From LCQ to Worlds: Top6 NAWCQ Report

Hello everyone, I'm probably not a familiar face to most of you so let me introduce myself.  My name is Mike Steinman, and I've been playing competitively for a while now.  I don't travel to events very often but I do play online a lot and you might know me by my online alias, TS Fearless.  I actually quit after Gencon Indy last year but I'll get to that a little later.  I don't make it to a lot of YCS's but I always make sure to go to Nationals since everyone is always there and seeing my friends are a huge part of going to these events!  While at the event, I got my third WCQ top!  I was stoked, but I'm going to rewind to last week to start this report off.

Like I said earlier, my last event was Gencon Indy in the fall.  There, I had used Gravekeeper's.  I kept up with the game a fair amount but didn't really know the ins and outs of every deck and its match ups.  After school ended, I had more time to play so I started messing around with Gravekeeper's just to see how they'd fair against the meta now.  I actually found them to be a pretty good deck and for a while I would've suggested it for the WCQ, but eventually I realized it definitely wasn't good enough.  After playing a little again, I really started to miss my friends even more than before so I got on AIM and caught up.  They asked me if I were going to the WCQ and I told them I had no invite and no way to get there.  Lcqs fixed the first problem, but with no way to get there I figured I was going to have a relaxed weekend of following the coverage site and rooting my friends on, wishing I could be there.  But my friend Brady Brink told me he was driving from North Dakota and that picking me up would only be an hour out of the way!
I instantly start testing and trying to figure out the best meta call for the event.  I end up with 3 possible decks: Dino-Rabbit, Final Countdown, and Wind-Ups.  I quickly decide that even though Wind-Ups are an awesome deck for the event, I wouldn't be able to learn the deck enough to be completely comfortable with it in one week so I scratch it off my list.  Next I go onto testing Final Countdown but play against Wind-Ups, Wind-Ups, Chain Burn and Rabbit and come to the conclusion that this wasn't the deck for me either.  I had a feeling Rabbit would be my choice from the beginning.  All the one card power plays, the Rabbit+Tour Guide interaction, and the power of Dolkka and Macro Cosmos were too good to ignore.  Every other deck just looked under powered and fragile compared to Rabbit, so I asked my friend Chris Hentz for his list and started testing from there.  It's not the exact list I wanted to play, but it's what I ended up registering (I'll get to that later) so here's the list.
3 Rescue Rabbit
3 Tour Guide from the Underworld
3 Kabazauls
3 Sabersaurus
3 Jurrac Guaiba
2 Spirit Reaper
1 Sangan
1 Neo-Spacian Grand Mole
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
3 Forbidden Lance
1 Book of Moon
1 Dark Hole
1 Heavy Storm
1 Monster Reborn
2 Macro Cosmos
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Dimensional Prison
2 Torrential Tribute
2 Solemn Warning
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Starlight Road
1 Compulsory Evacuation Device
3 Snowman Eater
2 Effect Veiler
1 Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
2 Soul Taker
2 Level Limit - Area B
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Dust Tornado
1 Macro Cosmos
1 Dimensional Prison
2 Evolzar Laggia
2 Evolzar Dolkka
2 Leviair the Sea Dragon
1 Number 17: Leviathan Dragon
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Gem-Knight Pearl
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number C39: Utopia Ray
1 Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction
1 Photon Papilloperative
1 Stardust Dragon
So Wednesday night comes along, and Brady is supposed to pick me and my friend Ben Wagner up in the morning.  I start testing and unlike in my previous testing, Chaos Dragons are proving to be a problem for me.  I brushed it aside and chilled with Ben until Brady and Jamie finally arrived!  They look exhausted already and we still have a 9 hour drive ahead of us.  We stop for food, and after hours of driving through Indianapolis traffic and the ghettos of Ohio that our wonderful GPS lead us through, we finally get to Columbus at 11!  Chris is waiting for us there, and we all go and pick up John Hubbard for a grand total of 6 people in our car!  We get some awesome pizza and roam around the streets of Columbus before going back to our hotel.  I play some games with Chris and Ben before hitting the sack. I don't hear the alarm when it goes off and wake up late.  LCQs started at 10 and we got there after 12, whoops.  The line is huge but by the time I finish writing my decklist I'm at the start of it.  Austin Kulman and I both shake on it that we both 4-0 our respective LCQs, and I sit down for mine.
Round 1 - Wind-Ups
Game 1: He opens with the loop and I grind with my leftover Sabersaurus, Macro Cosmos and Dimensional Prison.  He swings his Zenmaines into the Prison and I top a Kabazauls and summon it into his backrow.. which wasn't a Warning! I take the game from there.
Game 2: I don't open with Veiler and he loops me again, I stall on Reaper for a bit but he keeps the pressure on and has Warning for my Gorz.
Game 3: I open with Rabbit and he has Effect Veiler.  He plays Tour Guide to go over my Rabbit and next turn I double Typhoon his back rows and summon another Rabbit, set Warning and Judgment and take the game from there.
Round 2 - Hero Beat
Game 1: I open with Laggia and am able to play around his many Skill Drains and Gemini Sparks.  He resolves 2 Miracle Fusions but I can answer them both. One more and I would've lost.
Game 2: I open with Normals and he OTKs me with Typhoon, Snowman, Blade Armor Ninja and Miracle Fusion.
Game 3: I open with Normals but I also have Level Limit - Area B and traps so I'm able to make a Laggia and draw a Rabbit from there to take control and win the game.
Round 3 - Hero Beat
Game 1: He opens with a ton of monsters and I'm able to take over very easily with a Laggia that never has to negate anything.
Game 2: He gets an early Super Polymerization off and follows it up with triple Miracle Fusion, 2 of which I can negate.  I Snowman his Shining, summon Reaper to rip his last card out of his hand then overlay for Leviair and end with Leviair, Laggia, Solemn Warning, and Dimensional Prison to his 2 Alius and he can't recover.
Last round, this is it! Kulman already lost, so one of us had to do this atleast.
Round 4 - Hieratics
Game 1: He combos off and ends with REDMD, Bounzer, and Gaia Charger. I Dark Hole, make a Laggia and
Game 2: He starts slow this game, and he flashes a Gorz in his hand that I play around.  He's never able to get anything going and I take the game with Laggia, Dolkka, Warnings and Veilers in my hand.  He never drops Gorz and I ask if he forgot that he had it in his hand.  He says it would've been pointless to since I could just negate it with Laggia.  Oh my.
I go to fill out my invite papers and they tell me that with winning a LCQ, you also get pre-registered at the same time.  Which is fine and all, except that I have to turn in my deck list at 6 PM that night.. yikes.  Not good!  This was far from what I wanted to play, and I didn't have time to test and change my deck accordingly.  I go talk to Jonathan Weigle and Chris about what to last minute change safetly.  I really want to side double Maxx "C" after playing Wind-Ups and Hieratics and they say it's good but they convince me it's not needed.  We drop Roach for the 2nd Leviair and I go turn in my decklist without any other changes.. kind of scary to say the least.  We all go out to eat at the Thurman Cafe which is awesome because it was featured on the show Man Vs Food.. and it's just as cool as we expected! We head home after that amazing stuffing meal and Chris texts the Rabbit master himself Joe Giorlando for his list.  Ends up he sides Maxx "C" himself, along with tech choices like Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo and Catapult Turtle along with cards I wasn't siding like Forbidden Chalice.  He was also using Temtempo, a card I found out was amazing during the weekend.  Chris puts together the deck and we play quite a bit of Rabbit mirrors before he goes to sleep.  John and I test for the remainder of the night, sharpening my play vs the Chaos Dragon match up.  Eventually everyone else wakes up and we head over to the convention center with no sleep!  We meet up with everyone and have a good time until the start of the tournament.
Round 1 - Rabbit Mirror
Game 1: I open with Rabbit and he opens normals, I'm winning the game and a topped Tour Guide seals it for me.
Game 2: We both open normals and I'm able to grind through his.  He almost comes back with a topped Rabbit but I flip a Bottomless I had saved and take the game.
Round 2 - Rabbit Mirror
Game 1: He opens up with Laggia but I open with Dark Hole and a Rabbit of my own with a ton of protection and am able to setup a second Evolzar with the normals I draw.
Game 2: We both open well but we both have to play around each others' Effect Veilers as well.  I end up having a Laggia with a negate and am ready to push for game next turn and he goes Tour Guide into Temtempo to force my negate and I can no longer safetly push.  I set up my defenses instead and he Heavy Storms and makes a push of his own.
Game 3: He's a lot more aggressive this game for some reason, he makes a Laggia, Leviair and Maestroke and swings into my Snowman Eater.  I set another and destroy his freshly summoned Spirit Reaper.  I summon Tour Guide, overlay into my own Leviair to steal his Rabbit.  Backed with a Solemn Judgment and Book of Moon he couldn't come back.
Round 3 - Rabbit Mirror (Nizar Sarhan)
Game 1: We both start slow, him with Thunder King and me with Spirit Reaper on board.  He tries to push with Heavy Storm but I had Starlight Road down and quickly apply pressure with Stardust Dragon, Sabersaurus and Spirit Reaper and win.
Game 2: He sets a s/t and I open Rabbit and he drops Maxx "C".  I go into Laggia and set Warning.  He summons Rabbit and I flip Warning. He sets 1 and I rip Typhoon and follow up with Tour Guide.  He draws his other Maxx "C"s after and loses.
Round 4 - Inzektor
Game 1: I quickly end the game with a Guaiba over his Sangan with Macro, Warning and Compulsory set.
Game 2: I open 2 Macro Cosmos 2 Effect Veiler and other irrelevant cards like Mystical Space Typhoon. He summons Centipede and puts Gigamantis on it to swing for 2400.  Next turn I draw nothing again and he summons Tour Guide, goes into Acid Golem and swings for game with both.  Woah.
Game 3: I'm able to control this game with an early Laggia+Macro, and he can never get a footing.  I keep the pressure on with Kabazauls and he loses on turn 4.
Round 5 - Rabbit Mirror
Man, there are alot of Rabbit decks in this tournament!
Game 1: He's maindecking cards like Snowman Eater, Forbidden Chalice and Pot of Avarice so me and my double Macro Cosmos opening hand were quickly blown out.
Game 2: He could've easily read my backrow as not a Prison and won the game by crashing his Zenmaines but he misplayed and kept it in defense and I was able to stop his few pushes and build up Evolzars.
Game 3: He summons Sabersaurus and I Soul Taker it, set Snowman Eater and Starlight Road and pass.  He summons another and swings into my Snowman.  I set another, and he summons a Kabazauls!  Swings into that one and next turn I summon Tour Guide with 2 Snowmans on the board, draw out a Torrential Tribute and win the game with Starlight Road.
Round 6 - Wind-Ups
This was one of those mini feature matches, you can read it here:
Game 3 I opened the absolute nuts, despite not knowing I couldn't Rabbit twice in one turn.  Lesson learned!  Very lucky and glad it didn't cost me a game.
Round 7 - Wind-Ups (Frazier Smith)
We make some small talk, the whole table is pretty much relaxed and the atmosphere is great.
Game 1: I open with Sabersaurus backed with Heavy Storm and Macro Cosmos.  He opens with Heavy Storm, followed up by Wind-Up Factory, Wind-Up Rabbit, Instant Fusion and Solemn Warning!
Game 2: He has double Effect Veiler for both of my Rabbits and keeps hammering in with his own Wind-Up Rabbit and Wind-Up Factory and I quickly lose.
Kind of disappointed, but knowing I couldn't do anything about it I brushed it off and went into round 8 with just as much confidence as before.
Round 8 - Chaos Dragons
Game 1: He milled through a ton of his deck, but I used my traps in conjunction with Neo-Spacian Grand Mole to keep him off the field until I could summon an Evolzar Dolkka and shut down his hand.
Game 2: I was able to bring out Dolkka backed by Macro Cosmos, but got blown out by Malevolent Catastrophe and Compulsory Evacuation Device!  He didn't have any way to capitalize on it though, and after stalling his Ryko a bit with Grand Mole and his other monsters with Level Limit - Area B I was able to combine 2 Dinos into Evolzar Dolkka and win the game.
Round 9 - Chaos Dragons
Game 1: He gets 2 Solar Recharges off that setup his grave completely but I open Rabbit Tour Guide and traps!  I am able to win this game by making Dolkka and Laggia and protecting them with Road, Prison, and Lances.
Game 2: I'm forced to waste a Dimensional Prison when he tries to Jain over my Sabersaurus, only to get it Soul Taker'd in main phase 2.  I draw Rabbit and am controlling the game with Laggia until he tops Ryko to get rid of it, then Heavy Storms me.  Then he summons a Tour Guide to make Leviair, summons REDMD, Pulsar and BLS and OTKs me.
Game 3: I open Rabbit Tour Guide again and at the end of the game I have a Laggia with negates with a Gorz in my hand to his BLS in hand with no darks.  He rips Tour Guide and makes Temtempo and I lose if I negate or not.
Brady and I both made Day 2 and everyone goes to sleep but John and I.  We walk around outside the hotel and chill with some of his friends from California.  He tells me 8 matches straight and says he believes in me whole-heartily and says I can do it.  I give him a shake and a hug and decide right there that I was going to win the WCQ for him!  I don't sleep again and we barely make it back to the convention center on time the next morning.  Brady and I ran to the standing and sat down at 9:02 I think!
Round 10 - Gravekeepers
Yes!  If there were any deck that I'd want to face in this tournament, it'd be Gravekeepers.  After playing with them so long before, and building Tyler Tabman's YCS Chicago Top32 GK deck list with him Dalton Bousman I knew the ins and outs of this matchup and knew how hard Rabbit was, even if the GK player knew what he was doing.
Game 1:  I open with normals but hold him off long enough to resolve an Evolzar Dolkka and shut off 2 of his Spies.  He has the Stele to comeback but I had drawn Rabbit by then and just made another and he had nothing else.
Game 2: I'm open with Rabbit and make Laggia but he uses double Compulsory to deal with it.  I have to grind with a Kabazauls and protect it from his Recruiter to make a Dolkka on the next turn and it gives me control of the game.  Afterwards he shows me a 2nd Necrovalley in his hand he could've used to protect his Recruiter from my Bottomless Trap Hole and crash with my Kabazauls.  I'm not sure if I could've recovered without Dolkka so I'm glad he didn't make that play!
Round 11 - Graveekepers
Game 1: He discards Commandant for Necrovalley and I am extremly happy at this point.  I'm able to take control by Lancing his Descendant and Guaiba'ing over it to make a Laggia and follow up with Rescue Rabbit for Dolkka.
Game 2: I open and see my hand: Rescue Rabbit, Tour Guide, Sabersaurus, Kabazauls, and Spirit Reaper. He plays Necrovalley and if he has Royal Tribute I instantly lose here.  Luckily for me he doesn't!  He plays a Malefic Stardust and sets a backrow behind it.  I summon Reaper which draws out a Solemn Warning from my opponent.  I hold off on my freshly drawn Soul Taker and next turn I draw Typhoon!  I use it on his newly set Bottomless and summon my Rabbit into Dolkka.  Attacking into and negate Spy and Soul Taker his Stardust.  He doesn't have another Stardust and next turn I follow it up with Tour Guide and he concedes.
Yes, I did it!  I went from coming to the event without an invite, to topping my third WCQ in a row.
Only 6 match wins away from doing what I promised John the night before.
Top 64 - Hieratics (Paul Cooper)
Game 1: I open with Sabersaurus and set Macro Cosmos and Compulsory.  He plays Typhoon and hits Macro, then goes off.  He makes Atum and I flip my Compulse.  He goes on, using more of his in-hand Hieratics to make Bounzer and swing over my Sabersaurus.  I top Reaper and set it and he plays Duality to get Lance.  He attacks into Reaper and sets Lance.  I pass and he flips it to swing in for 2700.  I summon Sabersaurus and Lance his Bounzer to crash, next turn he draws and passes and I summon Rabbit that gets Veilered!  I pass and he tops another Veiler and scoops when I rabbit into Dolkka and summon Tour Guide. Game 2: He opens his hand and passes, I summon a Kabazauls and set Warning and Road.  He draws and discards Luster Dragon in the end phase, and at this point I have no idea what's going on.  I summon my other Kabazauls and make Dolkka, swing and he takes it.  I set the Prison I drew and ended and he drew and scooped.  He showed me a hand of double Birdman and other unusable cards.
Top32 - Wind-Ups
After playing against Hieratics and now Wind-Ups, as well as knowing a lot of the top cut were also Wind-up decks, I was really wishing I could've had the Dyna, Maxx "C" and Chalices in my side that I would've had had I not been forced to turn in my deck list Friday night.
Game 1: I open with Rabbit into Laggia!  He tries to stall out with Wind-Up Rabbit but I summon double Reaper and hammer in fast before he can get anything going.
Game 2: He opens with the loop and I don't have Veiler.  I can't get rid of his Zenmaighty's so instead I set a reaper and he gets to resolve them again.  He makes Tiras and destroys my Reaper and wipes out the rest of my life.
Game 3: I open with all traps.. Solemn Judgment, Solemn Warning, Bottomless, Starlight Road, Macro Cosmos, and Torrential.  I set everything but the Bottomless and hope for the best.  He sets a spell or trap and I top Kabazauls to swing in for 1700.  He summons Psychic Commander and I Warning it.  Next I top Rescue Rabbit!  I flip my Macro and hammer it onto the table.  He tries to do something next turn but I flip Solemn Judgment and the game is mine.
Top16 - Rabbit Mirror
Game 1: I summon Sabersaurus and he summons his own to crash.  Next I summon Reaper but it gets Veilered.  I don't remember what happens next but I know that at one point it was the end of his turn and he had Zenmaines with its effect going off to my Reaper and Dolkka.  He targets Reaper with Zenmaines and I negate with Dolkka and he thinks Reaper still dies.  That isn't the case and next turn I go in with Dolkka and rip a card out of his hand with Reaper.  He comes back with BLS and removes my Reaper and next turn I Lance over it with Dolkka.
Game 2: We both open amazing hands of Rabbit, Tour Guide and Veilers and after the dust has settled we find ourselves in a grind game.  I'm able to resolve 2 Snowman Eaters on his Kabazauls and Reaper and overlay into a Zenmaines that eventually wins me the game.
Top8 - Monster Mash Wind-Ups
Feature Match:
There is literally nothing I could do.  If I had won the roll I probably would've been set since I opened Rabbit games 1 and 3.  Game 3 I even opened Veiler but I guess that isn't enough when my opponent opens the loop AND Dimensional Fissure.  Game 1 I elected not to set my Compulsory since one of his 2 back rows had to be Typhoon and eventually I had to and it indeed was.  Game 3 I kept Warning in my hand to protect my also in-hand Mole but instead of attacking Mole then using his Hunter he just used his Hunter right away anyways so I guess that didn't matter.  It sucked to have the streak end that way but there was nothing I could do!  So I prepared for my next match.
5th/6th - Wind-Ups (Adrian Sean Shakir)
Game 1: He opens with Wind-Up Rabbit and Shark and ends with 2 Zenmaightys, Rabbit, Rat and 2 set cards. I play Heavy Storm and Rabbit over his 2 Zenmaightys with Kabazauls, go into Dolkka and set Road and Prison.  He sets 2 more and I swing my Dolkka into an unexpected Prison and I lose from there.
Game 2: I open Rabbit and set Heavy and Road.  He plays Book on Laggia and then follows it up with Heavy to which I flip Starlight.  He goes into Zenmaighty next but I Veiler that.  He sets 2 cards and next turn I flip my Storm and summon Tour Guide.  I hear Joe yelling "Awesome hand Mike!" from the sidelines lol.
Game 3: He summons Rabbit and I set Macro and Warning, but he flips Xing Zheng Xu to freeze them.. He attacks for 1400 and I swing my Kabazauls into his newly set Snowman Eater.  By the time I draw Typhoon to unfreeze my backrows it's too late as he's beating me down with double Rabbit and all I have is Veiler, Torrential and Dark Hole.
It ends up the the match didn't matter though, and that we were both going to worlds!  We were already ranked higher than the other 2 players by seeds and that meant that we were playing for 5th and 6th place and the other 2 were playing for 7th and 8th.  As soon as my friends on the sidelines found out all I could hear was cheering and hoorays from everybody.  I had to have gotten at least 50 hugs, handshakes, and a call from my teary-eyed mom to congratulate me!  It was a great end to the weekend, going to worlds is what every duelist dreams of doing and to accomplish that feat felt amazing. I have way too many people to shout out and thank and you know who you are but here are a couple ones that stand out.  Thanks to Chris Hentz for helping me get back into it and making sure I knew everything I needed to know heading into the WCQ.  Thanks to Brady Brink for picking me up, none of this would've happened without him of course!  And thanks to Ben Wagner for convincing me to go and always being there along with the rest of my friends.  It was a truly awesome weekend with friends that I'll never forget. And what a return to Yu-Gi-Oh! The only thing on my mind now is Worlds.  I think we have a great team this year and I'm excited to see what every other country has to offer.  Tyler Tabman and I have already started testing for the event and one thing is for sure. I can speak for the rest of the North American
team when I say this.. We're ready to bring this thing home for North America!