Here's another article dealing with the fallout from YCS Charlotte, this time from Michael Bonacini, take a look.
This topic is a continuation of InfusionsCaps' thread on his predictions for YCS Charlotte. SJC Los Angeles was one of the biggest events in Yugioh history, and I expect YCS Anaheim to be no different. The combination of many pros in attendance, a lot of randoms using netdecks, and 11+ rounds is what makes SoCal based events the hardest events in the world. I personally am going to do my best to top, but I need help from DGZ, to see where my opinions line up with everyone else. Most of this thread will be based on the top 32 decklists from YCS Charlotte. My tier system is based off of how well represented the decks were in top 32. I will also try not to be too redundant with what has already been said, and what we all already know.
Taking 9 of the top 32 spots, Gravekeeper proved it is the best deck of the format. What makes Gravekeeper so good is more than just Royal Tribute, Descendant loops, etc, it is the fact that they are so resilient to side decking compared to other decks. For example, Puppet Plant vs. Samurai is a clear cut answer, but there are no cards that flat out say, "Play this against Gravekeeper, and win". Going into a diverse field, Gravekeeper has no bad match ups - some are definitely less favorable than others, but Gravekeeper never seems to drop below a 50% win ratio against anything. There is the issue of the dice roll against Six Samurai, but those small details get ironed out over the course of 11+ rounds.
Because of the 9/32 spots taken by Gravekeeper, it is clear that if your deck is not decent against them, or you do not have a clear side deck plan, you have no hope of topping Anaheim. As I envision myself trying to top, I can see myself playing against atleast 4 Gravekeeper decks between rounds 5 and 11. Being able to dodge Royal Tribute that long, while dealing with the grinding of Stele and Descendant, is very hard. What is even harder is having a deck that can counter Gravekeeper, yet remain good enough to handle the rest of the field.
Although Samurai did win the main event, I still consider them below Gravekeeper because they are less resilient in games 2 and 3. Especially since they just won, Samurai will have a massive target on their back, with most players thinking, "I'm not going to lose to that sacky bullshit blah blah blah". And rightfully so. Drawing Gateway is borderline auto win for the deck, and turn 1 Shi En shuts many decks out of the equation of even being competitive. 3 Puppet Plants in the side deck is a must going into Anaheim, and because of that, I don't anticipate Samurai doing that well.
However, I do believe they will be one of the most played decks. Because of the price of Duality going over $150 each, players without Duality must find an alternative deck besides Gravekeeper or Hero Beat, and Samurai is one of the next best options financially and competitively. So being one of the most played decks, and the most easily countered, means a lot of easier wins for the prepared player.
Tying for 2nd most represented in top 32, I believe Heroes made a big impact on Charlotte. What struck me about Jerry Wang and George Velasquez was the inclusion of 2 Dark Bribes in the main deck, which I believe is the great equalizer for the archetype. Dark Bribe fights the decks biggest enemies, Giant Trunade and Gravekeeper Stele. Stele is a problem card because in the Gravekeeper match up, it is all about who grinds each other down the most, and cutting off Gravekeeper's supply of monsters is a massive advantage, almost like a reverse Royal Tribute. Dark Bribe in a backrow also solidifies the Six Samurai and Fish / Monarch match up, because they will not be blown out and swarmed by a field which they can't answer to.
Of course, the deck still does it's usual tricks of Gemini Spark and Hero Blast, as well as a standard Anti Meta trap line up. I firmly believe that if Jerry Wang did not lose his top 32 match to Limiter Removal, he would have gone on to win the whole thing, which is why I hold this deck in a very high regard. It is not as sacky as Samurai, and I believe will not be well represented at Anaheim. Players who already have Duality will likely play Gravekeeper instead, or flat out sell the Dualities while they are at their peak.
Like Gravekeeper, Hero Beat is also fairly resilient to side decking. The best answer I have found is Ally Salvo, which I will be side decking 3 of no matter what. Otherwise, the tricks of the deck allow it to survive most anything a typical side deck throws at it.
From a random OCG tournament, to a blogger's dream, to Nicky Lacaille's hands, Fish has finally achieved what it deserves. But because of this, the surprise factor has been blown off the deck. Players now more than ever will attack into a Dupe Frog, and instead of wondering, WTF? They will know exactly what is coming. Fish remain in tier 1.5 because many games it will just flat out win, because Trunade+Coelacanth can't be stopped by much. Light and Darkness Dragon is also a beast at attacking backrows. But what can stop it, will stop it - Effect Veiler. In my experience playing Fish, it is not always a guarantee to have a Fishborg to protect Coelacanth. Stretched out over the course of 11+ rounds, this is is a major factor that needs to be taken into account when deciding what deck to play. In games 2 and 3, Malevolent Catastrophe isn't a surprise anymore - smart players will see it coming a mile away.
On top of this, the main deck isn't very flexible. The monster line up must remain Water to support Moray of Greed, and there must be a minimal trap line up to support Treeborn Frog. Again, I will reference the scenario in which this deck must play against 4 Gravekeeper decks in Swiss - can Fish really survive that long? And what if Samurai see a massive increase in play? Too much of this deck's fate is in the air now. In order for this deck to remain competitive, it must make up for the surprise factor it has now lost, something which I don't think this deck can do. Can it still win? Yes. Will it last 11+ rounds? I don't think so.
Billy Brake and Steven Silverman both did very well at Charlotte, proving that they know something about X Sabers that everyone else doesn't. Both players didn't wake up that morning and decide they were going to be lucky and top, they had a very disciplined plan on how they were going to do it, which is why I give them a lot of respect for this top. Because of this, the fate of this archetype lies in the best players' hands. There is a very fine line, walking in between Gravekeeper, Hero Beat, and Samurai, and it is no longer enough for a random to just walk in and sack like last format. Billy and Steven proved this deck is still alive, the question is how may players will choose to use it - X Saber is just as expensive, if not more than Gravekeeper. I'll bet many players will opt to play Gravekeeper because they are too lazy to work for their wins like Steven and Billy did.
I chose not to make X Sabers tier 1 because in my opinion, tier 1 decks are so good that they are forgiving of misplays. Cards like Royal Tribute and Shi En backpack many players to their wins, and clearly, X Sabers have less potential to backpack. It took two pros to make X Sabers be even noticed, otherwise they would have slipped off the radar. I think that any player can pick up any deck, and as long as he plays perfectly, will have a very good chance of topping nay event - for example, Billy and Steven could have used Zombies and topped at Charlotte. Does that make Zombies tier 1? No. It means they themselves are tier 1 players.
Taking up 2 spots in top 32, Dragunity was kind of just "there". Dragunity are similar to Six Samurai, because both are very weak to certain cards and in games 2 and 3. Dragunity to my knowledge cannot survive without Dragon Ravine, and no matter how hard a player tries, that fact will stick with them for an 11+ round tournament. Much like Infernity, no matter how hard Dragunity tries makes elaborate plays and set ups, at the end of the day, they can just lose to a couple of MSTs. Unlike Six Samurai, Dragunity can't always do auto-win explosions to backpack them through many wins. There is Trident Dragion, but Trident is nowhere near as good or reliable as Gateway of the Six.
The only thing attracting me to Dragunity was the fact that they do have a good Gravekeeper match up. But to my surprise, while I was building the deck, Phanlax did not come in the starter deck, and I found out I had to shell out $50+ for them. I personally do not want to invest that kind of money in a deck that has such shaky match ups, and I'm sure many of you will agree with me. I expect this deck to fall out the radar, atleast until Barcha comes out after Anaheim.
In all of it's variants, Plants failed to do much of anything at Charlotte. They will still see a decent amount of play because they are one of the cheaper decks of the format. I do believe this deck's strength is in it's flexibility, because it is not required to use specific support cards (as opposed to decks such as Samurai and Fish). Otherwise, it is just being outclassed by everything else, namely Gravekeeper and Hero Beat. If this deck is to become tier 1 again, it is going to have to drastically change itself.
Only taking up one spot in top 32, I am not expecting much from this deck in Anaheim. No doubt it can win some games, especially against Samurai. But having a bad match up against the best deck of the format is never a good thing (Gravekeeper). It is suicide to go up against 4-5 Gravekeeper decks in a tournament with Formula Monarch and honestly expect to win. Also, if it becomes mainstream for Hero Beat to maindeck 2 Dark Bribe, Formula Monarch won't be able to survive that match up - you will run out of Monarchs faster than they will run out of Heroes.
There are some other choices in the format, such as Vayu Turbo and Karakuri, but those decks failed to do much of anything at Charlotte. If they were tier 1 material, it would have shown. I know that Karakuri did top, but so did Empty Jar and Flamvell. I consider all of those decks nothing more than suicide bombs.
For this thread, I am asking where did I go wrong in what I said? Am I accurate? I want to properly access the meta as best as I can, so that I can make the best deck choice going into Anaheim. If you made it this far, thank you for reading!