The change of guard from Upper Deck to
Konami has really caused shockwaves through the Yu-Gi-Oh!
Community. It turns out many of the allegations
detailed in the thread created about Upper Deck's
counterfeiting turned out to be true. As predicted,
Upper Deck's frivolous lawsuits were mostly all
thrown out and found in favor of Konami.
It's rather shocking to me the level of
scumbaggery that Upper Deck was guilty of.
Counterfeiting your own product as a distributor for
profit is in violation of every possible good-faith
duty you owe to your partner in contract. It would
be the equivalent of the distributors of a
blockbuster movie bootlegging their own film and
putting it out on the internet, or the U.S
distributor of a book like Harry Potter (Scholastic
I believe) making a counterfeit copy and passing it
off as real.
For a while there, I was in despair
thinking Upper Deck's stupid actions had cost us the
competitive play of the game we all love and live
for (in certain sections of America, Yu-Gi-Oh! is
life and death no questions asked). But then came
news that SJC Anaheim was announced! And while I was
not able to attend because of finals, I am eagerly
anticipating a return to the game and wanted to
share a few thoughts with you.
Konami is clearly doing a better job
than Upper Deck: Their decision to tap Jason
Meyer for coverage was a good one; he clearly is the
best cover man in the business. JGM did a solid job
at the SJC providing coverage; as SJC Houston
proved, the boost in credentials from doing well at
a Jump and being spotlighed by JGM is a huge
motivating factor to attend. I have no clue what
Julia Hedberg and Kevin Tewart do for Konami now
(this isn't meant to disparage them, obviously), but
hiring previous employees of Upper Deck with great
experience at managing Yu-Gi-Oh was clearly a great
move to aid the transition as well.
Jeff Jones's finals match clearly
illustrates the difference between the top Yu-Gi-Oh
player and the good, or even amateur player:
Many players doubt the successes of top teams such
as Overdose and Comic Odyssey. To be honest, I don't
blame them at all. After the stunning cheating
scandals of numerous top-flight players, consistent
success is generally viewed as cheating. However,
you must distinguish between players who have the
skill to be a hall of famer and cheat to get an
extra edge, such as Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds,
and a player who probably had nothing without it,
such as Eric Gagne. (My use of baseball analogies
does not mean I necessarily think using steroids is
When I asked Team Canada back in the day
who the best unknown player was, they all said it
was Jeff Jones. Jeff had not yet lip-locked his way
onto the scene, but I could tell from viewing his
creations he was a very solid player. He constructed
very solid decks and talked with many of the top
players. Then he was banned for an offense (that had
nothing to do with cheating), and clearly lusted for
the competition of Yu-Gi-Oh.
I have performed all manner of exciting
actions in my time, but very few of them match up to
the rush of sitting in the top four, or top two of a
Shonen Jump Championship. And Jeff Jones, clearly,
took it upon his shoulders to become Champion of
You could see in his play in the finals
the gap in skill between him and his opponent.
Exploitation of these kinds of edges, consistent
throughout every round of the Jump, is what leads
many legitimately good players such as Jeff Jone to
The format is really, really good:
This is likely to change post-RGBT and after
June when X-Saber Airbellum comes out, but the
format and card pool just prior to SJC Anaheim was,
in my opinion, the most balanced and best format
I've ever seen.
Jeff Jones played a deck based around
Skill Drain that still used the Dark Destiny engine.
However, numerous other good players also made the
proper metagame call of Skill Drain. Hugo Adame and
Ryan Hayakawa showed up for Comic Odyssey with a
Light Skill Drain deck (I would have added Artemis
if I was in Anaheim). Lance Leonhardt showed up for
Team Enigma with Zombie Skill Drain. It's quite
interesting to see good players all see the same
weakness of the format and try to exploit it. Jeff's
build was simply the best, most consistent merging
of Skill Drain with a solid monster line-up.
Other players showed up with a variety
of strategies. Lightsworn, Gladiator Beasts,
Blackwing, Dark Skill Drain, Light Skill Drain,
Zombie Skill Drain, Stardust Assault, Counter
Fairies, Volcanics, and such were all present and
doing well. None of the decks really surprise me.
You can tell all of the decks would have success.
The Stardust Assault deck reminds me to
mention Tomas Mijares. As most of you know,
he writes for Pojo.com and is a frequent poster on
the forums as well. However, I've known him for a
very long time from when he was a great VS player
that was absolutely terrible at Yu-Gi-Oh! 'til now.
I must say he has been perhaps the most impressive
duelist of the past year. He is a borderline
Yu-Gi-Oh! hero for his adoption of completely
original decks that manage to do well.
Google his name, and you will see a
bunch of decks that would fit my old New Grounds
concept at Metagame (with actual success at SJC's!).
I feel players like Tomas play the game the way it
is meant to be played, and the way Team Savage used
to play it. Back in the day, before the ubiquity of
Jumps and the proliferation of cheating ruined it,
my motto was “playing cookie cutter leads to success
but creating an original build that top 8's a Jump
leads to immortality.”
It is what it is: I was
interested to see a thread in the Pojo forum that
intended to nominate one representative to speak to
Kevin Tewart about feedback regarding the game. I
admire the zeal of many players in these forums (as
long as they treat others with respect) because it
reminds me of the stage in my life where I lusted to
make change and impose ideals upon the game as well.
Throughout the past years, I've gone through a lot
of different phases in regards to Yu-Gi-Oh.
In the beginning, I was a firebrand.
Many of my articles openly called out the designers
of the game for failing their duties in both game
design and prize support. Even when I began working
for Upper Deck and Metagame, I refused to bend my
belief system under my unofficial writings at Pojo,
and this ruffled quite a few feathers at the
company. I felt the company was too intent on
censorship and a happy-go-lucky-ignore-the-stink
mentality to make effective change. The split was
Of course that was a period of reckless
hedonism in my life, as an undergraduate at college
away from my mommy. Now I like to think I'm a lot
more mature. I don't thrash about for change in the
game because it is what it is (I hate this
phrase but it applies here). If you want a more
skill-based game, shoot for Chess GM or Magic: The
The “problem” with Yu-Gi-Oh is there are
too many barriers to your voice actually making a
problem is Konami of USA is not Konami of Japan,
and since YGO is a Japanese product Konami of
Japan has far, far more sway over any design
problem is that, under Upper Deck, it turns out
none of their “lead designers” or employees had
any effective power to actually change anything.
Konami had no incentive to listen to them. I'm
not sure if this has changed now that Konami has
taken over the U.S., but I highly doubt any U.S
employee of Konami can do anything other than
design terrible TCG exclusives.
problem is that Konami the corporation probably
does not have the power you would normally
assume a corporation to have. This is all
speculation, but the nature of Konami's
relationship to YGO is very unique and almost
unheard of in a TCG. The original creator of YGO
has far more input into the card game than most
creators (this resembles George Lucas).
problem is that the employees of Upper Deck and
Konami are clueless. They have no clue about
competitive play. They make no effort to hire
top players to contribute to design. Worlds and
Nationals champions generally get ignored. Any
time someone on Konami posts on Pojo regarding a
strategy decision, they reveal their ignorance
of game mechanics and card power values. It's
actually rather embarrassing to watch. If I was
younger and more fiery, I would point out these
statements right here. However, it is what it is
and my being rude or calling them out on it is
not going to change anything.
learn to love the game as is, realizing you
can't do anything about it, or don't.
PS: Hey employees at Konami who handle
tournament prize structure. Since you can't give out
money and prize supports because of Kaz and his
tyrannical ways.............. why don't you think of
creative ways to give out valuable prizes that cost
Example: The top four players of Nationals will be
allowed to submit the design of a card to Research
and Development. While R & D may scale down power
levels, the card will be designed according to the
Example: The winner of Worlds or Nationals gets
their entire deck reprinted as a Structure Deck with
their picture and a small caption written on the
back of the box. Or the winner will get their deck
remade with exact rarities they request (so they
write out like DaD- Ultra, Solemn Judgment- Ghost,
Mystical Space Typhoon- Secret, and such). Then,
they can sell some of those cards on E-Bay!.
In this economy, you have to be creative about prize
support that costs you nothing!
As always, e-mail me at
JAELOVE@gmail.com with feedback. Thanks.