Match Mentality

Hello Duelists! The year is coming to an end and I'd like to take a review on some mental thinking that I think every player should have whenever they enter a tournament.

Not winning every game

You aren't playing to win every game; you're playing to win the match. Some games are simply a lost cause. For example: going second to a field of 2 Dante, and 4 backrow set with a searched Tour Guide in hand for next turn is a very unfavorable situation to be in. In situations like this, it’s often better to just scoop up your cards and go to game 2 to preserve the advantage you have of your opponent not knowing what deck you are playing.  This should give you a significant advantage for the next game, because while you can side properly, your opponent is left guessing. Luckily that situation doesn't happen too much. The good news is that there are still up to 2 more games left in the match. Relax, unfortunately situations like that do happen but don't go on tilt, you can't win every game, don't let it bother you games 2 and 3.


Disturbing your opponent

Many players refuse to ask their opponent to hurry up and make a move when they are taking a while, and then if they lose they'll say, "He took forever man, I lost because of time. He was stalling me." I ask, "Did you tell a judge?" The answer is always no.  While “slow play” depends on many factors, including the complexity of the gamestate, setting a predetermined amount of time per move for your opponent – say, 70 seconds – will let you catch slow play when it’s happening more often. Setting a predetermined amount of time that you consider to be slow play is a very efficient way to notice slow play when it's happening. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand if you feel like your opponent is taking an unreasonable amount of time to play – judges are there to help.


“Uncontrollable” losses

Many players, after losing a game, will often blame anything and everything but themselves.  It was a bad matchup!  Their opponent drew all of their outs!  These are all just excuses.  They might even be true, but unless you played a perfect game, you have no room to complain.  Luck and chance are parts of Yugioh.  You can’t do anything about losses that result from them.  What you can do, however, is go over your own plays and see what you did wrong, so that you don’t make similar mistakes in the future.  If you think that your losses are entirely out of your control, you will never improve.  This is not to say that you should spend all of your time between matches obsessing over your last loss – this can be counter-productive and put you in a bad mental state before your next match.  Rather, it is the general attitude you should hold regarding your own mistakes.

There are always “perfect plays”  in Yugioh.  What I mean by “perfect play” is the play in any given situation that gives you the highest chance of winning the match.  However, the “correct play” in any situation will often be different, because you lack information regarding the gamestate.  Let’s go over an example. You’re playing in the top cut of an ARGCS and your opponent is running Satellarknights. They have one card set, a Stellarknight Deneb on the field, and two cards in their hand, and you know that they use 3 Dimensional Prisons in their deck and 1 Honest. (For the purpose of this example, your opponent has already used 3 Nova).  Instead of making Dante, you make an Alucard to play around Dimensional Prison. You destroy a trap card - that ends up being something else - and when you attack into Deneb, you run into Honest and lose the game next turn as a result. That doesn't make avoiding Dimensional Prison the wrong play, it just so happened that he had Honest in that situation. If you were to replay a similar situation 500 times, more often than not, the play you made would have been the better play. If you can’t get a definitive read on your opponent’s cards, trust in the numbers.  Always trust the numbers.  Numbers are your friends.

Results oriented thinking

Results oriented thinking is a weak form of analysis because it takes what is often a small sample size of results and spits out a conclusion that is wildly overconfident.  That is not to say that results are irrelevant, but they are only part of a larger picture when evaluating things like deck and card choices.

A good example of this in Yugioh would be something that happened in the finals of ARGCS Atlanta. The matchup was Qliphort vs Burning Abyss and the Qliphort player lost game one so he got the choice of whether to go first or second in game 2, and he obviously chose to go first. When using Qliphort, allowing Burning Abyss to go first is a bad idea since you want to set all your floodgates and prevent them from playing the game and just OTK them on their next turn. The Qliphort player wound up losing game two. So game 3, instead of trusting his previous hours of testing and theory, he decided to allow his opponent to go first in hopes of receiving a different result from the second game. He ended up losing game 3 as well. In this case, a small sample size (1 game!) would cause the Qliphort player to make a terrible decision.  Sometimes, going first against Burning Abyss when using Qliphorts will not work out.  But it will work out more often than not, so choosing to go second on the basis of losing a single game would be a mistake.

That's all for this week's article! If you'd like to see me write about a certain topic feel free to message me on Facebook. The Circuit Series stops by Orlando, Florida this weekend, I hope to see you all there!

And As Always Play Hard or Go Home!