[6:20 PM] Ynusgridorh: Your whole team has less talent than Jazz's pinky.
Well, he wasn't entirely wrong. Jazz is, without a doubt, the most fearsome and challenging opponent I have ever faced not just in Goat Format, but in any sport or game I've ever played in my life.
This was a long season with a lot of twists. As G-sop mentioned in Discord, most of the regular season felt like Seraphim vs Damage Step, with neither team clearly better than the other, but Damage Step suffered an unfortunate loss in the first week to Neo Sigurimi that was due entirely to my own failure against Shining Blue-eyes. This was a surprise to me because I had had SBE's number with Chaos Control for most of the Autumn split. This was the start of my very gradual and drawn-out drift away from Chaos Control and towards other options.
While all of the wars we played were challenging and interesting in their own ways, the war I'm going to cover in detail here is, of course, Damage Step vs Seraphim. HyperBeam, Tristan, and myself faced the terrifying trio of Jazz, Ynus, and Kev. HyperBeam stunned everyone on Seraphim when he took the match over Kev 2-1, from what I've heard. Tristan vs Jazz was a bit of a longer shot, as Jazz had proven particularly troublesome for Tristan back in the Juneau Lives (aka pools). Jazz ended up edging it out 2-1, which left me to face Ynus with all the marbles.
I knew a few weeks in that I would be using Empty Jar for this war for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I believe Empty Jar is a top 3 deck and the best combo deck in the format, and I feel capable of beating absolutely anyone with any deck with it if I manage to play perfectly. "If I play perfectly" is a bit of a meme in modern theory, but it's absolutely impossible to deny the power of the core engine of Mjar-Cyjar-Taiyou-Moon. Seraphim are a team that were setting the pace of the metagame while staying months ahead of it, so the first thing I did when I started cycling through decklists is think about what I would play in a tournament 2-3 years from now. Spoilers: Empty Jar is the Goat Format deck of the future, and I was determined to prove it. All that left me to do was figure out 2-3 years worth of Empty Jar combos in a few weeks, lol.
Furthermore, I wanted to exploit a particular weakness in the Seraphim's theory regarding sidedecking. I knew Kris's sidedecks had always traditionally contained 3 Neko Mane King, and Ynus had carried on this tradition with his own sidedecks for the most part. Something I noticed in my early ranked matches with Empty Jar was how easy it was to win postboard games when my opponents' Neko Mane Kings clumped and ended up dead in their hands. This is because it is most efficient to side two Neko Mane Kings. Here's the post I made in the team channel prior to the war regarding this:
[6:41 AM] MMF: this is eventually going to become an article, i think but i'm posting it here and keeping it private for the rest of the season and i'm not gonna tell people on other teams many people believe right now that 3 neko mane king is a necessary sidedeck choice in a metagame with enough empty jar decks. the general idea seems to be that "if i side 3 neko mane king i can't lose to it." i know for a fact that the members of the Seraphim largely if not unanimously agree on this. this mentality is one of the reasons i have been winning so much with the deck in ranked. people always worry about the probability of having all copies of neko mane king on the bottom of their deck. they think that's the only way they can lose. the problem is that that isn't the only bad outcome that's relevant to neko mane king. the other, much more important one in my opinion, is opening with 2 or more copies of neko mane king. god forbid you open with all 3, in which case you're completely boned by any cyber jar loop. opening with 1 copy is still bad, but usually not that bad (+-1 is the average parity for well-played cards in goat format; think of it as getting duo'd on turn 1 by a deck that duo isn't very good in to begin with). multiple copies are what can really bog a hand down to the point that the empty jar player gets enough time to draw into a combo.
[6:41 AM] MMF: The probability of opening with 2 or more Neko Mane King with 2 in deck: 1.92%
The probability of opening with 2 or more Neko Mane King with 3 in deck: 5.36%
Adding the third Neko Mane King increases this by 3.44%
The probability of all copies of Neko Mane King being on the bottom 5 with 2 in deck: 1.28%
The probability of all copies of Neko Mane King being on the bottom 5 with 3 in deck: 0.10%
Adding the third Neko Mane King decreases this by 1.18%
3 neko mane king is actually mathematically worse than 2 neko mane king for the opponent of the empty jar player.
Here's the list I used for the war match:
There are a couple things to say about this list. Dragged Down Into the Grave is an absolutely miserable card and Card of Safe Return is clearly the better mainboard option. A lot of people tell me that CoSR is "winmore" because you should always be winning if you resolve Shallow Grave for Jars. I think these people think that Books of Taiyou grow on trees that you can create out of thin air with magic and harvest for all the Books of Taiyou you will ever need. CoSR also helps the alternate win plan of Tomato+Thunder Dragon beatdown when you're trying to go big with Premature+Trunade. Prohibition and Mind Control are the nuts postboard. That's about it.
I won game 1 with a totally nutty hand. Game 2 began with me Mind Controlling his Neko Mane King and then using Taiyou+Cyjar, so I'm getting nervous, but I ended up whiffing that turn by stupidly playing into another Neko Mane King and getting beaten down by a Spell Canceller that I couldn't avoid having to discard from his hand to turn on his Call of the Haunted. Much like the Sigurimi war, I completely threw this war for my team in this game. I got a few combos going in game 3 but in the end it didn't get me there. Sorry guys. This is one of the matches that taught me the importance of sidedecked Compulsory Evacuation Devices, because I lost one game to Dark Balter and then another to Spell Canceller. Shouts out to Damage Step member Me. aka Ludrah aka Chevalier de Fromage aka Big C, who took these and other sidedeck concepts with Empty Jar to a 2nd place finish at DCS Dallas, just barely losing game 3 of match 2 of Grand Finals to Silverdude. Oh yeah, and Ynus had also kicked me off of Seraphim earlier, in the days before it was actually a warring team, because I had tried to argue to him that Scapegoat was worth keeping in against Empty Jar because of the interactions with Shallow Grave and Cyber Jar, and he just wasn't having it. Turns out he was only able to win Game 2 because of that Scapegoat interaction, so you're welcome
From then on, I was able to focus my preparation entirely on Jazz, since he was qualified for playoffs through the DCS way before this. I knew my window to upset Seraphim members with Empty Jar had evaporated after the war, and I needed to find another angle to attack from. Fortunately, the matches from Juneau and FLC 1 gave me a lot of data to work with. What stuck out to me the most is that Jazz was very close to losing FLC 1 GFs to an aggro player that was entirely unknown to us at the time. Coupled with his unconvincing split sets with Loli's Recruiter deck at Juneau and frequent forays into PACMAN (which I perform terribly against with control) and my own knowledge of the Detox Goat list (2 merchant, 3 meta, 2-3 goat), this made it increasingly obvious to me that aggro was the way to go against Jazz. I decided I would need a deck that would hit him like a 10,000 ton train and keep going.
So I started testing out the notorious "aggro deck" in ranked. Surprisingly enough, I was able to get my Master ranking back with it, so I decided to just keep jamming it to get as much practice with it as I could. In the end, I went 158-98 for the entire season+postseason and narrowly eeked out the coveted first seed over Kasper. To no one's surprise, the opponent I chose was Jazz, and the 55 cards I brought were all fine-tuned for him specifically:
I ended up shaving all of my mainboard copies of Kycoo for this event only since I didn't expect any of my possible opponents to be on any kind of Chaos deck, with the exception of Kasper's single teched copy in his Goat deck. Instead, I included Tsukuyomi and Sangan and paired them with Snatch Steal and Torrential Tribute, the latter two being uncommon maindeck choices for this kind of deck but made viable by the inclusion of the former two cards. Mystic Swordsman LV2 is tempting to maindeck, but it doesn't make the cut because it doesn't count as an out to a flip effect monster set across a Wanghu, which are among the most important flip effects to answer. For this same reason, Light of Intervention is usually staple here, but I cut it for this event and I'm not sure if I'll play it in the future. I strongly considered Asura Priest, but it also misses the cut here because I can't afford to play more than a single Spirit maindeck. Asura Priest answers a Goat that has already resolved, but Tsukuyomi answers a TER that has already resolved, and the latter is the more important interaction by a long shot.
From what Markus has told me, Neo Sigurimi were absolutely convinced that I would be too prideful not to play Chaos. As I told Jazz after the tournament, this was a poor estimation of my personality, because the number one thing I pride myself on in YGO is my adaptability, or as my good old rival Nick Wei used to call it, my "Ninja Copy Eye." I played something similar against WGM in our Winter Classic Top 4 war match and won fairly convincingly, but the rest of his team was able to edge out the win 3-1 in order to face Neo Sigurimi in the finals. This leaves Neo Sigurimi, Seraphim, and 4HUNNIDS as the only three teams to win a war against Damage Step throughout the season.
However, the main event for me, of course, was individual playoffs. Things got off to a flying start when Kasper beat Mascis unceremoniously 2-0, which meant he would be waiting in Winners Finals for the winner of the match between me and Jazz.
So I narrowly squeaked out a 2-1 win in Winners Semis. Trap Dustshoot and Mind Crush did what they do best in Game 2 going first, then in Game 3 I gained the edge with Wanghu against his hand of two Metas. The Detox list is weak to these cards in particular because all of the non-limited staple Spells and Traps are played at 2-3 (especially the ones that Wanghu turns off) and very few of the maindeck monsters can actually attack anything effectively. Tribe's body is pathetic and Asura Priest's Spirit effects are bugs rather than features in this matchup.
It's no secret that Kasper hates playing any matchup other than a control mirror. His weaknesses showed in this set and I took it convincingly 2-0, avenging Mascis and getting me into Grand Finals. Since this match, 4HUNNIDS has stepped their game up against this decktype, and their technology now is way more advanced than it was during this match. I wouldn't play it against another member of their team again. Good shit guys.
As fate would have it, it came down to a second match of Grand Finals, and there's a lot to say about both matches. As I expected, Jazz hit the ground running with adaptations from the winners match, and exploited a couple high-risk high-reward plays I made to take the first match 2-0. Even after using Zombyra and Deck Devastation in game 2 to no avail, I wasn't out of sidedeck tricks. I took a convincing game 1 in match 2 and boarded in Noblemen of Extermination and Skill Drain, both of which I had left out in the first match, and started off game 2 by hitting one of Jazz's signature Seven Tools with one of the Exterminations. From there, I was able to pin him down with Skill Drain+Sangan. As Brandis noted in Discord, I chose to attack into Jazz's sets repeatedly with non-Sangan monsters while settling for smaller Sangan LP pokes, but I think this was correct because of the way I ended up winning. At the end, his Dust Tornado on my Skill Drain unfortunately gave me the kill with Premature Burial+Abyss Soldier+Sinister Serpent, where Dusting my set Premature might have given him an extra turn or so and where I wouldn't have had enough life for a second Premature activation if my Sangan had attacked the wrong set monster at any point prior.
From here, I'm going to talk about something a little different but still relevant to a "War League Winter 2018 Report." During some points of this this season, my negativity and toxicity reached all-time highs, and I said some particularly nasty things that I regret to a lot of people that I wish no harm on, such as Waka, Frosty, Silver, Morphing Jar AKA Big P AKA Sleeping Giant, Digbick, Brandis, Kewl'kat, various LPG members, and countless other people. I want to extend a formal apology to all of these people that I've said hurtful things to. Going into the Winter season, my goals were to develop my skills as much as possible with Goat Control, Chaos Control, and Empty Jar. Going into the Spring season, my goal will be to be a better and more positive me for the community. As fate would have it, Waka is now, in fact, the best Goat Duelist of all time, with a 100% winrate in DGz ranked games, multiple sponsorship deals, and a 20k diamond chain, so joke's on me anyways.
I'd also like to thank each and every player that spent any time on Damage Step at any point during the season. This is, by far, the greatest and most powerful team I have ever been a part of, and I can't stress how lucky I am to have all of the teammates that I have. None of what I did this season would have been remotely possible if it weren't for all of the following people: Soul, Mjar, Mascis, Cameron, Tristan, Ludrah, Bergy, WGM, Hyper, InsiDS. You guys are the shit. RIP Endphase RIP Pimp C one love MMF out