Hello everyone! I’m back this week with an article on teaching you to grow as a player. Everyone out there wants to become the best, but some people do not know how to achieve that goal. Without knowledge on how to get somewhere, what good does it do you to try and get there in the first place? You will be wandering around in circles like a stray dog. If you’re aiming to be the best, there are three key things I would recommend, grinding near infinite games, getting yourself put into a Yu-gi-oh “circle” and interacting heavily with them, and to explore other formats. Constantly applying these three techniques in your life will make you out to be the best Yugioh player of all time.
Starting off, you need to grind insane amounts of matches in the current format. While this may seem obvious, it is an absolute necessity. Theory will only get you so far in the current stage Yu-gi-oh is at, therefore you must apply it to practice. Since the game currently involves many extremely powerful decks that create super complex gamestates when each player has many cards at their disposal, you cannot just imagine how games will pan out in your head anymore. For example, if you try and emulate the “standard” Shaddoll opening, you’re going to have a hard time for two reasons, one because there are many different versions of Shaddolls, and two, that deck has a plethora of options at hand so each game is played very differently. With that, it just goes to show if you want to learn the format well enough to be considered the best, it’s going to take some grinding.
There are two primary ways to test, in real life, and on Dueling Network. The former is probably more helpful because with other people around you, you are able to ask for help and get other people’s opinions on certain plays and card choices. Also, you have the ability to play with your hands face up and revealed to each player. My friend Patrick Hoban told myself, Dirk Wagner, and Dalton Bousman that this is how he and his group tests and it helps him more than regular testing, so we should try it as well. I can vouch for this personally, testing with your hands face up really does make a difference. At first, you might think that we are crazy because testing with open hands eliminates all of the mind games, backrow reading, and reading what is in your opponents hand, which are all huge parts of the game. But, if you test enough with open hands, when you play close handed games, it’s like you just know what cards are in your opponents hand by their line of play. The reason behind that is you’ve played so many open handed games and physically saw the cards in your opponents hand when they were making specific plays, when your opponent makes those same plays in tournament play, your brain remembers that and you remember what cards were in your opponent’s hand when you actually saw them, odds are if your opponent is around the same skill level as your testing partner, they will have the same cards in their hand as well. The only flaw about testing with open hands is if your opponent you’re playing against in the tournament isn’t at a very high skill level because they will not make the same plays you or your testing partners would make. This is usually irrelevant though because if your opponent in the tournament is that bad you should just be beating them anyway. Overall testing in real life with open hands really makes a difference and I would recommend it to everyone reading this.
Next, the other way to test is through an online simulator, like Dueling Network. I always hear a lot of negativity about the online simulators, saying that everyone is awful, the shuffling system sucks, or they want the physical aspect of the game as well as the technical aspect. Personally, I enjoy testing online just as much as testing in real life. The only thing you miss out on during online testing is the physical interactions of the game. You are unable to actually look at your opponent and read their body language to get a read on their cards. Honestly, this just makes you better at reading backrow though because without having the ability to read your opponents body language, your are forced to read their backrow specifically off of their plays, and what plays you have made, which is extremely technical. If you get very good at reading backrow online, reading backrow in real life will be an absolute breeze for you. Also, people complain about everyone being awful on Dueling Network. That is actually just not true. Sure, when you play your first few matches on Dueling Network, you’re going to play against other first timers because of Dueling Network’s rating system. Since you are playing against first timers to start, Dueling Network can be very discouraging because the first timers don’t know their rulings and are playing legitimate trash. However, once you get past all of the plebs on the sit and climb your way up the ladder into the 1600s, you will play mostly good people, as it isn’t extremely easy to achieve that rating. I’ve also heard people complain about Dueling Network’s shuffling system saying that it is not random and shuffling in real life is a better representation of sample hands. Again, this is just not true. In real life, there is the underling concern that someone is stacking their deck against you to. On Dueling Network, it is impossible to get a bad representation of an opening hand because Dueling Network’s shuffler is completely random and computerized. Overall, these online yu-gi-oh simulators should be used to their fullest extent due to their convenience.
Moving forward from play testing, you need to find a group of people to interact with daily about yu-gi-oh. Just like in life, it is much harder to live alone than with a partner or partners. Having more than one mind work on a common goal will rapidly accelerate your findings. Finding that group can pose a challenge, however, because most defined circles won’t let anyone in without proving themselves. For example, if you belong to an elitist circle, you most likely worked hard for your spot and respect in that circle, and it would be unfair to everyone in that circle if some new person just waltzed right in with barely any knowledge to give. Therefore, you need to either form your own group, or weed your way into an established circle by showing that you are valuable to them. Once you have gotten into/started your circle, I highly recommend starting a group chat. Group chats are one of the greatest inventions ever for trading card game players because it allows the entire group to interact with everyone at their own convenience.Also, do not be afraid to instantly type out and send ANY idea or theory you have to your circle. Bouncing ideas off of one another until you find the golden ticket is how you become the best. It doesn’t matter if 99/100 of your ideas are garbage because if you find that single idea that lets you win an event and make a name for yourself, you are one step further to accomplishing your ending goal.
Lastly, I highly recommend exploring other good yu-gi-oh formats to increase your technical skills. Unfortunately, most people only play the advanced format because they believe if they only practice that they will become outright better. This is a form of what we call tunnel vision, where your mind is so set on one thing you forget about everything else. Playing different formats can really tone up your technical play to the extreme. For example, my personal favorite format is Goat Control. It is my favorite format because the games last extremely long, every game is played out differently, and the better player will usually come out on top. Goat control was played in 2005, so it is extremely slow and tedious. Playing these slow formats actually can really help improve your technical game because it teaches you how to get the most value out of the cards, regardless of what cards you are holding. For example, from playing countless hours of goat control, you just learn how to play your trap cards more effectively. This will happen because you realize how much value your cards held back in the day and you always wanted to get the most out of your single card. Well, how does that not translate to the format today? If you are able to do more things with your cards than your opponent is able to do with theirs, you are more than likely going to win. There are other great formats to play other than goat control, like Tele-dad, Tengu plants, and the 75th Shonen Jump championship in Edison format are all great tools to use at your disposal. You don’t even have to pay for these cards to play in real life because of Dueling Network! You can just talk to your friend and hop on the network to play some old formats to improve your technical game. This is something I really enjoy doing when I get super frustrated with the current advanced format. If the unreal keeps happening to me, I just calm myself down by playing a match of goat control. Taking minor breaks from advanced format to play old formats is usually looked down upon, but in my opinion, it is a great tool to expand your technical play and knowledge of the game in general.
To sum up, I’ve told you about how to become the very best yu-gi-oh player you can be with the following three techniques, playing frequently, interacting with others, and exploring other good formats. If you constantly apply all three of these to yourself, you will notice yourself becoming more skilled in no time. Just like everything else in life, if you want exceed at something, you have to put the time in. Yu-gi-oh is the same thing as taking a test, if you prepare, you will do well, if not, you will usually fail.