Saturday, August 2, 2014

News: Hachioji Cup Won by Thing Saver-“Abyss,” Metalborgs in Fourth

Photograph taken by jupiter6062.
Koyasu Community Center, Hachioji city, Tokyo. One hundred and eleven cardfighters gathered here over July 12th for the Hachioji Cup, many of them arriving by train--the Center is a five minute walk from Japan Railways' Hachioji stop. Although originally intended as a 96-person tournament, the Cup ended up accepting entries well beyond its original capacity.

First place was taken by Gungnir, who had previously won last year's Tsurumai Vanguard Championship and placed fourth in the fifth Fateclock CS. As in those tournaments, Gungnir played a restanding vanguard deck, this time bringing a variation on the Thing Saver-Phantom Blaster “Abyss” deck that hybridizes Royal Paladin and Shadow Paladin cards. The build has gained popularity after this year's Kanazawa regional qualifier, where regional champion Hayashi Daiki demonstrated techniques for integrating old Blaster card support with the deck to effectively use “Abyss” in a primarily Royal Paladin build. The deck subsequently proliferated in the third Kansai VGCS team tournament, where the number of Thing Saver-“Abyss” fighters just barely outnumbered the number of pure Thing Saver fighters. Gungnir's deck follows the general conventions of Hayashi's FR2014 design, using MacArt's on-Legion rearguard skill to superior call Dark Bond Trumpeter and use her to call out his teched Air Raid Dragon, setting up three Revenger rearguards for “Abyss” to retire. “Abyss” himself can be searched by the deck's first vanguard Wingal Brave by having Brave boost any of deck's three Blaster grade 2s.

In second place was Zaki with the likewise-successful Cat Butler Raizers. Like Thing Saver the deck is based around a restanding vanguard line, and combines this with a high-critical center lane from Ultimate Raizer Mega Flare, while the restanding skill itself comes from the grade 0 Cat Butler. Butler can retire itself after a grade 2 Nova Grappler vanguard attacks to restand it, and after it was ruled by Bushiroad that a vanguard in Legion is both a grade 2 and a grade 3 the build found instant popularity. The subsequent second Beast Deity Cup, fourth Tachikawa CS and fourth Laketown CS each built on the dominance of Cat Butler.

Third and fourth places at Hachioji were Hibari and Tsukasa with a standard Thing Saver and a Metalborg deck. Although the successors to last year's Dimensional Robos have maintained a rocky foothold in the format, the Metalborgs' ability to prevent the opponent from using perfect defense cards while maintaining a high-power center lane has proved troublesome where implemented well. Tsukasa's Metalborg notably differs from past incarnations in how it uses the Super Dimensional Robo Daikaiser break ride. Daikaiser's break ride skill has been a recurring problem since its debut in 2013; when ridden it gives the new vanguard +10000 power and an additional critical, while also giving it the ability to retire the cards the opponent guards with when a grade 3 is drive checked. This power boosted innately activates both of Metalborg Sin Buster's skills, bringing together a powerful combo of preventing the opponent from guarding with grade 1 units while also retiring the cards they guard with. This prevents the hard answer to Daikaiser, Quintet Walls, from being used against it while still demanding in the range of 35000~40000 shield to block Sin Buster's attack. No-guarding is hardly an option when the vanguard is attacking for two damage. However, in the Legion format where many fighters prefer to stay at the safe range of 2~3 damage for the majority of the fight, this play is not met with universal success.

The Hachioji Cup's initial four rounds of Swiss draw lasted 30 minutes each, with the first round beginning at 1:30 PM and the fourth concluding at 4:00 PM. Unlike most VGCS events, Swiss draw was handled in a best-of-one games model. Best-of-one in Cardfight!! Vanguard has been criticized as being nonrepresentative of player skill and tantamount to gambling, as one game of gradelock or mass trigger checking from the opponent is enough to kick skilled fighters into loser's bracket or out of the tournament entirely, without an opportunity to play serious games. The tournament finals following the cut to top 16 were conducted using the more popular best-of-three games ruleset, with a 50 minute time limit. Finals began at 4:40 PM and lasted until 8:30 PM. First place won a Nintendo 3DS XL and one box of VG-BT16: Legion of Dragons and Blades, second place won a standard 3DS, third place two boxes of BT16 and one Beginning Set of their choice, and fourth place one box of BT16 and a Beginning Set. Fifth through eighth place were given a choice of two trial decks, between Liberator of Bluish Flames and Will of the Locked Dragon. Entry fee was 1000 yen (approx. $10) per person.

A detailed breakdown of clan participation is not available.

The VGCS tournaments are a series of unofficial tournaments organized by fans and cardshops. Unlike Bushiroad's larger official tournaments, most VGCS events are done using a best of 3, Swiss tournament model. Turnout is typically 70-80 persons, but some events see 100 or more participants, all of whom compete using pseudonyms and internet handles rather than their real names as in official events. The VGCS model of fan-organized play has begun to gain popularity internationally, with the bi-monthly BeNeLux tournaments serving as their European equivalent, and there are now similar grassroots organizations emerging in the United States like Cosmic Oasis' tournament series and the ongoing King of Cardfight competition in the American midwest.

Hachioji Cup/八王子杯
First place: Gungnir/ぐんぐにーる
Grade 0
x1 Wingal Brave (FV)
x4 Seeker, Loving Healer  HT
x4 Seeker, Herald Breath Dragon CT
x2 Certain Kill Seeker, Modron CT
x1 Revenger, Air Raid Dragon CT
x1 Seeker, Bucephalus ST
x4 Margal DT
Grade 1
x2 Flail Seeker, Hasbasado
x2 Revenger, Dark Bond Trumpeter x4 Knight of Friendship, Kay
x4 Lake Maiden, Lien
x4 Guardian Law Seeker, Shiron
Grade 2
x3 Blaster Blade Spirit
x3 Blaster Blade, Seeker
x2 Blaster Dark Revenger “Abyss”
x4 Fighting Spirit Revenger, MacArt
Grade 3
x4 Seeker, Thing Saver Dragon
x1 Revenger, Phantom Blaster “Abyss”

Second place: Zaki/ざき
Grade 0
x1 Transmigrating Evolution, Miraioh (FV)
x4 Cat Butler
x1 Raizer Girl, Kate HT
x3 Round Girl, Clara HT
x3 Raizer Crew DT
x1 The Gong DT
x2 Shining Lady CT
x3 Meteoraizer CT
x1 Minimum Raizer CT
x1 Red Lightning CT
x1 Fighting Battleship, Prometheus CT
Grade 1
x4 Shieldraizer
x3 Energy Charger
x4 The Screamin' and Dancin' Announcer, Shout
x4 Cannon Raizer
Grade 2
x4 Ultimate Raizer, DF
x4 Phoenix Raizer, FW
x2 Street Bouncer
Grade 3
x4 Ultimate Raizer, MF

Third place: Hibari/ヒバリ
Grade 0
x1 Advance Party Seeker, File (FV)
x4 Seeker, Loving Healer HT
x4 Margal DT
x4 Certain Kill Seeker, Modron CT
x4 Seeker, Herald Breath Dragon CT
Grade 1
x2 Summoning Jewel Knight, Gloria
x2 Guardian Law Seeker, Shiron
x2 Little Sage, Marron
x3 Good Faith Seeker, Cynric
x4 Snowgal
x2 Pongal
Grade 2
x4 Blaster Blade, Seeker
x4 Full Bloom Seeker, Cerdic
x4 Beast Knight, Garmore
Grade 3
x4 Seeker, Thing Saver Dragon
x1 Soul Saver Dragon

Fourth place: Tsukasa
Grade 0
x1 Destined Warrior, Dai (FV)
x4 Metalborg, Black Nurse HT
x3 Army Penguin DT
x3 Metalborg, Devil Roader DT
x3 Metalborg, Battle Roller CT
x3 Metalborg, Operator Kirika ST
Grade 1
x4 Metalborg, Mist Ghost
x4 Diamond Ace
x2 Metalborg, Black Doctor
x4 Commander Laurel
Grade 2
x3 Twin Order
x2 Metalborg, Digalion
x4 Metalborg, Ur Buster
x2 Metalborg, Russell Blizzard
Grade 3
x4 Metalborg, Sin Buster
x4 Super Dimensional Robo, Daikaiser