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Doomkaiser Dragon
Card# CSOC-EN043

Doomkaiser Dragon's effect isn't just for Zombie World duelists: remember that its effect can swipe copies of Plaguespreader Zombie, too!
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Duelist Interview: Paul Levitin
Jason Grabher-Meyer

For years now, Paul Levitin has been a staple duelist of the Shonen Jump Circuit. Debuting at 2005’s Shonen Jump New Jersey and exploding to his first title win just months later at Shonen Jump Los Angeles, Levitin is now 19 years old — he’s one of many competitors who have literally grown up in this game. If you’ve played the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG on any sort of serious level, you already know Paul. He’s topped more Shonen Jumps than he can count, has two Jump titles to his name, and is the center of some of the greatest controversies in the game. The duelist who once decided the best way to refute accusations of cheating was to claim he did cheat (he didn’t) has matured a great deal. Now one of the most well-recognized vendors attending major events, he’s a student at Albany University, and it was with that revelation that I started the interview.


Jason Grabher-Meyer (JDG): “What are you studying?”


Paul Levitin (PL): “I’m studying business!” Paul paused for a moment before breaking into his signature grin. “Yu-Gi-Oh! business!” Cheshire cat grins just don’t come any wider.


JDG: “Serious business?”


PL: He laughed again. “Always, in Yu-Gi-Oh!”


JDG: “So what are you playing today?”


PL: “I’m playing TeleDAD, with Scapegoat and Destiny Hero – Plasma.” That precise trick had knocked Levitin out of contention at Shonen Jump Charlotte just a few months ago, and now he was running it himself. “I’m siding into Skill Drain as normal too, except I’m bringing in three Zombyra the Dark too. It’s really good against Little City. They bring out Elemental Hero Neos Alius or Thunder King Rai-Oh, and I can just go ‘Zombyra, attack over it.’ It’s really good.”


He continued: “In reality I never tested it . . . But Adam Corn told me it was good! I like Scapegoat, since it gives you that ability to know that you’re going to survive a turn. That’s so important. For Plasma, there are just so many ways to get it out. You can use Scapegoat, sure, but you can also play Emergency Teleport, Destiny Hero - Malicious, Dark Grepher, Brain Control . . . and even if you have to bring out three monsters to summon it, it’s worthwhile. The ability he brings is so good, even though he costs you card presence he’s totally worth it.” That actually brought out an interesting topic, one that’s seen some debate lately.


JDG: “A lot of people lately have been stating that in this format, card advantage means less than it ever has before. There’s a tremendous emphasis on OTKs and that’s making some people re-evaluate traditional outlooks on the game. What do you think about that?”


PL: Paul gave a laugh, clearly having debated this a few times already. “Card advantage always matters, no matter what. The more cards you have, the more options you have, and the easier you can win. Sure, there are tons of OTKs right now, but there are so many ways to stop those OTKs too. In an SJC you’re just going to get OTK’d a few times, there’s nothing you can do about that. But you’re going to OTK your fair share too. It’s worrying about the times when you don’t have a god hand that matters.”


JDG: “Detroit was a surprisingly influential tournament. Gorz made its debut, Steven Harris rocked opponents with Psychic Commander and Black Rose Dragon . . . did any of that influence your choices for this weekend? Are you even running Gorz?”


PL: “I don’t play it, actually. I don’t like the idea of adding another Crush Card Virus target in my deck. I already have five things that get hit by it. I tried out the Psychic Commander to go for Black Rose it’s good to have in the deck; you always have the option to bring it out with Emergency Teleport, but when you draw it it’s not good. It’s an Earth monster; you can’t Allure of Darkness it, and you never want to waste your summon on it. I was actually running it until last night; it was the last thing I cut in the hotel room, and I added Scapegoat and Plasma to make it 41.”


JDG: “Cool. So with the Plasma mained and the really devoted Skill Drain side, what are the matchups you’re looking for today?”


PL: “I played in a Regionals last weekend. It was eight rounds; I played seven TeleDAD mirror matches. I’m feeling confident about that I won six out of seven of them, so I like the mirror. I’m sided pretty heavily for Little City, anti-meta, so I want to see those. I don’t want to see Plants or Zombies; I don’t really have anything for those.


“Plasma’s really great against Lightsworn.” He paused for a second, thinking. “. . . and Gladiator Beasts if you ever play up against it. It’s the same reason you side the Skill Drain stuff, cause if those decks don’t have effects they can’t really do much.” The mentioning of Plants was interesting a handful of Shonen Jump regulars like Matt Highline and Mike Powers are here running Black Garden decks today, albeit drastically different versions from the one Jerome McHale played in Detroit.


JDG: “What do you think about Plants right now?”


PL: Paul scrunched up his face in thought. “I think it’s good. I played against it with the Pollinosis and Tytannial, the control version, and it’s definitely viable. Especially once Dandylion comes out [as a Shonen Jump Magazine promo for subscribers], I think it gets a lot better. You have so many more Tokens for Pollinosis. I think it can make Day 2 if it’s the right build with the right player.”


JDG: Getting back on track, I wanted to ask Paul a bit more about his own style and success. “So what do you think sets you apart from other competitors? What makes you so much more successful than the average player?”


PL: “I think my team, and the testing we do. Just being able to make the right metagame reads and pick the right deck at the right time. That’s so important to success.” A surprisingly humble answer from the once-boisterous competitor.


JDG: “What do you think is the most important skill someone can have in this format in particular?”


PL: “This format?” Paul’s brow furrowed a moment, giving him that sad puppy dog look those who know him are quite familiar with. “This format it’s . . . I think knowing when to explode, and when to hold back and be conservative. How to switch up your playstyle is so important. A lot of people go for the OTK all the time, or if they don’t they’re bust. Or some people play slowly all the time, and are just too conservative and never go off. Knowing when it’s safe to explode and when it’s safe to just sit back and draw cards. That’s the number one thing someone can master right now.” It was an interesting answer that showed how Paul’s playstyle has grown. Two years ago he was renowned as one of the most aggressive duelists at the top of competition. Today, in a format where aggression is on everybody’s minds, he’s lauding the strength of a mixed playstyle. We moved along . . .


JDG: “So is Shane [Scurry] playing today? I know the last few Jumps he’s been running your guys’ vendor booth instead of competing.”


PL: “Shane’s playing, yeah. We’re still doing our booths at most Shonen Jumps and Regionals and stuff. I have my eBay, Shane has an eBay. Me and Shane are thinking about opening a store in New York in a few months though, in Chinatown maybe.” Wow, bombshell much? “So look out for that!” He grinned again. “Neutral Grounds in Manhattan closed, so the only real store left in New York is Kings Games. We just need to find a place that’s suitable.” The legendary Neutral Grounds game store was a fixture of the New York gaming scene for over a decade, and it’s run by a personal friend of mine. It closed up just weeks ago, and it’s left a big gap. It’s a shock to hear that Shane and Paul are considering trying to fill it with their own store. Cool stuff!


With the event starting shortly, and everybody occupying themselves with the Huntik TCG and Dinoking TCG demos just two tables away, it was time to let Paul go. He’s made strong metagame reads on this tournament here today, and is well-teched for them with a handful of innovative side choices. He’s a strong bid for another Day 2 showing!
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