Hey guys, it’s Frazier again. I hope everyone had a great year playing the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG. I know I have. In this year alone I managed to travel to 9 out of 10 major events (only missing out on Anaheim). I made the top cut at 5 of them which gives me a little over 50% for the year. I’ve seen the growth of many great players throughout the year including fellow competitors and friends Billy Brake, Alistar Constantine, Robert Boyajian, Jessy Samek, Sean Montague, Nicky Lacaille, and many others. This has been a very successful year for me and this article is going to outline the things that I believe make us consistent players.
Do I Believe This Deck Can/Will Win?
Being consistent in Yu-Gi-Oh includes the basic idea of playing a deck that can top and possibly win the event. This means that before you choose a deck to play you should always ask yourself the question: Do I believe this deck can/will win the event? That question is so crucial because you want to leave the event with no regrets. While it is true that I have a rule to try different decks at each YCS I refuse to play a bad deck just to keep that rule unbroken. I’m not foolish enough to play Amazons at a YCS just because I want to be different. I still would like to win my rounds. Playing this game costs money so you want to avoid wasting it. If you like to play rogue decks that’s fine but make sure to keep them competitive at the very least. Not every YCS is won by a mainstream or popular deck. I played Gravekeeper’s when I won Atlanta because I honestly thought that it could successfully counter the Meta and win the YCS. In charlotte I played with Dragunities because I felt that it was good against sabers and gravekeepers and at the very least it could top the event. In Rhode Island I played X-Sabers because I felt it had a good matchup against plants and six samurais. At the North American world championship qualifier I played agents because it could side rivalry of the warlords and gozen match—2 cards that crippled the Meta at the time. At YCS Toronto I played plants because it had favorable matchups across the board and many players had given up on it. So the next time you go to an event make sure that you ask yourself: Do I believe this deck can/will win the event?
The term “bubble” refers to the match that determines if you will top the event or be eliminated. This usually occurs during the last round of swiss when a player is X-2 (meaning 2 losses). It is common for people to crack under the pressure because of how much is on the line but I cannot stress enough how important it is to calm your nerves and think each play through. Personally, I consider myself the bubble king because almost every YCS that I’ve topped has been on the bubble, including the one that I won. Some of the other great players often top with an X-1 record. It’s nothing to be ashamed of because some losses can be attributed to factors that you have no control over. In fact, my philosophy on that particular subject is that I’m allowed to take 2 losses per tournament—one from drawing unlucky and one from my opponent being lucky. I try to minimize any losses due to misplays. I define a misplay as “any play that deviates from perfect play, whether it wins you the game or not, is a misplay.” If you can avoid misplays you will top more often. Everyone who plays the game knows that luck is a factor in Yu-Gi-Oh. You will not win every round no matter how great of a player you are but the point is to never act out after a loss whether it is from bad luck or your opponent’s good luck. I’ve seen this happen to many players and it not only brings negative attention but it could land you a spot on the suspended players list for unsporting conduct.
I’ve come to believe that setting realistic goals for yourself is one of the most important things to do while playing Yu-Gi-Oh. As some of you may already know, Billy Brake set a goal to win a YCS before the end of this year. Needless to say he was successful not once but twice and he also won back to back. That is an incredible feat. He never gave up on believing that he would win and his goal was achieved. It takes determination and diligence to stick with it. The goal that I set for myself this year was to constantly make the top cut with a different deck, showing my ability to adapt to different play styles and matchups. I followed through with it up until the most recent YCS in Kansas City where I played plants once again because of how overpowered it is. I also set a goal to make sure that I had 3 or more tops this year after winning YCS Atlanta in 2010. I wanted to establish my name and show that I can play this game on the same level as the best players have been doing for years before me. I went beyond my goal and topped 5 times this year. Being a consistent player and having fun while doing so is what I strive for at each and every event.
Reading and Discussion
I like to read a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh related writings. This includes articles, feature matches, event coverage, forums and message boards, and trending Facebook topics. Staying up to date with new rulings and how they will affect the game is also imperative. I talk with all the good players all the time to see what’s new and what cards are doing well in their individual testing. I actually attribute a huge portion of my skill to reading and discussion alone. Talking to my good friend Sean McCabe on AIM almost every night about Yu-Gi-Oh has helped to understand what is referred to as “theory-oh.” We argue all the time on card choices and viable decks. However, each debate makes us a better player because we get to hear another perspective on a given topic. This also helps to minimize our vulnerability to hype and bad Meta choices. For example, I will say something along the lines of “I want to play Gladiator Beasts for X event” and he will present all the reasons of why that is a bad idea given the current Meta. I never simply take his word for it but after much consideration and hearing out his points I will realize that he’s just right. These discussions also go both ways, meaning that sometimes I have to convince him that his card choices or deck choice is wrong. If I don’t run the idea through my friends I probably wouldn’t do well as often. I am a firm believer in getting a second set of eyes to look over my decks and ideas. Be open to others’ arguments and be willing to debate.
Travel and Plan Accordingly
You can’t be consistent if you don’t travel to events. You have to play, play, and play more. I know financially it can be a strain and of course some of us have other obligations that come first—school, work, etc. But if you can travel to an event you should. Don’t choose to not go simply because you don’t think you’re good enough—that should never be a reason. We learn from practice and seeing other good players play up close. As I aforementioned, I went to 9 out of 10 of this year’s major events. I did all of this while being a full-time student in college which was mentally taxing but so worth it. I look at Yu-Gi-Oh as an outlet to relieve my stress and forget about the troubles of life. My mind is always at peace when I’m at events because the atmosphere is so laid back. As soon as I return from one event I check for flights and travel arrangements to the next event and then I start considering the changes in the Meta that will occur at that time.
Know the Meta
Before every event you should always have a good idea of what decks to expect and what impact new cards will have on the game. I’m sure most of you do this already but one of the major points that I want to stress is that you shouldn’t believe that you will play a specific deck every round. If you base your entire deck and card choices off of playing against 1 particular deck you will not perform well. Realistically, you will play against 4 or more different decks at any given YCS. In Toronto for example I played against plants, hopeless dragon, agents, tech genus, Karakuri, and gravekeepers. In Kansas City I played against plants, agents, dinosaurs, malefic skill drain, Karakuri, and one very different rogue strategy. If I made a deck that could only beat plants I would not have performed well. You have to stay conscious to the whole Meta. This means constructing a side deck that can handle many decks and siding cards that are good across many different matchups. Billy Brake recently wrote an article about side-decking that you should check out if you have not already. He goes into greater detail about siding effectively and knowing the Meta.
The last thing that I want to say in this article is that the title “Pro” is not something that you get by topping one or two events. You must be a consistent player and that means doing it several times and proving yourself. When I first won YCS Atlanta there were people who considered me a pro because I won with a different deck but I never felt that way just by winning that one tournament. It was also my first ever YCS top. It’s important to stay humble throughout your Yu-Gi-Oh career because people can relate to you more. Two great examples of humble and level-headed pro players are Lazaro Bellido and Billy Brake. They don’t use their credentials as a weapon to prove their points, which sadly, some pros do. I admire those who do not exalt themselves and I pity those who place themselves on a high pedestal because of their credentials. There is nothing wrong with being proud of yourself if you have done something good but remember that it’s the consistency that makes us great.
This is Frazier Smith reporting out, until next time Yu-Gi-Oh! World. Play hard or go home!
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