Road to YCS Toronto, Part 2: Choosing The Right Deck

Pasquale Crociata

8/21/2015 11:02:00 AM

Last week, I discussed how to begin preparations for the first YCS of the competitive season. I talked about why the size of the tournament matters, which decks are newly competitive and some new techs you might start seeing. It's a rough one to gear up for, especially after a F&L list that barely touched the top decks of the previous format. Many are bored of those decks and want to try something new; historically speaking, YCS Toronto has always been a prime place to do that.

Regardless, Toronto's still a YCS and most players are there to win. Every single time I enter a YCS, I believe my strategy is the best in the tournament, or that it can take down enough of the “better” decks to win the whole thing.

But how do I choose the perfect deck?

Consistency Above All
Last format was the first time in ages where I played a deck I knew to be inconsistent. Ritual Beasts have a ton of flaws, but the biggest is that they can easily lose to themselves. Without an opening turn combo or Spiritual Beast Cannahawk, the deck simply doesn't work. Jarel Winston took an interesting approach to that problem and gave himself the option to stop his opponent with floodgates while he waited for Spiritual Beast Cannahawk. Ritual Beast Steeds and Ritual Beast Ambush gave him disruption and recovery if something were to happen to his monsters, and Spiritual Beast Apelio provided a decent beatstick, but even still, you need a solid opening to put pressure on your opponent. If you missed it, you can check out the full article on Jarel's deck here.

The top decks of last format all had ways to search out the missing pieces they needed. Nekroz have their entire deck and Reinforcement of the Army, while Shaddolls have Mathematician, Sinister Shadow Games and the resolution of an El Shaddoll Construct Fusion Summon. Burning Abyss can use Mathematician or just bank on Scram, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss and Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. There's also the option of getting lucky with Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss milling key monsters. Qliphorts have what feels like a million ways to get to Qliphort Scout, and even at the back end of competition, Satellarknights have Satellarknight Deneb, Reinforcement of the Army or a slew of two-card combos with Call Of The Haunted and Oasis of Dragon Soul.

 Ritual Beast Ulti-Gaiapelio
Ritual Beast Ulti-Gaiapelio98446
Set Crossed Souls
Number CROS-EN045
Level 10
Type Fusion/Effect Monster
Monster Psychic
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 3200 / 2100
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

1 "Ritual Beast Ulti-" monster + 1 "Ritual Beast Tamer" monster + 1 "Spiritual Beast" monster
Must be Special Summoned (from your Extra Deck) by banishing the above cards you control, and cannot be Special Summoned by other ways. (You do not use "Polymerization".) If Summoned this way, this card gains this effect.
- During either player's turn, when a Spell/Trap Card, or monster effect, is activated: You can banish 1 "Ritual Beast" card from your hand; negate the activation, and if you do, destroy it.

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The obvious kicker to competition was the Djinn lock, forcing everyone to play a lot of awkward outs to the powerful combo. That one little part of the game led me to pilot Ritual Beasts for the end of the format. The outs to the Djinn lock happened to be necessary pieces to the deck, so you didn't need any extra clunky cards. It was hard to compensate for its inconsistencies, but it was one of the few decks that could do well going first and thrived on going second thanks to drawing That Sixth card.

If you opened well, it was nearly impossible to lose. It had a great Nekroz matchup and could also handle Burning Abyss really well: not many decks were that kind of impressive. Basically, last year I went for high risk, high reward and it nearly paid off every single time.

This year, with the Djinn lock gone, the selling point of Ritual Beasts has disappeared. Sure they're just as strong as they were, but with the field wide open for a ton of rogue strategies, there's a lot more to lose out to, because of weird opening hands. That's not a risk I'm willing to take when I'm seeking out my first YCS win.

I've said this before, but my goal when looking at a deck for consistency is having somewhere between nine to twelve stand alone cards I want to see in my opening hand. In Frogs, it was Swap Frog, Dupe Frog, Mother Grizzly and Damage Condenser. Those twelve cards setup my engine and let me do what I needed to do in order to win. For Nekroz, you want to see Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands, Senju of the Thousand Hands, Nekroz of Brionac or a way to find Nekroz of Unicore and Nekroz of Kaleidoscope. If you've got any one of those cards, you can typically do whatever you want and there are a ton of ways to get to those cards; that one of the reasons it was considered to be the best deck of the format.

Finding a deck you like that has enough solid turn one cards is the first step towards building a highly competitive deck.

Special Summons Are The Most Important
Not only is it important to have a lot of ideal cards you want to see in your opening hand, but you can't rely solely on your Normal Summon and you can't have too many of them. If your deck's heavily reliant on the Normal Summon, it's important to compliment that with the likes of Call Of The Haunted, Soul Charge or a way to Pendulum Summon. Basically, after your first turn, if something happens to your Normal Summon, you can't just pass your turn. Build your deck to have other ways of applying pressure with monsters. I think too many people rely on defensive traps to handle those situations, but you need a way to get monsters on the field. Monsters will always beat traps.

However, if you're really going to rely on that ever-so-important Normal Summon, you need to run cards to protect it. Trap Stun, Forbidden Lance and Mystical Space Typhoon will have to be your best friend. Despite how useless those cards are in the Nekroz matchup, you're better off ensuring you can Normal Summon against other decks since Nekroz usually can't stop your Normal Summon anyway. Besides, Burning Abyss won the NAWCQ and will still be a popular choice moving forward and those cards are clutch there. In a format so diverse and up in the air with what a decks goals are, you're always going to have dead cards somewhere in your deck.

Despite all of that, your deck's going to need some form of Special Summoning power play. Yu-Gi-Oh is simply too fast to not have one and that's the reason old standby's like Macro Rabbit, T.G. Stun and even Gladiator Beasts won't find their way back to the top of the crop. Blackwings fall into that category somewhat, but new support's given them insanely fast and consistent OTK's if their Normal Summon goes unchecked. They're a weird exception to the Normal Summon rule, but just barely. Every popular deck today has a way to drop multiple huge monsters on the field in a single turn, or the ability to do it all again next turn, so you're always at risk.

If your deck's main method of Summoning is via the Normal Summon, you need to have that one power play locked and loaded. Think of Harpies; abusing Harpie Dancer and Harpie Channeler is extremely important, and while it sucks if they're stopped, you've got Hysteric Party waiting for the huge comeback. Satellarknights are always waiting around for that quick Call Of The Haunted on Satellarknight Vega to Xyz Summon Satellarknight Triverr and turn the game around. Even the brand new Kozmo deck is perpetually one Emergency Teleport away from forcing you to handle Kozmo Forerunner.

Deck Thinning And Quick +1's Are Next
Once you've found a deck that has a strong and consistent opening; a way to Special Summon if you're Normal Summon is stopped; or has a huge comeback card like Hysteric Party or Ritual Beast Ambush, you need some way to get quick +1's of card economy that don't require interaction with your opponent.

Whether you're abusing monsters that have built in revival like Performage Trick Clown, spells that set you up to win on your next turn like Hysteric Sign, or monsters that are similar to Elemental Hero Stratos like Volcanic Rocket:, you need some way to gain card advantage without waiting on your opponent. Jurrac Guiaba's an amazing Dinosaur, but it's so easy to play around and it's very slow, because it needs to battle an opponent's monster to further your game plan. We all know how much I love Monarchs, but they're not effective if your opponent doesn't have cards on the field. There's a reason Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss was quickly cut from three copies to two and then one in most successful Burning Abyss decks; it required too much from your opponent!

 Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss
Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss94608
Set The New Challengers
Number NECH-EN086
Type Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

Send 2 face-up "Burning Abyss" monsters you control to the Graveyard, then target up to 3 cards on the field; destroy those targets.

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If a deck has cards that can quickly gain you card economy without interaction from your opponent, as well as cards that get even more economy with interactions, then I'm a fan. Infernoids don't really need to interact with your opponent to swarm the field and gain card advantage, but every single Infernoid monster has an ability that punishes your opponent for committing cards to the field. Infernoid Decatron's taken the strategy to insane heights and it's definitely on my radar for the YCS. Infernoids have blowout openings, a handful of solid Normal Summons and easy ways to gain quick plusses with or without your opponent.

Kozmo, despite only having five cards total, also fall into a similar category. Kozmo Sliprider punishes spells and traps, while Kozmo Farmgirl just needs to deal some battle damage to further your game plan and even quickly OTK. It's a faster and deadlier effect then that of Jurrac Guiaba. Kozmotown lets you fix awkward hands, while giving you a way to gain steady +1's in card economy once you've began shuffling through your Kozmo monsters.

Don't Forget The Side Deck!
This is the final piece of the puzzle. You want to ensure that you can Side Deck some specific cards to hinder certain strategies. Traps like Mistake, Imperial Iron Wall, Gozen Match and Rivalry of Warlords are key picks heading into an event like this. It's so important to have at least one suite of those specific traps at your disposal. If you forego those, then think along the lines of Secret Village of the Spellcaster, Majesty's Fiend, Vanity's Fiend, Denko Sekka and Royal Decree. Those types of blow-out floodgates win games you shouldn't have ever won and that's exactly why you play them.

Don't forget about temporary floodgates as well, like Mistaken Arrest, Anti-Magic Arrows, Artifact Lancea and even something as specific as Psi-Blocker. I love abusing decks that can work with long and short-term floodgates, while flying way under the radar ensuring people don't have a solid side deck against you. Earth based decks, Machines and constructing your deck to have a solid mix of banishing effects and searching effects is an easy way to not leave you wide-open to one specific blowout floodgate.

I'm torn between a handful of decks right now for YCS Toronto, for various reasons. They each check nearly every box I've presented, but each present a different challenge. The few under the radar contenders are Kozmo, Infernoids, Clown Blade and Deskbots, while the more popular picks are Burning Abyss and Ritual Beasts.

I'm not sold on anything yet, but stay tuned for next week, because we're going to use both “Road to YCS Toronto” articles to construct Deskbots from the ground up. I've covered the deck twice already – once as an OTK-centered build and the second time with a more control-oriented focus. The introduction of Deskbot 005 gives the deck a LOT more muscle, another way to gain quick +1's and the ability to Pendulum Summon. There's a lot going on for Deskbots and a lot of awesome ways you can build the deck before Deskbot 006 and Deskbot Jet arrive in the TCG. We're going to examine one way to build the deck and make it championship ready, because out of all of my contenders, that deck's got everything and it's hard to Side Deck against.

Until next time,
-Pasquale Crociata

Pasquale is from Long Island, New York, but has lived in New York City for eight years where he earned a BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University. Outside of the Yu-Gi-Oh! community he's a working Actor, Model and Singer. Those interested in keeping up with his Acting career can check out his website and ‘Like' his Facebook Page! If you want more of Pasquale's Yu-Gi-Oh! content, check out and Subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

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