Top Player Council Thoughts
With the conclusion of MCS XV, all competitive attention has now turned squarely on this weekend's KC Cup. Embracing that theme, this week's Tier List will be exclusively for the KC Cup's best-of-1, ladder format.
Buster Blader has been promoted to Tier 1 again after winning MCS XV. With an incredibly strong Koa'ki Meiru match-up, Buster Blader could easily dominate various stages of the KC Cup. Universally playing Last Gamble for extra draw power, Buster Blader is one of the most oppressive decks in the game once set up. Because of Ancient Gears' presence in the meta, however, a rise in backrow removal like Loading... could hurt Buster Blader's position in a very random format. One of the biggest Buster Blader counters in the last KC Cup was Wildheart Control with big, trap-immune monsters, and will likely not be present in this event since Koa'ki Meiru and Vampires, the other Tier 1 decks, don't struggle against it at all. However, an unfavorable Ancient Gear match-up will be something that Buster Blader players must deal with unless they're counting on Koa'ki Meiru forcing them all away.
Koa'ki Meiru has remained in Tier 1. Arguably made stronger by the addition of Ancient Gears, Koa'ki decks have trended towards The Tie that Binds for OTK pushes through Loading... and to get Loading... over Loading... . Fairly unchanged otherwise, Koa'ki Meiru is one of the strongest decks in the game but will also be one of the most countered. Loading... by itself is a guaranteed turn of survival against Koa'ki, and the mirror match is difficult to win reliably against other good players with similar builds. Fortunately Koa'ki is fairly adaptable, but changing techs to improve other match-ups (like using Cosmic Cyclone for Buster Blader and Ancient Gears) will only make the mirror more difficult. An inherent out to stall (simply recycling Loading... ) is nice as well, and will likely be relevant at certain stages of the event.
Vampires have been promoted to Tier 1. A very consistent and versatile deck, Vampires can benefit tremendously from a lack of Hero and Control players and focus all their attention on the other top decks. KaibaCorp Bling has become the go-to skill with Vampires, drawing Loading... at will. With no overwhelmingly favorable match-ups in the meta, Vampires may fall off as the meta narrows in higher DP ranges. Simple counters like Sealed Tombs exist and can become popular if there ends up being a Loading... . A poor Spellbook match-up is also frustrating for Vampire players to deal with, but one of Vampires' strengths is that they lose to almost nothing for free and experienced pilots can likely take this deck very far.
Buster Blader will be able to capitalize off of the presence of multiple Koa'ki Meiru players. The ideal point to be playing Buster Blader would be a DP range where Ancient Gears are lowly represented.
Ancient Gears have been added to Tier 2 following their 2nd place finish in MCS XV. Loading... has a place right next to Maximus on the list of "strongest, easiest to summon boss monsters" in Duel Links and single-handedly wipes out many rogue decks. Strong built-in backrow removal with Loading... , Loading... , and Loading... makes Ancient Gears a very powerful deck against backrow-reliant decks like Buster Blader and Vampires. Middle Age Mechs is the most common way to play Ancient Gears, giving the option to simply normal summon Reactor Dragon by turn 3-4. Sttrong defensive traps like Loading... and Loading... are becoming quite common as well to help improve the unfavorable Koa'ki Meiru match-up.
Karakuri has been demoted to Tier 2. A very strong deck when it has access to a side deck, Karakuri has always struggled with the randomness of ladder formats since it relies on tech cards (which it can access very easily) to really do anything. The core of a Karakuri deck simply draws cards, so the deck's performance is largely tied to the impact that those non-Karakuri cards have on the duel. And when the deck needs to both protect against larger monsters and clear out backrow (having to tech both offensively and defensively), it will be very difficult to find the right balance.
Spellbooks have been added to Tier 2 for the KC Cup. With many excellent match-ups against top decks and a favorable meta (e.g., little current use of Sealed Tombs ), Spellbooks can be a very strong deck for the KC Cup. An early Loading... is as oppressive as ever, and looping Loading... is almost enough to just beat Ancient Gears and Karakuri by itself. Koa'ki Meiru or Ancient Gears adjusting and moving to Sealed Tombs would hurt this deck a lot, and Buster Blader can almost win for free with a turn 1 Loading... if the Spellbook player didn't open Loading... or Loading... . Multiple skills have seen use in the past with Spellbooks, including Restart and Mind Scan , but the most successful version recently uses KaibaCorp Bling with a prismatic Loading... or Loading... , followed up by a glossy Silent Magician. Whether this kind of consistency will prevail over Restart (or over the benefits of Mind Scan) will be interesting to follow during the event.