When I realized that I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to Euros, I simultaneously realized that I’d have one event left to accomplish what I’d set out to for this season. I just wanted to top once. I needed to put and end to the bubbling problem I’d been having – having bubbled the last 2 nationals and YCS Liverpool, as well as having gone from 5-0 to 6-4 at Euros 2017. I’d basically wasted the 2 YCSs I’d been to. At London I didn’t spend enough time learning SPYRALs and at Bochum (which was nonetheless very fun) I didn’t play the best deck. So I really wanted to make this event work out, since I was sure it’d be the last Yu-Gi-Oh I’d be playing before YCS Utrecht.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that I wanted this format to be a Pure Sky Striker centric format. The mirror of that deck is some of the most skill-intensive Yu-Gi-Oh that I’ve seen, I’d happily have played an event of 10 mirror matches. The f/l list, and the resultant format not developing that way is a disappointment: I think it’s fair to say that Trickstars, the most popular deck, don’t have a particularly great mirror match and Gouki are incredibly unfair whenever they can play.
The fact that playing Pure Sky Strikers in this format not only meant having to deal with going second against those decks (which can be very difficult in both cases), but also meant having to deal with a mirror match which should be good, but is now quite heavy in variance, since a fair amount of the cards you’re maining for those other decks aren’t good in the mirror. The only upside to playing the pure deck that remained was that it generally had a good matchup against Rogue decks, which wasn’t the case with Trickstar. This is not necessarily a reliable edge in UK Nationals, however.
On to Gouki. I didn’t have much time to practice in the lead up to the event, and in general it has felt like Yu-Gi-Oh has been taking up less and less of my time. Because of this, I didn’t feel comfortable playing a combo deck like Gouki, especially given that I’d never really touched the deck. Learning the combos and the correct way to play through everything in the month I before the event seemed a bit much given the lack of practise time I had, so it therefore had to be Trickstars.
Trickstar mirrors aren’t good. Generally, they tend to resolve around which player draws individual power cards such as Scapegoat or Droll & Lock Bird, and the Trickstar engine has a bunch of bad draws, meaning that there can be games where one player gets to Candina and the other is stuck on something like multiple Lycoris, putting them far behind. It can sometimes be difficult to play around both being Firewall OTK’d and being straight up killed in the regular fashion at the same time, and the new time rules can mean that games that would otherwise be straight up won positionally are lost because of a small amount of random burn damage.
I wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of playing the standard build of the deck that had been popularized at New Jersey for that reason, and I immediately started looking for an edge. It didn’t take long – I remembered something that Noelle had said on the DGz Sky Striker thread about Mekk-Knights being potentially difficult for Sky Strikers to deal with, and I decided to give it a go. Every Mekk-Knight is bigger than every Trickstar monster, and drawing 1-2 going second often makes up the damage needed to straight up kill the opponent.
I also liked how, despite the engines working independent of one another, there was some synergy. You often need to set cards to play in Mekk-Knights, so searching for Reincarnation simply to set it can unbrick Mekk-Knights out of your hands and obviously Sky Striker cards are similar - Hornet Drone on its own gives you two cards in a column should you need it. The Mekk-Knights often also function as cards that you can throw into your opponent’s defensive cards without having to use more valuable Trickstar cards, forcing out additional backrow before you start having to play the cards that matter the most.
Once I’d worked out most of the kinks with my deck, I was a little annoyed to see that Mekk-Knights were being played at the Oceanic WCQ, though the builds seemed to be quite different. It did mean that, when it came to the event, some of the advantage that I thought I’d have due to the Mekk-Knights was lost unfortunately. I know of at least nine or ten other players that played Mekk-Knights in their lists that topped this event, though they all seemed to take after the Oceanics lists and blinded first.
Deck List: https://imgur.com/Ms8hXu8
Main Deck - 40
Monsters - 19
3 Trickstar Candina
2 Trickstar Lycoris
1 Trickstar Lilybell
3 Droll & Lock Bird
2 Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring
3 Mekk-Knight Purple Nightfall
2 Mekk-Knight Blue Sky
1 Mekk-Knight Indigo Eclipse
1 Mekk-Knight Red Moon
1 Mekk-Knight Yellow Star
Spells – 19
3 Sky Striker Mobilize – Engage!
3 Sky Striker Mecha – Hornet Drones
1 Sky Striker Maneuver – Jamming Waves!
1 Sky Striker Mecha – Widow Anchor
3 Trickstar Light Stage
3 Called By The Grave
2 Pot Of Desires
1 Upstart Goblin
Traps – 2
2 Trickstar Reincarnation
Side Deck – 15
1 Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring
2 Gameciel, The Sea Turtle Kaiju
3 Psy-Framegear Gamma
1 Psy-Frame Driver
3 Shared Ride
3 Twin Twisters
Extra Deck – 15
2 Sky Striker Ace – Kagari
1 Sky Striker Ace – Shizuku
1 Knightmare Mermaid
1 Knightmare Phoenix
1 Knightmare Cerberus
1 Knightmare Goblin
1 Knightmare Unicorn
1 Link Spider
1 Space Insulator
1 Ningirsu, The World Chalice Warrior
1 Topologic Trisbaena
1 Topologic Bomber Dragon
1 Saryuja Skull Dread
1 Firewall Dragon
2 Ash was played because of space. I had room for 5 hand traps and decided that the Droll being a floodgate that helps you OTK was better than Ash being a single use card, even though Ash is more generic.
2 Lycoris – Lycoris isn’t a great draw, so I didn’t want to play 3, but you need to play at least 2, for the grind game, and to end the game in a lot of situations.
3 Purple/2 Blue – Would have played 6 if not for space. Purple is the better draw because you can banish it for Blue when they don’t play around Blue anyway.
Red/Yellow – Their effects to clear boards are very strong, and simply being Mekk Knights and monsters with 2k+ ATK makes up for them requiring other cards to allow their effects to go through. You can clear quite a few backrow by searching Indigo and Yellow with Blue, then linking it away with something to summon Phoenix, popping a card with Phoenix, then summoning Yellow, banishing the Blue to pop another backrow, then summoning Indigo. Use the Indigo to move Yellow, then link into Unicorn with Indigo and the Phoenix, and spin another card before banishing Indigo with Yellow to pop one final card. Obviously this entire play that dismantles a board requires a lack of disruption, but even forcing a few cards out this way and removing 2-3 cards from the board can go a long way.
2 Terraforming – I knew that I would be cutting one of the 9 Candina from the deck, it being possible because I was blinding second, which therefore meant that I would still have a better chance of drawing Candina with 8 copies than my opponents would with 9. I probably wouldn’t have considered doing it otherwise. Terraforming seemed like the best of the 3 cards to cut down because it lost hardest to Droll and Shared Ride.
Called By The Grave – Seemed necessary to not lose to Droll. It’s not particularly incredible otherwise, but it does randomly hit a lot of rogue stuff, which can be helpful.
2 Reincarnation – The second one came up enough to justify it. It mostly sees use here to search, then discard and extend into the opponent’s board with.
Shared Ride/Scapegoat – A lot of the time you choose to go first post-side, these being the most powerful and generic cards to play going first, especially in the mirror. Neither card seemed worth maining since I blinded second, and games tend to end extremely quickly.
Gameciel/Gamma – For Gouki going second.
Anyway, onto the report:
I made a huge card market order earlier this month, and end up spending the entire week shitting myself waiting for my cards to arrive. Everything comes on the Thursday, the day before I head down for the event. We head down via bus on the Friday, and I spend the whole day looking for people that I know and trying to find the last couple of cards I need. It’s nothing too difficult and it ends up being a relaxing day before. We find out that the tournament isn’t due to start until 12pm Saturday, which seems concerning in retrospect but whatever.
Everyone goes to TGI Fridays after registration, which is part of the insane holiday complex near the hotel where the event is being held. The service there takes hours, but it’s somewhat understandable given that our party is massive. We get back to our hotel early enough and I get some decent sleep.
On the Saturday morning, the guy I’m rooming with and I walk to a supermarket, with plans to get a taxi back. The taxi guy takes so long and detours on the way to the venue, so the guy I’m with is nearly late for registration. When we do get there, I find out Nadhir has already been DQ’d and sent home for filming at the venue, which I’m pretty sure is some Zodiac meme by now.
The event doesn’t start until about half past one, and I’m a bit concerned to hear that the head judge plans on there being 8 rounds on day 1.
Round One: Paleozoic
I make him go first, he sets 5 and ends up flipping 3 floodgates over the following turns. I stall out for a few turns using Mekk-Knights, but he eventually draws into more proactive cards and takes the game from there. 0-1
I start and open Scapegoat and Called by the grave. I stop his Toad play and use Scapegoat to play through his backrow the next turn and eventually take the game from there. 1-1
He sets 4, summons a Swap Frog and returns it to hand. I Light Stage one set, end up Twinning two others and eventually put him on just swap in hand while I have Trisbaena with Called By The Grave set. 2-1
After this round I walk about and ask people how they’re all doing in the tournament. I see Brad Haywood is in the middle of some huge cloud of judges, and later found that he got DQ’d for stalling at the end of the round. This is just the first of several cases like this over the rounds that cause the event to run seriously late.
Round Two: Mekk Knight Trickstar Sky Striker
He wins the die roll, He starts and the game goes long. He has Droll early on though so he stops me from doing too much early on and he ends up being too far ahead. 1-0
I side to go first and open Scapegoat and Droll. He can't play through everything. 1-1
He does what I did to him Game 1 early on but I put more pressure on him with Mekk Knights. He still gets in the most damage though and even though I would have had 2 monsters coming back from Purple Nightfall's effect, which put me far ahead in the game state I end up losing by about 4000 LP in time called during his turn. 1-2
Round Three: Sky Striker
He opens near perfectly with Multi Role and multiple set Widow Anchors. I can't quite play through everything, he starts Snowballing advantage and I can't keep up. 0-1
I start and have multiple Twin and Goats. His hand isn't great and he starts his second turn on 0 cards. 1-1
He starts and opens poorly. I just aggro him out of the game and by the next turn he's on too few cards to do anything meaningful. 2-1
Round Four: Trickstar Sky Striker
He wins the die roll, goes first and opens okay, while I open a single Blue Sky and every hand trap in my deck. I flips Scapegoat next turn and its enough to kill me. 0-1
I start with Set Shared Ride, Droll and Ash in hand with a Lycoris and he manages to have enough answers to play through my board and leave me on 1200 while he has two Lycoris on board. Next turn I can beat over his board and put myself in a position that would otherwise be confortably winning other than the fact that if he can somehow get to the last Lycoris he wins the duel. Fortunately the game doesnt last that long. 1-1
Same as game 1. I open Psy-Frame Driver, 2 Blue Sky, 2 Droll and an Ash. I stop him from playing but eventually cant do enough even while he doesnt play around Mekk Knights after flipping Scapegoat. After he Reincarnations my hand and banishes Driver my next 3 draw phase draws are all Gamma. 1-2
I’m pretty sure it’s about 8 o’clock by the time this round ends. Everyone around is visibly exhausted, as well as hungry and thirsty.
Round Five: Gouki
I sort of know the guy by his face because he's been to regionals I've been to and we have mutual friends. I'm pretty sure he's playing Gouki so I choose to go first and double Reincarnation, Droll him. 1-0
He goes first and I open Double Gamma, with an otherwise decent hand. When he makes Isolde I Gamma it, but he can extend through Soul Charge. He eventually Cerberus and Unicorns the Gamma and Driver on board, but then I guess he reads in my body language that I have a second one because he immediately reads the Gamma in my grave, before linking away his Iblee and giving it to me immediately. Unfortunately for him (and I don’t know why, since I don’t quite know how to combo off with Gouki correctly) this apparently messes up his combo anyway and he ends on quite a weak board regardless. At this point I just link Iblee away into Mermaid and kill him since my remains cards are Light Stage, Indigo, Purple and Hornet so killing him outright isn’t difficult. 2-0
Round Six: True Draco
At the start of this round the head judge announces that he’s moving round 8 to the next day. My opponent literally begs me (and only semi-sarcastically) to beat him so he can go home and get sleep.
I see he has no extra deck and choose to go first, but I open poorly and on the next turn he beats over my monsters and sets a moderately large amount of floodgates. 0-1
I start again and Double Reincarnation Droll him. 1-1
He opens decent but without any floodgates and after I Ash Demise he ends on 2 True Draco monsters and 3 traps. I play through his stuff, then make a Saryuja while I have 3 cards in hand already. The 7 cards I see probably had any number of ways to kill him and I end up dealing about 10k through his board. 2-1
Round Seven: Gem Knight FTK
I know this guy, his name is Reece, and I’ve had him as a facebook friend for a while. Apparently I was his first opponent when he first travelled for a regional.
He goes first. Sends Block Dragon with Foolish, then finds a way to make the Gem knight link. I ash the link and he just makes some big fusion with 3200 ATK and then summons Block Dragon to protect his board from being destroyed by card effects. I open Candina, Mekk Knight, Hornet, so I can make Unicorn, spin his Block Dragon, then make Bomber Dragon and special a Mekk Knight to blow the fusion up and attack over his board and leave him on pretty much nothing. 1-0
He sets one and activates Dragged Down. I have Ash and Gamma and choose to Ash it. Next he uses foolish to send Block Dragon and banishes a bunch of stuff to summon it. When he links it away to search I Gamma it and the game is simple from there. 2-0
We go back to the hotel, order pizza, and it’s about half 1 by the time I finally get to go to bed. Amongst the guys came down from regional, 4 of us are still in the event, including Danny Jackson and Darren Stephenson, who just needs a win to secure a top and therefore go to worlds.
Round Eight: SPYRAL
He Summons Quik Fix, searches and passes and I just OTK him. 1-0
I side to go second and he makes me go first. I can’t really do enough to stop him from OTKing me. 1-1
He tries to combo off but I have Ash for Master Plan and he's forced to pass with practically nothing so I kill him. 2-1
I find Darren, and find out that he got his win, and locked in his Worlds qualification and nats top. Congrats to him.
Round Nine: Banisher Stun
This was a streamed feature match on twitch. I play horribly and have a terribly awkward interview after. Link:
Watch if you're into cringe.
I see he has no extra deck, so choose to go first and the game goes on really long. I've very conscious of this match being streamed, so make a tonne of mistakes and even accidentally try to Cerberus a set Fossil Dyna. I eventually win by flipping 2 Reincarnation when he has 2 cards in hand and 4 in deck. 1-0
He starts, I open 2 Twin Twisters and the game is more or less over right there. 2-0
Round Ten: Trickstar Sky Striker
Goes on a while but I eventually overwhelm him with Mekk Knights and win the game. 1-0
Game 2 Also goes on a while back and forth and around when time is called he Firewall kills me. 1-1
I feel relieved to have broken the bubble and run up and down the hall finding people I know to tell them I’ve finally not lost on the bubble at something. I find out Danny, Barry and Jordan Gallacher all topped as well and eventually when I sit down to wait for the standings to be finalized I get to see a stream of England absolutely destroying Panama, which was nice.
Top 64: Trickstar Sky Striker
Game 1: I open Droll going second and kill him with help from Mekk Knights. 1-0
Game 2 He Shared Rides me and I eventually lose because I have to push into his board through it and I can’t quite do enough. 1-1
Game 3: I go first and open Shared Ride as well as Ash and Droll. He Ashes my Shared Ride and stops one of my hand traps with Called. He beats over my board and ends on double Lycoris. I top into Candina and beat over his board before setting Called By The Grave. When he targets it with Light stage I flip it and target Lycoris in grave and he can’t do anything to me that matters.
Danny ends up playing against Darren this round and puts him out of the tournament, but I doubt Darren cares that much at this point.
Top 32: Trickstar Sky Striker Mekk Knight
It’s the same guy who I played round 2.
He can play with Trickstar stuff, when I try to play back he Drolls me and I don’t have Called By The Grave so I go too far behind.
The same as game 1 except I went first, so after he Drolls me, he just kills me.
It sucks to go out that way, but I was mostly aiming to top the event and considering anything in top cut to be a bonus anyway, so I was alright with it.
Everyone I know other than Jordan Gallacher is out by now, so I eventually just end up waiting around with the Scottish lads to see how far he can go before we can go get something to eat. We’re there for a good while yet mind, and I get to see Barry and Ryan Cook play some of the weirdest variations of Goat Control that I’ve ever seen. “2 Card Goat, no draw phase” has forever destroyed my mental image of this game and I might be scarred for life.
After Jordan is knocked out in top 4, his prizes are held hostage by Quick Play Games until after the event, because they want him to take part in the prizing ceremony after the final. This would be fine except literally all of us are starving and dehydrated. At least the final, when it eventually takes place, is mercifully short. We (Me, Darren and a bunch of Scots) go for food and relax after the event is over and it’s worth the wait.
The next day makes the event feel like a distant, happy memory though. It’s blazing hot all day, and the bus home is delayed for 2 hours so we don’t get back until after 11pm, leaving at 2. One of the delays is down to the bus breaking down in the middle of a road, so we’re forced to sit around cooking until another bus came to pick us up. It took the problems we were already having, from being tired and dehydrated over the weekend and just pushed it to the extreme. We did come up with one hypothetical that was interesting, thanks to the world cup - 'which historical empire would have the best world cup team?' Historians gimme answers down below.
*Darren going to worlds
*Breaking the bubble finally
*Deck didn’t fail me
*My technical play was shit
*Terribly ran event
*Terribly ran transport home
* Losing the edge in the mirror
* Nadhir DQ’d round 0.
* Not being able to go to Euros.
Thanks for reading.