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Jae Kim


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Jae Kim: Theory and Practice
JK Final: Full Circle

November 12, 2010

It started, like most Yu-Gi-Oh! stories do, with two Starter Decks. My good friend had a Yugi and Kaiba starter deck from his mom's comic book store. We played with no tributes and 4000 life points. Yugi's starter deck sure was terrible!

Instantly hooked I ran to the closest Waldenbooks and bought almost a full box of Magic Ruler at full retail. The first rare I pulled was a Monster Recovery. The first holo was a Maha Vailo. Yes, I equipped Malevolent Nuzzler to Maha Vailo like a true professional duelist.

I ran home and Googled Monster Recovery. Pojo.com popped up. I read every review by Someguy and Nickwhiz1. For the next year, I would eagerly lap up all Pojo content from Sandtrap, DM7FGD, sheckii, and f00b.

My first deck was Direct Attackers (Jinzo #7, Queen's Double, and Leghul) + equip spells (Axe of Despair, United We Stand, Mage Power) + Insect Barrier and DNA Surgery and Gravity Bind. The format had three MST and two Heavy Storm. It did not go well.

I found IRC and started finding duels online. I played Max the Master (Max Suffridge). He saw my deck, said “wtf,” and left. I was quite sad.

My second deck was Exodia. I tested every version. Then came Don Zaloog and the hand disruption craze. Yata-Garasu, Don Zaloog, Drop Off, and pre-negators were everywhere. Needless to say, I took my ball home and cried. I quit Yu-Gi-Oh!

I became a devoted collector. I resealed packs with my friend's dad's ginseng medicine maker and sold the boxes on E-Bay. Yes, I was a hustler/dirtbag at age 16. What can I say? Starter Deck Joey and Pegasus hit. My $60 first edition Blue Eyes Toon Dragons became a dollar. I learned a valuable lesson.

When Invasion of Chaos was released, I got interested in the game again. I played turbo Chaos with Reloads, Thunder Dragons, and Card Destruction. I was still terrible. I went to my first regionals, with heart apounding, and went 6-3. After this experience, I ran home and Googled every top 8 regional decklist I could find. A regional top 8 performance was a huge bragging right in these gentler days.

I sent an e-mail to Pojo asking if they needed writers. The owner gave me a shot to prove myself and it changed my life. I was still an amateur player but I could write a good game and feign competence. I started writing articles and the rest is history.

The initial e-mails I received were very touching. The game was a lot different in these days. Some of the more memorable e-mails actually inspired me at the time to be a better person. There was a young man who was constantly bullied and lonely in life. He said he turned to Dark Paladin (the card, not the writer dear lord) for inspiration. A part of me wanted to laugh at the geekiness. But really it was quite moving.

Doctors, lawyers, and other professionals with far more life experience than me sent me e-mails talking about their love for the game. Most of them played because of their sons but ended up getting addicted themselves. Yu-Gi-Oh! was more than a game. It linked lives together.

I stopped e-mails like that a long time ago. It seems like many of the people who simply loved the game for competitive reasons were either priced out or driven out by the jerks and thieves that pollute tournaments. Or perhaps they moved on to something else. I often wonder what changed all of us so much.

The Shonen Jump scene started and I was teamed with many of the best players at the time. Team Savage was a beneficiary of incredible hype but was filled with players who loved Yu-Gi-Oh! and played the game the right way.

The right way to me means having good sportsmanship and never cheating. But it's more than that. It's using the full card pool that design intended and trying to create original decks. Piloting cookie-cutter builds to the top repeatedly would get respect. But taking a unique creation to the top would theoretically lead to immortality (that was my motto for the team, a bit silly yes).

Something began to change when the big teams began to dominate. Comic Odyssey, Overdose, and Savage created waves of Metagame and Pojo coverage. Lesser known players wanted to reach the top of the YGO mountain. I began to change as well. Buoyed by my success at SJC Charlotte and Seattle, I finally became an elite player and became an elitist.

I used a different voice for different audiences. For newer players, I was a gentle spirit that desperately wanted them to learn the game, improve, and have fun. For the jaded intermediates, I began to grow sick of their elitist attitudes and immaturity. I took special care to insult them condescendingly on the forums hoping to stop the tide of negativity. It was a bad approach.

Metagame decided to hire me. I was very grateful to Jason Grabher-Meyer and Toby Wachter for the opportunity. Unfortunately, I was rather immature at the time and eventually started to wear down from facing a weekly deadline. My work quality suffered, I stopped playing the game, and began to “mail in” my articles for a paycheck. My inspired works were created for Pojo.

I had many issues with how Upper Deck was handling tournaments and new sets. I was a bit foolish in the past due to my ignorance of how things worked. In reality, UDE had little to no say over any of that stuff. The people I was insulting were real human beings (we tend to forget that over the internet at times) who were doing the best they could. I've always been sorry for that.

By the time I came back to competitive tournaments, the game was infested with cheaters and thieves. Our game was almost taken away by the UDE/Konami fiasco. Konami stepped in and made the game far more democratic and appealing to newer players. I have issues with how they have handled certain matters.

In the end, I am proud of what I have done with Yu-Gi-Oh! I have done both positive and negative things with my column. This game is the last champion of the TCG industry (along with Magic). For those who have supported me through all these years, thank you. For those who have disliked me for whatever reason, I am sorry. I have been a jerkface at certain moments in the past.

It started here and it ends here.

 

 

 

   


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