The Current State of Competitive Yu-Gi-Oh!
- Marijn van Duivenboden
Over the past couple of months a number of Yu-Gi-Oh! Extravaganzas and Yu-Gi-Oh! Day tournaments took place. They act as the replacement for the Regionals and YCS events that we're missing during this crisis. Remote Dueling might not be the same as what we're used to, but it is all we have. And it isn't half bad.
Over the last few months the new organized play system also got way more support than when Konami first announced it. With multiple locals throughout Europe hosting weekly events and the huge success of the Extravaganzas, it looks like Remote Dueling is here to stay.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! Extravaganzas were the first real events open to everyone that aimed to be bigger than locals. Several countries in Europe were organizing Extravaganzas at the end of 2020, always with public events on Saturday and a main event on Sunday. You could win a Giant Card, multiple playmats in the win-a-mat, and the 2020 National Championship playmat on the main event. The top players of the event would also qualify for an invitational event that would happen in February. The stakes were high, and so was the turnout. A lot of people showed up.
Our first Extravaganza in the Netherlands had 73 attendees and it was a blast. It was so much fun to talk to everyone again and to play the game physically. I'll always prefer using my own cards over any dueling simulator. The event went really smoothly and there were no issues whatsoever. I was super happy to have given Remote Duels a chance and I managed to get third place.
It was almost strange to duel in real life again. After a long stretch of absence and no competitive play, this tournament was one of the most interesting I've ever participated in. Two days before the event started was the release of Genesis Impact. The set brought the powerful Drytron archetype to the TCG, and it was ready to shake up the game. Coupled with the long absence of competitive play, this meant that you had no indication what decks people would bring.
The breakdown of our playing field after round two looked as follows:
- 8 Eldlich Variants
- 7 Virtual World
- 4 Dinos
- 3 Drytron
- 3 Zoodiac
- 3 Paleo
- 3 Salamangreat
- 3 Subterror
- … and 20 other decks
If that isn't variety, I don't know what is. Needles to say is that it was near impossible to prepare well for this tournament. The event concluded with Drytron in first place, using Vanity's Ruler, Cyber Angel Benten, and Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder. It was a deck that nobody knew and no one was ready to deal with. Second place went to Paleozoic. This deck capitalized on the slower format heavily dominated by Virtual World and True King of All Calamities. It featured board wiping from Torrential Tribute, negates with Toadally Awesome, and a lock with Barrier Statue of the Torrent. The third place was also a slower strategy, my Subterror Guru deck. With zero hand traps because combo didn't really exist, I chose to use cards like Dimensional Barrier, Ice Dragon's Prison, and Dogmatika Punishment to maximize on removal and disruption.
Extravaganza 2: Extravaganza Boogaloo
The second Extravaganzas took place at the start of February 2021. The format was way more refined than at the first Extravaganza and all players were more settled in. This time people were more sure about what decks they could expect to play against. However, in true Yu-Gi-Oh! fashion, nobody's expectations were met.
Everyone was expecting a high number of Drytron decks. Droll & Lock Bird was in almost every main deck and hand traps were back in fashion. However, out of 79 participants only eight players chose the deck. Eldlich variants were at an all-time high with up to thirteen decks featuring Eldlich the Golden Lord. There were ten Virtual World decks and seven Bird-Up players. With the release of Blazing Vortex, Tri-Brigade had become more popular and it was showing too. Despite just a small card pool change, the metagame had evolved a lot since 2020.
The event, strangely, was won by Phantom Knights, with two in the top eight, alongside two Dinosaurs and one each of Eldlich-Zoo, Drytron, Dragon Link, and Virtual World. Quite a diverse meta. For a more detailed look at the second Benelux Extravaganza be sure to take a look at my colleague Ryan's article!
The Big Invitational
Duelists from all across Europe are invited to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Remote Duel Invitational Qualifier. For this event, Europe is divided into four separate regions to streamline the tournament experience. Eastern Europe & Italy, UK & Ireland, Germany & Nordics, and Western Europe. Each of these regions will be represented by players invited either via a top performance at their country's Extravaganza or the finals of the local Yu-Gi-Oh! Days. This means that only a small group of people will be attending.
Through its prize pool this event aims to be the top of competitive Yu-Gi-Oh! play. With currently 67 participants for Western Europe, I'm excited to represent the Netherlands. This tournament will be the ultimate test in these times. Normally you can really prepare for an event. Whether it is a Regional or a YCS, you either know the meta of your country or the metagame that is currently played throughout the world. You know what to expect. For this event, however, everything is off the table.
The top decks of this format are pretty defined. Eldlich, Drytron, and Virtual World all loom large at the top of the food chain. These aren't the only viable decks, though. Many rogue strategies have had success these past months. Between countless online tournaments and the Extravaganzas, one has to analyze a lot of data to make a proper meta call. I still have some time to go, but I'm unsure of what deck I should play. It's really difficult to pick a deck this format. With multiple cards that counter multiple decks, the diversity makes it hard both to build a main and a side deck.
Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2021 is weird. If you told me one year ago this would be the main way to play the game I wouldn't have believed you. I'm focusing on doing research now. What decks topped the Extravaganzas in other countries? See what the competition was up to. We do have a rough sketch of the meta, but you will properly never know what to expect. So far it has been a lot of fun building decks for the respective Extravaganzas, and I'm looking forward to the invitational.
I hope you're having fun with Remote Dueling. And if you haven't tried it out yet, be sure to do so. It's worth it. I've met a lot of new people that I wouldn't have met if it wasn't for the ease of Remote Dueling. It might have its flaws, but it's all we have right now. We'd better make the best of it. Will you be participating in the invitational?
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