There are plenty of things about the game that you should know before playing in a major event. When I was watching the live stream from ARGCS Atlanta, I noticed that not everyone realizes the importance of rulings knowledge, or how end of round procedures can affect your match. While being an amazing deck builder and an amazing player can carry you far, you will certainly want to have the full package to perform well on a consistent basis. I am going to go over a real-life example and provide some advice on how you should prepare beforehand. I will also explain how you should approach the situation when it happens.
In Atlanta, there was a match where Korey McDuffie was playing with his Shaddolls vs. Burning Abyss, and game one was taking an exceptionally long time to complete. It had reached a point where he had a chance to play around Fire Lake, but he went all in instead. This—amongst other things—cost him the match. Now, there is nothing wrong with losing a game to a misplay, because no one is perfect, but that’s only part of the issue. The major problem here was that he seemed completely unaware of what happens if you lose game one in time.
In Yu-Gi-Oh, if game one goes into time, whoever wins that game will automatically win the whole match. You don’t get a chance to play game two, so you will want to avoid losing like this at all costs. When I was watching how he played, there wasn’t any urgency regarding the time crunch. The worst part was, after he lost his entire field to Fire Lake, there was really no reason to continue the game. I was saying that he should have just scooped as soon as it happened. This would have allowed him to side deck and play game two. At that point, he would have had a chance at a draw, which is better than flat out losing the entire match, especially since he had to know he was going to lose that game anyway. His opponent also seemed to be taking his time, which makes sense because it was beneficial to him if they entered end of round procedures. Whether the guy was slow playing or not is irrelevant to the point that Korey should have simply scooped as soon as the Fire Lake was flipped.
This brings me back to an article I wrote in 2013 about knowing when it’s correct to scoop up your cards. No one wants to lose, but if you can’t recognize that prolonging some games is actually detrimental to how well you perform in the tournament, you are probably wasting your money. Sometimes, games get out of hand and your opponent just has the stones. It’s a part of every TCG. Sometimes, you will play a thirty-minute game one and realize that you have no way of actually winning anymore. As soon as you realize this, you should go to the next game. The same logic applies if game two is about to go into time and you already won game one. After you get a quick glance at the clock to see if there’s enough time to side deck, you should definitely scoop and start the next game as swiftly as possible. Players have at least three minutes to side deck, so take that into account when making your decision.
The other thing that happened during the same game was a ruling dispute. There was some confusion over whether Korey could fuse with Shaddoll Core and have his Shaddoll Construct come out and send a Shaddoll Fusion Spell to the graveyard, allowing the Core to add the Shaddoll Fusion Spell back to his hand. This play is not actually possible, but finding that out in the middle of a game—during an event where $1500 is on the line—is never how you want to learn. On top of this, ruling disputes take time, and you don’t always get back the exact amount of time that it took for the judge to deliberate. This can be to your detriment if a dispute takes eight minutes to resolve, but you only get five minutes back. You want to avoid this from happening in a major event by knowing your rulings, and appealing to the head judge if the floor judge makes the wrong call.
We’ve all been there before. We lose games because the judge gave us the wrong ruling, or because we made a play based off an incorrect ruling. If not, then you’ve certainly heard people complaining about it happening to them at events. Whenever I hear this, my first question is always, “Did you appeal?” to which the response is too often, “No, I didn’t.” Know your rights and know how to exercise them when needed.
Last but not least, you just have to remember to play at a nice pace. Honestly, if you play the game more often, your plays will take less time to make and you won’t go into time as much. That isn’t anything new or revolutionary, it’s just a fact. Like I’ve said before, if I don’t play the game in awhile, it will take me years to make a play that might be as simple as tribute summoning for Majesty’s Fiend. And that’s not to say that there aren’t games that can take exceptionally long, but 35 minutes is more than likely the result of slow play on either you or your opponent’s end. Some people do it on purpose, and others genuinely don’t realize how long they’re taking. If someone is taking too long, I just ask him nicely to speed up play because I don’t want to go into time. If the behavior persists, I usually call a judge. It sucks being put into that position, but you paid your money to come to that event and play the game under fair circumstances. There’s no reason to be afraid to speak up.
Until next time, duelists! Remember, Play Hard or Go Home!
-The Dark Magician