Landmark YCS events are always memorable: the 50th Shonen Jump Championship debuted Doomcaliber Knight and offered prizes that have yet to be matched. The 75th SJC was memorable for other reasons, breaking attendance records that set the pace for a surge in YCS player turnout lasting for years, culminating in the 100th YCS in Long Beach, California; a hotbed of player activity that absolutely shattered the record set at Edison. The 125th YCS took place across the pond in Turin, Italy, breaking the record for the largest Italian Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG tournament with 1,324 duelists in attendance. And now approaches the next milestone…

This week on Black and White: YCS Columbus! I'll go over some essential information if you're looking to compete in this historic event. If will won't be in attendance, I'll go over some other useful knowledge for the weekend's festivities.

The Important Stuff
First, there's an FAQ page for the YCS. It contains all of the useful information which you can access here. This particular YCS is special since it's a milestone, so there are a couple of changes that regular YCS players need to know before the weekend:

Pre-registration, usually open from 3pm to 7pm on Friday, is instead open from 1pm to 7pm, and registration on Saturday opens at 7am instead of the usual 8am. That's three additional hours that you can use to ensure your spot in the tournament, which is important because everyone who enters the event without using a free-entry coupon will receive…

A participation Game Mat! Revealed on the official TCG's facebook page, the Game Mat features Blue-Eyes White Dragon and the card art for Melody of Awakening Dragons. As it features the iconic Blue-Eyes, the Game Mat will be a collectable for years to come, and you can only get it at this event, so if you want to snag yours, I'd highly advise pre-registering on Friday since…

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There is an attendance cap for this event. The seating capacity is 2,100. It's not often that a YCS has an announced cap - likely due to room capacity - but with one in place, there exists some chance that you could be shut out of the main event. If you're serious about playing, I highly recommend registering on Friday.

Top Cut for this event is Constructed instead of Draft. I'm a big supporter of limited play in Yu-Gi-Oh! as it encourages good gameplay skills, and I won't go into too much detail about that here. But for this event, the playoff Top Cut will be Constructed the entire way. So for those naysayers who don't like draft as a format, well, you can enjoy a full-constructed playoff for this event. I'm not entirely sure why this changed for this YCS, but so it goes.

Voice Actor! Eric Stuart, the voice actor for Seto Kaiba (and Ojama Black from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, apparently) will be in attendance! There are currently three autograph sessions scheduled throughout the day, and as I always mention when voice actors come around to TCG events, bring all the character-related cards you can; people who want autographs will need things to get signed, so having Kaiba-related cards for trade will work immensely in your favor. Think Crush Card Virus, Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Enemy Controller, Maiden with Eyes of Blue and so on.

New Win-A-Mat! Also from the Facebook page is the newest Win-A-Mat featuring the protagonist from Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Yuya with his signature monster Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon! This YCS will be your first chance to win this Game Mat. Simply enter a Win-A-Mat Public Event and win the 8-person single elimination tournament. They run all weekend so you can attempt the challenge multiple times!

Live stream! YCS Columbus will have a live stream! Check the official site and the Facebook page for a link when it's available. If you're going to be at the tournament and you want to be on stream, make sure your clothing and card sleeves are appropriate to be broadcast.

My Recommendations: Before The Event
So we have the important event-specific stuff down, but I'd like to go over a few things that are important for any large-scale tournament you compete in.

Prepare the deck list in advance: You can't actually register for the YCS until you hand in a legal deck list, so getting a head start on that is a good idea. There are multiple ways you can do that. First is the editable PDF which you can find here. Konami's strategy site also has some tips on how to fill out your decklist which you can find here.

Have all materials ready: This includes a small notepad for Life Point tracking, a pen and dice. Calculators are helpful but completely optional. I fully recommend using pen and paper for recording Life Point changes over using a calculator. In case things go wrong, like if there's a question about what the game's current Life Points are, a paper record makes sorting out the issue much easier. Your judges will appreciate it immensely.

My Recommendations: At The Event
This will be a particularly large event. One of the biggest aspects of Organized Play events that annoy me as both a player and a judge is when things run late, so I'm hoping as many people see this advice as possible:

If you need to register on Saturday: do so as early as you can. Let me give you all a quick, insignificant peek about tournament logistics. Tournament registration occurs on multiple computers, but the actual tournament is run off one master computer running Konami's tournament software. All those registration stations have to get merged together into the master computer before Round 1 is paired. That process takes some time; the earlier it can happen, the quicker things get started. So if there's no one in line when registration cuts off at 9:45am, the merge can start immediately, allowing Round 1 to begin as close to 10am as possible. But if there's a line of people, everyone who was in the line before 9:45am has to be entered before preparations can begin.

Side note: everyone who got in line after 9:45 can be entered with a Round 1 loss. Invariably, players in line aren't pleased with that, but imagine how unpleasant it would be for the hundreds of duelists who showed up on time if they had to be delayed to accommodate those twenty players on line, plus the next fifteen people who got into line while processing the first group of twenty, plus the next ten who got in line after that… see the slippery slope? It adds upwards of an hour to start time. To avoid this, get to the venue no later than 9:00am and register as soon as possible.

When checking the pairings, note your table and your opponent's name. If you sit at the wrong table, you're counted as a No Show for the table you're supposed to be at. You'll get a Match Loss for something that could've been totally avoided.

Count out Side and Extra deck before the match. As part of the pre-match preparations, count your Side and Extra decks for your opponent. Doing so will ensure that you have all your cards, and your opponent will likely count out their Side and Extra decks as a courtesy. As a bonus, if the totals aren't what they should be, finding out before the match is way better than finding out during the match.

Declare Phase changes every time. Fast Effect timing rules allow both players to activate fast effects before phases change. Players typically don't verbally declare phase changes, they just make an action that would necessitate a phase change to imply they want to change phases. The problem is that should your opponent want to activate an effect, you'd then have to back up and let them activate it now having full knowledge of what action you intended to make. Tactically, this is bad for you.

The proper way to play the game and the best way to protect yourself from giving away information is to ask when you want to go into another phase. As a player, I always say "Main Phase 1" and wait for my opponent to say "Ok" or something like that before proceeding to activate a Normal Spell or Summon a monster. That way, if my foe has something like Mind Crush, I'm giving them the opportunity to activate their card without knowing what I'm about to do.

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And regarding Phase changes: simply pausing is not good enough. Giving your opponent an arbitrary amount of time and not getting a response is not a green light to go into the Main Phase. Protect yourself from a judge call and an argument by forcing your opponent to say "ok" or give a thumbs-up when you ask to go into Main Phase 1, and they'll have no recourse when you drop your Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning.

Again, stating simply: playing the game correctly gives you an advantage. You will win more games when you ask to change phases each time.

If You Aren't Attending
There will be written coverage on Konami's event coverage blog, and the livestream similar to the one at last year's North American WCQ. When there's more info, it will likely be on the event's FAQ page and on the Facebook page.

If you have any questions about card interactions, game mechanics or tournament policy, send your questions (one question per e-mail please!) to askjudgejoe@gmail.com and your question could be answered in a future Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino


Joe is a Yu-Gi-Oh! player and judge from Long Island, New York. He's going to be one of the two Feature Match judges at YCS Columbus 2015. If you should see him, don't be afraid of saying hi! Unless he's in the middle of a Feature Match, in which case you should probably wait until the match is over.