M: Today, we are excited to interview Kevin Ajolt Nguyen, currently known for topping basically every major tournament in the USA he has attended for the past months, with Bermuda Triangle.
Thank you for being with us today. For the people who aren’t familiar with your past achievements, could you give us an introduction of yourself and your various tops in the past?
Ajolt: My name is Kevin Tony Nguyen, but I'm mainly known as Ajolt. I'm very known for playing Bermudas, and started the whole trend with Ange-Trois. I started with TCG through growing up with Yu-Gi-Oh, and eventually moved on toward Vanguard. I started Vanguard pretty late when striding became the new mechanic, back in G-BT01 Generation Stride. I actually didn't top or win in any major events like regionals or ARG nationals until this year of 2018. I did always perform very well throughout smaller events (such as ARG Circuit/States and Dynasty Cup), and was very excited I finally reached my goal. My achievements started out when I got 3rd place at ARG Nationals, then moved on towards Regional Top 8 Standard/1st place Premium Secaucus, New Jersey and 3rd place Standard/4th place premium Atlanta, Georgia. Now, I'm just looking at Worlds!
M: Congratulations on all those tops. That's quite the list for such a short time period! What are your reasons for taking Bermuda Triangle these past few months over some other decks like OTT Gyze or even NLK in your previous ARG?
Ajolt: For me, Bermuda feels like a huge safety net of a deck. There wasn't any bad matchup and in a best of one format, it just felt like the most consistent option for me. The deck literally has everything, from offense to defense, cheesy wins with superior riding, and ability to flex options to tech cards against the meta like "Light Elemental Honoly". I personally don't like OTT gyze because it does have some really bad matchups like Luard or Gredora, and with the popular rise tech card "Heat Elemental Bobo". I really don't like Dark Irregulars, if I had to say what clan I like the least, definitely that one. I never liked the playstyle of putting all the eggs in one basket and also my general area has a majority of Dark Irregulars, so that may have influenced my decision.
M: That definitely makes sense! Are there any cool interactions or lines of play you’d like to highlight inside your Bermuda Triangle deck?
Ajolt: Everything in the Bermuda deck synergizes well with each other. I basically looked at the issues Bermuda (Ange in particular) had in the past before the reboot, and adapted into the premium format. Spirited Star, Trois is probably the biggest highlight of my deck. The ability to superior ride from grade 2 to grade 3 speeds up the game state. This is how I envisioned my deck. If I go first, I should auto win since I will be striding while my opponent is at grade 2 thanks to the new stride ruling. If I go second, I get the chance to g guard for gb2 since I'll be at grade 3 first regardless, and what's important is that all the V-Era supported decks like to go first to get their gift marker. My sole reason with Trois was actually to counter Royal Paladin's Tarna plays. By using Trois, I force the opponent to decide whether to stride or stay on grade 3 (Alfred) so they can use Tarna. Unexpectedly, the deck did really well and fixed the early rush problem the Ange deck used to have.
M: Earlier you mentioned looking at Worlds. Do you feel like the World Championship meta landscape still looks favorable for Bermuda, despite the new support for Angel Feather, Genesis and Gold Paladin that will be available by then?
Do you have any thoughts on the Worlds meta and what you may be expecting in general?
Ajolt: The meta for worlds will definitely be different. There will be for sure some kind of Gyze variant from either Angel Feather or Genesis. NLK loop will still be around, but the new meta might be able to contend with it. As for Bermuda, the powercreep might be too much to deal with since they will not have their V-era support by worlds. By having older triggers with 5k power, it's very difficult to push through early game or even defend. A different strategy might have to get involved to have a better chance. This has been a rough decision what to play at worlds.
M: I definitely agree there. Since we’re on the topic of worlds, do you have any specific training routine? Any specific plans to get ready for the most prestigious stage in the game?
Ajolt: I don't particularly have a specific training method. I tend to learn every reliant deck in the game, and analyze how each matchup favors for me. I never really felt like there was a good enough playtest buddy near me, so I would play against myself and adjust what actual players would do. Locals would usually just solidify some of my ideas, but always building a deck for best one format is the most consistent if I want to win worlds. Learning how to unbrick yourself and prepare for the worse case scenario would probably be my best advice.
M: You mention your locals to solidify your ideas. What’s your Vanguard community like?
Ajolt: My vanguard community has gotten a lot more competitive ever since I came back home with my achievements. I put a lot of effort on promoting premium and build up a community ever since the reboot. Like every where else, Standard shafted the Premium player base, so it was very difficult to play premium at all. I took it upon myself to make sure all of our premium players are on the right competitive page since the Premium game isn't exactly beginner friendly. My premium community may started off small and slowly growing, but I would say the crowd here is definitely competitive.
M: Wow, I had no idea. That’s actually really cool to hear! Speaking of Standard and Premium; as far as I’m aware, you are qualified for the World Championship in both formats. I assume you can’t play both at worlds or can you?
Ajolt: I'm pretty sure both the formats at worlds will happen at the exact same time based on how previous worlds were. All the Bushiroad games are played at once in the same day. I get to choose what format to play since I qualify for both, and that is obviously Premium.
M: You say “obviously". Can I assume this means the choice was easy for you? Is there any particular factor that made this choice easy?
Ajolt: In a format where it is best of 1, luck plays a huge factor. Premium may be obscure power creep, but luck isn't as game changing compared to Standard. That is my reason.
M: Makes sense! Are there any players you look forward to meeting at Worlds, whether in-game or just in real life?
Ajolt: Yes. I wish to meet all the big names of Vanguard. From famous Youtubers to the best players around the world. I wish to make my name "Ajolt" known worldwide in the Vanguard community, and I believe meeting them in real life or even playing the game would suffice.
M: That’s quite the ambitious goal! As my final question for this interview; is there anything you would like to share with the world or any shoutouts you’d like to do?
Ajolt: Shoutouts to my local card shop "Guild Gaming" in Woodbridge, VA of USA. They gave me the chance to let vanguard grow in the area when there was nothing. Big thanks to my group "SAK" and my community for still pursuing this game ever since day 1. I couldn't learn or get into the game without them. Also a thanks to Maxime (Solemn) for giving an opportunity to talk here, and reached out to me while I grew to become the BCS Champion.
M: Thank YOU for being with us!
Information about the author:
Maxime is the host of the Solemn Vanguard YouTube channel. Previous achievements include reaching top 8 in BCS London Premium 2018, getting 1st place at BCS France Premium 2018 and thus qualifying for the World Championship of Vanguard.