrible misplay. With three cards in hand after his godly sequence of Disk Commander plays, and having removed my DaD from the field, Jason could have removed more cards to destroy more tokens with Snipe’s effect. Instead, by mistaking Skyblaster’s token for Sheep tokens, he swung into a token with Commander proudly, then tried to swing for game as I bluntly told him he took 200 for the Commander attack. He tried to ruleshark me by saying I didn’t specify which tokens were summoned for Plasma, but his Dark Armed Dragon had actually left me with one Scapegoat token, so it didn’t work out.

 

I drew for the turn and scooped. In this particular game, I saw three misplays. The non-declaration of Stratos, the refusal to Mind Crush Plasma with complete advantage, and the terrible attack of Commander into the wrong token with three cards in hand for Snipe and 10000 attack on the field.

 

I still thought nothing of the loss, thinking I could simply play game 2 and game 3 well versus this terrible player and pull out the game. My hand for game 2 was Royal Decree, Plasma, Plasma, Phantom Skyblaster, Swords of Revealing Light, and some card I don’t remember. I set Decree and passed.

 

There were about 11 minutes left, and Jason took three for his turn after taking about six minutes to side-deck. He is a notorious staller (more on this later), and I was getting a bit worried. After taking about three minutes to play his turn, he ended up going with Stratos for Dasher, discard Dasher for Grepher, discard a Jinzo for Dark Magician of Chaos, Dark Armed Dragon for my Decree, Monster Reborn for Dark Magician of Chaos, then Reborn on Jinzo for the overkill game. He quickly picked up his deck and left (after recovering, I wanted to count his deck).

 

After the match, Brian Bodkin and two friendly players who had been watching noted that Jason had a peculiar habit when drawing his cards. Instead of simply taking them from the deck to the field, he would scoop them from the top in the cup of his hand. Two noted that he may have been pulling cards out of his sleeve or playing with a pre-arranged hand (Jason’s good friend Fili Luna has been accused, and admitted to in private, doing this as well until the heat grew thick).

 

I hung around at 4-1, then lost on time to 4-2 and basically proceeded to drop after round 7 (another loss, this time to a solid DDT player).

 

In round 10, I witnessed an amazing match between Jason and Dale Bellido. It was another swift beating, but I saw Jason again open with Stratos into Trap Dustshoot and Mind Crush, and then the wheels began turning. I asked around to all of the pros from the top teams in the country, all universally agreed he is a cheater and a known ruleshark. Then, private investigating turned up a few amazing anecdotes about the dirtiest player in Yu-Gi-Oh.

 

Incredible Consistency at the Shonen Jump Level

 

When talking to Jason at Vegas and Houston, back when the Shonen Jumps began, he had always expressed a desire to become one of the top players at Yu-Gi-Oh. At that time a good friend of Evan Vargas, who was a superstar stud muffin, he hung around constantly asking for deck advice and play suggestions. In my view, he was an incredibly solid player with definite room for improvement. However, he seemed needy for credentials, to validate himself with peers.

 

I began hearing a lot of stories about him from top players in the Texas region, legendary stories about him stalling for time and rule-sharking his way to victory. Allow me to post his Metagame side deck lists for the events that he day two’ed.

 

SJC Durham:

2 Mobius the Frost Monarch

2 Goldd, Wu-Lord of Dark World

1 Sillva, Warlord of Dark World

3 Kuriboh

2 Mystic Swordsman LV 2

2 Des Koala

1 Kinetic Soldier

1 Bottomless Trap Hole

1 Ceasefire

 

SJC Austin:

2 Wave-Motion Cannon

2 Trap Dustshoot

1 Scapegoat

2 Dust Tornado

1 Ceasefire

2 Kuriboh

1 Kinetic Soldier

1 Big Shield Gardna

1 Banisher of the Radiance

1 Goldd, Wu-Lord of Dark World

1 D.D. Survivor

 

http://metagame.com/yugioh.aspx?tabid=33&ArticleId=8150 has a featured match from SJC Houston in Round 9 that again shows Jason stalling out the clock and playing Des Koala.

 

Now when games are called to time today, there is a relatively balanced end of match procedure that gives each player two turns, and is set up to ensure that disgusting tactics from the past such as stalling down to game two and then playing Ceasefire for game were not possible.

 

Jason Holloway perhaps single-handedly mandated such changes due to his playstyle. If you look at these side-decks of his two legitimate SJC top eight performances, you can see the relevant cards bolded for his strategy.

 

If you think these 6 side-deck slots are simple coincidence, you need to understand how to build a competitive side-deck. Competitive side-decks are built to either transform an unstable main, such as DDT Turbo, into another deck such as Dark Armed Dragon or Magical Explosion, because you assume your opponent will side-deck hate against it. Or, they are used to counter prevalent strategies in the meta that your main was not designed to beat. For example, me and Hugo's side at Columbus was:

 

2 Dust Tornado, 2 Kinetic Soldier, 2 Enemy Controller, 1 Mind Crush, 2 Magic Drain, 2 Threatening Roar, etc etc.

 

Jason, on the other hand, chose to side-deck into burn cards that would immediately end the game in the event that the match went to time. This gave him a grossly unfair advantage, especially against better duelists.

 

I believe his feature match record is something like 2-8. I believe Yu-Gi-Oh! should promote a game where disgusting misplays perpetrated repeatedly should lose you the game. You can see through moves such as chaining D.D Crow to a useless RoTA on a Card Destruction and his plays against me that he still possesses a relatively limited understanding of the game.

 

Now after this time, the format began to change into speed Troopers, T-Heroes, and Dark Armed Dragons that don't lead to prolonged games. Jason began to stack his deck, and then surfaced at SJC Costa Mesa, where he engaged in a duel with Overdose superstar Shane Scurry in round nine. It was in this match that numerous players from Overdose, and Hugo Adame (both reliable sources), saw some of the dirtiest play ever seen.

 

Verbatim through my sources, "Jason began to stall for time against Shane's Strike Ninja, set Return with Jinzo removed, and about two cards in hand." Shane's spell or trap removal targetted Jason's set Escape, he chained it to Dark Magician of Chaos and tried to pull out Dimension Fusion for the game next turn. Shane didn't notice and let it go, until Hugo and Anthony stepped in and said that's not legal. Jason then snapped at them and said they should butt out, that it was legal. The judge was called. Thanks to Hugo and Ant's intervention (what studs), Holloway eventually lost.

 

I would like to end this article by first congratulation Jerry Wonder for his long-coveted SJC win, then adding a few quotations I found on the message boards regarding the dirtiest player in the game.

 

"I have had more than enough players come to me that weekend and give their complaints about the "conservative" play of Holloway. And while playing to time is a strategy in a lot of decks of CCG's, Watching the clock, conceding the game with 3 minutes to go, and taking those 3 minutes to side in burn so that you can decide who goes first (because you conceded) and have the right elements to do the most damage, is suspect at best."

                                                -Message board user

 

""If i am not mistaken he won 6 of his matches like that, its amazing how this guy took stalling to a new level like pile shuffle the deck after a sangan, tomatoe, and pot effect. Jason Halloway have no skill nor dignity he tried to scam his way to a SJC by using stall/burn tatics, and he sit and wonder why everyone cheered when Ivan exploited him for the win."                                     -Message board user

 

"Holloway is a dirty cheater"

                                                -Unnamed Team Overdose correspondent

 

Looks like you're known now Mr. Holloway, congratulations. Also, I wanted to add a public service announcement to up and coming Yu-Gi-Oh players that want to take the path to "superstardom" (you can't be a star if nobody respects you) of a Holloway.

 

There is no money in Yu-Gi-Oh. The top players are broke, and winning a prize card at an SJC does not make the difference between five star meals with caviar and champagne, or Mcdonald's brunch. You play the game for respect, to meet new people, to hang out with awesome personalities, and for the love of the game.

 

Cheating in a game like poker, or Magic, or the old VS. System where prizes could change a life (forty thousand plus), is completely understandable. It's not condonable, but it's understandable. Cheating at a game like Yu-Gi-Oh, where there is no money and only respect to play for, is amazing.

 

I believe that most cheaters have very low self-worth. To bolster themselves and feel up to snuff with the legitimate players of teams such as Overdose, old Superfriends, and Comic Odyssey, they cheat to gain credentials. It's what Rob Morgan did, it's what Jason Holloway did, and it's what numerous players across the nation are doing.

 

Certain players on the circuit have more SJC wins, more day-two finishes, and more "credentials" than others. But they are universally maligned as dirty players by those who are in the know. And with UDE's great enforcement of tournament policies, it's only a matter of time before they are caught and brought to justice.

 

Team Outphase, if you are reading this, I am sure you are upset and angry by my exposing of your dirtiest player. Unfortunately, you're not dealing with a random this time. I am very close with numerous Texas players, who have all told me numerous anecdotes at regionals and SJC championships about the dirty nature of your players.

 

I have an incredible amount of respect for Jake, Evan Vargas, Chris Sorelle, Ryan Spicer, and others. I even had immense respect for Jason "Stallaway" Holloway, until I played him and heard the numerous stories.

 

But yeah, I will be backing up what I've said with my own skill and my friends as well. If you want to refute it (I highly doubt you will), let's set the stage at Nationals. We'll have clean, legitimate, non-biased players examine the decks, cut them and shuffle them, and deal out cards for searches. I will play anything past best out of seven matches, and since dueling for money is never allowed (it's really bad because you can get robbed, cheated, and it's against UDE policy), why don't we up the stakes to something more priceless?

 

E-mail me if you are interested, or simply read this article and admit it's the truth I don't really care. Perhaps we can have a Pojo feature team battle (if Outphase wants to back him up), or even a one on one.

 

And for anyone else who wants to cheat, rule-shark, and fraud their way to the top of the Shonen Jump Championship circuit... I was let go from Metagame to be able to write stuff like this. It might be a long article, but I think it has a lot of relevant content.

 

Jae Kim is a creative contributor to Pojo.com. You may contact him (every e-mail will be answered) at JAELOVE@gmail.com. He can also be found contributing to the Message Boards and the Card of the Day.

 

 

    


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