If you’ve been following the coverage today you already know Russell Melia. But this is John Marchand’s first feature match this afternoon, in fact his first ever, and he’s packing one of the more interesting decks today: Monarchs, supported with a couple Machine specialties like Cyber Phoenix. At fourteens years of age, he hails from St. Catharine’s, Ontario, and has a strong chance of taking the invitation for this Last Chance Regional!
Marchand opened the duel with a set card to each zone, making quick, decisive motions. Melia summoned Snipe Hunter, discarded Destiny Hero — Malicious for its effect with priority, and destroyed Marchand’s set monster. During resolution it was revealed to be Card Trooper! “That’s mean,” remarked Melia, as Marchand took his card with a smile.
Melia wasn’t finished. He special summoned his second Destiny Hero — Malicious and tributed him for Metamorphosis. Ryu Senshi attacked directly, Snipe Hunter was rebuked by Book of Moon, and Melia passed with a set spell or trap card.
Cyber Dragon came down for Marchand, who tributed it for Raiza the Storm Monarch to bounce Melia’s set back row card back to the top of his deck. Raiza attacked and destroyed Snipe Hunter, and Marchand ended his turn with a set card to his back row.
“Taking the effect,” announced Melia, removing his second Malicious from the graveyard to special summon a third. He set a spell or trap and ended, unable to clear out the Raiza.
Raiza attacked the Malicious and set a monster. Melia took what he could get, attacking the set monster with Ryu Senshi and setting a second card to his spell and trap zone. Raiza attacked Ryu Senshi, but Ring of Destruction held him off, leaving Marchand to set another monster.
Melia pulled out the fancy moves! He tributed his Ryu Senshi for Cyber Dragon, then activated Metamorphosis to exchange it for Dark Balter the Terrible! Balter attacked, but hit nothing but Spirit Reaper. It was the wrong read, as Marchand activated Snatch Steal, took Balter, tributed him for Mobius the Frost Monarch to destroy Melia’s set Royal Decree, and then swung with Reaper and Mobius. Melia lost his last in-hand card, Cyber Dragon, and was forced into topdecking.
He drew a monster and set it. Marchand summoned Cyber Phoenix, made the right read, and attacked with it to destroy Melia’s set Disk Commander. Mobius and Spirit Reaper hit directly again, and on the following turn Melia couldn’t topdeck an out. He politely conceded.
Both duelists smoke-screened and sided and, while Melia was starting to show signs of pressure, Marchand was focused and riding his own momentum. Each competitor took his time — this was make-or-break.
Melia opened the second, and perhaps final duel, with Reinforcement of the Army to search out Elemental Hero Stratos. He summoned him, searched for Malicious, and discarded him with Destiny Draw, but Marchand chained D. D. Crow to ensure that Malicious wouldn’t be coming to the field! Melia set a spell or trap, Marchand set a card to each zone and play was back to Melia.
He activated another Destiny Draw, discarding another Malicious! He was going to get that extra bit of field and card presence no matter what, and he immediately plucked his last Malicious from his deck. He tributed him for Metamorphosis, bringing out Ryu Senshi, but attacked into Gravekeeper’s Spy!
“Figures,” quipped Marchand with a grin. “Typical Monarch deck.”
Melia chuckled. “Yeah, figures.” Marchand set a second card to each zone and passed right back.
Elemental Hero Stratos was tributed for Cyber Dragon, which destroyed one of the Spies. Marchand tried to stop the attack with Sakuretsu Armor, but Ryu Senshi negated it. Senshi then attacked to reveal Marchand’s last set monster, Spirit Reaper.
He flipped Brain Control to take Cyber Dragon, and ran over Melia’s Ryu Senshi. It was a close duel: 7200 to 6900 with Marchand leading by a narrow margin. Melia had one set back row card and, after some thought, Marchand passed back the Cyber Dragon.
It attacked the second Spy and Melia set a spell or trap. Marchand activated Heavy Storm, destroyed Melia’s Pulling the Rug, and summoned Banisher of the Radiance. He activated Snatch Steal, took Cyber Dragon, turned Spirit Reaper to attack and swung through Sangan! Sangan never went to the graveyard, and Spirit Reaper forced Melia to discard Pot of Avarice.
Melia special summoned another Cyber Dragon, used Heavy Storm to destroy Snatch Steal and take back his other Cyber Dragon, and then attacked with both! One attacked and destroyed Banisher of the Radiance, the other attacked through Spirit Reaper, and Melia set a third monster to finish his turn. Marchand was now on the defensive and could do nothing but set a monster.
Snatch Steal destroyed Reaper and Melia summoned one of his own. Cyber Dragon attacked Marchand’s set Card Trooper to give him a card, and the other Cyber Dragon plus Spirit Reaper attacked directly. Now it was Marchand’s turn to be forced into discarding Pot of Avarice, and the grinning little jar hit the graveyard in a showing of eerie coincidence.
Marchand used Brain Control to take a Cyber Dragon, and then summoned Cyber Phoenix. He crashed one Cyber Dragon into the other, and then pressed damage through Melia’s Spirit Reaper. It was a good set of plays that helped to limit Melia’s potential to deal damage, but it came at a heavy cost — Marchand was out of cards.
Premature Burial brought back Melia’s Cyber Dragon, which ran over the Cyber Phoenix. Spirit Reaper went to defense and Melia ended. Marchand drew, placing himself at two cards, and special summoned Cyber Dragon to trade off with Melia’s. He set a monster, but Melia tributed for Raiza the Storm Monarch next turn and it was all over!
The match moved to a third and final duel!
Marchand was up. Again, he opened with a single set card in each of his zones. Melia set a spell or trap but lost it next turn to Heavy Storm: it was Mirror Force! Marchand flip summoned Card Trooper, normal summoned Cyber Phoenix, and attacked for 3100. Melia set two cards and passed back.
He flipped Trap Dustshoot, revealing Marchand’s hand of two Cyber Dragon, Mobius the Frost Monarch, and Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch. Melia shuffled Mobius back into his opponent’s deck and Marchand fed three more cards to Card Trooper before attacking. Melia was down to just 1800 life points.
Melia drew but there was nothing he could do. He gave a brief moan, buried his head in his arms for a moment, and then offered Marchand a handshake and a smile.
“That’s it. Congratulations.”
John Marchand wins the first Last Chance Regional of the day, clinching his spot in tomorrow’s National Championship!