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As always, some pre-tournament buildup. I haven't really played yugioh seriously since ARG Nationals back in August. I tried to spike ARG Springfield a couple months ago when Zoo was first coming out, but I didn't quite get there. For AC I just played Fluffal, and I haven't even been entering locals. Spending most of my time now focusing on MTG, preping for GP Vegas next month. But hey, it's a new format and there's a YCS a few hours away, gotta at least put in some effort to do well, right? 3 weeks out I had no intention of playing at all. The Zoo combo looked miserable to both play, and sit across from. a couple weeks out from the event, Matt told me there was a cool Yang Zing Dinosaur deck that had Oviraptor alone turn into 2 negates, with plenty of opportunities to extend the lines. So naturally, I immediately throw that deck together, goldfish for awhile and feel pretty good with it...Except in can't go 2nd, and bricks hard. And at this point I'm committed to playing in the event, so I decide to just play the obvious best deck, Pure Zoo, on the Sunday before the event. The deck went through a bunch of iterations, but I knew early on that I didn't want to play a lot of traps. Going first you get to resolve 2 Pot of Greeds, and end with a board. You should be favored enough in those games that hand traps, and turn 2 relevant quickplay spells are enough interaction to seal up a game that you just want to build your deck to be as good at going 2nd as possible. There were 3 main principles in my mind when refining the deck. 1) Don't brick. 2) Don't get bricked by a single hand trap. 3) Don't lose to the die roll more than you have to. Balancing all those goals is a difficult problem, and my list wasn't optimal by any means, but I do think I had one of the better lists in the room. Monsters: 23 3 Zoodiac Whiptail 3 Zoodiac Thoroughblade 2 Zoodiac Ratpier 1 Zoodiac Ramram 3 Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit 3 Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring 1 Maxx "C" 1 D.D. Crow 1 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju 1 Lunalight Black Sheep 3 Speedroid Terrortop 1 Speedroid Taketomborg Spells: 16 3 Fire Formation - Tenki 3 Zoodiac Barrage 3 Cosmic Cyclone 2 Fusion Substitute 1 Dark Hole 1 Raigeki 1 Soul Charge 1 Instant Fusion 1 My Body as a Shield Traps: 1 1 Imperial Order Side: 3 Flying "C" 1 Retaliating "C" 1 D.D. Crow 1 The Winged Dragon of Ra - Sphere Mode 2 Imperial Iron Wall 2 Mask of Restrict 1 Twin Twisters 1 Unending Nightmare 1 Abyss Dweller 1 Dark Hole 1 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju Extra: 2 Zoodiac Drident 2 Zoodiac Broadbull 2 Zoodiac Chakanine 2 Zoodiac Tigermortar 1 Zoodiac Hammerkong 1 Zoodiac Boarbow 2 Daigusto Emeral 1 M-X-Saber Invoker 1 Stardust Charge Warrior 1 Elder Entity Norden The side was kinda hacked together last minute. I spent all week learning how the actual deck functioned, what I could get away with, making sure I could do the combo properly, and quickly that I didn't really have time to figure out what I wanted to do with the board. I knew pretty quick I didn't want to do the greedy going first plan of siding in a bunch of powerful traps like Strike and Barrier, since that felt like worse value that continuing to shore up the deck's weaknesses going 2nd, and the hard traps aren't even that much better than hand traps. So the question then became which cards make going 2nd easy? Obviously hand traps, but which ones? I didn't even realize Retaliating "C" was playable until around 2:00am Saturday morning before the event when Porter asked why I wasn't playing any, an "I don't know", "That seems nuts", "Do you have any extras on you" later I decide the proper number to run is 1. Because Matt had 1 extra. Similarly, Ghost Reaper wasn't even on my radar until a couple rounds into the event when I heard people were losing to it. Droll was in my side for the first 7 days I tested the deck, but I dropped it last minute when I decided to max on Flying "C", and play the Retaliating. This has the unfortunate side effect of not giving me good cards to side in vs. the True Draco Zoo variants which I didn't realize until I was paired against the deck. Droll definitely should've been in the side at least, possibly in the main over Crow. Anyway, in general I really liked my deck. I was saying most of day 1 that I thought I had the best deck in the room. Everyone I played against was on Barriers/Strikes mained, which I thought was silly. Nobody I played was on Flying "C", which made the Charge Warrior in my extra deck look kinda silly, but I didn't mind too much. Flying "C" is kinda bad against the True King Zoo variants, but it's one of the best cards vs. Pure Zoo. Going round by round would be pretty boring, as almost every game is "me/opp comboed for 10 minutes and buried the other player" or "me/opp had Maxx "C" and opp/me lost" There were, however, some very good games scattered amongst the garbage. Round 5 I had a game I thought I was losing for a solid 30 minutes. I was locked under Imperial Order, and setting hand traps to deal damage when my opponent attacked his Whiptailed Drident into them. He eventually got down to 2100 life, decided to pop his IO with Drident and try to kill me. However, I had Ogre for his Barrage, and he passes with a 1 material Drident with me still at 5200 life. Finally able to, I activate Soul Charge for 5000, bringing back a Drident and 4 level 4 Zoo monsters. Anyway, I resolve a couple Emerals and pass with a Drident with 2 materials, a Drident with 1 material, and a Whiptail in hand vs. his empty board and 2 cards in hand. I ogre his Barrage and we're off to game 2. Forgetting we have a time extension, I offer the handshake as there were literally 4 seconds left on the clock at the conclusion of this game, but he's quick to point out the 5 minute time extension and I'm on tilt, dreading the inevitable draw. But then I open Flying "C" + Ghost Ogre and win game 2 anyway. It's not often you play a match and think you're hopelessly losing for 39 of the 40 minutes but win 2-0 anyway. Another round my opponent used most of their cards to pass with Master Peace + zoo cards. I think they had one card leftover, and a set backrow. Anyway, I have Dark Hole to clear the Zoo stuff out of the way, and start going down a line to make Hammerkong + a big Drident to attack over his Master Peace when he Torrentials the board on my 2nd Rat, clearing his Master and my board. He Diagrams for Return and passes, I crow his Master Peace when he tries to bring it back, and then Ogre the field spell on his following turn. I draw an uninterrupted Zoo summon before him and manage to take the game from there. I do not know how to put 8000 damage on the board with this deck. I know there's some stuff you can do with Whiptails, and Drident popping your Ramram mid battle phase to deal a ton of damage, but I never feel comfortable going for these lines even when I know they'd resolve simply because I've never done them before. I win all my games by grinding my opponent out of cards and slowly pecking away with Emerals and Thoroughblades. This turns out to be a bit of a problem when playing Flying "C" sometimes. So on turn 1 I Flying "C" my opponent, Ogre his Barrage, and he passes. Then for 20 minutes I sit on a 2000 defense Drident, and loop Emerals (800 def!) with Barrage to resolve 2 Emerals a turn digging towards a 2nd Flying "C" so I can feel safe clearing the Flying "C" I gave him and getting some damage in. I resolved something like 15 Emerals that game, discarded to hand size 3 turns in a row, it was a disaster and I'm not sure why my opponent was willing to put up with me and didn't just sign the slip after the first couple turns after it was apparent I was never going to give him an opportunity to play again. Time is eventually called and I'm up by 1500 life because of a Strike he played earlier in the game. On turn 2 of time I finally find a Flying "C" so I push for damage and deal like 10000 with no problems. Round 9, the first round of day 2, I win the die roll and get Maxx "C"'d on my Invoker. I end up passing with Drident + Imperial Order and an ... Ash Blossom in hand ... Oh ... Well, he didn't have Terrortop or Cyclone so I take that game. Quickly pick up my cards and hide my embarassment. Round 10, I'm already locked for top cut so I'm just playing for fun, as seeding is irrelevant in Konami events, and my breakers are god after starting the tournament 7-0. I lose game 1 after half going off on turn 1, and my opponent discarding Black Sheep, setting 5 and passing with no play, which felt kinda bad, but whatever. Game 2 I get Retaliating "C"'d on my Fusion Sub, tank for 2 minutes and just concede. My top 32 match was pretty horrible though. We roll 2 dice, I start it off by rolling a 3, and he follows it up by rolling a 2. I thought it was my day ... For about 10 seconds until I drew my hand, set a Fusion Substitute and passed the turn. He set 4 and passed it right back. we trade plays for hand traps / actual traps for a few turns until a turn when his board is clear, and he's got 2 backrow. I draw a Terrortop, and it resolves. He Maxx "C"s my Invoker effect while he's at 4800 life, so I go in. Invoker out Blade, Barrage out another Blade throw a Drident over my Blade, and attack for what I assumed was either going to be lethal, or 3200 and a Barrier, and get hit by a main decked Mirror Force. Game 2 I'm still kinda on tilt from all the games I dropped through the swiss to Retaliating "C", so when I see my hand that can end with 5 cards in hand, Emeral, Drident, Hammerkong, a faceup Barrage, and an Unending Nightmare set without using Fusion Substitute I run it. Directly into Dark Hole Terrortop Rat. It probably would've been better to not make the Hammerkong and instead just leave Ramram in play and have 1 fewer card in hand so Dark Hole wouldn't ruin me so bad, but I think I'd still lose there. Idk, hindsight is 20/20, but after I got 2-0'd in 15 minutes round 10 I looked around and saw a lot of Retaliating "C"s on the table. Maybe I should've still went for the Fusion Sub combo, but it just felt so free to play around it at the time, but drawing towards Imperial Order or My Body as a Shield would've been very relevant. Anyway, with my 11 round Win-a-Mat out of the way, I consider entering a more sane 3 round Win-a-Mat but decide against it, not really wanting to play any more yugioh after losing 4 games in a row. Look the mat up on ebay, see sold listings for $15-20 and immediately sell it to Ned for $40. As far as big picture stuff in the tournament goes, it's crazy how many of my matches went to time. I usually play pretty fast, I almost never pick up draws, and am usually done my rounds with 10-15 minutes left on the clock. This weekend though, the opposite was true. Combos took so long to go through that even matches I won 2-0 ended with less than 10 minutes on the clock, and if I ever needed a game 3 it was rare for it to not end in turns. Thankfully I never picked up any actual draws this event, and EoMP was never relevant to the outcome of my matches, but there were some close calls like the round 5 match above. I played against Zoo 10 times in 11 rounds, 4 of them being Draco Zoo, and 2 of those Draco Zoo decks played the Brilliant Fusion package. I also played against Evilswarm round 1 which was a nice bye to start off the event. Anyway, I played pretty poorly. my opponents also played poorly. none of that mattered as much as drawing more "C" monsters than my opponents. Please ban Fusion Substitute before WCQs Konami. Anyways, back to testing for Vegas. See you guys at Nats.