Hello my Apprentice Magicians! It’s been a little while since YCS Seattle, the holiday season, and the most recent YCS in Barcelona, Spain, but I’m back and ready to share my experiences with you on the latter. Let me first start off by saying that Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. It was huge and spacious with many different people speaking many different languages but all in one place. I stayed there for about 6 days, so I had a chance to truly appreciate the culture, the atmosphere, the style, and the night life. It’s definitely a place I would recommend to anyone who wants to get away and have a great time outside of the US, or even if you live in Europe and haven’t been there before, I think you should definitely make the trip. But let’s get to the main purpose of this article—the YCS.
On Friday we got lost trying to make it to preregistration; we eventually made it there after a 2-hour trek across Barcelona, only to find out that our first cab driver actually brought us to the right place. So that sucked because we took 2 more cabs just to get back to where we started and where we should’ve been from the beginning. On the plus side, we were able to see even more of Barcelona and take a couple of cool pictures to go with it. Anyways, by the time we get to prereg, the place is crawling with duelists from all over who desperately wish to swap their foreign cards with our American cards. So we spend the whole day sitting down and trading people, turning our decks and best cards into cooler looking German, French, and Italian versions. On Saturday morning, before the start of Round 1, we do the same thing with the trading and swapping until pairings are put up. I decided to use Water maining 2 copies of Maxx “C” since the most represented decks are Wind-ups and Water, and it’s pretty good in other matchups like Agents and Chaos Dragons if you create an opportune time.
Game 1: I win the roll and open with Abysspike, discarding Dragoons to add Genex Undine and Abyssmegalo to my hand. He starts with Duality, revealing Gravekeepers Assailant, Spy, and Commandant. I saw my life flash before me. My hand, which consisted of 6 Monsters—all very good ones might I add—was now meaningless if he had just one card that would be an auto-win. Royal Tribute. As he pitched the Commandant to search for Necrovalley, I saw the sins of my past come back to haunt me. All those unsuspecting duelists from YCS Atlanta who had their entire hands discarded, they all came back to delivery vengeance. My palms were sweating. I couldn’t look him in the eyes. Instead, I stared directly at the 6 cards in my hand that would no longer be there in just a moment. But luck was on my side. He merely activated the Necrovalley, set a monster and a backrow, and passed. I had game. I discarded Marksmen and Infantry for Megalo to destroy his backrow and Valley, and then I used Mind Control on his face-down monster and summoned Deep Sea Diva and Moulinglacia all in the same turn.
Game 2: He opens with Thunder King Rai-oh and 3 backrows. I have a very good hand…if Thunder King wasn’t on the field. So I set Malevolent Catastrophe and Abyss-sphere to my backrow before passing back to him. He attacked me directly and I chained Malevolent but he had Solemn Judgment. I then used Abyss-sphere after the chain resolved to bring out Abysslinde to defend me from Thunder King. He swung over her and I brought out a Megalo from my deck. I drew for turn and used MST on one of his backrows, then summoned Marksmen, used Megalo’s effect to tribute it and pop his other backrow, played Mind Control on Thunder King, and attacked for game since he already used Solemn Judgment. Phew. Talk about an anxiety attack. I was happy to be done with that matchup and hoped to never see it again for the remainder of the tournament.
Round 2: Water vs. Lightsworn
Game 1: He wins the roll and opens with Recharge so I assumed he was playing Dragons but he milled a Judgment Dragon and an Ehren which told me otherwise. He set one monster and passed. I dropped Undine, sent Dragoons, searched Megalo, attacked the obvious set Ryko which milled him a Necro Gardna, and passed my turn. He goes to make a Lumina play next turn but I have Maxx “C” to get a draw and then on the end phase he milled a Wulf to give me another draw. You would think this duel ends really soon but it takes another 25 minutes before we finish game 1. He kept reading my cards and taking way too long to think on his plays. I eventually started to rush him because he was reading the same cards over and over again. I pulled game 1 out after dropping Moulinglacia and using Soul Taker on his Judgment Dragon.
Game 2: He opens with Recharge again, this time milling Lumina and Garoth. Pretty good. And then disasters were abound as he dropped Lumina from his hand, too. I sided out my 2 Maxx “C” in favor of more helpful cards so I had no response if he went Lumina, Lumina, Garoth—the classic first turn blowout play from Lightsworn in 2009-2010. But I guess I gave him too much credit because he only brought out Garoth with his first Lumina. On the end phase he milled nothing but a Necro Gardna and I won pretty quickly after dropped Moulinglacia and surviving his top-decked Black Luster Soldier- Envoy of the Beginning while he had literally 0 cards.
Round 3: Water vs. Chaos Dragons
Here’s where the foreign YCS showed its true colors. I played against some guy named Miha Flisek who decided that it would be a good idea to pick my deck up and turn it on its face with a flick of his wrist so that he saw what I was playing. This ticked me off because I hate when people look at my cards while they shuffle. So I told him to shuffle the deck facedown or look away but he insisted on taking a peak every so often. Now this is what drives me nuts. I told him to look up while he shuffled, which he pretended to not understand (he knew English I found out later in the match), so I had to use hand gestures to get my point across. Then I took my deck back and shuffled it and told him, “EYES UP!” He grabbed it and did the same flick of the wrist to see the bottom card so I took it back AGAIN and told him to CUT THE DECK. We started the match and I was already irritated. It took about 20 minutes for game 1 to finish and he won with Gorz and BLS. During the match, every time I summoned Undine or Megalo to search my deck for a card, he ALWAYS looked at the bottom card and shuffled to the side so I had to keep doing this stupid dance with him where I take the deck back, shuffle it, and then say “CUT.” While we’re side decking, I noticed that he was looking around and making this face like he was thinking hard about something but he wasn’t really side decking. So I was done what I had to do and stared at him waiting. I was slowly realizing what was happening. He was stalling. Blatantly. And it wouldn’t end there. Not only did I have to rush him to finish side decking but he played soooooooooo much slower game 2 after he had already won game 1. It got so bad that he had 7 cards in hand and was taking something like 5 actual minutes to make a play against my Leviathan Dragon and Megalo with only Abyss-sphere set. I called a judge. I had enough of his stalling, and looking down while he shuffled, and seeing the bottom card every time he picked up my deck. He immediately dropped BLS when I raised my hand to call the judge. That confirmed my suspicions about him stalling because there was nothing hard to think about with summoned BLS. He was trying to whittle down the clock so that the massive swing in damage would be enough to keep him in the lead for the remainder of the game. The judge agreed to watch for slow play but we were already low on time. I destroyed his BLS and swung at him directly since I had no time to play around anything anymore and he dropped Gorz…again. So I scooped, signed the slip, shook his hand, and wished him the best of luck.
As I walked around the room thinking about what just happened, I saw judges crowding certain tables with all kinds of ridiculous disputes that mostly involved someone trying to “shark” the other player, or both of them trying to shark each other. There was crazy stuff like:
“His extra deck was still in his deckbox so I’m not letting him use it.”
“Time was called on his turn, not mine. This is the last turn on time.”
“He drew an extra card. Count the turns back and give him a game loss please.”
“He added a card I didn’t see with Genex Undine and then showed me a Genex Controller from his hand but that isn’t what he searched.”
“His friends are speaking to him from behind me but I don’t understand Greek.
Etc, etc, etc…
I was warned of this by some of the European pros but I didn’t know it got so vicious. This meant that I could no longer focus on just the game, but now I had to check my surroundings and make sure that every little thing was perfect because people will use any opportunity to win. And there are more stories to go around later on.
Game 1: I won the roll and opened pretty well with Undine but no backrows. I essentially have game next turn unless something goes terribly wrong…and did it ever. He started by special summoning one of the Hieratic Dragons and then normal summoning Card Trooper. I was fine with that, despite not having any protection. He milled 2 Lightpulsar Dragons and a Tour Guide with Trooper’s effect! His eyes lit up as he said “oh sweet!” He then pitched a light and dark from his hand to bring back one of the 2 Lightpulsars in the grave. I was hoping he would stop there, but nope. He then removes the Lightpulsar to summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon from his hand. And yes, I have no idea why he didn’t remove the Hieratic Dragon. We will pretend that never happened. He used REDMD’s effect to summon the other Lightpulsar in the grave and then attacked with everybody for game. I was devastated. I had just taken my first lost the round before and now this was happening to me. I had to regroup and win the next 2 games or face possible elimination from the tournament.
Game 2: I open with Undine again but he counters back with a Thunder King. I use Soul taker to destroy it then pitched 2 Dragoons to summon Abyssmegalo. He chained Call of the Haunted, targeting Thunder King and stopping me from searching any of the 3 cards! I was devastated. I beat over Thunder King and then won shortly after because his hand was pretty dead. If he had any big push to go with that Call of the Haunted, I would have lost 2-0.
Game 3: He opens with Thunder King and a set backrow. I draw for turn, see Gorz in my hand and pass. He attacks me directly, I dropped Gorz, and then he played Emergency Teleport. I chained Maxx “C” knowing that it will always be a plus against Teleport and then he makes Black Rose Dragon. So I drew 2 cards from Maxx “C,” and he lost his Thunder King and Teleport to clear my one card—Gorz. I liked this trade. On the following turn I summoned Undine and he chained Soul Drain so I chained MST and won shortly after. Talk about a close one. I would’ve been so upset to lose like that. Moving right along.
Round 5: Water vs. Wind-up
This guy also had a problem with keeping his eyes away from the deck while he shuffled. Every time I searched or did something with my deck I had to keep reminding him to look up or look away. It made the match pretty uncomfortable which was becoming a normal problem in the YCS. It got to the point where I told him to just cut the deck since he couldn’t control his eyes.
Game 1: We literally go back and forth EVERY SINGLE TURN of the duel with crazy top-decks on both ends. I had Maxx “C” when he tried to go off and he had very good backrows when I tried to go off. He had Veiler for my Moulinglacia and then a follow up Dark Hole. I top decked Avarice and so did he. I drew into Undine when I needed it and he drew into Wind-up Rat when he needed it. It was legit crazy how back and forth this game was. I remember there was one very defining play of the duel where he had Tiras, Zenmaighty, and Abyss Dweller on the field so I made Ally of Justice Catastor with Deep Sea Diva’s help, swung over the Dweller, used Mind Control to take Tiras, proceeded to the End Phase so I could detach his last material, and then gave it back to him. I knew there weren’t many outs to Catastor in Wind-ups, especially when life points are really low. This play basically won it for me. Even still, it took us about 30 minutes to finish just game 1.
Game 2: There was about 6 minutes on the clock when he ended his turn with Wind-up Rabbit and 2 set backrows. I played 2 MSTs to destroy both of them and then debated between summoning Marksmen or Dragoons, but opted for Dragoons since it was guaranteed 1800 damage and I didn’t have to risk him having a Rat in hand if I tried to have Marksmen suicide with the Rabbit. I set Gozen Match and Abyss-sphere before ending my turn. He brought back Rabbit, normal summoned Wind-up Magician, used Rabbit’s effect to trigger Magician, and brought out a Wind-up Shark from the deck. But then I activated Gozen Match to stymie any plans he had to XYZ summon. He was a little angry by this turn of events. I literally had everything it seemed. He ended his turn with a defense mode Shark and 1 backrow. I used Abyss-sphere before the End phase to bring out Linde and then brought out Abysspike on the End phase to discard Marksmen, destroying his backrow, and searching Undine. He scooped.
Round 6: Water vs. White Ninja Safe Zone Lockdown (Feature Match)
Here’s a link to the feature match: https://tcg.konami-europe.net/coverage/10747/round-6-frazier-smith-vs-nicolas-petz/
Round 7: Water vs. Inzektors
Game 1: I won the roll and did absolutely nothing. He almost thought I said he could go first because of how fast I ended my turn. My hand was actually the worst. I had Maxx “C” and 5 spells and traps. They were a combination of Salvage, Soul Taker, Heavy Storm, Avarice, and Mind Control. He started off with 1 set backrow and Cardcar D to draw 2 more cards. I drew for turn and got an Abyssmegalo. Another useless card. I set Soul Taker and passed but he used MST in the end phase to destroy it. The bad thing was, now he knew my hand was terrible because there’d be no other reason to set that card. On his next turn, he dropped a Tour Guide so I chained Maxx “C” to get some acceleration since my hand was absolutely disgusting and I drew into a Heavy Infantry. Not too bad. He swung for 2000 and then passed with 1 backrow. I drew Atlantean Dragoons for the turn and saw my chance. I used Heavy Storm on his backrow which was another MST. I then discarded Dragoons and Heavy Infantry to summon Abyssmegalo. I searched Deep Sea Diva with Dragoons and popped his Tour Guide with Infantry’s effect. I then summoned Diva to get Marksmen from the deck, activated Mind Control to take his Sangan, tributed Diva for Megalo’s effect, and swung for exactly 8000! He was pretty salty and then I explained how my hand was literally unplayable turn 1.
Game 2: He started off with a set backrow and Cardcar D again but my hand was actually good this time. I set Abysslinde and MST knowing that he would have sided into Dimensional Fissure. I was right. He activated it, and then played Dark Hole. I chained MST and he groaned. This was the beginning of the end for him. I got Abysspike, ditched Dragoons to get Undine and Megalo, and then let him continue his turn. He lost to Moulinglacia and Megalo on the following turn.
So I finished day 1 with an X-1 record which was pretty good but then I heard about even more cheating, sharking, and people taking advantage of the language barrier. Apparently, Stephen Silverman’s opponent searched out Centipede with Sangan and then drew for turn, shuffled his hand, and then got called out on it. When the first 2 judges came over, they explained that it would be a game loss but then a third judge interfered speaking German despite being fully capable of speaking English along with the other player. He told the other judges that it was a repairable gamestate and not only would the game continue but the Centipede would stay in hand. It was quite ridiculous, especially since it’s a guaranteed game loss for that situation. In fact, the opponent even accepted the fact that he was getting a game loss because he knew what he had done warranted that. If you don’t think anything is wrong with this situation then the next time you play someone, let them summon Undine, search out Monster Reborn from their deck instead of Genex Controller, be told by a judge that they can keep it, and then continue the match with nothing but a warning.
Game 1: He OD’s on me with Undine turn 1 and turn 2 followed by Moulinglacia and an onslaught of many other good cards but he fails to kill me in all his attempts. I used Dark hole on his field so he couldn’t swing at my next turn and then I rebuilt resources behind a Maxx “C.” The next time he tried to kill me I had a full hand and a Tragoedia. He made a Wind-up Zenmaines to try to save himself but I happen to play Temtempo, so that was to no avail, and I won the game shortly after. Unfortunately, this game took a very long time as well and Game 2 would surely be going into time. It wasn’t just his fault because I took awhile to think out my plays and I can’t blame anyone other than myself for not speeding the match up.
Game 2: I let him swing at me for 1200 damage thinking that I could make it back up in time but was unsuccessful as he made a Gachi Gachi Gantetsu in defense mode and stopped me from getting in. This caused us to draw. So now I can’t lose again which sucks. I really hate draws because they just punish both players. Essentially, both of you lose. I’d rather have one of us go forward and one person takes the loss. But eh, it is what it is.
Jack turned out to be the eventual winner which was pretty cool. We talked before the match started and he told me that he beat Billy Brake in Brighton last year. He also mentioned that if he beat me it would feel great to have beaten both me and Billy.
Game 1: He won the roll and set 1 monster before ending. I summoned Heavy Infantry then summoned Diva, brought out Marksmen, made Librarian, played salvage to get them both back, pitched Marksmen and Diva to summon Megalo, searched Abyss-sphere and destroyed his set Sangan with Marksmen’s effect, tributed Heavy Infantry for Megalo’s effect and attacked for 7200. He searched a Rescue Rabbit with Sangan’s effect and I ended my turn with Abyss-sphere in my backrow. He drew for turn and played Heavy Storm. I chained Abyss-sphere but he chained MST. He then used Rescue to bring out Utopia and beat over my Megalo. In the next two turns I drew Genex Controller and Moulinglacia. He won shortly after.
Game 2: We get deck checked before we start and it takes them quite some time so we both get kind of nervous but nothing happens. They tell us to change a few sleeves before we start the next game. I opened busted with double Dragoons and Megalo. He was about to scoop his cards up but I told him to just play it out. It gets to a point where he actually has a chance of winning but I think I had a Soul Taker or Dark Hole to deal with Dolkka and that was game.
Game 3: He opens with a set monster and 3 backrows. I have Heavy, Dark Hole, Abysspike, Genex Controller, Megalo, and Salvage. I thought for a long time before deciding that I was going to play Heavy Storm. If he had road that would obviously suck but if he didn’t then that means he had Solemn and would cost him 4000 lifepoints. I could easily kill him from 4000 with Water. If he had neither then I just win the game. I played Heavy Storm and he had Road. The worst case scenario. I summoned Abysspike and pitched to get Undine before ending my turn. He flipped Sangan, attacked into Abysspike, searched Rescue Rabbit, and won from there. I wished him luck and told him to win the whole event. Who knew lol?
So now I’m pretty much out of the tournament but I decided to play the last round anyways because eh why not? I’ve already come this far.
Round 10: Water vs. Wind up
Game 1: He tries to go off but I have Maxx “C” so he opts for an Abyss Dweller instead. I have one of my trusty Soul Takers to deal with that nuisance and then I go off with Megalo and Moulinglacia to seal the deal.
Game 2: I remember him chaining Macro Cosmos to me summoning Undine which was a misplay, but it ends up winning him the game. Here’s how it happens. When I summoned Undine and activated the effect to pitch Dragoons he chained Macro Cosmos. I told him that it doesn’t do anything about the Dragoons because it was a cost to send it to the grave. He realizes his mistake and I proceeded to search out Diva. I have Heavy Storm in my hand, along with 2 Maxx “C” and he only has 2 cards in hand. It seems like he doesn’t really have too much going on so I opted to leave the Macro on the field. On the next turn he draws and slaps Magician and Shark on the field. I was pretty salty because if he played Cosmos at the start of my turn like he should have, I would’ve played Heavy Storm and then stopped the Magician Shark play he had coming next turn. But since he chained it thinking it would stop Undine’s effect, I felt safe waiting for him to set more backrows and instead got killed.
Game 3: I opened with Undine, Mirror Force, and Mystical Space Typhoon. He opens with Magician Shark and I just smiled. He goes into Zenmaighty, Shock Master, and Papilloperative. For some reason, all of these monsters are in attack mode so he crashes right into Mirror Force. The game pretty much ends there as I take easy control in the next 2 turns.
I finished 7-2-1 and got 38th. I went to watch my friend, Sean McCabe, play his Top 32 match and witnessed more attempted sharking, only this time it would get reversed. McCabe wins game 1 and the guy is feeling pretty salty so while they’re shuffling for the next game, he tells McCabe to count out his side deck while he has McCabe’s main deck in his hand. McCabe counts it out and there are 15 cards there, obviously. So then McCabe counts the guy’s main deck and finds it to be 43 cards. He tells him to count out his side deck and it turns out to be 14 cards. A judge comes over and issues a game loss and the guy tries to argue it out but karma isn’t having any of it. Sean proceeded to top16 and the guy proceeded to walk away with the mat of shame. Justice was served. Then in the next few minutes of Top 32, I watched Paul Clarke playing some super known cheater from Germany, who happens to be stalling against Paul by asking him how many cards are in his hand, asking to see his grave, and pretending to think really long and hard…all while staring at the clock. He repeats this process over and over again until there is about 1 minute left on the clock. A female judge sees this and calls the head judge. They go through a pretty lengthy dispute and then the head judge watches the rest of the match. Everyone on the side lines, including the kid’s friends, were talking about how vicious of a cheater he is and how he was already banned before. This made the match even tenser, but Paul pulled it out there, too. So once again, justice was served. You would think that those would be the only 2 things to occur in the Top 32 but looking around you could see all sorts of arguments going on about cheating and crazy shenanigans. I talked to the European players and they reinforced the fact that it gets very shady at European YCS(s) because of the language barrier and people being so desperate to win since they don’t get to compete as often. Obviously not all European players are like this. I wouldn’t even say that the majority are like this. But it’s far more shadiness going on there than in the US. Some of the things that people get away with there, you wouldn’t even hear of someone trying over here.
To further add to this, there was another instance in round 8 where I was sitting next to a guy who blatantly did a take back on his misplay. He was using Agents and the opponent was using Wind-ups. The opponent goes activate Factory, summon Magician, trigger Shark, and the Agent player says “yes that’s fine.” Then, the Wind-up player goes trigger Magician chain link 1 and trigger Factory chain link 2. The Agent player responds with Herald of Orange Light but the Wind-up player tells him that he can’t do that since Magician was Chain Link 1 and he would miss the timing—which is 100% true. The judge comes over and they explain the situation…except now the Agent player changes the story a bit and says that he used Herald of Orange Light on Wind-up Shark’s activation and not on Wind-up Magician. They go back and forth but since it was “your word against mine” there was nothing the judges could do and the Wind-up player lost. Pretty savage stuff.
Despite the YCS having its ups and downs, I did enjoy the vacation more than any other YCS thus far. I honestly can’t wait to travel out of the country again, so hopefully next year I’ll get to go to more of those events. I think after experiencing it for the first time, I’ll be more prepared the next time.
But until then, Play Hard or Go Home!
-The Dark Magician