Greetings all Yu-Gi-Oh! enthusiasts! My name is Jordan Marques and some of you may know from having judged various regionals over the past few years. Before my days as a Head Judge, however, I used to regularly play in Regionals, and I’m dedicating this article to help some newer players with how to prepare for a Regional event.
First off, you need to have a deck in mind that you would like to play. Elite players will tell you that often, the best deck to play is the strongest deck of the format. Although that is normally true, I recommend that you play a deck that you know well. For instance, this formats top decks were Mermail, Fire Fist, Bujin, and Geargia-Karakuri. However, many people topped various events even though they didn’t play one of these 4 decks. How so? Because there is a certain intangible factor that comes with playing a deck that sees less play. Some factors, such as your opponents under-siding for your deck, players not knowing how your decks works, etc. are all integral to helping you win certain matches you may not have otherwise won. That said, simply playing a deck you know well doesn’t ensure that you will top the regional. You need to truly know the ins and outs of your deck, and understand every possible interaction. Being “one” with your deck ensures that you understand how to deal with every single dilemma you may find yourself in. It also allows you to understand the limitations of your deck and how to respond in these scenarios or, better yet, how to make changes in order to avoid being in these situations.
Next, it isn’t sufficient that you know your deck inside out. You need a very good understanding of the meta game. You should not only learn how every big deck plays, but you should know how your deck best counters these decks. By doing this, you will realize that there are certain matchups that are favorable and not so favorable. This shouldn’t discourage you from playing your deck, however. What you should do is now see if there are ways to optimize your bad matchups, and fine tune your good matchups. This leads you to the next step in preparing for a regional.
Keep in mind, the most optimal play in Yu-Gi-Oh! is not necessarily your best play. You need to be able to make your plays in accordance with what helps you the most in the current game state, and that might not be the most optimal play at times! So, it is at this step where you need to evaluate certain choices in your main deck and side deck which will give you the most consistency in an 8+ round event. Your bad matchup may be vs. Dark World, but does that warrant you main decking tech to counter this deck? Absolutely not. You may choose to side deck vs. Dark World if you believe you might encounter the deck, however, any tech should be reserved for decks which are perceived to be the best or second best decks. Your deck might have difficulty going second, so you should include cards in your main deck which mitigate bad hands going second, or to help your decks responsiveness to established fields on turn 1 (i.e. Forbidden Lance, increase the number of Mystical Space Typhoons, Effect Veiler, Maxx “C”, etc.).
Once you have finally come up with a main, side, and extra deck that you are pleased with, you may then consider preparing yourself psychologically for the event. At this point, you should have conducted plenty of theory-oh and play-testing. The mental aspect is 90% of this game. Be confident, get some rest, and get yourself in a focused mindset. Take it 1 single game at a time, and then 1 match at a time. Stay focused on the task at hand, and don’t get discouraged if you lose a game 1. Don’t get nervous if you are in a bad position. Just play every single game as if it was your last, but with the serenity of a Saint. Not being nervous is very hard to overcome for new players, but I can assure you that as you become more confident in your abilities as a player and deckbuilder, those butterflies will go away.
My final remark is that everyone should remember is that no matter how experienced you are at this game, or how new you are to it, there is always someone more experienced and less experienced than you. Just remember to respect the experienced players for what they have accomplished, and to respect and help the newer players so that they can one day become more confident individuals.
Good luck to you all at Regionals. See you all Saturday!