What Is A “Good” Nationals Format?

Hello all of the Yu-Gi-Oh community that are currently viewing my article. First, a little background on who I am. My name is Adam C. Block, but I am better known online as the user Crazee Adam in many forums and yes, as much as it pains me to say Dueling Network. I don't claim to be a pro, I never have been and probably never will be as credible and respected as many other players in the game as I haven't even been to a single big event in the last couple of years. However, there is one event in which I NEVER try to skip out on. And that of course is the World Championship Qualifiers (or WCQ for short), or the former national championships. But you may be asking yourself what all this has to do with the article title. Well let me divulge into some history of "National Formats".

For those who need a brief history lesson, let me run down the list of March Banned/Restricted list formats, and what they are most popularly known for:

2004: First National championship format (won with Chaos/toolbox)

2005: Warrior Toolbox format/Chaos(won by Chaos/Warrior)

2006: Chaos/Return format/Cyber Stein(won by Chaos using Return from the Different Dimension support)

2007: Monarch control/Machine Duplication(won by Trap Dustshoot Monarchs utilizing 3 Brain Controls as well as multiple Trap Dustshoots. Machines with triple Card Trooper and Machine Duplications made a strong appearance as a very speedy deck type)


Now I separate those formats as the control formats, or formats where the game took a lot of slow pacing generally to win the game. However after 2007 nationals, things started to change for the latter half of the season into a very speedy formats, which slowly but surely progressed into more one turn or first turn kill oriented decks. Continuing...

2008: Gladiator Beast (won by Gladiator Beast deck using multiple Gladiator Beast Bestiari and Cold Wave to make it nearly impossible for opponents to come back on the next turn from a quick Gyzarous assault)

2009: Dark Strike Fighter format (Simply defined by one card, 4 decks emerged as the top deck for once in nationals format. The most defining of them were the fastest, Synchro Cat, Blackwings, and Lightsworn. The other was Gladiator Beast. Synchro based Rescue Cat deck one the tournament)

2010: Cat Sabre/Frog FTK/Frog Monarch (A format heavily controlled by Cold Wavy making X - Sabres spell/trap destruction plays even more powerful, and letting them nearly OTK every time. Frog FTK was also at the top of the tables using Substitoad, Ronintoadin and Mass Driver to kill the opponent before they get a single turn off)

2011: Tour Guide/Librarian/T.G. (A little less defined by OTKs but still a very dangerous format with T.G. Hyper Librarian running around)

Now that the history lesson is done with, it's time to look at the problems with each of the formats after the dotted line.

Many experienced players who went to each of the National or WCQ's after the line would tell you that each and every turn you got was a blessing, as on the previous turn the opponent had the opportunity to reduce your life points to zero in just one turn most likely. When formats like these occur, it makes for a quicker style of play, less skillful plays, and more plays based purely on keeping yourself alive for another turn or winning that very turn. For instance, with Dark Strike Fighter format, perhaps the most aggressive and fastest of all the formats yet, many Blackwing players were able to end the game in a single turn. Using multiple Black Whirlwinds as their search engine and being able to go into Dark Strike easily for game. Not to mention the use of Dark Armed Dragon in the deck, most games didn't last past the 4th or 5th turn most of the time. The same could be said about each of the formats afterwards.

So what is the big problem with fast play? Many newer players to the game don't know what it was like back in the Chaos Sorcerer and Monarch style formats, so these type of fast paced formats are all they know. Usually, when a format with TOO MANY power cards emerge, it leads to decks that are going to be based around ending the game faster than the opponent, or gaining mass amounts of advantage, than unloading it on the opponent in a single turn or two. I don't know about anyone else, but for me, I certainly like to play a game that lasts longer than five minutes each. To me, it's almost as if Konami and the makes of Yu-Gi-Oh want to reward people for overaggressive plays during WCQ play. Even with cards like Dark Hole and Torrential Tribute around, many players simply throw fear of those cards to the wind and are able to push for a big amount of damage, set Solemn Judgment or have Stardust Dragon out on the field and pass their turn without a card in the world.

The point I'm trying to make here is that for the past three or four years of of National tournament play, the formats for each have not been what they could have been. Usually the March format starts out well... but in the end new cards are released that make it more difficult to play in for even the most experienced of players. Which of course , could certainly explain why we haven't had a very well known player win the most prestigious tournament of the year since 2008. Of course, I'm not trying to talk down on ANY of the past winners. Winning something as big and pit with all of the top players in the United States (and now Canada as well), is no small feet what so ever. But if Konami wants to bring out the true skill in all of the best players out there, they purely need to limit the production of overly broken cards. Will this happen ever? In my opinion, it wont. Like every buisness out there, Konami wants to make money of course, and to do that they need to produce products that people want, or more specifically NEED to win at this game.

We can all only hope that future banned and restricted lists are better for the game and provide us with more skill oriented formats and with the cause of the best of the best rising to the top tables.

'Til next time duelists, play hard and support the game!

~"Crazee" Adam Block

Omaha, Nebraska

Krypton Comics