Winning YCS Columbus – Becoming a Back-To-Back Champion

Six years ago Ryan Hayakawa was able to win back-to-back championship victories and no other player in Yugioh history had been able to match this feat….until now. This past weekend in YCS Ohio, coming off my win at YCS Toronto barley a month ago, I was able to claim victory to back-to-back Yugioh Championship Series Tournaments. Using a very similar deck that I was able to claim the top spot with in Toronto, I used a lot of the same strategies and was able to walk away the YCS Columbus Champion as well. This road to my championship was not an easy one; this tournament put me up against many friends and even my own twin brother. Luckily, I was able to overcome a couple of losses on my Day 1 and finish out Day 2 with an undefeated record. I will go ahead and give you guys the deck I used and then take you through the events that lead to me being able to win my 2nd YCS Title and become a Back-to-Back Champion.

The Deck:
3 Reborn Tengu
3 Tour Guide From the Underworld
3 Maxx “C”
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh
2 Caius The Shadow Monarch
1 Sangan
1 Effect Veiler
1 Spore
1 Lonefire Blossom
1 Glow-up Bulb
1 Dandylion
1 Debris Dragon
1 Spirit Reaper
1 Black Luster Soilder – Envoy Of The Beginning
1 Gorz, The Emissary of Darkness

Spells: 13
2 Enemy Controller
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 One For One
1 Dark Hole
1 Heavy Storm
1 Foolish Burial
1 Book Of Moon
1 Pot of Avarice
1 Mind Control
1 Monster Reborn
1 Scapegoat

Traps: 5
2 Solemn Warning
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Trap Dustshoot

Side Deck : 15
2 Gemini Imps
1 Doomcaliber Knight
1 Thunder King Rai-Oh
1 D.D. Crow
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Leeching The Light
1 Dust Tornado
2 Shadow – Imprisoning Mirror
2 Debunk
2 Dimensional Prison

Extra Deck:15
1 Formula Synchron
1 Armory Arm
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 T.G. Hyper Librarian
1 Orient Dragon
1 Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Anicent Fairy Dragon
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Numebr 17:Leviathan Dragon
1 Leviar the Sea Dragon
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Steelswarm Roach

The Changes
As you can see the deck I used at YCS Columbus was very similar to the one I won with at YCS Toronto. The only changes I made were cutting down to 1 Effect Veiler and adding a 3rd Maxx “C” and taking out Call of the Haunted for a 2nd Caius the Shadow Monarch. I wanted to use 3 Maxx “C” because I felt that the most played deck would be plants “Synchro Summon” and this is one of the only cards that can stop them in their tracks and give you a chance to beat the mirror match. I also took out Call of The Haunted as a personal preference as I found it underwhelming, it just never preformed for me and I felt it a 2nd Caius would give my deck added power and help me out in the Dark World match-up.

The Road to a 2nd Championship – DAY 1

Going into YCS Columbus I had the burning desire to try and capture a second win and also be able to say that I won two Championship Series Back-to-Back. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and every duelist I faced would be gunning after me trying to insure that I would not be able to tackle this difficult task.

Before we left the hotel to head over and begin dueling , ARG Writer Jeff Jones and I played a warm-up match to get our Yugioh minds started! I felt pretty happy about my side deck choices and we headed to the Convention Center.

On Day 1 there was to be nine rounds of swiss followed by Day 2 to finish the last two rounds of swiss. Since there were just under 1100 duelist at this tournament and it was just past the cut off to require an 11 round tournament all duelist that finished with an X-2 record after the 11th round would be guaranteed a spot in the top 32. I was pretty happy at this fact because it is a known fact if you face a bunch of mirror-matches there is a greater chance that you will end up losing one or two no matter how well you play.

I got to a pretty good start right off the bat. I was able to win my first 4 rounds without even having to go to game 3 in any of my matches, my deck had started performing well from the very get go. In the fifth round I saw that I was paired up against my own twin brother Bobby Brake. When you go to these kinds of events with friends and family and you are all doing well there is a good chance you might end up having to face off against each other. Sadly, when we dueled I was not able to come up with a victory against my brother in our “Plant Synchro Summon” mirror-match. He played his game very well and alongside a couple of key draws and brilliant opening hands was able to take me to my first game 3 and hand me my first loss in the tournament. I was happy my brother had started off 5-0, but it did sting that I was now put in a position with a little bit more pressure on myself to win. It was time to use some mental toughness and gather myself to insure that I would be on the top of my game for the rounds to come.

I had recovered and won the next couple of rounds in a row and had a 6-1 record going into the eighth round. I was then paired up with a friendly acquaintance of mine Daniel LaMartina. He was using an unexpected Hero Beat anti-meta deck. I was able to pull off a win game 1, but in game 2 a timely Skill Drain, followed up by a pair of Miracle Fusion sealed my fate. In Game 3 he had a single back row against my Reborn Tengu. He special summoned a Cyber Dragon, activated Monster Reborn on his Stratos, and then summoned the Neos Alius he had searched from his deck. I then activated my Torrential Tribute in response to his summon and he flipped his one back row Starlight Road to, for all means and purposes, end the duel. I took my second loss on the first day and knew if I wanted to top this event I would not only have to win the last round of the day, but both rounds in the morning of Day 2. I was able to win the last round of the day and finish with a record of 7-2 and in 27th place going into the final two rounds of swiss in the morning.

The Road to a 2nd Championship – DAY 2

I put on a fresh pack of sleeves, played a couple of warm-up games with fellow ARG Writer Robbie Boyajin, and then we all headed over to the Convention Center to try and finish the tournament strong!

The final two rounds of swiss were bitter-sweet for me. I had to play 2 friends of mine, 1 was a mirror-match and the other was a TGU Agent deck. I was able to draw better in the mirror and have a little bit of luck on my side with a top deck Mind Control to insure victory even though my opponent had an Effect Veiler to stop my game shot. In the 11th round of Swiss I was looking down the barrel of a gun against a TGU Agent deck. Luckily, our match had taken a pretty long time and time was called ( only the second time I have gone to time this year). Despite my opponent having more cards than me, at the end of the 5 last turns my life was still 1700 points higher and I was awarded the win.
After the swiss rounds were over I came in 12th place and had made the top 32 final cut, every match after this would be single elimination, but I had been in a single elimination tournament since round 8 of Day 1 so it was just more of the same for me. The final leg of my quest to become a two-time YCS Champion had begun.

Top 32 - Gadget
My top 32 opponent was a player that I had been aware of for quite some time now. He has been using gadgets on the competitive tournament scene for as long as I can remember so I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy match. In game 1 I opened with a pretty slow hand, but was able to stick with it, and a timely Torrential Tribute, I was able to work my way through all of his traps and summon a late game Black Luster Solider – Envoy of the Beginning and take Game 1. I am pretty sure he was able to pull out the win in game 2, but in game 3 he opened with a couple of Gadgets and my Reborn Tengu proved to be too much and I was able to get the victory and advance to Top 16.

Top 16 – Fairy/Gallis
This is a deck that I was well aware of and I knew it could pack a punch, but If I could get enough back rows to protect me it would be hard for him to pull out the win. In game 1, I have a few monsters and thanks to Thunder King Rai-Oh and a key Solemn Judgemnt he isn’t able to do too much and I pull out the win in Game 1. In Game 2, he mills a Archlord Kristya off of a Gallis effect while I was holding Monster Reborn. I knew his deck did not have many outs to Kristya so I special summoned it and planned to ride it to victory, but my opponent summoned a Herald of Orange light in desperation to attack the Kristya and Honest over it. I had a follow-up Black Luster Soldier and I was able to win and advance to Top 8.

Top 8 – Plant Mirror Match
There was nothing to exciting to note about this match up besides the fact that we both drew well. My opponent made an Armory Arm play that gave away that he was hold BLS and trying to summon him for a game-shot, but I responded back with an Orient Dragon to banish his light target. A few turns down the road he finally got the light he needed, but by that time I had a Solemn Judgment to stop him in his tracks and win game 1. In Game 2 the duel gets simplified really quickly and I end up with a Thuner King and Solmen Warning to his two cards. He isn’t really able to draw into anything and I get the W. Next stop, Top 4!

Top 4 – Plant Mirror Match
I start Game 1 with an all monster hand and I know it is going to be tough to win this game. We go back and forth, I make a big push and he has the Dark Hole to follow up with and stop me before I can kill him. In the end I end up booking one of his monsters, making a Black Rose Dragon and using its effect to put his monster into attack mode and give it 0 atk so I can swing in for game. In Game 2 I drop a very early, turn 2 or 3 Black Luster Solider because my hand isn’t the greatest so I felt I had to put the pressure on him early. He is able to survive for a few turns and when my opponent decides it’s time to make a push I have Maxx “C” to make sure I draw enough cards to make sure he can’t come back. He can’t recover from the Maxx “C” and I am able to gain the victory through an end phase Scapegoat and then using 2 Enemy Controllers to take both of his monsters and attack for game. At this point I was only one more win from being a Back-to-Back YCS Champion

Finals – Plant Mirror Match
This duel was the dictionary definition of a Bitter-Sweet end to an incredible tournament. On one side I sat hungry for my second win and trying to accomplish a feat that has only been done by one other player 6 years ago. On the other was a good friend of mine, Alistar Albans, he is someone I talk to quite often and had discussed the decks we were playing, giving each other our opinions and thoughts on the deck. Our main decks were only 1 card different; I used a 3rd Maxx “C” while he chose to stick with 2 Effect Veiler. If I won this duel I would be ecstatic and in the Yugioh history books, and if my friend won I would be happy that a player of his skill was finally able to take home the championship title; I knew this duel would be one for the ages.

Game 1 I opened a fairly aggressive hand. I was able to get a quick attack in with Thunder King Rai-Oh through Alistar bluffing a Gorz play. On the following turn I cleared his back row with Heavy Storm, tribute my Reborn Tengu for Caius, and was able to attack for game and get a quick win in Game 1. I began to get a little excited now only being 1 game win away from my second YCS Championship.

Game 2 It is pretty clear to me early on the his hand is quite better than mine. He quickly builds a lot of field presence, but I have a Spirit Reaper to keep me alive. He is able to make a Brionac play to bounce my Reaper, but I have a timely Gorz to insure he wastes all of his cards using Brionacs effect. I am able to mount a comeback clearing his field, but he draws into a Black Luster Solider shortly after my comeback and ends the game I was trying to steal.

While I was shuffling up my deck I knew the whole weekend and all of the duels I had played all came down to this. Both of us had worked hard to prepare for the event and spent a lot of energy and we were both ready to give it our all. Even though this was my third trip to the finals of a YCS, it was my first time in Game 3 and it was a pretty special moment. Everything we had strived for would be summed up in the final game of the tournament.

Game 3 I opened a very ugly hand of all monsters including 2 copies of Reborn Tengu, my only play was to summon a Thunder King and pass. On my second turn I drew my 7th card and it was my 3rd copy of Reborn Tengu, I cannot tell you how my heart dropped when I saw this, I have opened up 3 Reborn Tengu a few times before and each of those times ended in loses for me. I knew I had to shrug it off and keep my head clear and just focus on doing what I can on winning the duel. Alistar passed with an open field like he had in Game 1 and I had called his bluff Gorz because I had an answer for it, but with my hand being so awful I could not risk it, I simply set Spore and passed. Alistar set a monster and a back row and passed to me. At this point I drew Scapegoat which was actually the exact card that I wanted, I attacked over his Glow-Up Bulb (Giving me an indication that his hand was not very good either) and I set goats and passed. He then summoned Sangan, booked my Thunder King and attacked over it, I couldn’t believe it this duel was actually headed in the right direction for me. I end phased my goats. I synched up into Formula Synchron with spore and a token and attempted to Reborn my Thunder King, but was instantly Solemn Warning’d. I summoned a Doomcaliber Knight and traded him off with Alistar’s Sangan to isnure his hand wouldn’t get better. He summoned a Dandylion, brought back bulb, at this point I thought about synching up for a T.G. Hyper Librarian, but I felt he was trying to bait me into an Enemy Controller play for him so I chose to wait till he brought out the Armory Arm and attempted to enter the Battle phase. On my next turn I summoned a Tour Guide and swung over all three of his monsters leaving him with an empty field. On Alistar’s turn I activated D.D. Crow to banish his one light monster because if he dropped a BLS he would win the game quickly. He simply set a monster and passed. After I drew for my turn and saw that he was at 4500 Life points I saw that I had a game shot through Gorz. I summoned my Glow-Up Bulb, He discarded Maxx “C” but I knew he would draw 3 cards and now was the time to go for the throat. I synchro summoned with my Tour Guide for Armory Arm, brought back Spore by banishing Glow-up Bulb to make him a level 2 tuner, Sychnro summoned with my T.G. Hyper Librarian for Black Rose Dragon. I used his effect to put his face-down Spore into face-up attack mode and give it 0 attack. I equipped the Armory Arm, attacked for 3400 damage over the Spore, then dealt 400 points of damage for Armory Arms effect leaving him only at 700 points from my Sangan attack and I had an Enemy Controller in my hand to take his Gorz had he dropped it on the burn damage. I kept all 3 copies of Reborn Tengu in my hand not wanting to give Alistar the knowledge of just how bad my hand really was. Just like that I won my 2nd YCS in a row and became the YCS Columbus Champion!

Coming off my win at YCS Toronto I was already for another Championship Title. The road to the top was a long and hard battle, I had to play many friends and even my own brother, but in the end I was able to walk away a Two-Time Champ. Thank you to everyone who has been supporting me and has congratulated me on my success! For those out there who want to be Champions one day the best advice I can give you is to work hard, no matter what happens keep your head up and don’t give up. Make sure you are prepared and have a good attitude about what you want to achieve!

- Billy Brake
YCS Toronto Winner
YCS Columbus Winner