The two members of the Top 8 with precious Top 8 experience were set to go head-to-head. Jason Holloway has been to the Day 2 tables twice in the past, while Ryan Spicer has been here once before. Whoever won this match was the odds-on favorite to take the finals, and we could very well be seeing the determining match of the tournament right here, right now.
Spicer won the roll and opened with a set monster, then a set spell or trap. Holloway activated Graceful Charity, discarded Treeborn Frog and Mystic Tomato, and set to figuring out the rest of his turn. He was off to a great start discarding the Frog, and set a card to each zone to finish up. Spicer flip summoned Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive, activated Nobleman of Crossout and removed Holloway’s Sangan from the game! Dekoichi attacked directly, Holloway took the damage, and Spicer set a monster. “Your go.” Spicer took the early lead!
Checking his set card repeatedly, Holloway activated Premature Burial to bring back his Mystic Tomato. It was 5800 to 8000 with Spicer still leading. Holloway summoned Exiled Force, tributed it to destroy Spicer’s set Apprentice Magician, and attacked with the Tomato. It was destroyed by Ring of Destruction, and Holloway passed.
Spicer activated Heavy Storm, destroying Holloway’s set Sakuretsu Armor. He summoned a Tomato of his own, swung for 2800, and ended his turn. Holloway brought back his Frog, tributed for Zaborg the Thunder Monarch, blew away the Tomato and attacked Dekoichi. He set two cards to his back row and ended.
Brain Control let Spicer assume control of Zaborg, and he attacked with it into Sakuretsu Armor, a swift blow to Holloway’s card presence. Spicer set a monster and passed. Holloway set a monster, passed back, and Spicer set another to continue building his field presence. Holloway did the same and quickly ended his turn.
Spicer flip summoned Old Vindictive Magician, destroying Holloway’s set Dekoichi. He tributed for Zaborg the Thunder Monarch, destroying Magician of Faith, and attacked into Mirror Force. Spicer ended his turn, Holloway took back his Treeborn Frog and set a monster, and play was back to Spicer.
He set a card to each zone and ended. Holloway summoned Breaker the Magical Warrior, but Bottomless Trap Hole swallowed it up and removed it from the game. He considered using his last in-hand card and, while he did, Spicer perused his graveyard. After brief consideration, Holloway opted not to do anything else.
Spicer flip summoned Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive, taking a card, and then tributed the Dekoichi for Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch! It robbed Holloway of Heavy Storm. Thestalos then attacked into Holloway’s set D. D. Assailant. Both were removed. Holloway set a spell or trap. Spicer summoned Sangan and ran over Treeborn, setting a spell or trap himself.
Holloway couldn’t bring back his Frog and did nothing but pass. Sangan attacked him directly on the following turn, but Call of the Haunted special summoned Zaborg the Thunder Monarch to repel the furball. In main phase 2, Spicer used another Brain Control to take control of the Zaborg, tributed it for another Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch and discarded Holloway’s last in-hand card. It was a brutal move, because the Call of the Haunted that had special summoned Zaborg was left stranded on the field. That, in turn, doomed Treeborn Frog to remain in the graveyard, killing Holloway’s best chance for defense. He scooped after seeing his next card.
Both duelists immediately began smoke-screening, and it was impossible to tell if any side decking had actually taken place. Not much conversation took place — both duelists had a grave understanding of what was riding on this match.
Holloway opened with Confiscation! It revealed Spicer’s hand of Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive, Scapegoat, Zaborg the Thunder Monarch, Sakuretsu Armor, and Limiter Removal! The Limiter was a telling side deck choice for Spicer — he’d obviously sided into Stein. Holloway discarded the Scapegoat, set a monster, and ended. Spicer set a card to each zone and passed back.
Heavy Storm dropped from Holloway’s hand, destroying Sakuretsu Armor. He tributed his set Exiled Force for Zaborg the Thunder Monarch and Spicer interjected: “Last Will?” Holloway snapped it to the table. “Just show me your Stein and it’s game.”
Holloway pulled Cyber-Stein from his deck and Spicer scooped. The match was going to a third duel!
Both duelists again spent the maximum amount of time allotted to side deck, smoke-screening to conceal the number of cards they were changing. Holloway seemed to go back and forth on his siding decision, second-guessing himself on three cards in particular. Spicer finished very quickly and set himself to doing a very thorough series of shuffles. No one wants to lose to a hand full of monsters or spells in game 3 of a Shonen Jump Championship Top 4 match.
“I’ll start,” announced Spicer. He activated Confiscation to begin, and revealed Holloway’s hand: Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, Ring of Destruction, Bottomless Trap Hole, and Exiled Force, an incredibly trap-heavy hand. Spicer liked it that way, and discarded the Exiled. He set one card to his back row: “Go.” Holloway did the same.
Spicer passed, Holloway passed, Spicer summoned Sangan and attacked for 1000 damage. “Your move.” Holloway set a second back row card, Sangan swung again, and Holloway flipped Ring of Destruction to stop the attack. It was 6000 to 6000.
The Sangan let Spicer fetch Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive, and he set a card to each zone to finish his turn.
Holloway activated Nobleman of Crossout, and both duelists stripped Dekoichis from their decks: Holloway lost one, while Spicer lost two from his deck in addition to the one on the field. Holloway set a second spell or trap to match Spicer, Spicer passed, Holloway passed, and Spicer activated Graceful Charity. He was holding a mitt full of Monarchs: two Zaborg the Thunder Monarch, two Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch, and a dead Cyber Dragon to boot. He had Brain Control, and it was a great hand if Holloway had controlled monsters. Holloway was likely in the same situation. Spicer set a monster, passed, and lost it to Exiled Force: Old Vindictive Magician was destroyed by Holloway’s Exiled and Holloway ended his turn.
Spicer set a third spell or trap card to keep his hand at six cards total and ended. “Your go.” Holloway did the same with one less card in hand. Spicer added a fourth card to his back row and Holloway set a monster. In his end phase he lost Torrential Tribute to Spicer’s set Mystical Space Typhoon. Spicer special summoned Cyber Dragon, but lost it to Bottomless Trap Hole. He ended his turn, briefly stymied.
Holloway activated Heavy Storm! Spicer chained Scapegoat, but lost Torrential Tribute and Sakuretsu Armor. The move cost Holloway Call of the Haunted, and clearly hadn’t bought him the opening he’d been looking for. He took a moment to peruse Spicer’s graveyard, set a second monster, and passed with four cards in hand. Spicer drew, activated Soul Exchange to tribute away Holloway’s set Don Zaloog for Zaborg, destroying Holloway’s set Magician of Faith. Holloway set one back row card and passed.
Spicer attacked with Zaborg, but now it was Holloway’s turn to flip Scapegoat! Zaborg hit a Token, Spicer set a spell or trap, and Holloway passed back. Spicer’s offensive options would be limited so long as he was stuck with four tokens.
Zaborg hit another of Holloway’s tokens and Spicer ended. Holloway set another spell or trap, Zaborg hit another one of his Tokens, and Spicer tributed Zaborg the Thunder Monarch for Thestalos. It discarded one of Holloway’s five cards, Mirror Force! Holloway set a monster, Spicer attacked it, and it was revealed to be Mystic Tomato. It was destroyed and Holloway used its effect to special summon Sangan. Spicer tributed his on-field Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch for another one, forcing the discard of Holloway’s Zaborg the Thunder Monarch and dishing out 500 damage! Spicer was clearly the aggressor. He set another spell or trap.
Holloway sent Sangan to attack one of Spicer’s Sheep tokens. Spicer was destroying Holloway’s base of options, and he needed to go on the offensive. He set a second spell or trap card and Spicer flipped Heavy Storm on the turn that followed, costing each duelist two cards and simplifying the duel to make his extra cards matter more. Thestalos hit Sangan, Holloway used its effect to pull Treeborn Frog, and Spicer set a monster. Holloway set a card to each zone, play passed to Spicer, and he activated Pot of Avarice to shuffle back two Zaborg, one Thestalos, Sangan, and Old Vindictive Magician. He drew Sangan and Breaker the Magical Warrior, and sent his Thestalos to attack Holloway’s set monster, the Treeborn Frog. Spicer set a spell or trap, Holloway set a monster, and Spicer flip summoned his Treeborn! The Frog hit Holloway’s last Sheep, Thestalos rammed his set D. D. Assailant to remove both from the game, and Spicer set another monster. Holloway summoned Breaker the Magical Warrior to break Spicer’s set Mirror Force, then attacked Treeborn Frog for a fast 1500 damage. It was 4500 to 4100, with Spicer still maintaining his narrow lead. Holloway ended.
Spicer summoned a Breaker of his own, breaking Creature Swap. He flip summoned Sangan, traded off, attacking Holloway’s Breaker with his own, and hit for 1000 with Sangan. Holloway special summoned his Frog in defense and thought long and hard about his next move. “Let’s see your graveyard?” Spicer quickly passed it over so Holloway could give it a quick riffle through. He summoned Mystic Tomato, attacked Sangan to deal 400 damage, and Spicer was sent to his deck to fetch Magician of Faith. It was a good move. A recruiter like Tomato would let Holloway maintain field presence both for defensive and developmental purposes. It was the only way he was going to build his field and hope to take on the role of aggressor. He ended his turn.
Spicer activated Brain Control to take control of Treeborn Frog. He tributed it for Cyber Dragon, then dropped another Brain Control for Mystic Tomato! Both monsters attacked directly against Holloway’s open field, striking for 3500 damage on Holloway’s remaining 3100 life points. It was just enough to send Holloway packing!
Spicer immediately requested that a thank you be given to Kevin Cavanagh. “I got the idea for this deck from him, and only changed about five cards.” You’ve got to love a duelist who’s willing to give thanks where it’s due.
Ryan Spicer moves on to the finals to compete for the title of Shonen Jump Champion!