Interview w/ Ilja | BRO 2021 EU 2nd Place | Narukami | #BRO2021

Today we have a Cardfighter Spotlight! Both Ahmes and I will be having the opportunity to interview the Narukami player that accomplished 2nd place overall in the Bushiroad Rumble Online (BRO) 2021 EU for the Premium format! His name is Ilja and is from France! Let’s get right into the interview!

Interview

Jaime: First off, congratulations to Ilja for getting second place in the Bushiroad Rumble Online (BRO) 2021 EU!

Ahmes: As an Eradicators Premium player since the format’s inception, to finally see Erads in the spotlight for the first time makes me so overwhelmed.

Congratulations on your wins! I am so hyped to be able to speak to you today. Today, Jaime and I will be doing an interview with you to learn more about your choices, experience, and even..

Jaime: ..you as a player! Shall we begin, amigo?

Ilja: Sure~ Happy to be here!

Jaime: Of course! It’s a pleasure to have you on the blog! Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Are you from any specific Vanguard teams/communities? Any other events that you and/or team have done well? Etc.

Ilja: Well, I’m a French Cardfighter from Paris that belongs to Team LeConseil. If we’re talking about solo results, I’ve topped 8 in BCS Spring Circuit Paris 2017, 2nd Place in Standard and Top 8 in Premium in BCS 2018. For Team results, we won Bushiroad Spring Fest 2019 in France and Top 8 in Belgium in Premium.

Jaime: That’s an impressive track record with both you and your team combined! How did you start playing Cardfight Vanguard?

Ilja: Weeeell, I was skimming on blogs on the Internet and ended up on a blog which used “Believe in my existence” as a BGM. I liked the music so much I ended up watching the series it came from. I fell in love with the series so hard I caught up in a week or so and bought a TD on the net to have the cards – TD09 actually – and learned how to play the game through the internet.

Ahmes: Nice and my turn! Traditionally, Narukami players do select Dragonic Vanquisher as their go-to Premium deck. What made you decide on the Eradicators to play with? Any matchups or meta-knowledge that you had in mind?

Ilja: Yeah, kind of sad about that actually! I won’t claim having prior knowledge about how the meta would shape up, but I knew that there was a high chance that Luard, Pale Moon, and Granblue would be really good in this environment. Those decks are really reliant on their rear-guards (Such as Dagda, Alice, or Nightstorm) to do the job, so a more control/disruption-oriented strategy seemed to have a better chance.

Deck Link:
https://decklog-en.bushiroad.com/view/JCQ8

Ahmes: Greato, let’s dive into your deck list. I wanna start on the mold of this build. You focus on a Vowing-Stunverse engine that utilizes Koenshak and Unruly Dragon for disruption. How did you settle on this deck list?

Also, given that Eradicators have alternate methods of building, such as a list using Strike Dagger Dragon, what made you choose these options?

Was Sweep Command Dragon influential in any of your deck-building choices, either conceptualization or in terms of actual inclusion?

Ilja: Well, let’s get down to business! That’s a good summary of the strategy. This strategy was born during the Dark Age of Premium (you know what I mean 😉 ) in order to have a somewhat playable Narukami deck. The very first iteration used mainly Gauntlet as the main unit in order to keep damage denying the opponent until I accumulated enough cards in the bind zone in order to force them to take the lethal blow. Unruly and Koenshak were already there to slow down the fight long enough.

The most important change came in the form of the Grade 1 Nusku, who by himself stabilized a lot this deck. The most recent change is, naturally, Vowing Sword Dragon and his package that allowed the deck to play the bind strategy more efficiently while being able to push with power lane, something the deck lacked.

I’m not a fan of the superior ride variant as it required 2 specific cards, one of them you have to ride and the other an old Grade 1 that becomes virtually vanilla after the superior ride as resources are precious in this deck. Also, if you do not win the dice, your starter becomes vanilla as well. On top of this, I consider that Narukami as a whole does not have powerful enough 1st Stride to justify rushing to Stride while the opponent is Grade 2.

As for Sweep Command, it is an interesting card and a very old variant (dating back to Unruly’s release) used to main this, but it requires playing the starter *4 for the VG dodging strategy (and being lucky as well). Plus, while the retire is really amazing, it is limited to LB4 and is resource-intensive (CB2 SB1 and put a RG in the soul is quite a hefty cost!).

Ahmes: Awesome, that makes sense! I also see that you’ve included Spark Rain Dragon to your arsenal. Was it worth it in your matches?

Ilja: It was worth it just to trigger a friend’s PTSD (Coucou Romain!). But in all seriousness, he had his uses in binding untargetable RGs. However, while more costly overall, Cho Ou is superior as he is a better ride target and binds even untargetable RGs during the main phase.

Ahmes: Haha that’s funny and great point! You play the Eradicator Guld, the Eradicator Seibo, 2 Cho Ou, and a singular Gauntlet Buster. Interesting choices at low ratios, and non-heal guardians to boot. That must have surprised those not in the know. While Eradicators are known to have good searching abilities, your deck only uses 4 Nuzuku and 3 Casteres. Could you elaborate on how you came to those ratios? Did they perform as planned?

Ilja: Is Nusku the one card that allows the deck to be consistent in my opinion? Yup and I’m not afraid to admit it! He allows to really play those low ratio of Eradicator cards and still be able to have them when it matters.

While I didn’t use Casteres effect often, having a searchable stride fodder that allowed me to search for Grade 3s (mainly Descendant) allowed me to be able to be more comfortable in my riding my Grade 3s to allow the creation of additional Accel circles and the activation of my Eradicator VG skills.

The Singular Gauntlet Buster, that saved my bacon against Nova Grappler, was actually a last minute addition in order to be able to damage choke Pale Moon! But he still is a good backup VG as he will force my opponent to drop PG very early on. Plus, Dragon Empire OT on him is kind of stupid to be fair…

Cho Ou was another last minute addition, a replacement for the Zuitan I could not seem to find, but he was well worth it! The ability to bind untargetable RGs and augment the number of cards in the Bind Zone prior to Stunverse has been extremely valuable!

Eradicator Guld and Seiobo are here just because Nusku is able to bring them to my hand much easier than the other options available, on top of that G Guarding is so essential to this strategy that I would never have activated the Heal Guardian effect anyway~

Jaime: I definitely see the amount of effort you put onto your unique choices. During your games, which decks/clans did you face?

Ilja: In Swiss, I faced the following:

  • R1: Genesis (Regalia) W
  • R2: Granblue (Beatrice) W
  • R3: Shadow Paladin (Luard) W
  • R4: Nova Grappler (Victor) L
  • R5: Gear Chronicle (Chronojet) W
  • R6: Tachikaze (Spinodriver) W
  • R7: Shadow Paladin (Luard) W (against the future Champ actually!)
  • R8: Dimension Police (Daikaizer) L

In Top 8 I faced the following:

  • Top 8: Nova Grappler (Victor) W
  • Top 4: Shadow Paladin (Luard) W
  • Finals: Shadow Paladin (Luard) L

Jaime: Wow, you definitely got a wide variety of strong decks! Was there a game you would like to highlight? Like your toughest matchup, best game, break or deal moments, etc.

Ilja: There were so many moments I’d like to highlight, at least one per game! So I think I will talk about my toughest match-ups!

It might be weird, but it is a toss-up between Nova Grappler and Dimension Police for 2 opposite reasons!

  1. Nova: Can’t touch his board!
  2. DP: Can’t handle all of that JUSTICE (known as 90k+ VGs)!

I only won the top 8 game by grinding and sheer, dumb luck (2 defensive triggers that allowed me to survive even though I could not touch his RGs).

Jaime: Wow, sometimes you need some luck to keep going, thanks for sharing those games! During your games, what is something that you appreciated about your deck from the preparation you’ve done? The strategy of it, consistency, power, plays, etc.

Ilja: It may seem a little mean-spirited, but my opponents’ reaction to the deck’s defensive combo! I loved the “WHAT?!” that happened once the combo got going!

Jaime: Haha those are those funny and awesome moments! How many rounds were in the tournament? How was your record throughout? Was there a Top 8?

Ilja: There were 8 rounds in total, I went 6-2 in swiss and 8-3 overall.

Jaime: How was your championship round?

Ilja: It might seem weird, but as focused as we both were, we were having a lot of fun (that, unfortunately, you could not hear!) and it was a really pleasant game, even though I made a few mistakes that might have costed me the game (not calling the last Unruly on my Accel is among them) but Karan really bested me either way, playing very optimally around my disruption.

In a nutshell, I really enjoyed that last round!

Ahmes: That’s great that you had a great time even in the finals! After the tournament, did you take some time to reflect? Anything that you learned from your experience?

Ilja: I did, I reflected on my defeats and how I might have been able to prevent them. How maybe I should have moved some cards around in my ratios.

I’ve learned about how I still had a lot learn about resource management both in deckbuilding and in-game and that, more often than one may think, damage denying for a long part of the game may just win it.

Jaime: That’s great that you were able to learn more about your deck and even some resource management take-aways. Would you like to do any shout-outs to people that you know and/or have helped you along your journey?

Ilja: Okay so I will try to keep this brief, a big shoutout to the members of my Team: Théo, Pierre, and Sora!

Another one to the Team Ghost Community for helping me playtest, especially to Romain for suggesting to try out Vowing Sword when I wasn’t convinced!

A last one to the whole Parisian/French community, you guys are amazing!

Finally, a big thank you to my opponents and everyone implicated in the BRO!

Jaime: That’s great stuff! I’m sure your amigos are happy and excited about your accomplishment! Great to see the Parisan/French community being amazing and part of your success! Just one more question and we’ll be done amigo.

Ahmes: Greato! While preparing with Narukami, did you use/see any social media to help you solidify your build? Such as blogs, YouTube videos/channels, Facebook, Reddit, etc.

Ilja: I mainly used Discord and Area to playtest the different builds I came up with.

Jaime: That’s awesome, sometimes that’s enough ha! Thanks again for joining me in this interview!

Ilja: Thank you guys for inviting me, been a pleasure to answer those questions! And come on, with my decklist name it would be a shame if I couldn’t place those words: Happy! Lucky! Smile! YAY!

Ahmes: You’re welcome and thanks for having me, Commander Jaime.

Jaime: Of course, this was a great partnered interview! I wish you the best Ilja and hope to see more from you in the metagame! Till next time amigos!

Takeaways

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this interview! I just wanted to highlight some takeaways that can help players out!

Playing A Non-Traditional Deck

Ahmes and Ilja mentioned, “Traditionally, Narukami players do select Dragonic Vanquisher as their go-to Premium deck. What made you decide on the Eradicators to play with?.Yeah, kind of sad about that actually!

This really points out that some clans typically have one type of deck that basically represents the clan! (cough Overlord the clan cough). This can serve as a surprise element in big events too!

There are disruptive/defensive plays that a deck like Eradicators have access to and can surprise opponents. These little surprise elements can make the difference in making it to Top 8. In Ilja’s case, to the finals!

Recognizing And Predicting The Metagame

Ilja also mentioned, “I knew that there was a high chance that Luard, Pale Moon, and Granblue would be really good in this environment. Those decks are really reliant on their rear-guards (Such as Dagda, Alice, or Nightstorm) to do the job, so a more control/disruption-oriented strategy seemed to have a better chance.

Everyone speculated certain decks would be the “top decks” but we can only assess so much. I do like the approach Ilja took and building a deck that can control/disrupt the expected “top decks”.

As we saw BRO Premium pan out, it was a great call. A control and/or disruptive deck is sometimes a deck the most players could struggle against if they don’t know how to play that specific matchup. Especially with a G Guard like Impede Dragon.

Final Thoughts

Thanks again for reading this Cardfighter Spotlight article! It’s great to see an awesome Cardfighter like Ilja winning 2nd place overall! Thanks again to Ilja for joining us today as well! Till next time amigos!

Ilja’s Social Media:

Ahme’s Social Media:

Commander Jaime’s Social Media:

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