“I’m 75 percent sure that I’m going to the semis,” said Cardenas, in a rare show of self-confidence before Gessler arrived at the table.
Gessler introduced himself as part of Team Royal Nightmare, a local team. Cardenas is a headliner from Team Comic Odyssey, and needed no introduction. Both competitors shuffled their decks thoroughly, and Gessler won the die roll.
“Fuku, I love you no matter what, just try your best!” Cardenas yelled to Michael Fukuyama at the neighboring table. Gessler opened up with Graceful Charity, discarding Rite of Spirit and Mystical Space Typhoon. He played Terraforming to fetch himself a Necrovalley. He then set Mystic Tomato and a spell or trap—an incredibly strong opening that bode well for his next turn!
Cardenas immediately summoned and attacked with Sangan. It thumped off of the Tomato and Cardenas took some damage. He moved to main phase 2, used Delinquent Duo, and Gessler lost Necrovalley and Snatch Steal.
Next turn, Gessler played Tsukuyomi to flip Sangan face down, then removed it from play with Nobleman of Crossout. He had an opening, but his efforts to attack were repelled by a Scapegoat. Cardenas continued playing defensively for several turns thereafter—he was attempting to out-resource Gessler. Gessler knew the game though, and he soon flipped a Gravekeeper’s Spy to bring up a Gravekeeper’s Spear Soldier. They all attacked along with the Tomato, and the score was 4000 to 8000. He then used Tsukuyomi to turn the Spy face down.
Cardenas tried to use Tribe-Infecting Virus to destroy Mystic Tomato, but Book of Moon saved it, which was a nice turn of events for Gessler. Unfortunately for him though, Cardenas proceeded to use Nobleman of Crossout on the set Spy. Tribe-Infecting Virus attacked the Spear Soldier and Cardenas passed.
Next turn, Mystic Tomato and Tsukuyomi attacked, clearing out the Tribe after turning it face down. The score was 2600 to 7900. Cardenas looked to wipe Gessler’s field with Asura Priest, but was prevented from doing so by another Book of Moon. Breaker the Magical Warrior hit the field on Gessler’s side, and a turn later it was game in his favor! Juan Cardenas is stunningly defeated in a decisive game one!
Cardenas spent a considerably longer time with his side deck—Gessler didn’t side deck at all! Though Cardenas’s confidence was in no way rattled, he was certainly taking this match very seriously. He opted to go first after almost six minutes of side decking and shuffling.
He opened with Sangan and a set card to his spell and trap zone. Gessler had the tech though, turning Sangan face down with Tsukuyomi and then removing it from play with Nobleman. He set a card, but Cardenas blew it away with Mystical Space Typhoon, revealing Torrential Tribute. Cardenas swung directly with D. D. Assailant next turn, and the pace of the duel changed entirely.
Both players played defensively but with incredible speed. Gessler was building up face down monsters, while Cardenas hid behind a flock of Sheep tokens, thanks to Scapegoat. Cardenas blinked first, using Metamorphosis to summoned Thousand-Eyes Restrict, but whe he tried to suck up a face down monster on Gessler’s side of the field, it was stopped by Book of Moon. However, Cardenas had Nobleman of Crossout, and removed Gessler’s Tsukuyomi from the field. While it was nice in the short run, Cardenas was likely hoping to hit a Gravekeeper’s Spy.
Gessler held Cardenas off with Swords of Revealing Light, prompting Cardenas to take off the shirt that he was wearing over his Comic Odyssey t-shirt. Time to go to work!
Two turns later Swords was blown away, and neither player had over-committed to the field. Gessler set another monster, Cardenas used Book of Moon on his Thousand-Eyes Restrict, and sucked up Gessler’s face down Mystic Tomato after flipping it back up. Gessler set another monster, and the life point totals were 6900 to 6300, with Cardenas in the lead!
Both duelists spent two turns passing before doing anything else. Gessler had one face down spell or trap and one monster to Cardenas’s Thousand-Eyes, three Sheep, and two face down spells or traps (not counting the Tomato). Gessler used Snatch Steal to take the Thousand-Eyes, turned it face down with Book of Moon, flipped Gravekeeper’s Spy and brought up a Spear Soldier – Cardenas flipped Torrential Tribute!
Rite of Spirit brought back the Spear Soldier, but Cardenas flipped Call of the Haunted to bring back D. D. Assailant. Gessler dropped a face down card to his spell and trap zone, played Necrovalley, and passed. Cardenas sent his Assailant into the Spear Soldier, destroying it and removing the Soldier from the game.
Next turn, Gessler summoned Tribe-Infecting Virus and attacked with it, reducing Cardenas to 5000 life points. Cardenas used Heavy Storm next turn, flipping it from its set position. He got rid of Necrovalley, but Gessler chained Rite of Spirit to prevent Cardenas from gaining card advantage. Unfazed, Cardenas took Tribe with Snatch Steal, used its effect to blow away the freshly-Rited Gravekeeper’s Spy, and attacked with it and Asura Priest to rack up some damage. Gessler was now very low on cards.
Asura Priest came down again a turn later—Cardenas was really trying to pound on Gessler and end this. Book of Moon stopped the onslaught though, and when Gessler went to fight back he too was stopped: Bottomless Trap Hole ate his Gravekeeper’s Assailant, and neither player had monsters to play for an entire turn sequence.
Cardenas got access to one first. He played Premature Burial to bring up Morphing Jar, tributed it for Jinzo, and attacked directly. He then used Metamorphosis to exchange it for Ryu Senshi and ended his turn. Gessler drew and had nothing but a Solemn Judgment and Heavy Storm, but he tried to bluff.
It didn’t work. A turn later, Ryu Senshi swung for the proverbial fences with its massive sword and cleaved Gessler’s remaining life points in two! It was Gessler 1, Cardenas 1, and the match moved to game three!
“Wow, that match was hard,” remarked Cardenas, finally heaving a great breath. He’d been holding his for several minutes.
“It was intense.”
“I don’t like losing my first game in a match.” He shuffled his deck, and neither player decided to make use of their side deck: an amazing show of confidence from Gessler!
“Good luck” said Gessler, as he offered Cardenas a handshake. It was accepted, and Gessler began the final game!
He set a Gravekeeper’s Spy and Book of Moon. Gessler’s deck was rife with strong openings that could give him fast and dangerous second turns. Cardenas set two cards to his spell and trap zone and passed—which was just what Gessler wanted to see! He flipped the Spy, brought out a Gravekeeper’s Assailant, and was instantly stymied by Torrential Tribute. He summoned Gravekeeper’s Spear Soldier, and attacked directly for 1500 life points. Gessler was keeping the aggression coming.
At the end of Gessler’s turn, Cardenas flipped Scapegoat. On his own turn he used Metamorphosis to inhale the Spear Soldier, but Gessler chained Rite of Spirit to bring up Gravekeeper’s Spy so Cardenas couldn’t attack! He set a spell or trap and play moved to Gessler.
Snatch Steal grabbed Thousand-Eyes Restrict and Gessler fingered his face down Book of Moon, considering using it. He finally decided not to, first attacking a Sheep token. He then used it, taking permanent possession of it. He set a monster and Cardenas was up.
The CO player used Pot of Greed, summoned D. D. Warrior Lady, attacked the Thousand-Eyes, and passed. Gessler flip summoned another Gravekeeper’s Spy, took a Gravekeeper’s Assailant from his deck and placed it on the field, and considered his options: he had a Lightning Vortex in hand, but also a Tribe-Infecting Virus. Cardenas had one face down spell or trap though, and if it was Mirror Force, Gessler would have major problems if he was too aggressive.
Graveekeper’s Assailant took down the Warrior Lady and a Sheep token bit the dust. Gessler played it safe. A flurry of effects wiped his field next turn though, and left Cardenas with a Jinzo. Gessler summoned Tribe-Infecting Virus, discarded Sinister Serpent and called Machines, blowing away the Jinzo. The last Sheep token fell to Gessler’s Tribe, but was soon avenged by a D. D. Assailant.
Gessler took back his Serpent and used it for Lightning Vortex. Cardenas saved his D. D. Assailant with Book of Moon! Gessler was clearly stumped. He set a monster and that was all for the turn.
Cardenas used Graceful Charity, and discarded Mirror Force and Royal Decree. D. D. Assailant took down Gessler’s D. D. Warrior Lady, the Warrior Lady removed the Assailant from play, and Cardenas activated Call of the Haunted! Jinzo came back from the graveyard, swung at Gessler, and the score was 6500 to 4300 for Cardenas!
Gessler set another monster and a spell or trap. Cardenas used Premature Burial to bring up his own D. D. Warrior Lady, attacked Gessler’s face down Sinister Serpent and removed it, and Jinzo again attacked directly. A turn later it happened yet again, and that was enough to finish off Daryl Gessler!
Juan Cardenas emerges victorious from one of the fastest-moving and skill-intensive matches in recent history! He moves on to represent Comic Odyssey in the semifinals!
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.