This week I thought I would like to talk about a somewhat touchy subject for some players (at times myself included). Losing is an art form, there are many different ways to do it and instances which make it unique from other losses you acquire through life. One of my great childhood memories I have include playing a soccer game with my family every Sunday. Usually when my team lost, I would run up to my room in tears, eventually someone would have to go comfort me, losing didn’t come easy for me back then. I’ve come a long way and I think this game has given a lot of opportunities to deal with it differently. This year I think I have taken some of my hardest losses, but I’ll get into them later.
-Wayne Rooney (English soccer player)
-Serena Williams (American tennis player)
Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.
-Vince Lombardi (American football player/coach)
If you’re afraid of losing, then you daren’t win.
-Björn Borg (Swedish tennis player)
When I started going to locals back in 2006, I would get 1-3 records with a 60+ card Dark Paladin deck with Jinzo, Dark Magician of Chaos, Mirror Force and Torrential Tribute. I also remember taking my first loss in round two of my first local experience and leaving shortly because I thought it was a single elimination tournament. Even though I was nowhere close to winning any store credit, I would end up learning something from my losses in my early duelist career, mostly from the better players that went to locals. There were aspects of the game I learned from the more experienced duelists like deck building (having in mind to play the least amount of cards to draw important cards more often), the way Quick-Play Spells work, new trends in the meta (included reading feature matches online), the way priority used to work with monsters, and Mystical Space Typhoon only destroying, not negating.
Besides the basic ins and outs of the game, I started to accept the losses as long as I was at the very least learning from them (either misplays or new knowledge). Advantage is one of the main principles that I learned back then and how there was a great pressure acquired by card advantage. A large board could be wiped, since there was a small variety of power cards that could be played in every deck like Heavy Storm. Talking about Heavy Storm, I really miss pro-Heavy Storming people for those of you who don’t know, it’s setting Heavy Storm, making you opponent think it’s safe for them to set back rows and flipping it during your turn.
The way I see it, those initial losses are where players make a decision, whether they either end up learning the most out of them or blaming other factors for their losses. Players who choose to continue to learn become great ones and the others stay stagnant in their duelist development. It’s from here that I would say I began to adapt my “play style”; trying to keep the tempo and advantage in my favor, if possible keep a simple game state as long as I could maintain the first two.
Besides those points, I realized the only way I was going to improve at this game was to play against better players who knew more than I did. This meant I was going to probably lose most of these initial matches but I was determined to someday win a large event, I still am. Now, when I get hit by a loss I reconstruct the game state and find where it went wrong either by my misplay or misfortune. I much rather know I made a bad decision, than realizing I couldn’t have done anything because at the very least it feels like I had a chance.
All of the players who want to give it a shot at going competitive, dream of the day they’ll get their “ring”. Most of our journeys there are long, yet there are exceptions who get it on their first top. It’s a learning process and every format is a little different and sometimes we even carry what we learned onto the last format we play like the fact that players still attack from smallest to greatest ever since Gorz the Emissary of Darkness got released. Carry on knowledge isn’t all that bad unless the right way to do things changes due to circumstances or newly released cards. This knowledge either gets acquired through losses or other’s experience.
When you are play testing you want to be getting the most out of it even if you are losing and in that sense it’s for the better, I much rather notice a weakness or reoccurring scenario before an event to be able to make proper changes/plays than to start noticing them halfway through Swiss. Prevent losses from happening at a big event and engineer your deck to an optimal state. (Although there are exceptions, I have changed the way I played and used my Side Deck after a couple rounds at YCS Austin because I decided to run Mono Mermail last minute.)
My important losses in chronological order this year are as follow:
YCS Sao Paulo, Brazil: Finals: 0-2
As a reference I was running Bujins in the format plagued with +1 Fire Fist and I played the finals against Harpie Ladies. The only thing I could have done differently Game 1 was to prioritize a Bujingi Turtle dump instead of the Bujingi Hare since I had Bujingi Crane and most of things he could have thrown at the Yamato would have to target like Number 50: Blackship of Corn or Lightning Chidori. I also should have just removed my Hare to have targets for Bujincarnation. So, seemingly small mistakes were made that cost me that game. Game 2 wasn’t very forgiving when I bricked. Maybe Game 3 could have been interesting, I’ll never know.
Ecuador Nationals: Top 8: 1-2
The game state includes:
My: Ice Hand and Madolche Messengelato on the field with Mind Control and D. D. Crow in hand
His: Artifact Moralltach (in attack mode) and three backrows (I know one is his third Moralltach)
So, I attack the Moralltach with my Ice Hand to which he activates Malevolent Catastrophe and chains Artifact Sanctum, so I’m only worried if he kept Artifact Scythe in, but he didn’t so I Crow the Moralltach and since there’s a replay I decide not to attack and make Number 50: Blackship of Corn to send the Moralltach. Deckwise he didn’t have that many outs except for Fire Hand or Pot of Dichotomy to get back into the game. He also had plenty of dead cards like Artifact Ignition or Artifact Sanctum. Thing was we were in turns, so he won because of Life Point difference.
As a side note (requested by Javier Amores), I don’t think I have ever been more salty for a loss and these are a few reasons, not really justifying it just pointing out a few things. So, my opponent was a good friend of mine (still is), we’ve been playing for years now, but he doesn’t play constantly, only focusing on playing during Nationals/Continentals so he doesn’t have any of the newer cards. We stayed at the same hotel and since he didn’t have anything to play with I let him borrow my HAT deck. I also want to point out that I was telling him to pick up the pace the whole round, although he was going to time for most of the tournament since he was unfamiliar with the cards he was playing. At the end of the day, time is part of the game, I can’t blame him, can’t say I haven’t won in time. In my mind, our game didn’t really matter we both wanted Javier to win (he lost in the finals). No hard feelings man!
South American WCQ: Santiago, Chile
Game 3: Vs Black Garden 1-2
For this event, I played Geargia with Hands. This game I lost to a Macro Cosmos that I didn’t see coming when I attacked with my Ice Hand. This loss was mostly due to using an MST very early in the game.
This loss is different from the rest because it didn’t put me out of the tournament, I could still even lose another round and still top, but it just feels different since there’s still a chance to win it all. I encourage people to not count the rounds they have to win to top since it just feels like extra pressure but once you get a loss in Swiss, you got to get right back up so you can get in the mindset again.
Game 2: Vs Mirror 0-2
I end up activating XYZ Universe targeting his Gear Gigant X and Ghostrick Alucard, he flips Wiretap and I chain my own. So, I go +2 summoning Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack in Defense mode to which he goes Soul Charge for four monsters makes Gear Gigant X, Soul of Silvermountain and Diamond Dire Wolf. Then, popped my Dracossack, I lose I few turns later, just couldn’t really do anything.
I don’t see myself really learning much from this match since there was nothing I could do. He just had the right cards and I couldn’t prevent my loss. Again, it’s part of the game and I accept it happens.
YCS Toronto & YCS Lima:
You can read about these in my last two tournament reports.
To conclude I would like to say losses are an essential part of this game to improve and inspire players to keep at it. Only problem is that it also discourages players to stick to it since they can’t deal with the fact losing is part of the game and there are games you just can’t win (that’s why we play two out of three matches to at least try to make it even). I would also encourage you to look back at your losses and see what you could have done differently I know it’s hard especially if you are salty. Finally, I would advise you to not dwell on the thought that after your loss you must win out to be able to top, instead get back into a positive mindset for the coming round(s). If I learned anything from YCS Toronto is that anything can happen if you keep the dream alive. Even when you lose, you still have something to gain, value experience for what it is.
P.S. I would like to thank all the more experienced players back home for what I learned throughout my first years of dueling. They include and are not limited to: David Mejia, Gabriel Hernandez, Javier Amores, Ruben Gonzalez, Martin Yerovi, Jose Ubilla, Esteban Almeida and Alejandro Jaramillo.
Thanks again guys and see you in December!