Exclusive Interview with Vincent Ralambomiadana, SJC Columbus Champion | The Irish Duelist

Exclusive Interview with Vincent Ralambomiadana, SJC Columbus Champion

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Last weekend saw over 800 players battle it out for victory at SHONEN JUMP Championship Columbus and after 2 days of intense dueling only one man remained: 2008 French National Champion, Vincent Ralambomiadana.

This morning he arrived back home in France with the trophy, another "Dark End Dragon" and various other prizes. He also had time for a quick interview, which you can read below:




PJ:
Hello Vincent. First off, let me congratulate you on winning SHONEN JUMP Championship Columbus, how was the whole experience?


Vincent:
It was a lot of fun, Columbus was a massive event but really exhausting. We finished Day 1 very late in the evening and had to play Top 16 early the next morning, so I was very tired on Day 2. It was my second Jump, I also played at Anaheim, going 8-2, but that wasn't enough to take me to Top 16.



PJ:
Have you had a chance to look at the coverage from the SJC? If so, do you like the new layout and the kinds of features they're doing?


Vincent:
The coverage of the SJC is nice, but I feel that metagame.com was better because you could look at the standings/pairings and keep track of players you knew/followed. The Feature Matches in America were done really well though, Jason [Grabher-Meyer], Michael [Kohanim] etc. are doing a great job. However, I preferred the Feature Match area we had at the first two European Championships, in Germany and Italy. It was a big area with multiple screens and projections, and worked really well. You don't have people all around you, who can get in the way when you're playing or talk about your hand too loud.



PJ:
Your team's Deck is very different to regular Lightsworn/Twilight builds. Can you explain to us what makes it work so well?


Vincent:
The Deck is really strong, but you need to play it well to get good results. Don't play too many cards at once, as you want a big hand all the time for "Tragoedia". It's not that easy to OTK with the deck either, but you'll always be able to make big plays since you have cards like "Judgment Dragon", "Dark Armed Dragon" and "Chaos Sorcerer" that are all very powerful.



PJ:
I first saw the Deck when I met you, Alain Ly and a few others at The Irish Open in September, which Alain won. What did you think of the event in Ireland?


Vincent:
The event was great, there was a very good ambience and the Irish players knew how to have fun at big events. I remember when they treated my teammate Yohan [Descamps] like a hero for the hilarious 'German Video' he made at the European Championship!




PJ:
You've played in many events across Europe, as well as the SJCs. How do the Irish players compare to the rest of Europe, and how good are Europe's elite in comparison to America's?


Vincent:
The Irish players aren't bad at all, but the Germans and Italians are the best in Europe. If I have to compare to America's top players, there's no match. Europe's elite players like Claudio Kirchmair, Vittorio Wiktor, Sebastian Gonzalez etc., are a lot better than the American 'Pros' from what I've seen at the two SJCs I've played at. There are about 10-15 players of this caliber all across Europe, but most of them play in Germany and Italy.



PJ:
Do you think that European players should be taken more seriously online, now that they have 2 recent SJC winners (Rodrigo Togores winning in Orlando) amongst them?


Vincent:
I really don't care about this. The online community is full of [North] American players who think they are the best in the world, you just have to look what they're posting on DuelistGroundz, Pojo etc.. If they don't take Europe seriously, that's not a problem, I think the top European players know they're good enough to win Jumps now. From what I've seen, most American players are not that strong, except for a few like Adam Corn or Jerry Wang. I saw those two play at Anaheim and they don't play like everybody else, they're very good.



PJ:
The format has settled down now and we have 3 top Decks; Lightsworn/Twilight, Blackwings, and Zombies. Do you feel that they're equally strong, or is one of them always going to be better against the others?


Vincent:
I don't think they're equally strong. I don't like Blackwings, I think it's the weakest of the 3. LS/Twilight is gonna be the deck to beat, but I believe that Zombies has more potential than anything else out there. Jeff Jones' build was very interesting, "Deep Sea Diva" was a great idea. With cards like "Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier," "Dark End Dragon" etc., I really think that Zombie Decks are going to get better and better.



PJ:
"Dark End Dragon's" a very powerful Synchro, I got to use one for a while at the European Championship in Lille this year, and you ran one at Columbus. How important is it in Zombies/Blackwings, now that we have Brionac, which does something similar?


Vincent:
In Blackwings, I don't think "Dark End Dragon" is all that useful, as you won't Summon it every game, but in Zombie variants, it's a great weapon. It's really easy to Summon with "Doomkaiser Dragon"/"Revived King Ha Des" and "Plaguespreader Zombie". It's a solid option when the opponent has a "Judgment Dragon" on the field that's backed up by "Necro Gardnas" for example. In that scenario, Brionac is not nearly as strong as Dark End (since they can just Summon JD again next turn), but it's a really good Synchro in its own right when combined with "Mezuki" and Plaguespreader.




PJ:
Just a quick question that many readers would like to know; What's the difference between a 'good' player and a 'pro' player? Is it talent, or is it something that the player can learn?


Vincent:
There's a big difference between the two, I think. A 'pro' player spends a lot of time building and testing his Deck. The Side Deck is really important too, you'll need concrete answers for every type of Deck you're playing against at a big event. In a match, a 'pro' can count his outs to play, and figure out the best one(s). A 'pro' will always anticipate the opponents move, especially in this format. It's so easy to know when your opponent has key cards like JD and "Chaos Sorcerer", and play around this. Talent is important too, but even if you win a lot of tournaments, you'll always learn something new in every match you play.



PJ:
Finally Vincent, what's next for you and Team Dragon Blanc? Will you be attending SJC Los Angeles, or playing in any big events in Europe any time soon?


Vincent:
I'll ask my sponsor about SJC Los Angeles, I see on the forums that players like Chris Gehring from New Zealand are going, and many top European are trying to go too. I really want to play in this tournament. As for Europe, we're still waiting for Konami to organise big events like the Fortune Tour, or maybe even SJCs of our own. We haven't heard anything though, and have to make do with big unofficial events like UkayPro Championship and The Irish Open. I hope we hear something from Konami Europe soon.



PJ:
Thanks for taking time out to dop this interview Vincent, and I hope we meet again soon.


Vincent:
No problem, I hope my English wasn't too bad for you!


If you want to read more on SJC Columbus, head over to the official coverage site to catch up on all the action.



Note: Poritons of this interview have been edited for readibility reasons, due to the fact that English is not Vincent's first language.