Nicholas Eaton is just 14 years old, playing for Team Leaf Ninja of New Hampshire. You might recognize the team if you’re following along with the Scrub Brush Challenge — the twins competing here today are from Leaf Ninja as well. They play at a store called Double Midnight Comics, which seems to have a good rep in its area. Eaton’s performance is of note, because he was 4-0 headed into round 5, and he’s playing one of the most unique decks here today.
It’s a Return variant that’s fueled off of Skull Lair, and it’s been tearing up opponents by providing unprecedented amounts of field clearing power, backed by the raw force of Return. Check it out:
Ironically, the only other duelist to ever succeed in a Shonen Jump Championship with Skull Lair was Aaron Eaton. Despite sharing a last name, Nicholas has never even heard of Aaron Eaton, so it’s just a weird little coincidence.
If your last name is Eaton though, play Skull Lair. Apparently it’s good tech for Eatons.
The main theme behind the deck is the use of Return to launch big attacks with trap-negating monsters. Since trap counts are relatively high in this format, with many duelists running seven as a standard choice, cards like Mirage Dragon, Pitch-Black Warwolf, and Jinzo become all the more powerful. Just like Shane Scurry at the beginning of the last format, Eaton is relying on more than just Return for big damage — he’s also using it as a method of calling back monsters that will ensure his opponent’s traps don’t do anything.
That’s a valuable ability once you’ve cleared the opponent’s entire field, and that’s exactly what Skull Lair is capable of doing. Magical Merchant provides plenty of graveyard fodder, and Mystic Tomato and Exiled Force also tend to hit the graveyard pretty fast when they’re summoned. Reinforcement of the Army searches out Exiled, as well as Don Zaloog, D. D. Warrior Lady, and D. D. Assailant. The latter two give extra field control while also jumping directly to the removed from game area for use with Return.
The deck is heavily committed to traps, running a whopping 11, but its speed and precision (thanks to its running a pair of Reinforcement of the Army) make up for the threat of Decree somewhat. Plus, you can always wait to activate Skull Lair in the battle phase and attack with Mirage Dragon or Pitch-Black Warwolf. That way, the opponent won’t be able to chain Decree to stop you.
The sheer impact of Skull Lair can’t be overstated. The ability to destroy three of the opponent’s monsters with a single one of yours is incredible; though you’ll only pull a trick like that once per game at most, my memory seems to suggest that one Raigeki was usually enough.
The deck isn’t perfect: Jinzo can clash with your draws, and, if I were Nicholas Eaton, I’d be siding three Chiron the Mage in case of Decree. It’s a promising theme that may very well persist into the future of the format. If you’re interested in this deck, check out Aaron Eaton’s deck profile from SJC Los Angeles last month. There’s virtually no Mystic Swordsman LV2 running around, and a surprising decrease in Zaborg. Both Aaron Eaton’s and Nicholas Eaton’s decks are interesting picks for this format.