Jonathan Moore here, back with another pro-player interview. This time we have the legend Kristopher Perovic, one of the best legends the game ever saw. He was one of the pioneers of the D.D.T deck. For you newer players, that isn’t the wrestling move. It stands for Daimond Dude Turbo, a deck that abused Destiny Hero – Diamond Dude and his abilities to get cost free spells from the top of the deck. He is now a married man to the lovely lady Evelyn, and studies electrical engineering (on course to graduate this year, and possibly why he beat my face in when I used Watts against him in his run to his YCS top in New Jersey), and plans to be an Officer in the United States Air Force.
Let’s dive into the interview!
Jon: How old are you and where are you from?
Kris: 27 and Clifton, New Jersey.
Jon: What is your current occupation?
Kris: I do market research for Konami each summer and go to school full-time the rest of the year
Jon: What are your previous YGO Achievements (regional top 8’s too if you can remember)?
Kris: 8 SJC Tops, 1 YCS Top, 2 Many Regional Tops
Jon: Are there any similarities between your career and Yu-Gi-Oh?
Kris: Not really, no.
Jon: So where did it all begin? What got you interested in playing Yu-Gi-Oh?
Kris: I’m going to copy and paste something here straight from my unpublished YGO story, only because I think it gives a full and honest account of my beginnings in the game. It’s long, I know, and perhaps a bit bleak, but I think a few people who care to know the ‘real me’ might enjoy reading it:
My story starts in early 1999 because that’s when I started collecting Pokémon cards. I didn’t even know they were a thing until the day my younger brother Shawn brought some cards home from school. He said he stole them for me from some kids that were playing in the cafeteria because he knew I liked watching the television show every Saturday morning. He had the idea that we might start and share a collection, that it would be ours, and that we would make decisions regarding it together, but for whatever reason I was a lot more into it than he was so I didn’t mind taking our collection around town to make trades on my own. I kept our collection in my possession and Shawn didn’t protest my decision — he was always kind of a follower, if you know what I mean. He only ever wanted to make me happy and at the time that’s all I really wanted too.
Later that year, my mother divorced my stepfather and we had to move away from our friends in the neighborhood. No one near my new house collected Pokémon cards and it wasn’t even like I knew how to play anyway, so my interest in collecting quickly subsided. I set aside my collection (which included a Charizard, by the way) and spent the next year of my life focusing my efforts on schoolwork and (of course) girls.
My brother and I spent the summer of 2001 at our aunt’s house in New York. What began as a two-week vacation unexpectedly turned into two-months’ time away from home because, as it was explained to me then, my mother felt unwell and was ill-suited to care for my brother and me. When we returned home at the end of that summer, I learned for the first time that my mother had suffered a work-related injury that rendered her completely, albeit temporarily paralyzed. I can’t begin to describe the effect this event had on our family suffice it to say that at one point my brother and I surrounded her and the makeshift hospital bed that sat in our living room and she begged us to “roll [her] wheelchair onto the train tracks and let [her] die” if her condition worsened. We cried, refused, and four months and several surgeries later, she started walking again.
Meanwhile I stopped going outside almost altogether to care for my mother, but I was still a kid and yearned for entertainment. The television show debuted sometime that September and it was soon integrated into my Saturday morning routine. Shawn and I often watched it together and again he stole some cards from the kids in the cafeteria for us to share. We didn’t have enough yet to actually play so he asked our mother to buy a Dark Magician starter deck. She obliged and with this addition we spent many afternoons cutting our collection in half and playing against each other. We played with 4000 life points and knew nothing about tribute summoning so the Dark Magician really was our most prized possession at the time. We didn’t really care about the rules because we were having fun and I don’t remember how I felt about it at the time but looking back, I realize now that our family was closer then and, in some ways, happier than ever before, even in spite of my mother’s medical and financial troubles.
This period of calm contentment with one another lasted until I started keeping our cards in my backpack and making trades without his consent. It was our Pokémon story all over again but this time he didn’t suppress his feelings of resentment and betrayal.
We fought, much like brothers do, and wrecked each other’s rooms in the process. Our mother was summoned to intervene when he cried out for her. He argued I had violated his trust, that our collection was for us to play with and not for me to trade away to other people, and he begged her to remedy the situation. Instead she told him that our collection was ours to share and that I could make trades if I wanted to and he was allowed to do the same. I’m not sure if she ever really understood how card games work but regardless, her unwillingness to side with him had crushed his morale. He stopped fighting with me, stepped out of the room, and cried for a while. I didn’t console him because I was still heated from our fight, and the very next day I resumed trading and playing with other kids at school and in my neighborhood. I soon bought new cards, joined some forums, refined my deck, and entered local tournaments. I discovered the desperate desire to compete within me and thereafter I committed myself entirely to perfecting my craft. Eventually I moved out of my mom’s house and into my dad’s because none of us got along anymore, and meanwhile, Shawn never played this game with me again.
I didn’t realize it then that I had won the battle, but lost the war. And speaking of which, I should probably mention that long before our fallout and for as far back as I can remember, Shawn always wanted to be a marine – to serve his country and make his family proud. But he started high school around this time and no longer followed my lead. So he found friends of his own — deadbeats, really — and followed them, as was his nature, whenever they cut class to smoke cigarettes off-campus.
Like them, he would eventually drop out of high school after repeating his sophomore year four times. He started smoking marijuana, eventually got busted for possession, later got caught driving without a license, and soon got busted for possession again. There’s a lot more to talk about here but it should be sufficient to say that he has since lost all hope of ever becoming a marine, and has struggled to maintain a job for most of his adult life.
This and other factors likely drove my mother to take up alcohol in excess as my brother and I were entering adulthood. I won’t go into much detail here save to say her alcoholism has since had a serious effect on her health and a prominent role in the decay of what little financial security she had as well as in the estrangement of our immediate and extended families.
It was around the time I had re-re-invented Diamond Dude Turbo that I started to think about (among other things) the connections between my quest to win a championship and my familial misfortunes. I never blamed myself entirely but I did surmise that our lives likely would’ve turned out a lot differently had I never of abandoned my brother (in spirit, anyways) to maintain my superstardom. That Shawn was one of the smartest, energetic, kind, and personable people I knew had only served to reinforce my regret in ever failing him as an older brother by letting him make the mistakes he made. And speaking of mistakes, for my own sake, it didn’t occur to me until then that I probably could’ve done more to remedy my lack of a college education, good body, or a fulfilling sex life if I wasn’t so preoccupied with competitive play.
Maybe my brother would have gone to college and my mother wouldn’t have ever taken to drinking if I had worked and helped with the rent instead of sneaking away to tournaments every now and again. And maybe I’d have started college sooner if I would’ve rushed home from high school to finish my homework instead of checking for new content on the message board I administered. And maybe I would’ve been more satisfied with myself both emotionally and physically if I, as I once did, continued going to the gym and playing football with Shawn on the weekends.
I’ll never know what would’ve happened if I’d done things differently but the almost indiscriminate line between these maybes and what actually happened make it so that most days I can’t help but wonder whether, as I warned earlier, my life choices indeed had both real and irreversible consequences for me and my loved ones.
What got you from playing with your friends to playing competitively?
I was never as good at anything else as I was at YGO – sad but true. When I started winning local and regional events, I began to command a kind of respect and admiration from people that I hadn’t ever found elsewhere. For whatever reason, the people in comic shops and on online forums really wanted me around and I was happy to oblige. That’s why, if pressed, I’d say I think my competitive nature grew out of my younger, more timid desires to be liked by everyone.
Jon: What underdog deck do you like, and why should I play it?
Kris: You should never play an underdog deck!
Jon: What is your biggest pet peeve as a player?
Kris: The lack of support for online play.
Kris: Who is your favorite YGO player to watch?
Jon: There are only two players I ever hated to play against – Jerry Wang and Bryan Coronel – and I love watching them play for the same reasons.
Jon: What’s your favorite format and why?
Kris: Goat Format, because it’s the best format.
Jon: What is your greatest strength, and on the flip side, weakness as a YGO player?
Kris: My greatest strength as a player has always been my ability to remain impartial in evaluating deck choices and card choices, and just overall making really solid decks. Surprisingly, that’s not a common quality in players – even top players, at that. I mean, it’s so easy to get attached to a card because it wins you a couple games but a lot of the time, those cards simply don’t belong and they wind up unnecessarily costing you games. Fire Fist Gorilla is the most recent example I have of this – I excluded it from my YCS NJ deck whereas most folks didn’t, and that made a huge difference.
Likewise, my greatest weakness as a player is that sometimes I get so wrapped up in whatever sound, logical argument I have against a card or deck that I overlook it’s potential based on another sound, logical argument. OR, worse still, I only get so far as making a 30-card deck.
Jon: How would you like to think that you have affected the game of YGO?
Kris: Honestly, I like to think I changed the game a few times. First with my deck ideas, then with my success in tournaments, then with my influence on newer players, and again with my online tournaments. However, I’m not equipped to evaluate the long-term effects of these changes so I’m content knowing I mattered to the game at least a couple times in the short-term.
Jon: Reversely, how has YGO affected you in your life?
I played the game for over a decade. I sacrificed a whole lot to get to where I am today, while where I am has given me a whole lot too. So honestly, it’s just too big of a question to answer here. The real question, I think, is was it worth it? But the truth is, I don’t know.
Jon: Who would you say are some integral people to helping you get to the skill level you achieved?
Kris: Anthony Alvarado, Bryan Coronel, Jerry Wang, Rhymus, Emon, T, Ethan Nardone, and my brother. There are some others, I’m sure, but it’s late and I’m drawing a blank.
Jon: Did you play the game online? If so, how long have you played YGO Online and did it help you become a better player? (Dueling Network, Devpro, YVD, etc.)
Kris: Yes, I have been playing online since YVD. It’s been amazingly useful to me, and I honestly believe it’s impossible to be a great player nowadays without taking full advantage of the resources available on sites like DN and Devpro.
Jon: Who or what is your nemesis within the game?
Kris: Myself, really. I really wish I could play this game competitively without letting it overrun every aspect of my life. I don’t know, maybe I’m not strong enough to control it, but for me, it’s always been an all-or-nothing deal with this game and I just have more important things to concern myself with nowadays.
Jon: If you could play YGO against anyone, who would it be and why?
Kris: Batman, because he’s Batman.
Jon: He’d probably have an answer for everything. All the hand-traps.
Jon: What was the one thing that you felt gave you the edge over the other competitors?
Kris: My dedication.
Jon: Have you got any tips for other Duelists competing in Premiere events?
Kris: Get in, give it your all, and get out.
Jon: How do you prepare for your events? Is there a lot of research, practice, deck building and so-on?
Kris: Yes, yes, and yes. Mostly, I just try to understand the metagame and the combos therein. I also try to look for common weaknesses across archetypes and new ways to exploit them, which requires knowledge of the card pool too. So yeah, it’s all in the preparation – playing and reading and manipulating opponents are easy, but building a good deck is hard.
Jon: Your Feature Matches have often seen some impressive plays or combos; is there one that stands out?
Kris: All my DDT combos were pretty impressive, I think, but I also think some of my best feature matches were when I was using a normal deck. Check out me vs. Marco Escamilla (I didn’t attack with Reaper when he had a 3-card hand, which I later learned contained Goldd and 2 Sorcerer while he was missing a DARK in his GY), Michael Lux (mad reads), and David Jamieson (mad reads).
Jon: You’ve traveled around a lot to go to premiere events, what are some experiences that most stood out?
Kris: Our trip to Montreal was probably the one that stands out the most for me. I mean, Bryan hit Duck (Joshua Alicea) with his car and Duck threw a shovel or something at the car to retaliate. Later, while walking around in this French town, Duck saw a Windex billboard and said, “Buy-Oh-Deh-Grahb-Ley??? French people are weird, man” – the billboard said “biodegradable,” in English. Bryan got DQ’d in the Top cut for selling mats the day before. Anthony lost on purpose in the Top 16 to keep his decklist off Metagame. We got caught in a blizzard on the way back, and had to stay at a random hotel for an extra day, where some guy tried to shoot us with his shotgun for throwing snowballs at his hotel room. All good times.
Jon: What kind of decks do you generally like to build? When you see a new card, is there a specific characteristic that makes you think you want to build a deck with that card?
Kris: I like to build decks without traps – they’re my least favorite part of the game. I guess it’s because I just hate situational, reactive decks and prefer consistent, proactive decks where possible.
Jon: What can players do who want to get a better understanding of what makes YGO tick?
Kris: In this order:
1. Shadow and play against better players.
2. Question everything.
3. Play a lot to develop good instincts.
4. Control the information your opponent has access to and only let them believe what you want them to believe. (For 1, 2, and 3, my team and I used to play open-handed in front of everyone, and we let everyone judge each move. Also, you’ll never do 4 unless you can master 1-3.)
Jon: If you could change one thing about the current state of YGO, what would it be?
Kris: I would like to see the game less dependent on archetypes.
Jon: What are your favorite Yu-Gi-Oh! sets and why?
Kris: I don’t have one.
Jon: What do you think about Sealed Pack Play in general?
Kris: Sealed Pack Play has the potential to be one of the best things about this game, but it’s so important to have a fun and balanced card pool. I haven’t kept up with what’s in the most recent Battle Pack to say anything about it though.
Jon: What does YGO have left to do?
Kris: This is a really good forward-thinking question. Well, first, it’s not just a game – it’s a business, and business is good right now. But at the same time, Konami has every incentive to make the most out of it for as long as they can, which means eventually they’ll have to worry about attracting new players. That’s why I don’t think we’re far off from a big marketing shift to rebrand the game and keep it fresh and cool in the minds of kids today. I think they realize the waning influence of the TV show on this generation, and perhaps TV shows in general, and will try to redefine YGO in a way that doesn’t isolate its current crop of players.
That said, I think one of the biggest challenges facing YGO is the mainstream acceptance of TCGs in general. As far as gaming is concerned, TCGs aren’t as iconic as board games and they aren’t nearly as popular as video games, so they’re stuck in this weird, fringe space on their own. Most people only know about TCGs because of Pokémon and that’s a huge marketing problem for YGO because in the minds of most people, YGO – if they know about it at all – is a second-class game behind Pokémon, which is obviously a kid’s game, so few teenagers are ever going to pick it up. The only remedies I can think of involve making a new show with tie-ins to the card game, new games with tie-ins to the card game, and embracing online (specifically mobile) play, all of which should promote a competitive TCG circuit (both online and IRL). Here’s an idea: how about featuring YCS winners in the cartoon?! There’s a lot more to talk about here, but I think you get where I’m coming from.
Jon: How do you recommend that new players stay current and keep up with the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG?
Kris: Another good question, because the answer is really revealing about the present state of the game. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good recommendation for new players. The current coverage page isn’t revealing at all and forums are crapshoots for most people. ARG articles and coverage pages are good places to start, but it’s sometimes hard to decipher what information is valuable and what isn’t. The same goes for YouTube and locals, so I guess all I can say is: immerse yourself into every resource you have until you find out what works for you.
Jon: How would you recommend new players learn the value of their cards?
Jon: Any last words before I let you go?
Kris: You said something about free pizza?