The majority of players in any competitive trading card game seem to be afraid to admit that they’ve made an error when they lose a match.
“Hey drew the nuts”
“There wasn’t anything I could do”
These are common phrases I’ve heard at every single tournament I’ve attended. At one point or another, we’ve all used these excuses to cushion a loss. While there are a small percentage of games where you truly couldn’t do anything, the majority of losses are your fault. It’s not easy for us to admit when we’ve done something wrong, but taking losses in stride and learning from them is what makes us better players. I won’t be the first to tell you that you learn more from a loss than win, but if I am, allow me to explain the concept.
When an average player wins a match, they breathe a sigh of relief and probably don’t reflect on the match. Any self-reflection following a win is probably just self-lifting, instead of critical. Losing a match can come from various factors, but the most common denominator is an error or a series of errors. Identifying our errors and correcting them makes us less likely to make the same mistake again. Often times losing will make us better in the long run, which is why becoming good at anything requires a large amount of discipline and sacrifice. Of course there are games we lose that are clearly out of our hands. For example, if two FTK duelists sat down at a YCS in the current competitive climate, a dice roll would determine their match. The issue with losing games to chance usually goes beyond the match in question and has more to do with deck choice.
Why did you actively enter a tournament with an FTK deck and expect to consistently win mirror matches?
Why didn’t you find a solution to the toxic mirror match, instead of just copying a deck list card for card?
Why did you enter a tournament with the intent to do well, when you believe the format is “uncontrollable” or a “die roll”?
Failure to recognize deck-building errors is another element that goes into losing “uncontrollable” games. People complain incessantly about “bricking”, which can happen don’t get me wrong. The issue with this complaint is the decks that brick frequently are known to have those issues. This begs the question, why did you enter with a deck that can brick if you’re not okay with losing games to bricking? Taking the concept full circle, we learn from mistakes made in matches and (hopefully) work to avoid them in the future.
This concept took me a long time to fully grasp, which is why I was incredibly below average until I was able to admit I sucked. The moment I started to be honest with myself, was the moment I had developed a new outlook on the game. Losing became more about learning and less about excuses. At YCS Niagara, I started 6-0 and ended up losing three rounds in a row. My first loss happened in game three against Sky Striker because I failed to sequence my turn correctly. This mistake snowballed heavily and caused me to be paired with a Gouki deck. The guy played slower than I would have liked, and I didn’t really rush him because we were having a pleasant conversation. I ended up losing this round in time on his first turn because of Neo-Spacian Aqua Dolphin’s burn effect. Had I been a bit stricter about time, I may have been able to win the match. My third loss definitely felt uncontrollable because I lost to Droll & Lock Bird, but I two major mistakes lead me to that pairing. If I sequenced my turn correctly round 7 against Sky Striker, I probably would have won and avoided the Gouki match. Subsequently, if I had rushed my opponent a bit more round 8, I may have avoided Droll & Lock Bird round 9.
Mistakes tend to build off of one another, but they teach us valuable long-term lessons. Since Niagara, I’ve felt much more confident in my sequencing with the Dark World Danger FTK, and have been much more mindful of the clock. Think about some of your recent losses; was there something you could have done differently?
From a competitive perspective the Danger Dark World FTK (DDW FTK) is an overwhelming deck that edges past every other option. That’s what Bohdan, Jeff, Dirk and I concluded going into YCS Niagara Falls, but things are different now. With the knowledge that the FTK exists, with or without Summon Sorceress, players will flock to the deck because it appears to be the best choice. There are several reasons why the DDW FTK cannot reliably win you a tournament in the current state of the Yugioh.
Have Darkworld cards ever been incorporated in the best deck of a format? If you think about it, they have not. The immense risk that the cards carry in a mirror match has always been the primary deterrent. Would you activate Dark World Dealings in a Darkworld mirror match? Barring extraordinary circumstances, I would bet than any player with a brain would not want to allow their opponent to trigger any of the Darkworld monsters’ second effect(s). Looking to the current DDW FTK deck, would you risk activating Danger! Mothman’s effect in a mirror match? You could argue that you might try to make Outer Entity Azzathot before using Mothman’s effect, but that line of play assumes you did not have to use Mothman to make Azzathot. You could also argue that Armageddon Knight can make Azzathot on it’s own, but is that something you can rely on opening for 10+ rounds of Yugioh?
Another underlying issue with Danger Dark World FTK moving forward is the hand trap paradox that the deck constructs. The reason DDW FTK was such a good deck choice for YCS Niagara and YCS London was the surprise factor and absence of Droll & Lock Bird. Before the past two YCS events, Droll & Lock Bird was objectively awful and underrepresented in the format, which made DDW FTK a great choice. While Droll is still not very strong against the rest of the field, I would expect to see it in side decks moving forward; letting your opponent draw through their entire deck is not conducive to winning. The hand trap paradox is the idea that the format now demands hand traps to prevent getting FTK’d, but each non-Danger monster added to the deck lowers the chances you can FTK. Furthermore, hand traps do not yield any value if they get discarded by a Danger monster’s effect. When Danger monsters get to special summon themselves and also trigger a floater, the return is insane. Losing out on value from a Danger monster’s effect is what prevents you from FTKing your opponent. Taking the concept full circle, needing to play hand traps to stop the FTK may also prevent your own FTK.
YCS Pasadena is the next tournament, and although I’ve ironed out the issues with entering an event with Danger Dark World FTK, I would bet that the deck still sees heavy representation. That being said, I believe the duelist that finds a solution to the hand trap paradox as well as the Dark World issue, will have the best chance at success at YCS Pasadena.