Irish National Championship Report | The Irish Duelist

Irish National Championship Report


Well this event came by fast. With the beginning of a new format and all the Konami fuss that's been going on, the hype about National Tournaments was almost non-existant. Even when I was online the day before the event, I was getting 'when is your Nats' comments from people every so often. However, while time had indeed 'flew by' I was preparing for this event ever since the end of a rather controversial Fortune Tour Finals, both in terms of tournament play and player development.

This time last year I thought I was God's gift to Irish Yu-Gi-Oh! and let all the hype surrounding me get to my head and inflate my ego. I was then humbled at the 2008 National Championship and went soul searching until the European Championship in Amsterdam, where I redeemed myself on the playing field at least. Off of it, I still had problems. I never really prepared properly for major tournaments and often fluked my way into a great decklist. I was never one to efficiently utilise my side-deck either, which had to be addressed. At The Irish Open I was too stubborn with my choices and closed out the advice from a few players and at the Fortune Tour Finals my head wasn't in it and certain things just sort of 'happened'.

So things had to change if I was to become the player that many already presume that I am. I decided to hold back on travelling to tournaments occasionally so that I could stay at home and get the game out of my head for a day or two. I started networking with experienced players and found them easily thanks to being a general forum addict. I decided on a deck a month in advance and worked on it until I got it right. I was going to make this work and not let myself down again.


It was an early wake-up call for me by many people's standards, but I usually get up at 6.30am to go to college anyways. I wanted to use the Saturday side-events to get some practical testing against the opposition and to take the pressure off travelling across the country. I arrived at about midday and picked up the Summer Cup trophy that was Upper Deck had waiting for me. After that I said hi to some familiar faces and registered for my first King of Games event.

I came up against Robert Stefanuik, a really nice guy who would end the weekend on a rather high note, and finally got to play against some Lightsworn again. I won the die-roll and got a respectable opening hand, which allowed me to handle what his deck without too much difficulty. He didn't opening with anything explosive so I was relatively safe for the entire game. We wished each other luck and moved on with the rest of the day. I also played against Mark Slattery, one of my local opponents and was glad to see that he was getting used to running Gladiator Beasts in time for the weekend. My final was against Stephen Lynam and we had some friendly banter before he smashed my face with multiple Wulfs, Necro Gardnas and Judgment Dragons.

I had gotten a feel for the area now and was able to think about my deck for the main event while playing in another King of Games event, which I managed to win this time. I can't remember who two of my opponents were, but I did get to play against Darren Walsh (2006 National Champion and was the highest ranked player in the country until Lynam finally overtook him in mid-2007). He was just given a Gladiator Beast deck by one of his mates and started to learn how to use it before playing me in a mirror-match. I won out thanks to a smart opening turn (Cold Wave > End while having Rescue Cat in-hand) and took control from there. We had a chat about the decktype and shared thoughts on the different plays that the deck is capable of.

After this it was time for some fun! The Traditional Format event was about to start and I had a deck ready for it. This was the perfect opportunity to relax and take my mind off the intense preparation process that I was going through. I decided to run Makyura Exchange and the deck had a 95% hit rate if I won the die-roll. Unfortunately I lost the first die-roll against Kieran Waters (another locals player) and he had Imperial Order in his opening hand so I couldn't do anything. Then I got to go first and FTK him and in game 3 he didn't have anything disruptive and I FTK'd him again. Second round and I got Karl Dunne and was able to FTK twice again.

Final round and I had Brian Dunne, who was running ChaoSworn, which didn't help me in any way at all. We kick things off and I open with triple Thunder Dragon and 2 dead cards while he had a little milling session on the other side of the table. Just before he ended Tim Chen (Judge) told us to stop as we hadn't officially started yet! Brian's reaction was hilarious but we got over it and re-rolled. He milled/played exactly 20 cards which prevented me from doing anything so I couldn't get past him. He began to side and I set off on my way again. Once I dropped Exchange of the Spirit he pitched Herald of Purple Light to negate it! I dug for an alternative win condition but ended up scooping. The final was between the two of us again and the same thing happened basically, though I did get an FTK off on him in this one. I just had the deck built for fun and knew that anybody with a decent side would beat it but it was nice to play such a different deck to what I was running for Nationals and to break things up a little.

After that I hung around a bit until things died down and checked into the hostel with my party (David Duggan and Kevin Wong) before chilling out for the night, talking with Andrew Murphy about event preparation, heading online for an hour and bumping into David Darigan, freeloaded a hotel lobby for some deck testing, and having a bit of a laugh with some drunk/stoned AC¶DC fans. I also checked my PMs on UkayPro to find some last minute advice from Simon Ho (I sent him my decklist while online earlier) and had something to think about as I went to sleep at 2am. Before writing up the main event I'll just post my Traditional Format decklist, just to get it out of the way now:

Monsters: 7
1 Makyura the Destructor
3 Armageddon Knight
3 Thunder Dragon

Spells: 20
1 Reinforcement of the Army
1 Card Destruction
1 Pot of Greed
1 Graceful Charity
1 Painful Choice
2 Foolish Burial
2 Serial Spell
2 Dark World Dealings
3 Hand Destruction
3 Upstart Goblin
3 Magical Mallet

Traps: 13
1 Exchange of the Spirit
3 Reckless Greed
3 Jar of Greed
3 Legacy of Yata-Garasu
3 Good Goblin Housekeeping

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I got up early, about 9.30, and headed downstairs to work on my decklist, laying the deck across the pool table to get an overall view of it. Dave and Kevin were down soon after to work on theirs as I finished up with mine. In the end I made very few changes, swapping the Brain Control and Sangan between the deck and side and fitting 2 Threatening Roars into the side for some versatility. As soon as the three of us had written up our decklists we got a call from Alex Hayes saying that registration was closing in 5 minutes! Good thing we weren't far from the venue. We quickly packed up and legged it to Wynn's and got in on time. Here's what I finally went with:

Monsters: 19
3 Test Tiger
2 Rescue Cat
2 Elemental Hero Prisma
2 Gladiator Beast Laquari
2 Gladiator Beast Samnite
2 Gladiator Beast Darius
1 Gladiator Beast Secutor
1 Gladiator Beast Bestiari
1 Gladiator Beast Equeste
1 Gladiator Beast Murmillo
1 Gladiator Beast Hoplomus
1 Sangan

Spells: 12
3 Cold Wave
3 Book of Moon
2 Enemy Controller
1 Heavy Storm
1 Monster Reborn
1 Mystical Space Typhoon

Traps: 11
3 Solemn Judgment
3 Bottomless Trap Hole
3 Gladiator Beast War Chariot
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Mirror Force

Extra Deck: 15
3 Gladiator Beast Heraklinos
3 Gladiator Beast Gyzarus
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Colossal Fighter
1 Thought Ruler Archfiend
1 Red Dragon Archfiend
1 Goyo Guardian
1 Iron Chain Dragon
1 Dark Strike Fighter
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Magical Android

Side Deck: 15
1 Spirit Reaper
1 Crush Card Virus
1 Jowls of Dark Demise
1 Brain Control
2 Legendary Jujitsu Master
2 Dust Tornado
2 Light-Imprisoning Mirror
2 Threatening Roar
3 D.D. Crow

After some introductions and a little bit of a wait, the first pairings went up and we got underway.

Round 1 : Table 6
PJ Tierney (0-0) vs Damien Carey (0-0)
Gladiator Beasts vs Blackwings
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Damien was never one to run a 'meta deck', usually trying to get theme decks as far as competitively possible. We joked about how he smashed me at the last tournament (Galway Locals, July 2008) with Crystal Beasts and a few other things before Duncan Tang (Head Judge) gave the player briefing and we got 'down to business'. He won the roll and started with a T-set while I went for a Secutor play, wondering what he was running. Up flipped the Tomato and I brought out Heraklinos, leaving me in a strong position. It didn't look like he had much going on and was setting Blackwings to block my attacks before I brought out a Gyzarus to seal the game.

In the second game I don't draw anything too special and we go tit-for-tat, not even hitting each other's life. I ended up losing though after he forced my Solemn Judgments and dropped Dark Armed Dragon to clinch it. Game 3 was an exciting affair as he gets some huge piercing damage on my Sangan before I slowly grind my way back with some Gladiators. The key play came when I tried to go into Heraklinos for the first time. He has a live CCV on the field ready to go but ends up Booking my Laquari, unaware that I can contact while face-down. Out comes the Heraklinos and things don't go his way after that. It was a fun match to kick things off with, and his deck was quite impressive, even without the Shuras, that weren't tournament legal (in Upper Deck International areas) for this event.

7300/8000 (Secutor < Tomato)
7300/6700 (Heraklinos > Bora)
7300/6000 (Hoplomus)
7300/3600 (Gyzarus)
7300/0600 (Heraklinos)

4000/8000 (Solemn)
2000/8000 (Solemn)

5900/8000 (Bora > Sangan)
5900/7600 (Laquari > Bora)
5900/6800 (Murmillo)
5900/3800 (Heraklinos)

Damien went on to finish in 16th place (4-2)
Games: 2-1
Matches: 1-0

Round 2 : Table 12
PJ Tierney (1-0) vs Salem Teko (1-0)
Gladiator Beasts vs ZombieTeleDaD
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This was certainly an interesting one. I got paired up against Salem, and on the table next to us his wife (Victoria) was playing. Lynam spotted this and suggested that I don't get killed! The last time I played Salem ended in rather controversial circumstances and I was branded a 'villain' for quite a while afterward. However, we had put all that behind us and were in a good mood going into this game and I have to say, this was the most fun I've ever had while getting smashed. He opens with Stratos into Malicious, setting a backrow. I draw and tell him that it better not be Trap Dustshoot, as I had a Heraklinos ready to go, but it was! Back goes the Darius and my hand went from really good to really bad in a flash. I debated playing Cold Wave and ending, but instead went for the safer option of setting an Enemy Controller, which promptly got MST'd before he whips out a flurry of cards to OTK me.

I side in the CCV suite for the second game and open with the Crush and a target (Crow), which got flipped next turn. He lost a Mezuki and had PWWB, Goblin Zombie, D-Draw and some other things. He T-sets and ends while I draw and make a simple Gladiator play. Things were going well, another turn went by and I was making all the right plays. "Watch as I top Malicious into Teleport" he says and that's exactly what happened! He spun my Threatening Roar last turn and I was forced to shuffle it in while getting a Laquari out so I wasn't getting that next turn. He D-Draws, removes, and Teleports into Thought Ruler while also reviving Goblin Zombie with Mezuki. At this point I need to draw a Gladiator to regain control next turn but he mills it with the Goblin! I take the hits and top into a Spirit Reaper. He had 3 Darks though and out came everybody's favourite Dragon to seal the game!

That was the most fun I've ever had while losing so there was no hard feelings in taking that defeat. We head outside to have a chat about various things (while he smokes) and take a look at his deck before heading back in for the next round.


6600/8000 (Tomato)
6600/7200 (Murmillo)
6600/5100 (Laquari)
6000/7200 (Thought Ruler > Laquari)
4900/7200 (Goblin Zombie)

Sal ended up in around 20th place (3-3)
Games: 2-3
Matches: 1-1

Round 3 : Table 18
PJ Tierney (1-1) vs David Duggan (1-1)
Gladiator Beasts vs Plasma Control

Well this sucked, I got to play against my roommate and testing partner in Round 3 and I knew it wasn't going to be easy. Not only did we know each other's decks inside out but his was doing pretty well against mine the night before. As expected this was a tight one, with the first game going in both directions before he nicks it at the end. The second was more of the same but ended in my favour after we traded blows and Solemn Judgments. It was a long game and naturally enough went into end-of-match procedure with him leading by about 2,000LP.

It comes down to a judgment call on my behalf in the end as I forced him into top-decking while he had 3 Goat Tokens on the field after my attacks. I could either tag into Murmillo, destroy a token and leave him with only a top-decked monster for the win, or leave him with the token, getting an extra attacker with Darius but an extra monster to get through on the final turn. In the end I went for the Murmillo but he topped the Plaguespreader, which he set. I didn't top the Test Tiger I then needed to clear the field down a little and ended up losing this game. It was a 50/50 call and probably the only misplay I made all day but I wasn't too worried considering who I lost to.

Meanwhile some crazy things were going on at the tables around us. Karl Dunne was killing off last year's National Champion with Counter Counters and on the table beside him Colin Tobin had just activated CCV for the fourth time in a single game!

7700/8000 (Breaker > Equeste)
6700/8000 (Sangan)
6700/6400 (Samnite)
6700/3200 (Solemn)
4200/3200 (Stardust)
1700/3200 (Stardust)
1300/3200 (Samnite < Stardust)
1300/1600 (Samnite)
1300/0800 (Solemn)

4000/8000 (Solemn)
4000/4000 (Solemn)
2400/4000 (Breaker)
0800/4000 (Breaker)
0800/3200 (Murmillo)

7900/8000 (Bestiari < D.D. Warrior Lady)
6900/8000 (Gravekeeper's Guard)
6900/7200 (Laquari > Sangan)
3200/5500 (Prisma)

Duggan beat Sal on the bubble, but just missed the cut, ending in 9th (4-2)
Games: 3-5
Matches: 1-2

Round 4 : Table 23
PJ Tierney (1-2) vs Petru Bumbar (1-2)
Gladiator Beasts vs Gladiator Beasts
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Despite the current score I wasn't feeling any anxiety at all. I've been in this situation before and managed to recover from it so there's no reason why I couldn't do it again. I faced off against Petru and had no idea what he was playing. I found out soon enough though as he opened with a terrible hand of 5 monsters and kept topping monster after monster while I grinded him down with my Laquari. By the time he had something to make a comeback with I had already drawn the Solemn to prevent any turnaround.

Things swung the other way in the second game as he gets an early Gyzarus off and I have nothing to come back with and in the final game things get interesting. I open with a Laquari, Solemn, Book, Chariot and 2 other cards. I summon it and set 5 backrows, which kind of caught him off guard if his reaction was anything to go by. He tries to Storm but I Solemn it. He goes into Rescue Cat and I Chariot it. He sets 2 backrows (I think) and I MST one. I top a Chariot and poke for 1800. He tops another Rescue Cat and passes priority. I attempt to Book it but he Solemns, then tributes the Cat and is annoyed to see that I have another Chariot down. Things get tense as we run out of cards and need to top monsters to Survive and/or win the game. With 3100LP left Petru Solemns my Laquari, and next turn I do the same to his Prisma. Eventually I top a Darius and get the final points of damage in. It was a rough mirror match but I had just managed to scrape through and keep my tournament hopes alive.

8000/7200 (Murmillo)
8000/5100 (Laquari)
8000/2550 (Solemn)
4000/2550 (Solemn)

5600/8000 (Gyzarus)
4000/8000 (Solemn)

4000/8000 (Solemn)
4000/6200 (Laquari)
4000/3100 (Solemn)
4000/1550 (Solemn)
2000/1550 (Solemn)

Petru ended up in about 22nd place (3-3)
Games: 5-6
Matches: 2-2

Round 5 : Table 10
PJ Tierney (2-2) vs Darren Walsh (2-2)
Gladiator Beasts vs Gladiator Beasts

After Petru's match there was a bit of a wait as things were getting hectic and the nerves started to kick in. I knew that I couldn't afford to make any mistakes and I didn't want to choke like I did in Amsterdam when things weren't going my way so I sat down, tried to relax, walked around for a bit and waited for the next round. Things eased a little when I knew who I was up against, as I knew from playing him yesterday that Walshie hasn't been running the deck for too long. So experience was on my side for once which was surprising considering he won Nationals over a year before I even started playing competitively.

We opened with similar hands to yesterday too and I won the die-roll, going for Cold Wave > Laquari > End, leaving him with only a Rescue Cat play to stay in contention. Next turn I exploded, dropping my own Rescue Cat, a Test Tiger and a Monster Reborn (on his Rescue Cat) to get out Gyzarus and a live Secutor, ending up with Gyzarus, Heraklinos and a Solemn down before he scooped a turn or two later.

He opens up the second game with a Laquari and a set Solemn (or something similar) while I draw the nuts: 2 Rescue Cat, 2 Test Tiger, Bottomless Trap Hole and Jowls of Dark Demise. I set the Jowls and Bottomless and pass it over to him as he falls into the trap. I steal the Laquari, tag for Bestiari and pop the backrow. Next Turn I Cat into Samnites and Gyzarus the 2 Chariots he set pre-Jowls while cutting his life in half. I contact for Heraklinos and so more of the same next turn before he ends up with no more outs and offers the handshake. He wasn't too impressed with the result but we wished each other luck in our final rounds and I had some more time to scan the tables and weigh up the odds of actually topping this event.

7700/8000 (Laquari > Laquari)
3850/8000 (Solemn)
3850/5200 (Gyzarus, Secutor)

8000/4000 (Solemn)
8000/0800 (Samnite x2)

Walshie finished the day close to 30th place (3-3)
Games: 7-6
Matches: 3-2

Round 5 : Table 10
PJ Tierney (3-2) vs Karl Dunne (4-1)
Gladiator Beasts vs Perfect Circle Monarch

Final round of the day and I was still in with a shot. Those chances increased a little when Karl started complaining that he got not only the pairdown, but me to boot. He told me he didn't know what I was playing either but that soon changed when I dropped the Darius on the first turn and asked him to guess. Sal joked that I could be teching the Darius in Lightsworn and I replied reminding him of when he teched a Bestiari in his DaDReturn in Amsterdam (it worked too, for the record, he managed to get out a Heraklinos because of it).

For the bubble tables of a National Championship the atmosphere was very relaxed and we were all having a good laugh while trying not to slip up. Regardless, things went pretty smoothly for me in the first game despite the many hits I took and my final attacks revealed a Treeborn Frog which instantly begged me to side in Crows for Game 2. I duly obliged and opened with one, waiting for the Frog to come out. It didn't take long as I ran over it first turn and instantly dropped the Crow. He tries to Oppression me when I tag out, but I had the Solemn set. Next turn he plays Foolish Burial for Malicious and when he tries to remove it I flip the Chariot. He's scooping a few turns later and reveals his hand of 2 Monarchs and a Dark Armed, a tough break.

8000/7200 (Krebons)
4000/3600 (Solemn Judgment x2)
1500/3600 (Stardust)
0200/3600 (Hoplomus < Stardust)
0200/2000 (Samnite)

8000/5600 (Gyzarus)
4000/5600 (Solemn)

That final loss dropped Karl down to 18th place (4-2)
Games: 9-6
Matches: 4-2

After that final game there was a bit of a wait so I spoke with plenty of players to try and gauge the standings before they went up. There were a lot of people on 4-2 and not many spaces available so the chances of me topping were slim. However, it seems that everybody had pretty average tiebreakers so if I couldn't top I should still finish pretty high. After a little while Tim Chen posted up the standings and there was a scramble for the sheets as everybody wanted to know how they did. "Please don't be 9th" was my call as I squeezed in front to find my name:

[5-1] 1st: Darryl Day (Gladiator Beasts)
[5-1] 2nd: John Malanaphy (Lightsworn)
[5-1] 3rd: Robert Stefanuik (Lightsworn)
[5-1] 4th: Stephen Lynam (Lightsworn)
[5-1] 5th: Alan Warnock (Lightsworn)
[5-1] 6th: Paul Sweeney (Gladiator Beasts)
[4-2] 7th: Alex Hayes (Gladiator Beasts)
[4-2] 8th: James Kinsella (Perfect Circle Monarch)
[4-2] 9th: David Duggan (Plasma Control)
[4-2] 10th: Anthony Toner (Lightsworn)
[4-2] 11th: PJ Tierney (Gladiator Beasts)
[4-2] 12th: Stephen Harrison-Daly (Lightsworn)
[4-2] 13th: Andrei Sidnic (Gladiator Beasts)
[4-2] 14th: Mark Kenny (Perfect Circle Monarch)
[4-2] 15th: Ultan O' Brien (Gladiator Beasts)
[4-2] 16th: Damien Carey (Blackwings)
[4-2] 17th: Michael Beattie (Gladiator Beasts)

So I ended up in 11th and am very pleased with that. I played my best and didn't throw away any games. I also qualified for the European Championship (that is, if Konami will allow Upper Deck International to host it) and finished higher than I did last year. Every game was enjoyable and all the hard work of the past few months paid off, I couldn't ask for any more.

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I stayed around to soak in the atmosphere and cheer Alex on as he made his way to the Top 4. There was also a hilarious (and slightly disturbing) incident involving myself and Brian Dunne during the finals but I'd rather not talk about that, it was a bit shocking to say the least. At the end of the day though, it was Robert Stefanuik who took the title and there couldn't have been a nicer champion, well done Rob, you deserve it after losing the '07 final.

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As things winded down I caught up with a few players and gave them a game or two. Having played 'Crush Fear Johnny' McShane in the last 3 major Irish premiere events (he got the nickname after our spectacular match at '08 Nationals) I had to give him a game before he left. I also had a few with Lynam and Duncan before heading back to the Judges' apartment with them and the Galway lads. We had a few games and did a bit of trading before heading to the pub to hook up with some of the Dublin crowd for a few drinks.

By 11.00 we were all back at the Judges' place for a few hours as I got to have some fun with Damien's Blackwing deck and we all witnessed Tim's ability to draw shockingly bad hands over and over and over again against Duncan, who Goyo'd a Barbaros and repeatedly brought out Dark Strike Fighters to tear him down. Tim did get to play a wierd 3 card combo to save himself in one game but went back to drawing crap after crap much to everybody's amusement. 1.00am came and went as we all headed our seperate ways, the Galway lads heading to Wilson's place and Tim joining us as we went back to our Hostel before heading home. Myself, Dave and Kevin chilled out with some Australians until about 3.00am when I had enough and called it a night.

It was a great weekend, I had a lot of fun and the whole thing was very positive. I had also improved as a player over the past 2 months in terms of preparation and mentality and it paid off with a decent finish. Roll on 2010..

Props and Slops
+ Playing well and finishing high.
+ The relaxing and positive atmosphere all weekend.
+ Tim, Duncan, Gareth and Mick for such a well-run event.
+ The pub and apartment sessions after the event.
+ Having a laugh with the AC¶DC fans.
+ Picking up the Volstgalph Trophy
+ Alex topping.
+ Duggan finishing in 9th.

- Duggan finishing in 9th.
- My Gold Sarcophagus not arriving in time for the weekend.
- Having to be in college the morning after.

Also, many thanks to the following for their part in helping me get to where I did at this event:

Alex Hayes
Andrew Murphy
Bodan Temnyk
Chris Gehring
Christopher Murray
Claudio Kirchmair
David Bui
David Duggan
David Stephen
Duncan Tang
Galileo 'Galy' de Obaldia
Gareth Shaw
Jack Turnbull
Jae Kim
James Stephenson
Jamie Stafford
Jeff Lang
Kevin Wong
Kieran Waters
Kieren Digpal
Malcolm Stead
Mark Kenny
Santiago Vera
Simon Ho
Stephen Lynam
Sven Schuurhuis
Tony Darrer

..everybody at The Gathering, Limerick.
...any obvious people that I forgot above.
....and various users on FeckinYuGiOh, UkayPro, DuelistGroundz and Pojo, whether they know it or not.

(Photos courtesy of and

What now?
Given the ongoing Konami/Upper Deck dispute, things are a little uncertain but there are still a few events to look forward to. The European Championship in Lille (if it goes ahead) would be the big one, The Irish Summer Open is in the early planning stages and should hopefully be as big as the inaugural event last January. Limerick's annual ConClave is going ahead in July with a large Yu-Gi-Oh! event being planned and there is also the slight possibility of an Irish/British invasion of a Shonen Jump Championship in America depending on whether we have a European Championship or not. Other than that, I have locals in Limerick and Cork to look forward to every week and a well-earned summer break from Art College on the way. The future looks good, and I'm ready to take it head-on.



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