ABC-Dragon Buster debuted at YCS Liverpool, and surprisingly it didn’t win the Championship.
The ABC strategy was expected to become the be-all end-all, but it fell short as players focused on finding tech to beat it. Thomas Rose piloted a Burning Abyss variant specifically targeted to beat the Union Machine menace, and he was rewarded with a 1st Place finish for his efforts.
Burning Abyss Phantom Knights is widely recognized as one of the most consistent strategies in the format. Because of its high redundancy with Level 3 monsters, it summons Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss really easily and follows it up with Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal by simply discarding a Malebranche. Once Beatrice hits the table you can get to every card in your deck, giving you a ton of ways to disrupt your opponent’s plan or set up a game shot.
Beatrice is especially strong against ABC’s thanks to Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. If you can stick a Beatrice before your opponent plays a turn, you can make sure that their Bujintei Tsukuyomi never activates its effect. Instead, your opponent’s stuck dealing with your Beatrice first – great news for you. If they’re silly enough to try to press into it, you can usually stop them with a single Farfa and then do it again on their following turn, since ABC’s are so reliant on their first Rank 4 Xyz Summon.
Because Burning Phantom Knights can do so much with so few cards, you have plenty of room to splash whatever you want to combat your biggest matchups. Unlike most combo strategies, Burning Phantom Knights brings its whole engine online with just three cards, so if the last two cards in your hand can help you protect your set-up then the game’s looking pretty good for you.
Tech choices that can hard counter an opposing strategy can wind up making your tournament experience an easy one if you make the right metagame reads going in; we’ve seen that play out plenty times in past Championships. And in the case of YCS Liverpool, the target was obviously ABC given its power level and all the hype leading into the tournament.
Thomas Rose took full advantage of that information, so let’s take a look at his deck.
Thomas Rose’s Burning Abyss Phantom Knights – 50 Cards
YCS Liverpool, October 30th, 2016
1 Alich, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss
1 Barbar, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss
1 Calcab, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss
3 Chaos Hunter
1 Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss
3 Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss
2 Fiendish Rhino Warrior
3 Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries
1 Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss
1 Libic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss
3 Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss
1 Speedroid Taketomborg
3 Speedroid Terrortop
2 The Phantom Knights of Ancient Cloak
1 The Phantom Knights of Ragged Gloves
3 The Phantom Knights of Silent Boots
1 Tour Guide From the Underworld
1 Vanity’s Fiend
3 Allure of Darkness
1 Foolish Burial
3 Mask Change II
3 Pot of Desires
1 Reinforcement of the Army
1 Soul Charge
3 Twin Twisters
2 Phantom Knights’ Fog Blade
1 Phantom Knights’ Sword
Extra Deck: 15
1 ABC-Dragon Buster
1 Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal
1 Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon
2 Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss
1 Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon
2 Leviair the Sea Dragon
1 Masked HERO Dark Law
1 Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk
1 Number F0: Utopic Future
1 Super Quantal Mech Beast Grampulse
2 The Phantom Knights of Break Sword
1 Virgil, Rock Star of the Burning Abyss
Side Deck: 15
3 Anti-Spell Fragrance
2 Maxx “C”
3 Radian, the Multidimensional Kaiju
1 Shaddoll Dragon
3 System Down
Chaos Hunter let Rose disrupt the ABC deck’s core game plan by stopping them from summoning ABC-Dragon Buster. If the ABC player can’t banish their stuff they can’t summon Dragon Buster and start generating free card advantage from Union Hangar.
Conveniently, the typical ABC play sequence sees your opponent making a Rank 4 Xyz so they can dump all of the component monsters for ABC-Dragon Buster to the graveyard in a bid to banish them. Bujintei Tsukuyomi’s the obvious go-to, but regardless of which Rank 4 they summon you can respond with Chaos Hunter to make sure that even if they fill their graveyard, they can’t summon their boss monster.
Rose had lots of ways to turn Chaos Hunter’s discard into free value. Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss can banish an opposing Bujintei Tsukuyomi and create a huge swing, because the Rank 4 will lose its Xyz Materials and you set your opponent back a whole turn. In addition to maxing out on Farfa, Rose also ran Fiendish Rhino Warrior to get Farfa to the grave more consistently.
Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries is an obvious blowout in a lot of matchups. Rose spent a few slots in his Extra Deck to get the most of Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, and since he Main Decked it, he could capitalize on a very high impact effect when his opponent wouldn’t expect it. Ghost Reaper’s useful in a bigger variety of matchups than Chaos Hunter, so even though he ran it chiefly to deal with ABC’s, Rose could still get a huge leg up in the mirror, or even against Blue-Eyes strategies.
Ghost Reaper’s also a Level 3, so you can always just use it as an Xyz Material in a worst-case scenario where its effect isn’t useful. Because he played Mask Change II, he could even slip Masked HERO Dark Law into his Extra Deck without wasting a card slot. That meant Rose could get even more mileage out of Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries against any strategy that ran Dark Law.
Mask Change II is similar to Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries in that it gets you really far ahead in a few different matchups. Masked HERO Dark Law’s just crazy, almost always banishing a card from your opponent’s hand and disrupting their plays by banishing anything they need in their graveyard. It’s really strong against ABC-Dragon Buster because you can activate Mask Change II in response to Union Hangar. It also stops your opponent from dumping their component ABC monsters into the graveyard to deprive them of an efficient summon.
Disrupting your opponent’s graveyard in the Blue-Eyes White Dragon matchup is a great way to make sure things don’t get too out of hand, and the Blue-Eyes deck plays so many draw and search cards that you’re bound to get an extra card off of Dark Law’s ability. In the mirror match, you generally want Dark Law because it shuts off graveyard effects, which is basically your opponent’s whole game plan. Rose also got more synergy thanks to his focus on Farfa; Mask Change II is just another discard enabler for you to abuse.
We’ve seen decks with high card counts far above the 40-card minimum find success in the past, and having more cards in your deck means more options when you Summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal. It also lets you manage your ratios for tech choices very carefully, since you can fill your deck with proactive cards and just max out on whatever hard counters you want, retaining a strong chance to see them.
Rose did just that with his full playsets of Chaos Hunter, Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, as well as Mask Change II. All three were key to his success. But as strong as those tech choices were, the most impressive thing might’ve been how he compensated for the sheer number of reactive cards he ran by playing three Allure of Darkness. It gave him something to do with those cards if he was left holding extra copies. With the draw power of Allure of Darkness and Pot of Desires, he was armed with a filtering and raw card advantage, and could speed through his deck to find whatever he wanted most.
Rose’s Side Deck was packed with three-of hate cards for specific matchups as well. He had triple Radian, the Multidimensional Kaiju; Anti-Spell Fragrance; System Down; and Typhoon for Games 2 and 3, ensuring he would have enough Side Deck cards to compensate for stuff like the three mained Chaos Hunters. He took advantage of the inherent traits that makes Burning Abyss Phantom Knights so successful, and capitalized on a predictable metagame to give himself the best chance at victory.
Do you think Burning Abyss will continue to be successful? With the release of Invasion: Vengeance, I think Metalfoes will really damage Burning Abyss decks, because the matchup is so good for the Metalfoes player. We’ll have to wait and see what happens at YCS Anaheim!