Nineteen year-old John Burkhead hails from Los Angeles, and has managed to take a dedicated build of Zombies all the way to Day 2 here this weekend. No wannabe-Japanese tech here, as Burkhead has eschewed Krebons and Destiny Hero – Malicious for a decklist packed to the gills with monsters from beyond the grave. He’s exceptionally good with the deck he’s chosen to play, making impressive moves at a lightning pace in his feature match yesterday.
But his opponent is no slouch, and may have the tournament-winning deck here today. American Champion Chris Bowling has innovated TeleDAD with some strange choices that have given him a big edge this weekend, main decking cards like Royal Oppression while foregoing strong options like Mirror Force and Torrential Tribute. This one should be big!
Burkhead opened the match with an awkward hand: Crush Card Virus, two Burial from a Different Dimension, Mezuki, Allure of Darkness, and Dark Armed Dragon. He set Mezuki to open the match. “Go ahead, sir.” Bowling shuffled his hand, not looking too thrilled with it, and set a monster himself. “Your go.” Burkhead flip summoned Mezuki, normal summoned Plaguespreader Zombie, and Synchro summoned Revived King Ha Des! He sent it to attack and Bowling lost his Mystic Tomato! Burkhead removed Mezuki in main phase 2, summoned Plaguespreader Zombie, and set Crush Card Virus.
Bowling summoned Elemental Hero Stratos, searched his deck for Destiny Hero – Malicious, and set a single spell or trap. A few unsure shuffles of his hand later, he attacked Plaguespreader Zombie and Burkhead flipped Crush Card Virus — Stratos was destroyed, and Bowling lost Gorz, the Emissary of Darkness. He was holding Plaguespreader Zombie, Monster Reborn, Necro Gardna, and Malicious, a fact Burkhead wrote down. Bowling ended.
Burkhead now had Allure of Darkness, Dark Armed Dragon, Card Destruction, and two Burial from a Different Dimension. He folded his hands a moment considering his options: Card Destruction would drop Necro Gardna, Plaguespreader Zombie, and Malicious into Bowling’s yard. He activated Allure of Darkness, drew Reckless Greed and Upstart Goblin, and removed his Dark Armed Dragon for Allure’s effect. Upstart Goblin got him another copy of the same spell, and he activated it as well, drawing Giant Trunade.
He held back, and pressed with Revived King Ha Des for 2450 damage. He set a spell or trap, and Bowling spun it away with Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, discarding Malicious for it. Next turn Bowling topdecked Krebons and started running some numbers.
Monster Reborn brought back his Stratos, searching out Destiny Hero – Plasma. He removed one Malicious to summon another, normal summoned Necro Gardna, and tributed all three of his monsters for Plasma! That left Bowling with two cards left in his hand, and Plasma inhaled Revived King Ha Des to go to 3125 ATK. Bowling swung to drop Burkhead to 4875 life points, and ended.
Burkhead drew his Burial from a Different Dimension again, and activated it to return Mezuki to his graveyard. He set Giant Trunade, and then activated Card Destruction to draw two cards: Bowling got Sangan and Destiny Draw, while Burkhead got Monster Reborn and Zombie Master!
He removed Mezuki to bring back his Plaguespreader Zombie, and then counted the Warriors in Bowling’s graveyard. He activated Giant Trunade, summoned Zombie Master, Synchro summoned Revived King Ha Des, and used Monster Reborn to special summon Bowling’s Gorz! Gorz attacked Plasma, and Revived King made a direct attack. “Last turn for Crush,” noted Burkhead, ending his turn.
Bowling topdecked another great rip, hitting Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude — a pretty sweet match with his in-hand Destiny Draw. He returned a card to the top of his deck to special summon Plaguespreader Zombie, special summoned another Malicious, and Synchro summoned Colossal Fighter. The Fighter had 3200 ATK, and it smashed over Revived King. The life points stood at 4125 versus 4300 in Burkhead’s favor.
He topdecked a monster and set it, leaving Bowling to discard Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude for Destiny Draw next turn — he’d escaped Crush Card Virus. Colossal Fighter took down Gorz, and Bowling set two cards to his back row. “Your go.” Burkhead could do nothing but pass. He had just two cards to Bowling’s four, which quickly became five next turn.
Colossal Fighter attacked Burkhead’s face-down Goblin Zombie, and he used it to fetch another Mezuki from his deck. “Your go.” Burkhead activated Book of Life and Bowling activated his single copy of Royal Oppression to negate it! Burkhead set a monster and play was back to Bowling. He activated Phoenix Wing Wind Blast to clear the field, summoned Plaguespreader Zombie, and he had just enough damage to make game!
Chris Bowling’s teched copy of Royal Oppression pays off big, as John Burkhead simply can’t play out of an awkward opening hand! The National Champion is just one game away from the Top 8!
Burkhead opened Game 2 with Upstart Goblin, Lightning Vortex, Card Destruction, Torrential Tribute, Burial from a Different Dimension, and Dark Armed Dragon — another relatively dead hand. He activated Upstart Goblin and drew no help: Heavy Storm. He set one card to his back row and ended.
Bowling unleashed Allure of Darkness, drawing two cards and removing a copy of Dark Armed Dragon for it. He activated Heavy Storm next to blow away Burkhead’s Torrential Tribute, and then summoned Mystic Tomato. He attacked for 1400 damage, and then set a spell or trap to end his turn.
“Cards in your hand?” asked Burkhead.
“Three,” replied Bowling. Burkhead had topped Threatening Roar, yet another card that kept him from establishing any real offensive. He activated Heavy Storm to destroy Bowling’s face-down Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, and then desperately activated Card Destruction. It got him Allure of Darkness, two Goblin Zombie, and Reckless Greed. The Allure got him another Greed, and Mirror Force, leaving him to set both copies of Reckless, Mirror Force, and his second Goblin Zombie! (He removed the first for Allure’s effect). If he could survive his next turn he was in business.
Bowling drew to four cards in hand and set three to the back row! No big offense was forthcoming. He contemplated whether or not he should attack, held his Tomato in his hand for nearly half a minute, and then bit his lip. He was well aware that an attack at this point could just hand Burkhead an important combo piece, so he turned Tomato to defense position. “Your go.”
Burkhead continued slow rolling; he drew Monster Reborn, passed, and Bowling passed back. He drew Foolish Burial, passed, Bowling passed, and Burkhead drew Mezuki: another pass. Bowling activated Allure of Darkness, drew two, and removed Plaguespreader Zombie. Bowling set a card to each zone and ended. Burkhead drew Plaguespreader Zombie, then flip summoned Goblin Zombie and attacked Bowling’s face-down Sangan. That got Bowling Destiny Hero – Malicious. “Of course,” remarked Burkhead, who was still direly deprived of any real defense on the table. He set another monster and ended.
Destiny Draw let Bowling trade that Malicious for two draws next turn, and he discarded a second Malicious for a second Destiny Draw immediately after. He had four cards set in his back row, Mystic Tomato in defense mode, and four cards in hand. Burkhead had a set monster, Goblin Zombie in attack, three cards set in his back row, and three cards in hand. “Your go.” Burkhead drew another Goblin Zombie.
He set it, and turned his face-up copy to defense position. Bowling set a monster, ended, and Burkhead drew Book of Life. He normal summoned Plaguespreader Zombie — Bowling had no response. That left Burkhead to Tune to Goblin Zombie; he tried to Synchro Summon Revived King Ha Des, but lost out to Royal Oppression! Goblin Zombie got him Mezuki from his deck. The Oppression was now an interesting presence — it might hurt Bowling more than Burkhead over the long term, and Bowling can’t really win without his special summons.
Burkhead flipped both copies of Reckless Greed and drew four cards. He activated Giant Trunade, and Bowling was forced to flip Solemn Judgment. He was suddenly facing a big deficit of cards with just 4100 life points, and looked visibly less secure. Burkhead set a monster, and then set two cards to his back row to finish out. The life points stood at 4100 to 6600 with Burkhead winning.
Elemental Hero Stratos hit the field and fetched Bowling Destiny Hero – Plasma yet again! He had Mystic Tomato and a face-down monster on the field, so Plasma was a live card. He attacked with Stratos, destroyed another Goblin Zombie, and Burkhead searched his deck for Zombie Master. Bowling set a fourth spell or trap and ended; in the end phase Burkhead flipped Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, discarding Mezuki to blow away Royal Oppression.
“I can’t draw,” he noted, but he activated Book of Life — “Oppression again?” Bowling flipped another copy and paid 800 more life points! “Ugh!” Burkhead reeled and gave a grunt. “Go.” Bowling drew his second Oppression again, turned Tomato to attack mode, and swung Stratos and Tomato straight into Mirror Force. He set another card to his back row and ended. “Your go.” Burkhead set another card to his back row, ended, and Bowling passed. Burkhead passed back, and Bowling set a fifth card to his spell and trap zone. “Your go.” Burkhead set a monster. “Go.” In the end phase Bowling flipped Mystical Space Typhoon to destroy his own Oppression! He followed it up with Scapegoat, setting himself up to put Plasma to work.
He summoned it in exchange for three Sheep Tokens, and Bowling absorbed Burkhead’s face-down Mezuki with Plasma’s effect. Bowling flip summoned Necro Gardna, normal summoned Plaguespreader Zombie, and Tuned it to Gardna. He Synchro summoned Magical Android, activated Reinforcement of the Army to get Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude from his deck, and special summoned Plaguespreader Zombie in defense position by returning a card from his hand to the top of his deck. He special summoned another Malicious next, and Synchro summoned Stardust Dragon! This was trouble — Burkhead had nothing but bluffed spells set.
Plasma ran over Burkhead’s face-down Mezuki, and the Android and Stardust both made direct attacks. “Your go.” Burkhead had 1700 life points remaining.
He activated Card of Safe Return, and then activated Book of Life — Bowling flipped Oppression to negate it, dropping to 3100 life points. Burkhead removed Mezuki, and Bowling paid another 800. He removed another Mezuki, trying to special summon Goblin Zombie, and Bowling removed it with D.D. Crow! Bowling had just two cards remaining in hand with one spell or trap set.
Burkhead sent a card back to the top of his deck to try and special summon Plaguespreader Zombie — Bowling let it through, and Burkhead drew for Card of Safe Return. He normal summoned Zombie Master, Synchro summoned Goyo Guardian, and Bowling paid 800 life points — he was down to 1500. Burkhead had three more cards in hand, and activated Foolish Burial to send another Plaguespreader Zombie to his graveyard. He was holding Monster Reborn and Burial from a Different Dimension.
He activated Burial and Bowling let him return two Mezuki and Plaguespreader Zombie to his graveyard. Burkhead removed one Mezuki and Bowling paid 800 — he now had just 700 life points left. Burkhead activated Monster Reborn, targeted Goblin Zombie, and Bowling had another Crow to remove it! Burkhead removed Mezuki though, to special summon Zombie Master and draw a card. He had one card in hand and one card set.
He pitched his last card to bring back Plaguespreader Zombie, taking his card back off the top of his deck. He Synchro summoned Goyo Guardian — he needed to swing over Plasma for game here, but Bowling still had one card set in his back row. The summon resolved. Burkhead brought back another Plaguespreader Zombie, drew for it, and Synchro summoned Colossal Fighter. Burkhead doesn’t run Thought Ruler Archfiend, and he was stuck between Necro Gardna and a read of a potential Mirror Force. He set one card to his back row and ended.
Bowling drew and turned Plasma to defense mode. Magical Android and Stardust all followed suit, and six minutes remained in the match. “Your go.” Burkhead drew and activated Burial from a Different Dimension next turn, and kicked two Mezuki and a Plaguespreader Zombie back to his graveyard.
He removed Mezuki to special summon Zombie Master, drawing with Card of Safe Return. He flipped a second copy of Card of Safe! He removed another Mezuki, brought back Plaguespreader, and drew two. He was getting dangerously low on cards, but pressed on with Allure of Darkness, paying for it with Gorz.
He activated Brain Control next, targeting Stardust Dragon! He took control of it, turned it to attack mode, and Synchro summoned with Plaguespreader Zombie and Zombie Master. Revived King Ha Des hit the field, and Burkhead brought back Plaguespreader Zombie with its own effect to draw one card overall. He had just two cards left in his deck.
He had Revived King, Colossal Fighter, Stardust Dragon, and Plaguespreader Zombie on the field: everything but the Plaguespreader was in attack. Bowling had a Sheep Token, Plasma, and Magical Android. Burkhead took a moment to lean back, contemplating his options. “Yeah! That works!” A lightbulb went off in his head, and he tuned Plaguespreader to Revived King for another Colossal — Bowling negated the summon with Royal Oppression, dropping to 500 life points. That Magical Android was worth its weight in gold.
Burkhead sent Stardust to attack Plasma, destroying it. Colossal Fighter attacked the Android, time was called, and Bowling removed his Necro Gardna to stop the attack. Burkhead set two cards to his back row, with two cards remaining in his deck. He set his last card, a monster, and passed back Stardust Dragon. Bowling asked the table judge to verify that Burkhead hadn’t normal summoned previously this turn, and the judge verified that as true.
Bowling would have two more turns, and the life points stood at 900 to 500 with Burkhead leading. Bowling set a monster in defense, turned Android to defense mode, and ended, going to 1100 life points. In the end phase Burkhead flipped Reckless Greed to draw his last two cards, keeping himself from drawing in his draw phase next turn.
He needed to win now. He removed Mezuki to special summon Revived King Ha Des, and was stuck holding a dead Reckless Greed and a dead Dark Armed Dragon; he had four Darks in the yard. “I can’t win; I’ll lose to time. Good game, Bowling.” Burkhead offered the handshake.
Magical Android wins Chris Bowling a seat in the Top 8!