Jonathan Moore here! I want to start a string of articles about why people get stuck at a standstill in Yu-Gi-Oh! and never pop out of the bubble into the top standings, along with some articles about things you hear at every tournament and why they’re right and wrong.
Today’s topic – Luck VS Skill
Ever get tired of some certain phrases being thrown around people’s stories of when they lose out of a tournament? “I drew 2/3 copies of my card. It was such bad luck,” “He lucksacked me soooo hard and had his only out in his entire deck,” “Man, he just had the good matchup.” “He just had everything! I couldn’t do anything.” If you find yourself saying these things, or even nodding your head in agreement with any of these common phrases, it’s time to do a double-take.
Drawing multiple copies of a card you play multiple copies of is BOUND to happen. Durrrrr. Knowledge-bomb for you guys, when Billy Brake won back to back titles, he drew all three of his Reborn Tengus during game three and didn’t let that stop him. If you play three copies of Ice Hand or Fire Hand, you’re going to draw them more often than desired, but you’re going to basically make sure you have extra copies floating in your deck. If you have 2 copies of each card, you’re trying to draw them less and get just one to fit more cards into your deck, but on the flip side, if you drew both copies of either one, it’s going to limit your potential plays and deaden your hand. This comes down to playstyles too. Are you someone who is going to be able to sell and play off that dead Ice/Fire Hand as if you’re holding a Maxx “C” or Effect Veiler, and is that kind of play going to effect your opponent?
People have been trying to bluff cards since the coming of Gorz and Tragoedia came into play. Gorz was a one-of, so it was a lot less likely. The problem is, if you didn’t play around and they had it, you lost to him. The same situation happens with Maxx “C” now. You HAVE to play around the opponent having him if you have a deck that pops off. If you play as if they don’t have it and they didn’t, you can be highly rewarded. The thing is, if you don’t have the set up for after the card could be played, that one card probably will make you lose the game. The longer the game goes, the stronger your read should become on if your opponent has that card, much the same as in any game of skill such as poker. Even if they’re trying to sell that they have a certain card and don’t, you should be able to backtrack the “Story” they have sold. How did they play towards you and what you’ve had? How have they responded with their traps? What have their pushes and power plays been? All these factors combined and how they’ve been playing their hand should lead you to the right answers to be able to push or wait. There’s a reason you see the same players top over and over.
There’s a reason I have over 20 Regional top 8’s. When preparing a deck for an event, you look at the current competitive field. Your deck should be able to win game one, and side for game two to try to take out your opponent 2-0. Your side deck should also counter not just the best decks of the metagame, but cover your bad matchups. You can’t just hope to not play a single Evilswarm player. You’ll run into some beast like Fili Luna at nationals (yes, that’s what he played!) or get beasted by the deck at an ARG event. If your deck is crippled by a deck that could be in the field, allocate space in your side deck instead of throwing in overpowering hate for a matchup you already are beating down consistently because you might be scared of their sideboard. Dedicate around 3-4 and 3-4 cards for the top two decks, and the rest for your bad matchup because that probably meant you lost game one, and you’ll need all the help you can get. Also that way you’re much less likely to go to your friend with the sob story of “I couldn’t draw a single one of my fricken’ side cards… AGAIN”.
As for the shortest part of this story, if you’re listening to a player rant about a one-outer? The player had to put themselves into the position of the one-outer. AKA “He plays Dark hole? Who does that!?”… IT HAPPENS. Shock and awe, that card still has power even if most decks can’t make room for it. Don’t overextend the field because multiple cards probably could field wipe you. If you go back and talk to the player who beat you to actually learn what happened, you can probably find your own misplay and get stronger. Very rarely will that player tell you he just got lucky to get that card! It does happen, but not as often as you’d like to think it happens to you. It’s going to be about the same 2.5 to 5% chance in poker of actually being drawn out on the river. A one out of twenty chance shouldn’t hurt you when you only have to win two out of three games. Also, the “they had everything” thing happens. Sometimes a deck does get everything you need to win. That’s why the more boring but more consistent decks that set up with backrows like HAT and Geargia made it further in nationals than decks like Lightsworn, who are still reliant on milling and exploding. They were made to keep up with the field and prevent the explosions from Sylvans and Lightsworn.
There’s a reason in poker that it’s super scary when someone who is good also gets luck on their side. It’ll be the same in Yu-Gi-Oh.
So do you find yourself often hearing or saying some of these sob stories? What are some other common things you hear that you have to shake your head at? How often do you try to actually assess the weaknesses in your own game to become stronger instead of learning it the hard way? Comments, concerns, and criticism all welcome!