As the day wears on, interest always focuses on the top tables. Who is going to make it to top 8? Who will slip, make a mistake, and move to the lower tables? I'd just finished a deck profile on one of the players at the top tables (Ramon Ciriano), and decided that table 3 was a perfect candidate for some match coverage.
Ramon Ciriano is fifteen and is a local from New Jersey, and Nicolas Walker is sixteen and traveled all the way from Louisiana. The trip seems to have paid off so far—sitting at table 3 in the next-to-last round of an event with more than 500 players is a serious accomplishment.
Both players laid out a Regionals Top 8 playmat, then shuffled and readied their decks. It had been a long, hot, tiring day, but neither could afford a mistake, so they kept their attention firmly on the game. Nicolas won the coin toss, and opted to go first. He drew, studied his hand, then set a spell or trap and ended.
Ramon drew and promptly played Pot of Greed, then summoned Nimble Momonga and attacked into Nicolas's set Scapegoat. He took out one goat, and ended his turn.
A few turns passed in quick succession as Ramon slowly picked off the goats. Each player brought out new monsters—D. D. Warrior Lady for Nicolas, Breaker the Magical Warrior for Ramon—while Book of Moon and Tsukuyomi flipped monsters face down on both sides of the field. Control of the field veered between the two players.
Nicolas gained the upper hand for a while, flipping Mobius the Frost Monarch face down and removing him with Nobleman of Crossout. Then Ramon drew into Graceful Charity, discarded Sinister Serpent and Jinzo, and summoned another Nimble Momonga to regain some field presence.
Nicolas drew, set a monster, and then ended. With only one card left in hand, he seemed to have exhausted all his options. Ramon began his turn and used Mystical Space Typhoon to destroy Nicolas's set Torrential Tribute, then summoned Berserk Gorilla to eliminate Nicolas' final goat token.
Nicolas drew, studied his hand, then summoned D. D. Assailant and attacked the Momonga. Ramon gleefully accepted his life point bonus and brought his final Mononga to the field in face down defense position. Nicolas then ended his turn. Ramon summoned Enraged Battle Ox and attacked Nicolas' face-down Tribe-Infecting Virus, then followed up with a direct hit from Nimble Momonga and Berserk Gorilla to win the game.
Both players took a look through their decks, then opted not to side deck. After a thorough shuffling session, each was ready for game two. Nicolas again went first, repeating his original opening move exactly as he set one spell or trap and ended his turn.
Ramon was off to a good start in this game. He played Pot of Greed, then summoned D. D. Assailant and attacked into Nicolas's set Scapegoat. He decided to eliminate a goat, then set a spell or trap and ended.
Nicolas started getting tricky. He drew, and changed a goat to attack position. “Here comes Creature Swap,” said Ramon. He'd called it, as Nicolas offered him an attack position goat and took Ramon's only monster, D. D. Assailant, in return. Nick attacked with Assailant, set a spell or trap and a monster, and ended.
This was a bit of a drawback for Ramon. He drew, and studied the three cards in his hand. He summoned Berserk Gorilla and attacked Nicolas' face down monster, revealing a Magician of Faith. Nicolas took Creature Swap back from his graveyard, then Ramon set one more spell or trap and ended his turn.
Nicolas attacked, triggering Ramon's Scapegoat, then Metamorphosed a goat into Thousand-Eyes Restrict and sucked up Berserk Gorilla. He attacked a goat, and ended his turn.
Ramon fell back on Swords of Revealing Light to hold off the stolen Gorilla, and a few turns went by without a lot of action. Ramon went after Thousand-Eyes Restrict with Snatch Steal, but was foiled by Dust Tornado. Neither player could draw into anything useful, and their hand size increased. Some set monsters and spell and trap cards hit the field as they both struggled to gain control of the field.
There wasn't a great deal of conversation during this game, as both players were totally focused on what was hitting the field. Life points hit a crucial level for Ramon when he had only 100 remaining. Nicolas continued to press his advantage, leaving Ramon with one D. D. Assailant and two set spells or traps. Nicolas summoned Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning, used its effect to remove D. D. Assailant from play, then attacked with Breaker for game.
Again, both players looked through their decks. Ramon considered side decking, but changed his mind and kept his deck intact. They both shuffled thoroughly, shook hands, and began the pivotal third game.
Ramon finally got a chance to go first, and he studied his hand carefully before making a play. Finally, he selected a spell or trap card, set it, and ended his turn.
Nicolas had a good opening with Graceful Charity, discarding Sinister Serpent and Airknight Parshath. He summoned D. D. Warrior Lady and attacked into Ramon's set Scapegoat, killing off one goat. He finished off his turn with Delinquent Duo.
Turnabout being fair play, Ramon retaliated with his own Delinquent Duo, taking Nicolas's last two cards. Ramon then attacked with D. D. Assailant, prompting Nicolas to use Ring of Destruction on it in response. Ramon set another spell or trap and ended.
Nicolas spent the next few turns eliminating Ramon's goats, as Ramon didn't draw into anything to help him out. Eventually he secured Tribe-Infecting Virus and rid Nicolas's field of D. D. Assailant, which led into another stretch of slow turns without a lot of action. Nicolas eventually got a Metamorphosis, and traded in a goat for Thousand-Eyes Restrict. Ramon promptly Book of Mooned it, Nicolas set a spell or trap and ended. Ramon went on the offensive on his next turn, tributing to bring out Mobius the Frost Monarch to get rid of Nicolas' Mirror Force and the helpless face down Thousand-Eyes.
Nick played Lightning Vortex to clear out Ramon's field, summoned Blade Knight and attacked directly. Ramon set one spell or trap and ended. Nicolas attacked again with Blade Knight, and smacked into Mirror Force.
A few turns passed with each player setting spell and trap cards while repeatedly checking set cards and graveyards. Any momentary gain in field advantage was shut down, and control slowly edged over to Nicolas as he brought out Tsukuyomi and began flipping around Ramon's monsters. This ruined Ramon's defenses, and Nicolas was eventually able to pick off his remaining life points to take the match.
Nicolas Walker wins 2-1.
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.