The release of Cosmo Blazer and the Onslaught of the Fire Kings structure deck sure shook the meta from the ground up. It created new decks and strengthened old decks all the same. Generic cards like Diamond Dire Wolf and all the new themes these have brought to the game make it very exciting to play right now. Above all, Fire Formation - Tenki is the best card in the set hands down. It was the missing piece Wind-Ups needed to fix their consistency issue, giving the deck extra access to Wind-Up Rabbit to fix Magician/Rat/Factory hands. At the same time the deck has a new problem in the form of the Fire Fist deck. Fire Fists have an amazing Wind-Up matchup even without playing Vorse Raider or DDV.
The general consensus was that the top decks in the format were Wind-Ups and Water with Dino Rabbit not far behind and adding Fire Fist to the mix turns it into a rock-scissors-paper format. Wind-Ups have a good matchup against Water, Water has a good matchup against Fire Fist, and Fire Fist has a good matchup against Wind-Ups. It's not as simple as that though. Some people consider Water to have a good Wind-Up matchup especially after siding and some people just won't play Water because of the existence of Abyss Dweller. As far as Fire Fist goes, I've known some people to run a full 3 copies of Abyss Dweller to try to tip the Water matchup in their favor. No matter what deck you choose you can do something to strengthen your bad matchup and I really like that about this format. The key is making the correct meta call and even if you do, you could still get unlucky and play the decks you didn't prepare for. I guess a personal example would be taking Nobleman out of my sidedeck and Zenmaioh out of my extra deck before YCS Seattle because I didn't expect Geargia to do very well but then I played 3 after Round 5 and lost to 2 of them. Geargia didn't really succeed in that tournament and even though I've made wrong meta calls before, I still think I made the right call but I don't feel bad about it because things like that happen. You just gotta take chances and if you don't succeed, it doesn't always mean you were wrong. Hindsight is 20/20. Some people told me I was wrong though, since Water came out and people like me thought Geargia would go away it would have a nice surprise factor at the event. I can't really argue with that either, it's a really sound point.
Fire Fist is a deck that you can build a few different ways and all the possibilities have been seeing success in the little time they've been tournament legal. I actually want to go over some of the cards that have been popping up in the first drafts of the deck. The Vorse Raider/Deck Devastation Virus combo is probably the biggest debate right now and I'm one of those people that are against it. First we should look at what pulling off the combo does for you against the meta decks this format. It'll usually just outright win you the game against Wind-Up and Water and while you won't hit too much in the mirror or against Dino Rabbit, the information is pretty nice. A lot of people refer to this as "free information" but really you're giving up 2 cards (or 1 if you were able to bait removal first) to see what they have. Still seems pretty good, but then you play the deck and realize how good your Wind-Up matchup already is and most of the time the Virus is overkill. The Water matchup is pretty dependent on how well both players open. If the Water player opens slow you usually see the Fire Fist pilot gaining early advantage via Bear and Gorilla and being able to spam Abyss Dwellers to seal the game before the opponent could stabilize. And if the Water player draws well, then.. what really beats that anyways? Meanwhile the combo is bad against the other 2 top decks and then there are times where you will draw Vorse Raider and DDV separately and you really don't want to be running 6 normals and potentially dead traps. Siding them doesn't seem like good use of space either so if I were to take Fire Fist to Miami, I'd cut both cards entirely.
Other than that Reborn Tengu, Effect Veiler/Maxx "C", Nin-Ken Dog and Forbidden Lance pretty much wrap up the list of controversial cards and are all pretty alright options. Only having 2 copies of Tengu makes it pretty meh but I do like Effect Veiler in this deck. A lot of your guys are already huge with the potential of getting bigger so there should be no worries about not being able to clear a monster you Veilered before they get a chance to put it to use. It's also really nice for its ability to hide in your hand since a lot of the time your opponent will be able to scope out the real traps you have as opposed to Tensens or Tenkens. Sometimes you even run out of space to set trap cards since late-game you can get clogged with any extra copies of Tenki, Tensu, Tensen, Tenken, or Fiendish Chains that are just chilling on your field. This is one of those decks where you want to spread your traps and threats between your field and hand. Forbidden Lance is naturally a really good fit in here and also helps against the mirror and I think Nin-Ken Dog is worse than Vorse Raider. Lightning Chidori is powerful but how often are you really going to bring it out? I'm not going to save Rabbit for a comeback play and the times where you draw that lousy 1800 ATK normal monster is going to be way more relevant than having the option of going into Chidori instead of a different rank 4.
Water players got a ton of new options and toys to play around with it Cosmo Blazer but at the end of the day I think that's all they'll ever be - at least while we can play a full set of Genex Undine. Outside of Mermail Abysstrite, Abyssdine and Abyssteus are the only other cards that should really get any kind of consideration. Abysstrite is amazing, giving players a reason to run the now amazing Bahamut Shark. If left unanswered the Shark generates way too much advantage on its own and it's actually pretty unfair. You can also attack with it and then use its effect in MP2 since it says "This card cannot attack for the rest of the turn" as opposed to saying it can't attack the turn it used the effect. Pretty dumb (but important) ruling to know even if you aren't playing Water. Other than that not much has changed. Soul Taker is going to play a huge role in this deck since there's a new deck on the block with the ability to spam rank 4s and since Rabbit won the last YCS Dolkka is still going to be huge. I think people have caught on that Skill Drain and Deck Devastation Virus aren't very good in the deck anymore but only time will tell.
Last but not least, Wind-Ups. There isn't really much to say about this deck that hasn't already been said but its ability to adapt still makes it a deadly deck in a skilled player's hands despite Fire Fist being a deck. The early game gets a lot better with the addition of Fire Formation - Tenki so don't expect a lot of "draw, pass, draw, pass" from Wind-Ups anymore. It's a lot harder for them to open a hand where they can't get anything going and if I had to pick a deck to win this event it'd be Wind-Ups. Despite using the deck at every event I've been to this format I never thought it was the right choice other than at Toronto. This time the deck is very real especially since people have had all format to practice and master the intricate combos of the deck. Rat-Rabbit-Mage looping isn't easy but when played against you correctly is almost impossible to beat. If Wind-Up players make the right innovations and card choices they have a very high success rate at this tournament but on the opposite side of the coin, the old builds will fail at this event. In this deck - even more than Fire Fist - it's time for innovation to shine. Other than that, hopefully someone will surprise us with a good Fire King deck or something. I actually don't think Heroes are bad pick for the event since its Fire Fist matchup is pretty insane but the build needs to be tweaked to have an edge over Wind-Ups and Water for it to do well.
That's about all I have to say about Miami. Good luck to all attending the event and enjoy the weather down there! I'm glad to be able to say that this tournament will probably be the last place you'll ever get turn 1 Magician Sharked and I think we can all thank the heavens for that.