Greetings Duelists! This week I’m doing something different from my usual conceptual articles. This time I will be giving you my own Top 20 North American Players of 2011 list. I had a lot of fun writing this article and my selections were based on consistency and accomplishments more than anything. I’d also like to congratulate every player who topped an event in 2011 and I hope to see more from you in the coming years. I tried to make this article as NOT boring as possible so some of the player descriptions will be filled with humor (all in good fun of course as most of these people are friends of mine coincidentally). Well then without further ado, let’s get right into it shall we?
- Billy Brake- What could I say about this guy that everyone doesn’t already know? He won 2 YCSs last year, Toronto and Ohio, back to back. Even without the wins he had about 5 tops in the last year alone, pushing him into the double digits. Billy is without a doubt the best player of 2011. Congrats to him finally getting his win and then some.
- Robert Boyajian- This guy is also extremely busted in terms of skill level and accomplishment. Robby won YCS Indianapolis last year and he has so many tops that I can’t count them all. He topped Indianapolis, Toronto, Ohio, and Kansas City all in a row and those weren’t the only events that he topped last year. You try to do 4 straight and tell me how it goes; it’s an accomplishment in itself.
- Alistar Albans - He is one of the best players around now with a slew of tops and a 2nd place finish in the last year. Alistar was the last defense against Billy going back to back in the finals of YCS Ohio but to no avail. He’s known as a stellar botanist for his ability to outplay opponents in the plant mirror match. Though he does look a little scruffy, Alistar is quite the pro duelist. I expect a win from him in 2012.
- Nizar Sarhan - This guy was first thought to be a one hit wonder due to his win at YCS Dallas and the fact that he had never topped a regional before. However, Nizar proved to the world that he could be a consistent player by going undefeated in all 11 rounds of the very next YCS in Charlotte and then making top8. He also topped YCS Providence and Nationals in 2011. You can say what you want about him but 4 tops in one year can’t be a fluke.
- Travis Massengale – Travis started off 2011 by getting 2nd place at YCS Dallas using Gravekeepers, losing to Nizar’s Samurais in the finals. But he didn’t stop there because he went on to win YCS Orlando later in the year with a crazy Zombie Synchro deck.
- Nicky Lacaille – This guy has gotten 2nd place twice in 2011, proving to us that he will win someday. Nicky is known for his amazing decklists (even I consult him about decks because he’s that far ahead) and for fish otk. He beat me in top16 of YCS Charlotte back in March and I can vouch for him being a great and honest player. He is also the first man to let Billy win a YCS so it’d be wrong if I didn’t throw a little salt to that wound, but all in good fun. I expect great things from him in 2012.
- Camden Keener – This Agent duelist topped 4 YCS last year. He is mostly known for pioneering Agents to a top finish with a really good build every time. He’s also one of the few Agent players who still opted to use Archlord Kristya.
- Jessy Samek – It took him 4 whole years to top again ever since he won SJC Philadelphia in 2007 but he came back hard in late 2011 by topping 3 events in a row—Indianapolis, Toronto, and Ohio. He is a master botanist, piloting Plants each time he topped last year. You can catch Jessy walking around at a YCS near you looking as clueless as ever but don’t underestimate him because he has quite the perception of the game. I can see him doing well in 2012 but only time will tell; hopefully not 4 years time, again.
- Barrett Keys – He’s another believer in Master Hyperion as he has topped 3 events last year using Agents. Barrett has been gunning for a win extremely hard by attending several events and doing well. You can expect to see more of him in 2012.
- Anthony Alvarado – One of my favorite players and one of the best players to ever play the game of Yu-Gi-Oh. He came back to the competitive scene last year with a bang by topping YCS Providence, YCS Toronto, and Nationals. His tops are in the double digits and most of them come from a time when only top8 made the playoffs. Anthony is what I would refer to as a legend in the game and his ability to make reads and outplay opponents will continue to lead him to success for as long as he plays.
- Jonathan Weigle – I gave him the name “Gravekeeper’s Descendant” due to his ability to score several tops last year with the deck, including a 2nd place finish at YCS Anaheim. Although young, “Wiggles” has a great perception of the game and he’s one of my favorite players. Don’t underestimate him because of his age.
- Joe Giorlando – Quite the intellectual, Joe topped 4 events last year starting with YCS Dallas where he beat me in the Samurai mirror match. He then went on to top YCS Orlando, YCS Toronto, and YCS Ohio. When he’s not busy with being a history major you can find him in the lab discussing some interesting theory-oh.
- Jerry Williams – He’s a master of his craft. He topped YCS Charlotte, YCS Kansas City, and got top16 at Nationals last year and each with a different deck. He isn’t one for attention but he’s one of the better players in the game and his total number of tops proves it for him. Watch out for him in 2012, he’s quite the master.
- Elijah Gersten – This guy topped 3 out of 5 of the events he attended last year which is quite impressive. He’s another Gravekeeper duelist and knows how to drop a game ending Royal Tribute like yours truly. Elijah has been known to be an internet troll, mocking duelists everywhere and throwing them off. You can expect more of his antics in 2012.
- Steve Silverman – The winner of the 2nd biggest Yu-Gi-Oh tournament and the player who coined the word “Juice” when it comes to amazing trades. He topped YCS Charlotte and YCS Kansas City last year with X-Sabers and Plants respectively. Steve is known for his mind games and the ability to hinder the opponent’s decision making. If you ever play against this guy you should be afraid because once he’s in your head you already lost.
- Sean Montague – The national champion of 2010. Sean is a great player who I believe has a total of 5 tops now. He topped Toronto and Ohio back to back with plants and he’s one of the best in terms of execution that I’ve seen in awhile. He also happens to be a close friend of mine who I discuss deck ideas with and general theory-oh. He’s definitely one of the top players in the game at the moment.
- Thomas Vo – He finished in the top4 of YCS Ohio with plants and he topped YCS Providence, losing to close friend Tyree Tinsley who happened to be the eventual winner. I played him on the bubble of YCS Kansas City and I could tell he was the real deal. Thomas writes articles now and he has plenty of insight to offer for those up and coming players.
- Hansel Aguero – He is THEE national champion winner of 2011. He did it with a sleeper deck, Tech Genus, which instantly put the deck on the map as a force to be reckoned with. Hansel doesn’t get to travel much due to his high school commitments but he has been tearing up the competition in his local area by topping several regionals and tour guide tournaments. I assure you he will not be a one-hit wonder and I stand by that.
- Angel Flores – Yet another great player who doesn’t get to travel much. He is a resident of California where he has won the last TWO California YCSs, and get this, it was with the same deck. Angel is nothing short of amazing as proven by his ability to top just about every single California premier level event to date. Do not underestimate him. He is the most heroic.
- Jack Hoyt – This kid is amazing. He has won over 14 dragon duels earning him so many prize cards that I think he might be required to file taxes this year. He’s recently aged past the point of a Dragon Duelist so now the only place he can go is straight to the main event. I’m sure he’ll have success once he adjusts to the higher level of competition. Expect to see Jack Hoyt taking top spots in YCSs someday.
If you’re a player that still wants to get his or her name out there on the pro circuit then keep trying. These 20 players have had some great accomplishments in the past year and even years before that. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next big thing.
Remember, play hard or go home!
-YCS Atlanta Champion