Welcome to Top Caliber Gaming Yu-Gi-Oh!
Hi everyone, and welcome to the inaugural post of the Top Caliber Gaming blog! Visit us every Thursday for the latest tournament reports, meta and set analyses, market watches, player interviews, and the spicy tech cards that may or may not have been discovered yet! While this blog will reach a worldwide audience, we will always have a subsection dedicated to the Arizona Yu-Gi-Oh! community that we are proud to be a part of.
Road to the Championship
Throughout the month of May, Latin America, along with some of Europe and Africa, have had their chances to qualify for a spot in contention on the world’s stage. Without discounting the impressive accomplishments of the Latin American duelists and some European countries, we will not focus on the decks from these WCQs, as they were from the February 5, 2018 F&L list. We are now focusing our sights on the NAWCQ, which will follow the May 21, 2018 F&L list, barring any emergency changes needed to be made by Konami. This means that the duelists from numerous countries such as Austria, Israel, Netherlands, Romania, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland have given the world insight into what the top contenders are going to be for the rest of the competitive season. As we map out the path to the NAWCQ, there is only one more chance for most players to earn their invite outside of the LCQ, which takes place the day before the Nationwide event. This weekend, June 2, 2018, will host both the San Diego and Tulsa regionals and YCS New Jersey. This marks the last YCS of this competitive season, and the following week, June 9-10, 2018, marks the last round of regionals: Tulsa, Altoona, Louisville, Garden City, and Forth Worth on the 9th, and Providence on the 10th. To wrap up our discussion of the future events during this season, there will be WCQs happening across the globe leading up to our own NAWCQ, so check back here for updates on the results from other countries. North American players have 3 weeks between the last tier 2 event and the NAWCQ to use the information gained from June’s events to build the best deck and hone their skills to pilot it to victory at the highest level of the game!
Tournament Report: Austria
In this week’s tournament report, we will focus on the top decks available from the Austrian National Championship, along with the breakdown of decks represented in the tournament as a whole. Before we begin discussing this topic, it is important to note that Europe currently DOES NOT have access to Linkuriboh in official tournament play, so decks such as altergeist, spyral, trickstar, gouki, and many other rogue strategies such as Blue-Eyes, are severely hampered by this lack of a consistent card pool amongst the TCG. Specifically in the case of altergeist, linkuriboh is so integral to their turn 1 strategy that the deck will not be as represented in top cut as it might be in America. Moving forward, the top 8 in Austria consisted of 3 sky striker, 2 gouki, 1 trickstar sky striker, 1 pure trickstar, and 1 true draco. Gouki ended up winning the event, defeating trickstar sky striker in the final round. The deck breakdown was 27 sky striker, and about 20 of each of the following: spyral, altergeist, true draco, invoked mekk knight, gouki, and trickstar, with about 105 various decks occupying the rest of the duelists. This shows that Yugioh is in the midst of a seven deck format, where any one of those decks with at least 20 members in Austria could have conceivably won the event. Although diversity is great in order to promote individual creativity, it does create other issues which will be discussed in the “Metagame Analysis” section below. The result of gouki winning the event despite the hype behind the new “sky striker” deck might imply that the sky striker deck, while powerful, is not the most consistent deck in the TCG. A major takeaway from this event was the debut of a newfound synergy between the trickstar and the sky striker archetype. Perhaps with the new end-of-match procedures, the trickstar engine will be seen in many player’s decks at the upcoming YCS in New Jersey.
With the Austrian Nationals implying that the current format contains at least seven different top tier decks, it is important to classify each deck into its win condition; this reveals that although there may be many different decks running about, there are really only 3 distinct strategies employed. Both sky striker and trickstar represent the control decks of the format, since their main strategies are to control the tempo of the game via cards like trickstar reincarnation and sky striker mecha – widow anchor. These decks also have a recurring way to generate card advantage each turn via the recurrability of sky striker ace – raye and her corresponding link monsters being able to abuse one of the most powerful cards ever printed: sky striker mobilize engage! Trickstars can also generate advantage by recurring their monsters via the effect of trickstar reincarnation, along with the ability to continually normal summon trickstar candina every turn to generate free cards, and lets not forget the sinking feeling when a trickstar player flips scapegoat in the end phase, and the opponent is suddenly staring down a borreload dragon or multiple knightmares on board. Both of these decks are also able to main deck at least 9 hand traps without compromising their engines, which causes the combo decks serious headache. Invoked mekk-knights can also be grouped into the control aspect, since they can main deck 9 hand traps along with the fact that normal summoning aleister is a free fusion monster every turn, and with the consistent threat of big monsters to allow for otks, invoked mekk-knights can dictate the pace of the game. Moving into the stun decks of the format, we have altergeist and true draco. Both decks have a reliable way of deck thinning and generating advantage on both player’s turns, and when paired with meta defining floodgate trap cards such as anti-spell fragrance, rivalry of warlords, gozen match, imperial order, and skill drain(s), these decks can be very challenging for many decks to overcome, and players often rely on hard drawing outs to these floodgate style cards. Furthermore, these decks have a lot of interaction on the opponent’s turn, forcing an unwelcome change of pace when playing against the control decks. Lastly, the two combo decks this format, gouki and spyral, are both able to make the “trigate board” which consists of a trigate wizard co-linked 3 ways, with protection in the form of the knighmare monsters to protect him from being destroyed. When facing a board like this as a stun player, it is sometimes worth it to just scoop once you see the beginning of one of the many 2-card combos these decks can produce. At the end of the day, each corner of the triangle has its strengths and its weaknesses, and the duelist that can combine the power of the combo decks, the versatility of the control decks, and the consistency of the stun decks will most likely become the champion at the NAWCQ this year!
Recently there have been many side deck techs to point out, but this week’s section will start with a card, playable in the main deck, that many have probably forgotten is still currently at 1 on the forbidden and limited list. “Limiter Removal” was used by a top 8 duelist at the Austrian National Championship in his pure sky striker deck, since both of the sky striker link monsters are machine type. This provides an easy way for sky strikers to attack over bigger monsters, and allows them to push for damage to close out games, something that sky strikers are notoriously bad at doing here in the tcg. This spell fits with the theme of the deck, as it is another way to put spells in the grave to unlock the powerful secondary effects of the sky striker spells!
Another card that capitalizes on a gap in the opponents defenses is “Waking the Dragon.” This card is commonly seen in the side decks of decks known to play powerful trap cards such as Solemn Strike and Torrential Tribute, thus punishing the opponent for using resources to destroy face-down backrow by special summoning powerful boss monsters such as Naturia Exterio, Last Warrior From Another Planet, or Raidraptor – Ultimate Falcon! All three of these monsters may cause the opponent to automatically scoop if they have no out to it in their deck, and this card can be a win condition for very little investment.
Another very powerful trap card that may make a resurgence in the side deck for many players going first is Mind Crush. Mind Crush allows for the neutralization of many important plays by the opponent, and has virtually no cost if used at the resolution of a search, or the revealing of a card in hand! This card is especially useful against decks that play terraforming, Altergeist Multifaker, Spyral Super Agent, and it’s one of the few cards that can stop you from being Evenly Matched.
All three of these cards are available in common printing, so they should not be too hard for all players to acquire.
A slightly more expensive option for the side deck is Hey, Trunade!, a card which has not seen meta play since its release, yet is a great counter to the new edition of “Spellbook of Judgement” for sky strikers, sky striker area multi-role. When multi-role sets multiple spells back to the field from the graveyard during the end phase, it can be a bit overwhelming to suddenly be facing down 5 backrow, chock full of monster negation, protection, and advantage generation for the next turn. Hey, Trunade! returns all the set backrow to the hand, yet since multi-role causes the spells to be banished when they leave the field, your opponent will suddenly have many of their powerful cards banished forever, and you are free to play without the threat of widow anchor interrupting you.
This weekend marks the first event that the new end-of-match procedures are live, so it will be interesting to watch the impact these new rules have on the interactions between players, and tensions will likely be at an all-time high at the venue. As a way to steal free wins, and counter your opponents strategy of stalling out game 2 if they won the first game, fire cracker is a common from circuit break, which is the only quick effect capable of burning your opponent for more damage than Gagaga Cowboy can. Thus if your opponent is attempting to stall in the main phase, you can discard fire cracker to win the game, and potentially either draw or win the match, outside of the battle phase.
This metagame is shaping up to be very diverse, which is a dream come true for casual players, since there are many rogue strategies that may be viable to combat the meta decks. This creates a problem for the competitive players, who not only have to construct a side deck catered to deal with the 7 meta relevant decks, but also potential rogue strategies. After the results of this weekend are revealed, we will hopefully get a better glimpse of how the meta is shaking up in North America. Until next time, this has been Noah Beygelman, signing off.