The Pros Know: An Interview with The Lone Star Legend, Ryan Spicer!

Jonathan Moore here, and today I got a hold of my good friend Ryan Spicer, and caught up on old times. I then thought it’d be refreshing to take a step back from criticizing players, the format, and everything wrong with the Yu-Gi-Oh! world (as I notice I have been in the past few articles) to bring you all a light-hearted but serious Pro interview in a segment I plan to call “The Pros Know”.

Jon: How old are you and where do you live?
Ryan: I’m 23 years old and currently reside in Venice, Florida.

Jon: Current Occupation?
Ryan: House Remodeling and amateur Poker Player.

Jon: What are your previous YGO Achievements?
Ryan: 27 Regional top 8 finishes, 10 premier event Day Two’s including one 1st place finish.

Jon: Are there any similarities between your career and Yu-Gi-Oh?
Ryan: Not so much in construction, but in poker I’d say the closest thing would be the similarity in trap cards and hand ranges (reading people’s hands).

Jon: Care to elaborate on that a little?
Ryan: to make it very simple, when you summon a monster and your opponent doesn’t respond with X expected trap card that would usually be used in that situation, you can be relatively confident that they do not have that card facedown. So, in poker, when you bet, based on your opponents response in calling, raising or folding, you can assign them a potential range of hands that they can have in that given situation. Sometimes this method will mislead you, but it’s no different than in yugi when your opponent slow plays a Torrential Tribute or Mirror Force trying to extract extra “card advantage”. Card advantage is similar to chips (or money) in this instance. In Yu-Gi-Oh! you want to accumulate card advantage, in poker you want to accumulate chips.

Jon: So where did it all begin? What got you interested in playing Yu-Gi-Oh?
Ryan: In 7th grade I started with a Yugi starter deck to play agaisnt my friends Joey, and from there I would say an obsession with the game ensued since.

Jon: What got you from playing with your friends to playing competitively?
Ryan: Well, as a kid, I always prided myself as being the “best player in my school” as funny as that sounds and loved the feeling of out-witting, outplaying, and out-smarting the other players. There is just something about the preparation and excitement of preparing for an event and putting your ideas to the test. After middle school I was set to move to Texas, and I had a vision in my mind of becoming this great Yu-Gi-Oh! player, and after a few local events at Lonestar Comics in Arlington, I met Fili Luna who took me under his wing and shaped me into a more competent player. Then after meeting the rest of team “Outphase”(Chris Bowling, Jake Mcneely, Billy Brake, Jason Holloway) the potential for increasing my skills became endless.

Jon: What underdog deck do you like, and why should I play it?
Ryan: I don’t know how qualified I am to answer what underdog deck you should play since I am unfamiliar with the current state of the game, but of what I have seen, I really like Lightsworn Dragon Rulers, which seem like would be an underdog considering the release of DUEA.

Jon: Who is your favorite YGO player to watch?
Ryan: I’d have to say my favorite player to watch when I played was probably Billy Brake because of how similarly we approached the game.

Jon: What is your biggest pet peeve as a player? What really grinds your gears?
Ryan: Stalling, cheating, arrogance, theft.

Jon: What was your favorite format?
Ryan: Definitely have to go with November 2008 when I won my SJC title in Chicago when I won my SJC title with Tele-Dad. I really enjoyed that format because of the field locks and the ability to be prepared for a single deck. There really was no other deck that came close to it in strength, so you only had to have minimal siding options for a few annoying decks, but you could really focus your energy on beating a single deck, which was nice since your skill edge in mirror matches could be maximized.

Jon: If you were to get a YGO tattoo (or already have one) what would it be?
Ryan: My choices would be Dark Armed Dragon, Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning, or maybe even Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch.

Jon: What are some of the cities you most enjoyed visiting for YGO events and why?
Ryan:I’d have to say Chicago and Indianapolis for Gen Con. Road trips were always amazing and the multiple days of gaming at Gen Con parallel no other. Chicago was awesome because I had friends to stay with and the city is just really nice to experience

Jon: What was your favorite Yu-Gi-Oh set release of all time and why?
Ryan: Phantom Darkness, I had a ton of fun testing the cards in that set. I remember thinking how much better Dark Creator was than Dark Armed Dragon, and being proven abusively wrong by Billy.

Jon: How do you recommend that new players stay current and keep up with the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG?
Ryan: Using forums, forming a group of friends you play and compete with, writing down new deck ideas and trying them out. It really depends. the more competitive you want to be, the more time you will need to invest.

Jon: How has yugioh impacted your life?
Ryan: It definitely was an escape from reality during my parents divorce/starting my first year of High School in a new state. I learned many things such as strategic thinking, decision making, alternatives and also developed many life long bonds and memories I couldn’t imagine have made anywhere else. It exposed me to a world other than the one we are raised to believe we exist in. It showed me that we have choice in this game of life. I really couldn’t have asked for a better childhood thanks to this game. But with every up there is a down, and I’d have to say the biggest down I experienced was “fame”(if you can even call it that) because of the massive impact it had on inflating an insecure ego. But again, with every down there is an up, and without that tango with an ego I could have never gained the perspective on life that I hold this day. Overall, I wouldn’t trade my Yugi experiences for the world.

“[Yu-Gi-Oh!] exposed me to a world other than the one we are raised to believe we exist in. It showed me that we have choice in this game of life.”

Jon: Reversely, How do you think you impacted Yugioh?
Ryan: I can’t say how much I impacted it on a macro scale, but on a smaller one I like to think that I helped create some trends within the various metagames I was involved in, such as Gladiator Beast Format, Tele-Dad Format and so on.

Jon: If you could change one thing about the current state of YGO, what would it be?
Ryan: I actually think they are doing a good job in fixing the game with the new rules they have implemented as well as making cards more accessible for all players.

Jon: So you would change nothing? My own personal complaint would be competitive prize structure doesn’t really seem competitive, even on the YCS scale. Only nationals seems to have that extra “Ummmph” to me.
Ryan: Yeah, I actually agree with your statement. Maybe it’s because Konami doesn’t want the game to be overly competitive, but I think it would be good if they did simple things like add prize cards to Regionals for example, or create more incentive for players to travel and compete.

Jon: That’s an amazing one I never thought of. A regional prize card. There would still be like 100-200 of them like a regular prize card but it’d actually be just as rare.
Ryan: The prize card doesn’t even have to be very playable, the rarity of it alone would give it much value

Jon: How do you prepare for a premier event?
Ryan: Preparation for premiere events is mainly test playing an insane amount until I feel good about all of my card choices. Testing usually happens until the night before the event and then I shut it down until the morning and play 1 or 2 warm up games, and then the rest is up to fate.

Jon: I think that’s about it for my questions. anything to say out to your fans or players in general before we wrap this up?
Ryan: If you love this game and want it to continue for a long time, be sure to play honestly, and learn to not complain about all of it’s “flaws”. A lot of those “flaws” are what make the game so fun in the first place. I hope one day to return to the game I love, but until then, trust in the Heart of the Cards young duelists!

Give it up for one great duelist, creator, idealist, realist, my friend Ryan Spicer! I plan to get some interviews with more North Texas players such as the only four time champion, Fili Luna. If you enjoyed this, please comment below questions you would like to see asked of Pros, some Pros or seasoned players you might like me to interviewed, and what you thought of this!

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