2017 was a pretty crazy year for Yu-Gi-Oh.

We saw not one, but two different formats where one deck took up almost anentire Top 32 at a YCS. Zoodiacs with Elder Entity Norden and SPYRALs priorto the November F&L List were both overpowering, to say the least.

But despite those formats, we saw a ton of innovation through the year, aswell. Old cards like My Body as a Shield and Shuffle Reborn made repeatedchampionship appearances. Side Deck cards came in and went out of styleinstantaneously, too. Despite similar decks winning most events, techchoices were hugely beneficial to many top players.

Today, I wanted to look back at what I feel are the most impactful cards of2017. To me, there were a lot of criteria for a card to make that list. Iwanted to pick cards that affected all levels of play: locals, RegionalQualifiers, and YCS tournaments. I also wanted cards that directly affecteddeck building: both the cards you played and didn't play, as well as thedeck choices themselves.

Lastly, I wanted to pick cards that were relevant for multiple F&LLists, not just a single format. Longevity's hard to come by in Yu-Gi-Oh,so a great card would likely transcend F&L Lists until it wound up onone. Without further ado, here's my Top 3 for the year.

#####CARDID= 22629 #####

Despite only being released for a couple of months, Evenly Matched hastaken Yu-Gi-Oh! players by a storm. Hyped from the moment of its firstreveal, it debuted with minimal impact at the first YCS it was legal; manyplayers only ran copies in their Side Deck. But that all changed with theNovember F&L List, and now we see Evenly Matched in almost every TopCut list, often Main Decked.

Evenly Matched aims to eradicate an ongoing issue in Yu-Gi-Oh: going firstis an advantage in any card game, but it's especially important in one asfast as ours. Konami made the change in 2014 that the player going firstdoesn't draw their six card, but that wasn't enough. Even cards like GhostOgre & Snow Rabbit and Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring weren't enough.It seemed like no matter what tools you gave players, going first was stilltoo good.

Evenly Matched is designed to punish big boards. It's a perfect goingsecond card. The drawbacks are basically nonexistent, and any card that hasthe potential to get you something like a +10 in card advantage is alwaysworth a look. It's difficult to say whether Evenly Matched overcompensates.I think of a world where it's a regular trap card and wonder if it wouldstill be played. As it stands now, Evenly Matched is essentially aQuick-Play Spell.

What I've noticed is that Evenly Matched, while great against the bestdecks, is also a nail in the coffin for many rogue strategies. When playedcorrectly, a deck like SPYRALs can come back from losing their board, aslong as they held onto some of their resources. But a deck like FrogPaleozoics or any theme running Card of Demise doesn't have the luxury ofholding back. Evenly Matched isn't quite the end to all backrow decks, butit sure feels like it sometimes.

Prior to Evenly Matched, Solemn Strike was the new best trap card to warpformats, giving players negation capabilities that weren't previouslyavailable. But Evenly Matched skips the negations and goes straight todismantling your opponent's board one card at a time. It will without adoubt be a popular card until there's a serious metagame shift, or until itwinds up on a future Forbidden & Limited List.

#####CARDID= 21647 #####

Players had to deal with Kozmo Dark Destroyer for a solid year, and thatwas tough for a lot of decks. Dark Destroyer couldn't be targeted by any ofyour effects, which left a lot of players wondering how to deal with it.Unless you drew Dark Hole, Raigeki, System Down, or a Kaiju you'd oftenlose to a flurry of Special Summons.

Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King only ramps up that protectionability. The majority of the time, Master Peace will be protected from twoof the following: monster effects, spells, or traps. There are situationswhere it's only able to dodge one of those instead of two, but thoseinstances are few and far between. For the most part, Master Peace isunaffected by 2/3rds of your deck, and it pops a card during eitherplayer's turn. Compared to Kozmo Dark Destroyer, it has better protectionand it actively affects the field each turn, whereas Dark Destroyer onlyhad the destruction effect when it hits the board.

The decks playing Master Peace were also infinitely more consistent thanKozmos, with access to Dragonic Diagram and Terraforming. The only goodthing about staring down a Master Peace is that you know it doesn't have agraveyard effect to benefit off of when you tribute it for a Kaiju.

While Master Peace wasn't necessarily the best card of any format, it wasinsanely difficult to deal with. Whenever it saw table time, you had to berunning Kaijus to counter it. Even if you only ended up playing against afew decks actually using the card, the threat was enough to warrant runninga few outs to it in your Main or Side Deck. Plenty of Master Peace-likecards have come out in the past five years, but none were as easy to run.There's an argument to be made about how Master Peace can always beaffected by either a monster effect, spell, or trap, but not every deck hasa wide enough range of spot removal to hit all those marks.

In some ways, Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King is an example of howpowerful Tribute Monsters need to be if they're going to survive. Not onlydoes it come with a protection effect and a free destruction every turn,but you also don't even have to tribute monsters to summon it! Outside ofTrue Dracos from this year and Monarchs from a while back, Tribute Summonshave been out of the competitive scene for a long time. I'm sure thatthey'll be another Master Peace down the line, and I can only wonder howmuch Konami is going to amp it up just to keep Tribute Summons alive.

#####CARDID= 21196 #####

I whole-heartedly believe that Zoodiacs weren't played after their mostrecent F&L hits because of Zoodiac Broadbull was Forbidden, not ZoodiacDrident. Broadbull was an integral part of the deck that simply couldn't bereplaced, and the best proof of that was the OCG format where ZoodiacDrident was Forbidden and the deck still thrived.

But Zoodiac Drident was absolutely the most game-changing card released in2017. There's a lot of reasons for that, so let's go down the list. Firstof all, Drident gave every deck a free piece of disruption. While MasterPeace isn't that difficult to summon, you can get the same destructioneffect for much less effort by just summoning any Zoodiac monster andmaking Zoodiac Drident.

Second, Drident made a lot of decks unplayable because it was basically amore reliable trap card that you always had access to. In ye' olden days ofYu-Gi-Oh, trap cards were the only real way to interact with your opponenton their turn. Eventually we got more and more effects that offered moreinteractivity, but usually they weren't difficult to play around, or onceyou did play around them you didn't have to worry about them anymore.

Zoodiac Drident was the total opposite: it was a card that your opponentmade with minimal investment and it was summoned every single turn. Becauseof all the recycling in Zoodiacs, getting rid of one, two, or even threecopies of Drident wasn't enough to stop your opponent from summoning itagain.

That brings me to my third point, and that's that whenever you built a deckwhile Zoodiac Drident was around, you absolutely had to make sure you couldplay through its effect. Even Master Peace didn't have this sort of impacton the game, partly because the deck it was in wasn't as consistent asZoodiacs and partly because once you got rid of it your opponent usuallyhad to build up resources again to summon a second copy. But if you lookedat any board during Zoodiacs' reign, there was bound to be a ZoodiacDrident on the field.

If Zoodiac Broadbull, Zoodiac Barrage, and Zoodiac Ratpier were the cardsthat pushed Zoodiac to being the most played deck, Zoodiac Drident was thecard that stopped people from playing anything else.

I always remind myself that this year's top decks are always next year'srogue strategy, but I find with each year that it becomes increasinglydifficult to accept. We're pretty much past the point of having to worryabout Zoodiac Drident and Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King, forinstance. Overall, I'm excited to see what 2018 brings to the table, and Ican't wait to try out all the different strategies that Konami gives us!

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major incollege. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not asingle walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularlyposting unorthodox, unfiltered Yu-Gi-Oh! content on his Youtubechannel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, Overwatch,and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh.Click hereto follow him and his adventures on Facebook!