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Thread: Hizoku Vega - Rockford 2017 Champ

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    Senior Member -OMB-'s Avatar
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    Hizoku Vega - Rockford 2017 Champ

    Well it's a little late, but it's been awhile since I did a tourney report and seeing as I just won with a deck that many would see as a departure from my normal fare I figured now was as good a time as any.

    I went to UK nats this year and topped with my old buddy Guts Man. That was pretty cool and I got to have a couple of entertaining games with Garett in swiss and top 8. He gave me a little sass for "always playing the same thing" and then when I had to miss US nats he even gave me a shout out/call out in his write up! So in a similar way to him playing Vinnie G in the UK to prove a point I was motivated to try something new for Rockford. I looked at all the 7HS chars in standard and really I just didn't like a lot of them. I felt that they either weren't good enough or they had already achieved a fair amount of success so the deck would feel like a retread of something that had been done before. The more I looked the more I kept coming back to Vega.

    Vega has been widely accepted as a top tier character since he was first spoiled but he really hasn't had the tournament success to back up the hype. I wouldn't be surprised if it has a lot to do with his play style being relatively "un-fun" as he is far more reactive than proactive and rewards grinding out incremental advantages while daring your opponent to overcommit on a failed kill turn. I had played against a Death version down in a VA locals that had some interesting things going for it that focused heavily on foundation destruction going so far as to run 4x Crow Bite and 4x Black Justice. After seeing that deck I had cooked up my own version that also focused heavily on foundation destruction including a few Self Destructs but it was basically 4-check the deck and nearly 80 cards so I never really bothered to tune it up.

    I know there had been an early Punches Vega that topped as well as a Flash build most recently topping Nats as piloted by Olexa what really caught my attention was hearing that Caz had a deep run with a Self Destruct Vega. I figured I'd retool my deck. Originally it had been all foundation destruction like FFB and Hyper Bomb. I went to a primary weapon lineup with Hyper Bomb, Steel Resurrection, and even a few Flail Strikes and Flying Barcelona Attacks. I had other foundation destruction in there as well like Towering Over Rivals and Rook Takes Pawn. The idea was to have an attack lineup that was playable after a Self Destruct that would keep the pressure on your opponent's staging area. In practice though it wasn't great. The weapon attacks were slower and high cost and in order to make them better I'd need to have support foundations for their speed and damage which not only meant that I'd need to run less of my tech/defensive pieces but also that the Self Destruct plan wasn't really that beneficial.

    The real breakthrough came when I was looking at other death attacks and saw Double Knee Press. For Vega at desperation it's a 3 diff 7 speed high for 6 damage all on its own and it helps your checks to play more charges and kicks. This lead to me cutting the less impressive weapons for some of the Robert Kicks and I tried to shave it down from 80-ish cards down to closer to 65-70. After doing this the deck didn't feel like it played nearly as smoothly though. About this time I hit up Devon to see what kind of recommendations he had and he was kind enough to share the list he had played at Nats. I was surprised at the similarity of our decks and it gave me the push I needed to completely cut out some of the cards that felt like there were unnecessary (stuff like Hyper Bomb, Towering, and Rook). His opinion was also that the deck didn't need the "free" foundations like Dragon of Kyokugen and Over the Top. That gave me the space to max out my Reactive Styles and PtFs as well as add a few other tech pieces he was running that I had over looked like Emperor of Muay Thai and and Protecting the Innocent.

    This was also a great opportunity to play a card that a few of us have been high on for awhile: Mysterious Mr. X. Primarily it's used in Wily decks to trigger all of his foundations that trigger when they're destroyed but it also has great synergy with some other cards like Hizoku Prince which I wanted to see as often as possible for my Self Destruct strats and to have some control over entering desperation and my personal favorite Breaking Bread. Breaking Bread has a ridiculous R that triggers when it enters your staging area but being a 3 diff no block foundation that was really only triggered by things like Athena, Psycho Medley, and original Miska it just never saw play. However because it's R window can open in the middle of the resolution of Mr. X's effect it's a two card combo that amounts to "E Discard one card: get -1 progressive and a momentum" that's a fantastic trade and I wouldn't be surprised to see it popping up in more decks in the future.

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    Thursday night I was feeling crappy. I was pretty sure I was coming down with one of my annual winter colds as my nose was running and my face was congested. I hadn't packed at all so after giving my final Vega list a quick test at my local shop I headed home and proceeded to get no sleep until my friend picked me up at 3:30 AM to get to the airport. The flight was relatively painless and I slept for most of it. In Chicago, Scott and I met up with Ryan Pham and Tim Friedlieb and got our rental car to head up to Rockford. We got to Chris Smith's place where we were staying and after getting lunch killed some time playing some casual UFS and old school VS System until it was time to go out for Nathan (affectionately known as Reese) Haffey's 21st birthday. We treated him... responsibly... and headed back to Chris's house to get some sleep and at some point Thomas Gordon showed up because that dude would be late to his own funeral.

    Saturday morning the Chez Smith contingent got breakfast and headed to the shop. I was kind of hoping that Olexa wouldn't make the trip because I'd rather not have a diversity fight with a decorated champ, but he came up with JRay and the rest of the Michigan crew. I had a good deal of faith in my deck but I definitely had less room for error. We got a big showing with 41 participants so we'd be playing 6 rounds.

    Round 1 - Myles Tyler (Grant Padley)
    Myles has really been mixing it up since Terry1 rotated. I figured he'd be playing his Terry2 discard list or maybe running Bass again so I was a little surprised when he flipped over Grant Padley. He was running an unusual attack lineup that kept me guessing. The game really stalled out in the midgame and I played a Self Destruct in a possibly questionable spot. A few turns later I blocked a few attacks and had to block a Flying Fortress Buster on an 8 to live. I checked a three and only had 4 ready foundations so I went down a game. The first game had run more than 40 minutes so I had to try and really push the action to secure a draw which my deck isn't great at. Myles was able to sit back and comfortably play defense securing a 1-0 win.
    Record: 0-1 and I heard Olexa won. Not a good start and a lot of work to do.

    Round 2 - A new Rockford player (Ryu**)
    I'm pretty vocal about my disdain for not busted Ryu. I don't respect him at all so this was a primo trap game. My opponent was running him off the good symbol with Battery and Rain Flush so my 4x Prepare to Fight figured to come into play in a big way. I had a few early turns with bad blocks so he was able to knock be down quickly to single digits. I looked through his discard and saw all highs and a Yamibari. I mulled over my blocks and ended up keeping a couple lows and a couple highs. He opens with a Ryu's Hadoken and I can barely contain my disgust in my decision. He pumps it to lethal and I have to half block it with one of my lows to stay alive at 2 vitality. I pray he doesn't have a second one and luckily he goes into a Rain Flush which I'm more than prepared for. From this point on I play perfect defense and eventually squeak out a win. Game 2 I'm in complete control and time is called in the middle of one of my turns so I just pass and take my 1-0 win while feeling like I got away with one.
    Record: 1-1 and Ben Lambright beat Olexa so there's hope again.

    Round 3 - Danielle Tyler (Ring Man)
    Danielle is playing an All Ring Man build similar to the one my friend took Poughkeepsie with a few months ago. Bloody Baptism is bad news for my Prepare to Fights and my low block situation is not great so I'm worried. In game 1 I'm on my heels. I'm staying alive but am not able to land any hits. I end up at 4 and have an attack string that can do 30 damage but if Danielle manages to full block even one of the attacks I'm finished so I try to hold on for one more turn. She tries to play a Baptism on a 7 and checks a 3. I have Vega and a Pulled ready to go but I let her commit half her staging area to pass it because I'm holding some low blocks and not worried because she can't do the action combo. She enhances so that I burn for 4 if I block with an attack. I look at Baptism. I could have sworn it punished me for blocking with foundations like New Alliance or Steel Res. I shake my head and scoop up my cards. Game two I press and try to attack more frequently and take it. There are only about 10-15 minutes left of a game 3. On turn 2 I take 14 damage from a Baptism and drop straight to 5. A turn to two later I block a Yamato Spear and a Segaki and Danielle plays a Steel Res on a 6. She checks the 5 and thinks she's set but I commit Vega and she's unable to make the check. I have gas on the back swing and take the game at time to win 2-1.
    Record: 2-1 and a sigh of relief.

    -Lunch Break-
    I'm a little on tilt. I was able to overcome a tough matchup from Danielle but I feel like I only won the second round due to my opponent's inexperience. I really need to pull it together. The food and caffeine help to settle me down a bit. Scott's 3-0 and I think
    Tim and Thomas are 2-1.

    Round 4 - Andrew Olexa (Vega)
    Well this is certainly one way to settle a diversity battle. I've never played Vega vs. Vega and I've never played against Olexa. He's playing on Air with Flash attacks so outside of Cage Fighter and Pulled to Magijen out decks are vastly different. I have to eat some of his lows and watch out for Conc Blasts. As we move on to playing 1-2 two cards while sculpting kill hands the use of Vega's R gets tricky... Do I risk hacking a foundation when he can choose to fail it and start tossing attacks at me with only my static stopping him? I eventually get some Hizokus out and manage to Self Destruct to gain some build advantage. I'm able to follow it up a bit later with a kill string in desperation so that our Vega statics just cancel each other out. Game two I'm in pretty good shape. I'm watching the clock trying to gauge when Olexa is going to make his press. I end up in Desperation again and draw up a massive attack string but as I start to play it out time is called and I'm player two so I just take my 1-0.
    Record: 3-1 and a big leg up on diversity.

    Round 5 - Hollywood Thomas Gordon (Eva**)
    So we have a lot of jokes about the Thomas Gordon heel turn with him finally playing good decks and topping events. It all started earlier this year in the MCS when he topped with a Snake Man pile and at the next stop I lent him a version of the Zoey deck that I almost won Atlanta with. He loved it and proceeded to beat me with it in the mirror at World's and because we think it's hilarious Scott and I keep giving this guy decks. Well now I'm on the razor's edge trying to get in tops at an event and I'm staring down the barrel of an Infinite Eva deck I helped make. I got to play the original 60 card version at UK nats as played by Dave Hancock and man it sucks. Even without the infinite the deck can pack on the speed and damage fast and has massive stun to ruin your defensive staging area pieces. Game 1 goes quick. I survive for a bit but can't kill him and he goes for a Sphere but misses the combo on the removal and copies a Nivose but doesn't have the E's an leave me at 1 and I kill him on the back swing. Game 2 he OoYL's Vega on a block hack and not only keeps me tapped but blocks the attack. Then on the next turn with an Orb that I pop a Mathematician on. He proceeds to play and check for another OoYL before I can do anything to stop him. We call Pham over and because the action was an illegal R Thomas gets a warning but gets to continue his turn. I'm in desperation but he tries to Sphere anyway despite the face down chunking up his pool. He gets of a Sphere and again doesn't have the combo but copies another Orb that I'm just able to block despite the stun. I again draw attacks and kill him on the back swing to take it 2-0.
    Record: 4-1 mild redemption for worlds.

    Round 6 - Nick Birch (Keith Disbro)
    Nick is 3-1-1 so he needs to win to be guaranteed a spot in tops. With most of the higher tables IDing or having already been on steam we get feature match. He had to mulligan a hand with two Flying Spears and then I was able to keep him off of momentum in the early turns. I was able to get a Pulled My Trigger out and after landing a reversal for a little damage and a momentum he was left with just two cards in hand and I pushed a Trigger powered kill through. Game two Nick didn't have to mulligan away a large portion of his kill cards and I wasn't able to keep him off of momentum early. A few Spiders and a Jacket allowed him to keep my better defensive pieces at bay. I played an ill fated attack turn where I botched the math but he would have had the blocks to prevent me from winning anyway. On his following turn I probably made a bad call by popping my Pulled to Magijen which allowed him to target commit my Demanding Submission without hesitation. With only one high block it was curtains for me when he followed with a Flying Spear. With only about 5 minutes left for the third game we went as quickly as we could but he couldn't get the attacks to even attempt a kill. So I took the 1-1 draw.
    Record: 4-1-1 (good for 6th in tops)

    After swiss we went for the traditional post-Rockford fare, pizza cake and then to an after party at Trent's house. I was gassed and Scott, Tim, and Thomas were all also in tops so we ducked out early to go back to Chris's house to sleep.

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    I felt pretty bad in the morning. I definitely hadn't gotten enough sleep the past few days and my cough was wearing me out. I had a low grade headache starting as well. It was snowing a little bit so we got some food and headed over to the shop. There was a little bit of drama as the Michigan and Omaha people were running a bit late. At the Rochester PTC one of their players had been 5 minutes late and ended up starting tops with a game loss as a result. Jasco already has a problem with draconian DQ rules so really having strict rules on start time isn't exactly that welcoming on top of everythign else, but the only thing worse than draconian rules are inconsistent draconian rules. I ended up on stream the whole way through top cuts so I'll include a time stamped link with each match.

    Top 8 Jacob Johnson (Athena)
    Game 1 we both built and stared into each other's eyes for several turns. He had amassed a build advantage and decided to press in. I took a 10 damamge Maxima Laser to drop into desperation and was able to live at 4. My backswing of DKP, Ryuujin Kyaku, and Cowboy Battery with multiple was enough to take it. In game 2 he got out a Team Psycho Soldier on his first turn and between that and Athena was out building me massively. I was able to flip a few Silent Assassins with Spiders and get just enough defensive foundations out. I took enough damage from at attack turn to get into desperation and built some including a Hizoku Prince. I was able to Self Destruct. He forgot to use his F and I got some attacks through thanks to Vega's static dropping the difficulty. I fended off a kill shot thanks to a Prepare to Fight and then Self Destructed two more turns in a row before finishing him off with a few attacks as he checked rolling 2s.
    Win: 2-0

    Top 4 Scott Dejarnette (Dave Wagoner)
    Mild bummer having to go against my MD buddy Scott in top 4, but I guess that's my fault for drawing in round 6 and ending up in the bottom half of top 8 while he was swiss champ. This match was sort of a glorified local. He was playing a Death Wagoner deck with a lot of similar tech to me (Mr. X, Bread, Hizokus, etc) so my self destruct game plan was far less effective. Game 1 I had to Self Destruct when he has more Hizokus than me but it got us back to even. I played good defense when he went high instead of playing a Hyper Bomb and I took it on the back swing with Robert Kicks. Game 2 he brought in White House but I still managed to Self Destruct through it even though he once again had more Hizokus. I had a rough build turn a bit later and he had a line for lethal but checked a bunch of attacks and I got him on the backswing.
    Win: 2-0

    My headache was getting far worse. Myles hand gone to grab some food because his match ended far earlier than mine. I got some aspirin and went next door to get some food and try to just collect myself for finals.

    Finals Myles Tyler (Grant Padley)
    For this match I felt a lot better getting some meds and food. Also having played Myles in the first round I had a better idea of his rather unorthodox attack lineup. Game 1 I ate some early pokes and rode the line at desperation. I had a well timed Self Destruct that left him only building 2 foundations. I was able to get a bit of a build advantage and after defending against a Hyper Bomb >>> Cowboy Battery duo that left him tapped out I got Ryuujin >>> Ryuujin >>> Battery to take the first game. Game 2 I actually sided out a few Self Destructs. I played good defense on the first few turns and was able to build a very strong defensive staging area. I got a bit of damage through on pokes and a reversal and continued playing perfect defense. After a while we both started just hand sculpting, but after I built my third Hizoku and Myles approached his second cycle for the game I realized there was a real possibility he'd deck himself if he didn't start attacking me. He went in hard with a bunch of Napalm Bombs and Hyper Bombs but I weathered the storm thanks in part to a clutch Deliverance. On the return a Trigger powered Spider Suplex and DKP were enough to take it home.
    Win: 2-0

    This is my second PTC win and I was glad to be able to pilot Vega to a tournament victory. Looking back my early swiss rounds felt far more shaky than they should have been but I attribute that to having less practice with the deck than I should have. Tops felt like commanding wins but a few different checks could have resulted in losses, but I see that as an upside of Vega. He puts your opponents in positions where checking that 2 or 3 really matters in ways that other characters may not. Especially in long games.

    Props: Chris Smith for putting on another great weekend. Resse for turning 21 and still coming out for the tournament the next day, what a trooper. Devon for giving me some feedback and selling me on a few cards that really paid off for me. Garett for giving me enough shade that I was actually motivated to go out and try a new deck outside of what people might expect me to play. Pham for judgely things (you should have taken TGord out back and put him down though). Big Johnson for the games in tops and what looked to be a Giggles-level hot run in the Robot Masters event. Barrett who tracked me down to thank me for my Broberg Kryptonite picture. Kim Smith for letting all of us crash at Chris's house yet again. All my opponents especially Myles for bookending a solid weekend run.

    Slops: Not getting the chance to play Ice Man in the Robot Masters Invitational side event I was really stoked to give him a whirl. Sean Bullock for dodging everyone all the time. Kevin Broberg; yeah he's the UK champ and a lock for player of the year (again) but if you show up with Vinnie G to mill people you have to really commit to the bit you can't feel bad about it, but hey I didn't wanna play against that deck again anyway. TGord seriously how does everyone keep losing to this guy? His decks aren't that good and I should know cause I build half of them. Winter weather not that I mind being cold, I'm actually a fan, but I hate getting sick because of it. Daphne (she knows what she did). And finally Me for not getting a chance to play VS with Trent next time hopefully.

    See everyone soon and if you haven't made a Rockford event yet you should definitely look into changing that. Always one of the best events of the year.

  2. #2
    Senior Member dutpotd's Avatar
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    Nice write-up Rob and thanks for the props! Congrats on your ptc win
    "No, no, not by the hair on my chinny chin Chin."

  3. #3
    Scout Rider kick's Avatar
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    Nicely done.
    There are no words for a Rider Kick. Just an EXPLOSION OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE!
    Owner and Operator of Total Justice Gaming: The first UFS fan site to bring you deck profiles and interviews from both champs and new players!

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