Hello everyone! This week we welcome a new YCS champion, Gabriel Orosan-Weine, as well as another win for Burning Abyss! Gabe piloted Burning Abyss to an impressive victory in a field of very accomplished and historical duelists, which is undeniably represented by the incredible 142 tops and 10 wins among the top 32 competitors! Most of the top cut was made up of Nekroz per usual with Burning Abyss being the second most represented deck (8 spots). Despite having less of a representation in top 32, 75% of the top 4 was made up of Burning Abyss, which is quite astounding if you consider the amount of Nekroz decks that topped (14). Lets try to understand why Burning Abyss was able to overtake the majority of top four despite having less representation in the top 32. More importantly, lets break down why Marcus Carisse was the only Nekroz player in top four!
Is it really that amazing that Burning Abyss took 75% of top four, or were there other factors that may have influenced this turnaround for Burning Abyss? Perhaps Nekroz has more problems than it did previously? I believe the answers to both of these questions can found in the most recent set release, Clash of Rebellions (CORE). When CORE was first released, a lot of duelists were underwhelmed with the lack of recognizably strong cards. Last year around this time, we saw Burning Abyss, Shaddoll, and Satellarknight all come out of just one pack! These decks are still some of the best options today, which made a lot of players disappointed when the cards released in CORE didn’t have a parallel effect on the metagame immediately. Despite an immediate effect, some of the cards released in CORE have created problems for almost every deck and have most assuredly spiced up the Meta. The deck that has been afflicted the most by CORE is Nekroz because the Performage engine has transfigured the way the deck plays. Lest we forget that Mistaken Arrest’s release as given other contending deck another way to prevent Nekroz from playing.
With the incorporation of the Performage monsters, Nekroz has become much stronger as they now have access to new threats in the extra deck as well as even easier access to old threats. The most iconic new extra deck monster that Nekroz can utilize is Number 104: Masquerade. Masquerade solves a lot of the problems that Nekroz had previously, while also creating new issues in the mirror match.
Prior to Masquerade, Nekroz had a hard time dealing with floating Burning Abyss and Kozmo monsters. Since Burning Abyss can almost effortlessly create a field of Dante’s with multiple Malebranches as Xyz materials, it was very difficult for Nekroz to push through all of the floating monsters and deal damage to the Burning Abyss player. With all the Malebranches floating, Burning Abyss players could flip up floodgates like Skill drain or Mistake to supplement their field of monsters and prevent Nekroz from winning the game. While Masquerade doesn’t solve the Skill Drain issue, he does prevent all of the Burning Abyss monsters from triggering in the battle phase.
The second match-up where Masquerade shines for Nekroz is the Kozmo match-up. While the Kozmo deck does not pose too many issues for Nekroz in Konami format, it creates a great deal of problems for Nekroz in ARG Format. In the ARG Format Nekroz players cannot use Trishula, which makes it very difficult for them to play around Honest and deal with floating spaceships. Before the 25k, Brady Brink was spending countless hours trying to solve the issue of Honest and there just wasn’t a solid and consistent solution, which made him and the rest of the Brady Bunch frustrated. With Masquerade in their extra deck, Nekroz players can now negate Honest or any of the floating spaceships. While Masquerade does Nekroz a lot of good, it also creates a huge problem in the mirror match.
Whether you’re playing Nekroz in Konami format or ARG format, there’s one card that you cannot play the mirror match without and it’s Nekroz of Valkyrus. Valkyrus allows you to eliminate monsters that no longer serve a purpose and turn them into future combo pieces, which is imperative to winning the mirror match in either format. Whoever has more combo pieces will usually win a Nekroz mirror because it’s all about swinging the tempo back and forth until you can eventually find a breakthrough. Valkyrus’s other effect allows you to negate any attack and end the battle phase, which is incredible and one of the strongest aspects of Nekroz. Since you usually want to clear your field to not lose to Trishula or Puppet Plant (Depends on Which Format) you leave yourself wide open for attacks. Leaving your field open wasn’t an issue because Valkyrus could just block all the attacks, but now that Masquerade can just negate the Valkyrus there’s a huge problem. The question now becomes,
Do you clear you field to play around Nekroz of Trishula, or do you leave your field to play around Masquerade?
Masquerade forces you to value getting Trishula’d more than just dying, which is an odd concept because getting Trishula’d generally leads to you losing the match anyways. This paradox is specifically why I chose to use Burning Abyss at YCS Toronto, and while I didn’t top I still felt good about my decision. Solving the Masquerade paradox didn’t seem worth it to me as some of the cards I thought viable would have compromised other match-ups.
If you look at Marcus Carisse’s second place Nekroz deck, you will notice that it doesn’t play any of the Performages. Marcus did elect to use Breakthrough Skill and Vanity’s Emptiness, which are both cards that definitely gave him an edge for game ones in the Nekroz mirror. Most Nekroz players don’t even use MST in the main because it’s not a combo piece, which means a well-timed Vanity’s can automatically win you game one. The breakthrough skills in Marcus’s deck gave him a solution to Masquerade as well as Nekroz of Trishula.
Burning Abyss’s Top Cut Turnaround
After 10 rounds of swiss, 8 Burning Abyss decks placed in the top 32, which were accompanied by 14 Nekroz decks. As I previously stated, Burning Abyss made up ¾ of the top 4, which means that half of the Burning Abyss decks that topped made it that far. Only 1 Nekroz deck out of the 14 that topped was able to make it to the finals of this event, and it didn’t even win. This is because of how good a match-up Burning Abyss truly has against Nekroz.
Lets think about this from the perspective of one of the 8 Burning Abyss players in top cut at YCS Toronto. Nearly half of the entire top cut is playing Nekroz, which is one of the best match-ups for Burning Abyss because of cards like Mistake and Mistaken Arrest. This means that there’s a high chance you will get to play against your ideal match-up since 14 placed in the top cut. With all these facts present, there should be no question as to how Burning Abyss was able to make such a good showing in top cut. Enough facts and figures, lets look at some of the cards that gave Burning Abyss a new found edge against Nekroz and the rest of the field!
Mistaken Arrest was a perfect new addition to Burning Abyss because it acted as a Mistake that would leave field. Since Mistaken Arrest leaves the field and still floodgates your opponent you are able to special summon your Malebranche monsters from your hand and create field of Dantes! Mistaken Arrest also is immune to popular side deck cards like Mystical Space Typhoon and Royal Decree, which are generally used by Nekroz.
The Traveler and the Burning Abyss
Traveler was particularly strong for the Burning Abyss players that used it because it diminished the effect that Abyss Dweller and Nekroz of Brionac had on the deck. It didn’t matter if all the Malebranches were sent to grave with no effect because Traveler would just bring them back for free anyways. Traveler was an absolute blowout every time I saw the card resolve and I would contribute a lot of Burning Abyss’s success at Toronto to this particular card.
Another Konami event came and went, and Burning Abyss reigned supreme yet again, will they finally touch this powerhouse of a deck? I would assume Konami would touch Burning Abyss after they sell all of their Mega Tins, as the deck will probably be reprinted in those, and Konami typically cares more about card sales than the Format as a whole. Hopefully I am wrong and this deck can finally be put in its place along with the rest of the popular decks currently! The Circuit Series stops by Indianapolis yet again on September 26-27, which means it’s time to start preparing your decks in ARG format. Stay tuned for this coming Monday (The 7th) as Alterealitygames will be releasing the latest update to the very popular ARG Format. I’ll see you all next week, until next time, play Hard or Go Home!