If you stay closely involved with a game for a number of years, you get the opportunity to meet a lot of people. Some are more casual players or personalities, some are judges, and then there are some who are intensely focused on the game. They might play top archetypes, or they might spend their time looking for new ways to use their cards. I always look forward to seeing what Evan Vargas will be playing, because it’s practically guaranteed I won’t have seen it before.
Rather than the standard questions I ask most of the people I interview, I really wanted to get Evan’s perspective on a few points of this weekend’s event—namely, what resulted from the new Advanced format, and how it impacted his performance at the tournament. After the Top 8 was over, we had time to sit down and talk it over.
“Before we came to the event, the team was playtesting a lot and we really thought we’d take both of the Cyber-Steins. Everyone had a strong deck and it was really focused, all except mine. But out here, it was the opposite. I did great, but my team mates’ decks didn’t work as well as before.” Ah yes, the team . . . how did that come about? “Well we were all a group of friends before we were team mates, we were all cool with each other. We talked about traveling to the Shonen Jump together, and BJ from Florida knew this storeowner, José, who would sponsor us. It moved from there to the Comic Odyssey vs. Team Savage battle that got really hyped. We wanted to do it so much, but were afraid they’d back out. The sanctioned thing that’s supposed to happen today developed from talking to Gary and Chris (the head judge and TO, respectively), they decided to make it into a real event with more teams. I think everyone was anticipating the Comic Odyssey against Team Savage, though.”
Let’s get back to the deck he chose to play. I’d looked at his deck list and written up a profile on it earlier, and did the match coverage for his Top 8 games. I wanted to hear more about how it came together and what he thought of its performance in the event. “I knew it was a great deck, I knew my teammates had awesome decks. In playtesting, it always came down to Magician of Faith, Pot, Delinquent Duo, Graceful Charity. If you get those cards it doesn’t matter if you have the worst deck and are the worst player, you can still win. Not banning Sinister Serpent and Black Luster Soldier seems like a huge mistake. If the list had included more of the staple cards, there’d have been a lot more originality, right now everyone needs to run some same basic cards just to have a competitive deck.”
Evan had a lot to say about the development of his Soul Control deck. “The deck is all about card advantage, and Soul Exchange is really great for that. Soul Exchange and Thestalos is the big combo of the deck, it’s like Delinquent Duo all over again. They lose a monster and lose a card from their hand, it’s great. I liked the idea of using Soul Exchange, using an old-school card no one really plays anymore and making a glorious combo.“ The conversation turned to his performance in his Top 8 matches. During the quarterfinals, the deck worked flawlessly. He pulled off ideal combos, and seemed to have the cards he needed right when he needed them. It didn’t go as well in the semifinals, though. I asked what he thought went wrong in his matchup against Eric Wu, and he didn’t even have to stop to think about it. “Not hitting Pot of Greed and Graceful early enough in the game. Eric got Pot and Delinquent early in the game when you need it, I didn’t hit it until mid game, and it was too late. I wasn’t even afraid of Zombies. I took out all the Royal Oppressions from my side deck, I was pretty tired building it at 3 o’clock in the morning. I think hitting Pot and Graceful early in the game would have turned the game around, but he got those cards first.” We discussed the heavy field presence that Eric maintained. “Dark Balter was really key. I had Morphing Jar and Sinister, and they were just useless. Then I get Phoenix out, with Premature Burial, and the one set card he has is Mystical Space Typhoon! Heavy Storm was gone, Breaker was gone, I knew he wasn’t running Dust Tornado—that was the one shot and he had it.”
“I’m still happy with how I did,” he added. “The deck worked how I wanted it to, leaving out the God hand element. I’m working on something new for Houston, and we’re hoping the team can all fly in for that.”
A lot of innovative combos and new deck ideas surfaced at this event, and I’m interested to see how they trickle into the metagame. This was the first massive event to feature the new Advanced format, and plenty of duelists will be taking advantage of the “what worked and what didn’t” that hit the net in the form of interviews, profiles, and deck lists. Top decks will continue to refine over the next few months, and we’ll see what the players have in store at the next Shonen Jump Championship in Houston on April 30.