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Shadowverse WEST Contenders Cup 2023 Overview


November 6, 2023

SEAO Contenders has concluded with TK Yahiko winning the whole thing, and now it’s time for the WEST Contenders Cup. The eight best players in this region will be fighting to decide the best player on November 11 and 12.

I choose this image rather the real-life portrait for WEST promo, I think a portrait of Luna is more eye-catching compared to eight guys standing beside each other.

As before, I conducted interviews with every player to learn more about their background and glean some insights as to their strategy and mindset when it comes to Shadowverse. On top of their answers, I will add my own thoughts, formed by observing their previous match results, lineups, and personalities. I also asked for opinions from Zones, as he is more familiar with the WEST scene than I am. Finally, I will try to predict their lineup for this Contenders Cup. With no further ado, let’s get to know the top eight players in the WEST region.

*Note: Most of the analysis and predictions come from my own perspective. I would like to apologize in advance to the players for any mistakes.

MemeLegends (#1 Seed: 51 Points)

  • He started playing SV during Altersphere (early 2019) and joined the competitive scene during Fortune’s Hand (mid 2020).
  • Reached the Top 8 back in 2020, SVO March 2023 Champion. 5x Playoffs this year.
  • Used to play daily, but this year mostly only plays a week or two before SVO. Usually spends anywhere from 1–5 hours a day, depending on his needs and friends availability.
  • He has a circle of friends who always help him practice. He also watches videos or streams to learn more about how to pilot the decks.
  • He follows the meta closely, thinks a lot about each matchup, and adapts to it accordingly. If it is a meta where there is little agency between top decks, he focuses on soft-targeting one or more of those decks with tier 2 or rogue decks. In a meta where there is a lot of agency between top decks, he prefers to just play with the top meta decks.
  • He doesn’t like decks with high variance, as he thinks consistency is the key. He doesn’t want to lose a favored matchup simply because he doesn’t draw the right cards. He also tends to prefer combo-control decks rather than aggro decks.
  • He thinks OSaV is the strongest competitor in this Contenders Cup.

He’s been competing since 2020, but we rarely hear his name; however, 2023 is definitely the year of MemeLegends. His record this year is simply impressive, as he managed to reach the playoff stage in 5 out of 8 attempts, which is the most among all players. Though he only made appearances three times for day 2 and managed to win one of them during March. Based on his top 8 appearances, he seems able to perform really well even in a bad situation where he was losing, which is a very good trait. He also does not get tilted easily, as shown in the February cup where he made a big oopsie with Hozumi Forest but was able to quickly recover in the next game without it bothering him too much.

Lineup-wise, he is actually one of the wildest of all the contenders. During May and July, his lineup consists of mostly what’s been thought of as tier 2-3 decks and none of the tier 1 deck. He doesn’t follow the masses but believes in his own analysis and judgment. A lot of his lineup is a counter-lineup, which targets certain decks that are really popular in the meta.

For the Contenders Cup, it’s a little bit harder to guess because of a no-ban format. I think it’s safe to say that Loot Sword will be one of his choices due to its versatility and agency. While Buff Dragon might rely on variance, its power level is currently too strong to ignore, so I would expect it to also fit in his lineup. Dirt Rune is a hard choice because the difference between going 1st and going 2nd is quite significant, so he might be shifting from it. From the records, he tends to play with tier 2-3 decks that might be able to steal games from those, so we probably see something like Evo Blood from him, which sees success in SEAO Contenders.

Lineup Prediction: Loot Sword, Buff Dragon, and Evo Blood

S5 OSaV (#2 Seed: 48 Points)

  • He started playing SV around late 2017 and has been competing in the competitive scene since early 2018.
  • He topped minor SVO and community tournaments during the 2018–2019 season, but most of his achievements came from 2020 onwards, where he made a lot of top 8 appearances. His recent accolades include 2nd place in Contenders 2020, 2nd place in the SVO 2021 leaderboard, and top 8 at SVO All-Stars 2022. He was also quite well known for his unique deck builds and tech cards in the past.
  • He barely plays SV when there is no stake involved. But he does put in time during the last minute when SVO comes, as he sits down for 10–20 hours on the last day or two before SVO. Ideally, he aims for 100–200 hours over a week or two before tournaments, but he rarely did that this year.
  • Part of Team S5 (Sonar Five)
  • He is very tactical and systematic when it comes to choosing a lineup. He takes a look at JCG and Ratings data to see the top meta decks and interesting but less played decks. Then he jumps into Ratings to playtest and figures out a rough matchup chart between the top meta decks. Then he focuses on win rates and chooses a lineup that centers around decks that have the best win rates for him against the popular meta.
  • He enjoys skillful decks that place emphasis on planning over multiple turns and heavy math. He is less inclined towards APM fiestas.
  • While in the end he will play anything that is good into the meta, he really dislikes a solitaire race deck like Item Shop Rune.
  • He thinks Vetu is one of the strongest players due to his experience, and he also thinks Melyn looks promising this year.

OSaV is one of the most consistent players in the WEST in terms of results. Despite spending fewer hours than most competitive players, OSaV has been very efficient at learning the meta and choosing the right lineup that fits his style. He is very comfortable playing on stream, as he has already done it multiple times. He often makes brilliant plays that only a few people might see, but at the same time, he occasionally does an oopsie, which might happen due to a lack of practice time.

Believe it or not, in terms of lineup, OSaV is quite different compared to what he used to be. He used to have a more unique lineup and decks, but this year he has been more conservative in his lineup and deck builds. You rarely find him playing a wild tech card that surprises everyone. He kind of admits that he didn’t do that this year because of time limitations and simply copied the deck from a trusted source. Though he did it once in a while, as he included Mech Wing Attendant in Evo Portal for a more stable early game during the August Cup.

For the Contenders Cup, I can see him being more prepared ahead of time because he was already practicing when I asked him for this interview. Since he likes a skillful deck that involves a lot of planning, I would assume that he will bring both Loot Sword and Dirt Rune for Contenders. Both are staple meta decks that will shine depending on how they’re piloted. Though it might not be a standard build but rather an OSaV special build, the last deck is actually harder to predict: it might be an OSaV special with a random sleeper deck or a meta deck like Buff Dragon, as the latter’s power level is really strong this time. I would go with the safe route for prediction, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he brought an interesting deck.

Lineup Prediction: Loot Sword, Buff Dragon, Dirt Rune

Ywn_Calby (#3 Seed: 44 Points)

  • He started playing SV in early 2017. He occasionally joins SVO but never takes it seriously until this year, when he participated in every single one.
  • Topped 1 SVO back in 2019, SVO September Cup 2023 Champion.
  • He usually plays daily for 1-2 hours, but might go to 5–6 hours if he decides to stream on Twitch or prepare for a tournament.
  • He doesn’t belong to any SV team, but he practices quite often with TK Yahiko, especially this year. Though he tends to evaluate the meta on his own.
  • He tends to play off-meta decks. Most of the time, he will look for whatever Tier 2 or lower decks have a chance to fight against the meta.
  • He doesn’t like to play decks that rely on early high rolls, avoiding decks that don’t have any OTK lines. He likes the insurance of being able to OTK to win.
  • He thinks OSaV is the strongest competitor in this Contenders Cup.

Calby really dedicated himself to Chess Rune this year. If you noticed, he never failed to bring it in every single SVO that he entered this year. His SVO results are quite impressive. Despite having multiple X-2 drops in March and June, he still qualified as the #3 seed as his other month’s results were really impressive: four playoffs, and a victory at the September Cup.

In terms of play, he is really confident and able to pilot his decks really well when it comes to decks that he actually likes. However, when he is forced to play meta decks, you can see him take some unnecessary risks that lose him the game, as seen during the May Cup with his Burial Rite Shadow.

For Contenders Cup, I will be really disappointed if he doesn’t bring Chess Rune. I can’t imagine Calby playing without Chess Rune in his lineup. This time, the top meta decks don’t have significant weaknesses, so it’s quite hard to find options for tier 2–3 decks that do well against them without having their own weaknesses. He might stick with one meta deck: Loot Sword, which doesn’t rely a lot on early highroll. The other deck that has an OTK line and might steal games from the top meta currently is probably Wrath Blood with Garodeth, Hedone, and Diva OTK lines.

Lineup Prediction: Loot Sword, Chess Rune, Wrath Blood

VES/Vision (#4 Seed: 43 Points)

  • He started playing SV in 2018 and joined the competitive scene in 2020.
  • Reached the Top 8 back in 2020 and made three Top 8 appearances this year.
  • He practiced with his group, VES, which consists of his fellow Italian friends who love to play card games.
  • He doesn’t play SV on a daily basis. He only plays SV whenever a new patch is online and tries to hit Grandmaster on the first or second week. Then, when SVO is approaching, he spends around 2 hours a day preparing for a week or two.
  • He likes to create his own decks without following trends, but he still watches and reviews the RAGE Pro Tour to learn more about how to pilot meta decks.
  • He really likes playing control decks, as it is satisfying to play the right cards at the right time.
  • He doesn’t really like mirror matches and wants to avoid them as much as possible. But sometimes it’s inevitable because the other decks in the meta are not good enough.
  • He thinks OSaV is the strongest competitor in this Contenders Cup.

Vision always tries to create the deck on his own, so his decklist might be a little different compared to standard, even though it is a popular archetype. He does quite well if the archetype is his comfort pick. However, when he needs to play with the meta deck, he seems to struggle to know when he needs to deviate from the standard line. For example, during the February cup, he played against Hozumi Forest with his Test Subject Rune and played it as if he were fighting a standard deck and being punished heavily due to his weak wide board.

Despite not liking mirror matches, Vision’s lineup this year is actually quite conservative, with a lot of meta picks; though the lineup might not be an exact mirror since his exact builds are usually quite different from standard. He likes to play control, but there are really limited options to bring that playstyle this year due to its weakness against top meta decks.

Predicting Vision’s lineup this time will be quite tricky since it is a no-ban format, and he might not have the choice to avoid Mirror entirely. I think he may go with one top meta deck + two lower meta decks. I assume Buff Dragon would be a safe pick. As for the other two, I think there’s a chance that Vision brings Rally Sword, as he brought it last SVO. For the last deck, it’s probably Elluvia Haven, as he likes a more control-oriented gameplan.

Lineup Prediction: Buff Dragon, Rally Sword, Elluvia Haven

Dis Vetu (#5 Seed: 41 Points)

  • He started playing SV in 2017 and joined the competitive scene in the same year.
  • 2017 and 2019 WGP participant; 2020 Contenders Cup participant; 2nd Place in Contenders Cup 2021.
  • Usually plays Shadowverse for 1-3 hours daily, depending on the in-game events. But a week before tournament preparations can see him streaming as long as 7 hours.
  • Part of Team Dis (Disastra), where he usually scrim matches and learns about decks and meta.
  • When choosing a lineup, he doesn’t deviate a lot from the meta. He simply looks for three decks in the meta that he feels comfortable playing that don’t conflict with his ban choice.
  • He tries his best to play anything that feels strong in the meta, but he tends to avoid complex combo decks that he feels uncomfortable playing, especially in tournaments.
  • He thinks whoever is playing the best on the day and KMR decides to bless would be the strongest player in the Contenders Cup.

Vetu is a real veteran of the competitive scene, as he has been around since the very first world circuit and became a North American representative during the very first WGP. His consistency is simply amazing, as he always manages to get himself invited to the Contenders Cup almost every year. If you look at the pattern, he always performs really well in odd years, and that might be a clue to his performance this year.

The way he stays at the top is by sticking with what has been proven strong, as his lineup never strays too far from the meta: it’s almost always two top meta decks + 1. He usually keeps his poker face on during the games on stream; when he changes his facial expression, you know something serious is going on.

Predicting Vetu’s lineup feels like the easiest task here: it will be the top three decks in the meta, with lists that don’t deviate a lot from the standard.

Lineup Prediction: Loot Sword, Buff Dragon, Dirt Rune

DB Nautilasu (#6 Seed: 40 Points)

  • He started playing SV in 2020, but only joined the competitive scene this year and managed to win his very first tournament.
  • Winner of Zhiff’s Deck Guide Contest during the Azvaldt expansion.
  • Usually plays Shadowverse for 1-2 hours, just enough to finish daily. But before the tournament, it’s 3 hours on average on weekdays, and he may spend the whole day during the weekends.
  • Part of team DB (Dawnbreakers), which he recently joined after winning the February SVO.
  • He spends time on ladders as well as Ratings to playtest. He also watched videos from pro players and pro tournaments for gameplay references.
  • He values data from Ratings and JCG to decide whether a deck is good and tries it himself. He doesn’t necessarily stick with those lists for tournaments, as he thinks it’s also important to use the deck that one enjoys and avoid forcing an uncomfortable playstyle.
  • He likes decks that have a strong board presence. Winning through the board is his favorite win condition.
  • He tends to avoid really complex decks unless they’re absolute Tier 1 lists. He think it is better to bring comfort picks as they allow him to still play well even under pressure.
  • He thinks MemeLegends is the strongest competitor in this Contenders Cup.

Nautilasu is the newest name in the competitive scene, as this year is his very first SVO season. His results this year are kind of sporadic, as his results are mostly 4-3; this score is pretty average, but his top performances during February and August helped him gain a lot of points. He has the ability to explain a topic that he knows about in a clear and concise manner that is easy to understand for the general audience. His written guides are straightforward, which shows how he thinks about piloting his decks.

Nautilasu’s most noticeable trait is his overflowing confidence, which he shows during his interviews and demonstrates in some of his written guides. However, sometimes his confidence can backfire. During his match in the August SVO, where he played Ghost Shadow against Zyro with Crystallize Haven, he played Ship of Morning Souls on turn 4 in an instant, thinking it wouldn’t be cleared and could set up a strong turn 5. This is a winning situation in an ideal case. However, this was a big mistake: Zyro had Sacred Sheep, which he teched for that exact situation and punished Nautilasu heavily. Nautilasu looked tilted after that punishment and seemed unable to recover.

For his Contenders lineup, I think he will prioritize decks that he enjoys. Buff Dragon and Elluvia Haven fit his criteria, as both are decks that are able to produce boards that the opponent cannot outwit. For the third deck, he might go for Evo Blood as it is very board focused and achieved success recently during SEAO Contenders.

Lineup Prediction: Buff Dragon, Evo Blood, Elluvia Haven

Melyn (#7 Seed: 40 Points)

  • He started playing SV in 2017, but only joined the competitive scene in 2021.
  • Top 4 SVO September Cup 2021, 2nd Place SVO Roar of The Godwyrm Cup.
  • He usually just plays daily for 1-2 hours and probably racks up more hours when he decides to play some scrims. His pattern is quite unique, as he actually plays less Shadowverse when SVO is coming up to freshen up his mind.
  • He doesn’t belong to any SV group and mostly plays solo. However, occasionally he talks with SaturnFive from Team Revelation and scrims some matches against him.
  • When choosing a lineup, he usually brings 1 meta deck and 2 decks that he feels fun to play with. In ban format, these two decks usually have a significant weakness, and he simply utilizes his ban to avoid the deck that it is bad against.
  • He doesn’t like all-in combo OTK decks and Dragon as a class. He simply felt that his winrate on Dragon is pretty low for unexplainable reasons.
  • He feels like he doesn’t know enough about other players in Contenders, so he is unable to tell who the strongest competitor is.

Melyn feels like the most chill and carefree player among the contenders with the way he conducts himself the entire time. I think it’s a good thing because that is actually the mentality that you need when playing card games, as you shouldn’t be worried too much about your bad luck and just keep doing your best at the given moment. He still managed to qualify for contenders even after dropping the June Cup thanks to his good results every other month, with three top-8 appearances.

During the interview, he said that he only plays decks that he thinks are fun to play without bothering too much with the meta. It means that this year the meta feels quite good for him, as he always ended up having a meta lineup with the addition of one unique deck that not a lot of people expect. While his lineup consists of meta decks, his list is usually quite unique because he mostly builds his deck on his own. He does follow the tournament results to see whether it can improve his own deck build style, gain inspiration for tech for popular matchups, and see more lines of play.

For Contenders, his lineup is quite difficult to predict due to the no-ban format. He’s said that he’s going to play it by ear, which makes it harder to predict. From the interviews, he said that his favorite class is Havencraft, which makes it a high chance that Elluvia Haven will be one of his choices. He said he can’t vibe with Dragon, so we might not see Buff Dragon from him. Loot Sword might be the meta deck of his choice, as it is a staple pick and he does enjoy playing Sword. The last deck is probably Evo Blood, as it had great results in the recent SEAO Contenders Cup.

Lineup Prediction: Loot Sword, Elluvia Haven, and Evo Blood

TK Rag (#8 Seed: 38 Points)

  • He started playing SV very early in 2016, but only started playing competitively in 2021.
  • Top 4 Celestial Dragonblade Cup, Top 8 Allstars Wildcard.
  • During the season, he usually plays for around 2 hours. He tends to play it more often each week leading up to tournaments, capping at around 6–8 hours daily. However, once the SVO season ends for the year, he barely touches the game.
  • Part of team TK (Twilight Knights), where he usually scrims and talks about the meta.
  • He closely follows the tournament scene and queues Ratings to playtest.
  • He decides his lineup based on matchup spread, his own playtest experience, and his teammates’ opinions. From those elements, he chooses the decks that are suitable for the meta and his ban strategy.
  • He tends to avoid aggro decks unless one happens to be an undisputed top deck, and he also doesn’t really like decks that require you to draw very specific cards in a very specific order.
  • He thinks Vetu is the strongest competitor in this Contenders Cup.

After missing SVO All-Stars by a single point last year, Rag finally managed to qualify for the Contenders Cup this year in a dramatic fashion: he tied for 8th place in points with KsLVD but came out on top with a better overall win rate. He’s been tryharding for a couple of years, as he joins JCG occasionally and made it to top 16 a couple of times, so qualifying for Contenders this year means a lot to him.

His lineup is pretty conservative and mostly stays true to the meta. I only watched him during the stream this year, and he only made one appearance, and he’s been quite unlucky with the draw even though he played to his best. Hopefully it doesn’t happen often in the Contenders Cup, so he can fully showcase his true playing ability.

For the Contenders Cup, there is a really high chance that he will play with the same lineup as TK members who managed to dominate SEAO Contenders: the Yahiko and Zy lineup of Loot Sword, Buff Dragon, and Evo Blood. Though there is a chance that he won’t bring Loot Sword because he didn’t bring Loot Sword last SVO, which makes me think he doesn’t really like the deck because at some point it really relies on drawing Rogers on time.

Lineup Prediction: Loot Sword, Buff Dragon, and Evo Blood

Closing and Summary

Summary of my lineup prediction: I believe that WEST will have more variety compared to SEAO this time.

Deck Samples

Loot Sword
Buff Dragon
Dirt Rune
Evo Blood
Rally Sword
Chess Rune
Wrath Blood

Hopefully after reading this article, you’ve gotten to know some of the players and have become more excited for the upcoming Contenders Cup. Root for your favorite players and spam some love in the Twitch / YouTube chat during the tournament!