I was asked just two days ago who I felt the best duelists in North America currently were. I couldn’t answer — there’s a huge spread of incredibly skilled deckbuilders, strategists, and tacticians currently competing in this game. Instead, I responded by naming the top players who I felt continued to take their game up a notch with every event they attend, putting in the work to become better and better. Two of the people on that very short list were Team Nexus’ Jason Zigander and Overdose’s Anthony Alvarado.
A native of Ft. Lauderdale, Zigander has been a top up-and-coming prospect for Team Nexus over the past half year. With X-2 finishes in two Shonen Jump Championships to date, he’s managed to fly just under the radar of the dueling public. Today might be his breakout appearance!
Anthony Alvarado needs no introduction. The top duelist of Overdose alongside Kris Perovic, he’s Top 8’d a whopping four SJCs and is the proud owner of one Championship title. He’s a strong bet for a Day 2 qualification here this weekend.
He opened the first duel, setting a spell or trap and then following with a set monster after some consideration. Zigander special summoned Cyber Dragon, ran it into Ring of Destruction when he attempted to attack, and set a card to each zone. Boston was literally starting off with a bang!
Alvarado flip summoned Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive, attacked, and hit Zigander’s Dekoichi. He then set a card to each zone and passed back to Zigander, leaving himself with a well-established field presence.
Zigander set a monster and passed back relatively quickly. Alvarado pressed again with Dekoichi, and once more hit a Dekoichi of Zigander’s! He continued developing his field presence, setting a third monster before ending his turn. While Zigander was keeping his hand up with the Dekoichis, Alvarado was out-developing him on the field.
Another set monster was Zigander’s only move. Alvarado flip summoned Sangan and attacked with Dekoichi, but saw Cyber Phoenix flip on Zigander’s side of the field! Dekoichi bounced off, causing Alvarado 200 damage in the process. We’ve seen Nexus play this kind of deck before, and Machines are a natural fit for this format. Still, Alvarado set another monster and ended his turn. His field was getting huge at a threatening rate.
Zigander considered setting one monster, then changed it for another, looking more confident in his second choice than his first. He then set a spell or trap, leaving himself with two in his back row and four in hand.
It was what Alvarado was looking for. He tribute his set monster, Treeborn Frog, for Mobius the Frost Monarch, costing Zigander his set Heavy Storm and Call of the Haunted! It was a huge blow — now unprotected, Zigander was facing Dekoichi, Mobius, Sangan, and a set monster that was as of yet unknown. Alvarado decided to go on the offensive, and flipped it.
Cyber-Stein! Alvarado activated its effect, dropping to 700 life points. He brought out Gatling Dragon, flipped for its effect, and got a whopping three heads! The Dragon’s blasts ripped apart Zigander’s Phoenix, his set Sangan, and Alvarado’s own Cyber-Stein was caught in the friendly fire. From there it was academic. Mobius, Gatling Dragon, and the rest of the monsters attacked for game.
Anthony Alvarado takes a decided first-duel victory to open the day!
While Alvarado did win the game with Stein, it was his continued investment in the field that had led him to such a crushing victory. While his attacks themselves were not aggressive, he used every single one of his opportunities to normal summon or set a monster in order to quickly generate damage. If this match is any indicator about the tone of this new format, then it’ll certainly be as aggressive as some expected.
Both of these experienced competitors smoke screened, shuffling their side decks into their main decks to conceal how many cards they were rotating.
Zigander shook Alvarado’s hand before beginning the second duel, setting a monster to each zone. Alvarado activated Nobleman of Crossout, removing Zigander’s set Legendary Jujitsu Master from the field, and then just set a card to each zone himself. Zigander fired back, using Reinforcement of the Army to search out Exiled Force from his deck, but when he tributed it to destroy Alvarado’s set monster he was stunned — Alvarado had set Treeborn Frog. Zigander set a spell or trap, Alvarado passed, Zigander set a monster, and Alvarado activated Scapegoat in his end phase. Play passed to Alvarado.
He immediately special summoned his Treeborn Frog in defense position and activated Heavy Storm! Zigander chained Ring of Destruction to destroy the Frog, but lost his Call of the Haunted to the Storm. Alvarado opted not to do anything beyond that, and passed with four Sheep tokens.
Zigander set a spell or trap, flip summoned Dekoichi, attacked a Sheep, and ended. Alvarado summoned his Treeborn Frog and then normal summoned Breaker the Magical Warrior: Zigander flipped Torrential Tribute to wipe the field! Alvarado passed with nothing on his field.
Zigander saw an opportunity and took it, summoning D. D. Assailant for a direct shot to Alvarado’s life points. He set a spell or trap, play passed to Alvarado, Treeborn Frog came back up, and Alvarado matched it with another set monster to end his turn. He was clearly on the defensive.
Zigander liked him there. He summoned Cyber-Stein, special summoned Cyber End Dragon with its effect, rammed the Treeborn with the Dragon for a ton of damage, and then sent D. D. Assailant into Alvarado’s set monster. It was Mystic Tomato, and on its way to the graveyard it special summoned Sangan to Alvarado’s side of the field, blocking Cyber-Stein’s potential attack. Zigander set a second spell or trap to his back row and ended. Things looked bright for the Nexus star.
Alvarado special summoned his Treeborn and shuffled his hand. He didn’t summon anything immediately, and instead just sent Sangan to attack Cyber-Stein; Stein went down. Alvarado then tributed Sangan for Zaborg the Thunder Monarch, destroying Zigander’s Cyber End Dragon with its effect! Sangan nabbed him Gravekeeper’s Spy from his deck (yet another defensive card), and he set a spell or trap.
Zigander wasn’t having it. He’d made his over-extension and was committed to an aggressive stance in this game. Brain Control gave him control of Alvarado’s Zaborg and that was all she wrote! Alvarado scooped and the match moved to game 3!
Both duelists wished each other good luck before Alvarado opened with a set monster. Zigander special summoned Cyber Dragon, normal summoned Mystic Tomato, and flopped Nobleman of Crossout! It removed Alvarado’s set Treeborn Frog from play, and then both monsters swung directly for a huge 3500 damage. What a first turn! Zigander set a card to his back row and ended, looking confident for the first time in the match.
Alvarado set a card to each zone, and Zigander summoned Cyber Phoenix. Cyber Dragon attacked Alvarado’s set monster, Gravekeeper’s Spy, and it summoned another in defense. Still, Zigander flipped his set Enemy Controller to turn Spy to attack position, and Mystic Tomato ran it over! The Cyber Phoenix attacked directly, Zigander set a spell or trap, and play was back to Alvarado.
He was down to 3100 life points and had almost nothing on the field, facing down Cyber Dragon, Cyber Phoenix, and Mystic Tomato. He was stuck with a hand full of monsters: Cyber Dragon, two Zaborgs, Exiled Force, and Magician of Faith, none of which were of immediate help. He special summoned the Cyber Dragon, tributed it for Zaborg the Thunder Monarch, and tried to decide what to destroy. “This is a tough decision,” he remarked, taking his time. The match hung in the balance. After a brief few moment’s deciding, Alvarado blew away the Dragon and opted not to attack. He passed.
Zigander activated Graceful Charity, discarded for its effect, and then activated Brain Control to take control of the Zaborg yet again! It was over, and Alvarado flipped his one set spell or trap to reveal it — Creature Swap, virtually a dead card given the situation.
Machines chalk one up over Monarchs, and Team Nexus’s Jason Zigander moves on undefeated, opening his day with a massive victory!