Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Spotlight: Masuda Yuusaku/益田優作

Fighter's Spotlight is an ongoing project concerned with tracking real-world professional cardfighters across the globe.

Masuda is to the right of Doctor O, holding the championship trophy.
Masuda Yuusaku/益田優作
Age: Unknown; Seniors Division
Titles Won: Tokyo Regional Champion, Vanguard Grand Prix National Champion (Senior Class)
Current Status: National Champion (Winter 2011)
Deck Type: Royal Paladin (Alfred-SSD, Galahad influence)
Masuda Yuusaku is the 2011 Grand Prix national champion, having made his debut in the pro scene during a troubled time when his clan's place as a competitive deck was in dispute. In stark contrast to Rikino's by-the-book approach to the junior cup, Masuda is today known for having innovated a deck that reestablished RoPala in the new format, cementing them as the clan of choice for many professionals to come. At the moment he is the subject of much interest in the west due to the ongoing world championship, and the English side of the game existing at roughly the same stage as Japan had in Masuda's time. Unlike Masuda, western cardfighters are approaching their first national events in a limit break-dominated format, once more putting into question how his deck can perform for the emerging EN scene.

Decks and Play Style
Having come into the Prix immediately following the restriction of Barcgal, as a Royal Paladin cardfighter Masuda faced the challenge of reestablishing a clan that had just been put into doubt. Opting to take the unproven but promising Galahad build, Masuda's set 3 deck eschews the Godspeed section of the line in favor of the Soul Saver and Alfred play set established by Shitakawachi, but with Palamedes replacing Bors as his rearguard attacker. Due to the inclusion of Galahad, Lien proved both unnecessary for consistency and forced out by the need to maximize his odds of getting off a superior ride. The deck's synergy is somewhat interrupted by RoPala's lack of Tsukuyomi-style stacking support, Tribulation's soulcharge 2 not being available due to Godspeed being excluded, and the numerous count of shuffle-based skills, but this is a deck where the Paladins are operating outside of their traditional comfort zone and Masuda has made the most of that by adapting it back toward their leading image.

Unlike his predecessors, Masuda's deck required zero maintenance in the transition from the regional to national level. Since there's no room for Toypugal and Marron could not be run in her full number, Palamedes is at less than his peak performance, and while Soul Saver helps compensate for this, had the Explosive Flames been capable of breaking 21000 power more regularly then Saver Dragon's soulblast would push that strength to another stage. His purely 10000-power grade 3s and Palamedes' lesser expressive force leaves the Masuda deck dangerously open to loss from defensive play styles and 20-25000 power rushes, cheaper and easier to maintain than 16-21000. While important for understanding the development and evolution of professional Cardfight, and undoubtedly the best deck that RoPala had available at the time, it's unlikely to see comebacks in modern Japanese play due to the development of the Blaster series.

Winter 2011 Regional Tournament, Tokyo Seniors Division
Card Pool: TD01-BT03, PR 0001-0036
Grade 0
x1 Future Knight, Llew CT
x4 Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine HT
x3 Margal DT
x1 Drangal (FVG)
x4 Alabaster Owl CT
x4 Bringer of Good luck, Epona CT
Grade 1
x4 Flash Shield, Iseult
x3 Little Saged, Marron
x3 Pongal
x4 Knight of Quests, Galahad
Graded 2
x2 Blaster Blade
x2 Knight of Silence, Gallatin
x2 High Dog Breeder, Akane
x2 Knight of Truth, Gordon
x4 Knight of Tribulations, Galahad
Grade 3
x3 King of Knights, Alfred
x2 Soul Saver Dragon
x2 Swordsman of the Explosive Flames, Palamedes