G：Today, we are glad to interview Liam Zachary Bartolome, who recently won the Bushiroad Championship Series Manilla in the Phillipines with GredoraGyze, advancing to the world stage!
G: Thank you for coming to this interview today. Lets begin with some basic introductions; When did you first start playing Cardfight! Vanguard?
Liam: I started Vanguard around the beginning of G era, around when Stride Generation or the set after that came out. As for what I love most, probably the memories and friendships I’ve made in the past few years! ☺
G: What clans do you use? What were the reasons you started playing those clans?
Liam: I mainly use Megacolony as my clan of choice and have multiple decks for the clan but I also enjoy playing Spike Brothers and Granblue for a change of pace from Megacolony. Oh and Link Joker as well!
G：How interesting! What is your favorite unit?
Liam: It’s very hard to pick one but I’ll go with the unit that made me stay with Megacolony, and that would be; Intimidating Mutant, Darkface.
G: Cardfight Vanguard has recently split the game into two formats: Standard and Premium. After seeing the reboot and format split for more than half a year, has it brought the game to a good place? Has this brought more people into the game?
Liam: I think in terms of new and old players coming into the game, the standard format is much easier to get into. Premium format is a bit harder to get into but is worth the investment if you like playing with a lot more interactions between cards. Whether you are a new player or a returning player, you should give each format a chance and not completely set the other aside.
G: And which of the two is more popular in your community?
Liam: Right now, Standard format is more popular.
G: Thank for sharing your experiences. Lets move onto your deck: Gredora Gyze. It brought you to victory and it is the first time it was used to top on a national level. What was the inspiration of the deck?
Liam: To be really honest, I was talking to a friend and thought that 4 turns of Obtirandus would be funny and annoying to the decks that were strong at the time so I tried finding ways to fit 4 of them in the deck but had too many problems such as resource and an actual win condition. With the release of Gredora, the resource problem was fixed and Gyze fixed the win condition problem. I was playing Gredora Gyze even before the V series and Standard cards, and it went well but lacked a but of consistency which the V series provided. But yeah, the deck was originally supposed to be 100% a meme deck.
G: For some readers, it might not be apparent how your deck works and wins. What is the gameplan of your deck?
Liam: It’s a Gyze deck. The deck is made to survive until Gyze is ready. It relies on hard control of the field by making my opponent unable to call down extra RGs to attack and in true Gyze fashion, hit the RGs as much as possible. Unlike the other 2 popular Gyze builds, I personally have not much need to risk early game damage for a chance at trigger checks and I could stay at a safe enough damage count to still be able to use skill while also being comfortable in taking damage later into the game. Obtirandus and Overwhelm are very key cards depending on the match up. Overwhelm carries more weight though as she alone force your opponent to play in one of 2 ways: rush or hold on for bigger plays which works in favor of Overwhelm (most of the time). Obtirandus is there for those decks that call too much and we don’t like that. ;) Gredora’s skills are also very strong especially the GB1 skill. You already don’t give them counterblasts and in the event that you have to hit the vanguard, you can still eat up the left over counterblasts they have.
G: What is the one most important thing to think about when playing the deck?
Liam: If you ever try to play Gredora Gyze, the most important thing is knowing when it is safe to take damage. Overwhelm is a very strong card that gives you hand cards to survive multiple turns and Gredora’s on ride and on stride skill helps reduce the amount of attacks your opponent does. Also remember that Gredora can eat up and opponent’s counterblasts so keeping them at one damage, even if they force that last minute countercharge, you can still starve them of that resource.
G: Many Megacolony premium decks use Antlion and Zoa as their win-combo, instead of using Gyze, as well as put an emphasis on Protect gift, but you chose to go a different path with the Megacolony deck. Why did you pick this deck for the tournament?
Liam: I’ve play tested the Antlion builds and I felt that it relied too much on that specific combo to go off. The best one I’ve used so far was Machining and even then, I thought it would be too slow. As for why I chose this deck to play in the BCS… I didn’t get to play it during the last Springfest in Manila due to some sleeve problems that I was too lazy to fix and just played a different deck. I kinda owed this tournament to my deck at least and I think if my deck had emotions it would be very, very happy right now.
G: And what are some of the cards that you wanted to play in the deck, but had to cut out. If you have any, why did you cut them?
Liam: I honestly wanted to play the Antlion combo as an alternative wincon but Having to reride another Gredora and having another copy of Gredora in hand for it sounded like too much work. I also had to cut 2 crits out as I was previously running 10 crits for Ingot Chafer for the extra soul on demand that I can spare for Gredora’s GB1.
G: If you could go back in time and make changes to your deck, what would you have added or cut?
Liam: I’m honestly not sure, but I probably would have removed Punish Stag for literally anything else.
G: Tell us about how your BCS experience was
Liam: I only played during the Premium format. I had a bye card, which I won from the shop challenge so I didn’t get to play the first 2 rounds. I got to meet some friends and new people and it was a nice experience on a personal level. In a general setting however, there were a lot of complaints about rule sharking and it was even joked about in the free fight section. A majority of players didn’t look happy and it saddens me to know that in an event where people enter show off their decks, meet new people, and experience a big gathering of like-minded individuals, there are still people who pick on the very simple things. From a ruling stand point, I can understand it but as a person who enjoys playing with other people, I have no words.
G: With the Vanguard G having come to an end, what are your best memories of the G Era?
Liam: The G Era, although some would say cancerous, brought about creativity in deckbuilding. Each deck had their core pieces but those who go out and looked into their clans further, have made amazing combos that in some cases, only they can understand. I hope the future V series support goes into that direction of deckbuilding as well.
G: And with your win at BCS Manilla, you have advanced to the World Finals. How does it feel to have won a national tournament and represent your country?
Liam: It’s very overwhelming (pun intended). I didn’t really expect to reach the top spot although I was gunning to be part of the top 8 players. I am very thankful to have won and represent my country and I hope to at least do well in Worlds.
G: How do you plan to prepare for the World Tournament?
Liam: I usually do research on upcoming decks. I believe the Ultrarare set releases in time for Worlds so I’ll be looking out for those.
G: And what sort of decks do you expect to fight against in the world tournament?
Liam: Mostly the usual premium top decks and maybe some surprise Ultrarare decks if people had the time to learn them.
G: Are there any secret decks you're working on you plan to bring to the world stage?
Liam: Yes I do but it is in the very early stages, but its a secret for now. Hopefully things workout and if not, the Queen is always here!
G: Lets talk a bit about what Vanguard is like in your country. How competitive is the vanguard community in the Philippines?
Liam: It is very competitive and sometimes a little too competitive. As mentioned earlier, there were some rulesharking incidents that happened in the premium BCS. In a shop level tournament though, people are very competitive still with a lot less rulesharking, with people trying their best to win.
G: Are there a lot of people who play vanguard? What sort of clans are popular?
Liam: I think so. A lot of the clans with trial decks are popular because of easier access for those who don’t have a lot of budget or money. But if I have to choose the most popular clan, it would be Shadow Paladin.
G: How do people get their cards in the Phillipines?
Liam: Card shops sell them through the regular Bushiroad products and singles. They also allow players to order cases if they opt to do case splits and share out cases between multiple players.
G: What part of vanguard culture in your country do you think is uniquely Pilipino?
Liam: I’m not sure if I can speak for all of them, but he people I do know are very passionate about their clans. Sometimes, they switch decks here and there but always find a way back to their main clan of choice.
G: Who are some famous players from around South East Asia region and Philippines?
Liam: I'd say; Wslasher our local YouTuber who I actually faced in the Semi-Finals and also CardProtagonist.
G: And who are some famous players you know about from other countries?
Liam: I mostly know of the YouTubers mainly Kris (DifferentFight), LivingProof, Solemn Vanguard, and Harth Hayawi from Crushing the Meta. ☺
G：And now to the last question. Imagine you have made it to the finals of the World Championship!! Who would you like to fight on the grand stage of the World Finals?
Liam: I’d like to still fight my friend who got me into vanguard even at a big event such as Worlds. He is one of the reasons why I built Gredora Gyze and is a very good Pale Moon player. What better way to show off the Pale Moon circus’ dazzling performance than on the big stage?
G: That's all for today folks, thank you all for coming out tonight and enjoying our interview with Liam Zachary Bartolome, winner of BCS Manilla! A round of applause for his performance at BCS Manilla, and all the best to him in the next big tournament: The World Championship Finals in Tokyo! Im sure our audience tonight has enjoyed hearing your thoughts and experiences.
Information about the author:
CanYouSayG/Dr Sei-Ji A. Keong is an avid Cardfight Vanguard blogger by night, bringing you new insights to the world of Vanguard: for both the card game and the community. He plays Neo Nectar and Royal Paladin.