Remote Duel Invitational: Matteo Bertulezzi's 60-Card Dragon Link
- Thomas Rose
October saw another exciting installment to Konami's Remote Duel Invitational series, this time returning to Europe. The event featured a mixture of content creators and top-level competitive players. Let's take a look at the winning deck, Matteo Bertulezzi's 60-card Dragon Link.
If you missed out on seeing the action live you can still catch a replay over on the official YuGiOh YouTube channel. At the end of the weekend, Matteo Bertulezzi managed to see off the competition with his 60-card Dragon Link deck. The grand final, which saw a swift dispatch of Lithium's Domain Monarchs, was sadly not the highlight of the tournament, but there were many great matches throughout. Domain Monarchs was certainly an inspired choice among a field of combo decks, but at the crucial final stage it drew enough bricks to build a house in France.
Among the more closely contested games of the event, the semifinals saw an exciting rematch of the finalists from Europe's most recent premier event. This time Bertulezzi exacted his revenge upon Ryhan Jabri. In the months since YCS Utrecht, he has had the opportunity to perfect his Dragon Link deck and prepare to take home the glory. Let's jump into his decklist.
The standout part of this decklist is that, while there are 60 cards in the main deck, the number of engine pieces is almost unchanged from a more standard Dragon Link deck, which would typically field 40–50 cards. The bulk of the extra cards come from Matteo's generous sixteen main-decked hand traps.
The less conventional inclusions of Ghost Reaper and Droll highlight how Dragon Link has affirmed its position as the deck to beat. Matteo was quite right to focus his deck building on combating this matchup, which proved to be comfortably the most popular deck at the Invitational. Half of the sixteen invited duelists chose to bring some variant of it for this event.
There are some less conventional engine pieces too. Unexpected Dai is an interesting option that can provide either a low level Dragon, or a Tuner, as required. The Galaxy Serpent required for Dai also gets additional utility from the addition of World Chalice Guardragon. Matteo pointed out how this pair allows Dragon Shrine to be used as more than just another Foolish Burial. It functions as an extender as well as a starter:
"Dragon Shrine was one of the best cards I played because it can send Absorouter to search a Rokket monster, Seyfert to have access to Levianeer, Darkwurm as a generic special summon, and the most important reason is it can send World Chalice Guardragon and Galaxy Serpent, making it exactly the same thing as Phalanx in case your Romulus get stopped."
Notably absent are Vylon Cube and Smoke Grenade. Earlier in the format, this pair were a staple of combo decks, enabling players to neutralize board-breaking powerhouses like Dark Ruler No More and Forbidden Droplet. The existence of this counter play has consequently led to a sharp reduction in the prevalence of those going-second spell cards in favor of simply playing more hand traps, and aiming to prevent the combo, rather than break the board afterward. Particularly relevant is an increase in the popularity of Droll, which prevents the use of Vylon Cube completely.
Observant players like Bertulezzi have noticed this meta shift and are now cutting down on the obsolete combo pieces that were once required. It is worth noting that metagame dynamics like these are inherently cyclical. As a deck builder, if you are able to pinpoint when the majority of players have taken the stance of ignoring a particular counter, then you can put yourself a step ahead of the curve by reintroducing that strategy. Perhaps soon an unexpected Dark Ruler in your deck will be instrumental to seizing some easy victories.
The Extra Deck for this kind of strategy is almost entirely predetermined by the required combo pieces, but again there are a few interesting choices. Despite the card's popularity since release, most Dragon Link decks have not found a space for Apollousa recently, relying instead on other negation effects. Matteo emphasized how this kind of unexpected inclusion can be particularly valuable:
"Apollousa won me almost every game, because nobody expects it to come down and even the pro players hold their Nibiru until you have the materials for Herald on the field, which you play around by making Apollousa."
This selection is a great example of some higher level thinking that you can apply to your own deck building in the future. Consider what options your opponent expects you to have available, and work out how you can use their expectations to trap them in a misplay. Unexpected effect negations are one way to approach this, but the principle can also be applied to other high-impact effects. Consider things like board-breaking cards Black Rose Dragon and Exciton Knight, or game-winning attacks from Utopia Double.
The choices behind this Dragon Link deck show some excellent awareness of the format. It's a great reminder that the most effective deck building decisions needn't be cards that nobody is aware of, merely those which your opponent may not expect from your specific deck. By staying one step ahead of the competition you can maximize the effectiveness of your strategy while invalidating what your opponent is using to combat it. Congratulations again to Matteo for taking the victory. He wanted to thank his friends for helping him prepare:
"Shoutout to all my teammates especially to Marco, Alberto, Collins, Mirko and to Mario Tarantino and Francesco Spirito for all the preparations for the event. Special thanks to Konami for organizing and inviting me. It was a very good experience, I had fun and I hope they organize more in the future."
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