So I was on the fence about writing an article regarding the Alter Reality Games Circuit Series. Obviously there are countless things to write about concerning how monumental of a moment this can be for Yu-Gi-Oh, but I felt some hypocrisy in the fact that I will not personally be attending the first couple events. Granted I will be in attendance for the third installment of the Circuit Series, seeing as how it will be right around the corner from me in Worcester, Massachusetts. But one way or another, I think it is something I want to get off of my chest and hopefully my position is not hindered by my inability to attend the first few ARG Circuit Series. Unfortunately with student teaching and my final courses in Grad. School coming up - I may have to put Yu-Gi-Oh on the backburner a bit, including YCS events let alone these.
Anyway, for those who are not aware Alter Reality Games has put in motion the plans to hold what will be known as Alter Reality Games Circuit Series. The first event is in a mere few weeks in the great state of Texas. For those of you who follow Magic the Gathering, the closest comparison would be what Star City Games has been able to hold virtually every week of the year. Obviously the structure of our events will not be able to replicate what SCG accomplishes each week for the sheer nature of the support SCG already holds. There are players who regularly attend every SCG Open, and while we are hoping that can be the protocol for the ARG Circuit Series, it will come in time. Holding the ARG Circuit Series to the measuring stick of what SCG is able to accomplish from day 1 is a bit of an injustice and impractical expectation. Now do not get me wrong. That is the ultimate goal down the road. But SCG has had years of experience to perfect their production and it should be expected that we improve from event to event. From what type of coverage we have, to the format of presenting tournament coverage, these are things which can improve but rely on you the fans. For example, SCG already has perfected the immense responsibility of providing live video coverage. That is something we would love to accomplish as a company. But undertaking an event of this magnitude, and trying to replicate a model which took numerous attempts to perfect, would be a poor endeavor. Though I can promise you, everything you wish from the ARG Circuit Series is a possibility. We want live video coverage with commentators. We want deck profiles in between the rounds. We want interactive camera angles on feature matches. We want detailed analysis of the tournament field. We want it all. But trying to strive for it all in the first few productions would hinder our ability to adequately achieve each of those goals. But you have my word - we want it. We want it bad.
If you have suggestions after the first few events as to what can be done in order to improve the product, you should speak up. It is in the better interest of all of us to produce the best possible product.
Can you believe that competitive Yu-Gi-Oh started over ten years ago? Over a decade and there has yet to be a consistent string of competitive level tournaments outside of what Konami has run? Sure there has been a 1K here or a case tournament there, but nothing consistent outside of regionals and YCS/SJC tournaments. That is why this is a big deal. Can you imagine what would happen if the ARG Circuit Series could consistently get 300 person tournaments every week? 400? 500? 1000? One of the most fascinating aspects of Magic the Gathering is how fast their formats develop. Because of tournaments like SCG, on top of the Wizards run Grand Prix series, there is always a competitive tournament to analyze the results of. Did you see how much influence each World Championship Qualifier has on one another? Well just throw a tournament between every week and watch how fast things can develop. That is exactly what divides the metagame progressions of Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic the Gathering. Metagaming for certain tournaments exists in both games, but you have almost a month between significant events in Yu-Gi-Oh to prepare. This volume of tournaments could speed up the process of metagaming to a level never before seen. Tech choices are discovered and deemed old in less than two weeks because the player base has moved on to the perfect counter or more ideal card selection. It could be some pretty amazing stuff. Hyperspeed metagaming has the potential to develop interesting trends in stale formats. Who knows. Maybe that Madolche deck from the North American World Championship Qualifier is a sufficient enough counter to what Dragunity, Dragon Ruler and Prophecy is trying to accomplish. If there were enough events each month, the player base would have found that out and made a conclusion a week ago.
The most obvious advantage of these events is the dramatic leap in terms of prize support in comparison to what Konami provides the player base at their premier level tournaments. Now I totally understand why that is. I have sat down and spoken to members of Konami as to why their prize structure is the way it is, why there are no YCS events at GenCon each year and other gripes I have with the game. There are legitimate reasons confronting Konami and the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game in terms of providing the prize support that the player base probably deserve or the style of tournament we have been so eagerly requesting (remember when I wrote that article salivating over the Magic World Cup? how about 3 v. 3 YCS?). Konami of Japan and their image of Yu-Gi-Oh presents an obstacle that will probably never subside. And because of that, Konami of America has their hands tied with what they can actually present as prize support. Unfortunately nothing on that front is going to change in the future, and the ARG Circuit Series is the closest thing we may ever get to legitimate prize support. But ARG Circuit events may also be the avenue to the equivalent of 3 v. 3 events, or eventually some type of annual World Cup. Who knows what the future may hold. But all of those things Konami fails at providing, maybe, just maybe ARG Opens can be that hope.
If enough players treat these events like they are YCS events, then they will replace YCS events in terms of importance. They have better prizes than YCS events, and the potential to break the barriers which hold Konami back. Honestly, if the articles posted by Sam Pedigo, Kris Perovic and myself did not change Konami's perspective on Yu-Gi-Oh last year - will anything? Will Yu-Gi-Oh ever reach the level it should? Nope, 100% will not. Konami of Japan is not ruling over ARG, and we do not view this as a children's card game. The potential is there people. Let it happen. Attend these events. Watch as we grow our brand and the product we present. Watch us improve from event to event. The future may finally be upon us.