Hello again duelists. Has there every been a time while you were getting ready for an event and you just needed that extra little advice or mentoring to help you reach that next level? That little extra icing on top of the cake? I know in my own experience, when I was starting to become more involved in the competitive aspect of Yugioh, I did a little homework you could say. I gained knowledge of the "pro" players and tried to understand why they did certain plays in certain game states so I could help better myself. I tried to evolve my own playstyle from being a "I dont care about backrows, just go all out" to the type of conservative player and start to play around certain cards. I know this information has been talked about before but this is the first time I am going to go into detail on how I started to better myself in the Yugioh world and the players I looked up too.
I know in the local areas you may play at, there are the select players who might "run" the local. Racking up massive amounts of store credit due to their performance during tournament and sometimes you would not be all that excited to face them. I remember when I first starting getting seriously involved in the game and attended locals every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Most Excellent Collectibles. My local was "ran" by Steffon Bizzell and Cesar Gonzalez. I had been going to local tournaments during the Tele-DaD format when Cesar was dominating the dueling scene but never really got to see or hang out with him since he was always traveling. So whenever he came into locals, he was someone to be feared. And Steffon as you all know, brought Chaos Dragons back onto the map by top 8'ing YCS Indy a few months back. These two duelists are two of my closest friends I have made until this day in the Yugioh world due to their ability to help me improve every aspect of my game. Whether it be making the right read, making the right play during game state, or just helping me making the right card choices from time to time. Even though I was the one who talked to Steffon about his side deck for YCS Indy (mainly siding Prohibition) but thats another topic for another day! On the local level though, you have the players who you might look up too as your "mentors" or "role models" which is always a good aspect of your own game to have. Simply because you can watch them whenever they are playing, learn combos and strategies, share ideas, and many, MANY other things!
Moving up from the local level, you have the Regional level. Those times when you attend a regional and see the same players at the top tables time and time again, their faces and names become more known and populary throughout the area you play in. For example: Within my first few regionals, I noticed the same two players at the top tables just about every round. Chris Giori who ALWAYS played Blackwings and acquired regional top after regional top with the deck. Sadly Chris doesnt play the game anymore but he was and still is a good friend of mine. And the second player being Peter Cheng. I know I know, all the controversy and rumors about Peter and how he plays but when I first started attending regionals, he was dominating the scene with Lightsworn racking 16 regional tops in a row with the deck (I know what the comments will most likly say, but when I was first introduced to the regional scene, I had no prior knowledge to Peter and his ways). After seeing those two players among other make it to top tables all the time, it inspired me to evolve my game even farther to a point where someday I could be at top tables and get my name out there in the dueling world. Like I have mentioned before about regionals being the stepping stones and training tools towards success, I still strongly agree that regionals are exactly those very things. If I had only attended locals and never a regional, I can honestly say I would not be the player I am today.
Next we have the YCS level. This of course is right after the regional level because after locals and regionals, where else can you prove your skills and better yourselves? This to me, is where the "role models" are found. You get to see all the well known players and get to see them in action. When I walked in the room for my very first YCS, I will admit I was more excited to see all the mainstream players then even playing in the event. I was more excited to walk around and watch Jeff Jones play his matchups since he had just won SJC Edison, more excited to walk around and watch the Bellido brothers Infernity loop their opponents and show me how to play the deck correctly. And last but not least, more excited to walk around and hang out with Jarel Winston since I knew how much of a character he was at events. Those little things mean alot to players in the game and I think people take them for granted. I know for myself as of late, I get messages on my facebook, dueling network, or even on my cell phone about people asking for my advice on certain card choices, deck ideas, if I am attending an event, etc. And it makes me have the good feeling on the inside that I can be there for people when they need me. If somebody asks for my help or advice, I always do my best to help them out when I have the chance too. I usually will never leave someone wondering "What does Joe Bogli think about this?" Because if you ask me, im more then willing to help.
Finishing off, dont be afraid to come out of your comfort zone and ask questions. Sometimes somebody else has the same exact question as you and is just as afraid to ask it. Whether it be in your local tournament, regional tournament, YCS tournament, or even when playing a game on Duel Network. There is usually always an answer to a specific question, whether you take in the answer or not depends on you. I know I ask questions ALL the time. Ive been told sometimes I ask too many questions when it comes to certain things about Yugioh. I won ever forget the very first question I ever asked Steffon. "How many Raizas do you play?" (this being at a local during the end of Perfect Circle/Monarch format). And my very first question I ever asked Cesar, "Want to play for fun?" (I did NOT know he had won a SJC and topped a few others... in the end I did not play him for ANYTHING after I found this out.) So with the start of the right question, it can lead to the start of your own success. Or in my case, the start of two of my closest friendships. Remember, having something simple as a "role model" to look up too, it can only better yourself as a player and give you that icing on top of the cake you were looking for. Until next time, Play Hard or Go Home! =)