I think by this point I've pretty much taken the name, "the Spirit guy." Loukas Peterson and I both topped Regional Qualifiers with Spirits, but I wrote about the deck a few times before that happened, and my Regional build was a bit more pure in the number of Spirits it used. I usually hate using that word because it feels so meaningless, but in this scenario I think it fits. I consider my deck "Spirits," and I consider Loukas' deck "Ghostrick Spirits." Either way, Loukas and I are still the most successful Spirit players currently, and I consider us both experts with our given strategies.

The build I played at YCS Chicago this past weekend is only a few cards different from the one I got 7th place with at the Garden City Regional Qualifier a few weeks back. If you want to read that tournament report you can check it out here. The main problem I found with that previous build was that there wasn't an instant win hand. Actually, I feel that's the problem with +1 Fire Fists as well, but that's a different story. I found I'd have good openings but none that just gave me auto-wins. I needed to fix that, so I tweaked a few things in preparation for Chicago. I also changed the Side Deck so I was better prepared for Bujins – the only loss I took at Garden City.
DECKID=99954Kagetokage is a standard card for Spirits in the opinions of many. I was hesitant to play it because it's another card that's dead without other monsters, similar to Izanami and Nikitama. What I didn't realize before though, was that it gives you that sort of easy win opportunity in the early game that I was looking for. All you need is Nikitama, Kagetokage, and Aratama in hand. Here's how it works:

- Summon Nikitama, Special Summon Kagetokage, and summon Aratama to search for Nikitama.
- Overlay Nikitama and Kagetokage for King of the Feral Imps.
- Detach Nikitama to draw a card and search for Kagetokage.

That's an easy +2 on Turn 1. The best part is that you end your turn with Nikitama, Aratama, and Kagetokage in hand again. That means you can do a number of plays next turn, namely this one:

- Summon Nikitama, Special Summon Kagetokage, and summon Aratama to search for Nikitama.
- Overlay Nikitama and Kagetokage for Lavalval Chain.
- Detach Nikitama to place Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning on top of your deck and draw it with Nikitama.
- Banish Nikitama and Kagetokage from your graveyard to Special Summon BLS.

Oh hey, your original three cards turned into absolute control over the duel in two turns. Had I been playing three Kagetokage – a change I made immediately after the main event – you'd get yet another +1. That hand's ridiculous, and it helped so much over the course of the tournament. I also hadn't considered how much Kagetokage helps you recover when you're stuck with a bad hand. Drawing a lone Izanami or Nikitama isn't so bad when you can make Lavalval Chain to topdeck Aratama.

Anyway, I feel like I've already explained a majority of my other card choices in previous articles, so I'll get on to the tournament report. I got up at 6 o'clock on Saturday and my friend Joe and I drove three hours to the YCS. We dropped our bags off at the hotel, signed up for the main event, and met up with Kelly Locke and our friend Tom to wait for the tournament to begin. It started relatively fast and I was ready for the long day ahead of me. This was my first YCS and I was set on doing my very best with a deck I felt extremely confident with.

Round 1: Atlantean Mermail
My opponent looked about ten years old, and I was surprised he had such a competitive deck. I later found out that he's a veteran Dragon Duelist, but I didn't know that at the time. He actually got a Feature Match later in the day – which he won!

Game 1:
I opened up with the best hand possible – Nikitama, Aratama, and Kagetokage. I ended my turn with King of the Feral Imps, Solemn Warning, Bottomless Trap Hole, and Forbidden Lance set with Aratama, Nikitama, and Kagetokage in hand. There wasn't much my opponent could do, regardless of what he was playing.

#####CARDID= 11638 #####

Game 2:
I ate an early Mermail Abyssleed hit, but I took it with Number 101: Silent Honor ARK and I controlled the game from there on out.

Record: 1 – 0

Round 2: Infernity
This was a feature match, which you can read here. I looked up my opponent's name before the round started and saw that he had gotten 1st place a month back at a Chicago Regional. He did it with Infernities, and as such I figured he'd be playing the deck again. Most Infernity players are extremely dedicated to the archetype and tend to play it for months at a time. I would know, because I played that deck for a year straight…

Game 1:
This game was a joke. I had a long discussion post-match with the person writing the feature as to whether or not this was the right decision or not. I thought about scooping first turn for almost two minutes: it wasn't a decision made on a whim. In the end I fully support my choice, and would gladly defend it any day.

Game 2:
I only played four cards this game. That was kind of embarrassing. As you can read in the Feature Match, I drew a nearly unplayable hand, and I hardly feel I represented my deck's potential. This was the most disappointing match I've ever played, and probably ever will play.

Record 1 – 1

Round 3: Atlantean Mermail
I was definitely on tilt after that last match, but I tried looking forward and putting it behind me. However, I did start to notice how many Atlantean Mermail players there were at the YCS. While Fire Fist had originally seemed like the most played deck, Atlantean Mermail was clearly leading in terms of sheer numbers.

Game 1:
We traded cards back and forth fairly evenly for most of the game. When I finally burned through all of my opponent's back row I Special Summoned Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning and Yaksha to finish him off.

Game 2:
I got two Nikitama pokes in, but couldn't drew another monster. I ended up scooping with 8000 Life Points because I was so far behind in card economy.

Game 3:
I opened fairly subpar, and was forced to go into King of the Feral Imps with an Izanami and Kagetokage. I set two cards to my back row – Mystical Space Typhoon and Bottomless Trap Hole. My opponent Normal Summoned Mermail Abysspike searching an Atlantean Marksman. He then discarded two Marksman for Abyssmegalo, which I banished with Bottomless. He passed after making a Rank 4 with Aqua Spirit, setting three back row cards.

On my next turn I Normal Summoned Yaksha, targeting one of his sets while revealing Kagetokage. He flipped Abyss-sphere, and I chained Mystical Space Typhoon. I activated Creature Swap assuming he didn't have another Sphere, but he did, and I was forced to give up my King of the Feral Imps for his Mermail Abysslinde. That left him with one back row, and I Xyz Summoned Abyss Dweller, holding Forbidden Lance in my hand for his last card.

Joke's on me, though, because his last face-down was Solemn Warning.

Record: 1 – 2

Round 4: Fire Kings
At this point I was ready to drop from the tournament. My chances of making Top 32 were extremely slim since I had to win the next eight matches in a row. My friends were still playing, though, so I figured I'd continue until they dropped.

Game 1:
I was really out of it this match, and barely remember anything. No offense to my opponent or anything, it just wasn't a very memorable match. The person I rode with to Chicago was also playing Fire Kings, and I really didn't want to play against that deck. I feel it's a slightly less consistent version of Fire Fists but ten times more powerful. Fortunately my opponent's build was questionable at best. All I remember about this game is that I won by Special Summoning a Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning under a Skill Drain I couldn't get rid of.

#####CARDID= 12848 #####

Game 2:
Like I said, I don't really remember much about this match. I didn't take any damage the entire game and we finished pretty quickly. My opponent told me afterwards that he opted to not play Wolfbark and I couldn't help but wonder if I would've won had I faced a better build – one similar to Robert Boyajian's version or either of the two from YCS Berlin.

Record: 2 – 2

Round 5: HERO
My opponent lost the Round 1 feature match against Robert Boyajian, so I knew he was playing a HERO deck. He told me that he didn't want to go to this YCS, but his friends dragged him along. He also loaned out all of his competitive decks, and HERO was all he had left.

Game 1:
My opponent opened with Cardcar D, and I hit it with Effect Veiler. I didn't have any real follow-up though, and he managed to poke twice with it for direct damage. He then Normal Summoned Elemental Hero Neos Alius and I responded with Torrential Tribute. He chained Gemini Spark targeting my Mystical Space Typhoon, which I chained in turn to pop another one of his back rows. Next turn I was able to build up some resources and started building towards an eventual win.

Game 2:
My opponent started off with an Alius and three back rows. I Normal Summoned Yaksha and lost it to Bottomless Trap Hole. He attacked for 1900 damage, and when he Normal Summoned Traptrix Myrmeleo I flipped Torrential Tribute. Next turn I attacked with Yaksha and Nikitama. My opponent Summoned Photon Thrasher and promptly ran it into Mirror Force.

In Main Phase 2 he Summoned another Alius, and when I Normal Summoned Nikitama next turn he activated Super Polymerization, discarding his last in-hand card to Special Summon Elemental Hero Absolute Zero. Unfortunately for him I had Bottomless Trap Hole, and I proceeded to control the game from there.

Record: 3 – 2

Round 6: Hieratic Rulers
I looked at the online pairings on my phone and noticed I'm paired against Patrick Hoban. Oh boy. I was ready to throw in the towel at this point and could only hope to score at least one game on him. Preparing for the worst, I was trying to look up his latest Atlantean Mermail deck before the Round began.

Game 1:
Patrick opened with Cardcar D, and I negated its ability with Effect Veiler. He then played Dragon Shrine, sending Luster Dragon #2 and Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms to the graveyard. He passed with two sets. On his next turn he flipped up Reckless Greed, followed by another Reckless Greed. Yeah, not a whole lot I could do to win this one. I got him down to 400 Life Points but couldn't quite finish him off.

Game 2:
I open with Cardcar D, and he once again had Cardcar D, Dragon Shrine, and multiple Reckless Greeds. Regardless, I was able to grind through his back row with Yaksha and locked him out of the game with Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer after he played out his hand.

Game 3:
Because math and probability were apparently not my friends in this match, Patrick opened with Cardcar D, Dragon Shrine, and Reckless Greed again. Luckily he had to Reckless into his second copy, so by the time he could flip it up I was able to negate it with Seven Tools of the Bandit . He got an early Skill Drain up, and Special Summoned Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit. I took it with Creature Swap and started poking for damage. He eventually had to Special Summon a second copy and crash them, but by that time I'd gained too much card advantage. I blew away the Skill Drain with Mystical Space Typhoon and once again locked him out with Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer.

Record: 4 – 2

Round 7: Atlantean Mermail
Pretty much all of the tilt I was on from Round 2 was eradicated after beating Patrick Hoban, and I thank him for giving me that confidence boost. I had a second wind, and I was ready to continue winning. I would also like to say that this was one of my favorite opponents of the day, and by far my favorite Atlantean Mermail match-up. He was respectful, played clean, and was just a really nice guy.

Game 1:
My opponent opened well, and even though I gained an early lead in Life Points I couldn't deal with his Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls coming back every turn.

Game 2:
I kicked things off with Nikitama, Aratama, and Kagetokage. It's only the second time I'd drawn all three in my opening hand, but once again it was game-ending. I would've felt bad had my opponent not started off so well in Game 1, but sometimes you've just got to accept luck as a factor.

Game 3:
I drew Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning on my first turn, and held it for what seemed like forever. The game simplified to a point where he only had Mermail Abysspike on the field with Mermail Abyssgunde in hand. I figured it was finally time to Special Summon BLS and get some damage in. Nikitama and Yaksha helped drop him to 1100 Life Points with just the Abyssgunde in hand. I passed after making Abyss Dweller.

But his topdeck was Mermail Abyssteus, which he used to make a Number 11: Big Eye and steal BLS after using Breakthrough Skill to negate the Dweller! At that point I was at 2100 Life Points to his 1100, holding Dark Hole. I topdecked Pot of Duality, realizing this game would come down to whether I could Duality for a monster or not. I activated it, revealing Solemn Warning, Bottomless Trap Hole, and… Izanami! I cleared the field with Dark Hole, Normal Summoned Izanami, and he extended the handshake.

Record: 5 – 2

Round 8: Karakuri Geargia
I was so tired of Atlantean Mermail by this point in the tournament. All I really wanted was to face Geargia or Fire Fist. Luckily for me I got my wish.

Game 1:
My opponent started with a set monster and two back row. I had Dark Hole, and I figured that if I cleared the board and he was playing Geargia I'd win, but if he was playing Atlantean Mermails I'd lose. After taking some time to mull it over I Dark Holed the field, destroying Geargiano Mk-II. "Right deck, wrong card" was all I could say. He did some damage with small attacks and then I watched him use up all his resources for one big play that I put to rest with Torrential Tribute. That put him in a bad spot and allowed me the opening I needed to win the game.

Game 2:
My opponent started off with a set monster and two back row cards again. Once more, I had Dark Hole and this time I hit a Geargiarmor. I had two Black Horn of Heaven and another trap that I can't remember, but no monsters. He used Geargiagear in my End Phase, but I had Book of Moon to turn one of his monsters face-down. When he tried to make Gear Gigant X I negated the Summon with Black Horn of Heaven.

#####CARDID= 10886 #####

He gained a lot of card advantage, but the turning point came when I Mind Crushed two Geargiaccelerator from his hand. He flipped up Geargiarmor, searching for Geargiano Mk-II. He played MK-II into Geargiarsenal, Tributing it to bring out his third Geargiarmor. He attempted to make Gear Gigant X, and I had Black Horn of Heaven for that one too. That pretty much sealed the match.

Record: 6 – 2

Round 9: 3-Axis Fire Fist
I was told I'd be moving to the feature match table once again, and I was happy to receive a chance to redeem myself from an embarrassing Round 2. You can read the match here.

Game 1:
I felt completely in control this entire game. I was having a lot of fun and was thankful my opponent was a friendly person. At first I was super disappointed to open double Effect Veiler but it turned out to be really useful. I felt I played this game perfectly, although it would've been harder had my opponent not forgotten about the Breakthrough Skill in his graveyard. Actually, forgetting about in-grave Breakthrough Skills was a common theme throughout the day, even at the top tables.

Game 2:
I thought I also played this game really well. One thing I should mention is that I spent a lot of time deciding which position to Xyz Summon my first Number 101: Silent Honor ARK. I actually zoned out for some amount of time; I'm not really sure how long. I was brought back into reality when the judge said "You have to make a play." I honestly have no idea how long I was out of it for but I'm guessing around a full minute, which is actually a long time when you think about facing an opponent and having them just sit there frozen for 60 seconds.

Record: 7 – 2

Round 10: Bujin
I managed to get seven hours of sleep going into Sunday, and I was totally refreshed. I remember telling my friend as I left how glad I was to have avoided Bujins the previous day. As are the rules of the world, irony has to happen when the opportunity arises. I'd also like to mention that this was my favorite opponent over the weekend. We both had a great time and I'm glad to have met him.

Game 1:
The thoughts going through my head when my opponent started off with Fire Formation – Tenki to search Bujin Yamato weren't ones that I could express in this article due to their off-color nature. Needless to say I wasn't a happy camper. We had a grinding battle that lasted almost 30 minutes, but in the end I made my first misplay of the weekend and it cost me the game. Oh well.

Game 2:
I started with Aratama, Nikitama, and Kagetokage. The game ended in a matter of minutes.

Game 3:
My opponent used Fire Formation - Tenki to grab Bujin Yamato, Normal Summoned it, activated Kaiser Collosseum, set a back row, and sent Bujingi Hare to the graveyard. I Normal Summoned Cardcar D and he used Effect Veiler. I activated Creature Swap and he chained his face-down Forbidden Lance. I set Mirror Force and Memory of an Adversary and passed. He drew, blind Mystical Space Typhoon'd the Memory of an Adversary, and attacked Cardcar D. I used Mirror Force to get rid of the Hare but still lost the Cardcar. He had two cards in hand and sent another Hare to the graveyard in the End Phase.

Next turned I Normal Summoned Kycoo, preventing his Hare from activating. I played Forbidden Lance on his Yamato, and exclaimed "if you have Crane, you've got this game. If you don't, I'm going to win." I attacked and lo and behold he did have the Bujingi Crane. I technically hadn't lost at that point but I knew it was over. I extended the handshake next turn and wished him luck on his final round.

Unfortunately he ended up losing the feature match to Ghostrick Madolche. It's a real shame because he was a swell dude and I wanted him to make Top 32.

Record: 7 – 3

Round 11: Geargia
So my chances of Top 32 were obliterated, but I wanted to play the last round anyway. I'd played through ten rounds already so why not just finish it out? Once again my opponent was very friendly, and we had a good time playing this match for fun.

Game 1:
He opened with Geargiarmor and a few set cards. We traded blows back and forth but he couldn't put any real damage on the board. I pulled off three draws with Fairy Cheer Girl, and eventually I got Nikitama, Aratama, and Kagetokage to my hand and get the combo off. He scooped at 7600 Life Points because I was up by eight or nine cards.

Game 2:
This was a slow game. It basically came down to a point where we both had five back row cards. Two of mine were Black Horn of Heavens, which made sure his Gear Gigant X and Exciton Knight didn't touch the field. Eventually I had his Geargiarmor, which I'd taken with Creature Swap, and a face-down Izanami. He had five back row cards, one of which I knew was Solemn Warning because he'd used Pot of Duality to grab it. He'd already used his Torrential Tribute, so I wasn't worried about that particular card.

I flip Summoned Izanami and he let the effect go through, and I discarded Nikitama to get another one back, getting a draw with its effect. I Normal Summoned Nikitama and revealed Kagetokage, and he let both summons go. Yaksha came down next, targeting the Solemn Warning. He flipped Fiendish Chain. I overlaid Nikitama and Izanami for Fairy Cheer Girl, and he used Bottomless Trap Hole. I then overlaid Yaksha and Geargiarmor for King of the Feral Imps, which he negated with Solemn Warning.

I Special Summoned Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning and he had Black Horn of Heaven. With just Kagetokage left I passed to him, and on my next turn I Normal Summoned Yaksha and took out his remaining 1900 Life points.

Final Record: 8 – 3

After finishing the tournament I knew I wanted to make one change to my Main Deck and two to my Side Deck. More than that, I really wanted to keep playing Yu-Gi-Oh! so I entered the Win-a-Mat public event for fun. My friends were in a Battle Pack tournament but I wanted to use my constructed deck some more.

Round 1: Rank-Up
I waited around for a while after signing up and never heard my Win-a-Mat get announced. I walked over to the sign-up table and asked when it would start, to which they informed me that it should've started twenty minutes ago. I ran over to the tables to find that it was supposed to start twenty minutes ago but there were still three people missing including me. Eventually the event kicked off.

Game 1:
Nikitama, Aratama, and Kagetokage found themselves in my opening hand again, and I was going first. If I was my opponent I would've scooped, but before he lost he showed me one monster: Jurrac Velo. I figured that since Rekindling's getting hit in a few days that he was trying to get one last Jurrac tournament in. I won in five turns.

#####CARDID= 12271 #####

Game 2:
My opponent started with Pot of Duality for Rank-Up Magic Astral Force. I then realized that I was facing a very different deck than what I expected, but most of my Side Deck cards worked against both strategies: namely Black Horn of Heaven. Just like the last game I took no damage and won fairly easily. Black Horn on his Ghostrick Alucard was what finished the duel.

Record: 1 – 0

Round 2: Raccoons
This was a weird match. Public events are extremely hard to keep track of time-wise, and the original judge watching over us got switched out for another. As a result, this match took over an hour to complete. I was ridiculously tired afterwards.

Game 1:
My opponent opened with Obedience Schooled and Baby Raccoon Ponpoko, ending with Naturia Beast, Number 64: Ronin Raccoon Sandayu, a face-down Baby Raccoon Tantan, and one face down. I attempted to Xyz Summon Number 101: Silent Honor ARK but my opponent had Fiendish Chain. The rest of my hand was spells so I scooped.

Game 2:
All I remember from this game was that my opponent burned through his Beast-types way too fast, resulting in Obedience Schooled being completely dead. I won the game in a relatively quick manner.

Game 3:
I started my turn facing my opponent's Naturia Beast, Number 64: Ronin Raccoon Sandayu, a face-down Baby Raccoon Tantan, and three back rows. Swell! I Normal Summoned Izanami and attacked Sandayu, forgetting that it doesn't get destroyed. I set Torrential Tribute, Fiendish Chain, Solemn Warning, and Black Horn of Heaven before ending my turn. He flipped Tantan, brought out Kalantosa, Mystical Beast of the Forest, and targeted my Fiendish Chain for destruction. I chained Torrential Tribute, and then chained Fiendish Chain on Sandayu to negate its effect and clear my opponent's field.

From there we had the longest game of my life, each of us using almost every card we had. It got to a point where he literally had no trap cards left, with my Thunder King Rai-Oh Fiendish Chained against his Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo. I couldn't get over his Dyna, and he also had Rivalry of Warlords and Mistake up. I looked at his deck, saw that there were only three cards left, and noticed I had seven. I set Aratama and his Dyna couldn't get over it, so he ended up decking out.

Record: 2 – 0

Round 3: Atlantean Mermail
After sitting down I noticed my opponent had already won the Win-a-Mat mat, so I asked him about it. As I guessed, he did in fact just win the last one, and was just playing it again to get points for the Giant Hand tournament. The last match was mentally exhausting and I knew this guy was playing Atlantean Mermails. I really just wanted to go home at this point but I figured I'd try my best.

Game 1:
I opened terrible and just set Memory of an Adversary and Mystical Space Typhoon before ending my turn. He used Mermail Abysspike to add Mermail Abyssgunde to his hand, and then used Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls to send Abyssleed to the graveyard, reviving it with Abyssgunde. He tributed Abysspike for Abyssleed, discarding a card from my hand. He attacked right into Memory of an Adversary, and by the time Abyssleed got to my side of the field I'd semi taken control of the game. Abyssleed just bolstered my control, winning me the game.

Game 2:
I honestly have no idea what happened this game. My notes say that he used Upstart Goblin and then I scooped without either of us taking damage.

#####CARDID= 11568 #####

Game 3:
Memory of an Adversary once again stole his Abyssleed, and it once again basically won me the game. I seriously love that card so much.

Final Record: 3 – 0

At the end of the day I was extremely happy with my results and had a great time! A ton of readers said hi to me and by the end of Saturday I had a fair amount of people checking in with me after each round to see how my match went. I'm a Little Disappointed about letting a lot of people down that thought I'd make Top 32, but overall I thought my matches went well besides Round 2.

I only made one misplay during the entire main event – a big improvement from my last two Regional Qualifiers. As of right now I'm considering taking Spirits to the World Championship Qualifier this summer, but only time will tell. Please feel free to ask me any questions in the Comment section, and if you read the whole report I'd like to say thank you!

-Doug Zeeff
Article Aftermath #40