Hello AlterReality readers! I'm sorry it took so long for me to write another article but life has been Frog Ftk'ing me lately and I didn't have the D.D. Crow to stop it. Moving on from the lame intro, let's get right into the main topic of the article!
Playtesting. Everybody does it, some more efficiently than others, and those who put the ultimate amount of time into it will most likely have an edge/better chance at topping a major event. The amount of input decides the output, so the more you know the ins and outs of your deck and any others you may face, the better your chance of signing the match slip in your favor becomes. I'll go over my personal pre-event process and how I get ready for the event I'm about to attend (in this case, YCS Miami).
Question : How do you plan to prepare yourself for YCS Miami? (Answer in the comments below if you'd like)
1. RALLYING THE TROOPS
Can't playtest by yourself, can you? Get together with the people that you plan on traveling to the event with and put in a few hours of testing everyday. Make sure that everyone has a different deck, particularly the ones of the spread you'll see over 11 rounds of Swiss at any given event. For me, it's usually the same group of people that go to every event from my area, friends of mine like Anthony Vo, Joseph Gray, Nikki Cortez, and many more. Dueling Network isn't recommended, unless there is a great distance between you and the person, and you know that playing them is well worth your while. For me, those people are Courtney Waller, Thomas Vo, Michael Smith Grant, and Jarel Winston. I hardly ever see them so it's fun to chat online while getting some grueling testing in.
2. PREPARE YOUR ARSENAL
Now that you've got your group with a mixture of decks to prepare against, what are you going to be using in your hours of playtesting? Personally, I never lock myself into one deck unless I'm 100% comfortable with it, I have all of my matchups covered, and I think it can draw consistently over the course of a 10-11 round tournament. Comfortability with a deck is number one to take care of. If you're not comfortable with what you're playing, you will not do well, and I can't stress this enough. Either pick something you're familiar with, or pick something to get familiar with through playtesting. Even if you don't choose that deck for the event, you'll know how it works and how to play around certain plays it can make. I view locals as a playtesting session, so I play a different deck nearly every week. It gives me the opportunity to comprehend how it interacts with everything else, and more than likely people will pick that deck up for next week after seeing me play it and I'll be able to pick a different deck and see how the new one fairs against the other. Mainly in my playtesting, I diagnose which deck has the least bad matchups, and then see what I can main or side to make the bad matchup a little easier without hindering the deck's performance against other decks I may face. If after all of this, I still see the deck is faltering, and I see a better option that I'm familiar with that will most likely give me better results, I'll put time into that deck.
The surprise factor is an amazing thing as well. If the deck you're considering taking meets the requirements and is unsuspected in the meta at an event, then that just adds to the possibility of that deck being the right choice. Catching people off-guard in a game is great, much like Jeff Jones did when he almost captured the win at Toronto with Psychics. People couldn't predict his plays, therefore they made sub-par moves which allowed him to capitalize and win games with relative ease.
After a while, you should be narrowed down to 2-3 decks that are your top contenders to be played. At this point, I pick which one I am leaning towards most and concentrate fully on that one. Knowing your own deck inside and out can help you play out of nearly any situation, know all the capabilities of your deck at any given time, and know all of it's weaknesses so you can better prepare your side deck and main deck techs to make it even stronger. Never write off newer cards either, expect to see many Mermails, FireKings, and FireFists in attendance, so be sure to know what your deck can do against those powerhouses!
Also, remember to write down all your thoughts during playtesting for later review. It's sometimes hard to remember a meaningful thought whilst in the middle of a grueling game which requires your undivided attention and full mental capacity.
3. READYING YOUR MIND AND YOUR BODY
It takes a lot to get mentally and physically prepared for an event, so this might be a little lengthy. Preparing these goes way past the table, it delves into your brain and trains your mind and body to perform at their most optimal. The main thing for any event, or any day of life for that matter, is sleep. I love sleep, and it is absolutely needed to be well rested and have your mind running at 100% for the next day. I won't lie though,I used to think differently, and ended up proving myself wrong. I'll take you back to YCS Austin in 2009. I stayed up all night with my friend Richard Kim making sure my deck was perfect, and then showered and left for the event. The day went well up until after Round 8. Having just lost to my friend Christian Lewis and now on the bubble to Top 16 the event, I started to get groggy. I almost fell asleep waiting for Round 9 to be posted, and I sat there wishing I would've gotten at least 4 hours of nappy-time to prevent this. I went into the round feeling less than spectacular, and at the end of it all, I lost. I have no doubt that if I was well rested I would've performed better, and I look back on that event every time I know I should be going to bed before an event. Every time since then, I've been well-rested before any large event I attend. If your sleep schedule is like mine, where you usually hit the sack around 5 a.m. and wake later in the day, train yourself to sleep before 11 and wake up around 7-8 for the weeks leading up to the event. I'm starting myself on that in a few days as a matter of fact.
Staying hydrated and content with hunger is another thing you have to stay on top of. I don't recommend energy drinks unless its very late in the day, and there is only 1-2 rounds left. Due to the effect they'll have on you when they make you crash, drinking one before Round 1 will probably have you falling out around Round 5. Water is the best thing, it keeps you hydrated and has no negative effects on your system. Just make sure you tinkle in-between rounds, don't wanna have an accident mid-game now, do we?
As far as food goes, I try to stay away from greasy foods or anything that will make me sluggish. For Nationals this year, I had my water that I kept refilling at the fountain, and a 16 pack of cracker sandwiches that I got at Wal-Mart for $2. It lasted me all weekend and I didn't worry about food for the days at the event, with the exception of my friend Justin Crawley buying me Subway after Round 3 when I lost and needed some consoling, lol. It was healthy and filled me up, and after that I didn't lose a single round after that, finishing the day at X-1.
Remembering your playtesting is also crucial. Certain scenarios may arise in a game, and if you recall how you dealt with them in your playtesting, you can apply that in your game to better your chances at victory. Don't let your mind get the best of you, if you lose a round for one reason or another, that's fine. Just figure out why you lost so you won't lose for the same reason/mistake/misplay again, and the. move on. Take the tournament one game at a time, don't get ahead of yourself, and relax and play every round as if its the only problem you have to deal with at that moment, because it is. Some people use their hands or jacket hoods to horse-blind themselves from everything but their active game, such as Robert Boyaijin. It minimizes distractions and allows them to think more clearly and see things that they may not have if they were obstructed by or concentrating on other things.
Wearing comfortable clothes is another thing that affects how you play, if you're too hot or cold, it may affect you in negative ways. I usually wear my team shirt and basketball shorts because I'm not hot or cold with them on. I always keep a hoodie in my bag incase I get stuck playing under an air vent one round, which has happened before.
4. THE CAR/PLANE/TRAIN RIDE
Whether your mode of transportation for the event is Card Car D, Goblindbergh, or Dekoichi, have fun with it. I always say my favorite part of any event is the car ride there. Joking around with friends on the road, at restaurants, at gas stations, or during that awkward moment when there is no exit in sight and someone's bladder is about to bust, nothing compares to the laughter of this part of the trip. Sure, there are times when everyone remembers that Yugioh is a thing and the conversation gets serious, the music gets turned down, and people start talking strategy. That's perfectly fine, and is actually good, in that it allows you to get other people's opinions and thoughts on everything about the decks and event in general. For Miami, I have a 14 hour drive ahead of me from New Orleans, so I can't wait to get in the car and get on the road!
5. THE NIGHT BEFORE
So now we're at the event! We got some trading/testing done at the event(pre-registered if you're sure on your deck), met up with people we see at all the large events, and we're back at the hotel. My crew and I usually just go out somewhere nice to eat, and then go back to the hotel and get some last minute playtesting in. I love to go swimming before I go to bed before an event just because it helps me sleep, so hit the pool and have some fun if you can. I decide my deck for the next day and write my decklist out before I go to bed so I won't have to deal with it in the morning. Any last minute decisions happen here. Through walking around on Friday and watching people test, I may change my side according to what I saw a majority of, the same can be done for Saturday morning. So if you're iffy on a card, just leave the slot blank on your list, have a little walk before you register on Saturday morning, and then make your decision based on your thoughts and what you saw at that point. Other than packing your bag for tomorrow, showering, and getting a good night's sleep, there isn't much more to be said about the night before.
I can't wait for YCS Miami, I've been preparing myself in all ways possible since I knew I had a way to get there. I love the feeling of playing on that level, it's an entirely different atmosphere when compared to locals and regionals. I hope myself, the people from my state (the great state of Louisiana) that are coming, and all of you reading this do well and accomplish what you set out to for this event. I hope my preparation guide helped, and my YouTube inbox, Facebook, and eMail is always open if you have any questions about deck choices, playtesting, or anything really. I love talking to the readers, subscribers, and just people who share the love for this game in general. Also, don't forget to hit up y YouTube channel, I'm almost to 1,000 subs and you guys get a contest when I hit that mark. I may submit an article right before I leave for Miami, so keep an eye out for that. Until next time everyone, play hard or go home!