Pro-Talk: Interview with Darren Stephenson
09.12.2018 | 10:28
We are here with Darren Stephenson from the UK. Darren is a YCS regular and a World Championship 2018 competitor. Today, he is running a Altergeist, holding an X:1:1 record going into Round 10. In order to make it to Top 32 he needs to win his next two matches.
Hi Darren, thank you for taking your time to talk to us. Please tell us how did you come to play Yu-Gi-Oh!?
Actually, I played from the very beginning! My first cards were pharaoh cards that I bought at local market. I watched the show before and was surprised that this is an actual game. That’s how I got started and reminiscing makes me feel pretty nostalgic. Then, being a youngster at that time, I left for some years, just to return in 2009 when I started playing again. After some time, I lost interest and phased out again. Until that time, I never developed great relationships with anyone.
In 2014 I got some Christmas money and spent that money on a Blackwing Deck. I started going to locals and started making relationship with people. I was playing for fun and enjoy the game. I still didn’t aspire a lot. After UK Nationals, where I did pretty bad, I decided I didn’t want to be bad anymore. As soon as Duelist Alliance was out, I decided to get the best Deck possible and get better. I won my first local with Shaddoll and it felt great. I improved as a player a lot. At YCS London 2014, my first YCS back then, I guess ignorance was in my favor. I had no idea what I was up to and I did surprisingly well. I went all the way to Top 16 and lost to the eventual winner: Marcello Barberi. Even though I did good, I felt like I still have a lot to improve upon.
In 2017 I was too far behind in race for Worlds, so I couldn’t make it anymore. I felt like I had the ability to do so. You can achieve anything if you put your mind into it. In 2017/18 season I played Luke Parkes list in London, and it was one of the easiest events I ever played. After two more tops I decided to really go for it and run for Worlds. One of my friends in the States invited to me stay with him and that’s when it all started. In the US it is quite easy to farm for points, due to the fact, that they have huge Regionals. I had to catch up to JY, he was 100 points ahead of me. I managed to snatch up enough points in the States. But then, everything changed. I really felt the pressure getting to me. Now, I had something to lose! Overall, I’m very happy that I did what I did. I made so many friends while I was away. So, I would anybody advice to try for it.
What Deck are you running for this weekend?
I chose to bring Altergeist to this event. My current record after Round 9 is X:1:1. I was unsure whether to play combo or control. I wasn’t massively prepared with Danger! so I thought that it wouldn’t be a great idea to beta-test the Deck during the event.
The obvious choice was Sky Striker, but I thought that everybody would jump for it. So, I figured people would be prepared maindecking cards like Shared Ride. I decided to run something a little more under the radar. The Deck plays a bunch of traps, so you can defend yourself if you open with a bad hand. It’s also a decent choice against combo.
Sky Striker is the better engine, but Altergeist has a win button in Secret Village and [imperial]. I decided to take the risk. My draw was against Joshua Schmidt. Considering my opening hand, it was an ok result. My only loss was against Thunder Dragon. Basically, I lost to a timely Evenly Matched in Game 3. It was very unfortunate. I know that there are a lot of Side Deck cards that Altergeist straight up loses to, but you have to draw into them. None of these cards are searchable. And you can still counterside against those cards.
How do you feel about the current metagame?
I quite like it. The new list forced me to make a decision. It was quite stressful too, but it made me leave my comfort zone and made me rethink he game. I didn’t feel like that any other combo Decks were consistent and strong enough for a long event like this. I was running Altergeist at Worlds and a Regional, so I felt most comfortable with the Deck.
The game is so fast right now! There are combo Decks in the current metagame that will win in Round 1. You either have to accept how the works or quit. I don’t see no reason in complaining. Furthermore, I feel like the difference between FTK and a Turn 1 Gouki board is almost negligible.
Rhongo, for example, is good going first, but it is not reliable enough for a long event. Then there is still the variance of the Danger! cards. I think if your opponent is able to defend himself with handtraps than its ok.
How was Worlds for you?
I was so happy it was in Japan! I only ever travel for YGO events. The fact that it was in Japan was amazing. It was a country that I ever wanted to go before, and YGO made it happen for me. After Worlds I was so hyped, it made me wanting to go there again. Even though, it is a rather small event, you have the best players in the world all in one place. It was great connecting with them.
Japan is so different. It’s like a cultural shock. In Europe there are places where you struggle to find a local strore. In Akihabara there was so many shops and game store. It was like heaven to me. I also picked up some souvenirs. Cards in different rarities we don’t have in Europe.
Do you have any advice for Duelists who want to improve as a player?
Most important is to keep playing Yu-Gi-Oh!, use your resources and play Yu-Gi-Oh!. I know that it might be frustrating if there is not local store to attend to. But in todays world there are different options.
Testing circles are important and playtesting with friends. I ended up testing with people from Scotland and the United States. We are very well connected and meet up before events to prepare.
When you want to improve as a Duelist you have to recognize that you are not perfect. There is always room to improve. Then it’s up to you if you want to get better. Make a decision and do what’s necessary. Be a nice person and constantly talk to other people about stuff.
Do you have any final words?
Shoutouts to Team Complexity Card Gaming my team and everybody on the team. Shoutouts to all my friends I playtested with and also shoutouts to across the pond for giving me a place to stay especially Saul Agis and his mom!