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Tomas Mijares on YuGiOh!
Looking up to the Best

July 6, 2007

Many new players (or even players that play all the time, casual, semi-competitive or competitive did at one time) look up to someone and want to be just like them or better. Either at a local, regional and even now in the Shonen Jump Championship Era, many players are defining themselves with accomplishments, and decks they make and/or use that make people want to look up to them.

From the get go, when I started playing, I looked up to those really good players: from the likes of Jae Kim from Pojo and the occasional Regionals he came to here in Northern California many years ago; to even using the deck Wilson Luc used with Tsukuyomi, making a control deck with Slate Warrior. I always wanted to have success like them and even though when I first started I wasn’t that good and I’m still trying to get better at this game, I can remember those I looked up to. Yet more now than before I see myself wanting to do even better after my SJC Top 8 at San Jose. Sure It’s one good tournament I’ve had, but I don’t feel like I’m even close to the many great players of the game. Making the Transition from Yu-Gi-Oh! to Vs System, then back into Yu-Gi-Oh! Isn’t always easy for many players who do that. I just try my best, and many need to understand that even the great players don’t always do well all the time. Fun is something many need to really focus on, because Yu-Gi-Oh! isn’t just all about winning, and isn’t always just “serious business.”

Yet those were the old days when I just started when I had even more admiration and more ooh and ahh when someone I knew made Top 8 at SJCs. Yet the game wasn’t like it is now and with how the game has progressed in the last 3 years, the game has exploded so much. So many more players have made a name for themselves and now I will go into that.

We have witnessed some unprecedented accomplishments in Yu-Gi-Oh! And one who really shines brighter than most players is Theerasak Poonsombat with his 8, yes 8 Day 2 in Shonen Jump Championships, he is leading the pack, like Phil Helmuth in Poker with 11 World Series of Poker Bracelets, yet unlike Helmuth, T has gotten those Day 2’s in different formats and decks, while Phil just wins in Texas Hold ‘Em. He has opened the door to Yu-Gi-Oh! From the very start by being National Champion in 2004 and still playing hard and doing well in 2007. Even with the luck factor being so high in this game, he still finds a way to make creative decks that many players emulate to try to have the same success. All that work has paid off for him, not only has he seen 2 straight Day 2 with the now known T-Hero deck (Destiny Hero Beatdown). He is still making a huge bang in this game, and he sticks with it, many players after a while have stopped playing after much success.

Then there is Emon Ghaneian, who may be ahead of T in other ways and still behind in others. Though many can look at him and hear all about what happened at Nationals and just think bad, or be someone who is jealous and tries to look down on him for his success, he is a really great player. With 3 Shonen Jump Championship wins, he sets himself apart from many duelists in this game. Many people have seen him play, but not too many have gotten to really talk with him and get to know him, and with all the rumors they hear, they just go with. Even with his statement that he did post on this site, we the public, who didn’t exactly see everything that went on, won’t know what happened at Nationals. Even though it did happen, he is still one of the best out there. With his Win at Houston, he really showed everyone that he is the man when it comes to this game. The plays he makes, not all can understand until they really look into it. I’ve had the pleasure to play Emon in a Regional, and even though I lost that match in Top 8, I really did see a lot of skill that he posses in this game. We don’t know exactly what will happen with him, but I hope for the best, the game shouldn’t lose a player like him.

While on topic of Emon, I will talk about Team Overdose. They are one of the Juggernaut teams in Yu-Gi-Oh! With the likes of Anthony Alvarado, Kris Perovic, Shane Scurry and our newest National Champion, Adam Corn. Anthony Alvarado and Kris Perovic are players that many players, not just in the East Coast, but all around know. Anthony and Kris bring many new ideas and many new looks on older decks. Like Anthony’s Success with what everyone calls now OD Burn. Going into Montreal, it was a great Metagame call, and he played it very well and just didn’t get over the hump that he did once before. Also Kris Perovic, showing everyone that even with Elemental Hero Stratos being Limited to 1, that Diamond Dude Turbo isn’t dead and used it all the way to the finals in Houston, which showed that he knows how to make decks and how to utilize the meta and how he was smart enough to really see that people thought it was dead and then surprised many, then after that, many started to use it and then after Chris Bowling got to the Finals of SJC Anahiem, Magical Stone Excavation was limited to one, and that was the end to the deck, or is it? Kris being on Project D also give him a leg up on many players and can hone his skills with playing with his team and getting ideas from all around. Then we go to Adam Corn, congratulations to him for winning nationals. He has always been a solid player, but just overlooked, and now more praise is given to him and everyone knows his name. It’s not like he wasn’t a good player before, but it just sets in stone more now about how good he really is. Now more people will try to emulate what he did and try to gain success like he did. A great addition to team Overdose. Then there is Shane Scurry, from putting Chaos Return on the map during those days, to his SJC win in Minneapolis, he is a really solid player and an innovative player, bringing decks to the spotlight. He is not just good in Yu-Gi-Oh! But he has also tasted Top 8 for Vs System, in Team Sealed $10K.

We go on now to the other players of Comic Odyssey, also known as CO. Matt Laurents, though he’s been quiet on the scene lately, it’s not that he isn’t a great player and that people don’t know him. Though he didn’t have the same outcome at nationals as he did last year, it’s good to really note of the kind of player he is. He is one of the main players from CO and he is really a great player. Then there is David Rodriguez, some call him the OTK Master now with his 2 SJC top 8s, winning one with Cyber-Stein OTK and top 8 in Anahiem with Demise OTK. Watch out for OTKs being played by him in the future! There is also Ryan Hayakawa. He is one of the other main players, though not seen too much in a while, he is usually a really consistent player, and being younger at the time, he really helped the younger players get more into and serious about the game. With his 2 SJC wins and barely missing out on top 8 in the 2005 nationals, getting 9th. I have played him before and even though I won using chain burn, the monarch deck he played, was made well, and it did scare me, though Mario Matheu got revenge for him when I played him in top 8 at SJC San Jose.

Now moving on to team Outphase where most of the talk of their team is about Fili Luna and Ryan Spicer. Ryan Spicer piloted last format with what everyone knew as Spicer Monarchs, and took it to the Finals of SJC in Texas. Then many more players started using it and that alone has pushed Ryan Spicer to near the top, many players know him and he has great ideas. Now to one of many people’s favorite players, Fili Luna. He has done so well in many formats, winning in San Francisco and more top 8s and then even his Top 16 at US Nationals, has really made him a more known player. I hear a lot of good things about Luna, as a person and a player, and his Machine Deck at Nationals I know for sure will be played a lot now. The machine deck he piloted is a bit different that all the others that were seen at nationals, with Overload Fusion and Future Fusion in his deck, it gave more outs to his deck, though he did lose to the eventual Champion, keep a lookout for Fili Luna and his deck around in future SJCs.

We go on to Team Nexus, there are many players on this team to, but the Major player everyone knows and really can look up to the most, is John Jensen. What more is there to say about John, he is a well liked and solid player with his 2 and ˝ SJC wins and how he keeps playing well. He did have a heartbreak in Nationals getting 19th place, but I know that won’t discourage him from keeping what he is doing well. He always seems to be doing well, and will always be known. Consistency is hard to really find in this game, yet he is one of those consistent players. You don’t have to win or Day 2 every SJC you go to, to be consistent.

Now the move to Team J-Spot with Keanson Ye, Andrew Novoa and US Representative in the World Championships Michael Bueno. Keanson Ye and Andrew Novoa seem to do well, really well from the Midwest to West Coast area. With their Day 2s are noted. Keanson Ye made the Semifinals of Houston and used a similar deck at Anahiem where he lost in top 16 to Chris Bowling and so did Andrew Novoa. They always use decks that are all about control and consistency, and they are great players overall. Also with the innovative decks that they have played, which is Zombie Phoenix, Keanson taking it to the finals of SJC Ponoma and the deck profile of Andrew Novoa at SJC Orlando. Then there is Michael Bueno, getting to the Finals of SJC San Francisco and then the Semifinals of US Nationals, piloting a very new and innovative deck that has taken the Metagame of this format by storm. His machine deck not only surprised the people at nationals but still will be used. It’s a very consistent deck, and he played it well throughout nationals. He will be a great representative for the US, and I wonder what innovative deck he will bring to Worlds.

One more player that I have to distinguish, is the 2006 National Champion, Austin Kulman. He is the epitome of younger players and showed us all that age doesn’t matter. Not only was he 11 years young when he won, but he had a really hard road to the win. From his round 10 match against 1st ever SJC Top 8 Patrick Holmes, then Emon in top 8, and then taking it to Matt Laurents and then winning against the deck that was teched against him in Mark Garcia. He has really become a rising star since then. Though he hasn’t done much since then, many younger players got more hope that they could well after Austin was able to win nationals. He really paved the way for the younger generation of the game.

There are many more in the United States that many may wonder why they aren’t talked about, but as I write this, there are so many players, and I hope no one takes offense for not being on here at all.

Moving on to International Players. Though Canada is Close we know of Dexter Dalit, Dale Bellido, Lazaro Bellido and Matt Peddle. These names are big in the Yu-Gi-Oh! World. Starting with Dexter Dalit. Amazing run he’s had in the last 3 years, with qualifying for World Championships for the 2nd time! This time around he used Gadgets, a deck that many thought was dead, but then not only did we see it in Canada but the UK as well. Many players applaud his accomplishments in Canada. We talk now about Dale Bellido, one of the best known Canadian Players around. The innovative decks he plays and though he has been outshined by his brother, he never stops to show up, make new decks and still do well. At Canadian Nationals, he showed everyone that Perfect Circle Monarchs isn’t a dead deck, and he has always been a techy person when it comes to this game. He has answers to many of the challenges that come his way and has many good ideas. Then we move on to who I think is one, if not the best Monarch player there is. From his deck that was similar to Ryan Spicer to his Monarch build with Card Trooper that many started to call Lazaro Monarchs, he has really stood out more and has become a force in the tournaments he plays in. He seems to always do well and still finds ways to win even when many people have an idea of what he will play. I don’t think many can argue about his greatness with Monarchs. Matt Peddle has changed Yu-Gi-Oh! For this current format with his innovative Machine Deck that he used to top 4 Canadian nationals with which he used to defeat Dale Bellido. His deck really made a huge impact as now many are using machines and it have a lot of consistency to machines. Many players utilized his deck and made day 2 at US Nationals. Thanks Matt Peddle for opening those doors for a Machine deck and a fast format.

More internationals with the reigning World Champion Dario Longo and Adrian Madaj. Dario Longo, a member of Team Overdose, was not only the 2006 World Champion, but also has shown himself to play very good decks and be a solid player. At European Championships, using a Destiny Hero deck with Royal Decree was a really good choice. Royal Decree shut down many decks and though he didn’t make the top 8 at the European Championships, he will be a force now and more as time moves on. Then we have Adrian Madaj, the creator of Recruiter decks and also the man with Dimensional Fissure and Macro Cosmos. He always seems to make great decks that many can appreciate. His innovative decks, makes him one of the more popular international players. The Recruiter days are somewhat over with the run of machines, then he comes out with a Dimensional Fissure and Macro Cosmos deck that utilizes draw cards like Skelengel and Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive, and 3 Card Traders. Also with the help of Monarchs. The stability of Dimensional Fissure decks has always been a problem, yet he assess that problem and makes them as consistent as he can, and it works well for him.

There are many more players that many look up to. Hopefully even you reading this, has someone or people who look up to you for this game. You can be that influential player at your Hobby League that everyone likes and you help everyone. You can be the serious player, that does well at Regionals, just not on the big stage. You can also be a really competitive player and be on the big stage and do well. Hopefully in someone’s eyes, you are that player they want to be. It’s humbling to know or have that feeling. Just don’t stop playing because you don’t have the success as all the others, keep playing. One day you can be the World Champion too.

Read Jae Kim’s article, and you will learn about what players want from this game!

- Tomas Mijares





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