Can you believe the North American World Championship Qualifier is just a week away? I know I certainly cannot. The break in competitive play in North America has spanned most of the summer, and the fact that we did not have an event in June has made it seem forever. But one way or another, next week we will all be boarding planes and cramming into cars with Chicago as our destination. Luckily for North American players, the European World Championship Qualifier this past weekend gave us a tremendous amount of information to delve into as a necessary preparation. Euros has always had the reputation as having an influence on the everchanging global metagame, and today I wanted to take the time to talk about some of the results. Instead of keying in on one archtype, I am going to simply cover what I found worthwhile across the board.
The first glaring inclusion was the use of [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] in the Dragon Ruler main deck. Although we are still waiting for the decklists to be fully released (I know Cordero is working around the clock on that one; another massive shortcoming by Konami here), there were multiple Dragon Ruler decks in the Top 64 which utilized the continuous trap card and its game warping effect. Well known European player Luke Lennard was able to pilot his version of Dragon Rulers to the Top 64 with a Dragon Ruler deck which included two copies of [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] as its only trap cards. No [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Forbidden Chalice[/ccProd] in sight. But Luke was not the only Dragon Ruler player to hop on the trend of [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd], Riccardo Lari also main decked two copies of [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] in his version of Dragon Ruler which placed in the Top 64. North American players have always had the tendency to keep up with these type of trends, so it should not be a surprise if we see this catch on in Chicago.
What [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] offers Dragon Rulers is a consistent way to eliminate the "stun" oriented cards which try and shut down their explosive ability. Jowgen and Kycoo have been the main culprits ruining the lives of Dragon Ruler players due to the popularity of the Prophecy archtype, but other powerful choices such as [ccProd]Evilswarm Ophion[/ccProd] are also vulnerable to the effect of [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd]. Dragon Rulers themselves are such massive creatures that [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] only requires the Dragon Ruler pilot to alter their game plan in a minor way. Instead of relying on XYZ creatures, you instead transition to beating your opponent with massive Dragons - while shutting off the popular creatures that hinder your ability to do so. Unfortunately for [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] players, the cat is out of the bag. While I highly doubt people will begin main decking copies of [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] in order to counter the trap card, there have always been ways to play around the effect of [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd]. For example, Prophecy players have been accustomed to searching out copies of [ccProd]Spellbook of Wisdom[/ccProd] in order to protect Jowgen/Kycoo from the effect of [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Forbidden Chalice[/ccProd]. Now they will simply search the same card in order to ensure that they are able to use it and call traps when the opponent flips a copy of Skill Drain. However unlike cards such as [ccProd]Forbidden Chalice[/ccProd], the Dragon Ruler player will be more inclined to activate their trap when the Prophecy player summons [ccProd]Spellbook Magician of Prophecy[/ccProd]. Previously there was the consideration of holding onto a card such as Chalice for the moment when creatures such as Jowgen or Kycoo are on the board. Now they will simply flip the [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] at whatever moment they can. The main problem I see with [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] going forward is once players become use to the versatility of [ccProd]Spellbook of Wisdom[/ccProd], Dragon Ruler players may become victims of their own card. For example, when a Dragon Ruler player activates the effect of a Baby Dragon, a Prophecy player could simply flip over a [ccProd]Spellbook of Wisdom[/ccProd] on a Jowgen and call traps. Suddendly Jowgen is no longer negated by [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] and the Dragon Ruler player has lost out on the ability to special summon a Dragon Ruler. Now they must go through the remainder of their turn without special summoning. If they are forced to pass the turn back, the Prophecy player will simply search out a [ccProd]Spellbook of Fate[/ccProd] and regain massive control of the game. As a matter of fact, [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] may even negate the effect of Jowgen and allow the Prophecy player from resolving the special summoning effect of [ccProd]Spellbook of Judgment[/ccProd] and search a copy of Kycoo before using the [ccProd]Spellbook of Fate[/ccProd] on [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd]. Talk about a blow out if you know how to utilize the board state.
Obviously [ccProd]Eradicator Epidemic Virus[/ccProd] has been a popular selection this format as a counter to the Prophecy archtype. It does not take a scientist to realize the interaction there. But what is impressive was the fact that every single deck in the Top 64 other than Prophecy itself had access to triple Eradicator in games two and three - plus one Evilswarm which main decked two copies. That is a tremendous amount of Virus dodging by Prophecy players. I know it was never a secret, but the popularity of this card has been wavering over the course of the last few weeks. The use of trap cards in games two and three by Prophecy players has made it so that Dragon Ruler and other archtypes have been looking at other counters to the deck. If Euros is any indication going forward, Eradicator is most assuredly in favor as a counter to Prophecy this upcoming weekend. If you were hoping to catch the metagame with something like Chain Burn when Eradicator was falling out of favor - perhaps it is time to think again.
Another side deck card worth discussing was [ccProd]Tsukuyomi[/ccProd]. In each of the Dragon Ruler decks which have been released thus far, there have been the full suite of two copies in each side board. I am dramatically in favor of Psi-Blocker over this card, but perhaps my reasoning is a bit off. [ccProd]Tsukuyomi[/ccProd] posses a massive threat to the Prophecy archtype because unlike Psi-Blocker, the Prophecy player will be unable to activate a card such as [ccProd]Spellbook of Fate[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Phoenix Wing Wind Blast[/ccProd] before the effect of their creature is able to activate. [ccProd]Tsukuyomi[/ccProd] will guarantee that problematic creatures such as Jowgen and Kycoo will flip facedown, thus allowing the Dragon Ruler player to act accordingly. Then if the Prophecy player does not have an immediate out to[ccProd]Tsukuyomi[/ccProd], they will have to deal with it the following turn - if they even have one. A unique trick that Prophecy players can do if they have another Spellcaster type creature on the field is to use the other effect of [ccProd]Spellbook of Fate[/ccProd] and turn whatever got flipped face down back face-up by removing two Spellbooks. It is not often that the effect is useful, but if it means putting Jowgen back face-up in a pinch, it can be important - especially if you have something like [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd] to counter the [ccProd]Tsukuyomi[/ccProd] for good.
The main thing to take away from Euros is knowing how to utilize every card in your deck. Small interactions such as [ccProd]Spellbook of Wisdom[/ccProd] vs. [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Spellbook of Fate[/ccProd] vs. [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd] effects can make all the difference in winning critical matches as you play through the North American World Championship Qualifier. Unfortunately we are still waiting on quite a few of the top decks from Euros, and hopefully we will get them within the next week or so. Players like myself, and I imagine all the readers out there, are interesting in not only seeing what was successful - but pinpointing trends which may carry over into Chicago. One way or another - if we see the lists or not, Chicago is coming up quickly and this is the time to finish preparing.
Oh, and my oh my should Prophecy players be playing around Droll & Lock Bird. It was not prevalent in the Euro feature matches, but it is certainly possible. I am leaving you today with this question. Are you playing around Droll? In game one? How about game two? How and when do you play around Droll? This is important stuff!