NORTH AMERICAN WCQ TOP 16 REPORT PART II: A Fire Ignited

patrickhobanHello everybody and welcome back to the second part of my NAWCQ tournament report. Last week I focused on the deck and card choices of the Sylvan deck that I piloted to a Top 16 finish. Now that you know why I played the cards I chose and know how I arrived at those conclusions, I’m going to bring you the follow-up with a round-by-round analysis of my tournament experience.  Let’s get right into it!

Our trip from Atlanta to Detroit began Wednesday afternoon with the usual suspects; Desmond, Ben, Zach, and Alison. We drove half the way on Wednesday and got a hotel before finishing the remainder of the drive on Thursday. Once we arrived, we wanted to show our support for our friends Alex Vansant and Jeff Jones’ new card store by going to their grand opening tournament that night. Unfortunately, they had some trouble with the city (something about them thinking it was an underground gambling ring) and couldn’t get the necessary licenses to open their actual store in time, but thankfully they were allowed to host the tournament at a neighboring card shop.

When we finally arrived in Detroit, we found lots of our friends had almost come early to participate in the tournament so we got to catch up with them. Ben and I were tired after the long trip and didn’t want to actually play, but Desmond and Zach decided they wanted to stay. Ben, Alison, and I just went out to dinner instead and had an uneventful rest of the evening.

Friday morning we woke up, showered, ate, and headed down to the convention center. We all decided to play in the Giant Card side event. As I mentioned in my last article, I had fully committed to Sylvans by this point, but didn’t feel like it was worth it to reveal the differences in my build and the standard build, so I decided to play Lightsworn in the side event. My friend, Ned, knocked me out in the first round of the tournament to make for a very short endeavor so I spent the rest of the afternoon cube drafting with Paul Clarke, Matt Bishop, and some of their friends.

Just as we finished drafting, fellow ARG writer, Johnny Li, who was also staying with us, showed up. Johnny was one of the two people outside of Desmond and the Leveretts that I talked to about this version of the Sylvan deck. Shortly afterward, we headed back to Panera for some good food and card theory. After several hours of intense debate, we had our seventy card deck down, along with how we were going to side deck in each matchup and how it would change depending upon whether we were going first or second before we hit the hay.

The morning came early and I was the first up to go print off translations for the foreign cards in my deck. Usually I don’t bother, even at a higher level event, but I knew Sylvans were still a relatively uncommon archetype and there would probably be at least a few opponents that would need to read them so I went ahead and printed them off. After I made my way back upstairs, I took a shower and passed back out until 9:15.

At that point we were a bit rushed to get to the convention center and could barely get decklists written and us registered by 9:45. While I was waiting in line to register, Desmond finally shows up in typical “Desmond” fashion saying “Pat, I’m going to make the best mistake of my life! I’m going to play Dragons instead of Sylvans!”

He had actually stayed behind in the hotel room to build his deck and write his deck list to avoid me talking him back into playing Sylvans. Unbelievable! With no more than a minute and a half until registration closed, it was too late for our fallen friend. He went on to learn a valuable lesson that day at the x-3 tables.

Soon enough pairings for round 1 were posted. After all the testing and preparation we had done for this event, I felt truly prepared, but that’s not necessarily the same as being in the zone. That place where you know exactly how the game is going to play out, where your reads are on point, and you’re heavily involved in each and every one of your games as if it were the finals. I sat down across from my round 1 opponent calm and collected, but calm and collected are not the zone. Calm and collected does not give you the fiery passion that comes from true competition.

Then all of a sudden it happened. The original Yu-Gi-Oh theme song came over the speakers and the feeling of first tasting gold exactly one year before at last year’s NAWCQ all came rushing back to me. I was there to win and I wanted nothing more than to defend my title. The fire was ignited.

MysticalSpaceTyphoon-LCYW-EN-ScR-1ERound 1
Vs FAT
Game 1: The first game of the tournament kicks off with Charity into Mount Sylvania pitching Hermitree to put Princessprout on top and reviving Hermitree with Miracle Fertilizer, then drawing a card and making Felgrand. Next turn I could reuse the Charity which got me to a second Fertilizer. I now had free reign to do whatever I pleased. Oreas recycled the Fertilizers to special summon more monsters and win that turn.
Game 2: He started the game with Traptrix Dionaea, Dimension Fissure, and four sets. His monsters never got much better and Dionaea kept poking for 1700 each turn. I tried to give myself the best odds of getting an out to Fissure by thinning my deck as much as possible before drawing and using Sylvania to put any card that isn’t Typhoon on the bottom during his end phase, but it was to no avail and I never had an out to Fissure so I died to Dionaea.
Game 3: I wasn’t worried that Fissure would have a repeat performance, as it’s only effective if they can draw it before I can get any monsters into my graveyard so that it can cut me off from my Soul Charges and Fertilizers and I was going first so I got to load my graveyard before he could ever attempt to floodgate me. Without a floodgate to stop me, this game was very similar to the first. My monsters eventually powered through all his traps and I took the game.

1-0

Round 2
Vs Six Samurai
Game 1: I look at a wonderful opening hand of Lonefire Blossom and Soul Charge, but I had lost the dice roll. Usually this combo is powerful enough to handle whatever the opponent can do on their first turn, but he began the game by making Naturia Beast with Kizan and setting three. Beast locked me out of four of my cards so I had to hope that my Lonefire would be successful, but it was stopped by Solemn Warning and the game ended quickly after that.
Game 2: This game I had a complete brick hand with no synergy. It contained estranged combo pieces like Princessprout and Spore, a Book of Moon that would do little to advance me out of this, and a pair of Mystical Space Typhoons. He started out with United and Zanji. Thankfully he didn’t have Kizan to shorten the clock. Next turn I drew Hermitree. The turn after I drew Soul Charge. With no way to load my graveyard it was just another brick. The following turn he summoned another Samurai and I used Space to clear the United and prevent the draws. If I didn’t draw a card to deal with the situation the next turn, he would attack me for game. I drew Marshaleaf. It was certainly not the ideal draw for the current scenario, but it gave me a shot at being in the game. I summoned and hoped for the best and hit Princessprout and Hermitree. These were great hits, but I was far from winning. I made Alucard to destroy his set to safely clear the way for my Soul Charge on just Hermitree. I had to try and ride the lone Hermitree to victory. With each turn that passed, my board position got better until I was able to finally overtake him and win.
Game 3: After a long drawn out game two, time was quickly approaching. This became a huge problem when he made a field of Vulcan, Barkion, Dimensional Fissure and two set backrow. Both monsters had attacked me directly and I had used an Upstart so the life point stood 9000 to 3500. I activated a Sylvan Charity to draw to nine cards in hand. After resolving the Charity, the judge who has decided to make it his personal mission in life to make sure I never play another game on Duelingnetwork walks by and issues me a slow play warning. I tell him that I took no longer than twenty seconds to resolve Charity and seeing that the gamestate is very complicated (my nine in hand to his giant field and a large difference in life points) that amount of time is completely reasonable. My opponent is agreeing with me that I took a completely reasonable amount of time to make my play, but the judge does not look past his pre-existing bias. It’s important that if you actually disagree with a floor judge’s ruling that you appeal it. I do and after a few minutes the head judge comes over to our game. He says that he’s going with the floor judge’s ruling. By this time a crowd of people had gathered around the game, all of whom and my opponent were saying that I took no longer than twenty seconds. He says that he can’t take spectators’ opinion into account when making a ruling. I ask him how long is a reasonable amount of time to resolve Charity in that scenario, to which he responds “not two minutes.” The only logical conclusion I can draw from this is that the floor judge lied to the head judge and said that I took two minutes to resolve Charity, despite me only taking twenty seconds. I wasn’t as concerned with the principle of having a slow play warning given to me undeservingly as I was with the fact that if I sit back in this judge’s section the rest of the day he might decide to pull a similar move and a slow play warning could be upgraded to a game loss.
The actual game doesn’t last much longer as I overlay into Heliopolis and get hit with Solemn Warning. Then revive a Hermitree and Sagequoia back with Fertilizers and get hit with a Mirror Force when trying to attack over his field.

1-1

Breakthrough SkillRound 3
Vs Harpies
Game 1: I make an established field early on, but he has Dark Hole to clear it. He struggles with a monster heavy hand so he can’t do much in the way of having me reestablish it. I pop his set Sign so he’s going to get to search in the end phase. He has a Breakthrough in the grave so I make double Felgrand to be able to stop his monster effect the following turn and take the game after that.
Game 2: This game he uses Chidori to try and set me behind, but I can still push through his sets and once I get over Chidori he doesn’t have a follow-up.

2-1

Round 4
Vs Justin Delhon, Dragon Rulers
Game 1: I win the dice roll and start with Lonefire and Soul Charge. I use Orea to dig through my deck for Vanity’s Emptiness and draw it with Hermitree. He plays an Upstart and then just scoops it up to avoid letting me know what he’s playing.
Game 2: I just side in Typhoons since I don’t know what he’s playing. He starts out with four sets and Dragon’s Shrine to send Blaster. One of the sets turns out to be Skill Drain and next turn he revives Blaster. The following turn I try to make a push, but get stopped by Emptiness.
Game 3: Very much the same as the first game, I open a hand that he couldn’t beat. It was unfortunate that I opened an auto win game one and three and Justin opened an auto win game two so we didn’t actually get to play and I think he’s a great player.

3-1

macro cosmosRound 5
Vs Geargia
Game 1: I don’t have much going in the early game since I don’t have Fertilizer or Soul Charge. I know that if I’m able to get to either I’ll have a strong chance, but otherwise I’d soon be overpowered. I get to see two cards a turn because of Sylvania revealing an extra card each turn. I eventually get to Soul Charge and can do it for four leaving me below a thousand, but I can create an unbreakable field and take the game the following turn after pushing through his sets.
Game 2: He starts off with a set monster and four set backrow. In my draw phase he flips Macro Cosmos, but I have Typhoon for it. I summon Kuribandit and he uses Solemn Warning. When I try to end my turn he flips Geargiagear. When they are summoned, I special Flying “C” to his side of the field. Next turn he flips “C” down with Book of Moon and overlays into Gear Gigant. I special a second copy of Flying “C.” He flips Armor and gets Arsenal, Gear Gigant gets Accelerator, and attacks directly after summoning Arsenal. Next turn I have one push, but he’s got one trap left. If I can get a big monster to stick, I can extend the game and flight back since he’s unable to XYZ over it, but his last trap was Bottomless and we were headed to game three.
Game 3: I start off with Lonefire into Hermitree. The rest of my hand didn’t have much synergy. I miss off the Hermitree and pass. When he tries to get something going, I have Flying “C” to stop him and continue to develop my field over the next couple of turns. Then when I’ve gotten through all of his sets, I make Alsei to spin a monster to the top of his deck. Since he still has Flying “C” and is now unable to draw an out, I spin another monster the following turn, and OTK him after that.

4-1

vanity's emptinessRound 6
Vs Evilswarm
Game 1: I missed the round being announced and was almost late to the match. I sat down with only ten seconds until I would have gotten a game loss. No worry though as all is right when he begins the game with Master of Key Beetle and Vanity’s Emptiness to protect it. Might as well have just taken the game loss!
Game 2: And speaking of game losses, we’re stopped for a mid-round deck check after siding. They’re gone for about twice as long as deck checks are supposed to take. Usually this can only mean trouble. Sure enough, when they return with the decks, my opponent had some sort of error and they gave him a game loss.
Game 3: I completely lock him out of the game by preventing him from making Ophion with Flying “C.” Then, when he deals with “C,” I have Rivalry of Warlords to keep Ophion as far away as possible. In the mean time, I’m getting a special summon off of Fertilizer with each turn that passes. He runs out of resources pretty quickly and can’t out both floodgates.

5-1

Round 7
Vs Lightsworn
Game 1: He starts off with Recharge discarding Ehren. He summons Lumina and revives Ehren and sets three. I have Kuribandit, but decide that no matter what the three sets are, it won’t end well for me. If he’s got Phoenix Wing, I’d outright lose to summoning Kuribandit and if he’s got Needlebug Nest he’ll surely be able to OTK me on his next turn. I decide that instead of taking a Hail Mary shot in the dark with Kuribandit, I’ll just scoop so he doesn’t know what I’m playing and he can’t effectively side deck.
Game 2: I start off strong this game with a Fertilizer play to make Felgrand. When he can’t mill with his Lightsworn because of Felgrand, he’s not able to get out of the early game.
Game 3: He starts the game off with Charge of the Light Brigade to get Lumina and revive one of his milled Lightsworn. I have Rivalry of Warlords to slow the game down a good bit, keeping him on Dragons after clearing his field with Sylvans and him summoning Blaster. He follows it up with Diablos to put me pretty low. Next turn I use Alsei to return Diablos to the top of his deck since he had no cards in hand. He passes with an open field. I draw Vanity’s Emptiness and attack with Alsei. Next turn I flip Emptiness in his draw phase. Alsei spins the monster he sets and turns off Emptiness. Then I summom a Hermitree with Fertilizer and he has to redraw the same monster with only a Diablos in hand so I win the following turn.

6-1

Round 8
Vs Lightsworn
Game 1: I win the dice roll and start off with a very strong hand that allows me to loop Fertilizers with Orea. He attempts to mill enough on his first turn to get out of the early game, but on my turn I use Orea to look at my top eight cards, revive Hermitree with Fertilizer, and let myself draw into Vanity’s Emptiness to keep him out of the game.
Game 2: This game I keep him locked out with both Rivalry and Vanity’s. Combine that with a Hermitree or two getting you plusses and applying pressure and Lightsworn are on a very short clock. He isn’t able to in time and I take it.

7-1

kuribanditRound 9
Vs Stephen Silverman, FAT
Game 1: Silverman’s a good friend of mine and we got to go to Worlds together last year. I win the dice roll and open up with Kuribandit and Sylvania. Bandit hits Hermitree and I put Komushroomo on top so I can excavate it in his end phase with Sylvania and pop one of his sets. It turns out to be Fiendish Chain. Next turn Soul Charge gets dropped and monsters trump the backrow and leave me in a dominant position.
Game 2: Bear gets in for some early cracks while I try to set up, but eventually I Fertilizer and break his board.  He tops Tenki, but I have Typhoon for it and he doesn’t have a follow-up.

8-1

After popping on Papa Silverman, I had to find something to do with all my spare time left in the round so I watch another good friend and soon-to-be Champion’s match, Korey McDuffie. What I witnessed next was nothing short of greatness. Korey’s opponent had a Ghosterick Alucard and a set spell or trap. After being deep in thought for a few moments, Korey makes a play that ends up being stopped by the opponent’s set. Korey appears visibly unenthused that his play was stopped and sets one to his backrow. “Dammit!!!” Korey exasperatedly exclaims as he realizes his opponent still has Alucard face up on the field. He immediately slaps his hand down on the card. “Can I take this back?” he pleads. His opponent simply responds with a cold “no.” The opponent detaches for Alucard to destroy the backrow that Korey seemingly had mistakenly set, only to reveal the set to be Artifact Moraltach.

I couldn’t help but smile at how impeccably executed the entire play was on Korey’s behalf. This play perfectly exemplifies why Korey is a deserving champion and I’m sure he will make North America proud this weekend at the World Championship in Italy.

I run over to our hotel to pick up the car and swing back by to get the Leveretts, Johnny, and Korey to go out to dinner. We wind up at a Buffalo Wild Wings and eat as we exchange tales of triumph and failure that we had throughout the day. Afterwards, we head back to our hotel to get some sleep before day two.

Morning comes quickly and we rush to get showered and ready to go before heading over to the event. It was raining, so we caught the hotel shuttle to the convention center. Just before we pull out, Yumi, the vice president of Konami asks if we can wait one minute for the voice actors to come down. A few seconds later and we were sharing a cab ride with Marc Thompson, Astral, and Dan Green, Yugi Moto himself. Talk about a way to get you in the mood to duel!

After we arrived at the event, I resleeved and shortly afterwards pairings were posted.

lonefire blossomRound 10
Vs HAT
Game 1: I won the dice roll and started out with Lonefire. Any hand with Lonefire going first is never bad, but what happened next was unbelievable. I got Hermitree and used its effect to randomly excavate Princessprout which allowed me to draw Soul Charge for the blowout.
Game 2: This game we traded resources back and forth, but he couldn’t put me on a short enough clock to seal the deal. After pushing through all his sets, I established a board he couldn’t break.

9-1

Round 11
Vs Madolche
Game 1: He starts out by summoning Bear and setting four. I use Sylvania to stack a Sylvan and then summon Princessprout. He uses Solemn Warning and I summon Sagequoia. I attack over Bear and pass so that he can’t Traptrix Trap Hole me. Sylvania and Sagequoia are easily able to push through his sets in the turns following.
Game 2: He starts out with Anjelly into Hootcake and Messengalato. I had assumed that he was playing HAT, so I didn’t even side deck in Rivalry. I try to make some type of play, but am stopped by Maxx “C.” Next turn he is using T.G. Warwolf to make XYZ plays and bounce my field leaving me with few options.
Game 3: This time I sided in the Rivalries and drew one early on. Madolche can’t play while it’s face up, so Plants just took over from there.

10-1

SolemnWarning-LCYW-EN-C-1ETop 64
Vs Luke Feeney, Geargia
Game 1: I win the dice roll and start with Charity and Mount. We trade resources for a bit until his backrow are clear and then I drop the Lonefire Soul Charge play to take control.
Game 2: He starts with a set monster and a set backrow. I make a misplay and opt to not use Typhoon on the set out of fear that he might have a floodgate later in the game and get my Kuribandit Solemn Warninged. I needed the Kuribandit to resolve with my hand and Flying “C” would prevent me from dying in the next turn, so I definitely should have used Typhoon. After the Warning he flipped Armor and I dropped “C.” He summoned an attacked for about half my life and I didn’t draw a card to unbrick my hand.
Game 3: I start with Sylvania and Lonefire, but the other four cards were particularly bad like Marshaleaf and Hermitree and weren’t doing anything to advance my game state.  He sets five. I use Sylvania to put Komushroomo on top and excavate it with Hermitree, hitting Deep Dark Trap Hole. I attack and pass, but he has Geargiagear in the end phase. I drop Flying “C” and he responds with Warning. He specials Accelerator and makes Gear Gigant and 101 to take Hermitree and attacks for 4400. He tries to shark me claiming I wasn’t using Sylvania in the end phase. We call a judge who rules in my favor and I hit Spore off of it. I summon the Marshaleaf and mill two, one of which was a Komushroomo. I make Komushroomo chain link 1 and trigger Sagequoia in my hand as chain link 2. His sets were Bottomless, Torrential, and Geargiagear. He can’t use either Bottomless or Torrential on Sagequoia because of how I chained it so Komushroomo gets to destroy the Bottomless. I then use double Mystical Space Typhoon on the other two and Sagequoia hits Princessprout. I make it level 3 and revive Spore banishing Komushroomo to make Angineer. I clear his field and he’s topdecking and he just concedes after drawing.

soul chargeTop 32
Vs Kevin Rubio, Hieratic
Game 1: I knew he had topped the Circuit Series in Richmond with Hieratics and that he was playing Hieratics here as well. I assumed he played a similar list to what he played then which ended up heavily dictating my plays. I won the dice roll and started with Kuribandit set Emptiness. I hit a Princessprout, but only summoned Sagequoia so he couldn’t turn off Emptiness. When he drew I flipped Emptiness as he only had a single Trap Stun in his build from Richmond to out it game 1. The entire rest of the game was Sagequoia attack all the way from 8000 to 0 without ever turning off Emptiness.
Game 2: I felt like I was in a solid position with Sagequoia and two sets. When he tried to special I flipped Emptiness. He Typhooned the other and summoned Dragard and made Trident Dragon to pop two of his own and be able to attack for game through Sagequoia.
Game 3: I didn’t want to leave a monster on the field until I was ready to commit to winning the game either through attacking or through Emptiness. I used Kuribandit early on and didn’t put any monsters on the board for a couple turns after that. When I was able to do so, I put up a massive Soul Charge field with Vanity’s Emptiness to seal the game.

Top 16
Vs FAT
Game 1: This game I had more options than I knew what to do with. I was able to loop Fertilizers, summon Stardust, search Emptiness via Orea, etc.
Game 2: This game he could do enough damage to me before I could push through all of his traps. That’s always the determining factor. Neither HAT nor Sylvans are playing for card advantage in this matchup. Sylvans are trying to push through all the backrow so that they can combo. HAT is trying to reduce Sylvans life points to zero before the Sylvan can get through all the sets. This game is a good example of HAT winning in this scenario as he would have a monster, I would attempt to do something, he’d use a trap and stop it, and then summon another monster and attack for more. This repeated until my life points reached zero before the number of his traps did.
Game 3: I cannot think of another game in my entire time playing Yu-Gi-Oh that I have reflected upon more heavily than I did with this game. I spent the two hours following the match playing it over and over in my head. It was, after all, the most important game of this tournament. Winning would mean likely going back and participating in the World Championships a second year in a row and losing would mean an entire year of waiting to attempt to fill the void left by my underperformance at Worlds last year. Here are the conclusions I have drawn about this game:

Going into this game we had roughly ten minutes left. I looked at my opening hand. Lonefire, Soul Charge, Sylvania, etc. It was the kind of hand you would pray to open game 3, going first, playing for a seat at the World Championship. I ended my first turn with Felgrand, Stardust Dragon, Orea, Sylvania, Chalice, and the order of my deck selected for the next several cards courtesy of Orea, including a Komushroomo on top to destroy a backrow. Time was drawing ever closer. His timing in asking for translations was hardly coincidental.

He started his turn with Pot of Duality taking Effect Veiler. He then set a monster and only a single backrow. At this point it seemed to be all falling into place. Komushroomo popped his one set spell or trap in the end phase via Sylvania. I drew and time is called. Time in top cut is only three turns instead of five. I activated a Charity. This is where things began to take a turn for the worse. I remember back to round 2 and the slow play warning I was undeservingly given. The absolute last thing I want at this point is to have the slow play warning upgraded to a game loss while playing for a seat at the World Championship so I make it my number one priority to make sure none of the three judges watching think I’m playing slow enough for that to be within the realm of possibilities. I know that Miracle Fertilizer was not in the next few cards because of the Orea that I used the turn before. I return Sylvania and another card to the top of my deck instead of the Marshaleaf in my hand so that I can use Sylvania to send Marshaleaf before bouncing the set monster for Orea and attacking to leave me in a winning position. This way, my deck could be randomized and when I used another Charity next turn, I’d have a possibility of drawing a Fertilizer so that I can push for more damage.

This seems like a perfectly reasonable line of play to me. I start thinking about what Sylvan I would send Marshaleaf with Sylvania to put on top of my deck. One-by-one, I checked. Gone. I had no Sylvan monsters left in my deck. I didn’t check while I was resolving Charity before out of fear that it might take too much time and I might get a slow play warning and that it would be combined with the one from round 2 and be upgraded for a game loss. I realized that the best thing I could do now was to summon Marshaleaf and put the two cards I had just put on top, on the bottom and then use Orea’s effect and hope he would use the Effect Veiler on Orea. When he didn’t, I watched three spell and traps come off the top and I was unable to bounce the hand. When I tried to go to battle phase, Effect Veiler came down on Stardust. Unable to attack a Hand, I was forced to pass my first of only two turns in time.

9000 to 4000. He drew and set a second monster. I used Sylvania sending Orea to put another copy of Sylvania on the top of my deck so that my deck could be randomized before I activated Charity and give me a chance at hitting Fertilizer. I got to it, but now had to do 5000 damage through two set monsters this turn or lose the unloseable game. I mulled over my options. I realized the only way to do enough was to use Fertilizer to revive Hermitree and overlay that and Stardust into Alsei. I was sure that the first monster that he set was a Hand, but it’s possible that he would set a second monster the following turn even if it weren’t a Hand to defend his life points.

And that’s what it came down to. I would Alsei the monster he set first. Then use Marshaleaf to attack the second monster and hope that it wasn’t a Hand. If it was, there was no way to do damage that turn. If it wasn’t a Hand and Marshaleaf could kill it, I could use Alsei and Felgrand to attack for 5100 damage when there was a 5000 life point difference. He would have the final turn to do 100 damage if all went according to plan, but he would have to do it through the monsters on my field, a Forbidden Chalice, and a just drawn Book of Moon. That’s a tall order for a deck like FAT.

I attacked and couldn’t do anything but hold my breath hoping for the best. Fire Hand flipped up and I knew it was over.

                Should I make Alsei turn one instead of Felgrand?  Was Alsei strictly better? It had to have been, it’d have been an absolute blowout if I had made that instead. But I didn’t see Effect Veiler either of the other games. Alsei leaves me open to Compulsory. Why the hell didn’t I return the Marshaleaf? I could just return it and mill it with Orea. If he Veilers, Stardust attacks and negates the Hand and Orea and Felgrand attack to put me ahead in life. OH that’s right, I wanted a chance at Fertilizer! Was that a Legend of Blue-Eyes Trap Hole that I popped with Komushroomo in the end phase? For Kuribandit? Why didn’t I count my Sylvans before Charity? … the slow play warning… What about Heliopolis instead of Alsei? Wait, the problem was I didn’t have monsters in the first place so he wouldn’t do it. Why is top cut timed? Doesn’t the difference between three and five turns seem rather arbitrary? Nice, Korey and Deon are going to Worlds! Worlds =( I should have talked to the head judge about removing the slow play warning. I wonder if I there could have been something done about his timely asking for translations? Maybe it was coincidental. I’m fooling myself, he knew what his win condition was. Was not counting my Sylvans a misplay? Of course it was Patrick. But there is only one correct play in every scenario and that is the one that makes the most logical sense. At the time, it made the most sense to not try and get the slow play warning upgraded. Hmm… grey area. I’ll have to think more about it later. I should have played faster games 1 and 2. Maybe I should have done less on my turn 1 even if it wasn’t as good so it wouldn’t take as many steps and it’d take less time. Perhaps I’d have an extra turn I’d done that.

A seemingly endless number of questions popped in my head. Things I could or should have done differently, questions shaking my fundamental understanding of the game, having me question something I so firmly believed to be true such as what categorizes a misplay, and all the different ways it could have turned out differently.

That brings us to a simple question; why? Is it the prizes that come with doing well? The trip to Italy? Recognition in the community? Or is it perhaps something greater?

In all actuality, whatever prizes you may win are not worth nearly as much monetary value as what you need to get to all of these tournaments if money is your motivator you’d be better off in that respect working for minimum wage or bussing tables.  Recognition? People get recognized for doing dumb things all the time (just turn on the news if you don’t believe me), so recognition alone cannot be the primary motivating factor. And while I’m sure Rimini is nice this time of the year, the city is just another prize.

I wanted to be headed to Italy for a different reason. I wanted to go to Italy to compete. It’s the desire to learn, to win, and to be right only for the sake of knowing the answer; it’s a deep and rewarding passion for excelling in competition. To compete is human nature.

My personal goals list had going back to and competing in the World Championship again. But what does it mean to compete without an equal desire to excel in whatever it is you’re competing in? I don’t want to play in the World Championship, I want to win it.

It’s a little difficult to win something you’re not qualified for, to say the least. So does that mean that this tournament was a failure since I fell one round short of a seat on the grandest stage of them all? Quite the contrary, actually. This experience has not only opened my eyes to how much I want it, but also has given me the drive to continuously better myself until I have achieved it. A fire has been ignited and I will settle for nothing less than World Champion.

Play hard or go home.

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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