Monday, September 30, 2013

Regionals Re-Cap & Moving Forward

During the Seattle Regionals I had every intention of making a full tourney report, wrote down my opponent's names and deck-types and everything, but as the event was 2 weekends ago and it sort of feels irrelevant at this point, I'll just be re-capping the event and how it went!

Quite a few people from the Spokane and Idaho area showed up for the event which was great to see. It was nice to have that feeling that we were all rooting for each other and wishing each of us luck before our matches; we came together and truly felt like a family which is why I love this game to the extent that I do. The event itself was slightly over 400 people, which is the largest Regional we've had in Seattle. Nine rounds of Swiss. At first I heard mention that registration would be cut off and people simply wouldn't get to play, but they made a few extra set-ups in the side room where the vendors were and the registration was. I think those late people got round 1 losses or something like that.

As for my matches, I played: 1 Scrap, 3 Mermail, 1 Blackwing, 1 Dragon, 1 3-Axis Fire Fist, 1 Spellbook, and something else I can't remember. It may have been another Mermail or Dragon match-up. The night before, I racked my brain if I wanted to play the "Standard Dragon" Rulers or the Blue Eyes build. The Blue Eyes build I did not have much experience with but I fell in love with it after trying it at the Tuesday tournament before the weekend. I knew the pros and cons of each build and it was getting late so I just said screw it and settled for the Blue Eyes build. If I drew bad all day then I knew from that point I'd just play the Standard build for the rest of the format.

I started the day 4-0, beating Scraps, Dragons, Blackwing, and 3-Axis. Then I lost to 2 Mermail match-ups in a row. Now this is not a match-up I consider difficult, but my losses came from either getting Blader'd followed up with an OTK and no Scarecrow in hand, or they opened Imperial Iron Wall and I had no way of getting rid of it in conjunction with a weak hand that needed my in-hand Sacred Sword to get moving. After the 2nd loss I was fairly disappointed since I knew my chances of topping pretty much went out the window. In the last round I was 6-2 and saw I was paired up against Kyle, one of our local Spellbook players. This is the match-up I hate the most because let's face it it's still a nasty deck. He opened up god against me game 1 but game 2 and 3 I could tell he opened pretty poopy so I won the match. I was glad to at least finish 7-2 and finished in 24th place, fairly low among the 7-2's, so of course due to tie-breakers. I saw that the two Mermail players I lost to also finished 7-2, one of them actually finishing in 25th or 26th place. Again I felt frustrated because while I would say they were OK with the deck, the deck itself just seems sub-par outside of the wombo Steus+Spirit+Ocea combo and random OTK ability. Like Mike Bonacini said, draw MST for the sided-in hate cards, or lose. I didn't draw MST so I lost. I think if I hadn't lost against either Mermail player I would've ended up topping, I can't really say for sure since who knows I might've played against all Evilswarm the rest of the day, but I dunno I just had that gut feeling. Everyone else finished 6-3 or lower, I think that Zach (Blackwing) and Corey (Spellbook) could've ended up topping as well but there's always those "rando" situations where you lose not because your opponent is good, but because there's some game-state (whether it be hand/draws, they dropped 3 JD, etc) that prevented you from winning.

Not a lot of ruling issues came up, but it was astonishing that all of the Mermail players I played against didn't know that Abysspike missed timing if I destroyed a Linde with Crimson Blader. Each time a judge was called to confirm. I even had to tell one of the dudes 3 times in our match that it missed timing since he kept summoning it off a Blader'd Linde. The biggest ruling issue I had was in my match against the Blackwing guy I think in round 3, in which I had a set Return and summoned Dracosack. He activated Icarus targeting my Draco and Return. I chained Return paying half my life and summoned 4 Dragons. Then he activated Torrential Tribute and I told him you couldn't do that. Two judges came over and I explained the situation, but all 3 of them (the player and the 2 judges) told me there was an "activation window" so that he could Torrential after the monsters were summoned. "The game-state is open" and some other fluffy-worded bullshit to make it sound like they knew what they were talking about. I explained that was wrong because Icarus had yet to resolve and he couldn't activate something during the resolution of a chain and I also said "then how come back in the day (DAD Return) people played Heavy then chained Return to play around the Torr/Bottomless?" They stuck to their ruling though and I should have appealed it, but just said whatever and still proceeded to win the match. Later on in the day that Blackwing player came up to me and was like "yea you were right about that ruling one of the judges found out and explained it to me." I knew I was right but it was reassuring that they knew I was right lol.

I think one the highlights of my weekend was meeting the infamous Squiddy, who I got my Garunix signed. I flipped through my binder trying to figure out what I should have him sign and remembered that I saw him playing Fire King quite a bit on DN so I chose the Garunix. Kyle and I were visibly excited to meet and talk with him while the other guys were just like "wtf is Squiddy?" Come on everyone that's spent any time on Pojo knows Squiddy lol. Squiddy was playing Blue Eyes Dragons as well and ended up in 4th place I believe. Chris Hentz won the event with Standard Dragons. I think top 8 was something like 7 Dragons and 1 Inzektor. After the event I checked out the ARG Open coverage and saw that Frazier and Billy were also playing the Blue Eyes build so it was reassuring to me that I didn't make a completely terrible deck choice and in retrospect I'm glad I played it. I was playing 3 BEWD and 3 Stone though so if there was anything I would've changed for the event it would be the 2-2 build. I noticed that playing the 3-3 build made it very difficult to side because theoretically (as Pat Hoban would say) you don't want to side out combo cards for non-combo cards.

As for the rest of the format, I am pretty sure we won't be having any Regionals in our area unless the events list gets randomly updated. I won't be going to San Mateo so it already feels like the end of the format for me, which we had a conversation about on the ride back home the next day. Three weeks in and it already felt like end of format lol. I'll be sticking with Dragons because there's honestly no reason for me to pick anything else up at this stage. I'll just keep trying to max-rarity my deck. Whatever I'd pick up would be in anticipation for next format, but with the whole separate lists thing and predictions always being so off it's really hard to tell what to do. So rather than stress out about it, I'm just going to ride out the format with the best deck for me and rake in as much prizing I can. I would assume that come Dec 31/Jan 1 they would nerf Dragons to being unplayable (I'm thinking each Dragon to 2 and maybe Sword to 1?) since all the holiday sales off the Redox and Tempest tin would be over with by that point. TCG-side, Dragons have a very strong presence, too strong in comparison to everything else.

Here was my decklist for the event, for reference:
3 Blaster
3 Tidal
3 Tempest
3 Redox
3 White Stone
1 Corsesca
1 Flamvell
2 Maxx C
1 Scarecrow

3 Sword
3 Consonance
3 Ravine
2 Trade-In

1 Raigeki Break
1 Vanity's
1 Return

2 Draco
1 Big Eye
1 Gaia Dragon (never went into)
1 Master of Blades (never went into)
1 Heliopolis (never went into)
1 Armory (never went into)
1 Black Rose
1 Stardust
1 Scrap
1 Colossal
1 Red Dragon (just for EEV)
1 Azure-Eyes (never went into)
2 Crimson Blader (always went into)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Seattle Regionals Bound

Well this weekend seems like it will be a pretty active one between the debut of the ARG Circuit Series in Texas and many regionals happening as well. It's nice to see that once again many local players will be making the trek from the east side of the state and Idaho over to Seattle for the regionals. Honestly I'll be glad when/if the Official Championship tournaments happen at our local area since that's 5 hours worth of driving we wouldn't have to deal with while still having the opportunity to earn an invite. I've been busy since the start of the format trying to find a build of Dragons I'm comfortable with but it has yet to really happen, mostly because I have seen the pros and cons that each variant has to offer and some of the cons among the decks really bother me. I think each variant is a good deck, but trying to determine the flavor that best suits my tastes has been quite difficult and something I still have to ponder as I make the drive over with some of my teammates and what ever testing we can do tomorrow night. Side-decking is also a strange endeavor as I really have no idea what to expect for the Seattle meta. Every Seattle regional I've been to has been fairly random as to what decks I played against. I remember past tournaments expecting to play a few X decks but not facing any at all throughout the day. This makes precious side-deck spots become wasted but it becomes a "you kinda have to" thing (ie how Evilswarms affects Dragons).

I wish everyone out there playing some competitive Yugz this weekend the best of luck and hopefully we (the east side of the state) can claim a few top 8 mats once again!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Player Entitlement, The Loser Mentality, and Internal Motivation

This post is inspired by a conversation I had with a fellow player at Tuesday's local tournament, which was originally planned as a box tournament but due to the poor turn-out (and the prize structure because of it), we reverted to just doing a standard weekly tournament. I don't remember the remark exactly, but it was something along the lines of "no body shows up because Team O is too good and no one gets any better playing here." I was kind of taken aback by this statement, I guess because I have a very different philosophy on the steps people should take to not only get better at this game, but really anything in general whether it be a sport, a job, etc. I proceeded to tell him that I believed one of the best ways of getting better was to simply "get your ass kicked" against players that were better than you, so long that you can take something away from it. Whether it be for just a playtesting session, a day, a week, months, years, whatever, playing against someone better than you will provide the learning environment to mimic similar advanced plays and strategies of that player. This, combined with an open mind, a genuine eagerness to learn, the ability to listen and incorporate given advice, and doing proper research are the keys to improving, in my opinion.

The classic example I gave to this player to illustrate this, was my friend Mikey from Texas. He went from playing rando Macro-Soul Absorption combo deck and basically only doing sub-par at tournaments, to becoming a regional topper across multiple games. We used to have weekly playtesting sessions, every Friday at my apartment, which basically was 3 or 4 hours of me beating him game after game, until a few weeks in when it all finally clicked in his mind about how to play properly, at least better. What I mean is just attacking if you already have 1 monster on board, as opposed to summoning a second and walking into a Torrential or Mirror Force. Not blind-MST'ing just to get MST'd back and taking the -1. Not setting spell/traps before attacking just to walk into an Icarus Attack/MalCat. There are many other examples of these kinds of things, basic things to advanced players but something that gets passed by to those that are "average" or below. Once he got to that realization point, he became thirsty to acquire more knowledge about the game and started watching relevant Youtube videos, reading articles, event coverage and feature matches, the whole nine yards. By the end of my time in Texas, he was going toe-to-toe with me at locals. While conversing with this player I even pointed to Vamp who walked by, and said how he has progressed so much as a player by learning through Team O and being on the team.

So going back to my conversation, I had to make it clear that players that played or didn't play in certain tournaments solely to avoid Team O were simply doing themselves a disservice. People don't get better by winning in irrelevant tournaments full of scrubby players; what good is it being "king of the losers?" Once he proceeded to say "well I don't like half of Team O anyway", I knew nothing I said from here on was going to get through his mind as he's already displayed a stubborn attitude toward the game and the player base. Naturally I got upset by this statement because I can honestly say we have grown a lot as a team and we are much different than what we were. The roster itself is different, some being the most helpful people in the entire community, and we're much older now so the "douchieness" level I would say is much lower than what it was. Sure there may be bouts of said "douchieness" but that comes with the territory of the game and for the most part isn't made out of ill will - it's good ol' fashioned "ribbing" you could say.

So after thinking more of the statement "people don't get better playing here" (ie playing people that are good at the game), I had to question myself how people actually do or expected to. Do lower-skilled players have some sort of mindset that the better players should be teaching them how to get better, out of some sense of entitlement? Is it my job or anyone else on Team O's to make the community good? Naturally my answer would have to be "no". Now don't get me wrong, like I said previously, many of the team have helped other players outside of the team at least to some certain extent. Whether this is just giving cards away for free to giving deck advice or game-play advice, taking players up directly under our wing to get better, we've done it all. Some people do so more than others, but I don't think it's right to blanket-statement that all of Team O is unhelpful when it may only be a few members, at most. I believe what it boils down to is the players themselves - after all, we all had to start from somewhere, on the bottom, so what's the difference between them and us? [And I'm not trying to put us on "pro" status or anything like that, but most couldn't argue that we aren't among the top players in our area.]

Herein lies the principle problem of average players, I think what keeps them in their state and slowing their progress to becoming good players: the inability or lack of willingness to listen. I thought of this quote as I was driving home from the tournament - "the players that need help the most, are the ones least likely to listen." Little Timmy would rather fight to the death to prove that one day his Chronomoly deck will win him a tournament than listen to anyone's advice telling him otherwise or giving recommendations on card choices. That player will always run Magic Cylinder because "they might attack into it for game" over a suggested Mirror Force which can potentially deal with the problems on board so he can win next turn (or at least not get killed by those monster(s) anyway). They'll play 55 cards and refuse to ever go lower because "every card is useful." This inability to listen and stubbornness is the biggest hindrance in players' ability in performing better at tournaments. Rather than listen to any sort of constructive criticism from someone that's been playing the game for several years, they'd rather do their own thing because in their mind their views and philosophies are always right.

The effect this inability to listen has on a player is further compounded by "the loser mentality", an attitude that these types of players tend to have. This topic was discussed in great detail in Danny's video so I'd recommend watching that to get his take on the issue. From my standpoint, an example of the loser mentality is when you sit down to play someone, they come down to sit, and go "oh god, I have to play you I'm going to get destroyed" in all seriousness. Some guy who I've never even seen before did that when he went to play me last Sunday - part of it is humbling but part of it is frustrating because people are mentally defeated in the match before they've even started shuffling! Another example is when people physically go out of their way to go to a tournament, but don't enter because they first observe who all is playing and deem the tournament to be too difficult and not "worth it" to enter. This leads to people quitting the game to try something else. Like Danny said in his video, the way that parents raise their kids contributes a substantial part to having or not having this mentality. A child that is raised by parent(s) who can instill confidence in them and a "keep fighting, don't give up" attitude will most likely see more success throughout life than one that is given the attitude of "well if it's too hard then it's OK to stop, how about trying something else?" This teaches them that if something in life is too hard, it's OK to just avoid it altogether rather than dealing with it head-on and trying to conquer it. Now I'm not a parent, but my parents never gave me an inkling of a notion that if something was too hard that it's OK to just give up. It's quite sad to see so many players around my area with this attitude.

Ultimately I believe you get out what you put into this game. What I mean is, someone that does a minimal amount of quality playtesting, no research, no collaboration, and only hits up that one weekly tournament with their pet funsy deck isn't going to see a great amount of success when compared to someone that reads up on the metagame, strives to build the top tier decks, reads articles, analyzes decklists, practices side-decking, etc. The best players in the game put in a lot of time to master their craft; it's the same with any job or people that play various sports on any sort of professional level. It's not simply a numbers game though; as my old drill instructor would say, "if you put two stupids together in a room nothing good's going to come of it." This means that just because you put in 100 hours of testing doesn't mean it'll amount to all that much if it's with fellow players that only have similar bad ideas/views of the game. The motivation that comes from oneself with a positive attitude and a willingness to listen are vital in that effort to becoming better, the best that you can possibly be.