I do a lot of high-level judging in the Ohio/Pennsylvania area, and I can usually count on seeing Wyatt at any given event. Now, there are plenty of kids who play Yu-Gi-Oh!, so seeing a ten-year-old at lots of events isn’t really all that unusual. But it is unusual to see a player that young make Top 4 on his own power, especially in a region where the competition is quite strong. I learned that Wyatt had gotten his invite when I ran into him at another event, and I told him that I definitely wanted to interview him at Nationals. Wyatt and his father, Chris, had a bit of time after finishing their matches in round 1, so we sat down and had a chat.
Wyatt is ten years old and hails from Newark, Ohio. He’s a member of Team Cobra, who have been a fixture at area events, and he has been playing since November 2004. There was some discrepancy as to who got whom into the game—Wyatt is pretty sure his dad got him into it, while Chris is equally positive it was the other way around—but both agree that players like Zak Bishop and Jordan Savage did a lot to build Wyatt’s skills. “I started out at Toys-R-Us,” Wyatt explained. “Those were the days of 85 card decks, with no sleeves or tributes!” Chris added. Rick, who played at Comic Town in Ohio, saw Wyatt there and suggested that the young duelist come and play at Comic Town instead. “Despite the 80 card deck, he had a lot of potential.” Father and son were skeptical at first, since tennis and baseball already took up a lot of time, but the move paid off. At Comic Town, Wyatt found a lot of help from other duelists who helped refine his skills. Using a Burn deck, he entered a Regional tournament, came in twelfth, and he was on his way.
He’s no stranger to upper-level play. Wyatt has competed in nine Regionals, the Ohio and New Jersey Shonen Jump Championships, and a few Sneak Preview events. He particularly enjoyed the New Jersey event, where he got to hang out with several members of Comic Odyssey. “Eric Wu is my hero,” he announced. “You have to put that in! I got his autograph.” All these events have contributed to his growth as a player. The Shonen Jump Championships have primed him for the competition and long, long day generated by a huge number of entrants, and the Regionals have helped hone his play skills.
For nationals, Wyatt is playing “kind of an aggressive Goat Control.” He’s maindecking Ceasefire, Asura Priest and Enraged Battle Ox. “It really helps him keep field advantage,” Chris explained. “No Fusion, nothing like that.” Wyatt went with that deck, because “we just wanted to see how it would run.” Chris continued, “It’s not as complicated as some Goat decks, and it seems like everyone is netdecking Goat Control anyways. We wanted to see if it was all it was supposed to be. The deck gives him a good chance of winning, especially in close matches.”
How’d Wyatt do in the first round? “I’m 0-1 . . . I lost to a topdecked Black Luster Soldier!” With no cards in hand, his opponent drew into his Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning and won. “I’m really mad about it!” He won’t find much argument from anyone else out there, since everyone hates to lose to a topdecked Soldier. He agreed he’d probably be seeing a lot of Chaos all day long, as well as Goat Control and Ben Kei. Chris expressed hope for some innovative, situational “cool” decks that might appear. “Someone out there will have brought something, just to play it and not focus on winning the event so much, more to play something new.”
The new end-of-match procedure is hot news at the event, but Wyatt isn’t impressed with it. “I don’t like it . . . you can’t side deck! And there’s only 4 more turns.” It’s sure to be a source of debate among the entrants, as there will be some who like the new policy and some who don’t.
Time was then called for round 1, so it was time to wrap up the interview. Before it was over, though, I had to talk about the bias he’s encountered from other players. Does he think his age affects how people perceive him? Wyatt agreed that people tend to underestimate him because of his age, and disregard his ability to play. “They told me I had to get out of the Nationals registration line! They said ‘This line is only for players who have already qualified.’” He was happy to set the record straight on that score. “Yeah, lots of times people don’t think I can play,” he added. I told him I get that too, being a girl, and we laughed.
Talent comes in all shapes, sizes, and yes, even expiration dates. The support of his family and team has helped Wyatt get where he is, but he’s also got a lot of skill and appreciation of the game. We’ll be seeing a lot from him in the future!
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.
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