The Shining Victories Sneak Peek has come and gone, and while the set's official launch isn't until Friday, we saw some big shakeups over the Sneak weekend. While Kozmos dominated the market last week – they placed at least six cards into the Friday Top 10 – the last four days were all over the place as a variety of upcoming releases shaped demand in the secondary market.

If you've been reading our recent Market Watches then you already know the deal, but in case this is your first one the premise is simple: every Monday and Friday we look at the Top 10 best-selling cards from the previous four days, as determined by sheer volume of cards sold. While cards will often jump in price and generate a lot of discussion, looking at straight sales numbers first, before investigating card value, lets us spot trends that would be invisible otherwise.

When a scarce foil card sells in big numbers it can get really valuable really fast, but when a more common card is trending up, its value may only change slightly, if at all. It's really tough to use pricing info to gauge interest in cards that are widely available like commons and rares, but those cards are often the building blocks of the biggest strategies; understanding how they're performing can help you make educated predictions about the direction of competition moving forward, and can suggest how players might respond to upcoming releases.

Several cards in our new Top 10 fit that description, and the result is a lot of information about some of the most anticipated strategies from The Dark Illusion, which dropped a few weeks ago in the OCG, but won't hit our shores until August. In fact, one such card catapulted into the Number 1 spot with zero warning for just that reason.

Check out our shocking Number 1.

#1: Vortex Trooper

Yes, Vortex Trooper sold in absolute droves over the weekend – the runty little brother to Card Trooper, which has virtually never seen tournament play.

Recently topping a notable tournament in Japan, it was played with the new Metalphosis strategy to turn heads overseas. And since it's currently available in ample supply here in the TCG, lots of players grabbed their copies over the weekend.


#2: Left Arm Offering

One of the most-discussed cards from Millennium Pack, Left Arm Offering has flirted with our Top 10 before, and there's been some interest in playing it to search Reasoning in Infernoids now that Reasoning's Limited. But this week, boosted demand may have been driven more by renewed interest in the Turbo Fusionist strategy, where you can use it to search a game-breaking Soul Charge for your Turn 1 shenanigans.

Soul Charge is often the difference between harassing your opponent's hand a bit with Turbo Fusionist and taking every card they have, so the appeal's really clear. While the deck lost copies of Upstart Goblin and Reasoning to the new F&L List, that boosted access to Soul Charge is an extreme advantage that may propel the deck into more Top 8 finishes moving forward.

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#3: The Winged Dragon of Ra - Immortal Phoenix

Speaking of Millennium Pack, The Winged Dragon of Ra – Immortal Phoenix cracked our Top 10 for the first time! There's no obvious competitive application here as far as I'm aware, but it's a very cool card, and as vendors and players begin opening more Shining Victories instead of Millennium Pack, it seems lots of collectors were looking to get their copies before a potential price spike.

There's actually kind of a cool strategy here with Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal and Inzektor Exa-Beetle. First you use Beatrice to yard Immortal Phoenix and the original The Winged Dragon of Ra. Then you Summon Exa-Beetle, activate its effect to equip it with Winged Dragon of Ra, and send it to the graveyard to whack an opposing monster. That lets you revive Immortal Phoenix. It's not going to win a YCS any time soon, but there's certainly some fun to be had here.

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#4: Twin Twisters

Seemingly a staple of the Market Watch Top 10, Twin Twisters remains the most important backrow removal card in the game. Week to week it's consistently been a must-buy. There's not much to say here: converting an in-hand card into a second Mystical Space Typhoon through Twin Twisters' discard is hugely powerful, trading away the worst card in your hand for something like an opposing Solemn Strike. Destroying one trap card at a time is alright, but blowing through two at once can help guarantee smooth sailing when you launch a game-winning attack.

No mysteries here; right now the only question in my mind is the number of weeks Twin Twisters will remain in the Top 10.

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#5: Void Trap Hole

With Pendulums lagging behind in the new format, Shining Victories ushers in a ton of new cards that revolve around Special Summoning single, powerful monsters. Combined with the hype surrounding Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, which could push a lot of Burning Abyss variants out of competition, the result is an environment that could be prime for Void Trap Hole. We've seen it in our Top 10 countdowns before, but this is the first week where a bunch of different factors seemed to justify that.

Watch for it to see at least some play in Regionals and Nationals over the coming weeks.

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#6: Interrupted Kaiju Slumber

Slipping from our Number 1 spot on Friday, Interrupted Kaiju Slumber continues to make tremendous sense. Kaijus answer nearly all the big boss monsters seeing play right now, and they're especially good at working around the effects of Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal and Kozmo Dark Destroyer. Add Interupted Kaiju Slumber to the mix and you can clear the field like Dark Hole, and follow up with a big monster for an immediate press.

We went into a bit more detail on Kaiju Slumber last week and it all holds true today. Offering reliability without harmful redundancy, plus some unique combo potential with any deck that can send it to the graveyard for free, Interrupted Kaiju Slumber's one of the most unique, and widely powerful cards in the format.

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#7: Ultimaya Tzolkin

This one was a head-scratcher! Ultimaya Tzolkin's extremely tough to Summon, and there doesn't appear to be much on the horizon that would help ease that problem. We had some speculation going about a possible strategy involving Bird of Paradise Lost and new Blue-Eyes support, but it all seemed pretty far-fetched.

Instead, Tzolkin might owe its sudden spike in popularity to new Dragon Synchros, which effectively make Tzolkin's Special Summon ability better. With Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon one of the most anticipated cards in Shining Victories Tzolkin's that much more appealing. Is there a great way to Summon it right now? That seems up in the air. We'll have to see what happens moving forward.

BREAKING: So we might have this figured out! There were some rumors that YCS Santiago runner-up Andres Torres ran Ally Mind in his Brilliant Monarch deck. That would've allowed him to search a Level 5 Tuner for Tzolkin, sending Ally Mind to the graveyard with Gem-Knight Lazuli for Brilliant Fusion, retrieving Ally Mind with Lazuli's effect, and then Tribute Summoning it with his extra Normal Summon courtesy of Gem-Knight Seraphinite.

That didn't happen. I spoke to Torres this morning to confirm that he only ran Jack's Knight, no Ally Mind. But the combo IS possible, and you can achieve the same effect by running Quickdraw Synchron as well. So this might be one part speculation on legitimate technique, and one part hype due to misinformation. Thanks to everybody who helped me solve the mystery!

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#8: Card of Demise

Holding strong in the Top 10, Card of Demise is still right up there after a slight bump in price last week. While it was out-sold by Immortal Phoenix and Left Arm Offering the past four days, and underperformed Holding Legs in Millennium Pack's early run, it's still the most steadily popular card from the set.

We can probably expect the entire Top 10 to be wiped out when Shining Victories goes live, but it'll be interesting to see how Card of Demise does once SHVI has some time to settle.

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#9: Buster Whelp of the Destruction Swordsman

August's new booster set The Dark Illusion will bring with it Reflecting Upon the Destruction Sword, a new trap card that Special Summons a Buster Blader monster from your deck, then Miracle Fusions Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman. Both effects are really powerful, and the fact that you can search it with Buster Whelp of the Destruction Swordsman meant lots of players were snapping up their copies now, in anticipation of TDIL's release.

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#10: Blazing Mirror Force

And just squeaking into the Top 10, Blazing Mirror Force made the cut. Yet another previously scarce card that was reprinted in Infinite Gold, Blazing saw a spike in interest once it was more accessible. We've seen lots of Xyz Monsters from Infinite Gold trending like this week to week, and now that trend seems to be extending to other splashable cards.

Is Blazing Mirror Force worth playing now, as a non-targeting mass destruction card with a burn damage kicker? Probably not. But D/D/D's have been picking up some major steam in the OCG, and the life gain effects that anchor that deck might be driving demand. There are a few things going on here, and the result is an unlikely entry rounding out today's best-sellers.

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Fire King Avatar Garunix and Kozmo Delta Shuttle almost made the Top 10 over the weekend, while Kozmo Soartroopers and Kozmo Tincan were still selling strong. Night Beam almost made the cut as well, and Dragon Ravine saw a surge in interest too. It'll be interesting to see if either of those cards actually materialize in competition.

That's it for now, and by the time our next Market Watch arrives on Friday, Shining Victories will have just hit shelves. We'll have to see if preorders factor into the Top 10, but either way we're sure to have a very different set of cards at the top of the best-seller list next week. Don't miss our next few looks at the marketplace; they're going to be chock full of info about upcoming metagames in the post-SHVI era.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer