How to prepare for an upcoming tournament.

Many players ask themselves what they need to do in order to prepare for a tournament. How should you test? Should you test? Going to a tournament unprepared can be stressful. Going to a tournament prepared can be stressful. At least preparing somewhat reduces the stress on you. I’m mostly going to cover how to prepare for tier 2 events, like a regional or YCS, but this can apply to your locals that you attend every week. So let me get into how to prepare for an event.

It’s Monday and you have a regional on Saturday. Let’s be realistic, you probably don’t have every deck available to you so that limits your options. You might. Most players don’t. Right now the big decks are Kozmo and Monarchs with Burning Abyss/Phantom Knights behind them. And after that we have Odd-Eyes/Performapal/Magician decks. If you’ve been playing regularly you should know what the meta decks are. If you’re returning for a regional, take a look at the recent deck profiles. I personally really like TCG Player’s deck archive. It allows you to search within certain dates and first/second/etc place decks only as well as all.

So you know what the good decks are, but how do you decide what to play? This is where you have to be brutally honest with yourself. Do you own Pendulum Sorcerers or know someone that will let you borrow them? If not, don’t consider Performapal as a choice for the event. If the event is like a YCS and further out, you have more time to get the cards, but I’m writing this assuming your tournament is less than a week out. Anyways, if you don’t have access to Performapals at all, you can’t play the deck. It really is that simple. Don’t disillusion yourself. I have attended tournaments when I don’t have the cards I needed, but almost every time I’ve had to buy the card for more than it’s worth from a vendor.

How do you actually decide between the options available? This is where testing comes in. You should be playing all of the deck options you have against all of the decks you expect to see. This can be in real life or online. This matters to some people, but really as long as you and your opponent are playing seriously it’s fine. It’s easy to ask your friend who doesn’t know how to play Pendulum to play Pendulum against you. Then when you crush Pendulum you think you have an easy match up. Try to get players that know the deck to test against. If you’re testing against a player that has a skill level of 9 and the average player at a tournament is more like a 6, you’ll do better than you did in testing. If you test against someone who is a 3, but the tournament is full of 6s you’re going to dismiss a deck as an easy match up and likely lose.

People are traveling hours to get themselves to the tournament. They’re not going to let you take back summoning the wrong Xyz Monster. If you summon Silent Honor ARK when I only have Defense Position monsters, you summoned Silent Honor Ark. Sorry, not sorry. This goes back to the thing I said about not letting yourself get lazy.

Something like this. It can be however you want to format it. It’s for your information.

How I gauntlet test is just the deck I think I might play in 5-10 matches against all of the meta decks. And keep track of records. It’s best to keep track of what is a problem in the match up and what not to worry about. Also, play full matches. In real tournaments, you play one game without your Side Deck, and one or two with your Side Deck. Even if you win every single match 2-0, half of your games are played post side. If you win every single Game 1 but lose every post side game, you’re losing all of your matches. I don’t really keep it a secret that I enjoy playing Summer 2013 format like many people enjoy playing April 2005 format. Dragons have a bad game 1 against Spellbooks. That isn’t a secret. The friends I play against don’t like siding for whatever reason. If they’re playing Spellbooks and I’m playing Dragons, in a 2 out of 3 match, if we don’t side deck I’m likely to lose 2-0. If we do side, I’m more likely to win 2-1. You need to practice with side decks.

UARivalRebounder-CROS-EN-C-1EIf you don’t want to put in the time to play at least five matches of the deck you want to play against the best decks, well, other people will. And these are the people that are constantly topping events. Mew2King didn’t get good at Smash Bros. by not practicing. If you want to be good at something, you have to put the time in. It sounds calloused, but it’s true. Professional sports players don’t just play one day a week.

There are other things you can do to prepare, though. And these things you should do. This paragraph isn’t going to go in depth much because I can’t really help you so much here. You need to know where the venue is, plan your trip and make sure any hotels or other lodging are taken care of as soon as possible. It’s not only more expensive the longer you wait, it’s more stressful. Not knowing if you have to sleep in your car or not isn’t fun. This doesn’t always apply, especially for regionals that aren’t so far. But if you are getting a hotel with friends, make sure it’s all squared away before you travel. And if you are carpooling with anyone make all travel arrangements ahead of time. It’s not fun to be stuck anywhere. It’s less fun to be stuck somewhere far away from home.

Going along with planning ahead, pack light. Maybe don’t bring your backpack with all of your trades, multiple decks and your collection of DDS Blue-Eyes. String bags like this one are much easier to just leave on your back and less tempting to set down than a backpack. Also, bring some snacks. I don’t know what you like, but bring water and whatever things you can easily snack on between rounds. You can pack sandwiches for yourself or bring something like fruit or beef jerky. This is on you. I’m not your mom and can’t pack your snacks for you. Don’t forget to check out where the food places are and bring some money for them if you’re not packing meals. If it’s multiple days, do you really need your change of clothes at the venue? Leave them at the hotel or in your car.

If I had to boil this article down to just a few sentences I’d say this. Be realistic about what you can play, test all the match ups a lot, get your cards before the event and be confident. Bring food, water and money. Bring your deck, don’t bring extra things to the venue and be aware of thieves. Book your travel ahead of time, bring extra sleeves and have fun. And remember, it may seem like a big tournament but you play one match at a time, one game at a time.

Until I post again on Monday, click an ad, buy a string bag if you don’t have one and share this with your friends. How do you prepare for an event? I’ve shown up to locals so many times having no idea what I’m going to play. If you don’t have a serious locals, there isn’t much need to prepare.

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