My name is Wilson Tsang, and I am so happy to be writing this tournament report for TCGplayer! YCS Long Beach was a great experience for me and I am grateful that I am able to share it with you all, from how I prepared for this event to my thought process throughout my matches. Let me start off with my credentials. My first top at a major event was YCS Providence, where I got 9th place with Water Tengu Synchro. More recently, I traveled all the way to YCS Guadalajara and made Top 32 there as well. I had anticipated YCS Long Beach to be about 3000 people but it was a shock to me, as well as many others, that there were over 4300 players!
There were many things that I did to prepare for this event. For me, I am the type of person that learns by teaching others. I posted videos about how to play against all the top decks (including Dark World and Elemental Heroes) and encouraged my subscribers to talk about these decks and what they would side, as well as their overall consensus on the popularity of those strategies. I like to gather opinions from many different sources and consider them equally, whether they be from inexperienced players or savvy veterans, in order to have a wide understanding of where everyone is coming from.
Now, what made me take a perfectly good Wind-Up deck that I topped with, and disfigure it into the Beastly deck that I topped with at the biggest trading card game event of all time? Firstly, I think that the game of Yu-Gi-Oh is as much a skillful game, as it is a psychological game. Psychology is a really important factor in this game, as well as being able to look at your opponent and figure out whether they have a Solemn Warning or a bluff set. That is why the only testing I did on Dueling Network was with my friend BB Beckmann, all the way from Colorado. All other testing I did, was done in person with my friends either in my house or at my locals, in order to pick up on subtleties that each player had and read their backrow cards. To test, I played against every deck that I knew I would have a chance of playing. Not only did I test nontstop against decks like Inzektors, Wind-Ups, and Dino Rabbits, I chose to play against Six Samurai, Dark Worlds, and Elemental Heroes as well, knowing that these tier 1.5 decks would make a strong impact on this YCS. The main reason I brought this deck to YCS Long Beach is because the Wind-up Beast deck has a strong matchup against Dino-Rabbit, which was the deck I expected to play against the most.
The initial inspiration from this deck was my friend Irwin Chew. He was running a version of this strategy back when there were 3 Reborn Tengu complementing Photon Sabre Tiger, backed with Horn of the Phantom Beast. It looked like an interesting concept at the time, but I was unwilling to give up my pure Wind-Ups. After the March 1st Advanced List arrived, I realized that Maxx “C” was being run at the “maxx”imum 3 copies in most highly competitive decks. This factor, along with the inclusion of Effect Veiler and Fiendish Chain in the main deck prevented me from going off with the Wind-Up loop more often than not. With that, I had to adapt. How could I still go off on the loop without my opponent having Maxx “C” or Veiler?
I went about this in many ways. First, I tried to main deck Dimensional Fissure, but I then realized they could just chain Maxx “C” to the activation of Fissure and I still could not loop them that turn. Next I tried to main Debunk but again, this proved too slow if I wanted to loop turn one. Finally I came up with a clever idea: why not lure my opponent into thinking I was running a specific archetype, but in reality, I was siding into my favorite deck instead! I had heard of transformational siding before, where you could take out many parts of your main deck and side into an almost entirely different one, but this was probably the first time I had done it myself. Some people may think the transformational side is a one-trick pony. If they have seen you side into Wind-Ups, they will know later. However, I only think this is partially true. You can actually trick your opponent into leaving in or siding in their Maxx “C” cards, anticipating a Wind-Up transformation when in reality, you kept in the same main deck cards and laugh as they set their hand traps, and you trample them with Wind-Up Rabbit, Thunder King Rai-Oh, and Ape Fighter. And with that, I took the skeleton of Irwin's deck and transformed it into the build I took to YCS Long Beach.
Through rigorous testing of the main deck, I figured out that Reborn Tengu was not as good as I had initially thought, especially at only 2 copies. Sure it was still a plus but it wasn't as strong as I had hoped. I decided on Wind-Up Rabbit because of its ability to bounce away from danger and come back next turn, enabling me to re-use him over and over again. I realized with so many copies of Torrential Tribute running around, Wind-Up Rabbit would play an integral role in the main, as well as side deck. I also realized I needed the addition of a boss monster in my main deck to make sure that when my opponent wasted cards like Solemn Warning on my Wind-Up Rabbits, I would be able to punish them. That is how Black Luster Soldier- Envoy of the Beginning found its way into the main deck. But with BLS mained, I needed more dark targets than just Tour Guide of the Underworld and Sangan. I looked around for a dark beast target with which I can abuse Horn of the Phantom Beast and I finally happened upon Ape Fighter. This card looked so amazing at a beastly 1900 base ATK and the ability to become even bigger as long as it kept destroying monsters. I felt like this was a task easily accomplished with the inclusion of cards like Horn of the Phantom Beast and Forbidden Lance. And that is how the main deck came to be.
Unlike at locals, I knew it would be highly unlikely at YCS Long Beach that I would play the same person twice and thus, the transformational side would have the most benefit. To test this theory, I only brought this deck to my locals a week before YCS Long Beach so that there would be that element of surprise when I played. Sure enough, it worked! I went 9-0 on Saturday and 6-0 on Sunday, confusing people who sided in hand traps and hand-looping people who had taken out their in-hand protection. The deck had a strong matchup against Dino Rabbit because I ran so much protection, as well as the fact that a 2700 ATK Ape Fighter is no laughing matter for a Dino-Rabbit deck that can only churn out 2400 ATK monsters. I felt like the deck was very powerful, and even asked some of my friends to run it as well, in order for one of us to top at the event and get the deck into the open. But they were uncomfortable with running such an unconventional strategy, and away I went to YCS Long Beach, the only person that I knew of who would be piloting the deck now known as Wind-up Beast.
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Round 1: No-show I thought this would hurt my tie-breakers, but Frank Debrito told me that it didn't hurt or help me, which helped calm my nerves at the time.
Round 2: Dark Worlds I came out aggressively game 1, after my opponent drew a bad hand and was forced to activate Dragged Down with no Dark Worlds in hand in order to try to draw outs. The defining moment in game 2 was when I read his face-down Morphing Jar and made an unconventional play to special Wind-Up Hunter and crash into Beige,then summoning Black Luster Soldier- Envoy of the Beginning to remove his Jar before he could activate his effect. (Win 2-0)
Round 3: Elemental Heroes I played my friend Jonathan Cortez in this one, and Wind-Up Rabbit was integral to the win. During game 1, he just could not get rid of the two Wind-Up Rabbits and eventually, those Rabbits along with a pair of Photon Sabre Tigers devastated his life points. Game 2, I was able to Wind-Up loop him and take the victory. (Win 2-0)
Round 4: Dark Worlds Game 1 my opponent opened with pure aggression, activating multiple copies of The Gates of Dark World, Dragged Down, and Dark World Dealings to cripple my hand. Game 2, I managed to Wind-Up loop him and in game 3, I took advantage of the fact that Dark Worlds run very few defensive traps and managed to beat him down with Thunder King Rai-Oh and Wind-Up Rabbit. ( Win 2-1)
Round 5: Elemental Heroes I really don't remember too much about this match, but I know he was a good player, evidenced by the fact that he topped this event as well. But if I do remember correctly, he used Super Polymerization on me and I was able to survive due to my main decked copy of Compulsory Evacuation Device. (Win)
Round 6: Dino-Rabbit He was the only player who even hinted that he understood the possibility that I would side into Wind-Ups after I lost game 1. I did beat him game 2, but he opened too strongly game 3, with an Evolzar Laggia and 4 set spell/trap cards. I had a decent hand but could not come back from such a strong opening. (Loss 2-1)
Round 7: Six Samurai Another cool person I met at this event, we ended up playing very quickly because it was past 12:30 AM! He was genuinely confused at my deck, siding in Light-Imprisoning Mirror game 2. (Win 2-0)
Round 8: Dino-Rabbit Played Matthew Bishop. He beat me game 1, but I managed to win game 2. During game 3, there was a critical situation in which I was at 8000-6000 LP. He had no cards in hand, with a Sabersaurus and 3 backrow sets. I had 4 backrows, consisting of 2 Mystical Space Typhoon, one Fiendish Chain and one Solemn Warning. I had Tour Guide in hand. I activated both MST's hitting 2 traps: Solemn Warning and Torrential Tribute. I then proceeded to activate Tour Guide to special another from deck.
Now I debated whether I should get a Zenmaines, Leviathan, or Acid Golem. If that was a Forbidden Lance set (which I deduced it was), the Leviathan would be a bad choice. Acid Golem would be Fine, except that I would risk losing life points with no way to get rid of Golem if he drew a Reaper or something to stall. So I made the safest play, Summoning a Zenmaines and took 400 LP to destroy his Sabersaurus. This saved me the game, because if I didn't read Forbidden Lance, my Leviathan Dragon would have walked right into it and then he would have a commanding LP lead with no way for me to get rid of the Sabersaurus. (Win 2-1)
Round 9: Wind-Up I lost game 1, came back game 2, but game 3, he just drew better and was able to loop me for game. A lot of luck is involved in the mirror match, but he got the better of me here. (Loss 2-1)
Round 10: Elemental Heroes I knew these next few matches would be decisive. It was important to win these next three matches to basically guarantee that I would make the Top 64 cut. Game 1, I wins up showing him my whole deck, from Ape Fighter to Thunder King Rai-Oh to Tour Guide, because it's a long Duel. Then game 2, he basically did what I hoped every person would do during this event: side out ALL his hand traps (2 Maxx “C” and 2 Effect Veiler)! I looped him game 2 and after the match, he was stunned. He even showed me that he sided out all his hand traps and didn't bring in D.D. Crow, either. (Win 2-0)
Round 11: Inzektors He was a cool guy named Michael Horton. He has a pretty sick tattoo of Zombie Master on his arm! Game 1 he actually got me pretty good, but game 2 I looped him and game 3 I managed to have Mystical Space Typhoons at crucial times when he had Gozen Match or Fiendish Chain. (Win 2-1)
Round 12: Dino-Rabbit This was one of the most dramatic matches I had all weekend. What a way to end the Swiss Rounds! Game 1, he barely beat me with a topdecked Rescue Rabbit in the mid stages of the game. Game 2, I ended up winning by thin margins as well.
Game 3 was very suspenseful. We both drew very few monsters. I managed to get him to activate Solemn Judgment early while I chipped away at his life points with attacks from Wind-Up Shark, Wind-Up Magician, and Maxx “C”. My life points went to waste negating monster summons and Heavy Storm. Near the end of the battle, Life Points became a critical factor, with LP standing to my advantage at 1000-400. The field was his 3 back row cards set with a set monster. I had Maxx “C” in defense; a face-down Wind-Up Rat; and Forbidden Lance, Torrential Tribute, and Mystical Space Typhoon set. On his turn, he draws and activates Monster Reborn, targeting Thunder King. I think to myself, if he has a Forbidden Lance or Starlight Road, it's probably over for me. So I blindly activate Mystical Space targeting his Forbidden Lance. He responds with his own Space Typhoon blowing up my Torrential! Thunder King hit the field and attacked my face-down Rat. His last remaining set had been there almost since turn 1 so I figured that it was a useless Solemn Warning. I drew for the turn and it was a… Wind-Up Shark!! I calculated countless times and realized that Wind-Up Shark with Forbidden Lance attacking his Thunder King would wipe out the last of his LP! So I normal summoned and stayed true to my read that it was a bluff. I attacked, flipping Lance in the damage step and he offered the handshake! It was dramatic, suspenseful and close…everything you could hope for in a bubble match! (Win 2-1)
Top 32 match: Inzektors It was a close game 1 and 2, and in game 3, we were both basically topdecking. He got an Inzektor Hornet, attaching Giga-Mantis and attacked me for 2400. I was sitting at 1900 Life Points, with him at 2900. I top-decked Effect Veiler and passed the turn. He drew and declared an attack, but I stopped him by activating Veiler before he left his main phase 1. He thought about it and decided to attack for 500, bringing me to 400. He then set a spell or trap. I drew and looked at my topdeck…Tour Guide! With no other choice than to summon her, I used her effect to summon another copy from my deck, then overlaid for Leviair; special summoned Inzektor Centipede; and hit him for exactly 2900 for game! (Win 2-1)
Top 16: Dino-Rabbit Again, game 1 I was unable to beat him in a close Duel. Game 2 I got the loop off on him. Game 3, he went first and made a Zenmaines. I was then able to loop his hand, but I had no way to get over his Zenmaines and I ended up making my own. In the end, we played into time because neither could get past the other's Zenmaines and I won by 400 LP. (Win 2-1)
Top 8: Elemental Heroes I played Joe in the top 8 feature match. I wish I put up more of a fight! Game 1, I drew no monsters and had to Reborn his Alius to do my bidding, but in the end, I could not come back. Game 2, I made a crucial misread when I thought that he had set Torrential Tribute. I wanted to be able to normal summon my Ape Fighter and have both my monsters attack for game by using Compulsory on his monster, but never did I think his set was a Solemn Judgment! That ended up costing me the game, in which neither of us drew particularly well. He still congratulated me and told me that I shouldn't feel bad because obviously “You did something right or else you wouldn't be here”! I thanked him for his kind words and wished him best of luck in the tournament. (Loss 2-0)
Match Count: Dino-Rabbit: 4 (3-1 record) Elemental Heroes: 4 (3-1) Inzektors: 2 (2-0) Dark worlds: 2 (2-0) Six Samurai: 1 (1-0) Malefic Skill Drain: 1 (1-0) Wind-Up: 1 (0-1)
After the YCS: Honestly, going into the event again, knowing all that I know now, I would probably still keep the exact same deck list with minor changes to the side deck. Each card was crucial to my success, and I could not have gotten to the top 8 without every card contributing. The only change that I would possibly make to the main deck is to add another Ape Fighter over one Thunder King Rai-Oh, to further capitalize on the Beast theme and have more synergy with Horn of the Phantom Beast. One possible change to my side deck would probably be exchanging an Effect Veiler for a Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror to handle both Inzektors and Dark Worlds.
Sorry that this was such a long write-up, but I really wanted to convey my thought processes throughout the whole article, from how I came to run the deck to my Reasoning during my matches. I know that a lot of people asked to watch me play so they could “pick my brain” and hopefully with this lengthy description of the matches, you are better able to understand where I am coming from throughout. If you have any Questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!
I will leave you with this inspirational quote from my friend Brian Snow: “Good players play the format, great players DEFINE the format”. Needless to say, this is something that I strive towards every day of my Yu-Gi-Oh career, and I hope more innovators will step forward and attempt to do the same. -Wilson Tsang
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