Nobody starts at the top, so it’s important to remember where you came from. We all have our stories of how we first started out and what we did to improve our game, or how much we enjoyed playing with our friends, and so on. Today I’m going to be sharing my personal background and timeline of my Yugioh career.
I still remember the image in my head the first time (I believe) I was ever introduced to the game. I was about 9 years old and I was over at my neighbor’s house and he had 100 cards laid out with 51 of them turned over, much like an early episode of the original Yugioh. That day I became hooked, my parents bought me and my two older brothers the original structure decks and we taught ourselves the game. I still remember the intense match my brothers had as one of them summoned Blue Eyes White Dragon right into a Two-Pronged attack followed up by a Monster Reborn, ohh the old days! I began to attend tournaments at my local card shop, and for a 9 year old, I was pretty damn good. I still had plenty of flaws (being 9 for starters), but I grasped a rather competitive aspect of the game quicker than most my age. The most irritating part was trying to play with kids my own age. When we would duel each other during indoor recess, I would enjoy winning and taking the rules seriously, while the others would throw down their Toon World’s and scream “HAHA my monsters can’t die now, didn’t you see the show??”. I would simply shake my head as I pointlessly argued that the only thing Toon World says is “Pay 2000 lifepoints”. Alas, I was the second best person under the age of 10 at my local. Considering the best, John Hack, is now valedictorian of his high school, I don’t feel all too bad about it! Surprisingly, we both actually occasionally topped our locals.
Soon however, my Yugioh career would take a turn for the worse… One day me and my other neighbor (yeah, both my neighbors were my age and played Yugioh) were sitting in a Starbucks about 3 stores down from my local card shop. He was going to quit, so he was selling cards in the store, and he was discussing with me his profits. Well, like most card shops, you weren’t allowed to sell cards in the store, and one of the Starbucks employees was friends with our shops employees/owner and ‘tattled’. Unfortunately for me, I got mixed up in it due to miscommunication when I hadn’t even done anything wrong. Needless to say, I was yelled at (aggressively talked to for the sake of accuracy) and put on the verge of tears at 9 years old. When you think of the store as a home and the employees as your friends, it’s pretty crushing for them to make you cry, for god sake I was 9! While that wasn’t the prime reason I quit, it was certainly a contributing factor. The bigger reason was probably my lack of income, so I could only get so many ‘good cards’. Back then it was pretty easy to build a generic chaos deck with 1 BLS 1 CED and just make sure you have a copy of Mirror Force. When every expensive card I owned had gotten banned, I lost the will to play.
So that was basically it, maybe a year run had been ended just like that with essentially no involvement afterwards. I had completely moved on to Diablo II, Starcraft, Halo 2, and Runescape. You don’t all have to tell me how popular I must have been, because I already know. And yes, that was sarcasm. Fast forward about 5 years and we get to either winter break or summer break of my freshmen year (I forgot which one). I was just chilling at my grandparents’ house in Florida, bored to tears, when all of sudden Yugioh pops up on the TV. Next thing I know I start nonstop reminiscing. As soon as I get home I express my interest in the game again and my dad seemed rather skeptical that I somehow became so obsessed with it again after only a few weeks, especially having not played in years. My first experience back in a tournament was not too hot. I played my Bazoo-return deck and still had Dimension Fusion in my deck (whoops!), thankfully I didn’t draw dimension fusion. Even with a 5 year old deck being based around a banned card, I still managed to get like 2 wins. My tournament experience would become much more interesting when I dueled against 13 year old Colin Gustin, who effectively FTK’d then OTK’d me games 1 and 2 with Synchro Cat, defeating me in about 5 minutes. I had no idea what had just happened, but I had to find out! I quickly went home and researched all about it, and by next week, I had bought pretty much everything I needed for the deck (well, my mom did anyway). Unfortunately, my parents had a cap on how much they would give me, which was around $100, so I was playing a Synchro Cat deck without any Dark Strike Fighters or Arcanite Magicians. If any of you know the format and that deck, it’s pretty useless without the proper synchros. Eventually I moved onto a Blackwing deck and stuck with it for quite some time. I began to duel local duelists for cards and accumulate a rather impressive collection, and after long hard fought battles, I received 9th place at a regional in Omaha Nebraska. I actually have a video posted over this regional from years ago, but I was 15 and it was pretty embarrassing, so if you really want to watch it, good luck finding it!
I played Frog FTK at my first nationals and ran into some pretty bad luck, my first loss being to my friend Josh Turley round 2 where I lost the dice roll and he drew Torrential Tribute. At the same, that was one of the only traps which actually stopped Frog FTK. Then round 5 some guy drew 2 D.D. crows on me. What made me so mad about round 5 is the guy kept saying “why would you even play that deck, it’s SO easy to beat”, when he drew literally the only way to beat it. Grrr. So a month later, I attended my very first big tournament outside of Nationals. I played Frog FTK once again, and once again under-performed, however I did win 4 Blackrose Dragon mats, which each sold for about $90 a piece, so I had a pretty good event anyway. Maybe a few weeks later I top 4’d a regional with, once again, Frog FTK, this time siding into Heros with miracle fusions. I kept up with regionals and locals, but I don’t believe I attended another YCS until the year after starting with YCS Orlando. I traveled there with some friends from locals, one of which ended up winning the entire thing, shout out to Travis Massengale! Anyway, I had started off 4-0 at this event with my tricky little Fusion Gate Hero deck, but eventually received my third loss round 10. However, this was my first time actually getting close to topping a premier event. Later that year at Indy 2011 I took the same deck revised and started off 4-0 once again, getting a round 5 feature match, and going against the only deck I was not prepared for. That was the first week XYZ’s came out and I had no idea Venus = instant 2k beater. My Alius didn’t stand a chance. I lost round 6 as well, effectively taking me out of the tournament since it was cut to top 16. At YCS Ohio I once again took my fusion gate hero deck for its final run and made it all the way to round 11 with 2 losses. I lost my last round and killed my chance of topping my first event, but this was the first time I made it to a real bubble match. After 3 close calls I knew I could get there with a bit more effort.
Fast forward through a couple events worth of terrible meta calls, one of which being Dopple-Plants at a nationals filled with mained Maxx C’s and Veilers, and we arrive at YCS Dallas 2012. I had played Wind Ups at Atlanta, which by the way was a terrible meta call considering the amount of mained hand traps, but I knew for this event there would not be nearly as many. I wanted to add a twist to it though, and I thought about Wilson Tsangs floater beat into Wind Ups. Well, considering there was a minimal amount of mained hand traps, I wanted to abuse that fact, but at the same time I wanted to ensure a game one victory. So I made the inverse of his deck and tweaked it, and I had played loop ups (spam lvl 3’s), siding into floater beatdown. I already played 3 T.G. Warewolfs, so I sided in 3 Rhinos, 3 Horn of the Phantom Beats, 3 Sabre Tigers, and so on, while taking out most my useless lvl 3 monsters. Then game 2 they would have a bunch of dead hand traps. It worked surprisingly well, starting off with a 5-0 beginning, and made it once again all the way to round 11. My tournament was cut to an end as I lost another bubble round to Blake Mccray and his Samurai deck. I was not disappointed though, because it was a good match, and once again I got extremely close, and I knew going that extra step was not far off. The following YCS was Chicago where I got my first top with Gk’s as many of you know, followed by Philly and Nationals. I've already talked about those 3 many times so I won’t bore you all with those. The point is, I didn't just magically enter a tournament one day and get to where I was, I had to work hard for it. When I first started playing I had actually built two decks and dueled myself in my room, pretending to not know the other ‘persons’ hand, and looked up relevant ruling questions as they came up to increase my rulings knowledge. For example I still remember one of the first things I looked up was whether or not Book of Moon targeted, to determine if Thought Ruler Archfiend could negate it.
So keep on dueling and improving your game, you never know where your efforts will take you. Each and every one of you could be the next champion, all it takes is some motivation. That’s my story duelists, what’s yours? Never give up, and as always, duel hard or go home!