CanYouSayG(G): Hello everybody, this is CanYouSayG, and you are reading the Zero Damage Gaming Blog, the blog where YOU get to meet the people of vanguard from around the world!
G：Today, we are glad to have Mr Colin Lai, the representative from Hawaii of BCS2018, and CHAMPION of BCS2018 Premium Standard, taking Megacolony Gredora to first place at the world finals in Tokyo.
G: Thank you very much for coming to this interview today. Lets begin with some basic introductions for the people reading at home who don’t know you very well.
Do you mind giving a short introduction of yourself?
When did you first start Cardfight Vanguard, and what are some of your previous achievements?
Colin Lai (CL): Well I only qualified in a regional, then flew to Japan and won worlds. So here's the quick history about my Vanguard life. I started playing CardFight Vanguard around 2012, the time Spectral Duke Dragon had just come out. So I made that deck and Megacolony as a spare deck. I was happy during the G-era format and built Gurguit, Fenrir, and Darkface. I always practiced, even by myself if I had the time. I never considered entering any sort of competitive scene back at home, since Hawaii was skipped event-wise from time to time.
That changed in 2017, when I decided to take things a bit more seriously.
G: What, in your opinion, is the one best thing about Cardfight Vanguard?
CL: The players' imagination when it comes to deck building, like people discovering some sort of loops,etc. And challenging other cardfighters.
G: Colin, congratulations once again on your win. Just days after being crowned world champion, how do you feel about becoming the one player the whole world looks up to?
CL: I shouldn’t let the victory get to my head, I was just going through the motion of the game like any other event. I prefer fighting someone who follows their soul, because all I saw was meta decks.
G: Let us enter the main topic: The World Championship!
On 20st of January on 2019, you played in the World Championship of Vanguard, with what was considered a rogue deck: Darkface. Do you mind sharing a bit about your journey to the World Championship?
CL: This is actually first time I qualified for worlds. The players were nice people and the experience was like a regional tournament, just more thrilling to see the pro players. I was expecting the vast majority to be following the hype of NLK and Ezel. There was a lot more Ezel than I expected, if I knew that I would have switched the Darkface ratio.
G: And moving onto your deck choice. In a playing field for Premium Standard at worlds, filled with top players whom like you, have extensively researched the meta, what made you pick the Gredora deck over any other potential deck to play?
CL: Well I had a few friends who kept telling me gold is amazing. I agreed with them on that, but when they told me to play the deck, I was pretty sure I would lose in the mirror match. That deck is best at aggro thanks to its superior ride to Ezel for a quick accel circle. So I really wanted to play my best comfort clan/deck that I played for the longest time (Megacolony). I knew there would be a lot of Ezel and NLK players. I also assumed that there would be more Gyze, Spikes Brother, and Gear Chronicle players.
G: Thank you for sharing your experiences. As a lot of the playing field of Premium Standard was dominated by Ezel and NoLifeKing, Gredora is not a very well known deck to several players. What are some key points you would share to keep in mind when playing the deck?
CL: For the No Life King deck, I played around the no damage plays, trying to receive at least one damage, by never calling a front rearguard. This way, they were forced to attack my Vanguard, instead of damage denying me by attacking my rear guards.
For any rear-guard base deck, it was essentially guarding the rear guards before the stride turn, and always taking the taking the first grade 3 vanguard attack, after surviving that, it was all about the original Darkface disrupting significant rear guard's calls. Remember that when your opponents play their rearguard they must perform on-place skills first due to player priority. Also just because you have the Machining Hornet in hand, doesn't mean you should use it immediately. If you do and you have several of your grade 3s already, you simply exchange 10k shield for no shield.
G: Moving on to your deck build, you made several 'interesting' card choices that may not be easy to understand at first glance. What special tech choices did you play in your deck, and what was the goal of playing them?
CL: On to card choices, we have Vulgar Blister which is a 7k grade 2 unit, so riding this card you will likely be hit by decks that are trying to damage deny you, plus it makes a great free early stunner, and dark device stride.
I think Small Captain, Butterfly Officer is a flex card to use for its 10k shield, powering up units to close out a game and it can also be used for an early hit and run case, where you use Small Captain's skill to power up a front rearguard plus 10k, at the end of turn it is mandatory to move the selected unit into soul and counter charge; so more soul for the original Darkface, plus there won't be a front row unit for your opponent to swing at with the vanguard; this situation was meant to come up against the NLK and gyze match-up.
There were more Ezel players than I expected. If I knew that, I could have flipped the Darkface ratios around. I ran 2 draw trigger PGs and 2 grade 1 PGs, in case of specific guard restriction. Of course I also ran the staple 4 heal triggers, that is my player preference on the type of heal I ran. With that the remaining triggers are 10 critical trigger; four different kinds! It's important to max out on the new critical trigger since the power and shield values are higher.
I divided the units; 1 Scissor- bomb mutant, and 1 machining treehopper. Scissor-bomb is used to shove into soul as Darkface soul blast fuel, plus the draw 1 is nice. The Machining Treehopper is used to return to the deck, to increase the odds of hitting a critical trigger and making your deck last a little bit longer, plus stunning rearguard which is good in the Gold Paladin matchup. The heal trigger choice is dependent on the player's preference. If people prefer bigger shield, and power value then run the new v-series trigger. I like to soul charge or even counter-charge, therefore I used 2 Machining Snowing, so I had to be careful in my guard sequence. I personally believe in techs, since my deck doesn't rely on specific pieces for a big combo or loop.
G: A lot of players have heard of the Gredora-Gyze deck, that uses Gyze as their finisher. What made you want to pick a more traditional win condition instead of Gyze?
CL: I prefer playing actual Vanguard, where my triggers rip through shields, and make my opponent guard for something especially in Megacolony since you don’t often get power or numbers for this clan. Plus in the Gredora-Gyze deck you would have to use more draw triggers and also you have to hit 5 triggers. As people have seen in the feature match, I ran a higher critical count in my variant. So I had a normal win condition, not just relying just on Ultimate striding.
G: Thank you for giving so much insight to your deck! A lot of players were astounded by your performance at Worlds, and your thoughts and answers will help them understand the deck better! Lets talk a bit about your experience at World Finals. What did being able to play and meet the absolute best players of the game from around the globe feel like?
CL: I felt honor to meet some strong competition, and being up here, you feel significant, or like you matter in a way. It’s a nice change of pace to meet and fight other players, especially being in an ocean-locked community.
G: Not many people have been to the World Championship and seen the world level. In fact most people dont even make it to the Continental Championship level. What are some things that you have learned or experienced at the World Championship?
CL: I feel like there isn’t much individuality in players, it's just people playing the meta. I didn't get to fight against a large variety of decks. I did get to play at world-level, and had to make sure I resolved my skills and steps, one by one.
G: What is something you experienced at the World Tournament of Vanguard that you want to share with the world?
CL: The first thing that came to mind was that Japan is cold, but as soon as I got to explore, I loved it. With all the goods I can’t find at home, and all the numerous and unique stores. The food was amazing and delicious. Meeting the players is interesting too.
G: Thank you for your answers. I hope other players aspire to join players like you at the world level, and that you can once again come to world finals next year! Lets talk a bit about your personal experience with Vanguard in your community. In May of 2018 vanguard started Standard and Premium standard as their primary tournament formats, with Standard featuring cards from the newest series, and Premium featuring cards from all of history. As an avid player of both Standard and Premium which, to you, is the better format?
CL: I currently find standard format to be more balanced and easier to learn, since anyone can learn to play quickly.
G: Do share with us what the Vanguard Community is like in Hawaii. How does it differ from the other countries you have visited?
CL: Well the community pretty much knows everyone, the players get to play twice a week or so, thanks to our 2 local shop back in Oahu, that organizes any sorts of CardFight Vanguard related events. It's the only place where players do meet, play and trade. I never got the chance to find any card shops on the mainland or any other countries, since everywhere is significantly bigger than Hawaii, plus I don’t know my way around.
G: Regarding playing, As an high level player, what is, in your opinion, some mistakes you see a lot of players (newer as well as veterans) you see making?
CL: It's hard to tell or remember when a misplay happened since everyone was nervous at some point. In fact I was solely focused on the match in front of me. I had some misplays in the swiss rounds myself.
G: Thank you for sharing your experiences. We are nearing the end of our interview. Whom are some famous vanguard players from the North America region?
CL: I used to watch “AllOnTheVanguard” and “OffTopicGames”. Both channels have slowed down over the last couple years, so I try find anything that is related to Megacolony. Now I’m still pending to be part of the Van-guardians group, since the longest time.
G: And who are some famous players you know about from other countries?
CL: DifferentFight, Solemn Vanguard, Nexus Corp
G：Our classic final question is going to be a bit weird for you, seeing as of all the people we have interviewed, you've actually gone to the World Finals and WON it!! but here it goes: If you had the chance to go to the Finals of the World Championship again, which three fighters, of all the fighters in the universe, would you like to fight on the greatest stage of Vanguard?
CL: Well I would love to cardfight the commentators, since they didn't play at the event; that would be interesting. If I do have the time I would never turn away a good challenge.
G: Thats all for today folks, thank you to Colin Lai for coming to our interview tonight, and congratulations once again for winning the WORLD FINALS! Lets all give him a round of applause.
Information about the author:
CanYouSayG/Dr Sei-Ji A. Keong is an avid Cardfight Vanguard blogger by night whom has played in Europe, Japan, and South-East Asia, bringing you new and enjoyable insights to the world of Vanguard for both the card game, competitive environment, and the community. He plays Neo Nectar and Royal Paladin.