This is a slow format. The three top strategies today – Shaddolls, Burning Abyss, and Satellarknights – all play early games geared toward set-up, and over-arching game plans that involve long grinds. Shaddolls look to build card advantage chiefly through the repeated abuse of trigger effects that go off in the graveyard, and leverage it into powerful control monsters. Burning Abyss hits the ground running, but the deck's aggression is relatively low-impact: it works because the Burning Abyss monsters are recyclable, creating a measured, relentless push backed by some of the best trap cards in the game. Satellarknights take time setting up their graveyard, then push for a win across multiple turns with swarms and Rank 4's.

None of these strategies are fast or explosive as far as Yu-Gi-Oh! standards are concerned. Even innovative strategies like Billy Brake's 60-card control deck – a strategy built in part to have hugely strong openings – don't aim for an early game explosion. Quite the opposite: that deck wins by amassing huge card advantage and then grinding toward a superior late game. The result is a format where duels run long, early games can actually be quite forgiving, and cards like Vanity's Emptiness, Artifact Sanctum, and Phoenix Wing Wind Blast make all the difference as competitors jockey for momentum and tempo.

But that can't last forever, and it seems like this month we're starting to see a reversal of that trend. I haven't been able to address this as quickly as I would've liked due to some personal issues, but there's a definite trend that was poking its head into competition two weekends ago, and last weekend it may have really taken hold. Not many people are talking about it, but the gist is simple.

Speed is making a comeback.

DECKID= 101230Yes, that is a Teleport Karakuri deck. Robert Moore piloted this thing to an undefeated 9-0 finish and a first place victory at the Regional Qualifier in Garden City Michigan two weeks ago.

The Teleport Karakuri strategy was first popularized in modern competition back in early 2013, when Desmond Johnson took it to a surprising Top 4 finish at YCS Miami. At the time, the game was dominated by Wind-Ups, Mermails, and Dino Rabbit, decks that paired big early game set-ups with explosive plays. The deck continued to be relevant through the rise of Fire Fists, until Dragon Rulers with triple Super Rejuvenation and Spellbooks with Spellbook of Judgment took over, creating what was largely a two-deck format.

In its heyday, Teleport Karakuri was so explosive and fast that it could sweep even quick decks like Wind-Ups and Dino Rabbit on Turn 1 or Turn 2. It was extremely combo-oriented, and while it would often win on Turn 4 or 5 through card advantage gleaned from Karakuri Steel Shogun mdl 00X "Bureido", most games were actually won or lost much earlier than that in most cases. Note that early 2013 wasn't actually a slow time: play was relatively fast. But Teleport Karakuri was just so much faster, and with games often coming down to a race in the first few turns it was one of the quickest strategies going.

Fast Forward To Today
The game has changed. Power creep is a popular topic of discussion, with Shaddolls, Burning Abyss, and Satellarknights all being much more complete upon debut than we're used to. Even relatively modern decks like Fire Fists are largely being ignored, and while rogue strategies have seen underrated success over the past two formats, there's been no pattern to their success. Rogues happen to top a Regional or YCS, then disappear as quickly as they materialized. There's been no common thread uniting the top three strategies for rogue players to exploit.

And then this happens. Robert Moore takes a stunning win at a competitive mid-sized Regional Qualifier with a deck no one was talking about. And the more you look at it the more it makes absolute sense. The immediate standout is just pure speed: when you're playing a deck that can go off on Turn 1 with a flurry of Synchro Summons, you're going to overwhelm opening plays like "Tour Guide from the Underworld into Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss for Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss," or "set this Shaddoll guy."

For the unfamiliar, the Teleport Karakuri deck aims to explode early with Tuners like Psychic Commander and Karakuri Komachi mdl 224 "Ninishi", plus non-Tuners like Solar Wind Jammer, all of which are tied to effects that help you make more Summons. You then leverage your plays into Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" and Karakuri Steel Shogun mdl 00X "Bureido" and use their abilities to Special Summon even more Synchro Materials, making full-field plays that can strike for game in an instant.

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That doesn't have to happen immediately: an experienced Karakuri player knows how to bide his time until just the right second, often waiting to bait out removal cards or to set up a Royal Decree or Trap Stun. But the point is that regardless of when you decide to pull the trigger, the gun itself is loaded very, very quickly. Everything else is semantics.

And that's great. Speed is awesome right now. On speed alone, this deck is a better call today than it was back in 2013. But that's just the tip of the ice berg. The Teleport Karakuri deck has numerous advantages right now, and while Moore's build might have been a little thick at 43 cards, he did a great job of capitalizing on a ton of different opportunities. Understanding those finer points is clutch to really grasping how this deck now operates.

In Consideration Of Clockwork Components
Right off the bat, one of the big details that's changed about this strategy is Soul Charge. While it's only one card out of 43, the Teleport Karakuri deck makes tremendous use of it when it appears. You can play Soul Charge into draw-enabling Bureidos; game-controlling monsters like Naturia Beast and Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree; and equally secure Rank 8's like Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand and Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis. That range of theme-specific options makes one of the most powerful cards in the game even better here than it elsewhere. There are huge plays to be made, but there are also small, control-oriented pushes as well, and that makes Soul Charge dangerously flexible. And it didn't exist the last time this deck was relevant.

Perhaps more important – Panzer Dragon didn't exist in 2013 either. A hidden gem from Duelist Alliance, we've been seeing it creep up in a handful of strategies over the past couple months, played as the new go-to Machine Fusion for Instant Fusion. The Dragon replaces Cyber Saurus and packs a useful effect that turns your Instant Fusions into 1-for-1 removal in a pinch. It's just a straight upgrade of what was previously a vary narrow, but very essential role.

Beyond the new additions there are countless trends that allowed Moore to find small edges over his opponents. While he ran Soul Charge and Iron Call, he'd rarely be dependent on them for victory. He was free to run Macro Cosmos in a field where all three of his biggest match-ups lose a laundry list of plays to it. Shutting off a Burning Abyss or Shaddoll player's graveyard triggers is huge, and you can leave your Satellarknight opponent with no Satellarknight Altair or Satellarknight Unukalhai plays. Splashable cards like White Dragon Wyverburster, Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning, and Call Of The Haunted can be deprived of graveyard fuel. It even keeps Effect Veiler and Maxx "C" out of your hair.

Royal Decree's tremendous as well, and while Moore played ten trap cards himself, he had the luxury of knowing that the explosiveness of his deck would usually turn Royal Decree into a guaranteed win. That meant he could ignore the impact on his own trap lineup. He went so far as to run a single Trap Stun to the same effect, affording himself those big-push opportunities.

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Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree is easy to make here, and a ton of players just can't get over it. Many duelists have begun resorting to cards like Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction and Muzurhythm the Strings Djinn just to have some sort of answer, but those cards aren't always accessible. Leo can be really difficult to beat when the pressure's on, and this deck has so much free Synchro Material that can be Tuned so quickly, that Moore could often drop Leo at just the right moment.

Looking to the Side Deck you can see what might be some of the most important advantages this strategy had. Ally of Justice Cycle Reader's really cool here, because while Karakuris Main Deck Genex Neutron to search combo-starting Machine Tuners, Neutron can also seek out the Cycle Reader when you're up against Satellarknights or rogue Bujins. Those strategies live and die on the security of their graveyard, and Ally of Justice Cycle Reader can win those games almost on its own. Beyond that the real asset here was floodgates: in a format where the top three decks have so much in common along the lines of attributes and monster types, many strong floodgates aren't used because they'd hurt you as much as your opponents. That's not the case here.

Since this is largely an Earth deck, Moore was unaffected by the popular Light-Imprisoning Mirror and Shadow-Imprisoning Mirrors. That meant dead cards in his opponent's Side Deck, and the option to run them himself with impunity. He did, playing two copies of each. That was an instant advantage over Shaddolls, Burning Abyss, and Satellarknights. His chief focus on Machine monsters even let him run a Rivalry of Warlords too, giving him an even bigger edge in the Shaddoll and Satellarknight match-ups.

Raw speed plus a number of more subtle advantages capitalizing on metagame trends allowed Robert Moore to demolish his competitors with a deck no one was prepared for – one that's still drawing very little attention and continuing to fly under the Side Deck radar. Teleport Karakuri's a great choice for competition right now, but it's also just the beginning. I'll be back in a couple days with another Competitive Corner, to talk about what happened at Regional Qualifiers last weekend as the speed trend continued to grow.

Competition may be shifting. Now's a good time to keep reviewing Top Cut deck lists from big events and to keep an ear to the ground.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer