Hello, duelists. For today’s article, I decided to do a one-on-one interview with the reigning YCS Chicago Champ, Tom Mak. Tom and I have known each other for years, and I can easily vouch for him as being one of the better players to ever touch a Yu-Gi-Oh card. We’ve been attending the same local for over half a decade, and he’s been pretty consistent throughout his career, despite having played far less than myself. His exemplary list of credentials includes 6 tops in total: 3 YCS, 1 SJC, and 2 Nationals. In 2011, he made the Top4 at the North American WCQ, and earned a spot to compete at Worlds in Amsterdam. As you may already know, qualifying for Worlds is no easy task, and even some of the best players in the game have never—and possibly will never—get to do so. Making it there is like a win in itself.
First things first, how did you start start playing Yu-Gi-Oh and when did you become competitive?
“I started playing the game around 2005. I remember watching the tv show and seeing [ccProd]Blue-Eyes White Dragon[/ccProd], just like most other people, which kinda got me into it. I didn’t really become competitive, though, until my first regional top, which was with Chaos Recruiter, when Kyle Duncan won the first Shonen Jump Philly.”
So what made you play Bujin for YCS Chicago? Did you playtest at all with it beforehand?
“In all honesty, it was the one thing I knew I could build straight from my binder, since I had all the cards for it. I thought it was really consistent, because once you open with Yamato, it’s pretty much game from there. There’s also four [ccProd]Honest[/ccProd](s) in the deck, which helps. I only really playtested on Friday before the event, and only against Pure Geargia. I got destroyed, too. He just kept opening broken, and I think the only game I won was when he finally drew bad. After that, I thought about putting a [ccProd]Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Bear[/ccProd] into the deck, but I already turned in my decklist.”
If you could go back, what would you change about the deck?
“I would probably change the [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd]s to the side /deck/, because they didn’t really do anything. I had them in for the first matchup, but the deck already has a good fire matchup.”
Were any cards subpar?
“I’d have to say Effect Veiler, again. It just wasn’t that good.”
Were there any MVP card choices?
“[ccProd]Bujin Yamato[/ccProd] of course haha. Oh yeah, and [ccProd]Full House[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Mind Crush[/ccProd]. There was one game where my opponent had [ccProd]Light-Imprisoning Mirror[/ccProd] face-up, so I activated [ccProd]Upstart Goblin[/ccProd], chained [ccProd]Full House[/ccProd], and destroyed his 3 face-downs, then drew a card. I did something similar against Paul Clarke by using [ccProd]Bottomless Trap Hole[/ccProd] on his [ccProd]Coach Soldier Wolfbark[/ccProd], then chaining Full House on his Soul Drain and 3 face-downs.”
How were Memory of an Adversary and Needle Ceiling in the side?
“Well I mostly wanted to side [ccProd]Memory of the Adversary[/ccProd] for the Bujin mirror match. It doesn’t target so it takes their Yamato. I got the idea from a deck profile I saw a couple of days before Chicago. [ccProd]Needle Ceiling[/ccProd] was for Geargia and Mermail, but it wasn’t that good. I would probably take those out and try [ccProd]Kaiser Colosseum[/ccProd]s.”
What matchups did you have during Swiss?
“Let’s see, there were 11 rounds, so I played against three Fire Fist, one Bujin, one Fire King, one Inzektor, one Gravekeeper, one Constellar, two Mermail, and one Geargia.”
What were your losses?
“Bujin and Geargia. I took game 1 against the Bujin guy, but he drew into his [ccProd]Debunk[/ccProd]s and Honest faster in games 2 and 3. The Geargia player just opened insane, even after getting a game loss in game one for having side deck cards in. I remember in game 3, we both Full House’d each other, and then I swung over his [ccProd]Geargiaccelerator[/ccProd], so he got MKII back, and then ripped [ccProd]Genex Ally Birdman[/ccProd] for the win.”
What was the hardest match of the tournament and why?
“Fire Kings. The games took really long, and he was at 8000 while I was was at 2600. Time was low, too. He had two [ccProd]Fire King Avatar Barong[/ccProd]s and one [ccProd]Fire King Avatar Yaksha[/ccProd] against my Yamato on the field, and Hare in grave. I just remember winning this game only because he forgot to search on my standby phase for Barong, since he thought it only happened on his standby phase, and ended up losing the game for his misplay.”
Did you have any prior drafting experience going into the event?
“Nope, but I talked to Joe Bogli, who had a list of cards that were better than others. I also talked to Silverman (Steve Silverman) before it started. He told me about the ranking order of the picks, like Graceful in 1st place, attack modifiers next, then big monsters. I ended up picking a total of six trap monsters, five of which were Tiki cards.”
“Ummm…Top16 was definitely the best draft game because we used most of our cards. Like, my opponent opened with [ccProd]Injection Fairy Lily[/ccProd], but I had [ccProd]Fortress Warrior[/ccProd], which has 600 attack and cannot die by battle once per turn—I also take no battle damage when it battles. I just swung at Lily with it, which he actually pumped, and then on the following turn, he tried to summon another monster to kill [ccProd]Fortress Warrior[/ccProd], but I had [ccProd]Magical Arm Shield[/ccProd]. I think he ended up paying like 6000 before I won.”
How was the finals? Were you confident?
“I felt confident in the deck and it had been playing well the entire time. Silverman also told me that everyone’s deck in the Top8 sucked, and that mine was the best one so I should win lol” (Tom wasn’t being cocky when he said this, he was quoting Steve).
Were you nervous going into game 3 of the finals?
“A little because Benedict finished me off pretty quick in game 2, but once I drew my first hand, I felt comfortable again. I had beaters, I had an attack modifier, and I had a card that let me see his face-downs and get info.”
Would you play Bujin again for April?
“Well, it’s a tough call because Fire and Water lost some power, and people might not play those decks as much, which are like my best matchups.”
What do you think about Primal Origins?
“It’s hard to say, but the Madolche stuff seems good. It has a [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd], a [ccProd]Tour Guide from the Underworld[/ccProd], a [ccProd]Reinforcement of the Army[/ccProd], and the field spell is absurd.”
What do you think about the banlist? How would you change it.
“I don’t feel like it hit enough. They only changed ten cards this time. On the past two /banlists/, they changed at least twenty cards. This one seemed to be lacking something. I would probably limit [ccProd]Geargiagear[/ccProd] because [ccProd]Geargiarmor[/ccProd] is already too hard to kill. I’d probably limit either [ccProd]Mermail Abyssteus[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Abyss-sphere[/ccProd], too, just to hurt Water a little more. Oh yeah, and [ccProd]Fire Formation - Tenki[/ccProd] should definitely be semi-limited again.”
What do you think is a sleeper deck?
“Fire Kings. I think it has a lot of potential despite losing two [ccProd]Rekindling[/ccProd], because it still has triple [ccProd]Onslaught of the Fire Kings[/ccProd], the double [ccProd]Fire King High Avatar Garunix[/ccProd] play, and all of its monsters are still huge. It has three Tenki(s), and can abuse [ccProd]Coach Soldier Wolfbark[/ccProd] with [ccProd]Circle of the Fire Kings[/ccProd], unlike other decks.”
Alright guys, well that concludes the one-on-one interview with Tom Mak. If you’d like to see more of these with future champions, let me know in the comments below.
The Circuit Series comes to Richmond, Virginia on April 26-27, 2014. Click the picture of the Dragon below for the details!
Until next time, duelists! Play Hard or Go Home!
-The Dark Magician