Jonathan Moore here with an article series I plan to call “Aftermath”, in which I’ll make a detailed report of the crazy shenanigans that go on and how things come to be from the events I go to. I think this one will be especially awesome as I have a lot of insight to the story of how this YCS events came to be that others wouldn’t.
We start from the beginning. I’ve been testing Burning Abyss for three weeks. Billy Brake has led me into a lot of decisions on the deck, such as what to play in terms of traps and has convinced me that hand traps are indeed the truth. Maxx “C” and Effect Veiler are pretty critical to the current format. No matter what you play against in a competitive environment, Maxx “C” is going to be at least a one for one that stops a turn unless you’re playing against an extreme anti-meta build. The reason Billy doesn’t run it in 60 card control is simply because it isn’t needed to get the advantage going, and the fact that a lot of the deck is fine staying in the deck to be used for later. Effect Veiler is super powerful in it’s ability to stop Tour Guide From the Underworld, Deneb, Chaos Sorcerer and BLS, as well as many other things. While the Burning Abyss had been real, winning Billy three local box tourneys and the local OTS, he felt something could always be better and was constantly trying out new cards to try to get that missing link to push the deck to a more consistent form. Enter Robert Boyajian. He flew in Friday mid-day, and we picked him up with fellow article writer for Hotsauce games, Chase Furman. We all went to a Mexican joint called Chuy’s. Ironically, Rob was talking maaaaad trash about what Billy had ordered and how it looked, but had told the waitress to bring him something of her choice, and her choice was to double Billy’s order. From there we went to the event, I pre-reg’d and did some trading, and that night Robert put an idea into Billy’s head that he couldn’t wrap his head around. “You can play 60 cards in this format”. At first Billy said that there was no way, but respected Robert’s opinion so much that he started putting things together in disbelief. The more he tested it out, the more he realized that the deck couldn’t brick, and that there was so much power in the deck with 60 cards. Spoiler, Billy doesn’t brick the whole tournament except for once. Among Shaddolls, Burning Abyss, and Artifacts and many other powerful cards, he began testing hands over and over to master the Shaddolls that he had never played with, but had played against. It was already 2 AM and I was content playing a 42 card Burning Abyss deck, having made fun of myself for the idea I was playing too many cards.
Saturday. The day YCS’s breath, live, conquer, and crush dreams. I started out with a round one loss, losing game three to myself by not seeing a game for play. My opponent’s field is only Supply Squad and Vanity’s Fiend with no hand, I have Scarm and Raiza, with a Breakthrough Skill in grave, and I draw into windblast, and instead of Breakthrough, special, tribute, I set the PWWB. This allows him to come back despite the position when he draws his Tour Guide next turn. I then proceed to go all the way to 3-1, but then lose again to Satellar Burn, manage another few wins to 5-2, and then lose to a mirror match by drawing only two chaos monsters and an Effect Veiler game one, and no traps game two. Remember kids, pile shuffle. Burning Abyss decks have a nasty habit of clumping all their monsters together. All during the day I make sure everyone’s doing well. Most of the local friends are, and Billy ends 7-1-1, Mike Klasel ends 7-1-1, and my friend Kyle Wilkinson ends 8-1. So, overall a good day. That night a huge group of us go to Saltgrass Steakhouse down the street. Fili Luna, Billy’s tie, is there with me, Billy, Russell, Chris Rodriguez (also day 2 at 7-2) with his service dog bonnie, and several others all have a great meal with many many laughs, such as alluding to how Billy looks like Grandpa Muto and how he was “quite the duelist in his day”. We were enjoying the good life. The part of life where we all had a long day, and now we’re enjoying good friends and company with good food after hard fought battles, beats, but with that light at the end of the tunnel that we all had something to look forward to the next day.
7 Am Sunday. After a stop through a Taco bell drive thru where we all get Steak AM Crunchwraps, Billy drives us to the convention center from my house. If you’re wondering where Robert Boyajian is at in this point of the story with that beastly deck him and Billy made, it’s not in the tournament. He’s doing the coverage for Konami! Among his many talents such as dueling, he’s also a writer.
Unfortunately with the very limited number of 7-1-1’s at this point, Mike Klasel ends up playing Billy. He was running Burning Abyss and despite great plays, loses to Billy. Billy takes his next one as well to finish 9-1-1, as does Mike to finish 7-2-1, and my friend Kyle finishes 9-2. After a long reading out of the top 32 players, Mike comes in 32nd, Billy 7th, and Kyle is among the top 32 as well! They all win their top 16 matches in dominating fashion and move on to draft.
Many people are aware but not prepared. Draft is a beast. Among these men are a World Champion, the YCS Vegas champion, and many other threats. Billy was prepared. He lost on the Bubble at YCS Toronto, and had played side events of sealed and conquered them. Ready for battle, Billy jumped on cards others passed to complete a strategy that consisted of many level three monsters as well as Mist Valley Falcons, Premature Burial, and cards of the like, then chose to pick cards to counter attack modify cards rather than the equips such as Swords of Concealing Light. Here he played my friend Kyle Wilkimson, while Mike was matched up against the World Champion, Sehabi Kheireddine. Having won an ARG Circuit and Worlds, a YCS win would be the triple crown for this man so to say. Mike loses to Sehabi here, and Billy beats Kyle, ending the man’s run and his first top. Billy moves on through his next two opponents in narrow 3 game battles, abusing Psychic Jumper to win. The finals, as you will read or have read in the feature, was a knock out, drag out brawl in which Billy pulls it out against the World Champion, almost a storybook ending. The three time YCS Champion defends home turf to take home the gold, or in this case, a copy of Ascension Sky Dragon with gold lettering. This man reclaims the throne, and again takes the argument of who the best duelist is to the test with 16 YCS tops, 10 of them being top 4 finishes. It’s clear when he gets in there, he goes far. This is also the first 60 card deck in HISTORY to ever top. He redefined the meta just a few days in, shaking up the world all of you knew and thought was safe.
Having a backseat to all of this was pretty awesome, but it made me realize my own shortcomings as well. I learned I need to regain my hunger to want to win. I was content with where I was at, fooling around on dueling network and beating people I didn’t know. I chose this over locals, when the fact is, clicking buttons and playing random matchups when I have multiple other YCS champs as well as a World’s qualifier at my local store would be much better for me to test at. I probably wouldn’t have misplayed as much, as I also learned playing in person is so much different. You don’t get to click end phase for Scarm. You have to remember it, and I did forget once at a costly time. I also didn’t spread through my graveyard as much as I should, and viewed my deck differently than I did online. I didn’t think of breakthrough as the same. It’s like the information is just processed a different way when it’s shown out to you together instead of all laid out on a screen. In other words, I worked dumber and not harder, and need to get back to basics. Good old fashioned local dueling is what the deck doctor has prescribed to me.
So what does lay in the aftermath of the wake that is YCS Dallas? The two most credited players in the top 16 of draft made it to the finals. I think this proves a lot about the fact that drafting isn’t about luck or position. It’s about commitment, knowledge, hard work, and perseverance. The finals was the dream matchup on paper that could have come out of the two brackets. My friend Kyle got his first top and made it to draft. Mike made another YCS top. Many of my friends and local’s attendees bubbled, but did good and will want to get even better from it. But the main thing is… decks being defined to 40 cards to be the best is an era that is over. Why did 60 cards do so well? It’s because the game is about resource management. Mixing Shaddolls with Burning Abyss allowed Billy to use up things faster, stronger, and harder than he would in either singular deck, as well as take risks that he normally wouldn’t, because they were no longer risks. The amount of plays the deck garners is insane as well. I think plus is an understatement, and the deck will only get stronger as Billy works on it more, as this tournament was its first run and his first time playing Shaddolls.
So what do you think? Has the South risen again with Billy behind the helm, taking one of the best spots and defending his home turf? What defines what number of cards you should play in a deck now? How will you manage resources and defeat your opponent after seeing the power 60 cards can offer?