Calvin Tsang, an eighteen-year-old student from Toronto, is one of three members of Team Scrubs. With an amazing round 5 showing in which the group had incurred only a single loss, he was a prime candidate for an interview.
Now the thing you have to understand about Calvin is that he's part of a long-standing Canadian tradition. Don Cherry, Ed the Sock, Pierre Elliot Trudeau are all verbose Canadians that have left a mark on the nation's society. While most Canadians are reserved and quiet, we occasionally make up for it as a country with individuals who overcompensate and return the balance. Calvin Tsang is easy to find in a tournament—just look for the table with the random screaming.
It's not that he's a jerk. And at the same time, “flamboyant” doesn't quite give the right impression. He spends a great deal of his time joking around, but Calvin spends the rest of his time winning. Coming into the event off a Top 4 finish at Canadian Nationals in Toronto last week, Tsang was carrying a huge amount of momentum.
My first question was why he opted to play Ben Kei again when the rest of his team was playing Thousand-Eyes Restrict Lock. “Cause umm, Dale [Bellido] was playing it in Regionals, right before Nationals, and I borrowed it from him. The deck was so much fun so I built one of my own. I was getting bored of the game a bit, but I tried this, and it was just joyful. They're both very good decks [Thousand-Eyes Restrict Lock and Ben Kei] but TER hasn't been tested yet, not as much as the Ben Kei. Ben Kei gave good signs at Nationals, so I figured I'd try that.” For all his ebullience, Tsang is actually incredibly humble—he was sitting on a 4-0 record at the time of this interview.
I remarked that most Canadians are reserved. He immediately burst in to share his thoughts, before I could even ask the question about how he saw himself. “I'm not reserved! I'm a ruckus-causer, I looooove to make a scene. If you want a scene, you know who to find!” He grinned. “You know, I play this game for fun. I don't play really serious. Everyone's always all serious in top 8, I'm like, ‘Joke around! Have a good time!' That's what this game is for, it's a hobby.” Such healthy views generally aren't seen from such topnotch players.
I asked him about his online habits, and he mentioned frequenting message boards. I know he's an active member of Pojo, so I had to ask if he had any beef with anyone. He grinned, then looked serious, obviously considering his answer carefully. Could a self-proclaimed ruckus-causer resist a worldwide platform for calling someone out? I was almost gleefully hoping he wouldn't.
“Ooh. Ooooooh.” His eyes gleamed. “I respect a lot of players. Anyone who's good, I respect them for that. I mean, I think I'm in the average zone. Some one who cheats or calls [judges] on stuff that's not fair, little things trying to get game losses, I don't respect that. People that call opponents on rulings, like not having Fusion decks out? That's stupid.”
There was an incident at Canadian Nationals. It was the quarterfinals, and Tsang had made Top 8. In game two of a match where he'd already won game one, his opponent made a mistake that could have warranted a game loss. In the final rounds of the National Championships, Tsang refused to call a judge on the play error and let play continue instead. “Everyone was like, ‘Why didn't you call on him?' But it's the kind of thing that if I did it, I wouldn't have felt like I won. It's not something I would do.” I'm not going to say that playing everything by the book is dishonorable. But you've got to admit that that shows some serious integrity.
“I think that the Thousand-Eyes Restrict combo is going to be tier one. Constant monster kill no matter what is great. It's going to change the metagame a bit, from just Chaos decks dominating to Triple Morph decks showing well in major tournaments quite a bit. I think Beast decks are going to die out, since Tsukuyomi works so well. You can kill Beasts really easily by putting them in defense.”
I asked him if he felt the changes of the new rulings were good. “Yeah, I think it is. I think it's a good change. From what I've heard, I understand Japanese players have been running things this way for a while. The changes excite me a bit again, makes me want to play again.”
And his team name? “Oh man! We were one the plane and we were like, ‘Team name, what's the team name?' We came up with this lame one, Team Spooners or something. But last night we were like “Team Scrubs! Yeah, we're scrubs!” There are people back home who don't think we're all that great, who think we're scrubs so hey, like, Team Scrubs! Matches us perfectly.” He smiled. It's refreshing to interview a top-level player who has a sense of humility to match his sense of humor.
Calvin also liked the size of the event. “It's nice. No Canadian event that has this many people. It's nice to know different metagames, how the US people are playing here. The place is a bit cramped, but what can you do? There's, like, 530 people.”
“The level of play is definitely not as high as I was expecting, I was thinking it was going to be much higher than this. I'd do that thing where I ask them what I'm gonna take off Iron Blacksmith Kotetsu, and some opponents have been like ‘What's he do?' And I'm all ‘I think I won this one!' I don't know, the metagame just really doesn't feel as powerful. I was intimidated when I came in at first, now I'm really not. I mean, big teams, like Comic Odyssey, they're still intimidating. But in general, not as intimidating a field as I'd anticipated.”
A big issue for players today was endurance. The event started late and rounds were taking longer than scheduled. It was hot and muggy, and competitors were dropping like flies. I asked Tsang how he felt. “Oh, man. Midnight I don't mind. Ten or eleven rounds, I don't mind. I know my adrenaline's going to drop after six or seven rounds—it always happens. You have to keep drinking stuff, grab a cool drink here and there, get some air, rest between rounds. The room is stuffy.” I'd taken the liberty of extracting Calvin from the tournament area to the spacious hotel lobby where a cool breeze blew through the enormous marble hall. He seemed to appreciate it. “The most I've ever played straight is eight rounds, so this tops it all. Still, I think I'll be okay.”
I asked how he felt about how well Team Scrubs was doing. “Our team's doing pretty good! Pretty happy about that! Out of all of us, we've only got one loss so far! I just want to focus, lose one game at most, and make it to the top 8 tomorrow . . .
. . . but hey, it's a game” he added. “You lose, you lose. It's all good.” He flashed a grin, reminiscent of Theeresak Poonsombat. While Calvin Tsang is a loud, vocal, and competitive individual, he's also a very classy one. While he might not count himself as an elite player, he certainly is one in my mind. As much as Team Scrubs may be a joke, they do have some of the best records of the day. If they keep up their near-flawless performance, they'll be well-represented on Day 2.
This article was originally written by Metagame.com, what was formerly the official website for large Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament coverage. It has been preserved by GoatFormat.com so that players can learn from this historical tournament coverage.