If you asked anyone before YCS Anaheim, they would’ve told you that ABC-Dragon Buster was the deck to beat. There are three big things that the ABC deck has going for it, the first being the power level of ABC-Dragon Buster. No other monster can remove threats as well as Dragon Buster can, and the additional effect to tag itself out and Special Summon the monsters you brought it out with with makes it really resilient.
In addition to that, the high redundancy of Union Hangar and the fact that you set up your combo with basically nothing but Bujintei Tsukuyomi means you’ll have a great start in almost every game. Finally, the snowballing momentum of Union Hangar getting additional triggers from Dragon Buster as well as whatever you summon the following turn, means that most games will end on Turn 2, and if not you’ll just bury your opponent in cards later on anyways.
All of those factors made ABC a force to be reckoned with, to the point that the Burning Abyss Phantom Knights deck that won YCS Liverpool was geared strictly to beat it. But a new contender entered the ring at YCS Anaheim thanks to Invasion: Vengeance, and many well-known duelists slowly gravitated away from ABC and towards Metalfoes. Metalfoes Mithrillium, Fullmetalfoes Fusion, and Metalfoes Alkahest gave the strategy another dimension that it didn’t have before. Because all the Metalfoes have the same Pendulum Effect, your game plan’s fairly consistent.
Combine that with the new support from INOV, and you can easily build powerful boards that are hard to deal with because of Metalfoes Mithrillium and Fullmetalfoes Fusion, and you can still interact with your opponent thanks to Metalfoes Alkahest. Metalfoes showed up in hordes at Anaheim, and as the tournament progressed, ABC’s slowly began to dwindle even though they had massive numbers.
However, the better ABC duelists were still able to succeed even with giant bullseyes on their backs. A consistent Turn 1 that snowballs into a Turn 2 win while still keeping traps to disrupt your opponent is crazy, and with an expert pilot, even high-impact threats like System Down weren’t strong enough. Elvis Vu ended up being the last duelist standing, taking out not one but two Paleozoic Frog decks consecutively in the Top 4 and the Finals.
Let’s take a look at what separated him from the pack.
Elvis Vu’s Brilliant ABC – 44 Cards
YCS Anaheim, November 27th, 2016
3 A-Assault Core
3 B-Buster Drake
2 C-Crush Wyvern
2 Gem-Knight Garnet
2 Gold Gadget
2 Maxx “C”
1 Performage Trick Clown
2 Photon Thrasher
2 Silver Gadget
3 Brilliant Fusion
2 Dark Hole
1 Foolish Burial
2 Instant Fusion
3 Pot of Desires
2 Twin Twisters
3 Union Hangar
3 Dimensional Barrier
2 Solemn Strike
1 Vanity’s Emptiness
Extra Deck: 15
3 ABC-Dragon Buster
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Bujintei Tsukuyomi
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Daigusto Emeral
2 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Gear Gigant X
1 Gem-Knight Seraphinite
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
Side Deck: 15
2 Anti-Spell Fragrance
3 Chaos Hunter
2 Magnet Reverse
3 Retaliating “C”
2 System Down
1 Twin Twisters
The biggest difference between Vu’s deck and more standard ABC lists is Brilliant Fusion. It’s not news that Brilliant Fusion is one of the strongest spells in the game; summoning a Level 5 material for an Xyz or Synchro Summon, getting an additional Normal Summon, and sending any Light monster to the graveyard lets you do some crazy stuff. In ABC’s, it represents another Level 4 Light material since you’ll use it to Special Summon Performage Tricklown.
By sending Tricklown from the deck to the graveyard you’ll trigger its effect to revive itself, and from there all you need is Union Hangar to go off. That Tricklown fills the same role as Gold Gadget, Silver Gadget or Photon Thrasher, without requiring a Normal Summon, and it also gets you an another Normal Summon.
That opens up potential combos that don’t even involve Union Hangar, because as long as you draw B-Buster Drake with any other A, B, or C monster you can equip Buster Drake to it before you overlay for Bujintei Tsukuyomi. From there the Buster Drake will fall off and its effect will trigger, grabbing the last monster you need, and Bujintei Tsukuyomi will do the rest of the job. Not relying Union Hangar is a big deal, and even though that means you won’t have as much building momentum, you’ll at least accomplish something powerful.
Brilliant Fusion can also just throw down whatever you’re missing in the graveyard. While typically less powerful, all that matters in the end is making sure you can summon ABC-Dragon Buster, and if you need to resolve a Pot of Desires that happens to banish Performage Tricklown then loading up an A, B, or C is obviously the next best thing you can do. Sometimes you don’t even need a Rank 4 and would much rather summon Dragon Buster to begin with. Foolish Burial also acts as either a Level 4 LIGHT material thanks to Tricklown, or finds the monster you’re missing the same way Brilliant Fusion does.
Another big aspect of Brilliant Fusion is that it lets you threaten Metalfoes Alkahest and Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin. The role that Photon Thrasher plays in most ABC lists is much more than just a Level 4 LIGHT material, since it’s a 2100 ATK beater – it can threaten to clear Alkahest or Kirin in battle without committing too many resources. That’s huge because if you’re disrupted by either of those monsters when you’re trying to set up, you lose way too much time and fall too far behind to make a comeback.
Brilliant Fusion for Performage Tricklown combined with the extra Normal Summon from Gem-Knight Seraphinite gives you a similar way to threaten Alkahest or Kirin, which is a big deal. You can also just discard an extra spell to Brilliant Fusion so your Seraphinite regains its original ATK, so it can also threaten Alkahest or Kirin in the same way.
In addition to Brilliant Fusion, Vu made some other interesting choices. The first was two copies of Dark Hole over every other removal option. Kaijus and Book of Eclipse took the spotlight as the go-to removal options in Anaheim, especially in ABC’s. A Kaiju can shut down any problem monster aside from Vanity’s Fiend, while Book is an ultimate catchall that can temporarily disable an entire field, or even disrupt your opponent’s development. Even the choice of Raigeki seems like it could be more powerful than Dark Hole, so why did Vu make the choice he did?
Kaijus don’t solve the problem of a huge fields. If your opponent has just a single threat out, you can probably push hard enough to deal with it just fine. But if your opponent has multiple threats you need to eliminate, mass removal’s going to be the best way to climb back into the game. Book of Eclipse doesn’t actually remove anything, so it’s clear that Vu valued the raw destruction of Dark Hole over the flexibility of Book.
The bigger question that I think you need to ask here is why you wouldn’t want Raigeki over one of the Dark Holes, and the only answer I could come to has to be triggering your own A-Assault Core, B-Buster Drake, and C-Crush Wyvern. By using Dark Hole as an enabler similar to how Yang Zing use it, you can trigger B-Buster Drake to find whatever you’re missing. Triggering A-Assault Core or C-Crush Wyvern doesn’t seem too important, but having another way to search a missing combo piece seems like it could be enough upside to pick Dark Hole over a Raigeki.
The lack of Anti-Spell Fragrance shows that Vu valued his mirror match and the Toadally Awesome matchup more than the auto-win against Pendulums. With so many players gravitating to Metalfoes, I would’ve thought Main Decked Anti-Spell Fragrance would be the best way to go. It works well with the ABC game plan, and can even slow down other decks that are less reliant on spells, just by buying you a turn. But Anti-Spell Fragrance is poor going second, and if you go first with ABC-Dragon Buster then you’re probably in good shape anyways. Fragrance is also horrendous against Paleozoics, which run as few as three Spells.
Two Side Deck picks stand out above the rest to me. The first is Chaos Hunter, a card we saw a lot of in the beginning of ABC but was always valued less than System Down. However, Vu chose to use no System Downs while filling his side with a full set of Hunters. Coming out of nowhere to disrupt the ABC combo, Chaos Hunter also gives you a 2500 ATK beater to threaten Bujintei Tsukuyomi. It stops Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries AND System Down if it’s already face up, though I don’t see that coming up too often. The other interesting choice is Magnet Reverse, which represents a good way to rebuy back into a game that your opponent may have Kaijued you out of.
Brilliant Fusion seems like the best way to build ABC’s right now. It adds consistency while widening the range of things you can do in a single turn. That combination’s huge, and Vu took advantage of that edge to ride ABC-Dragon Buster to a YCS victory.