This week, I originally intended to write the first installment of the second column I have, which I call “Across the Pond.” However, as part of the deal included with the Scrub Brush Challenge at the UK Yu-Gi-Oh! National Championship, any of the participants who made the Top 8 of the competition were promised an interview with Metagame.com. Since I’m not someone to withdraw conditions, “Across the Pond” will have to wait for a bit.
Igor Kharin came in second at the National Championships, armed with his clever Cyber-Stein build tearing through opponents all day long. I got to ask him about his views of the game, social life outside of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and how his National Championship went in general. After congratulating him on his high finish, I started with some easy questions.
What did it mean to Igor to be the actual runner-up of the National Championship? “It actually feels near enough like I won,” he began. “With all of the support I’ve received from online players and the Trotters team, it feels like I’ve done everyone proud.” It was an interesting summary, so I asked whether or not he thought coming in second would have any impact on his future in the game. He told me that he sure hoped so. “Since it’s giving me the chance to appear in the limelight on Metagame.com and be one of the stars of the game, I really want to continue playing for my team and doing people proud.”
His team, Recoil, did reasonably well over the weekend, placing highly and consistently. (You can check out the interview with Team Recoil in the coverage of the Nationals.) I asked Igor himself about the team. “Seriously, they are the best bunch of guys you could ever meet,” he informed me. “We have some of the most amazing talent in the UK and I can’t thank each of them enough for their support throughout the whole weekend.” Since Team Recoil already had an interview with us here at Metagame.com, I decided to ask about Igor’s views on the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG at the moment. What were his thoughts on the current environment?
“I don’t have many formats to compare this to, because I haven’t been playing long . . . but as long as my friends are all playing, I will carry on enjoying the game, and hopefully winning!”
This intrigued me. Igor has only been playing the game for just over a year now and has already made a huge impression on the Yu-Gi-Oh! environment—making numerous acquaintances both online and throughout the UK, where he has met many top players. I asked him about the people he’d met and posed two questions to him: what did he get up to outside of the game, and who, of the people he’d met in and outside of the Nationals, had left the biggest impression?
“Interesting question,” he replied, pausing to think for a minute before continuing his answer. “When I went to Nationals I expected to play the usual amazing players near the end of the tournament. However, I was stuck with a really hard set of players in Swiss. I opened with Jamie Stafford who is such a brilliant player, and Shane Addy as well, who is fantastic. It carried on but when I hit Keng Hong Cheong, I was just amazed. He was the best player there in my opinion. He destroyed me in our games and I knew he was going to do well the moment I saw him play.
“Outside of Nationals, I play with the Trotters Crew, a team which comes from a card shop in London run by one of the best tournament organizers in the world, Simon Rogers. This man has a lot to do with my progress up until now. With his help and the help of the Trotters Team, Yu-Gi-Oh! has progressed forward for us all. I admire Robert Tagoe, Zeeshan Mushtaq, and Joe Whittaker as three of the best players I have come up against. They are great friends of mine and I enjoy playing the game with them. I learn something new from them every time we play.”
Then he moved on to the subject of spare time and what he enjoyed doing. “Outside of playing Yu-Gi-Oh!, I’m just like any other guy. I play basketball for my county and school, and I’m just about to go through my first series of proper exams. I enjoy hanging out with the guys outside of tournaments, and having a great time.”
Time was tight and I moved on, asking him if there was anything in particular he wanted to let the Yu-Gi-Oh! community know from here at Metagame.com. Igor was stumped and took a reasonably long time to think about what he was going to say. When he did, he chose his words carefully. He first complimented me for the coverage of the Nationals, but I had to point him in the right direction. Although the coverage itself was tiring, our editing team is what made it all happen. He grinned and moved on. “Okay, I want to make one point. I want to say to all the US players that the UK is getting its game on hardcore. I want all of you to be ready for some of our stars gracing your tournaments, because I’m positive that the UK will have a big impact on the game in the future.” He thought for a second and then added an afterthought. “Oh, and don’t go net decking my Cyber-Stein deck too much, I still want to use it. Ha-ha! Don’t forget that I’m the first person to complete the Scrub Brush Challenge, by the way—that’s got to go in there.”
I found this a fitting note to end on and thanked Igor for his time. He thanked me for upholding my promise of the Scrub Brush reward, and we parted ways.
Igor’s second-place finish at Nationals seems to have given him even more confidence than he had before . . . which was quite a lot! As for what’s in store for this sixteen-year-old London player, we’ll have to wait and see how he continues to perform at big events in the future. As always, whenever there are Yu-Gi-Oh! events anywhere in the world, Metagame.com is there!
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Finalist, UK Nationals 2006