The Secret to Dueling: Running Out of Time?

The Secret to Dueling: Running Out of Time?

By:Tray Massengale

Hello everyone,

My name is Tray Massengale.  I won YCS Orlando back in 2011 along with several other premier level tops and countless regional victories.  I have been playing YGO since its initial American release and I still love the game just as much today as I did back then.  Let me also take this time to congratulate Billy Brake for yet another YCS title.  As a former champion myself, I can personally attest to the extreme difficulty it is to remain “unbeatable” in this game that we all love and enjoy.  Remarkable job, Mr. Brake.  Thanks for showing me (once again) how it’s done!  

As a competitive player, I love traveling to events.  Unfortunately, my hectic school schedule has prevented me from traveling to a large number of tournaments.   Luckily, Dueling Network and my local dueling community have helped me remain competitive and up-to-date with all the latest cards, decks, and strategies.  This past weekend, I had the rare luxury of attending YCS Dallas.  The ultimate objective of this article is to hear your thoughts and opinions on a very strange and unique incident that happened to me while I was in attendance.  

To jump straight to the finish, I got DQ’ed from the main event while I was at Table 1 with an undefeated record.  I can almost assure you that the situation that I faced is very common for most duelists but the end result still seems too severe.   I hope that after hearing several thoughts and opinions on this situation, I will be able to email Konami a persuasive email to prevent myself from receiving a possible one year ban and convince them to modify and update their official tournament policies dealing with time and “intentional cheating”.  

Anyways, let’s skip all the pre-event details and fast forward straight to the juicy stuff.  Here’s what happened.  Around midway through Day 1 at the tournament, I found myself having huge success with my Burning Abyss Deck.  I quickly found myself seated at Table 1 paired against another former two-time YCS Champion.  We introduced ourselves and shared a few laughs and after a couple of minutes, the judge announced that it was time to begin the next round and our epic showdown was quickly underway.

Before I go any further, let me state a small disclaimer that the following testimony is being presented from the best of my recollection.  I apologize in advance if any small details are off.  Don’t worry, you’ll soon see why.  However, none of this should make any difference because I am less interested on how this situation actually played out for me and more interested on how this situation should be handled in the future.  

For game 1, he and I appeared evenly matched and the showdown between my Burning Abyss Deck and their Shaddoll/Artifact Deck was quite an epic back and forth battle.  Unfortunately for me, he managed to win game 1 after 25 minutes or so.  After a couple of minutes of very intense side decking, I was ready to even the score.  I opened decently strong game 2 but my opponent wasn’t going down without a fight.  After a clash of Chaos Monsters, I found myself hanging on by a thread.  Luckily, I managed to assemble a few combos that pulled me out of my dire situation and I managed to take control of game 2.  Thanks to a little luck, I was finally able to apply some pressure and things started to look very grim for my opponent. 

All of a sudden, he and I both became aware of the small amount of time remaining on the clock.  This led him to hastily admit defeat and concede game 2.  This is also where things started to fall apart, sparking the fuse that would soon blow me out of the entire tournament.  

At this point, only a couple of minutes remained on the clock.  My opponent appeared very eager to start game 3 as fast as possible.  However, I did not share his passion.  I made a comment that through this entire match into a totally different dimension.  The comment I made after game 2 was something along the lines of:

“I am not going to turbo side deck.  I am going to take all the time that I am allotted as a player (to side deck) so I guess we’re going to draw (tie).”

Now, let me quickly educate those players who may be unfamiliar with a few of Konami’s policies in regards to official tournament play.

1) If game 3 has started and time is called in the round, then there will be a total of 5 additional turns in which case a victor will be determined by whoever wins the duel or has higher life points at the end of those 5 turns.  If neither player has won the match after 5 turns and if both players’ life points are equal, then that match will result in a draw.

2) If both players have won one game AND if game 3 has not yet started when time is called in the round, then that match will result in a draw.

3) It is considered (severe) cheating if any player attempts to intentionally draw(tie) during the tournament.  

4) Both players are allowed up to 3 minutes to side deck in between games in a match.  


Let’s snap back to right after my comment.  My opponent immediately signaled for a judge and told them that I was attempting to intentionally draw.  The judge asked me if I stated such a comment and this is where I became confused and overly defensive. I told them that my comment was being misrepresented and that I was not attempting to break any official tournament rules. I verified that I did state that I would like to use all my available time side decking and that since there are only a couple of minutes remaining on the clock, this would indeed result in a draw.  The floor judge immediately went to go seek the head judge.  When the floor judge arrived back with the head judge, my opponent and I were asked to pack up all our cards and proceed to the back section of the tournament.

The two judges asked my opponent into the back room first and he stated his version on the situation.  After a few minutes, he came out and I was also asked to go into the back room.  The head judge began to ask for my version of the situation and this is what I said:

“Upon learning that a minute or two remained in the round, my opponent decided to “randomly” concede Game 2 in hopes of beginning Game 3 before time was called.  I was instantly perplexed on his “random” rushed behavior, and I was still in the mindset of trying to win game 2.  When my opponent started to rush me to hurry up and side deck so we can begin the third and deciding game, I told him that I was not ready to begin.  I told my opponent that I was uninterested in turbo side decking and that I would be using all 3 minutes that I am allowed and that it looks like this match will be a draw.  I was not trying to cheat and intentionally draw (tie), however, I was also not trying to make careless mistakes so close to the finish line.  I have never received a time penalty in my life because I have learned to duel at a fast pace.  However, I have also trained myself to always “reset” after each game and to take the necessary time to side deck appropriately.  I often use the full 3 minutes to remind myself of key cards and strategies that I must aim for to give myself the best chance at winning the match. I have come to understand that I win most of my matches by remaining calm and making well thought out plays.  Therefore, I was not about to fall out of my comfort zone simply to appease my opponent’s request to quickly hurry up so we can begin the final game.  

As a graduate student, I have learned that rushed and careless mistakes are almost never the best course of action.  For example, if only 2 minutes remain on a (non-multiple choice) test, it is not a good idea to simply guess and fill in random answers at the end.  I have been trained to not become stressed or anxious in these time sensitive situations but to instead remain level headed and to keep answering questions with the same speed, accuracy and precision that I have been using all along.   This almost always will result in a better overall test score.   

Furthermore, I have been told that in sports such as football (that I know very little about), players are encouraged to simply kneel the ball rather than attempt an actual play in order to drain the final seconds off the clock.  I do understand that players usually do this when they are ahead in score, however, such the idea of avoiding potential fumbles and interceptions, is very smart.  It would be a very poor decision for players to make reckless plays that pose the possibility of their own downfall, especially when those plays are unnecessary.   

Now to clarify, I was NOT attempting to drain all the remaining simply to draw with my opponent.  However, I was also uninterested in “fumbling” the ball so close to the finish.  I am not well rehearsed with smart side decking strategies when game 3 will undoubtedly go into time (K1).  my opponent, on the other hand, seemed very confident in his side decking choices for such a situation and appeared overly eager to begin game 3 after only a few quick seconds.  I was not equally as confident and I actually needed the full 3 minutes to consider my side decking choices.  As I stated earlier, I almost always use the full 3 minutes anyways.  Side decking is virtually a breather for me and I use this time to regain focus and to strengthen my plays and strategies.  Remember, game 2 just ended “randomly” and I needed the time to clear my head out of the past duel and to shift my focus on playing out the remainder of the match.  Since only 2 minutes remained on the clock and I know that I am allowed 3 minutes to side deck AND that I did indeed need those 3 minutes, it was evident that this match would be a draw.  I only stated to my opponent that this match would be a draw, because I didn’t want him to continue to rush me to hurry up and begin game 3 when it was clear what the inevitable outcome would be.”

After hearing my opponent’s statement and my statement, the judges left the backroom to decide on a verdict.  The judges debated for what seemed like a very long time.  Eventually, the head judge decided on a verdict and informed me that my opponent had been given the win and that I was being disqualified from the entire tournament for cheating.  They told me that it still appeared as if I attempted to intentionally draw (tie).  In addition, I was told that I would not be allowed to play in any other events for the remainder of the weekend and that it is possible that I may receive a temporary ban.  However, because I brought up some very valid points, I was still allowed to stay at the venue and play casually with my friends and watch other matches.

I was then asked to complete some paperwork and I was told that I would be contacted in a few weeks about any potential bans/suspensions that I may receive.  I left the event mad, confused, and sad.  I was truly not trying to cheat but yet I was being called a cheater (indirectly).  As a person and a player, I never intend nor attempt to cheat in any duel regardless of the situation.  However, I was being told that I did exactly that: cheat.   I left the event feeling very hurt and questioned my ethics as both a person and a player.  

To this day, I truly have no idea who was wrong: myself or the interpretation of the policy.  This is the sole reason that I chose to contact ARG and ask them to post my article.  I am hoping that some other players can shed some light on the situation and give me their thoughts, ideas, and opinions on this situation.  

If you can, please post your thoughts below. Also, if you have any ideas on how Konami should amend their polices in regards to time so that players don’t feel rushed when game 2 ends with less than 3 minutes left on the clock, please post those thoughts as well.   I’m sure that there are countless other players who would also like to avoid fumbling at the finish.  It would truly make a world of difference for me and hopefully to a lot of other players as well.  It’s my goal for all players to avoid this severe penalty simply because they request to use all their allotted side decking time.  

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for all those who post your thoughts and suggestions.  

“Play hard or go home!”

-Tray Massengale

Editor’s Note: Here are all the rules verbatim that were talked about during this article in regards to penalties.

Slow Play (SP) - Players are expected to play at a reasonable speed, regardless of the complexity of the game situation, and should not waste time during a Game. Slow Play infractions are always administered a Warning at first, and then upgraded as appropriate if the infraction is repeated. Slow play is presumed to be unintentional.

- Minor - This penalty is appropriate when a player unintentionally plays slowly, causing a minor delay in the Game. It is a player’s responsibility to play at a reasonable pace, regardless of how complex a situation may be.

e.g. A player takes longer than the 3 minutes allowed to access his Side Deck in between games of a Match.

Unsporting Conduct (UC) - Unsporting Conduct infractions are considered to be intentional. It is important for players to understand what kinds of behavior are not appropriate at an event, and for judges to use common sense when investigating the infraction and administering a penalty. While Konami encourages players to have fun at an event, they are expected to withhold from engaging in behavior that may be offensive or that may ruin the integrity of the event. 

- Cheating (Disqualification) -  Cheating includes, but is not limited to, intentionally misrepresenting the game state, rules, or tournament polices. It also includes reporting inaccurate information or lying to tournament officials. Bribery and collusion are considered to be cheating.

e.g. A player or players agree to intentionally Draw a Match.

Joe Soto