So close, yet so far: Top 16 YCS Dallas

Well that was quite a weekend.

It all began Thursday morning when I left out of Boston with my good friend Paul Clarke for the great state of Texas. Neither of us really felt confident in what we wanted to play. Just like Long Beach I was again toying around with an Inzektor build, while Paul was using a Bubblebeat variant. We traded most games back and forth pushing us both into more uncertainty as to what we wanted to run.

Our arrival in Texas was met with an old friend of ours who use to live up in New Hampshire – Tim and his close friend David. Tim was kind enough to open his home to Paul and I over the weekend and we could not be more thankful! After reminiscing by playing some matches using old format decks we found ourselves exploiting the never-ending breadsticks and salad at the Olive Garden – this weekend was off to a good start already.

That night we met up with Billy Brake, Frazier Smith, Scott Page, Steve Silverman, Ryan Spicer, Chris Bowling, Jerry Williams and a myriad of other players. I was able to sit through a good 10 or so Inzektor mirror matches with Steve and they were quite back and forth. Frazier was bouncing all over from deck to deck and overall not many people were committed behind one deck – unless of course you’re Billy Brake and have a thing for Wind-Up toys.

Once we returned back to Tim’s house that night I got to meet his girlfriend. It took her all of 5 seconds to burst out laughing at the way I talk. She literally fell off the couch.

We headed out to the convention center on Friday with another one of Tim’s friends – Juan. I did my usual Friday routine – watch, watch and watch. I really feel like I get a feel for the metagame by watching games more so than playing. By watching I believe I get to witness games from a perspective which is influential in my understanding of how the format is progressing. In my previous article I discussed how important I felt like picking the right deck for the right event was – and this most certainly helps. It was at about this time the option of running Dino-Rabbit began hoping into my mind. It seemed like a majority of the field was beginning to gravitate to Inzektors – and for good reason. It might have taken a few events but the interactions between Giga-Mantis and the Inzektor Sword have taken the deck to a new level. Yet, in the back of my mind I have always known how difficult it was for Inzektors to handle a deck that could pump out powerful negating Exceed monsters through Rescue Rabbit and Jurrac Guiba. Not to mention how crippling a sidedecked Macro Cosmos could be when protected by Evolzar Laggia.

My good friend Scott Page had always been on Team Rabbit for this event and I was able to sit and watch a bunch of his games against another one of my close friends running Inzektors – Chris Hentz. Chris finished in the Top 8 of this event and I knew his ability from before the event so I was able to take the match between these top players as a fantastic representation of the decks power levels. Their matches were also quite back and forth, but I was becoming more and more confident with how Dino-Rabbit could handle the present metagame.

Frazier was quite a story himself. As I imagine you read in his tournament report he was all over the place. Slicing through decks he almost had every plausible option built at some point Friday night. But we both began talking and we seemed to both have the same devilish idea in the back of our minds – were we really going to play Rabbit?

I guess I should answer this question here because I have gotten it a few times. Why did I not play Hero?

To be honest it was my backup deck the entire weekend. If I didn’t feel confident in Inzektors or Dino-Rabbit I was just going to register the same 40 card maindeck from Long Beach with a few tweaks in the side and extra. The problem I saw was the increased popularity of Forbidden Lance in Inzektors. Such a subtle progression of the format but the ability to shield an Inzektor Dragonfly from the effect of Skill Drain for a turn could be crippling. I was able to surprise the field in Long Beach with my Hero Beat variant – there were quite a lot of people literally copying my deck in Dallas and I just didn’t feel like it was the right pick.

Frazier and I built our Dino-Rabbit decks to cater to our playstyles but we did sit and discuss a lot of possible decisions. This is what I came up with:

3 Rescue Rabbit

3 Tour Guide from the Underworld

3 Jurrac Guiba

3 Kabazauls

3 Sabersaurus

2 Effect Veiler

1 Sangan

1 Neo-Spacian Grand-Mole

1 Gorz the Emissary of Darkness

3 Mystical Space Typhoon

3 Forbidden Lance

2 Smashing Ground

1 Book of Moon

1 Dark Hole

1 Monster Reborn

1 Heavy Storm

1 Pot of Avarice

2 Dimensional Prison

2 Solemn Warning

2 Torrential Tribute

1 Bottomless Trap Hole

1 Solemn Judgment


2 Snowman Eater

2 Maxx "C"

2 Thunder King Rai-Oh

2 Gellenduo

2 Forbidden Chalice

3 Macro Cosmos

1 Dust Tornado

1 Shadow Imprisoning Mirror


3 Evolzar Laggia

2 Evolzar Dolkka

2 Leviair the Sea Dragon

1 Number 17: Leviathan Dragon

1 Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction

1 Number 39: Utopia

1 Number C39: Utopia Ray

1 Wind-Up Zenmaines

1 Wind-Up Zenamaister

1 Submersible Aero Carrier Shark

1 Armory Arm

I was willing to have three cards in my maindeck which were awful against Inzektors – the 2 Dimensional Prison and Gorz if it meant my other matchups would be improved as much as they were. Most of the games you play are going to be with the side deck anyway so I felt like it was a decent trade off.

Friday ended with Scott Page taking Paul and I back to Tim’s house. Huge thanks to Scott for this!

Saturday came and I didn’t make a single change to what I brewed up the night before.

Round 1: Dragons

Game 1: This was his first YCS and I was able to resolve an early Rescue Rabbit to shut him off of any huge beaters.

Game 2: He is able to land a Blue-Eyes White Dragon and put me in a huge disadvantage. I end up stalling out with a pair of Gellenduos. He eventually summons a Lyla which threatens to deck himself out. The time in the clock is winding down because he is taking a significant amount of time for each of his turns. I try to speed him up and he eventually decides to summon a Black Rose Dragon destroying my two Gellenduos and his eight cards on the field. He is left with no hand and I am able to use my in-hand Dinosaurs to hammer away the game.


Round 2: Ninjas

Game 1: He is able to slam a Dark Simorgh on the field! Now that card is difficult to deal with. Too bad I didn’t have any of my Smashing Grounds! I loss quickly after.

Game 2: I am able to use two copies of Forbidden Lance to both protect a Sabersaurus and attack over a Number 39: Utopia to take the duel.

Game 3: The only monster he draws was the Upstart Ninja which I hit with Effect Veiler to seal the duel.


Round 3: T.G.

Game 1: He is able to resolve a Skill Drain but my maindecked removal is enough to clear the path for my Dinosaurs to chip away 8000 damage.

Game 2: He flips a Macro Cosmos up against me to my shock. I had actually sided a few copies in against him because he was running T.G.s! He ends up hitting my Sangan with it on the field but I am able to stabilize on the following turn with Dark Hole and take over the game.


Round 4: Wind-Up Beasts

Game 1: I open a hand with 3 normal monsters but am able to eventually take control of the game after a long stretch of trading resources back and forth. Unfortunately for me he is maining multiple copies of Snowman Eater and my Laggia falls victim to one.

Game 2: I open a much more favorable hand and control the early stages of the game.

Game 3: It gets to a point where his field is a face-up Snowman Eater, Wind-Up Magician and a freshly summoned Tour Guide from the Underworld which fetched Sangan. I had a set Torrential Tribute with a face-up Kabazauls and Sangan. I allow him to Exceed summon Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity and trigger both his Magician and Carrier until he gets out a Hunter and Rabbit. I loss a card in my hand and he tries to go into a Wind-Up Rat off the second Carrier to which I respond with Torrential Tribute and search Rescue Rabbit. Now I have two cards in hand – one of which is Rescue Rabbit to his two cards in hand. To my dismay one of his two cards was Monster Reborn!


Round 5: Chain Burn

Game 1: I am able to chain a Mystical Space Typhoon to his copy and stop him from activating Accumulated Fortune after he already played Reckless Greed in the chainlink.

Game 2: Forbidden Lance does a fine job dodging Magic Cylinder and I am simply able to hammer away with Evolzar Exceeds.


Round 6: Hero Beat

Game 1: I trigger my opponents Starlight Road for the first time in my YCS career. It was off a Torrential Tribute so it was a Starlight Road I was unable to immediately read. I am still able to take the game but I was still upset over triggering Road.

Game 2: This player also flips a Macro Cosmos against me. I am not sure why players were siding this against me? The only cards it will hit are Monster Reborn, Sangan and Pot of Avarice. As a matter of fact I also sided Macro Cosmos against this player because the card is devastating to Miracle Fusion and Hero Blast! Anyway, I am able to take over the game with a Wind-Up Zenmaines.


Round 7: Lightsworn

Game 1: This player came off as a very talkative person but in times he should be keeping his thoughts to himself. He was often talking under his breath about how he “has me on the ropes,” or “has a 90% chance of winning if thing X resolves.” There was a time in the game where I have an active Evolzar Laggia with three spell and trap cards. I knew he had a Black Luster Solider – Envoy of the Beginning in his hand due to a turn one Pot of Duality. He activates Monster Reborn targeting a copy of Chaos Sorceror. I allow the card to resolve and he stops for a moment and questions me three times as to if I was sure. I reply confidently that I have no response to Monster Reborn but he stops me three or four times and tries to explain to me what he would be able to do if Reborn resolves. He finally lets it go and tries to remove from play my Laggia. I discard my in hand Effect Veiler to negate Sorceror’s effect. He then goes on about how he is going to attack with Sorceror and defeat me this turn. I try to explain to him that even though I negated the effect of Sorceror that he would not be able to attack because he still activated the effect. We end up needing to call over a judge who obviously agrees that he cannot attack. After an appeal to the head judge he still questions the validity of the ruling and finally continues on with his turn. He now begins to say how the ruling has saved me for the turn and such. He eventually ends up winning this game.

Game 2: I am able to set up a turn where I flip up Macro Cosmos with Solemn Warning facedown so I can resolve a Tour Guide from the Underworld with Rescue Rabbit removed and push for game. I explain to him as I summon Tour Guide that he cannot discard Maxx “C” or Effect Veiler because of Macro Cosmos but he still stops for 30 seconds between each movement from summoning Tour Guide to summoning Leviair. Once I am finally able to place all of my creatures on the board he finally scoops. At this point we are only looking at a few minutes left on our time extension in the round.

Game 3: I watch him as he side decks and notice he seems torn between a few card choices. Once he presents his deck I decide to pile shuffle – something I do not do between every game, though something I tell myself I should be doing. The moment I begin to pile shuffle his deck and looks at me with an expression of shock and asks me if I am going to pile shuffle. I reply with yes and once I complete I count his deck out as being 42 cards – one more than the 41 cards he told me were in his maindeck at the beginning of the round. I ask him to count out his side deck and he already acknowledges that I am going to count 14. I call over a judge and he is awarded a gameloss for presenting an illegal deck. The confrontation between him and the judge staff lasts nearly 30 minutes but we are finally able to keep the event progressing.

Honestly, if he was a more enjoyable opponent I might have let him take the card out of his deck. I have never called a judge over for someone presenting an illegal deck – regardless of how much people tell me I should. So I don’t feel any regret. After the event I learned from people in the area he is a notorious staller and ruleshark.


Round 8: Inzektors

He shows up 6 minutes late so I win game one.

Game 2: He is able to resolve some of the broken Inzektor Sword – Giga-Mantis combos and I loss quickly.

Game 3: I am able to set up a board with Macro Cosmos, Forbidden Chalice and Evolzar Laggia. Protected from Heavy Storm, Snowman Eater and any other frustrating cards he is unable to come back. For the sake of curiosity we play a 3rd game which would have gone in my favor even with him going first.


Round 9: Inzektors Jonathan Weigle =[

Game 1: I have to play on of my best friends in the game. I win the dieroll and open with a less than optimal hand for this matchup. I am never able to really get anything going and loss quickly.

Game 2: Game two is a little bit more back and forth until I am able to land a Jurrac Guiba and take the game over.

Game 3: He opens with Tour Guide fetching Sangan and a set backrow. I am thrilled to see my hand contain Jurrac Guiba, Macro Cosmos and Mystical Space Typhoon! I was able to end with the dominating board of Laggia, Macros Cosmos and a set bluff. My excitement quickly subsided when he played Smashing Ground, Dark Hole and Heavy Storm the following turn! He ends up ripping my field apart and resolving a Sangan search for Hornet! He summons a Card Trooper – pushes for 1900 and ends with two cards in hand. I end up drawing Rescue Rabbit… sorry Weigle =[ With the Tour Guide of the Underworld already in my hand the game ends soon after.


So I finish day one with an 8-1 record, just one match away from my fifth straight top!

Round 10: Inzektors Jerry Williams

Game 1: Unfortunately I have to play another person I know who was also running Inzektors. Game one begins slow but I am able to resolve a Gorz the Emissary of Darkness before he has an Inzektor Hornet. I am able to ride out enough damage with Gorz to win the game! Go figure, Gorz helping against Inzektors!
Game 2: I get clogged with multiple copies of Macro Cosmos and Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror and he beats me down quickly.
Game 3: I open with a copy of Rescue Rabbit into Laggia with a few set backrows. He returns the favor with two backrows and a set monster. Here I summon a Sabersaurus and attack his facedown with Laggia. It ends up being Snowman Eater but I had a copy of Forbidden Chalice to take control of the game. He is able to destroy Laggia with a copy of Dark Hole later in the game but I am able to use summon another Evolzar Exceed and go into Dolkka while his hand ends up all being monsters.


So there it is. Five in a row! Round 11 pairings go up but all the pressure is off and I end up losing a Dino-Rabbit mirror when neither of us sided.

So I finish 9-2 and will be playing against Dragons in the Top 32!

I am thrilled to hear the Top 32 consists of two other members of Alter Reality Games – Alistar Albans and Frazier Smith, plus a bunch of other people I know such as Chris Hentz! Too bad Pat Hoban ended in 33rd place =[

Billy of course lost on the bubble because of his Wind-Up toys. We still love you Billy!

Top 32: Dragons

Game 1: I am shocked at how this game played out. It was literally a back and forth 35 minute game. There were times I was staring at Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon and times where he was staring at a slew of Dinosaurs. The critical part of the game came when I decided to negate a copy of Solar Recharge with Laggia. He must have just drawn the Lightsworn and I felt like I was in a position to negate the Recharge and hopefully win soon after. He is able to resolve a Brionac though and take over control of the game. I am able to destroy the Brionac with Smashing Ground and the game continued to trade off back and forth. He is able to resolve an Ally of Justice Catastor to which I need to summon Evolzar Dolkka to destroy. I am finally able to land a Gorz the Emissary of Darkness and chip away the final points of damage.

Game 2: I go into game two knowing that if I do not draw an optimal hand I need to scoop so I can sidedeck accordingly for game three which would be held under the rules of only having 4 turns of time. He opens aggressively enough and pushes for 6000 damage early on so I scoop.

Game 3: We only have two turns each so what happens on the first turn is going to be a deciding factor on how gets to move on the Top 16. I open with a set Bottomless Trap Hole, Book of Moon and Sangan. He summons Lyla to which I respond with Bottomless Trap Hole. He passes back to me. I summon a copy of Neo-Spacian Grand Mole and attack directly with the Sangan. He drops Gorz the Emissary of Darkness. I am forced to bounce back the Gorz and pass the turn after setting a copy of Forbidden Lance. I have to hope my Book of Moon and Lance are going to be enough!

He plays a copy of Charge of the Light Brigade and my stomach almost turns as he mills his three. Luckily for me there are no significant game changers like Plaguespreader Zombie or Light Pulsar Dragon in there! He is able to normal summon an Eclipse Wyvern and removed it for a Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon. But my copy of Book of Moon is enough to seal the duel and the match!

Top 16: Nizar Sarhan

So here it is. A year later a rematch with the person who knocked me out of the Top 32 of YCS Dallas in 2011. I have never beaten him in a mirror match, and he has never beaten me in something that wasn’t a mirror match. History was on his side. As well as the die roll.
Game 1: He opens turn one and turn two with copies of Rescue Rabbit and I cannot come back.

Game 2: I open with Tour Guide, Rescue Rabbit and Heavy Storm and win on the second turn.
Game 3: He opens with Rescue Rabbit with Neo-Spacian Grand Mole to rid my Gellenduo useless.

And just like that I was knocked out… again. It felt like it took all of five turns total to be eliminated from the Top cut. I collect my packs of shame and am left rooting for Chris Hentz or Frazier Smith to walk away with the gold. Nizar of course ended up taking home the championship for the second straight year – a ridiculous feat. He might draw Rescue Rabbit a lot but going undefeated and winning Dallas two years in a row is amazing.

Another great friend of mine Henry Vi ends up taking Paul and I to the airport that night. But not before enjoying a post-YCS dinner with Chris Hentz, Jake McNelly and his fiancé at Red Lobster.

I am not sure I am going to YCS Chicago so there may be a little bit of a lull in my Yu-Gi-Oh career between now and Philadelphia. I am most certainly going to try though!

There are so many people I need to thank for making this weekend as amazing as it was. The hospitality of Tim and David for grabbing us as the airport and providing housing is deeply appreciated. Getting rides from David, Juan, Scott, Billy and Henry throughout the weekend made the trip possible and enjoyable! Huge congratulations to everyone I know who placed in the Top 32, they were all well deserved!

It was awesome meeting all the readers and fans of Alter Reality Games! Please don’t hesitate in coming up to me or other writers at future events, we truly enjoy it! And it was awesome meeting everyone for the first time this weekend – Juan, David, Jake and such!

Joe Giorlando

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