Dragons in a Fairy Tale: Yu-Gi-Oh! State of the Meta

A month into the new banlist and the dust has settled, revealing dragons as the top deck of the format. If there was any doubt about this, the recently concluded NA Remote Duel Invitational and LCS XII knocked that out of the park. Dragonlink won both tournaments! Today we’ll examine what the Yu-Gi-Oh! competitive scene currently looks like.

Quality in Diversity

LCS Deck breakdown
Credits to LuxuryGaming for this chart!

Despite having a definite top deck in the format, we’re not seeing heavily skewed deck representation in the few events that we have. Just look at the image above. Sure, Dragons were the most represented. But the fact that Shaddolls were a close second shows that the format is in a fairly healthy place! Only 2 of the 51 Dragonlink players got into top cut, for crying out loud! When you can take a deck that isn’t the best deck, and still be heavily competitive, you know that the game is enjoyable to a lot of people!

Winda is a Problem

Winda which kills Dragons

Shaddolls have always had El Shaddoll Winda at their disposal. Winda is an extremely oppressive card that has always been a problem against a myriad of decks. Now, Shaddolls have access to Shaddoll Schism. This allows players to chain to special summons that start a chain, effectively wasting their only special summon. Oh, and did I forget to mention that Schism gets to send a monster, too? Yep, this makes it harder to beat Winda. In addition to that, Impermanence is usually not going to be live against Schism-Winda. Also, you can forget about beating over Winda in Battle Phase. Most players will have Aleister the Invoker in hand!

Aside from Schism being nice, Shaddolls have an insanely good grind game. It also helps that Invoked and Dogmatika have good synergy with the deck! Invoked helps consistently put a negation on board every turn. It also gives access to Augoeides and Purgatrio to help push damage! Dogmatika, on the other hand, can not only search out interruptions in the form of Dogmatika Punishment and Fleurdelis, it can also get Apkallone to the grave! This is great because it makes the engine also act as a searcher that can also trigger Shaddolls! Mix all that together and you get a very skillful and competitive deck.

Pranking Dragons!

Meow Meow

Dinosaurs have always been strong, so let’s talk about Prank-kids! Since the release of Prank-kids Meow-Meow-Mu, the deck has been afforded access to 1-card combos! A singular Prank-Kids main deck monster will always lead to the PandemoniumBattle Butler setup. This allows the deck to have ridiculously large spaces in the deck to fill in with hand traps, or whatever cards of your choosing!

Prank-kids has been topping a lot of tournaments as of late, be it locals, extravaganzas, or invitationals. This LCS 12, FIVE Prank-Kids players made it to the top! Usually being stopped by a singular Ash Blossom on the first Prank-Kids monster to hit the grave (or 1 of the two bounces from Dragons) has not stopped the deck from performing well. Playing cards like There Can Be Only One to slow down (or outright win) the game, or Triple Tactics Talent to push through interruption has propelled the deck into heights it has never reached before (well, aside from that one random YCS win).

Tickling the Dragon’s Tail

Dragons' Slayer

Predicting the abundance of Dragons in the tournament, someone ran with Buster Blader in the LCS XII. And he actually got to Top 16! This deck sets up Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman, and Buster Dragon on the field. This makes for a pseudo-Bagooska / Skill Drain effect against every deck. Buster Dragon makes it so that all monsters the opponent controls become dragons, and the purple Buster Blader prevents opponent’s controlled Dragon monsters from activating their effects!

Against Dragonlink, they only need the Purple Buster Blader, since the deck is comprised entirely of dragons anyways! This is made easy since Prologue of the Destruction Swordsman sends for cost. Hence, Destruction Sword Memories is almost always going to be in the grave to banish itself and summon out the Buster Blader! Having access to Buster Whelp and Trap Trick makes it extremely easy to get to. So there you go, if you want to ruin the days of Dragonlink players, y’all know what to do!

Sticky Control Deck


Altergeist has been around forever, and has always been popping up randomly in tournaments, whether big or small. It has recently done so again, showing up in the LCS XII’s top cut, and even getting all the way into the finals! This deck has access to Silquitous, a card that so easily bounces cards from the field, an effect that is extremely strong in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh! Heck, it’s one of the reasons Dragons are extremely strong! Having access to a Seal and Tidying bounce is partly why Dragonlink is the best deck of the format.

Silq being able to bounce every turn is just one of the strong points of Altergeists. Almost every card is a plus-one in the sense that each card floats, searches, or recurs resources! Altergeist Protocol negates monster effects (and passively protects Altergeist cards on the field from effect negation), Meluseek can send one card in damage step and THEN search a monster (usually Multifaker). These are just a couple of the important effects. And that’s not even counting all the cool interactions that make paying cost not even matter in the deck!

Overall, with a good pilot, the deck is almost unstoppable when it gets its engine rolling. This has been proven in the LCS, and will probably continue in the future!

Other Non-Dragons

Other non-dragons

We also saw Zoodiac, Eldlich, and Tri-brigade in the LCS XII top cut. Zoodiac is still strong because AA-Zeus is one heck of a card. However, with Dragons being rampant, you don’t really want to go 2nd against them because you’ll be staring down 2 bounces, 1 negate, and a potential hand-rip. If you go first, however, you usually end on Drident and some backrow (Eldlich traps, if using that variant). That simply will not be enough against Dragons. That being said, the deck felt underwhelming, and the results showed, having only 1 Zoo entry in the top cut.

Eldlich seems to have had a bad day, too. Several lists have main-decked Cosmic Cyclone, which messes up the interruptions that the deck has (Conquistador and Huaquero), plus it also delays the grind-game since it banishes the resources. That, in addition to the fact that the engine is pretty slow, lead to the demise of the deck in the LCS XII. Only 2 variants made it to the top cut despite having 20 pilots.

Tri-brigade is another curious case. The deck can suffer against Droll & Lock Bird, especially the Lyrilusc version. The problem is, several lists have Droll in the main due to Dragons being prevalent. This was a problem for the deck. Out of the 8 Tri-brigade entries, only 1 made it to the LCS XII’s top cut.


Despite having a consensus among the community that Dragons are the best deck of the format, a big chunk of participants to big tournaments show up and show out with different decks. This is due to the fact that the other decks in the format are still strong and have an actual shot at winning! This is where most players want the game to be. It’s at a place where you can not be playing the best deck, yet still have a shot for the dub.

The foremost factor needed to succeed in Yu-Gi-Oh! is still skill. Knowing matchups (case in point: LCS XII Top 4 Prank-Kids vs. Altergeist), luck (case in point: Buster Blader in top cut not seeing the engine in 3 games), will still be there, but building decks properly and playing optimally will always be the key to victory. The meta is in a good spot and everyone has a chance to shine with whatever deck they choose! Will Dragons continue to shine for the rest of the format? Well, we’re looking forward to the Remote YCS to find out!


Yugi Papi

Orcustrated Duelist. Dark Magician collector that ventured into the competitive scene using Orcusts prior to it being meta! Currently using several other decks and consistently exploring as the meta develops.

7 thoughts on “Dragons in a Fairy Tale: Yu-Gi-Oh! State of the Meta

  • Avatar
    April 20, 2021 at 1:34 pm



    oh yeah go prank kids

  • Avatar
    April 20, 2021 at 1:36 pm



    buster blader pog

  • Avatar
    April 20, 2021 at 1:41 pm



    tbh dragons are still best deck

  • Avatar
    April 20, 2021 at 4:42 pm



    ah i love this article. very good job. (:

  • Avatar
    April 20, 2021 at 8:15 pm



    Amazing article about the current health of the Yugioh metagame. Great work! :D

  • Avatar
    April 25, 2021 at 8:50 pm



    hehe altergeist is fun

  • Avatar
    April 26, 2021 at 11:05 am



    Dang “Other” deck, always clogging up the meta
    Konami please nerf, it’s been competing forever

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