Thursday, July 31, 2014

Aaaarrrggg Championship

A patient asked me if I take vacations. Why yes, I do … provided your definition of a vacation includes a weekend with 16 hours of driving, a hotel room worthy of a disease-riddled hooker, and a convention hall filled with 500 18 to 25 year old guys. 

Welcome to ARG Circuit Series Championship! 

The ARG CSC is the culmination of the ARG Circuit Series, a collection of regional style Yugioh tournaments that runs outside the pervue of Konami. The rules, format, and most of the judges are identical to the Konami sponsored events. Beyond that, the differences are more striking. Prizes at the Konami events include trophies and cards while the ARG tournament boasts a prize pool of $25,000. Nationals featured a make believe duel between voice actors of cartoon characters. ARG, on the other hand, had an induction service for the first three members of its Yugioh Hall of Fame. Konami is marketing a kid’s game; ARG wants to be the World Series of Poker. 

Entrance into the tournament requires 20 ARG points, which can be earned at ARG sponsored events. For example, an ARG Win-a-Mat victory will get you a mat featuring facsimiles of Yugioh monsters and a card worth 20 ARG points. Those who were not fortunate enough to earn their points could purchase them on site… for $2 a point. That’s right – for $40 you could buy your way into this event. One hundred points could get you a first round bye; 200 points got you a second round bye. I was thinking about offering the registrar $2,240 for the right to go undefeated in the Swiss portion, but what’s the fun of buying your way to the top?

The number of competitors at the NAWCQ dwarfs the ARG tournament by 5:1. However, the tournament makes up for this deficit with the quality of their players. You won’t find Reversal Quiz, Chain Burn, or even Dark World players.  The decks are all rather predictable, which is about the only source of comfort. Every doolist I met was competent and challenging.

I finished in 123rd with an X-4 record. Losses in rounds 2, 3 and 5 pretty much kept me far from qualifying for day two. That said, I was very happy with my deck and felt that it gave me a good shot at beating just about anybody. With the exception of round three (against Mermails), my losses were the result of misplays and not poor draws. Thus, I accomplished my goal to create a good Gearless Gear deck even if it came with an evanescent display of Pollyannaism.

 The Deck
Geargia: Armor x 3, Arsenal x 3, Accelerator x 3, Geargiano
Tuners: Saizan x 2, Nishipachi, Birdman, Psychic Commander x 2
Other Monsters: Train Signal x 2, Redox
Spells: Dark Hole, Mind Control, Foolish Burial, Limiter Removal, Iron Call x 2, Lance X 3, E Tele x 3, Soul Charge x 2
Traps: COTH x 2, Fiendish Chain x 3, BTH x 1, WireTap x 1

So why do I lose? Perhaps the following vignette will offer some insight: I was paired up with a nationally known Sylvan player, a fact that I was unaware of at the time.  I took game one fairly easily with the GK OTK (Burei, Bureido, plus friend). Game 2 gave me a chance at another early OTK but he dropped Maxx C. Almost by reflex, I held up. Two turns later I’m staring at the trees of the Birnam Wood. While the lumber was piling on, I realized that Sylvans don’t run cards that routinely stop OTKs. Trag? Battle Fader? Not really. 

As it turned out, the final game gave me a chance to replay the second game. I drew into an OTK hand and he dropped Maxx C. This time I took the challenge. My opponent, to his credit, had remarkable aplomb. One of his friends teased him about his imminent demise. He just casually shrugged and said “You should see what I drew”. That seed of doubt plus my adrenaline induced fog led me to pop his card with Scrap Dragon. Out came another plant and the win was out of my grasp. Playing Crimson Blader or putting his set card into attack with Burei would have won the match. Instead, I was given a lesson on Yugioh mind games.  Bravo. 

While fun, the experience was sobering. I suspect I do not have the time, talent, or energy to make it to a day 2 of a big event. ARG deserves credit for recognizing the talented players that do.

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