Marcel Burri - Card Strategies - "A look into the past – Part 9: The end of the UDE era"

Marcel Burri – Card Strategies – “A look into the past – Part 9: The end of the UDE era”

Hey guys, welcome back for part 9 of our review. Last time we saw the reign of Darkness after the release of PTDN and the release of Dark Armed Dragon. But as strong as all the cards were they wouldn’t remain in power for all too long. The Gladiators would enter the fray after the release of Elemental Hero Prisma and Gladiator Beast Gyzarus and wrestle down the DARK creatures to take over.


At the end of the last season we also saw how the first Tuner and Synchro monsters were released in the Starter deck. This should now continue, in TDGS, CSOC and the following boosters more Synchro support was released and Tele DAD would retake control over the Gladiator Beasts for the September 2008 period. With the release of TDGS there would also be introduced a brand new monster type: Psychic!

During this period everything would go haywire: Konami itself would take control of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game in the TCG territories after big disputes and several court rulings with Upper Deck Entertainment (UDE) which were in control of the game in the TCG since its release. So stay tuned for some drama there.


September 2, 2008 The Duelist Genesis TDGS
September 13, 2008 Champion Pack: Game 7 CP07
September 23, 2008 Exclusive Tins 2008 CT05
October 7, 2008 The Duelist Genesis: Special Edition TDGS-SE
October 21, 2008 Zombie World Structure Deck SDZW
November 3, 2008 2008 Collectors Tins – Wave 2 CT05
November 4, 2008 YG02-EN001 Thunder King Rai-Oh YG02
November 18, 2008 Crossroads of Chaos CSOC
November 21, 2008 Dark Legends DLG1
November 21, 2008 DLG1-EN000 Gorz, the Emissary of Darkness DLG1
December 8, 2008 Anniversary Pack YAP1
December 9, 2008 Crossroads of Chaos: Special Edition CSOC-SE
January 5, 2009 Champion Pack: Game 8 CP08
January 22, 2009 JUMP-EN031 Chimeratech Fortress Dragon JUMP
February 24, 2009 Duelist Pack: Yusei DP08
February ???, 2009 JUMP-EN029 Dandylion JUMP
February ???, 2009 JUMP-EN030 Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon JUMP



The takeover of Konami across UDE



Ok guys, this will actually be a bit longer as quite some stuff was going on here. That takeover of course didn’t go as flawless day-to-day, it was a real drama and numberless court rulings would occur during the whole process. Of course not everything of this went public (I’d assume it’s even only the tip of the iceberg we would get) but let’s try to go chronologically through everything what happened. Probably some things will be missing or aren’t perfectly clear, but the whole situation seemed very complicated mostly because there were multiple different companies in different countries involved which made the situation a lot more complicated. So please don’t take everything guaranteed here.



So for the newer players that didn’t play Yu-Gi-Oh before 2008 we should have a look at how the situation was originally. Yu-Gi-Oh in its early years was manufactured and distributed by Upper Deck Company, LLC. Yu-Gi-Oh players always referred to either Upper Deck or UDE when talking about the distributor. Upper Deck Entertainment (UDE) was the division of the company that used to produce the cards for the TCG in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French language. Upper Deck acquired the rights to distribute the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game from Konami in 2002.



Upper Deck is a trading card producing company which mainly focused on Sports Trading Cards before getting in touch with Yu-Gi-Oh (I’d assume even afterwards and also nowadays that’s still their main focus businesswise). The company was founded in 1988 after it was granted a license by Major Baseball League to produce baseball cards. In 1990 they also got licenses from NHL, NFL and NBA to produce hockey, football and basketball trading cards. Getting license from all 4 big sports leagues in the US at that time was a big success and therefore they could establish themselves in a very strong position in the market. They also distributed the VS System TCG (until 2009) and the World of Warcraft TCG (until 2010).



As distributor UDE was also responsible for the tournaments that were hosted back then. Every player would get a UDE Membership Card when they would enter an official event. The card would be linked to the UDE Ranking System. This was something that I actually liked a lot more than the COSSY System we have nowadays. The UDE Ranking was ELO based and therefore very competitive. Every win would give you points and your spot in the ranking would increase. But with every loss you would drop ranks as well of course. The better your rank became the less points you would get for each win but the more you could lose. A top ranked player e.g. could end an event with a 6:2 score and not even earn any points therefore. It also mattered who you were up against: The better his ranking was, the more points you could win by beating him. The Ranking system was also very relevant in the early stages of the game. Until 2009 the system would always be relevant to determine who would qualify for certain events such as the European Championship.



So now let’s have a look at the events that happened that led Konami to make the decision to withdraw the license of UDE.
October 8, 2008 Konami filed a complaint in the US charging Vintage Sports Cards with distributing counterfeit Rare cards. Those were found in a Toys-R-Us in Los Angeles. Vintage denied any wrongdoing and claimed they legally obtained all the cards from UDE. Furthermore they supplied Konami with evidence to prove their point.


December 10, 2008 Upper Deck filed a $75 million suit against Konami in Nevada District Court. They stated that Konami’s allegations were false and wanted to stop them from broadcasting any more false allegations.


December 11, 2008 Konami Digital Entertainment (KDE), Konami’s American branch, announced that they would be taking control of the TCG, including distribution and customer support.


December 16, 2008 Upper Deck filed suit in Amsterdam and an injunction was scheduled for a hearing in the Netherlands on December 22 between Upper Deck and Konami.


December 24, 2008 The Dutch court decided in favor of Upper Deck International (UDI), the licensed distributor and organizer of the TCG in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.


January 2009 Konami didn’t provide Upper Deck with the latest Champion Packs and proclaimed that they had terminated the contracts with Upper Deck and that they now are the only authorized distributor in North America. Upper Deck still continued to make plans for product support.
Meanwhile the US District Court in California followed up with a ruling in favor of Upper Deck which effectively temporarily stopped Konami’s takeover. Konami filed a renewed motion against Upper Deck and Vintage at this time, using additional evidence.


January 26, 2009 The next stage began: A jury was to decide whether Upper Deck was responsible and therefore liable for the counterfeit cards. Upper Decks attorney stated that the behavior was undeniably wrong and that there was no dispute about that even before the case started. After the second day of court, Konami and Upper Deck reached an out-of-court settlement whose terms were not publicly disclosed.


February 26, 2009 The California court reversed its previous ruling. Upper Deck US was forced to stop using Konami’s trademark and disassociate itself with the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG. The cancellation of Upper Deck sponsored Organized Play is now not any longer temporary but permanent for the US. With that ruling Konami was out in charge of the TCG in North America.


February 27, 2009 Clarification Statement from Upper Deck International (UDI). UDI and UDC (Upper Deck Company) are 2 independent companies which just share some of their licenses and practices. Konami originally stated both are one and the same company but a Dutch court stated this is not true as evidence proofed. Therefore Konami wasn’t able to terminate the agreement with UDI at that point which meant that UDI continues its support for the TCG in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Oceania. So Konami couldn’t take over the TCG worldwide yet.


February 28, 2009 Announcement of Konamis own Ranking System called COSSY.


March 2009 Upper Deck filed a counterclaim suit against Konami. They charged them for multiple misdoings such as breach of contract, fraud, slander and civil conspiracy.


April 15, 2009 The Amsterdam High Court also overturned its previous injunction so Konami could uphold the termination of the relationship with UDI as well. This decision along with the earlier ruling of the California court finally gave Konami control of the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card game worldwide.


So that’s the breakdown of the whole story (I know, the last part is not happening in this Banned List season, but it’s easier to just keep all together). At the end of the day you can clearly see that the production of counterfeit cards by Upper Deck was an own goal and should cost them dearly. Overall I’d assume Konami was not unhappy about the whole situation. The game had probably became way more successful than they imagined and therefore a lot of money can be earned. Having control over that is surely not a bad thing in the end.



So let’s try to get back to the game itself after this excursion. I let you check the Banned List changes yourself. DMoC and Disk Commander were gone which of course would force players to adapt if they still wanted to use the D-Hero engine. With Disk Commander basically gone as well but fortunately Malicious was back at 3 to fill up the space a little.
The meta for this period was actually kind of boring. With the cards released in TDGS Gladiator Beasts lost their ground and Tele DAD should completely take over. Tele DAD was with no doubt the Tier 0 deck to beat this format. The funny thing is that for the very first event with TDGS players weren’t certain about that yet. “Only” 8 of the 16 decks in the tops were Tele DAD, Gladiator Beasts could somehow sneak in another win, apparently a lot of players couldn’t disengage themselves from the deck that was so dominating the previous formats. But that would change: Tele DAD should win 8 (!) events in a row in North America. Let’s just have a look at how many of the top 16 spots were taken by Tele DAD at each event:


Baltimore: 8
Tulsa: 11
Seattle: 13
Charlotte: 15
Chicago: 7 (of the Top 8, there were no Top 16 lists available)
Atlanta: 11
Detroit: 13
San Francisco: 12
Houston: 15


Those numbers are absolutely insane. The last event we can take into consideration as well was the German Fortune Tour Final in Stuttgart. ¾ of the decks in the Top 16 were Tele DADs but in the end the event was actually won by a different deck: Lightsworn Zombies. With 3 Charge of the Light Brigade, 3 Solar Recharge, 3 Mezuki, 3 Plaguespreader Zombie, 2 Card of Safe Return, 2 Foolish Burial, etc. the deck was also extremely explosive but overall just a little less consistent than its big rival.
In the statistics below I also split up Tele DAD a little: Some of them ran Destiny Hero – Plasma and adapted the deck slightly (but the deck was basically exactly the same as standard Tele DAD), we had 2 turbo versions with more draw power and finally a deck that we saw for the first time at the last but one SJC: Oppression (Tele) DAD. At the last event Jerry Wang should pilot this to victory which didn’t surprise at all. The inclusion of Royal Oppression helped a lot in the mirror match, especially when going first. You just established a board and backed it up with Oppression, there was almost nothing your opponent could do against that. Usually some of the special summon elements were cut for that reason, mostly 1-2 Emergency Teleports.



1st Place, Jermol Jupiter, SJC Baltimore 2008, Gladiator Beasts




1st Place, Cesar Gonzales, SJC Seattle 2008, Tele DAD



Top 8, James Hames, SJC Atlanta 2008, Tele Zombies




1st Place, Steven Harris, SJC Detroit 2008, Plasma DAD



2nd Place, Calvin Tsang, SJC Detroit 2008, Tele DAD Turbo



Top 8, Gianluca Bommino, SJC San Francisco 2009, Lightsworns

Top 16, John Burkhead, SJC San Francisco 2009, Zombies


1st Place, Jerry Wang, SJC Houston 2009, Oppression (Tele) DAD



1st Place, Umut Serin, Fortune Tour Finale Stuttgart 2009, Zombie Lightsworns





March 3, 2009 Crimson Crisis CRMS
March 3, 2009 Duelist Pack Collection Tin 2009 DPCT
March 31, 2009 Spellcaster’s Command Structure Deck SDSC
April 7, 2009 Crimson Crisis: Special Edition CRMS-SE
April 21, 2009 Gold Series 2009 GLD2
April 26, 2009 SJCS-EN007 Dark End Dragon Price Card SJCS
May 12, 2009 Raging Battle RGBT
May 15, 2009 Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s WC09: Stardust Accelerator for DS WC09
(Including Infernity Archfiend)
May 19, 2009 Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Wheelie Breakers for Wii WB01
June 9, 2009 Starter Deck: Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s 2009 5DS2
June 20, 2009 Duel Terminal – Preview Wave 2 DTP1
June 23, 2009 Raging Battle: Special Edition RGBT-SE
July 7, 2009 Duelist Pack: Yugi DPYG
July 23, 2009 Retro Pack 2 RP02
August 1, 2009 Duelist League 2010 Participation Cards DL09
August 4, 2009 JUMP-EN033 Tragoedia JUMP
(The card was already release in July but wasn’t legal before this date)
August 15, 2009 Turbo Pack: Booster One TU01
August 18, 2009 2009 Collectors Tins – Wave 1 CT06



The happenings in the World of Yu-Gi-Oh
On June 28 the first renewed South American Championship was held in Chile. This was a result as the increased popularity of Yu-Gi-Oh in South and Central America. Therefore a new World Championship Qualifier was created: The Continental Championship Central America.


Metagame (and happenings at European Championship)


This was actually a very weird season. There were only 2 SJCs in America. So we only have those 32 decklists as well as those from Canadian and US Nationals (some from US are missing) as well as those from European Championship. I’m pretty sure this was all still an aftermath of the whole take-over of Konami. This all happened very abrupt and Konami had to learn a lot of stuff and adapt to the new situation.


I can’t tell how it was in America but the situation in Europe was very chaotic. For the European Championship in Lille 2009 Konami absolutely wanted to use their own new ranking system COSSY. This was actually a very bad idea as the program wasn’t perfected at all! On Saturday the competitors could only play 3 Swiss Rounds before the program broke down completely. It already had its struggle in the first rounds, for example for one round the pairings had to be remade after the players were already seated. But the most horrible thing was yet to come: After round 3 nothing worked anymore. It all started quite “expected”, players of course also realized that there were problems with the software. So we waited for a while for round 4. This actually became quite annoying after a whole hour had passed. No information were given at any time when the tournament could continue. So we were basically forced to remain in the hall if we didn’t want to miss the next round. So getting some food in between round was not really possible. After 3 hours the situation felt really unreal and very awkward. Having some technical issues can happen, there is not much to avoid that. But the big problem was that they absolutely didn’t give the players any information what actually happened and what would happen. Then finally after 4-5 hours (I can’t recall it exactly) they announced that the tournament was postponed and we couldn’t continue. So we basically waited there for 4-5 hours for absolutely nothing. That was something that I felt was very unacceptable.


However, nothing we could really do about. So everyone was actually curious if they could fix this till Sunday. Fortunately at least that worked out so the tournament could continue. But of course it was changed a bit from the original plan: After only playing 3 rounds of Swiss so far, they decided to make 5 more on Sunday with a cut to Top 16 afterwards so it was timewise somehow manageable. I was glad the tournament could be finished but of course that left a bad aftertaste. It was also kind of a bad start for Konami and their COSSY system to start off in Europe but in the end things should get better.


After this little history lesson let’s have a look at the meta. The banned list was pretty radical and that was necessary to stop the dominance of Tele DAD. Zombies would preemptively also be hit, otherwise they could just become the new rulers of the format. Raging Battle and Crimson Crisis introduced a lot of new competitive cards and archtypes. Cat Synchro finally made its appearance in the TCG after it had dominated in the OCG for while already, even if it wouldn’t reach the exact same power level as it had there (They could e.g. still use 2 DADs at the beginning and already had Brionac and Naturia Beast). Gladiator Beasts would also be pushed by Rescue Cat as Test Tiger and the newly released Gladiator Beast Samnite were level 3 Beast type monsters. Blackwing was also a new contender to fight Lightsworn and the remaining DARK based decks. Cat Synchro could in the end win not only the US Nationals but the European Championship as well. Lightsworn was overall the most represented deck but could never go all the way through to win an event.




1st Place, Jeff Jones, SJC Anaheim 2009, Skill Drain DAD
(1 side deck card is missing)


1st Place, Fili Luna, SJC Indianapolis 2009, Blackwing


Top 16, Adam Corn, SJC Indianapolis 2009, Salvo DAD


1st Place, Kris Ferber, US Nationals 2009, Cat Synchro


2nd Place, Michael Kohanim, US Nationals 2009, Gladiator Beasts


Top 4, Ryan Newburn, US Nationals 2009, Lightsworns
(The extra deck is missing)


1st Place, Vittorio Wiktor, European Championship 2009, Cat Synchro


Top 8, Marco Ahr, European Championship 2009, Salvo Twilight



World Championship 2009
The World Championship went back to Japan, more exactly it took part in Tokyo. There was a quite poor coverage in English, which you can check out here if you like:
I assume there was way more reporting for the Japanese viewers back then. Finding decklists was quite difficult again. The winner list could be found easily, it was probably released in a Japanese V-Jump after the tournament. But even if there is no decklist for the other players, we at least have an exact overview over all the 23 players that attended and which deck types they brought. So let’s have a look at that:
Benjamin Tan Hong Hwee, Singapore, Blackwing


Chien Yen-Jui, Taiwan, Gladiator Beasts


Top 4
Roy St. Clair, USA, Blackwing
Lee Hong Kyu, Korea, Gladiator Beasts


Top 8
Alexander Antonios, Australia, Gladiator Beasts
Au Man Lai, Hong Kong, Gladiator Beasts
Chris Gehrig, New Zealand, Gladiator Beasts
Sam Kee Kian Sim, Malaysia, Blackwing


Remaining Qualifiers
Kazuma Ishikawa, Japan, Gladiator Beasts
Michael Kohanim, USA, Gladiator Beasts
Vittorio Wiktor, Germany, Cat Synchro
Sharief Al-Aziz Mahomedradja, Netherlands, Cat Synchro
Ryan Newburn, USA, Blackwing
Kazuki Mutsuoka, Japan, Cat Synchro
Sebastien Legay, Belgium, Cat Synchro
Kris Ferber, USA, Cat Synchro
Satoshi Kato, Japan, Gladiator Beasts
Esteban Almeida, Ecuador, Cat Synchro
Charles Easton, Canada, Cat Synchro
Yuya Abe, Japan, Cat Synchro
Ryosuke Kasuga, Japan, Cat Synchro
Eduard Alvarez Carrera, Spain, Cat Synchro
Jose Hernandez, Mexico, Lightsworns
The decks we see are pretty much exactly what we could expect. The reason why Lightsworns aren’t seen that much is very simple: Charge of the Light Brigade wasn’t released in the OCG yet and therefore not legal. And without this card the archtype would be a lot slower and less consistent.



Prize Cards
WCPS-EN901 Aggiba, the Malevolent Sh’nn S’yo Ultra Rare
WCPS-EN902 Skuna, the Leonine Rakan Ultra Rare



Winner and Runner-Up Decklists
1st Place Benjamin Hong Hwee Tan (Singapore)



Once again, thanks for reading and see you for the next article where we will see the end of the SJC and the beginning of the YCS era under Konami.



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