In case you missed it, This Week's Meta Weekly, we had an exciting Top 32 full of rogue decks and meta decks alike. One particular rogue deck, however, shone above the rest.as blarajan took the crown, plowing through four Shiranui decks in Top Cut with his Weather Painters

Interview with blarajan

How does it feel to win another Meta Weekly, with a rogue deck nonetheless?

Winning it feels pretty good, I've put a lot of shots on goal lately but I keep losing in Top 32 or Top 16. Weather Painters are a deck I'm personally extremely fond of, and I'm glad to have been able to give them the placement they deserve.

Anything you'd like to tell the viewers about yourself?

I have very little experience with the TCG in terms of competitive play. I played a bit as a kid, and played a bit on dueling network, but Xyzs were the last actual mechanic I've ever played with. My primary "gaming" background is competitive Pokemon - been playing that online for years, and started playing VGC events IRL since 2016. I picked up Duel Links a couple years ago when friends from Pokemon like Kamikaze were really into it and had a server for it. I got the most into Duel Links when that same Kamikaze wanted to make a team for a league tournament called Team Wars. Our application got accepted, and the team was fully filled with friends from Pokemon or that we otherwise knew in person. We ended up winning that season. We all improved a lot when we were thinking about the game more often, playing against each other, and playing other tournaments like Meta Weeklies and MCS's. It's been really great to have a tight-knit group of competitively-oriented friends to bounce ideas off of and improve with, and I wouldn't be nearly as into Duel Links without the Smogon Duel Links Team Wars Team, only a couple of us had any actual TCG background.

Why did you go with Weather Painters this Weekly?

I chose Weather Painters for a few reasons. Firstly I just really like the deck, and have put a lot time into understanding it. I think that familiarity helped me a lot in Top Cut since I knew the Shiranui matchup way better than my opponents knew the Weather Painter matchup.

More importantly, I thought the circumstances surrounding yesterday's Meta Weekly were extremely favorable for Weather Painters. We are currently in a format where Karakuri is going crazy and decks have been generally siding in a bunch of Loading... or something for them, but in no side deck formats that isn't very viable. What we've seen in a bunch of the one-deck formats like Clan Wars and Team Wars is Karakuri exchanging wins, Invoked Magician Girls and backrow Shiranui increasing in usage to beat Karakuri, and decks like Dark Magician, Witchcrafter, and Blackwings aren't as popular. In a metagame like this, I expected to see a lot of Shiranui, Invoked Magician Girls, Karakuri, and Crystrons, and not the really bad matchups (Dark Magician & Witchcrafters).

Additionally without a Side Deck, there were no surprise blowout cards like Loading... , which actually eliminated me from the Top 32 of a Battle Phase tournament the day before.

The BEST matchups for the deck are Shiranui and Invoked Magician Girls. I'm very familiar with the Karakuri and Loading... Crystron matchups and am comfortable playing against them even if I like them less the better matchups. So overall, it felt like a combination of a great meta call combined with Weather Painters being my current favorite deck to play.

How did the day go for you? How did you feel about your matchups?

I think the best players perform consistently in these tournaments, but I think to actually win Top Cut you have to get lucky somehow: either by not bricking or dodging auto losses or hitting your matchups, and it was finally my turn. It was also the day before Bob Ross's birthday so I think I had plot armor.

I'm not going to say I didn't hit my matchups - there were four Shiranui in Top 32 and I eliminated all of them, but I don't think it was necessarily "I hit shiranui therefore I won".

In the entirety of Top 32 there was only 1 Witchcrafter and 0 Dark Magician or Cyber Dragons (I would classify those as the three worst matchups for the deck). I would have been happy to play against anyone aside from the 1 Witchcrafter player. There were two Blackwings, but Blackwings aren't as hard as people seem to think it is. That being said I guess I'd want to play against Blackwings the least after the Witchcrafters. I would be fine playing against any of the other 28 decks.

Out of the other decks in Top 32, Crystrons have blowout turns like Loading... or setting up Loading... , Lunalights are actually really annoying with Loading... bouncing my backrow, and Karakuri can be really annoying with well-timed Loading... s, so I'm not pretending any of the matchups were free, or that Shiranui wasn't my best one, but it wasn't as simple as winning because I faced Shiranui a lot. It sure helped though.

Anything you'd like to say about your Decklist?

The first thing I'll talk about is Loading... . I think Sun is incredibly good and has only gotten better since we now have real Xyz options. Weather Painters' gameplay lives and dies by having monsters to actually use the Weather Painter canvas effects: without either a monster or a canvas, you have a bunch of useless vanillas on the field. BYou would generally be limited by one normal summon per turn and that reduces your ability to actually disrupt your opponent with Loading... , plus with Loading... , and sit on Loading... . Before Xyz monsters, Weather Painter Sun, as well as Loading... offer you ways to increase the amount of monsters you get on board, which gives you more options for all of the canvas effects. That ends up being really powerful because Weather Painter victories end up really grindy and as the sum combination of a bunch of little pokes, so saving a turn by not having to Normal Summon is really strong. Sun only got better with the Xyz toolbox to pull from because you could use it as Xyz material, detach it, and recycle it.

The way I like to win with Weather Painters and the way I think it is most effective is by making the impact of your opponent's turn as minimal as possible: making their one-for one-backrow useless, making their battle phase useless, making their indestructible boss monsters useless. If you have the ability to protect your entire board of monsters by tagging them all out, then Loading... and Loading... just save you for the entire turn, and make your opponent's turn useles. Then on the next turn you get to dismantle their board or just ignore it. As long as you save your monsters, you can generally figure something out, because Weather Painters can re-establish their canvases pretty easily

I went with such a big deck list because I wanted 8 monsters. Three of Loading... and Loading... , and 1 copy of both Loading... and Loading... .Cloud and Sun were non-negotiable, they are really stupid good, and you need Snow / Thunder to set up your board. I could have gone with fewer cards, but running 26 cards let me incorporate more options into the deck I decided on the ratio that gave me the most Traps (8/8/10), which gave me a lot more flexibility while deck building.

In terms of Spells it meant I got to run multiple Cloudy Canvas (this card is the goat, and only having one is absolutely not enough - attacking directly while ignoring your opponent's board is one of the main win conditions, and letting your single copy get Loading... 'd is often just a death sentence). It also let me run multiple Loading... and a one-of Loading... , which is huge to rip into in the mid to late game, while minimizing how often necrovalley bricks you.

In terms of the Trap lineup, it gave me the higher likelihood of opening multiple Traps.you don't want to open Loading... . You prefer to play Thundery Canvas directly from your deck when you want it, because contrary to popular belief, Thundery Canvas offers you the least protection out of the canvas cards, since you can't tag out. It's the worst backrow card to open by a long shot. So running 8/8/10 gave me more options to open two backrow and gave me more backrow to open that weren't Thundery Canvas.

Overall, the choices let me have a lot of options, let me accelerate my game state, and keep me safer

Xyzs give me a lot more flexibility for making final pushes. Such as Loading... grabbing a monster back, Loading... to give me 1400 direct attack, or Loading... to protect me from Loading... .

Anything else you'd like to say about your tournament experience?

One element I'd like to bring up about Weather Painters and one thing I think that makes them so difficult is the timer element because you are so often playing on your opponent's turn, and as the game progresses you are often juggling more monsters: You burn through time really fast with an objective ton of button presses in addition to needing to sequence damage correctly. It's very hard to do something as simple as 2000 Damage to your opponent depending on circumstances, but you don't actually have enough time to linger or think about decisions because any time you eat up in the early game will cost you. So one really important thing I would suggest before bringing Weather Painters to a tournament is to practice a lot - you need to be able to understand the board state quickly and commit to your decisions. Making small mistakes while playing Weather Painters is par for the course because you can't actually afford any processing time and make sure to look through the games you played again. I knew while playing and especially after rewatching a bunch of my stream sets that I made quite a few mistakes (not really the things that were talked about - most of what people in chat were talking about were deliberate choices), but a lot of sequencing issues, a lot of "did I grab the right card with Loading... ". You don't really have time to think about that sort of stuff. As an example, at the end of Game 1 in finals, I resolved a Loading... and toggled off. I had less than one second left on my timer. It isn't a pick-up-and-play deck at all.

Lastly, do you have any Shoutouts you would like to make?

I want to give big shout outs to the entire Smogon Duel Links family who have kept me playing this game, and thank you to the DLM staff for organizing this tournament and reimbursing me for the amount I whaled on Loading... . Also, thank you Jadehex for the opportunity to explain my thoughts on the deck!

Winning Decklist: