On The World Championship And Beyond

Korey McDuffie

8/24/2014 11:02:00 AM

Hey there duelists! Today I wanted to talk about my experience in Rimini, Italy at the World Championship. The days leading into the tournament and the actual event itself felt unbelievably prestigious, and the competition was just as fierce as I expected; the skill level was impressive, with players drawn from all over the globe. The time I spent in Italy outside the convention hall was the most fun I've had in years. Meeting professionals from each region of the world showed me that there were players who approached the game from the same angles as I do, while being more skilled than myself. It was clear that they'd committed a similar amount of their lives to Yu-Gi-Oh! as I have to the handful of games that I play. It was nice being in that environment, and the experience made me want to qualify again every year!

The overwhelming amount of support that I had thrown at me while I was there showed me the true reach of the Worlds spotlight, both on me and the rest of the competitors. The food was the best I've had in Europe and the nightlife was full of culture. The chills of adrenaline ran down my spine as every hour brought me closer to the morning of the tournament. I'm sure that if you watched the live stream you guys are familiar with how amazing Rimini was, so I'm going to talk a bit about my preparation for the World Championship, my experience during the tournament, and how I'm going to interpret my results from the last month.

Predicting The Worlds Metagame
I talked about my predictions for the World Championship metagame in my previous article, and my expectations were almost met. I knew that Infernities were going to be the best and perhaps most represented strategy, but overestimated the presence of Sylvans. I was confident that Infernities would have a presence, but Geargia was much more popular than I expected despite the time I spent considering a Traptrix/Hands/Geargia variant a strategy I was thinking about from the beginning.

I felt Infernity was the most powerful deck available and that a Traptrix/Hands/Geargia strategy (THG) would offer the best opportunities to incorporate powerful Side Deck cards that could cripple an Infernity player. Those were the two most important factors determining what I wanted to play, and how I expected most of the field to look. I felt it was a little risky to run something with a handful of reactive cards when I wasn't certain what the metagame would actually look like. I wasn't excited about any of the Fire Hand and Ice Hand strategies I came up with, so I moved my focus to the runner-up and just started practicing with Infernities.

Let me make one message clear: this is the most difficult deck I've ever played. I talked to Infernity masters Mike Albanese and Sehabi Kheireddine, making sure I knew all the intricacies of the combos and card selections. I spent over a hundred hours with my notepad open, keeping track of what cards contributed to which part of each combo as I played against myself on my floor. I used my camera to take pictures of field set-ups to discover different options that could change what my final board position looked like.

 Lavalval Chain
Lavalval Chain68051
Set Hidden Arsenal 7: Knight of Stars
Number HA07-EN019
Level 4
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Sea Serpent
Attribute FIRE 
A / D 1800 / 1000
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

2 Level 4 monsters // Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card to activate 1 of these effects: // * Send 1 card from your Deck to the Graveyard. // * Choose 1 monster from your Deck and place it on top of your Deck.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
Top Caliber 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $4.75
MetalYugi 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $4.75
Collector's Cache 1st Edition - Lightly Played 1 $4.94
XtremeGames 1st Edition - Lightly Played 1 $4.98
NMGAMING 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $4.99
NC collectibles 1st Edition - Moderately Played 2 $4.99
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Inertia Gaming Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $4.99
Vegas Premier Gaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $5.13
Blue Ox Games Unlimited - Moderately Played 1 $5.22

It was so easy to mess up a combo if you couldn't see where you'd wind up twelve to fifteen plays later, even on YOUR FIRST TURN. I felt like I needed much more time than I actually had if I were to master the deck. Infernity's incredibly powerful but it takes dedication, focus, and a deep understanding of every card the strategy runs to achieve an optimal performance. After weeks of practicing my combos and Tuning my Side Deck, I hopped on the plane with Deon Akridge who was running THG, and we were on our way to Rimini, Italy.

Arriving In Italy
When we got to Italy on Thursday, I finally got to test with Sehabi and was assured I knew how to play the deck optimally, which I'd felt I wasn't going to be able to do in time for the tournament. I believe that most people who think they're piloting Infernities perfectly are usually Mistaken. Sehabi and I spent the whole day syncing our thoughts and covering each other's tracks confirming that we were using every card slot efficiently. Deon was just trying to tune his deck to beatInfernities, giving us a solid gauntlet to test against.

Deon jammed about twenty games against Sehabi, and Infernity won less than five of those games. It was important learning how to play around every hand trap that exists and having the momentum in the opponent's favor. Learning all of these concepts made me feel even better about playing the deck and I was honestly set on Infernity by the time I went to sleep Thursday night. Whenever I prepare for any tournament, I always have a tough time deciding which deck I want to play, but for the North American WCQ and the World Championship my choice was locked in.

There were a couple of reasons we thought Infernity was the most powerful deck. The strategy has so many two and three card combos that can generate so much card advantage and swing tempo to such a degree that you can put your opponent out of contention before they even see their first Draw Phase. If your combos aren't interrupted by a Maxx C or D.D. Crow, you'll get free wins regardless of your opponent's skill level. That made me excited to play this deck, especially in a tournament with so few rounds. I knew I was going to be playing the best players in the world and just wanted to have the highest chance possible to steal a couple of rounds and make Top 8.

Infernity doesn't interact with your opponent unless they're going second. In the games where youare going second you don't even need more than one turn of set-up before the game's decided by whether or not your opponent can interrupt your combo. Infernities were consistent, powerful, and untouched by the special Worlds-only F&L List, so we felt confident in our choice. We talked about many builds that included traps and a grind game backup plan, but we ultimately decided on a combo heavy build. This was the 70-card list I played at the World Championship:

    Infernities Korey McDuffie    
  Location:  World Championship 2014-08-09 Rimini Italy - 9th - 16th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
1 Archfiend Heiress
1 Armageddon Knight
2 Dark Grepher
1 Dynatherium
3 Infernity Archfiend
2 Infernity Necromancer
1 Photon Thrasher
3 Stygian Street Patrol
2 Summoner Monk
Monsters [16]
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Archfiend Palabyrinth
1 Book of Moon
1 Foolish Burial
1 Forbidden Lance
1 Infernity Launcher
2 Instant Fusion
1 Mind Control
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Reinforcement of the Army
3 Soul Charge
3 Upstart Goblin
Spells [19]
1 Infernity Barrier
3 Infernity Break
1 Solemn Warning
Traps [5]
Deck Total [40]
1 Dark Hole
2 Fiendish Chain
2 Forbidden Chalice
1 Needle Ceiling
3 Spiritualism
1 The Transmigration Prophecy (UTR)
2 Trap Stun
3 Vanity's Emptiness
Side Deck [15]


1 Abyss Dweller
1 Cairngorgon, Antiluminescent Knight
2 Diamond Dire Wolf
2 Evilswarm Exciton Knight
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Kamionwizard
3 Lavalval Chain
1 Leviair the Sea Dragon
1 Number 101: Silent Honor ARK
1 Number 66: Master Key Beetle
1 Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk
Extra Deck [15]

Infernities ended up carrying me to 13th place after the Swiss Rounds; I ended up losing the last round playing for Top 8 against Artifact Traptrix. It was what I expected to lose to, as it just had too many cards focused on stopping Infernity. My opponent had Effect Veiler and D.D. Crow in his Main Deck which won him Game 1 against me and demonstrated that he was prepared for the match-up. We ended up going to a third game where I lost in end of match procedures, but I wasn't too bothered by that as I knew it was an unfavorable match-up for me anyways.

Throughout the match there were just too many situations where I had to play around cards that slowed my deck down. There were times where I played around Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare by not XYZ Summoning only to fall to his Needle Ceiling. I didn't feel the match-up was unbeatable; in fact, I felt the matchup was favorable after Side Decking. He had so many Traps that I felt a Trap Stun followed by an activation of Evilswarm Exciton Knight would swing the game in my favor, but I only assembled that combo one time over the course of that match.

I picked up a draw against a Worm player and my other loss came from a trap-heavy Gadget deck. My wins came easily in unexciting matches against Geargia and Infernity. Sehabi ended up avenging me in the final match of the tournament, proving he was clearly the best Infernity player in the World. With that in mind there are many subjective ways to look at your results from any tournament and I wanted to use a couple of concepts from our preparation for the World Championship to demonstrate how you should interpret them.

The first concept I want to point out is the fact that when Sehabi won the tournament, his victory instantly legitimized all of my efforts. We'd pooled all of our information together to the point that we were effectively playing the same game in our matches. We ran a few different cards between our builds, but we had a similar approach to the format and that was the basis of our game plan. We started by agreeing with the theory that Infernity was powerful because of its proactive strategy: your combos don't interact with your opponent and they have to try to stop you from going off, giving you the momentum and putting you in the driver's seat. We didn't want to give anyone a chance to outplay us, so we were just performing our combos while opponents had to hope to get lucky enough to stop us.

 Evilswarm Exciton Knight
Evilswarm Exciton Knight79024
Set Legacy of the Valiant
Number LVAL-EN056
Level 4
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Fiend
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 1900 / 0
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

2 Level 4 monsters // Once per chain, during your Main Phase or your opponent's Battle Phase, if your opponent has more total cards in their hand and their side of the field than you do: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; destroy all other cards on the field, also your opponent takes no further damage this turn (this is a Quick Effect).

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Four Horsemen 1st Edition - Lightly Played 2 $7.95
Cardmonstergamez 1st Edition - Lightly Played 1 $7.95
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TggChicago Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $8.30
Near Mint Games Unlimited - Near Mint 4 $8.37
MagnificentTCG Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $8.50
316 Collectibles 1st Edition - Moderately Played 1 $8.69
Cardmonstergamez Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $8.70
Four Horsemen Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $8.70
DragonTCGamers Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $9.22

We'd focused our Side Decks for the mirror match and the Geargia match-up, which ended up being the two strategies that mattered most in the tournament, confirming our metgame read. It's important to have a partner or team that compliments your own strengths and weaknesses and communicates with you, or the rest of the team constructively. I can say that Sehabi and Deon's character and chemistry were collectively essential to our success at the World Championship.

Worlds had a format and a unique metagame designed specifically for that one tournament. I can't say that I care much about the results in the sense of moving on to future events, because there is no tournament that will replicate the play environment we competed in. I can say that I feel accomplished discovering that Infernity was the best deck for the tournament, and satisfied that our theories led us to that conclusion. We knew that Soul Charge was the best card in that format and Infernity abused it more efficiently than any other deck could.

There are several cards in Infernities that should probably be Forbidden: if a deck makes me feel that way, that sort of feeling will always grab my attention and is usually a good incentive to play a particular strategy. Infernity Launcher should probably be gone, while Stygian Street Patrol, Lavalval Chain, and Soul Charge should all be Limited before the deck's removed from competition entirely. Infernity's a powerful and consistent strategy, while its only drawback is its vulnerability to Side Decked silver bullets.

I expect the entire shape of competition to change when we get the announcement of our new Forbidden & Limited List in a couple of weeks. Shaddolls and Satellarknights are riding the hype-train and they seem to be a force to be reckoned with. El Shaddoll Construct and Stellarknight Delteros will be flooding tables in the next couple of months and the new F&L list will throw new decks into the mix as well, making it difficult to come to a conclusion on which deck has the best chance of winning a tournament.

So Where Do We Go From Here?
There are multiple starting points to choose from when you're deciding which to play for a new format. The first is identifying cards that are independently powerful on their own. Soul Charge has been the most popular card in this sense over the last couple months, but the next issue when you choose that starting point is determining which deck can abuse that card most efficiently. Soul Charge has defined the format since it was released, but there's no shortage of cards that could take its place when the format changes on October 1st.

Once you figure out which is the best deck to play in the immediate run, there's inevitably a sort of hierarchical leveling process: the next best deck to play will be whatever beats the one on top. Those two strategies will generally go on to define competitive metagames, creating an opportunity for any deck to enter the fray and try to triumph over the current pair of best decks. YCS Toronto will show us how powerful Shaddolls and Satellarknights really are while the F&L list will follow shortly after and whittle down the ranks.

 El Shaddoll Winda
El Shaddoll Winda92376
Set Duelist Alliance
Number DUEA-EN048
Level 5
Type Fusion/Effect Monster
Monster Spellcaster
Attribute DARK 
A / D 2200 / 800
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

1 "Shaddoll" monster + 1 DARK monster Must first be Fusion Summoned. Cannot be destroyed by an opponent's card effects. Each player can only Special Summon monster(s) once per turn while this card is face-up on the field. If this card is sent to the Graveyard: You can target 1 "Shaddoll" Spell/Trap Card in your Graveyard; add it to your hand.

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Limit Break TCG Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $13.70
UltimateCardsTcg Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $13.95
OverdoseGaming Unlimited - Near Mint 2 $14.50
OverdoseGaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 3 $14.84
Celestial Eatos 1st Edition - Near Mint 3 $14.85
OmegaGaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $14.88
SKYAThatOneGuy 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $14.90
MagnificentTCG 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $14.95
Collection Hero 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $15.00
EllenBaker Gaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $15.00

The emphasis on the popularity of each deck is important to be aware of, to help determine how much of your Side Deck you'll need to dedicate to various match-ups that will exist in a given tournament. That popularity will shift from event to event as competition continues, but once you get familiar with which Side Decked cards are effective against the top strategies you can easily weigh each Side Deck slot to determine which cards to use, and how many.

Approaching the upcomingformat before the new F&L List is actually announced, I feel Shaddolls is probably the deck with the target on its head. The most important fact standing out to me is that Shaddolls rely on the graveyard. I feel Macro Cosmos and Dimensional Fissure should have been Semi-Limited before they needed to be Limited, and I hope we're allowed to play with more than one copy of each by October 1st. Those are the first floodgates that come to mind, but if you can keep a Shaddoll player away from their graveyard while removing their Fusion Monsters from the field, it should be an easy game for you. Shaddoll Fusion seems to be the most powerful card in the deck since its requirement to allow you to Fusion Summon with Materials from your Main Deck is so easy to meet.

One trend that typically follows the release of new, immediately successful deck themes is the unnecessary departure of current top decks. Mermails always disappear off the competitive radar when there's a new deck thrown in the mix, though the power level of Mermails is still above the average. I like trying to find decks that are functionally the opposite of the most played strategies, so that you don't get accidentally hated out by linear Side Deck cards. If Shaddolls do become the deck to beat, I'd try to play a strategy that doesn't rely on the graveyard at all. It doesn't hurt to avoid Dark monsters too, so you don't fall prey to Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror.

With that said, I'm going to throw in a bonus Shaddoll list that I've been testing my strategies against. Wouldn't hurt to let me know what you think in the comments below!

    Shaddolls Korey McDuffie    
Main Deck
Side Deck
2 Armageddon Knight
2 Black Dragon Collapserpent
1 Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning
1 Caius the Shadow Monarch
1 Dark Armed Dragon
1 Eclipse Wyvern
1 Felis, Lightsworn Archer
2 Mathematician
2 Shaddoll Beast
2 Shaddoll Dragon
2 Shaddoll Falco
2 Shaddoll Hedgehog
2 Shaddoll Squamata
3 White Dragon Wyverburster
Monsters [24]
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Foolish Burial
2 Reinforcement of the Army
3 Shaddoll Fusion
2 Soul Charge
Spells [9]
2 Breakthrough Skill
1 Compulsory Evacuation Device
1 Shaddoll Core
3 Sinister Shadow Games
Traps [7]
Deck Total [40]


1 Abyss Dweller
1 Arcanite Magician
1 Black Rose Dragon (UTR)
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Daigusto Emeral
3 El Shaddoll Construct (UTR)
2 El Shaddoll Winda
1 Evilswarm Exciton Knight
1 Goyo Guardian
1 Lavalval Chain
1 Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree
1 Mist Wurm
Extra Deck [15]

Yu-Gi-Oh's a very exciting game for me right now. I just booked my flights to YCS Dallas and YCS Anaheim today and I plan on making it to another YCS before the end of 2014. I appreciate you guys hearing about my experience at Worlds and I enjoy sharing the strategies and concepts I go through every time I prepare for a tournament.

All the feedback and support I've received from the community has been overwhelming and uplifting and I can't wait to throw another piece out for you guys soon! Don't forget to share in the comments below what deck you guys think is the best for emerging competitive metagames!

-Korey McDuffie

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