Tier List Update - January 15

Top Player Council Thoughts

After MCS XIV we have multiple changes to the Tier List, based on the results of the event and the continued development of the meta.

Tier 1

Koa'ki Meiru has remained in Tier 1 as the dominant deck of the format. Top-performing builds have trended away from Balance, instead exploring higher monster counts (including Koa'ki Meiru Ice) and Sphere Kuriboh + Enemy Controller for mirror matches.

TPC Comments:


Koa’ki remain as the sole Tier 1 deck due to continually unrivaled dominance in tournament top cuts. They may not win every single event, but expect them to make up a majority of top cut and plan your main and side decks around them accordingly.


The latest MCS and Meta Weekly showed that Koa’ki Meiru is still dominating the meta as it was the most played deck with the most tops. The meta evolved around it with cards like Floodgate Trap Hole being popular again or Poisonous Winds in side decks, but Koa’ki Meiru is still hard to handle for most decks thanks to Koa’ki Meiru Maximus (one of the best cards in the game) and powerful side deck cards like Koa’ki Meiru Rooklord, Koa’ki Meiru Wall, or even Reckoned Power.

Tier 2

Buster Blader has been promoted to Tier 2, as one of the best counters to Koa'ki Meiru. Koa'ki Meiru Maximus being Dragon-type means that Buster Blader's "lockdown" combo only requires Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman, instead of him alongside DNA Surgery. Buster Blader has been the target of a lot of side-decks in recent weeks; this will only increase as many decks struggle to break their full board without specific counters.

Karakuri has been placed in Tier 2 following a strong performance in the MCS. Easily the best Synchro deck in Duel Links, Karakuri excels at turboing through their deck for high-impact tech cards to quickly end duels. Immunity from Sealed Tombs is very nice, but being locked out of Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 “Burei” access by DNA Surgery is not. Because of a very wide Tier 2, Karakuri can hope to sneak by without too much side-deck attention. Otherwise, blowout cards like Acid Rain and System Down will wipe entire Karakuri boards for free.

Masked Heroes have remained in Tier 2, with some players now opting to include Elemental HERO Solid Soldier and Masked HERO Dian at the expense of some other Destiny Heroes. Dian’s 3000 DEF is great for walling off Koa’ki Meiru for a turn (chaining Mask Change to Maximus’ effect), and using Sealed Tombs all but ensures they will lose most of their board in the End Phase. Whether Solid Soldier and Dian are part of the best version of Masked Heroes remains to be seen.

Vampires have been demoted to Tier 2. Very few players used Vampires in the MCS and although it had one good placing in the top cut, it would be hard to justify their position next to Koa’ki Meiru in Tier 1 after Koa’ki’s relative dominance of the Top 32. Vampires’ versatility remains a strength, however, and they can easily hold their own in this meta.

TPC Comments:

Luke Tyler:

Vampires encounter demotion due to them fighting a lack of representation in tournaments. Their results no longer reflect that of a Tier 1 deck, and should this decline continue a Tier 3 status for Vampire is foreseeable.

With a very strong matchup against the most represented deck of the format, Buster Blader creeps its way up to Tier 2 in reflection of its recent tournament placings. In MCS 14, Buster Blader had a fantastic conversion rate from Swiss to top cut, ultimately taking the event too.


Masked Heroes remain in Tier 2. This deck will continue to be iterated on with the new Hero cards we received from the Selection Box and still has enough adaptable backrow space to stay a step ahead of much of the meta when built well.

Buster Blader moves up to Tier 2 due to generally favorable matchups in the evolving meta and overall strong competitive performances. Watch out for this deck, it’s a sleeping giant in terms of power and should be acknowledged as such.

Karakuri falls into Tier 2 as the deck continues to be iterated on due to the best draw power we’ve seen in a meta deck to date and being the first deck that provides easy access to a limited but still powerful toolbox of Synchro monsters.


Vampires performed poorly in the last MCS because they have a hard time against Sealed Tombs Koa’ki Meiru or Masked Heroes, and the new Silent Swordsman makes it even harder for Vampires to shine in this new meta. It is still a good deck but it needs to adapt ASAP or it will fall off even more.

Buster Blader winning the last MCS showed that its a good anti-meta pick especially against Koa’ki Meiru with Maximus being a Dragon. It also has solid match-ups across the board which makes it a good but very unhealthy deck right now.

Masked Heroes are still a solid deck but with Vampires being weaker and Control being more popular again, it could fall off very quickly. Besides that the new Masked Hero Dian and Solid Soldier are great additions to the deck and both cards might be relevant in the near future.

Karakuri did well in the latest Meta Weekly and MCS because it has a good Koa’ki Meiru match-up and is the fastest and most versatile deck in this meta, which is very hard to deal with for many other decks. Also with Vampires being less popular, Shogun Burei is a even better turn 1 play into a Karakuri Anatomy draw 2. The insane draw power makes this deck great with side decks because it can draw into side cards much faster than other decks, which is a huge advantage. Burei turn 1 makes this deck immune to Paleozoic Canadia and Floodgate Trap Hole which is insane in this meta.

Tier 3

Control has been demoted to Tier 3, continuing to struggle overall in a Koa'ki Meiru meta but gaining a couple new toys in Justice Bringer and Silent Swordsman. The Amazoness engine saw a bit of a comeback in the MCS and it will be interesting to watch how this deck continues to adapt to the overall meta.

TPC Comments:

Luke Tyler:

Control has the addition of Silent Swordsman into its arsenal. This card is brand new and due to such, results with it are limited. However, despite this the deck still performed well in MCS 14 and is anticipated to do well in upcoming events too.


Control demoted to Tier 3 due to the dominance of Koa’ki Meiru, arguably its worst matchup. Control was a deck that was designed to counter a very specific meta and that meta is slowly phasing out and into a new one. Thus, Control loses its edge.


Control was very popular in the latest MCS which was a big surprise for many players, and the surprise factor paid off. It did well thanks to Silent Swordsman which fits perfectly into the deck with the Amazoness engine.


Spellbooks have again been removed from the Tier List. Despite being brought back because of solid Koa'ki Meiru and Karakuri match-ups, Spellbooks see almost no play because Buster Blader also serves as a counter to those decks and wins the match-ups with more consistency. The new [banlist](/news/balance-update/january-09-2019/) hurt the deck by removing its access to Treacherous Trap Hole, but some of the new Dark Magician cards have begun to see use in Spellbook decks as a very small engine for Dark Magic Attack access.

TPC Comments:


Spellbooks have many issues to deal with in this meta, even with Vampires being less popular. Control, Sealed Tombs, Koa’ki Meiru, and Buster Blader are all very bad match-ups for this deck.

This week we have the Meta Weekly on January 15th at 2:30pm EST and other community events throughout the week. Expect the results of these events to have a strong influence on the Tier List.

Find out more by joining the Duel Links Meta Discord.
Be sure to check out Guides and Reviews and King of Games Decklists.
Learn more about the Top Player Council members.

Tier List update written by superforms.

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