The Evolution of the March 2012 Format

How’s it going, everyone? I’m glad to say that this is the first of many articles that I will be writing for ARG! Before I get started, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Paul Clarke, and I’m a college student from Massachusetts. I have been playing Yugioh since its release and competitively since around 2008. You may possibly know me from my YouTube channel, “SeriousTreebornFrog,” or even from all the YCS’s I attend. I try to make it to every YCS in North America, and I’ve even had some success at some of them! I’ve managed to top four of them throughout my travels. Well, that was my introduction, but now lets get to the good stuff!

On February 19, 2011, Marquis Henderson won the last YCS of the September 2011 Forbidden list, with TG stun of all decks! The last time it did well was when Tyler Nolan brought it all the way to the semi-finals of YCS Toronto, which was five months prior. Marquis made a great meta-call and brought his deck all the way to the end and won the whole YCS. At this event in particular, it was all about the Wind-Up toys and the Bunny Rabbits. Although Plants was one of the most consistent decks of all time, it just couldn’t compete with the aggressive Dino-Rabbit deck, so it quickly fell off the map.

After Atlanta, there were only a couple of weeks until the new forbidden list came to life. We lost Trap Dustshoot, a couple of Agent cards, a couple of TG cards, and a couple of Plant cards. All we really gained was a second copy of Torrential Tribute, making trap line-ups more defensive. What this meant for the meta was a loss of TGs, Agents, and the already dead Plants. Overall, the format didn’t really change too much. I would go as far as to say that the March 2012 was practically a continuation of the September 2011 format.

The first event of the March 2012 format was the 100th YCS in Long Beach, California. Almost everyone (besides Billy Brake…) realized post YCS Atlanta that the Wind-Up deck just couldn’t compete with the meta. The deck to use at that event seemed to be Dino-Rabbit, but there was also a LOT of talk about Heroes. Joe Giorlando managed to bring his hero deck all the way to the semi-finals, bringing hope to all of the Hero players that were losing faith. The semi-finals consisted of four completely different decks. You could most definitely tell that the format was still evolving. Michael Balan ended up winning with a deck that was also considered somewhat dead, Dark World.

The second event came a month later. YCS Dallas, Texas. Rabbit was still a strong contender for this event, but everyone and their mother parted ways with their Rabbit decks to give the Inzektor deck a try. You can thank Alistar Albans for that! He hyped his build of the deck that he used at the 100th YCS in Long Beach. What made his build special was that it was piloting multiple copies of Card Trooper, Call of the Haunted, and Inzektor Sword – Zektkalibers. The idea was that when the deck wasn’t Inzektor looping, it was summoning floaters and setting Call of the Haunteds to bring them back. Everyone was used to seeing poorly designed builds of the deck. People were running cards like Mystic Tomato, Dark Armed Dragon, Thunder King Rai-Oh, and some duelists were even throwing a whole Wind-Up engine into the deck. All of the builds had too many monsters and they just looked uninviting. Alistar’s build sparked a new interest in the deck and it was definitely noticeable come YCS Dallas. Nizar Sarhan ended up winning that YCS with Dino-Rabbit, and it was the first YCS title that Dino-Rabbit had ever won.

A big change in the meta came almost immediately after Chaos Dragons not only won a YCS in Tolouse, France, but it also got a few spots in the top cut at YCS Dallas. The deck came out of nowhere. The Chaos Dragon structure deck was released several months prior and nothing had changed at all. It was just a pick-up that happened to do really well. It just shows you how much we could be missing, and that is why we need more innovative minds in this game.

The next event was only two weeks later. YCS Chicago, Illinois. Priority was lost, and a LOT of duelists lost their hope in the rabbits. The popular deck for this event was definitely still Inzektors, but a few duelists caught on to the Chaos Dragon hype. Even more duelists strayed away from their older decks and joined the Inzektor army. Aaron Noel ended up winning that event with Dino-Rabbit. It was a big surprise that Dino Rabbit still had it, now that Torrential Tribute, Effect Veiler, Book of Moon and many other cards could now stop Rescue Rabbit. What no one really realized, though, was that all of those cards weren’t enough to handle the plethora of back row cards that a Dino-Rabbit player could set to protect the rabbit.

A big change in the meta came yet again! Both Frazier Smith and Joe Giorlando piloted teched-out builds of Dino Rabbit. These builds were running multiple copies of Macro Cosmos in preparation for the massive amounts of Hero, Chaos Dragon, and Inzektor match-ups that would undoubtedly occur. Normally, Macro Cosmos would be an odd choice in the main deck when it is for only one match-up (Inzektors). With the release of Chaos Dragons, Joe and Frazier could justify main decking Macro Cosmos. It was extremely multi-purposeful, being able to shut down opposing hand traps, as well as graveyard reliant decks that were prominent. An added bonus at YCS Chicago was that only a few duelists were running Rabbit because of the loss of priority.

A few weeks pass and YCS Philly was here! No one was really thinking about running Inzektors at this point. Now that Dino-Rabbit decks were all maining Macro Cosmos, Inzektors had an even harder match-up versus it. The decks to play are easily Chaos Dragons and Dino Rabbit. With Rabbit winning the last event, a lot of players built that again. Feng Chen and Andrew Martin took this event by storm, making the Finals a Chaos Dragon mirror match.

Yet again, another change happened in the meta, albeit small. Tyler Tabman made it to the top cut in the tournament with Final Countdown. It was an excellent meta call in a tournament filled with Chaos Dragons. Chaos Dragons had no main decked outs to all of the stall that Countdown had. What this meant for the last event of the format, North American Nationals was that Chaos Dragons would have a harder time competing.

And that is it! That was the last North American YCS of the format. Chaos Dragons ended it with a Bang. But there was still one more event. The North American World Championship Qualifier of 2012!

A little over a month later, and the NAWCQ was here. The best decks to play here (in most players minds) were Chaos Dragons and Dino Rabbit. As soon as the tournament started, it was as clear as ice that Wind-Ups were doing well. They were all over the top tables, and although it was a bit of a surprise, it should have made sense to everyone. A lot of players had merged over to Macro Rabbit from whatever decks they had previously been using. A big flaw with the Macro-Rabbit deck was that it couldn’t play hand traps in the main deck. Although they are pretty good cards, you just can’t run them in a deck that revolves around a card that makes them useless. What this means for the Wind-Up deck is that it only has to worry about traps when playing against most Rabbit builds. The Wind-Up deck also had a great match-up versus Chaos Dragons as well. The Chaos Dragon match-up was the complete opposite for the Wind-Up player. They only had to worry about the hand traps, and not about traps. And what makes that match-up even better is that Chaos Dragons always has a large-sized hand. The eventual winner of the event, Tyler Tabman ended up playing versus a mirror match in the finals. This was yet another smart choice from the adaptive player.

What I especially like about this format as a whole is what we can take in from it. If I learned anything this format, it is most definitely that you shouldn’t always go against the grain. The players that brought the decks that countered the meta were usually rewarded. So instead of copying Tyler Tabman’s Wind-Up deck from this past weekend, think about what would counter his deck, as well as Chaos Dragons and Wind-Ups.

And that’s it! The format is over and I’m sure all of us are excited for a change. Rescue Rabbit has been pretty dominant throughout the whole format and something new is needed. A lot of new products are going to be released soon, so hopefully we will have some new decks. The new format is coming up in a couple of months and so is YCS Toronto. Until next time, play hard or go home!

- Paul Clarke