Hello there, duelists!
With the Remote Duel Yu-Gi-Oh! Day coming up in just a few short weeks, as well as the Remote Duel Yu-Gi-Oh! Extravaganza taking place this weekend, competition is ramping up! Is your win ratio what you want it to be? Have you even been playing competitively these days? Whether you're looking to up your win rate or just getting back into the swing, it's the perfect time discuss some of the reasons you might be struggling to get there in the last few weeks.
When you're having a hard time meeting your personal goals as a competitor, it becomes incredibly easy to blame those losses on factors that are outside of your control. Yes, Infernobles ripping cards from your hand and setting up a flurry of interactions is annoying. And sure, Dragon Link often does so much that you begin to question why it's even a real deck. But there are always ways to improve on your play and boost your winrate.
Let's dive into those for the month of November. First up…
Your opponent doesn't always have the exact hand they need to combo through your interruptions, I promise. They don't draw an ideal hand every game, and you aren't somehow the most unluckiest duelist on the planet. This is the easiest change to make in terms of complexity - it's just a perspective shift - but it's often the hardest to do, because you're effectively battling against your own mind.
A lot of times, when you draw your opening hand to see what you're working with, you're already deciding in that moment how the game will go. How often have you been paired against combo decks, hoping to draw two or three hand traps alongside the perfect engine cards, only to open with a singular Infinite Impermanence? I know it's happened to me quite a bit lately, and it can be frustrating to see. You then have to navigate using that single piece of interaction perfectly, and then hope your opponent doesn't draw any extenders to push past It.
That said, often what happens is that your opponent doesn't get to accomplish all their lines of play, and you're both in a kind of limbo where you're trying to put together the most powerful plays possible. These are the games where your level of influence as a player is the highest, and those are the games that consistently come down to minimizing your mistakes.
Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring
One of the biggest tricks I've found to help myself remain grounded and focused is to take post-match notes. Once I wish my opponent luck in their upcoming rounds, I immediately start jotting down all the thoughts I have on the game so I can do some reflection later. This is especially helpful for discussion with your friend group or play circle, so you can figure out if you made a mistake that's avoidable later.
It's a hard habit to get into if you aren't big on taking concise notes, but once you do, you'll be amazed at how much information you can have at the ready for game breakdowns. Another helpful tool is to have your friend outline why they think X or Y moment was a mistake, and how to spot that correctly in the future. For example, one of the players in my group had a horrendous habit of using Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring on Magical Meltdown, and when I explained why that's incorrect, they fixed that deficiency in their play and saw instant results.
This is another mistake that's simple in concept, but one that plagues us all at various times in a given format. Typically, this is a side effect of getting too comfortable with your plays and just going on auto pilot.
If you find yourself frequently losing to stuff that you didn't see coming and caught you off guard, chances are you're tunneling on plays. How many times have you gone through the motions of a combo, that you've done a thousand times, only to get smacked in the face by a hand trap? Then, when you look back on the game you realize you could have done things in a different order to play around that specific card, and kept it from being a blow out?
Play more, but just make sure to relax. Seriously. It's that simple. A lot of times, tunnel vision is caused by being anxious about the outcome of a game, and you start losing your ability to take in all the information available to you. You might miss subtle motion queues or verbal tells from your opponent, or even blatantly oblivious pieces of information in front of you because you're convinced that one line of play is correct, and that there's nothing else to be done.
Frequently, I've found that players will tunnel in on a specific line of play because it worked for them before, and they weren't punished for it. Using the Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring example from before, that came up because that duelist had done it a few times and had fallen into a routine. But the opponent never had PSY-Framegear Gamma to counter the play. While you might feel like it's inconsequential most of the time, there's no reason to place yourself in a riskier position when less risky options can deliver the same outcome.
Since their first wave of solid finishes earlier this year, Infernobles have struggled to gain the respect they rightfully deserve in the format. Due to a low representation in LCS events, remote duels, and a variety of unofficial events, it hasn't ever truly become the deck-to-beat.
That said, you need to make sure you build your deck to take it into account. This isn't a format where you can skip hand traps and hope that you'll be fine. Cards like Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, PSY-Framegear Gamma, and Infinite Impermanence are all excellent against infernobles, as well as a myriad of other defensive cards like Nibiru, the Primal Being. The key though, is that you must figure out how to play enough defensive cards to see them reliably, but not so many that your core engine is stymied by a too-high percentage of defensive cards.
Token Collector saw a surge in play during the recent Luxury Championship 8 event run last weekend, and with good reason. Being able to shut down lines of play that abuse Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon can wni games, same with Linkross. If you find yourself struggling against Infernoble, give this a shot. It doesn't struggle against Neo-Spacian Aqua Dolphin or Smoke Grenade of the Thief either, like other reactive cards can, because it can trigger from the graveyard.
Not to be a broken record, but if you're not prepare to face Dinosaurs on a regular basis, you're doing yourself a disservice. It's one of the most powerful decks currently, and Hanko's written about it multiple times.
You need to have a plan when you sit down against this deck, and the number 1 mistake I see players make consistently is ignoring Miscellaneousaurus, not giving it the respect it deserves. It's a running joke among a few friends of mine that I'll never use Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring on a Fossil Dig or any on-field monster. I do that with good reason: Miscellaneousaurus lets your opponent simply ignore cards that stop on-field effects, so you need to play them carefully.
Artifact Lancea a fantastic card against this deck though, and it shines in other matchups too. In particular, Artifact Lancea locks down Miscellaneousaurus second effect as well as Double Evolution Pill, effectively stopping your opponent from establishing their most powerful cards. One caveat? You need to ensure it resolves. If you can't effectively stop a PSY-Framegear Gamma, don't shotgun this card. You're opening yourself up to unnecessary risks.
Thanks to LCS 8, we now know that Virtual World is a real world, and it's very much here to ruin your day if you aren't prepared for it.
As I've lovingly described the deck, it's as if someone took Salamangreat Gazelle and made every card in the deck send cards to the graveyard. Going an astounding 12-0, Gabriel Netz showcased the strength of the strategy, combining multiple waves of Special Summons, consistency cards, and a clutch auto-win in the form of True King of All Calamities. There wasn't much to do if you weren't ready for it.
That said, the deck struggles against Artifact Lancea, and potentially a well-timed Nibiru, the Primal Being. Gnomaterial pretty good too, both here and against Infernobles. I highly urge you to read Hanko's article breaking down this new theme, and check out the multitude of deck profiles and deck breakdowns that are now available. Cards like Dimensional Barrier are also strong options against the deck going first, as they use Sychro Summons to leverage advantage. The key though, is that you must become familiar with the way the deck works, because you'll absolutely see it played going forward.
Those are the biggest things that I've seen holding back players over the last few weeks, although now thats Zoodiacs and Prank-Kids are back in the format things might get a bit of a shakeup. Luckily, they all struggle against commonly played cards like Artifact Lancea and Nibiru, the Primal Being. They don't require you to change much about your deck, you just need to know where to interact with each card to get the best results with them.
That's it for me, but I'll catch you next week with a fun change of pace. Follow me over on Twitter and YouTube for more content, and good luck in your remote duels!