The TCG Meta Snapshot is a project by some of the writers at YGOPRODeck that aims to encapsulate the state of the meta for a given 1-2 week period.
The TCG Meta Snapshot also aims to rank decks in a somewhat looser tier system. The tiers that we will use are as follows:
Tier 1: Highly Competitive Meta Decks. 10% or more of tops, as ranked by Pojo. This will roughly correspond to Pojo’s Tier 1, with some overlap from Pojo’s Tier 2.
Tier 2: Semi-Competitive Meta Decks. Less than 10% of tops, as ranked by Pojo. Corresponds to the rest of Pojo’s Tier 2, Pojo’s Tier 3, and Rogue.
Tier 3: Semi-Competitive non-Meta/Rogue decks. 1-2 tops. Specifically includes decks that only top small events or get lower rankings at medium events. It can also include decks that can potentially beat but have not yet in a given format.
Tier 4: Casually Competitive non-Meta decks. Decks that can compete at the local level, but cannot top an event.
Tearlaments is a powerful Mill and Fusion-based deck released in Power of the Elements! All of their cards, aside from the Field Spell benefit from hitting the GY via card effect, with the main effect being to perform a Fusion Summon. This is done by returning materials from the GY back to the bottom of the deck. Not only that, Tear has no locks or restrictions that tie them to anything, making it so the deck can splash in different engines with little repercussions. This makes for a versatile and formidable threat to prepare for. More often than not, you're forced to interact with the side engine and then get overwhelmed by the Tear cards, or vice versa.
One notable thing is that the deck is more than capable of playing on the opponent's turn, should the mills align. In this Snapshot, we'll be going over a couple of the successful Tearlaments variants in competitive play in the current format, ranging from its early stints in Regionals to the European Championships.
In the first weeks of the format, Tearlaments weren't performing as well as initially expected. It still managed to top a fair amount of Regionals in North America, being the second most represented deck. A likely reason is that the deck hasn't been quite solved compared to its other POTE competitor, which is Spright.
Spright is arguably easier to play and had most of its core deckbuilding ratios solved, making it the more popular and reliable choice. Branded Tearlaments was NA's initial take on the deck, garnering middling results. Some opted to run a heavier Despia package, while others ran the bare minimum to facilitate Branded Fusion. Pure was also making some waves here and there, but the lists were infamous for running less than stellar card choices. Due to this, Mathmech was dangerously close to usurping it at one point, in terms of representation, usage, and conversion rate.
All of this changed in the wake of the European Championships, where the deck proved itself to be a legitimate threat and then some! The introduction of the Danger package into the mix has turned the deck into a powerhouse similar to how Danger Thunder terrorized the meta all those years ago. They have also had additional time to refine the Pure and P.U.N.K.variants, trimming down some of the unnecessary cards people initially ran.
Due to this, we can conclude that the deck is definitively Tier 1 in usage. It is currently neck and neck vs Spright on which deck is stronger, but one can argue that Tearlaments is more explosive and loses to fewer blowout cards such as Dark Ruler No More. Now then, how about we go over the alluring variants these mermaids have to offer?
Austin Colling, aka the DB Grinder managed a Top 16 finish at the Columbus WCQ Regional with Branded Tearlaments! This was the first week of the Post-POTE format, happening just 2 days after the release of the set. Unlike the other lists that ran a heavier Despia package the week after, he chose a minimal engine in order to maximize the Tearlaments monsters, as it helps ensure your mills go smooth and you get to your plays. Not having to go over 40 is also a nice boost to consistency.
The deck doesn't necessarily have set lines, but getting access to Tearlaments Kitkallos is your highest priority. From there, you can branch out and fuse to your heart's content. Tearlaments Metanoise and Tearlaments Sulliek are extremely strong traps, as they're good to mill and even better to activate. Even if you get hand trapped, you can easily play on your opponent's turn if you manage to get to these cards. Outside of budget reasons, maxing out on the Field Spell is a must.
King of the Swamp is one of the standout choices in this version, as it's an Aqua monster that fetches you a copy of Polymerization. Its other effect just so happens to work while it is in the GY, which gives you access to a whole slew of powerful fusions that need specifically named cards. Because of this, you have an easier time bringing out cards like Mirrorjade the Iceblade Dragon or Invoked Caliga. The former can be brought out even if you don't see Branded Fusion. and it pulls a lot of weight!
Tearlaments Kaleido-Heart also benefits from this, as there are times when Tearlaments Reinoheart will be banished due to its effect. Aside from that, it being an Aqua monster comes up as Kitkallos just so happens to require an Aqua monster as one of her materials. Lastly, having Poly allows you to go into an untargetable Guardian Chimera to tip the scales in your favor. Admittedly, most variants of the deck have cut KotS, but it will get better once we have access to the cards in both Darkwing Blast and Structure Deck: Dark World.
All in all, it's a functional variant of Tearlaments but it's outclassed by the other much more explosive and reliable options. There's a reasonable amount of clunkiness, especially in the Despia heavier lists. The Fusion lock can be problematic, as it cuts you off key cards such as Time Thief Redoer or Curious, the Lightsworn Dominion.
Siemen Keibooms brought P.U.N.K. Tearlaments and finished at Top 128 at the European Championships. He placed 41st after swiss, which is quite an achievement. There were 2078 skilled duelists at the event, after all.
P.U.N.K. was one of the most hyped engines for the deck and it had some respectable showings at Euros alongside some scattered regional results. There are a lot of benefits that it brings to the table, and most of what's been discussed before in last month's snapshot can be applied here. Let's take a quick recap.
A free Chaos Ruler, the Chaotic Magical Dragon often without using your Normal Summon is absurdly powerful in Tears, giving the deck much more gas and the ability to go into some crazy Synchro, Link, and Fusion plays depending on how your mills go. Save for an unlucky instance where you only mill Spells, Ruler resolving can and will often win you the game on the spot due to the sheer advantage it will generate. Noh-P.U.N.K. Deer Note's revive is icing on top, letting you summon Noh-P.U.N.K. Ze Amin or Noh-P.U.N.K. Foxy Tune back for free.
Due to the fact that the P.U.N.K. cards or Chaos Ruler often have to be responded to with HT or else, the deck can eat through a lot of interruption both going first and second! Siemen opted for a heavier Trap lineup, seeing as he can be milling up to 13+ cards over the course of his turn between Ruler, Kitkatllos, and the other Tear monsters. This also makes it much more likely for Metanoise to add back a Tear or for Sulliek to get you more plusses.
Strong generics that love the GY such as Fairy Tail - Snow and Gizmek Orochi, the Serpentron Sky Slasher fit like a glove in this version of the deck, with the latter helping make Curious for an additional push. This is quite important especially if Kitkallos gets stopped. Against decks like Spright, Snow can really choke them out of their plays.
Another benefit of the P.U.N.K. engine is its ability to summon out Baronne de Fleur, adding some much-needed insurance against the likes of Mystic Mine and Evenly Matched. An underlooked application of Baronne is that she can pop your own cards, which can trigger Kaleido-Heart for free. In a pinch, she can also revive Kitkallos in the Standby Phase to get you back to your Tearlament plays.
To sum it up, it's quite a solid contender and a legitimate way to play the deck. It's not as popular as the next variant we'll be discussing though.
The version of the deck everyone was waiting for, I present Danger Tearlaments! An EU innovation, several professional players brought this to the event and did quite well, being the most represented variant of Tear in the Top 128 Cut. Herman Hansson managed a solid Top 16 finish, only losing out to Joshua Schmidt's Power Spell Spright at the end of his run.
Danger cards provide so much to the deck, as it lets you board free bodies, get cards into the GY and draw to boot. Danger! Nessie! being an Aqua also lets you get away with so much, providing an easier time making Kitkallos. Since all of them are DARK monsters with different types, you're near guaranteed consistent access to Mudragon of the Swamp which can help immensely in the mirror, and one of the best payoffs imaginable: Curious, the Lightsworn Dominion!
This forgotten Link-3 can send any card from the deck to the GY, depending on what you need. Fairy Tail - Snow is the best one, as it not only helps extend to make Time Thief Redoer alongside Scheiren or Reino Heart, it insulates your board against some nasty blowout cards. Herman mentioned he often left Curious on the field, as Spright had a difficult time dealing with floaters. Curious can add any card from the GY back to the hand if it's outed, which can be game-breaking. Some of the craftier players would make it, send Harpie's Feather Duster and add it back against control strategies. Additionally, you get a lot of mileage out of the mandatory mill effect on both turns. This can help reduce luck and make fusing monsters on their turn a lot more consistent. Kaleido-Heart anyone?
Funky monsters such as Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite, Gokipole, and Shaddoll Beast make an appearance on the list. Zephyros synergizes extremely well with Dangers, as you can re-use them a second time to your heart's content. Being an extra type for Curious doesn't hurt either. Gokipole gets you a copy of Danger! Mothman! , which is one of the best Dangers to have with Tearlaments. Even if discards itself, it still nets you a card and lets you pitch something like a Tear. Beast nets you an extra card, which can mean everything in a build like this, all while letting you drop a nasty El Shaddoll Winda on the opponent's turn, often after getting hit with a card such as Dark Ruler No More.
For the Side Deck, there are a couple of interesting choices to note. Skull-Mark Ladybug was strictly for time purposes and could also be fetched via Gokipole, but Herman mentioned it didn't come up. Kurikara Divincarnate makes her first successful debut on the competitive scene! This card was noted to be decent queueing into the popular decks of the tourney and can push huge damage if needed. Skill Drain was his answer to Dimension Shifter which proved to be effective. Lastly, Tearlaments Cryme is there to help combat threats such as Mystic Mine.
Danger Tear is currently the deck to beat, as outside of very specific hate cards such as Mine and Dimension Shifter, it's both resistant to multiple hand traps and the usual blowouts. Tear is often criticized for its lack of consistency and its tendency to lose to itself, but Dangers can remedy a lot of those issues. Some brave duelists like Luka Forjan and Matthew Chen floored it and combined both P.U.N.K. and Danger to create the ultimate gas combo version of Tear.
Offerings to the Doomed and Millennium-Eyes Restrict were popular in the NA regionals scene in the initial weeks but failed to take off as the format progressed.
There's been a lot of developments and tech cards for the deck over the course of the biggest event in EU. Let's go over some of the other ones that haven't been discussed above.
Topologic Bomber Dragon and Topologic Zeroboros made a triumphant return into competitive play thanks to Tearlaments! The former in particular, as the deck has several ways to trigger Bomber on either player's turn, making it difficult for your opponent to mount any form of a comeback all while triggering your Tears to fuse. Between Spright Elf for Merrli, Snow, Havnis, and Orochi, you have several ways to continuously nuke the field. Zero, on the other hand, is a one-time nuke to really prey on backrow decks or the mirror match, as you would rather banish everything they have.
Knightmare Gryphon was also a prominent force in the other Danger Tear lists, due to its synergy with Curious. Was Kitkallos stopped? Not to worry, we'll still be able to reset the Sulliek that Curious sent to the GY. If linked to Apollousa, you even get a draw for your trouble. The floodgate effect is no slouch, either. Alternatively, you can reset Super Polymerization or any sided blowout Traps that might've fallen into the GY, such as Eradicator Epidemic Virus.
Abyss Dweller was a popular choice in the mirror match specifically, shutting them down if it ever resolves. Reino Heart is great for it, as it boosts Dweller and stops it from getting banished. Dweller can be a near auto-win against other Tears if uncontested. It's quite difficult to answer as most lists have opted out of running Forbidden Droplet. Some pioneers even went for Bahamut Shark using Reino and Mudragon of the Swamp!
For the folks who prefer a thrill, The Zombie Vampire can be fatal in the mirror but it does give you additional mills after Chaos Ruler. P.U.N.K. decks in particular can employ its use. Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder gives your XYZ monsters some extra utility to work with.
Skill Drain is a dastardly anti-side that Tear can bring against decks who would dare use Shifter on them, completely cutting them out of the game. The Tear player, on the other hand, can still freely Fusion summon and abuse as many GY effects as they please. Thanks to the Field Spell, you can even turn it off when it's go mode!
Psychic Lifetrancer was another infamous LP gainer, as the Tear mirror matches do tend to go into time due to the nature of the decks.
Finally, two superstars on the Limited list had some pretty respectable results for the event. Dinowrestler Pankratops proved its mettle once again, helping power through both the Tear and Spright boards to great effect. Dark Grepher made it all the way to the finals!
In conclusion, Tear had some rough beginnings but quickly bounced back after being given more time to be solved by the playerbase. The deck will only continue to thrive as it gets some new insane support in both Darkwing Blast and Magnificent Mavens. Until next time folks, keep calm and stay milling! Renren out.