Sky Strikers took the biggest slice of Top 32 spots at YCS Sao Paulo, butHenrique Nascimento pulled out a surprise victory withhis Trickstar buildthat played Clashing Souls and Legacy of the Duelists.

Nascimento's tech choices deserve their own discussion, and it wasn't eventhe most interesting Trickstar deck in the Top Cut! Caio Santos made theTop 8 withWindwitch Trickstars – a strategy often seen as antiquated in today's Link-heavy game.

The rest of theTop Cutis worth checking out too, but I want to draw special attention toDiego Sakata's hybrid of Infernoids and Burning Abyss. Fueled by Sekka's Light, Sakata's build leverages insane graveyardcontrol and explosive momentum in Games 2 and 3. The Infernoid BurningAbyss mash-up isn't new, but it hasn't seen a Top Cut YCS finish for over ayear.

It's a fantastic metagame call against the most popular match-ups today,for reasons we'll get into later, and Sakata's success is a testament tothe current well-known competitiveness of Burning Abyss and asolid argument that Infernoids are still worth playing.

Will Burning Abyss Ever Not Be Competitive?
Burning Abyss with Sekka's Light is already a proven strategy with a stringof YCS and Regional tops.

During the last format we saw renewed interest in Burning Abyss largely dueto its solid match-ups against lots of popular strategies. Thunder Dragonscan't win the game off Thunder Dragon Colossus, and Thunder Dragon Titanwill need to chew through an undying horde of Malebranche monsters whilesimultaneously contending with the banish effect of Farfa, Malebranche ofthe Burning Abyss. Other Link-spam decks need solutions for Farfa and theBeatrice, Lady of the Eternal as well.

Sky Strikers represent the biggest challenge for Burning Abyss, but it'sfar from an unwinnable match-up. Sky Striker Mecha - Widow Anchor's thechief concern for Beatrice, so players have leaned into alternative monsterremoval and disruption to take the pressure off Farfa as the deck's solesource of disruption. It's not uncommon to see Burning Abyss deck listswith six or seven Kaijus just to make up for the deficit of monsterremoval.

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Meanwhile Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss went out of style a long time ago,and there's really not much in the way of removal outside of the Extra Deck– Farfa's kind of it. Kaijus are an excellent counter to the deck's worstmatch-up – Sky Strikers – so adding them to the build is a no-brainer.

The Burning Abyss theme still remembers its former glory as one of the bestdecks in the game, and it still bears the scars of repeated strikes on theForbidden & Limited List. Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss andGraff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss are both Limited, and Beatrice isalso restricted even with its power reduced by the Link mechanic. Thatmeans there's plenty of room in the deck list for Kaijus, OrbitalHydralander, Dangers, and, yes, Infernoids.

An Argument For Infernoids
Sakata avoided more popular tech choices like Orbital Hydralander and Level3 Danger monsters in favor of a sizeable Infernoid line-up. He playedeleven Infernoids total: exactly the same number as his Main Deck BurningAbyss monsters.

It's a smaller line-up compared to the Lair of Darkness Infernoid buildsfrom a few months ago, and the lack of Void Feast makes Sakata's line-upseem even smaller. It would have been harder for him to find an Infernoidmonster to Summon, let alone load multiple Infernoids into the graveyard tofeed his bigger Infernoid Summons, without help from Dante, Traveler of theBurning Abyss. Luckily Summoning Dante's something of a speciality forBurning Abyss, and there's obvious synergy between a theme built aroundSummoning an Xyz Monster with a deck mill effect, and a theme that thriveson having a large graveyard.

Beatrice and Fiendish Rhino Warrior can target specific Burning Abyss andInfernoid monsters to send the graveyard–creating opportunities to leveragethe Infernoid toolbox. Sending Infernoid Seitsemas or Infernoid Attondel tothe graveyard sets up their Summon provided you have another two Infernoidselsewhere in the hand or graveyard. Seitsemas' banish effect has incredibleutility against monsters with targeting immunity or protection againstdestruction effects, while Attondel's solid ATK helps end games early.

The big players in the Infernoid theme, and the most devastating Summons inSakata's deck, are Infernoid Onuncu and Infernoid Devyaty. Their massremoval effects are invaluable in a strategy that can struggle to makeheadway against an established board. When you're playing first they'reincredibly effectively negation bodies, but even when playing second theirremoval effects can rarely be allowed to resolve.

Sakata's opponent's would need to burn resources to negate either monster,yet the built-in negation effects of these mass removal cards almostensures they'll resolve. Devyaty's ability to negate hand traps andOnuncu's coverage against Infinite Impermanence presents a seriouschallenge to opponent's whose resources will already be taxed trying tothrow a wrench in the Burning Abyss engine.

The real star of the show is Infernoid Decatron: the Copycat Infernoid thatloads the graveyard and gets you to the full Infernoid toolbox with asingle effect. Sakata could use it to send Devyaty or Onuncu to thegraveyard to become a negation body, or copy a lower Level Infernoid to getat a removal effect. Infernoid Antra, Infernoid Harmadik, and InfernoidPatrulea all carry offensive removal that's just waiting to be activated byDecatron. Antra's effect is just fantastic against themes playing big ExtraDeck monsters without anti-targeting effects. Thunder Dragon Colossus isjust one Antra away from flying back into the Extra Deck uselessly.

Most of the Infernoid monsters in Sakata's list carry the same final effectthat would let him banish a card from his opponent's graveyard. Sakata hadincredible graveyard control during his opponent's turn thanks to hisInfernoid line-up, which gave him an edge particularly in the Sky Strikermatch-up. He could banish a spell targeted by Sky Striker Ace - Kagari orremove Sky Striker Ace - Raye from the graveyard.

A single Infernoid effect would nullify the bonus effects of Sky Strikerspells when his opponent would activate one with exactly three spells intheir graveyard. Kicking that third spell out of the graveyard might nothave come up terribly often, but with a set of Infernoids and a pair ofD.D. Crow the potential was definitely there.

Dropping Sekka's Light For More Firepower
Sekka's Light gave Diego Skata draw power, card advantage, and a way tomulligan a dead Infernoid, Kaiju, or Burning Abyss monster. Infernoids areknown to clog hands and lead to dead-end plays, so the graveyard effect ofSekka's Light is a well-appreciated bonus.

That said, giving up all spells and traps in Games 2 and 3 is unacceptable.Sakata and other Burning Abyss players running Sekka's Light answered thethreat of floodgates and trap-heavy strategies by siding in Red Reboot andTwin Twisters, and when playing second against Link spam other hand trapswould also be sided in.

Dropping Sekka's Light from the build let Sakata side in a card no otherBurning Abyss deck was playing: Void Imagination. The Infernoid imitationof the old pre-errata Future Fusion is arguably one of the strongest spellsin the game. Summoning Infernoid Tierra isn't necessarily that impressive,but dumping every single Infernoid into the graveyard is absurdly strong.

Sakata would side in Void Imagination to punish opponent's playing any sortof Extra Deck-heavy strategy. Assuming he could Fusion Summon, andwasn't hit by an FTK or Extra Link that locked away his Summoningpotential, then his priority would be to bait out chainable removal andnegation before activating Void Imagination.

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Infernoid Tierra's massive ATK and on-Summon effect to send Elder EntityN'tss to the graveyard single-handedly solves the issue of monster removalin the short term. It's larger than every Kaiju in Sakata's Main Deck, andafter being destroyed it would open a path for Infernoid Devyaty and Onuncuto hit the field soon after. It's the nature of seeing Void Imaginationexclusively in Games 2 and 3 that make it so effective: it's hard topredict, and nearly impossible to expect if Sakata's opponent didn't see anInfernoid in Game 1. Since many games last format were blowouts – a trend Iexpect to continue – it's entirely possible that Sakata wouldn't get achance to play his Burning Abyss monsters either and leave his opponentguessing while they Side Decked.

Infernoids can capitalize on your opponent's unpreparedness by leveragingincredibly easy Summons of massive monsters, graveyard control, and variousforms of monster removal to catch players off guard. Void Imagination's theultimate in that sense: it just builds too much advantage for a singlecard, and like That Grass Looks Greener it can create a lead so big thatyour opponent won't be able to make a comeback. From there the resourcepile in the graveyard enables more Summons and removal effects, plus extraopportunities to banish cards from the opponent's graveyard.

Infernoids and Burning Abyss are an excellent pairing that performed wellfor Diego Sakata, but does it have legs heading into the new format? Iexpect players will be trying Burning Abyss in even greater numbers nowthat some of the worst offenders of Firewall Dragon-fueled absurdities areout of the question.

Sky Strikers remain a challenge, and the Altergeist match-up is sometimesan uphill battle against effects that send Dante straight back to the ExtraDeck. Burning Abyss has a lot of potential in the new format, butinnovative tech choices, engines, and siding strategies will still beneeded to pull off major wins.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly​​​ ​​​Locke​​​ ​​​is​​​ ​​​a​​​ ​​​West​​​ ​​​Michigan​​​​​​gamer and writer. In​​​ ​​​addition​​​ ​​​to​​​ ​​​writing​​​ ​​​onTCGplayer,​​​ ​​​Kelly​​​ ​​​writes​​​ a ​​​​​​personal​​​ ​​​blog​​​​​​ ​​​covering​​​ ​​​Yu-Gi-Oh!,​​​ ​​​Destiny,​​​ ​​​and​​​​​​other​​​ ​​​hobbies. You​​​ ​​​can follow​​​ ​​​him​​​ ​​​on​​​​​​​​​Twitter​​​​​​ ​​​and​​​ ​​​check​​​ ​​​out​​​ ​​​his​​​ ​​​​​​Youtube​​​ ​​​channel​​​. He​​​ ​​​also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.