This semifinal match was a bit more relaxed than the quarterfinals—after all, everyone here had already earned their trip to Tokyo, so the big pressure was off. From here on out, it’s a matter of pride and prizes. Max and Bryan were still quite focused on the event, but they were able to relax a bit and discuss play highlights from the previous day’s event.
Bryan won the die roll and decided to go first. He drew, performed the standard set of one monster, set one spell or trap and ended. Max drew, and immediately activated Nobleman of Crossout on Bryan’s set D. D. Assailant. He then set a monster and a spell or trap of his own, and ended his turn.
Bryan set another monster and ended his turn. Max began his turn by flip summoning Gravekeeper’s Spy, and searching out another. “Did you test against this deck last night?” Max asked as he sorted through his deck.
“No, not really,” Bryan responded. Max had spent several hours the night before studying his quarterfinals opponent’s decklist and testing against potential moves. It seemed to have paid off, since here he was. He placed the second Gravekeeper’s Spy in face-up defense, and continued his turn by tributing the first Spy for Jinzo and attacking Bryan’s face-down Spirit Reaper.
Bryan set another monster and ended. Max drew and played Heavy Storm, Bryan chained Scapegoat but lost Bottomless Trap Hole, and Max summoned Sangan and attacked with all three monsters, removing three Sheep tokens. Bryan set another monster and ended, and Max picked off the final Sheep token, then set a spell or trap card.
Bryan began his next turn by taking out Max’s Morphing Jar with Nobleman of Crossout. As he was removing his own, Max offered him his deck. “Want to take the opportunity?” Each decided to look through the other’s deck. Bryan resumed his turn by taking away Max’s Jinzo with Snatch Steal. He summoned D. D. Warrior Lady, switched Spirit Reaper to attack position, took out Sangan with D. D. (removing both monsters), obliterated Gravekeeper’s Spy with Jinzo, and attacked directly with Reaper, relieving Max of his Metamorphosis. Max drew, set another spell or trap, and ended his turn.
Bryan kept the pressure on Max, tributing Apprentice Magician for Airknight Parshath and attacking directly with Jinzo. Max’s set Scapegoat spared him a nasty hit on his life points, but he did give up three Sheep tokens. Life point totals were now Bryan at 8000 and Max 8200. Max drew and played Graceful Charity, discarding Delinquent Duo and Airknight Parshath after some serious consideration. He used Mystical Space Typhoon on Snatch Steal to get his Jinzo back, and attacked Bryan’s Spirit Reaper.
Bryan slowed his pace a bit, activating Pot of Greed, setting a monster and ending. Max used Nobleman of Crossout on the monster on his next turn, revealing Magician of Faith. Both players removed all copies, and again took a look through each other’s decks before Max ended his turn. Bryan summoned Breaker the Magical Warrior, breaking Max’s Mirror Force, then set another spell or trap. Breaker had served its purpose, and went down hard when Max smacked it with Jinzo and ended his turn.
Bryan drew, and took some time to survey his situation. He had nothing on the field but a defense position Spirit Reaper and five cards in hand. Max decided the time was right to do some investigating of his own, and looked through both graveyards. After some consideration, Bryan summoned Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer, then summoned Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning in defense position. He used Soldier’s effect to remove Jinzo, attacked the one remaining Sheep token with Spirit Reaper, and then attacked directly with Kycoo, removing Airknight Parshath and Gravekeeper’s Spy from Max’s graveyard. As he ended, Max activated Dust Tornado, destroying a set Metamorphosis.
Max summoned Breaker the Magical Warrior, and attacked Spirit Reaper, bringing the life point totals to Bryan 3600 and Max 2500. Bryan summoned Tribe-Infecting Virus, calling Spellcaster to attack directly, then hit Tribe-Infecting Virus with Ring of Destruction to win the game. “I topdecked Tribe!” he announced gleefully. Bryan wins game one!
Both players looked through their decks, deciding what to side deck. “So, did you practice much last night?” Max asked.
“Yeah, I did a bit,” Bryan responded. Each player swapped out a few cards, as they discussed the virtue of 40 cards over 41 cards, then counted out their side decks to 15 and got ready to start.
Max went first, and played Pot of Greed, followed by a set monster and a set spell or trap. Bryan went on the offensive and summoned D. D. Assailant, then took out Max’s Gravekeeper’s Guard with Nobleman of Crossout. Time to take another look at each other’s decks! “I need to learn to cut,” Max said. “The last match I was in, I cut the guy’s deck and he got Pot and Duo . . . did I do that?” With the decks investigated, Bryan continued his turn by attacking directly with D. D. Assailant and setting another spell or trap before ending.
Max drew, summoned Tribe-Infecting Virus, then discarded Sinister Serpent to destroy Warrior types and attack directly. He then set a spell or trap card, and ended, but not before Bryan activated Mystical Space Typhoon to destroy the freshly-set Scapegoat.
Bryan activated Graceful Charity, and thought for quite a while before deciding what to discard. Max didn’t seem to mind, and made casual conversation while Bryan considered all his options. Finally, he discarded Jinzo and Lightning Vortex, then activated Nobleman of Crossout, nailing Max’s Gravekeeper’s Spy. Max shelled out the other copies, and they took another deck-investigation break. Bryan finished up his turn by offing Tribe-Infecting Virus with Smashing Ground.
Max drew and summoned Sangan, then attacked directly. He set another spell or trap card, looked through both graveyards, and ended his turn. Bryan drew, looked through his cards, and ended. Max attacked again with Sangan, and Bryan responded with Scapegoat. Max decided to let the Sheep live, and ended. Bryan drew, and ended.
Max drew and summoned Breaker the Magical Warrior. He broke Bryan’s Call of the Haunted, and Bryan chained it, targeting Jinzo. Max chained his own Call of the Haunted and brought out Tribe-Infecting Virus. He called Beast, then Machine, and attacked directly for the win. The score was Bryan 1, Max 1, and they were headed into game three.
Both players decided to side deck. Head Judge Dave Brent stopped by to inform them there was an hour left in the round. “We’ve got an hour left?” exclaimed Max. “I’m bringing in the Poisons, I’m bringing in the Poisons!!” Bryan laughed as they finished making their side deck decisions, counted out their side decks, and got ready to play. “This is a lot more fun than playing online,” Max added.
Bryan went first, and thought carefully about his options. The first play that you make can shape the entire game, and this was the match winner. After reconsidering each set, he finally selected a monster and spell or trap card, set them, and ended. Max drew, and played Graceful Charity, discarding Gravekeeper’s Spy and Premature Burial. He then played Pot of Greed. He looked over at Bryan’s field, and the set monster, and looked at his hand again. “If that’s a Morphing Jar, you’re not my friend anymore.” He summoned Tribe-Infecting Virus, set two spell or trap cards, and ended. Bryan flipped up Ring of Destruction, targeting Tribe-Infecting Virus and dealing 1600 damage to each player.
Bryan drew, and pretended to set four spell or trap cards to get a reaction from Max. “Ahaha! You should have seen his face!” he laughed. He activated Swords of Revealing Light, set another monster, and ended. Max was greatly relieved that he wasn’t going to lose his hand. He drew and ended, and Bryan did the same. Max set a monster and ended. Bryan drew and discarded Swords. He then flip summoned Magician of Faith, taking back Swords, flip summoned Breaker the Magical Warrior, and summoned D. D. Warrior Lady. Max responded with Bottomless Trap Hole. Bryan then used Nobleman of Crossout—on Max’s Morphing Jar. He pulled his out of his deck, and they each took the opportunity yet again to look at each other’s decks. Bryan attacked with Breaker, Max responded with Scapegoat. Bryan took out two Sheep tokens, activated Swords of Revealing Light, and ended.
Max drew and set two spell or trap cards, then ended. Bryan activated Graceful Charity. “I really need to learn how to cut,” Max observed wryly as Bryan pondered his discard options. “We’ve got 50 minutes left,” he continued. “I know you’re stalling for time.” Bryan laughed, discarded Apprentice Magician and Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer, then activated Delinquent Duo, costing Max Scapegoat and another spell. Bryan then switched Magician of Faith to defense, and summoned Asura Priest. He attacked a Sheep token, and Max used Ring of Destruction in response, bringing the life point totals to Bryan at 3700 and Max with 4700. Bryan attacked one Sheep token with Breaker, and ended.
Max drew, set one spell or trap, and ended. Bryan drew, and studied his hand. “Don’t Storm,” Max cautioned, indicating his set cards. “I can chain both of these.” Bryan summoned Tsukuyomi, flipping Magician of Faith face-down. He then looked through his graveyard, and thought about his next move. After considering, he attacked a Sheep token with Breaker, only to run smack into Mirror Force, losing both Breaker and Tsukuyomi. Ah, well.
He flip summoned Magician of Faith, taking back Graceful Charity and activating it. He discarded Smashing Ground and D. D. Assailant, set one spell or trap, and as he entered his end phase Max flipped Call of the Haunted, bringing back Jinzo.
Max drew, and summoned Sangan. He attacked Magician of Faith with Sangan, then sliced off 2500 life points directly with Jinzo. He set a spell or trap and ended.
Life points now showed Bryan at 600 and Max with 3700. Bryan drew and studied his hand carefully. Any mistake now would cost him the match, and he knew it. With a clear monster zone and one spell or trap, he was at a disadvantage. He had five cards in his hand, but none of them seemed to be what he wanted, as he looked them over again and again. Finally, he made a decision, and activated Snatch Steal targeting Jinzo. It wasn’t to be—Max responded with Mystical Space Typhoon to destroy Snatch Steal. That option gone, Bryan activated Lightning Vortex to remove Jinzo and Sangan, as Max looked through Bryan’s graveyard trying to determine what that set spell or trap could potentially be. Max then searched out a monster with Sangan’s effect, choosing Magician of Faith. Bryan set a monster and ended.
Max drew, and used Nobleman of Crossout on the monster, revealing Spirit Reaper. He set a monster, set a spell or trap, and ended. Bryan drew, set a monster and a spell or trap and ended. Max drew, flip summoned Magician of Faith, took back Pot and activated it. He set another monster, and another spell or trap, and ended. Bryan was still holding on by 600 life points, and playing a defensive game. He set a spell or trap and ended.
Max flip summoned Magician of Faith, and took back Graceful Charity. He activated it, discarding Sinister Serpent and Metamorphosis, summoned D. D. Warrior Lady, and switched one Magician of Faith to defense. All he needed was one final push to win the game. He attacked Bryan’s face-down monster, and was rewarded with Sakuretsu Armor. Undaunted, he entered main phase two and used Metamorphosis on Magician of Faith to turn it into Thousand-Eyes Restrict. He sucked up the D. D. Assailant, and ended.
Bryan drew, pondered his available options, then sent one spell/trap and ended. Max attacked with Thousand-Eyes, only to lose D. D. Assailant to Bryan’s Mystical Space Typhoon. Max summoned Breaker the Magical Warrior, and broke Bryan’s Premature Burial (no real loss with the life point situation as it was), and ended.
Bryan drew, studied his cards and the field, and ended. Max summoned Tsukuyomi to flip Thousand-Eyes Restrict face down, then attacked with Breaker for the win.
It’s hard to believe, but occasionally you do see a semifinal match with no Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning. It was a well-played match on both sides, but there’s always only one winner in the end. Max went on to the finals, where he would compete for a chance for the title of United States Yu-Gi-Oh! Champion.