Michael Gruener traveled here today from Germany, and is one of the greatest, most recognized duelists on the international stage. He’s the only duelist in history to win both a National Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Championship and the Yu-Gi-Oh! Videogame World Championships, the latter of which he accomplished just last year.
This round, he’s paired off against Maurice Brantley, a player who’s been on the bubble before at multiple Shonen Jump Championships. A star player for Florida’s Team Villains, he was packing Dark Armed Dragon against Gruener’s Diamond Dude Turbo variant. Brantley won the roll and opted to begin the match.
He did so with Allure of Darkness, drawing two and then removing Armageddon Knight. He summoned another copy from his hand and went through his deck . . .
“Dark Magician of Chaos for my Reborn?” asked Gruener.
“No, Jinzo,” replied Brantley, sending it to his graveyard. He set a spell or trap and ended.
Gruener started his turn with E - Emergency Call and searched his deck for Elemental Hero Stratos. He summoned it, searched out Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude, and then discarded it for Destiny Draw. He activated Reinforcement of the Army, sought out another Diamond Dude, and then discarded it too for yet another Destiny Draw. Play paused for a moment as each player checked his opponent’s graveyard.
Stratos attacked Armageddon Knight. After peering intently at his face-down Torrential Tribute as a bluff, Brantley took the attack and the damage. Gruener ended, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms. “Want to scoop?”
Brantley shook his head, unfazed, and set a monster.
“Face-down Disk Commander?” Brantley gave no response, but Gruener remarked that he spotted a smile from Brantley. For Gruener, dueling is all about the headgames.
He activated Monster Reincarnation and discarded Divine Sword - Phoenix Blade to return Diamond Dude to his hand. He then activated Allure of Darkness, and removed Destiny Hero - Plasma for its effect. He tributed Stratos for D.D.M. - Different Dimension Master, refusing to use its effect with priority. Brantley then flipped Torrential Tribute in response. He destroyed Gruener’s D.D.M. but lost his own face-down Strike Ninja.
Gruener wasn’t finished though. He returned Divine Sword - Phoenix Blade to his hand by removing Stratos and Diamond Dude from his graveyard, then thought a bit before passing with an empty field. A turn later, Brantley special summoned Dark Armed Dragon, activated Premature Burial (targeting his Strike Ninja), and then normal summoned Snipe Hunter. All three monsters attacked, hitting for exactly 6000 damage. Gruener wouldn’t be able to use Dimension Fusion, and a set spell or trap finished Brantley’s turn.
Gruener discarded two copies of Phoenix Wing Wind Blast for Magical Stone Excavation, taking back Allure of Darkness. He activated it immediately, drew two, and pitched Dark Armed Dragon out of play. Another Allure followed, this one sending Dark Magician of Chaos to the removed-from-play pile. Gruener set one spell or trap, activated Card Destruction, and drew three new cards after discarding his hand.
He checked his set card, then flipped it—Lightning Vortex—and he discarded Monster Gate to pay for it. Strike Ninja dodged at the cost of Jinzo and Armageddon Knight, Gruener played Heavy Storm, and Brantley chained Escape from the Dark Dimension, his last card, to bring out the Jinzo he’d just removed!
A world class series of well-considered plays lets Maurice Brantley dominate Michael Gruener! The match moved to Game 2 after some considerable side decking.
“First or second?” asked Brantley.
“I will go first,” replied Gruener.
“You sure?” Brantley was going to try to beat Gruener at his own mind games.
Gruener opened with E - Emergency Call, searching out Stratos and then summoning it to get Diamond Dude. He started playing at a lightning-fast pace—silent the whole time—and set a spell or trap to end his turn.
Allure of Darkness hit the field for Brantley, removing Dark Magician of Chaos! He set Mystic Tomato and then Escape from the Dark Dimension, Dark Armed Dragon in hand. “Your go.”
Gruener played an Allure himself, removing Dark Magician of Chaos just as his opponent had. He summoned Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude, announced that he wanted to use its effect with priority, and whiffed, unable to hit a spell. He then activated Reasoning.
Brantley thought for a moment before calling Level 5: Gruener hit Diamond Dude, special summoned it, and then used its effect to send Destiny Draw to the graveyard from the top of his deck! Next turn, he’d get to draw two cards for free.
He tributed one Diamond Dude for Monster Gate, tearing through nineteen cards (including two Plasmas and a Divine Sword - Phoenix Blade) before special summoning D.D.M. - Different Dimension Master! It left him with just a scant few cards in his deck.
He discarded Lightning Vortex to special summon Dark Magician of Chaos with Dimension Master, then used its effect to return Dimension Fusion to his hand. He then special summoned Dark Armed Dragon to his fifth monster zone! Two shots from the Dragon were all Gruener needed to wipe his opponent off the table, and from there his direct attacks finished the match!
Michael Gruener fights back with authority, smashing his way back into the match with a series of huge special summons and pressing this confrontation to a third and final duel! Gruener finished siding and presented his deck before Brantley. He shook his head, knowing that he was at a disadvantage going second.
Brantley started off with Allure of Darkness, removing Darklord Zerato from his hand—a perfect removal. He set a card to each zone and ended. “Go.” Gruener activated Reinforcement of the Army and grabbed Stratos, then summoned it and used its effect to fetch Diamond Dude. He activated Reasoning, Brantley called Level 8, and Gruener lost three cards on the way to losing his Dark Magician of Chaos. Stratos attacked, hitting Brantley’s face-down Sangan, and Brantely elected to search D.D. Crow from his deck. That Dark Magician of Chaos wasn’t coming back from the graveyard. Gruener ended.
Brantley had Dark Armed Dragon in hand, and he summoned Armageddon Knight to send Dark Magician of Chaos to his graveyard—he had two of the three Dark monsters he’d need. He discarded D.D. Crow to remove Card Destruction from Gruener’s graveyard, then special summoned Dark Armed Dragon!
He removed Dark Magician of Chaos from his graveyard to destroy his opponent’s Stratos, then brought the Magician back with Escape from the Dark Dimension! That got him back his Allure of Darkness, and he used Reinforcement of the Army to search out Armageddon Knight. He activated Allure of Darkness, topped straight into Dimension Fusion, and revealed it before even drawing his second card! Gruener conceded the match.
Maurice Brantley overcomes international powerhouse Michael Gruener, taking a hard-fought three-duel match and moving on undefeated!