Hello everyone. I hope everyone has been enjoying their BSF prep season so far! Today, I’ll be discussing the most recent results from the King Slayer Cards Premium tournament along with a special interview from the player who finished with 1st place, Andrew Kondrick.
Round #: 5
Top Cut: 8 Players
Clan Spread & Top 8 Cut
|4th||Estevan Solis Montalvo||Beatrice|
|5th||Marshal Craven||Rising Nova Greedon|
|6th||Ethan Cespedes||Nightmare Dolls|
Clan Spread & Top 8 Discussion
I want to address the first thing that I noticed, which was the sheer amount of diversity brought to this tournament. 12 clans being represented out of 20 people is astounding to me, as I had most definitely expected much more Granblue, Pale Moon, and Narukami to be present. While those three were a part of the most represented, only 3 people brought Narukami along with 2 people for both Pale Moon and Granblue. As for Top 8, I was intrigued to see a mix of expected and unexpected decks. Seeing Nightmare Dolls, Vanquisher, and Beatrice show up wasn’t super surprising but the rest of the top 8 was made up of decks that I don’t think a ton of people expected success from. While seeing Bigbelly and Tachikaze being able to top wasn’t the most surprising, I can’t say that I would have thought Messiah or Victor would have shown up. I also want to highlight the Rising Nova Greedon deck, as this one hasn’t been properly showcased since coming out after BRO. Using cards such as Exceptional Expertise, Rising Nova, in combination with the Dudley support cards, and Avaricious Demonic Dragon, Greedon, you can have an insanely powerful turn 3 with multiple twin-drive vanguard attacks.
Being able to see the results and spread for this event has justified by love for premium even further, as seeing such a diverse format begin to show itself through several events is very pleasng. Overall, it was great seeing such diversity in premium when just a year ago, the format was completely different and limited to only a couple tournament-winning decks.
King Slayer 1st Place Finisher: Andrew Kondrick Interview
As great as it was to be able to review the data for this event, I also wanted to speak with someone who experienced the event itself. Here are some interview questions Andrew gratefully offered his thoughts on!
Cayce: Why did you choose the deck you went with?
Andrew: I have been a die-hard Shadow Paladin player since I started Vanguard back in 2015. Luard has been my favorite deck by far since its release in G format. I’ve playtested with and against just about everything in the game, but last year I ended up getting a great deal on a max Bigbelly deck from a friend. Since then, I have been tweaking the list to optimize my playstyle with it. Luard and Bigbelly do a lot of things similarly. Insane card draw, strong aggressive plays, and working toward a clean deck in the late game. Both decks can switch between aggro and defensive play styles depending on the board state and the pieces I have in hand. At the moment, Shadows feels extremely weak in the current meta compared to previous formats, especially with the impact Narukami, Link Joker, and Palemoon have. Bigbelly has a much easier time into many higher-tier decks thanks to all of its tools available. Bigbelly on the surface seems like a very straightforward deck, but optimizing your play for each matchup and situation allows the deck to perform at a very high level. The Great Nature deck has so many tools and win conditions that the deck allows me to play out of almost any situation with the knowledge I have of the game. Granted I believe this can apply for most clans in the game as long as the pilot optimizes their build and play for the current meta.
Cayce: Are you satisfied with how it performed on the day?
Andrew: I am so happy with how the deck performs. A lot of playtesting has gone into optimizing the list’s performance. In a best of three formats like this event was, I usually take game one to feel out the matchup and understand how/when I should be pushing for the win. Throughout the day, I only lost 2 games in those scenarios and was always able to find a winning plan for the remainder of the set. I also took Bigbelly to the TCGCon premium event, going undefeated there as well. With the huge clan variety of my opponents, it’s obvious the deck is performing as well as I wanted it to.
Cayce: What were your biggest concerns ahead of the event?
Andrew: Going into the event, I was most worried about the Nightmare Doll matchup. That deck can put on an insane amount of pressure for very little setup and resources extremely consistently. If triggers go heavily in favor of the pale moon player here, it is a very hard matchup for most clans including myself. The morning of, I swapped 3 of my flex slots with Earth Elemental, Rollock to stay at lower damage going into their big momentum turns to help maximize my chances of hitting a defensive trigger. Luckily I never saw a Pale moon player in my tournament run test this, however, the Rollock came in handy in many other aggressive matchups
Cayce: What match ended up being the most challenging on the day?
Andrew: Round one, I played against Tachikaze piloted by Gio Giovanni who took a top 8 placing with the deck. I have a huge amount of testing against Tachikaze thanks to Zachary Williams. In game one, I had been pressured heavily and ended up dying to their turn 3 Sweepers. For the remainder of the set, I tried to limit the damage I had given him to help me make it to mid/late game and stabilize with a large hand. This was super important as in game two because his first stride Destruction Tyrant, Gyangchuraptor hit an overtrigger, restanding his VG and would allow his entire board 2 additional swings instead of one. Luckily, he only had 2 damage on that turn and was lacking the counterblast for him to use his vanguard skill again. If I hadn’t done so, I would have been dead 5 times over.
I also played against Aqua force, which proved to be an extremely tough matchup. Both decks draw an insane amount throughout the game so pushing through either one of our hands is near impossible. Bigbelly itself does not enjoy riding to grade 3 first due to a lack of hand and pressure against a grade 2. Game one I tried playing the grade 2 game hoping for a Seabreeze turn but ended up getting destroyed by a ride to Thavas into Lambros and back down to a grade 2. Going into the rest of the set I decided to go first, riding into 3 immediately but damage denying to survive the first stride from the deck. My game plan here became grinding out each other’s hands until I had an opportunity to pull momentum back into my favor with Megaloma. For anyone who doesn’t know, by decking myself out on my opponent’s turn with my G guards after a Megaloma stride, I am able to prematurely end their turn and get a pseudo-second turn in a row. With the pressure of two turns in a row, I was able to push through his hand for the win.
Cayce: Is there anything you would change (deck, mindset, etc) for the next event?
Andrew: Honestly, there isn’t anything I would particularly change about the deck or my own mindset for the next event I participate in. I am extremely confident in my build as well as my own ability to play out of most situations in premium format.
Cayce: Would you recommend that other players participate in this tournament series?
Andrew: I would 100% recommend participating in future tournament series, especially for the premium format. This game has a lot of hidden depth in terms of deck building and optimizing play. I know initially premium can be quite scary to get into but once you get a good idea of the deck you’re playing and how other decks work, it is by far the most exciting format for me personally. I know many in the community are eager to introduce new players or existing standard players to the format and help you learn and improve quickly, with myself included. The amount of clan diversity and varying levels of skill make it an extremely interesting format to participate in, and will only become more exciting as the number of players increases!
I’d like to shout out Richard Garcia and all the guys from King Slayer Cards for always organizing awesome events, and the judges for ensuring the tournament runs smoothly and fairly. This community is awesome and if you’re interested in participating everyone is very welcoming to new players!
Acknowledgments and Closing Remarks
I’d like to thank everyone who has helped out with this article and give proper credit where it is due:
King Slayer Cards, for holding these tournaments and allowing players to compete (King Slayer Cards Facebook page)
Richard Garcia, for running King Slayer and being extremely helpful with helping me obtain the event data
Cipher from Axis Vanguard, for the amazing graphics
Core from Cardfight!! Vision, for helping me brainstorm interview questions
and Andrew Kondrick, for allowing me to interview him after his first-place finish
Thank you all again and I look forward to seeing you all during my next Event Results article!