Hello there Yugioh Community, my name is Craig Hense and I have been playing off and on since the game first came out. Some of my credentials in this game include 3 Regional Top 8s, and Multiple 9th through 14th places as well. Since returning to the game this past summer I am trying to get more into the competitive scene attending both YCS Columbus and YCS Kansas City with lack lust results. Although both have given me more experience as to what it takes to be competitive in the game today. Today I am going to write about the process of how to become a better player. I am going to divide this into three main parts: practice, deckbuilding and predicting the meta.
Part One: Practice
The old saying is that practice makes perfect. Throughout many years of playing sports I know how important practice is the success of any team. In Yugioh a player may never get to a one where they play perfectly, in fact some players believe there is no such thing as playing perfectly. Although by practicing more and more one can eliminate the major misplays that may occur during a game. We all learn from our mistakes, I feel it is better to learn from early on in playtesting than in Round 5 of the upcoming YCS Atlanta. The most valuable part of playtesting I would say is testing out different decks and see how they do against every matchup there could be. Now this can be done using DuelingNetwork or with a close group of friends. I believe that by players who have a higher skill level can only help get better as a player. I also think that no matter who the player is; there is always some room from improvement and it is important to strive for that if you want to get better at this game.
Part Two: Deckbuilding
One of the most important aspects in the game of Yugioh is deckbuilding. Today many people just copy or “netdeck” the top decks from the past YCS and often do not get the best results and are left wondering why the deck is not working for them. First, each player is different so more than likely no two decks will be exactly the same; there will be some differences in main, side or extra side this should be based on player preference for cards. Personally I like to write down all the cards I’d like to run in a deck and the main combos I would like to get off with a duel. Deckbuilding is much like writing a good paper, the first draft is not necessarily the best. After some testing a player should be able to see some flaws in their deck and determine what cards to take out and replace them with cards they feel might flow better together. This process should be repeated until a player feels comfortable with the deck and the results across all matchups they might see in a tournament whether it be locals, regionals, YCS, WCQ or even Worlds. Lastly, there are “tech” cards which are generally cards not always played in a certain deck, but based on a predicted meta are put into a deck. They can be put into either the main or side deck depending on how often you expect to play a certain matchup. Lastly, I’d like to invite everyone to test out new ideas and decks. I personally do this all the time whether it be at locals or on DuelingNetwork.
Part Three: Predicting the Meta
This is a huge component to be successful in any larger tournament, but is often very difficult to do. In Yugioh there is always hype surrounding a certain deck, usually new that just got released or recently got more support cards. For example this was the case going into YCS Columbus with Dark World based on the structure deck that came out earlier in the week. Many players including myself believed that it would have some success and prepared to face off against this deck. However Dark World did not make as big a splash as expected, so players like myself who decided to main cards like D.D. Crow also suffered some as well. At YCS Kansas City the newly hyped deck was Rescue Rabbit which I’m pretty sure everyone is familiar with by now. However unlike Dark World this deck made a huge splash taking 3 spots in the Top 8. Personally I am not sure whether players expected to play the deck as much or were unsure of what to side against it. Following the YCS I decided to test out the deck myself, I decided to run a build similar to Sam Jones that topped the YCS. After testing I quickly figured out how powerful the deck was if played right, and a few potential cards to side against when playing other decks. Now with YCS Atlanta coming up in February after the release of Order of Chaos two more decks may be receiving some hype: Ninjas and Inzektors. Now both of these decks are fairly new to the Yugioh community, and so far I have tested some against both with fairly minimal problems, but does that mean I should not worry about playing against the deck at YCS Atlanta? My answer would be no, so far I feel no one has come up with an excellent build of either deck that I know of. I will continue to test against both decks and discuss with other players I know in order to fully predict the strengths and weaknesses of both decks and plan accordingly. As for a meta prediction for YCS Atlanta right now I still believe the Rabbit and Plant Synchro are the two top decks but also expect to see some Karakuri, Agents, Dark World, Ninjas, Inzektors and maybe a few other surprise decks.
Overall I think that getting better at the game of Yugioh is a tricky process but I feel if any player spends their time properly and is able to learn more and more they can be successful in the game. I also encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go to larger events to go; it is a great learning experience both by playing and watching some of the better players play as well.
I would also like to thank ARG for the opportunity to write this article for their contest.