Home > 2014 North American WCQ > Pressure Point: The Lightsworn Question

Pressure Point: The Lightsworn Question

July 12th, 2014

The main event has yet to begin here at the Cobo Center, but one issue’s already been a huge point of debate and contention since the doors opened yesterday: Lightsworn.


At least half a dozen strategies outperformed Lightsworn over the course of this format: while decks like Geargia, Traptrix Hand Artifacts, Bujins, and Madolche have seen extensive play and substantial success since the Advanced Format began in April, Lightsworn were just a fleeting presence.  An early Regional Top 8 finish in the hands of Jake Kuenzi gave us our first taste the second weekend of April in Des Moines.  The Deck re-emerged with another Regional Top 8 finish in early May piloted by Robbie Stargel in Philadelphia.  One week later two more competitors topped the San Jose, California Regional with Lightsworn variants: Spencer Stephen Deigert and Daniel Arredando.


The deck missed the top cut at YCS Chicago and YCS Philadelphia, so that handful of Regional Qualifier tops were all Lightsworn fans had to go off of in North America.  Results abroad were similar: Alejandro Prieto took a Top 8 finish at the Colombian National Championship on May 25th, while Brazil’s Samir Boadaid took a Top 4 and Belgium’s Alexey Reva took a Top 8 in their Nationals on June 1st.


But then on June 27th everything changed.  The new Realm of Light Structure Deck dropped just in time for the European WCQ where it made a huge impact, as Marcel Burri took a second place finish with his Lightsworn build.  Bolstered by Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn; Minerva, Lightsworn Maiden; and Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn, Burri made it all the way to the Finals.  It was a huge showing that finally solidified Lightsworn as an undisputed threat in the eyes of the global Dueling community.


But it was a bittersweet triumph: while competitors realized that Burri’s finish was a milestone for Lightsworn in this format, Burri was utterly dismantled in the Finals.  The Lightsworn deck relies on early game set-up that pays off with a killer late game, so Mermail Duelist and now-reigning European Champion Eugen Heidt made every effort to ensure that Burri never got past his early game in that Finals Match.  A blow-out Breakthrough Skill on Burri’s first turn won Heidt the first Duel of the Match in just two turns, and Game 2 was over moments later as Heidt quickly assembled a field of Mermail Abyssmegalo; Moulinglacia the Elemental Lord; Number 101: Silent Honor ARK; and Ghostrick Alucard.  By the time it was over, Burri had played only six turns total across both Duels, and was left holding not one, but two Judgment Dragons he couldn’t Summon.


And that’s left every competitor here this morning wondering: how big will Lightsworn really be in this tournament?  On one hand Lightsworn has an incredible late game and an unparalleled access to field-wipe effects that can clear the whole table; not just Judgment Dragon, but Black Rose Dragon courtesy of Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner and Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn too.  On the other hand, Lightsworn’s really vulnerable in the early game; a single Breakthrough Skill or Fiendish Chain can stop the Lightsworn Duelist from building their graveyard, locking them out of their best cards long enough to let you steal the game.  The stability of the deck is now in question, and in a tournament like this one – a competition with a huge tradition of innovation, where everybody’s pulling out all the stops – the actual capability of the builds we’ll see are unknown.  Lightsworn might be the biggest wildcard in the tournament, because players are still stretching it to its limit.


Why is this such a big deal?  The issue has a long reach; whether or not you decide to play Lightsworn yourself is just the surface of the question.  It’s really a comparative situation, because for many players this is a decision between two decks: the newcomer Lightsworn, versus the well-proven Geargia strategy.  And these are two very different Decks:


-Since Lightsworn is so strong in the late game, it’s balanced by a weaker early game, characterized by empty fields and face-up cards.  Geargia Sets a lot of cards – stuff like Geargiarmor, Ice Hand, and Fire Hand – making it more difficult to approach.


-Most Lightsworn Duelists are running few to no Trap Cards. Geargia can play as many as twenty.


-While both decks are good at grinding away to create card advantage, the Geargia deck does it by searching more cards with free effects like Geargiarmor and Gear Gigant X, while the Lightsworn deck plays destruction effects more aggressively.  Think Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress and Michael, The Arch-Lightsworn amongst others.


In short, the decks and individual tech cards that are good against Lightsworn are in most cases drastically different from the decks and cards you’d want if you were going up against Geargia.  So the composition of the tournament here today will make some decks stronger than others; competitors who make the right read on the popularity of Lightsworn could have a significant advantage, since they’ll be better prepared for not just the Lightsworn match-up, but potentially others as well.  Example?  Wiretap, Trap Stun, and Seven Tools of the Bandit have been tremendously popular this format, with many competitors opting to run as many as five to six copies combined.  That’s great in a tournament packed with trap-heavy decks like Geargia, but a huge mistake if you’re going up against a bunch of trap-free Lightsworn decks.


And that’s the first of many issues challenging competitors this weekend.  We’ll be back later to share and analyze some more of these ongoing issues, right here from the tournament floor!




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