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Jae Kim: Theory and Practice
JK10: SJC San Francisco

January 12, 2009

After playing dozens of duels against the best online players (thank you Duelistgroundz), I now have a solid handle on this format and what makes it tick. Future articles will detail deck-building decisions and my rationale for what governs the format's proper card choices.

 

I want to spend some time discussing my experiences at SJC San Francisco.

 

An Impressive Crowd Assembles Only to be Robbed and Delayed

 

Yu-Gi-Oh! is clearly alive and ticking. 614 players showed up for this event, far and away dwarfing any attendance figures in any previous Northern California event. Duelists in attendance included Ryan Hayakawa and Hugo Adame from Odyssey, numerous national champions including Austin Kulman, Chris Bowling, Adam Corn, Alejandro Suarez, and Michel Gruner (along with team Germany). SJC   winners included Cesar Gonzalez, Shane Scurry, Paul Levitin, Steven Adair, John Umali, Jerry Wang, Andrew Fredella, and others. Other big names, such as Kirk and Lance Leonhardt, Mike Powers, Chris Moosman were all there. Every big name duelist was there, other than those from Team Canada.

 

Unfortunately,  a few despicable low life thieves saw dollar signs. Professional thieving teams, assembled by unscrupulous booth vendors, were sent to the event to dismantle the dreams of many a young, na´ve duelist. Two Gold Sarcophagus SJC promotional cards were stolen, one from Chris Bowling and another from Claudio Kirchmar. Numerous players were apprehended by the police. One mother put forth a heartfelt plea for the return of her son's deck. Cell phones were stolen.

 

I found a disturbing lack of effort on the part of the tournament organizers. Rather than focusing on protecting the players from thievery, they seemed more focused on contributing to the highway robbery by charing ten dollars per flight of side events. Eight players would pay ten dollars (making 80 dollars into the pool), for prizes of six packs for first, four packs for second, and one pack for third and fourth. Yes, that's eighty dollars for 12 packs of the newest set. Yes, that is the most ridiculous abuse of side event structure I have ever seen. Yes, every other reputable tournament organizer runs win-a-box events for a ten dollar entry fee (24 packs minimum). Proving such reckless greed never prevails, the 600 players at the event probably assembled for 7 or 8 flights of side events (far less that then usual number).

 

If my math is correct, 600 entrants at 20 dollars a pop equals 12,000 dollars in revenue. The regional probably had 200 players minimum, at 15 dollars a pop, so even deducting the cost of renting the convention center (which wasn't downtown as it had been prior, but was in South San Francisco), one would hope that a small fraction of the thousands of dollars in profit would be devoted to hiring more staff and security to manage the thievery.

 

John Williams and the excellent judge staff made an incredible effort to run things smoothly. Unfortunately, only one copy of each pairing for 600 players was posted on each wall, leading to incredibly traffic jams that further emboldened the thieves. Rounds would frequently take an hour and thirty minutes to manage, and the tournament ended at 11 p.m (this is a ridiculous close time, especially for those on East Coast or Midwest sleep patterns). Contrast this with the event organizer for SJC Minneapolois, who ran the pairings on a giant projector screen, had win a box and win a pack flights for ten dollars and five dollars respectively, and ended the tournament at 7 p.m.

 

In terms of management, this was the worst SJC event I have ever seen. Literally dozens of decks were stolen with no support whatsoever provided. It's almost like the venue was designed to fleece the most amount of players possible. Needless to say, it was incredibly disappointing. Upper Deck needs to realize that each deck stolen is a customer who is likely gone forever. By exerting more pressure on tournament organizers to provide security and staffing to combat this sort of thievery (which is perpetrated by a consistent group of criminals), this type of heart-breaking catastrophe could be averted. Yes, literally forty decks and binders (or more) were stolen this weekend.

 

The Actual Event Itself

 

I exhaustively playtested the build you can see on Metagame.com. Unlike in SJC Detroit and events prior, I actually had a solid grasp on the format and went through every round without making a misplay (other than my gruesome one against Chris Moosman in the feature match). I felt Royal Oppression in the main deck was far too good in the mirror match, and I am fairly happy with the build.

 

No real need to explain the card choices, I hope. The deck's choices were built around my concepts of how to take best advantage of this format (I will get into this in a future article; it should be instructive and informative to most players). I would like to discuss my match with Chris, my top sixteen loss to Dustin Johnson, and general analysis of the Metagame.

 

The match with Chris was relatively well played, despite the one misplay he committed and the gruesome error committed by me in game two. Game one was relatively standard. He attacked my face-down Sangan without pushing breakthrough damage (this is not something I would recommend, but we'll get into that later). The resulting Destiny Draw led to a loss.

 

In game two, Chris revealed his Mirror Force from Crush Card Virus but I did not catch it. He showed it briefly from Allure, mentioned it, and I simply caught a flash of a holofoil Trap that I misread as Torrential Tribute. I had many of the pieces for an eventual game win in my hand, including a set Divine Wrath and Brain Control in hand (the board was my Stratos and Colossal Fighter versus his Colossal Fighter and Stardust Dragon with two set traps). Chris later told me he had activated Mind Crush with zero cards in hand as well, something neither of us caught. I attacked into the Mirror Force, but managed to pull out game three due to Chris forgetting his Trunade.

 

I feel a lot of the people who are posting on the message board are being foolish in their assessment of both our match and of Metagame's coverage of the event. I'm not quite certain when the populace transformed from humble players eager to learn and improve to clueless fellows who reek of ignorance, but I found many comments on message forums quite hilarious and ironic. Many armchair quarterbacks have never really experienced the pressure of sitting next to Jason Meyer, knowing every move is being published to the crowd.

 

I saw all sorts of threads. One critiqued a day two competitor's build of Gladiator Beasts. Quite a few posts made ridiculously unfair demands of Metagame staff in terms of updating faster or including more detail in feature matches (which are written on the spot). Jason simply does not have the luxury of saying “HEY GUYZ, CAN YOU SLOW DOWN SO I CAN WRITE DOWN WHAT HAPPENED BETTER!”

 

Players fault Chris for playing MST from hand against a deck that he saw running multiple Solemn's and Royal Oppressions? What's he going to hit? Reckless Greed or Threatening Roar? Then another forum hero ignorantly labeled a sensible play as a “misplay”. I was holding Brain Control, Emergency Teleport, and Malicious with no way of getting rid of Chris's Thunder King (he had one backfield set). I Brained, attacked for 1900, then chose to use main phase 2 to teleport and synchro for Goyo Guardian. Quite a few posters consider this a misplay, since I can teleport in battle phase to attack with Krebons, then sync in main phase two. Unfortunately, I don't think you really understand that while Chris would not Mirror Force or Dimensional Prison his own Thunder King, he would leap at the chance to do so if the Krebons also reveals itself. Do I want Goyo on the field, or do I want Thunder King and Krebons in the graveyard? Think about it.

 

The arrogance of people both writing articles and making posts is actually starting to disgust me. Every community is filled with critics who have never accomplished anything of note in the game, yet have the gall to deride the entire field of day two competitors, harshly critique certain builds such as the Gladiator Beast deck or the Oppression Monarch deck without even having a proper basis of understanding their card choices, and call out misplays without even knowing what the correct play is.

 

I was actually rather impressed with a few decks in the top sixteen of this event. While almost every deck had at least a few card choices I did not agree with, I definitely have noticed that the quality of the average SJC competitor has markedly improved. The zombie build pioneered by John Burkhead (which he amazingly created in his head without even testing it at a regionals or locals) will likely set the standard for the best, most explosive form of Tele-dad. Chris Bowling and the winner, Alejandro Suarez, used very unorthodox cards to achieve success. The Gladiator Beast deck showed Test Tiger is still viable, while Jonny Nagel sided into full Gravekeepers for the mirror match. There are many deck-building gems to be gleaned from the lists; I scoured the lists from SJC Detroit, specifically team Canada and Steven Harris's to better understand the format. I would recommend to do the same for this latest jump.

 

My Top Sixteen Match

 

Unfortunately, my day two came to an abrupt end during my top sixteen match. I played my good friend Dustin, who I played with from the very beginning in Southern California, from years ago. I took game one with relative ease.

 

Game 2, he opened with Stratos for Diamond Dude and Destiny Draw for Malicious. After a few early exchanges, I summoned Gorz with an 1800 token. My hand was Teleport, Teleport, Krebons, Krebons, and Stratos. Yes, a delicious hand. He had three backrow set, Stratos and Diamond Dude on the field (which revealed CCV for its effect). I read two of them as Mirror Force and Solemn Judgement based on his mannerisms.

 

I drew, summoned Stratos for Malicious, attacked into Diamond Dude (with Gorz and the 1800 token in defense). This gave Dustin three darks. I set a Teleport, which was destroyed by an end phase MST. He drew to two cards in hand with two backrow set. He summoned Breaker, swung over my Stratos for 100, and set a third backfield. Then, he inexplicably summoned his second Malicious in defense position trying to bluff a Crush Card Virus (which he revealed last turn from Diamond Dude). He shuffled his deck and I made the fateful cut.

 

I drew a Plaguespreader. My hand was Plague, Teleport, Krebons, Krebons, Malicious (a hideous, disgusting hand). I summoned Krebons and swung into Malicious, trying to stop free synchros and trying to bait Mirror Force. He let it go, topdecked Dark Armed Dragon, and won.

 

After lots of shuffling, I opened game three with Royal Oppression, Krebons, Plaguespreader Zombie, Malicious, Breaker, and Dark Armed Dragon. I summon Krebons and set Oppression.

 

He draws, summons Stratos for Malicious. He has six cards in hand. He sets three backfield. I know I have lost. I draw Sangan. I summon Breaker, he immediately Wing Blasts discarding Malicious and has two cards in hand. I am redrawing Breaker with a sad face.

 

Dustin draws to three cards in hand. He plays Mind Control on Krebons, syncs for Goyo, I Oppression, and he Solemns. His other two cards are Monster Reborn and Emergency Teleport for his Malicious. I am redrawing Breaker (although I won't survive this turn).

 

While I feel I had a legitimate shot at winning the entire tournament, luck just wasn't with me on Sunday. I look forward to returning to day two again, and performing a bit better.

 

I will be posting my thoughts on this format in the articles to come. Thanks for reading. E-mail me at jaelove@gmail.com.

 

 

    


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