The Legacy of Saiyan Goku Part II

When we last left off, I was gearing up for the 2003 National Championships with Saiyan Goku. The other two major decks on my radar going in were Piccolo the Trained Namekian, a deck I wasn’t particularly fond of and was a bit out of my price range because of Namekian’s Strike, and Master Roshi Dragon Ball (most commonly non-Tokui Waza with Cosmic Backlash), a deck I had played in regionals before and just thought was a huge bore. Since I really wasn’t part of the online scene, and had never really been a fan of the ridiculous amount of desperate validation seekers I typically encountered in those communities at the time (and sometimes still do), I was completely oblivious to a third powerhouse deck: Goku WGS HT Freestyle Dragon Ball. That would surprise me later.

Again, I haven’t been able to track down a decklist, but here are the most important cards in discussing the deck.

Since I had previously borrowed Sayjin’s build of the Goku Saiyan deck, I had to build mine from the ground up with his as the basis. They came out pretty similar, I can only remember a few differences. The main difference was that I was running North Kai for my sensei, while he was running Master Roshi. There were also some minor differences in the decks as well, I think I was running Saiyan Clothesline, Saiyan Hurricane Kick and (just to be cute) a single copy of Saiyan Gambit, while he had made different choices. Overall though, nothing that really set the decks apart other than the Sensei choice.

Over time many of the details of my matches at Nations 03 have been lost in my head, but I remember hearing a lot of rumors to the effect of “He played against all Master Roshi Decks up until the finals.” I can say that this is false. I had two losses in the swiss rounds, both to well built Piccolo the Trained Namekian decks. During the entire event, top cut included, I think I played against maybe four decks using a 1-3 personality and only won by Most Power Personality Victory about three times. Only two of those victories were against Master Roshi. Many people forget, Goku Saiyan is a pretty good beats deck and while it has a great advantage against other 1-3 decks, that’s far from the decks only strength.

25 Goku's Physical Attack

I remember my first round of the event. I was seated across from a Master Roshi deck and began feeling like this was a great start to the day. I remember the poor kid asking me where my level four and five were, and then not believing me when I explained how I could indeed win the game just by using my power to get to level three. I ran copies of Saiyan Duck in my sensei deck just for the non-Tokui Waza matchups so I wouldn’t get hit by the random Cosmic Backlash. So I of course double power him and he goes first. Declares combat and the first card he plays is… Cosmic Backlash. I now have a ten-card hand against this guy and Saiyan Duck pays for itself. He did this with zero blocks/combat enders in his hand, I guess he was scared that I would get to Level 3 and just went for the hail mary. The Cosmic Backlash ended up being the only card he played the entire game, though not in the way he would have liked.

So the event goes on, I win some, I lose some to Namekian. Sure enough Sayjin and I are paired against each other one round for the mirror match. It always sucks when you have to play against someone you traveled hundreds of miles to be there with. So this is an interesting match in that neither of us wants to put cards in the others discard pile. The match was destined to become an “Enter combat, pass, pass, end combat, dump our hands into the discard pile” game. Fortunately for me I had the advantage of North Kai Sensei, which we had argued over if that would be the superior sensei compared to Master Roshi Sensei. In this particular match-up, it gave me the definitive advantage. In our “Enter and do nothing” combat spree, I was able to shut down his Cell Saga Saiyan Mastery twice, effective robbing him of up to three more Saiyan styled cards in his discard pile. Doing that twice was effectively costing him a whole Level up. Thanks to the advantage, I won the match. That wasn’t the final round of swiss, but we both eventually make top cut.

HUH Batow

The Card of Destiny!

The semi-finals, in hindsight, was more like the the finals for Nationals 2003. I was playing against Tim Batow using a MBS Freestyle WGS HT Goku deck. The deck used South Kai Sensei for Saiyan Saga Chi-Chi, being able to stop two physical attacks a turn without drawing any additional blocks, and of course he went up to Lv. 5 so winning by MPPV was out of the question. I felt like that poor kid from round one, I didn’t have much of a chance of doing anything against him. The deck was so solid, it’s inspired me to make a similar build and I hear it still can win tournaments. I didn’t really know much about the deck at the time, other than it won by Dragon Ball victory, so all I could really do was sensei in HUH???

The match went pretty much as predicted. Batow was a fan favorite and a superior player. I had a tough time doing any damage to him, while he proceeded to set up his Dragon Ball win. All seemed lost to me, it was inevitable that I was going to get balled out on. I got out a City in Turmoil to slow him down, but that doesn’t affect his personality power or Chi-Chi, so my damage is still just trickling in. He’s running a smaller deck, but he’s still gonna ball out on my before I can give him a fatal blow. I have a decent attack hand with a Gohan’s Kick so I enter combat on him and he hits me with a Confrontation, something he had kept recycling into his deck thanks to Goku’s House before I hit him with the City in Turmoil. He takes out a Saiyan Destiny from my hand, so I just throw out a Saiyan Headshot in my next Attacker Attacks phase to hopefully eat a block and maybe draw something useful of its secondary effect. I pray for a Goku’s Physical Attack, but get HUH??? instead. Great, my own City in Turmoil is out so it’s not gonna help me at all, not to mention he has yet to play a single Dragon Ball yet.. I empty all the other attacks in my hand, doing a little bit of damage that he takes in stride, until all I have left is my HUH??? I pass to Batow.

Wallowing in my self defeat, I wait for Batow to just play a bunch more anti-attack non-combats and pass. He plays a new location and gets rid of my City in Turmoil. Wonderful, combats are gonna be even more in his favor now. Then he does something that I didn’t expect… he plays a Dragon Ball. He plays a Dragon Ball and passes initiative to me. Passes initiative to me while I’m holding a HUH??? in my hand. There was no tactical reason to play that Dragon Ball and I take a look at game state to see no Caught Off Guard Drills, no Initiative, and Startled hadn’t even been invented yet. I don’t care what I draw. I drop HUH??? and enter combat, immediately removing his Dragon Ball. This visibly upsets him and he slams the table in frustration, I can’t believe that he made such a mistake. That damage he had nonchalantly been taking earlier now mattered. All his deck could do now was stall, but it was too late. Time is eventually called on the match and I win on life cards and anger tie breakers, to his Dragon Ball tiebreaker. It was a completely unexpected outcome for everyone involved.

Batow is a champion in my book and a good sport. He signed the HUH??? for me after the match, a card I still have to this day. Now on to the finals.

Finals at Nationals

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get all the way to the finals at Nationals, a several hundred person tournament. I wish I could say more about the finals match, but there isn’t really much to tell. The guy had a Piccolo the Trained Namekian deck, but it was overcrowded with tech cards (though it should be noted that those cards got him to were he was) and just wildly different from the Namekian decks mine had struggled against. Again, sadly, there’s not much to say about these matches (which were best two out of three). I handily won each time with a continuous assault of attacks.

Winning this event was huge for me, career wise. I intentionally wore a Yu Yu Hakusho shirt to try to get Score’s attention (since that was their next game property, and not as well known as DBZ), but combining that with my win got my name and face everywhere with Score. Proving I was knowledgeable about games and marketing eventually got me in the door at Score Entertainment as a full-time employee, not just a part time playtester. This opened more doors for me to go on and work with the Dragon Ball Z license itself at FUNimation, which led to bigger and better opportunities elsewhere.

Winning Nationals 2003 has been what I recognize as the start of my career. It’s really funny to think about how the smallest, even the apparently most inconsequential decisions can have a profound impact on your life and the life of others. I sometimes wonder how different my life would’ve turned out if Batow had played that Dragon Ball one turn later in our silly little game…

Victory at NationalsLater, BroZ!

Follow me on Twitter at @ArguablyTrue!

9 Comments to "The Legacy of Saiyan Goku Part II"

  1. Shannon J. (aka Edison) says:

    What was Sayjin’s reasoning for Roshi? I can see North Kai or South Kai being the top two options based on whatever the rest of the competition is favoring (North Kai vs. control, South Kai for Chi-chi vs. beats).

    • Sayjin says:

      It made the PTT Namekian Matchup a far more balanced win-loss ratio. I actually beat 2 of them in the last two rounds of swiss (one by one of the top players, forget his name though). Against PTT, sitting at level 2 + Master Roshi Sensei made their attacks so weak that I didn’t even need to block most of them.

      And physical beats wasn’t really part of the meta, so South Kai for Chi-Chi wasn’t even a consideration.

      I only played a single 1-3 player all tournament too (not counting the mirror against Josh), and didn’t even get to MPPV him, since he also random backlashed me into a Saiyan Duck, from which I proceeded to beat him down.

      • Shannon J. (aka Edison) says:

        Thanks. I was just curious. Hard to think back sometimes on why we made choices. I’ve found old decks from 2003 and went “why did I do that” but I know there was a reason at the time lol.

      • Joshman says:

        Aside from the normal advantages North Kai gave you, I think my reasoning against Roshi was simply that the scenario that Sayjin described, while incredibly good if you achieved it, was very iffy against a personality hell bent on shutting your power down.

        Also, though this never came to fruition in my matches, I thought a North Kai after a combat with Saiyan Flight would be the death knell of Namekian.

  2. Kevin says:

    would love to see a deck list

  3. S. Dashy says:

    excellent pair of articles. we need more articles like this. i liked seeing the old photos too- those were awesome. i wish there were more match videos for us to watch (but i cannot seem to find any on youtube except for the gencon 2012 ones)… 🙁

  4. allan says:

    A shame, it seems like you had a lot of naysayers and haters on your way to the top, shame people can’t just be happy for others.

  5. Kyle says:

    Entertaining stuff. That really was an uncharacteristically bad play by Batow, but that’s the kind of risk you run when you play ball. Especially slowball, you have to keep that shield up the whole game, because that’s what happens when you slip up even a little. Freakin’ Duncan. Found out later that he ran like no blocks in his deck and both Phil and I could have knocked him out in cut just by dropping a sphere backed Backlash at any random point. Except when he played LOSING BATTLE hrrfrrrdrfff.

    I love old event memories from different successful viewpoints of the meta If you guys keep doing old event articles, let me know. I’d chip in with random memories I can conjure up if you’re interested. Lots of nostalgia.

  6. […] it’s certainly not the first time in the history of the Dragon Ball Z where a deck is overly dominant in the environment (or even just the Namekian Style being bonkers), but it is troubling that this is occurring with the limited card pool of just a single set and […]

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