Brandon Smith’s Vanguard World Championship Report!

Going into the Cardfight!! Vanguard World Championship I felt a little nervous; actually, I felt really nervous. It was one of the first times that I felt I was the favorite going into an event. Before the Championship my record in tournament play, counting only Regional events and higher, was 21-2. I’m very proud of that record, but I was starting to feel the pressure of keeping the pace that I’d set for myself.

Going into the tournament I was 100% positive that I was going to play the same deck I ran at the North American Qualifiers and my Regionals. With a current record of 21-2, how could I not choose to? I was very confident about the build, but I was worried about the time difference and not having enough rest with a fourteen hour shift across time zones. Here’s what I ran:

4 Spectral Duke Dragon
3 Gigantech Destroyer
4 Knight of Superior Skills, Beaumains
3 Player of the Holy Bow, Viviane
4 Black Dragon Knight, Vortimer
2 Sleygal Dagger
4 Halo Shield, Mark
1 Little Battler, Tron
4 Scout of Darkness, Vortimer
4 Knight of Elegant Skills, Gareth
4 Silent Punisher
4 Elixir Sommelier
4 Weapons Dealer, Gwydion
4 Flame of Victory
1 Black Dragon Whelp, Vortimer

Honestly, on the outside looking in this deck looks a little boring or one dimensional. It’s easy to believe that it has no win condition besides Spectral Duke, and that’s a misconception that people alot of people make the mistake of thinking. Alot of players are going to go with the Garmore-Duke build because of the advantages that deck can offer versus this build. I play this strategy because it’s consistent, and while it IS one dimensional it does its job really well. People who play Garmore-Duke like to draw cards, and I feel that the deck gets stretched too thin.

The World Championship, Round By Round
Registering for the tournament was the same as all the other events that require a deck list, except you get a badge to enter the room for competition and the opening ceremony was fantastic. There were alot of reporters, celebrities, and even a girl who sang the Japanese National Anthem.

Round 1: Me (Spectral Duke GP) USA vs. Gabriel Espinosa (Narukami) Mexico
What a bummer: me versus a North American representative. We’re both familiar with each others decks because we played during the North American Qualifiers, and while I won that time I wasn’t going to underestimate him. He’s a very talented and skilled player.

In Game 1 I hit the ride chain and it was very hard for him to keep up. I avoided his teched Wyvern Strike Tejas because I was ready for it. I won this game with a critical trigger guantlet which sent us quickly into Game 2.

The second game was close. I wasn’t getting any triggers at all in the early game. I was barely surviving, and then I stabilized with Spectral Duke and he guarded for two to pass. First check Draw trigger, then I drew second check Critical Trigger as his last damage goes into the damage zone. We give each other a firm hand shake and he says I better not lose. I tell him that I’ll try not to.

Getting Round 1 in the bag was a big burden off of my chest, and I had ten minutes until the next round.

Round 2: Me (Spectral Duke GP) USA vs. Christopher Fernau (Garmore/Ezel GP) Germany
Round 2 saw me paired against Christopher Fernau from Germany, the European Champion vs. The North American champion in a battle of the titans!

Game 1 started off quickly with us both taking damage, and I thought on his second turn he had the Ezel superior ride but he did not. On my second turn I rode Grade 2 Vortimer and then attacked with Vortimer, and had a Viviane ready for back up. He wasn’t hitting many triggers which allowed me to save alot of cards for later attacks. Two turns after I rode Spectral Duke Dragon, I heard him say, ” No Guard,” and I knew the game was over.

Opening Game 2, Fernau kept his entire hand, while I was looking at four triggers and a Perfect Guard! I put back the four triggers and drew my hand face-down preparing to have to play through the worst. He started this game and rode a Grade 1 to end his turn.

This time I could feel his confidence radiating, so I started to get ready for the Ezel superior ride. On my turn I looked at my hand and I saw a heal trigger, a draw trigger, Beaumaines, Gigantech Destroyer, and Viviane. I draw and hit the Scout of Darkness Vortimer. I was so happy! I rode him but failed on his effect. I placed my draw trigger behind the Vanguard and attacked drive check Grade 2 Vortimer! On his turn, just as I suspected he superior rode to Ezel, and then called two rear guards and I took both of the attacks. On my turn I rode the Black Dragon Knight, Vortimer: on his effect I got a draw trigger and a Halo Shield Mark. I played Viviane and Beaumaines and swung for the fences. Next turn I drew Spectral Duke Dragon and I was like, “thank you, Duke. ”I rode Spectral Duke and we went back and forth alot, but Duke is the ultimate game ender and this game was no exception.

Round 3: Me (Spectral Duke GP) USA vs. Henry (Pellinore Bunnies GP) Indonesia
My hand was terrible in Game 1. I didn’t have any Vortimer cards, including Duke, and I had no Grade 3 or Grade 1 even after the mulligan. We flipped up our starting Vanguards and he started first. On my turn I drew a Perfect Shield and I rode it, revealing Beaumaines, another Grade 2! On his turn he rode Beaumaines and followed up with a rear guard Viviane. I can’t guard and I have to take the two damage, letting him hit a draw trigger. On my turn I played my Grade 2 units with no boosters and attacked: he easily guarded one of the attacks and took two. On his turn he rode Garmore and counterblast two, and searched for Dindrane. He activated Dindrane’s skill and then drew one card. On his attack step he drive checked a draw trigger once again.

On my turn I had no Grade 3 in sight, and Henry had eight cards in hand. I felt like this game was lost, and that thought really struck me: for the first time in a long time I was going to lose. I drew Gigantech and I rode him and hit a critical trigger: Henry took the damage, but not before he checked a third draw trigger. He added the power to the Vanguard and I attacked the rear guards. He no guards them and now with nine cards in his hand I knew this game was not going to go well for me. He drew, rode another Garmore, and searched another Dindrane, then drew yet another card. Then he attacked with his Vanguard and I couldn’t guard, so I let it pass and he got a critical trigger. He added the critical to Garmore and the Power to his rear guard, then used Spring Breeze Effect and off of the top was Pellinore. Thatwas the end for me because I didn’t have enough cards to guard with. After the game I asked him how many triggers were left in his deck: he had two.

After the mulligan in Game 2 I had a Beaumains; two Gareth; a Viviane; and a heal trigger. He went first. I rode a Gareth on my first turn and called a Gareth to rear guard. I attacked with the rear guard, he no guarded and took a damage, then I attacked with the Vanguard and he once again no guarded. I drive checked a Gigantech Destroyer and he damage checked a draw trigger. I was thinking to myself, “not again. ”On his turn he rode Beaumaines and played two Vivianes on his rear guards, one boosted by a Player of the Holy Axe Nimue.

When he attacked with the Vanguard I couldn’t afford to guard it: he drive checked a heal trigger and added the power to the rear guard Viviane, and then Spring Breeze brought out Pellinore. ThenPellinore attacked, leading me to guard with my Heal trigger. He got a draw trigger and added the power to the same Viviane; with it being out of my guard range that was an attack that I was going to have to take. He counterblasted one for the effect of Viviane and he got a Halo Shield Mark, and put it behind the Viviane. He followed up with an attack, and I guarded with Silent Punisher.

I was once again in bad shape not seeing a Vortimer or Duke card during both of the games; I was in trouble. Eventually Henry beat me and I wasn’t upset at all. He threw everything he had at me and I couldn’t answer. I’d already secured a spot in Top 4 so I wished him good luck for the next rounds.

Semi-Finals: Me (Spectral Duke GP) USA vs. Christopher Fernau (Ezel/Garmore GP) Germany
This was a match-up I was familiar with. Having play tested against the deck I knew how it works, and I capitalized on that. Both games were just about the same as our match in Round 2.

After I won, Fernau told me that I better win and I told him I would try my hardest.

The Finals: Me (Spectral Duke GP) USA vs. Henry (Pellinore Bunnies GP) Indonesia
The Finals match was crazy! The entire match was just nuts. I think the video would be better than me telling the story because it was so crazy that I couldn’t remember everything.

My Strategy for The World Championship
Basically I played the same deck I’d run in previous events. As a result I was really familiar with the build, and I knew the match-ups very well on both ends.

Round 1 I played against Gabriel and his Narukami. I was pretty sure that he’d play similar tech cards like Tejas and stand triggers. Out of respect for his game and lack of cards I didn’t test against his deck.

Although I didn’t physically playtest against the deck I theory crafted plays and counter plays. Also, considering I played against Gabriel I felt that I had a feel for his deck and play style.

Narukami is kinda like Kagero except that Vermillion is broken with his limit break active. The only problem in this match-up is with Spectral Duke: I sacrifice more than half of my rear guards which can negate Vermillion’s limit break altogether.

Round 2 I played against Chris Fernau. He was the only person from Europe and he played Gold Paladin. He ran Ezel / Garmore and while that may not have been the best deck of the Gold Paladin line-up in most people’s eyes, it’s very consistent and explosive considering you can Grade 3 a turn early. The strategy can present alot of early damage and capitalize on it very well. Garmore as a back up or main Vanguard makes the deck very explosive and stable.

That being said I played tested with and against that deck a lot. It’sone of my favorite strategies as far as playability, consistency, and explosiveness are concerned. Ithas a lot of forgiving moves and lets you stretch for power plays thanks to the added power of Ezel and Garmore. WithGarmore and his LB4, plus Ezel’s constant +1000 for each rear guard Gold Paladin, they allow you to play Dindrane and other powerful 6k rear guards.

Playing against Ezel you have to remember that more attack power doesn’t equal more damage. Guarding against Ezel or Garmore can become tricky, because they can easily reach 23000. Just remember: more attack doesn’t mean more damage.

Round 3 I played against Henry, who decided to run Pellinore / Garmore. Thedeck’s really explosive, but it’s not as forgiving as any of the other Gold Paladin builds. Viviane and Player of the Holy Axe Nemue are very threatening attackers with effects that set this deck off, so I consider it highly explosive. It becomes a Russian roulette of which effect do you let hit the Spring Breeze: the Viviane, or the Player of the Holy Axe. So playing against this deck you basically have to hope your opponent doesn’t get really lucky. Both during my North American Championship Finals and World Championship Finals Spring Breeze was allowed to call a Pellinore, which won my opponents the game. This deck is really dangerous, and very hard to deal with. Guarding the Vanguard is always hard to do, but guarding all attacks is even harder to pull off, so you have to pick and choose which attacks you let through.

Pellinore / Garmore is very tough to play against because you need to guard every attack, and no deck can do that forever. So basically, if you can you want to try to not let Spring Breeze boost an attack that hits after Grade 2. It’s also important to pick and choose when you take damage, and try to always be prepared for the worst.

Those are the tips and tricks that I used to win Worlds, so try a few of them out!  Everything I do may not work exactly the same way for you, but these tactics will help you across the long term. See you guys at the next event!

-Brandon Smith

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