Julian Wong paced back and forth in front of the feature match table as we waited for the round to start. Cesar, on the other hand, sat with me describing how awesome his last feature match was in the previous round. “Dude, just take it easy. It’ll be a’ight!”
Wong continued pacing, holding a copy of the decklists. “I’m just trying to completely memorize your side deck.”
“Oh, here,” Cesar helpfully just spread his entire side deck. “There!” What a chipper Cesar we had today. He rolled to get things started, rolling a three with his die. Wong rolled his own die and rolled a four. “Hey hey hey, what’s this rolling your own die thing! I’m gonna roll your die!” Cesar snatched Wong’s die and rolled a 1. Laughter ensued and the match began.
Wong summoned Krebons and set a face-down spell or trap. Cesar had Krebons, Reinforcement of the Army, Heavy Storm, Emergency Teleport, Trap Dustshoot, and Crush Card Virus. He activated Heavy Storm, walked into Trap Dustshoot, and lost his Krebons. He activated Reinforcement of the Army, searched for Elemental Hero Stratos, summoned him, got Destiny Hero - Doom Lord to match his Crush Card Virus, and set his own Dustshoot. Stratos attacked, Wong paid 800 life points for Krebons’ effect, and Cesar fingered his Dustshoot. He flipped it next turn, revealing Wong’s hand of Destiny Hero – Malicious, Dark Armed Dragon, Krebons, Plaguespreader Zombie, and Brain Control. While Wong meticulously wrote down Cesar’s hand on the previous turn, Cesar took no notes, and sent Malicious back to his opponent’s deck.
Brain Control let Wong take Stratos, and Synchro summoned Goyo Guardian. He normal summoned Plaguespreader Zombie, attacked with both monsters, and then Synchro summoned Stardust Dragon. He did so at Cesar’s behest, who knew it was Wong’s only viable play.
He ripped Monster Reborn! “I love Yu-Gi-Oh! so much!” Cesar took his opponent’s Goyo Guardian, normal summoned Doom Lord, and used Goyo to take Stardust Dragon! Doom Lord attacked, and next turn Cesar ripped away Dark Armed Dragon with Crush Card Virus. Wong had Monster Reborn and Krebons left.
He activated Reborn, brought back his Stratos, and searched out Destiny Hero – Malicious. Wong thought a bit, and Cesar tried to just stick the Stardust back on his opponent’s field, assuming Wong was going to summon Krebons, Synchro summon Goyo Guardian, and take Stardust back. Instead, Wong tributed Stratos for Malicious, brought back Plaguespreader Zombie with its effect, Synchro summoned Colossal Fighter, and ran over Goyo! He had just the Colossal Fighter left and ended.
Cesar set a spell or trap, turned Stardust to attack, and ended. He lost the Stardust to Colossal next turn. Wong ended with one card in hand, Cesar set a monster, and Wong was up with his last turn under Crush.
He sent Colossal Fighter to attack, smashing into Cesar’s Sangan! That let him fetch Malicious, and Wong set a spell or trap to finish. Cesar drew, and had Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude, Destiny Hero – Malicious, and Dark Grepher in hand.
He discarded Malicious to special summon Grepher in defense, then special summoned Malicious from his deck. He flipped his set Emergency Teleport, summoned Krebons, and Synchro summoned his own Colossal Fighter! He normal summoned Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude, his last card, activated his effect, and hit Destiny Draw! Wong reeled and laughed, and Cesar ended his turn.
Wong removed Malicious to summon another, normal summoned Krebons, and Synchro summoned a second Colossal Fighter. He sent his first Colossal into Cesar’s, declared his own Colossal as his target for recursion, and Cesar summoned his own. The two Fighters each attacked Grepher and Diamond Dude, and Wong ended.
Cesar drew a card, then drew two more for his Destiny Draw from Diamond Dude! He activated Allure of Darkness, drew two, and had Mystic Tomato, his third Malicious, and Krebons along with Destiny Draw. He removed Krebons, discarded Malicious for Destiny Draw, then drew two more with Allure.
“I’m expecting a removed Dark Armed Dragon soon,” remarked Wong.
“You know it!” Cesar removed his Dark Armed on cue. He set one card to his back row and ended. He had just 1900 life points remaining. Wong summoned Elemental Hero Stratos off Reinforcement of the Army, searched his deck for Destiny Hero – Plasma, and discarded Plasma for Destiny Draw. He drew two: “You’d’ve had it if you summoned Plasma,” noted Cesar.
“Three Solemns and a Torrential Tribute: I couldn’t risk that. If you showed me a Solemn and a Torrential in your graveyard, I would’ve done it.” Wong ended. The Fighters were at 3700 ATK, and Cesar sent his to crush Elemental Hero Stratos. He set a card to each zone and ended. Wong attacked with one of his Fighters, hit Cesar’s face-down Spirit Reaper, and set a second spell or trap to end. Cesar passed, Wong played Allure of Darkness to draw two at the cost of Breaker the Magical Warrior, and activated Reinforcement of the Army to fetch Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude. He discarded it for Diamond Dude, and ended with two cards in his back row.
Cesar activated Allure of Darkness next turn, drew two, and ditched his second Dark Armed Dragon. He summoned Snipe Hunter, discarded Mystic Tomato, and targeted one of the two Colossal Fighters; he had Brain Control for the other. The shot hit, and Wong lost one of his Fighters. Cesar pitched Emergency Teleport next, targeting one of Wong’s back row cards, but Wong flipped Scapegoat! Cesar had Solemn Judgment set, but Wong had one set card as well. If it was a Solemn too, Cesar would be in big trouble if he activated his own. Wong had three cards in hand, one card set in his back row, and Colossal Fighter. Cesar had three monsters on the field, one card set, and only one card in hand; he let Scapegoat go, and then pitched Brain Control to try and take down Colossal Fighter. This time he missed. He was out of ammo for the Snipe, and after a moments’ thought he scooped.
Wong revealed his set card: Emergency Teleport. Not the Solemn Judgment Cesar had feared, but it would’ve been good enough to make game anyway. There was no way Cesar could win that.
He immediately presented his deck, while Wong decided to do some siding. “You sided already?”
“I don’t side for this matchup.” Cesar grinned.
Wong nodded and continued smokescreening. Cesar opened Game 2 minutes later.
He activated Allure of Darkness, removing Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude. He set four cards to his back row, set a monster, and ended! Wong matched him, setting four cards and then summoning Krebons — he attacked into Spirit Reaper, and in the end phase he lost Mirror Force to Cesar’s Mystical Space Typhoon. Cesar set a monster, flipped Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, discarded Malicious for it, and spun away Krebons. Spirit Reaper then made a direct attack, and Wong dropped his last in-hand card — Emergency Teleport! Wong drew his Krebons again, summoned it, attacked Reaper, and Cesar turned Reaper to defense.
Wong activated Reinforcement of the Army, searched out Stratos, summoned him, and got Destiny Hero – Malicious from his deck. Stratos attacked Cesar’s face-down Sangan, Cesar searched out Krebons, and Wong ended. Cesar drew, and had Destiny Draw, Krebons, and Teleport. He set Teleport and ended, in no position to make a press.
Reinforcement of the Army flipped from Wong’s back row, getting him Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude. He followed it up with Allure of Darkness, drew two, and then removed the Diamond Dude. He set a monster and ended.
Cesar drew Heavy Storm, passed, and Wong tributed his face-down Sangan for Destiny Hero – Malicious face up. He got Plaguespreader Zombie with Sangan’s effect, Synchro summoned with Krebons and Malicious to bring out Stardust Dragon, and removed Malicious to summon another. Emergency Teleport got him another Krebons, and he Synchro summoned Red Dragon Archfiend!
. . . Or at least he tried to: Cesar responded with Solemn Judgment. Wong fired back with his own, and Cesar chained another! Cesar was at 1775, and Wong was at 3850. “Go ahead.”
Cesar topdecked Caius the Shadow Monarch and special summoned Malicious! He flipped Emergency Teleport, brought out Krebons, and Synchro summoned Colossal Fighter. “I’m gonna do something here . . .” Cesar dove to his calculator and started punching in numbers before special summoning another Malicious and tributing it for Caius. Caius removed Stardust, attacked over Stratos, and the remaining two monsters swung for game!
Cesar Gonzalez fights his way back into this match! Everything on the final duel, and once again Cesar didn’t even bother side decking. He gave his deck a quick shuffle and presented it almost instantly. Once again, Wong did some smokescreening and took his time.
Wong opened strong, setting a spell or trap card and summoning Thunder King Rai-Oh! Cesar brought out Krebons with Emergency Teleport, tributed for Caius the Shadow Monarch, and removed Thunder King from the field. Caius attacked for 2400 damage and Cesar was free to search his deck for Dark Grepher via Reinforcement of the Army. “Go ahead, man.”
Reinforcement of the Army got Wong his own Dark Grepher, and he discarded Destiny Hero – Malicious to special summon it. He removed one Malicious to summon another in defense, summoned Krebons, and Synchro summoned Stardust Dragon. Stardust ran over Caius, Grepher made a direct attack, and Wong set another card to his back row.
Cesar pitched his Malicious to special summon his own Dark Grepher, and then summoned Dark Armed Dragon! He played Mystical Space Typhoon after the fact, targeting Wong’s freshest set spell or trap card, and chided himself for his misplay. Mystical Space Typhoon destroyed the face-down Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, Dark Armed Dragon attacked into Dimensional Prison, and Dark Grepher traded into Wong’s Grepher. Cesar had one card left — he set it, a monster. Wong drew to two cards in hand and had Stardust, which he sent to attack.
Cesar lost his Sangan and searched his deck for Krebons. Wong set a spell or trap card, and Cesar was up. He drew to two in hand, removed Malicious to special summon another, normal summoned Krebons, and Synchro summoned Thought Ruler Archfiend. He removed his second Malicious for his third, activated Emergency Teleport, and Synchro summoned Stardust Dragon — another misplay. He should’ve brought out the Stardust first. Thought Ruler smashed Wong’s Stardust, Stardust made a direct attack, and Wong set a monster. Cesar set a card to his back row, attacked into Spirit Reaper next turn, and ended. Wong passed. Cesar passed, Wong set a spell or trap, and passed. Cesar summoned Snipe Hunter, Wong activated Solemn Judgment, Cesar chained his own, and discarded his last card to blow away Spirit Reaper! Wong’s face-down spell or trap couldn’t save him, and he immediately conceded with a handshake.
Cesar Gonzalez does it again, and The Princess is headed to yet another Shonen Jump finals! Can you believe it?