Happy Holidays my fellow Yu-Gi-Oh players! I’ve decided to talk about something that has personally helped me to find success at premier level events. That is, the use of consistent rituals for each and every round of a YCS. Some of you may be thinking about what rituals have worked for you in the past whether it’s pile shuffling your own deck by the same number each time, wishing your opponent good luck before the match, drinking water in between rounds, eating before or after the tournament, listening to music after an intense game, etc. This article will let you get a sneak peek into my own Yu-Gi-Oh related rituals and maybe after reading it you can develop some to help you find success.
One of the major rules that I follow for each and every round is pile shuffling my own deck by 6 before I present it to my opponent. I place 3 piles on top and 3 piles on the bottom. I also tend to go in order because it helps to fulfill two requirements: making sure that my deck is still the same number of cards that are listed on my decklist which will avoid any penalties, and it gives me a piece of mind that my deck is actually randomized enough so that I won’t draw clumpy hands. Since Yu-Gi-Oh deck building nowadays generally entails many “3 of’s” it is highly possible to draw two copies of a card in your opening hand. This can be especially awful if that particular card is something like Reborn Tengu, Mystical Shine Ball, Sabersaurus, or Kabazauls. An example of a time when pile shuffling can be particularly useful after a game would be if all three of your Reborn Tengu were destroyed in the same turn, thus placing them right on top of each other in the graveyard. When you finish that game and you pick up your cards to side deck there’s a chance that those Reborn Tengu will stay together through the entire shuffling process unless you pile shuffle or move them around yourself. Therefore, when I pile shuffle into 6 piles I make sure that my deck is both legal and randomized. This doesn’t mean that there’s some kind of magic in a 6 card pile shuffle or that YOU should be doing the exact same thing but it’s what I’ve personally been using and I for one am against change. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Being cordial is something that honestly goes without saying but for all of those that do not greet their opponents before a match you really should start. This is just general player etiquette. It helps to make the match less tense for the both of you because it doesn’t feel as though you’re just there to win and move on (even if that truly is all that matters to you). It can’t hurt to say, “Hi, my name is X, nice to meet you.” I usually then go on to ask the person where he/she is from and how many YCSs have he/she attended. I might even compliment their mat or deck box just to make small talk but the point is that conversation sets the tone for the game. You want to feel comfortable when you play and conversation is one way to achieve that goal. After your opponent is done shuffling your deck, right before you draw your opening hand, it’s always a good idea to shake his/her hand and say good luck. Now some of you may be wondering why you would want to wish your opponent good luck when you’re trying to win but it’s really just being courteous. Also, I’m a strong believer in karma so being nice is particularly beneficial in my eyes.
Another ritual that I partake in during YCSs is the simple cutting of my opponent’s deck. Instead of picking up and shuffling his or her deck I usually just cut it and give it back. This ensures that I have no idea what I’m playing against and that the opponent knows there is no foul play. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone picks up my deck on an angle and looks down while shuffling. I’m very assertive about this type of thing because I trust no one when it comes to shuffling on an angle. Therefore, I always tell my opponent’s to either look up or keep the deck face down while he/she shuffles. I refuse to let someone blatantly look at the bottom card of my deck and then shuffle it without me taking it back, shuffling, and then kindly telling him or her to simple cut or keep it face down. I respect all of my opponents enough to never peek at their deck during the shuffling process and I expect the same from them in return. Once again, this is just general player etiquette. You should have no problem shuffling the deck without looking at it if you have no intentions of cheating. It’s not hard. Practice.
After each round I always walk around the play area to find people who have finished their matches. Everyone knows that the most common question amongst Yu-Gi-Oh players in between rounds is “What’s your record?” Players also have the propensity to ask how you lost if you DID lose. I ask my friends how they lost all the time because it helps to keep me on top of my game. Some scenarios are very specific and there are certain rules that you might not have been aware of. You might hear of some crazy plays or some crazy deck in the process. All of this is relevant information for the competitive player. Remember that Yu-Gi-Oh is a game of imperfect information so anything that helps you to learn more about opposing strategies is extremely beneficial. Stimulate your mind with Yu-Gi-Oh related topics in between rounds so that you stay in the proper mindset throughout the event. I always ask: What’s your record? What did you lose to? What was he playing? Who won the die roll? And finally, what happened?
Some players have mentioned that they prefer eating at some point during a tournament. Well I’ll be the first to say that that does NOT work for me at all. In fact, if I eat before or during a tournament I tend to feel absolutely awful during the later rounds. My body just decides to not cooperate with food during Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments for some reason. This has caused me to place eating anything but candy into the “taboo” category of my YCS rituals. However, I am a strong believer that staying hydrated is important because it keeps your body feeling refreshed and you may have to do a lot of talking during a match. If you eat too much during the rounds you might develop the “itis” which is a side effect of filling your stomach. LET ME WARN YOU! THE ITIS IS OUT TO GET YOU! IT WILL MAKE YOU TIRED AND SLUGGISH AND YOUR PLAYS MAY BEGIN TO SUFFER AS A RESULT! Now this doesn’t apply to everyone but that’s just how I feel about eating during events. After day 1 I usually get together with all of my friends to find a nice restaurant where we can sit down and kick back. In my opinion this is one of the best ways to end a night of playing lots of Yu-Gi-Oh. It helps to hear everyone’s stories and you might learn something; new rulings or a deck to watch out for in day 2. It’s kind of funny that I say this because it just came up at the YCS in Kansas City where I talked to my good friend Alistar about his round 8 loss and he mentioned that the person was using a Skill Drain Malefic deck with main decked Royal Tributes. This was extremely relevant information for me since I decided to use plants in Kansas City. He explained to me not only how he lost but also gave me a list of cards in the opposing deck and then expressed the importance of a turn 1 Thunder King Rai-Oh (Terraforming, Gravekeeper’s Commandant, Pot of Duality, etc). As fate had it I played against the same exact player in the first round of Day 2. I used the info that Alistar shared with me and my own general knowledge about playing against anti decks to win the whole match. Take it from me; you never know what you might find out at dinner.
Following a list of rituals may be silly for some but it really does help to make a tournament go smoother. Believe me when I say, “Yu-Gi-Oh is serious business.” You’ll want to develop some consistent rituals of your own as you grow in this game.
This is Frazier Smith reporting out. Remember, play hard or go home!
May Yugs be with you.