I sit here, 4:30am lying awake, so tried but unable sleep. The most important tournament of a Duelist life lies in wait, around the corner, and it's all that has been on my mind the last 2 weeks. The beginning of the end of this years Dueling Season is about to start for many of us. The North American World Championship Qualifier is only a week a way, and as American, and Canadian Duelist fine tune their decks, only 6 people will represent their home at Worlds in August.
Going into this tournament, I've prepared more then any time in my career as a Duelist. Going to Worlds is something that's always escaped me, and something I've yearned for. I'm sure many of you feel exactly the same, and going into this tournament, I'm going to provide some crucial info which can help you get your decks up to par.
Starting off, going into this tournament, I wanted take an educated guess at how many people will be attending, to grasp the amount of rounds that I will be forced to play. The largest tournament of all time was about 2200 people (also won by yours truly) and was 12 rounds of swiss. I don't think it will be quite that large, but I predict enough people for at least 10 rounds, with a good chance of 11.
Next, I wanted to think about how many of each deck I would play against. This would help me with my main deck choices, and side deck choices. I've decided I will more then likely play against 5 Plant-type decks, a combination of 4 Gravekeeper, Six Samurai, and Agent decks, and 2 "other" decks, including things like Anti-Meta and Infernity.
Now then, since most everyone should expect too play against Plant variants the most depending on your deck your going to want to main deck cards like Effect Veiler or D.D. Crow, and for sure Side Deck some combination of them. Other great cards are Banisher of the Radiance, and Thunder King Rai-oh. Thunder King is especially good as it can attack over Reborn Tengu, and halt Synchro Summons as well. If your deck isn't Plants, then cards like Gozen Match and Rivalry of Warlords are amazing to combat Plants for game 2 and 3.
Next are the other popular decks, Gravekeeper, Samurai, and Agents. If your deck is Synchro based, Puppet Plant is already a great card as it can deal with both Gravekeeper's, and Samurai. Agents are extremely weak to Thunder King Rai-oh, which also halts cards like Duality, Gravkeeper's Recruiter, Shien's Smoke Signal, and Gateway of the Six. If you can side deck a card which hits multiple decks, that's the way to go. You really don't want to side deck a card that only hits 1 deck, unless its absolutely needed, or you have the space to do so.
Last but not least are the more rogue like decks. Macro Cosmos, Anti Meta, Infernity, Scraps and such fit this list. If your deck is week to Macro Cosmos or Anti-Meta, its probably a good idea to side deck your Trap hate. Cards like Dust Tornado, Malevolent Catastrophe, and Royal Decree work wonders here. Infernity can be halted by your common cards like D.D. Crow and Effect Veiler. Scraps can be more tricky, as they are a well balanced deck with no clear weakness outside of Crow/Veiler. Meklord Emperor Granel is a forced to be reckoned with, as it can come out of nowhere with 4000 attack. I know a few great players who got thrashed by that sneaky card at YCS Orlando, as they completely underestimated the deck. A great card if you have room, is Debunk. This stops Granel, and Scrap monsters Graveyard effects. It can also be side decked against Plants, and also against your opponents Effect Veilers and D.D. Crows.
After finding cards that fit your side deck accordingly, you need to go through your Main Deck, and see which cards you can actually side out with out hindering yourself. This is one of the most important aspects of side decking, which many people have yet to grasp. You will also need to decide which cards you side deck in/out when going first or second. Some cards are clearly better in instances where you can go first, and play them. Cards like D.D. Crow can be good examples of this. When going first, you can act before your opponent, setting up you cards like Solemn Warning. This means you'll be able to stop your opponents large plays first. But when going second, this isn't possible, so to stop your opponent from a turn 1 Lonefire + Monster Reborn or Kageki + Kagemusa, D.D. Crow or Effect Veiler would be ideal.
Finally on Side Decking, some times you need to side cards to stop your opponents side decked cards. If you are running Plants, and expect people to side deck Thunder Kings or Banishers against you, you might want to think of Side Decking Cyber Dragon. This gives you a monster to swing over those pesky anti-Plant cards, as well as opposing Reborn Tengus with out wasting your Normal Summon. Gravekeeper's might want to side Malefic Stardust for that extra Spell/Trap hate, while Samurais might want to side Dimensional Fissure to stop annoying Puppet Plants from stealing your Shien.
After all the Side Decking shenanigans are finalized, the final thing I do is test an insane amount of "Game 1's". This means games with no Side Decking. When testing with your partner, it's very important to grasp how your deck can deal with going first, and second against different matchups. This is why, not matter if I win or lose a game, me and my testing partner alternate taking turns going first. Me, him, me, him, me, him, so on and so forth.
Game 1 is the most important game. Winning it means you only have to win 1 more game, putting much, much, more pressure on the opponent. It also means something very important; that if the game is forced to go to game 3, that you will be going first. That is one of the most important aspects of winning game 1. Making sure that you can go first in game 3, giving you the advantage over winning the match. It's small things like that which can turn everything around.
After you feel comfortable your deck is balanced in playing second, and first, that is when you should move to testing with your Side Deck. You should also take turns playing as if you either lost, or won game 1, to Side Deck accordingly, and get a firm grasp on what works, and does not work as well when playing first or second.
My eyes are getting heavier now, so it's about time to wrap this up.
Before going into Nationals, one of the best things to do has nothing to do with your cards, but yourself. Your mind set has to be in the right place. Be confident, but not cocky, and take care of yourself. Make sure to eat at least a little something, or bring some granola bars with you to snack on during the tournament along with some water to keep hydrated. Make sure to use the bathroom before the tournament and in between rounds as well. That was one mistake I made and will never make again. Having to pee while your match is going into time is nothing to laugh about, believe you me. Making sure to take care of yourself, means your going to be in a better mood through out the day, meaning you'll play better, and your mind will be sharper all around,
Good luck to you all attending the WCQ, and I hope to see many of you there. Don't be too shy to come by and say hello! So until next time Duelist and Duelettes, play hard, or go home.