Top 4 Feature Match: Michael Balan vs. Joseph Giorlando
Four Duelists remained in this tournament, and each was playing a different Deck; over at the other table, Dino Rabbit was facing off against Chaos Piper. Here, Joseph Giorlando’s Skill Drain Elemental Heroes were pitted against Michael Balan’s Dark World. This was a matchup we’d never seen before in a Feature Match, but it seemed as if Balan’s strategy might have an advantage.
Giorlando started off the Match peering at his hand of cards for a moment, before Normal Summoning Thunder King Rai-Oh.
Balan had a hand of Starlight Road, Monster Reborn, Beige, Vanguard of Dark World, Dragged Down into the Grave, Malefic Stardust Dragon, and Upstart Goblin. The Upstart got him The Gates of Dark World, which he activated. He took a moment to examine his Extra Deck, then banished Stardust Dragon to try and Special Summon Malefic Stardust Dragon; Giorlando had to negate the Summon with Thunder King, Tributing it. That left Balan free to Set everything but Beiige, and then activate Dragged Down; Giorlando revealed his hand of two Elemental HERO Neos Alius, Reinforcement of the Army, E – Emergency Call, and Miracle Fusion. Balan discarded the latter, then drew Tour Guide from the Underworld, and Special Summoned Beiige. He Normal Summoned Tour Guide to Special Summon Broww, the Huntsman of Dark World from his Deck, and activated Monster Reborn to Special Summon Thunder King! Thunder King’s effect would lock Giorlando out of his Reinforcement and Emergency Call, stopping him from adding cards to his hand from his Deck! Brrow, Tour Guide, Beiige, and Thunder King all attacked, for a combined total of 6800 Battle Damage, dropping Giorlando to 2200 Life Points (remember, he’d gained 1000 Life Points from Upstart Goblin). Balan stacked Tour Guide and Beiige to Xyz Summon Wind-Up Zenmaines.
Giorlando drew and heaved a sigh, looking at his hand. He Summoned Neos Alius, and Set 2 cads to his back row.
Balan drew Snoww, The Unlight of Dark World. He turned Zenmaines to Attack Position, and crashed Thunder King into Neos Alius to destroy both. Zenmaines made a direct attack, and Beiige finished Giorlando off!
Dragged Down into the Grave makes all the difference, giving Michael Balan the knowledge of his opponent’s hand – and a Tour Guide from the Underworld – that he needed to take an early win in the first Duel. Giorlando officially had his work cut out for him.
Giorlando shook Balan’s hand, wished him good luck, and Summoned Thunder King Rai-Oh.
Balan had Dark Hole, Mystical Space Typhoon, The Gates of Dark World, Reckless Greed, and two Dark World Dealings. He Set Reckless.
Giorlando Set two cards to his back row and ended without attacking.
Balan drew Broww, the Huntsman of Dark World and activated Dark World Dealings, drawing Royal Decree. He discarded Broww, while Giorlando discarded Miracle Fusion; Balan tried to draw with Broww, Giorlando Chained Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror, and lost out to Mystical Space Typhoon. Balan drew Allure of Darkness and Set Decree. He was setting up one big attack.
Giorlando Set two more cards to his back row.
Balan drew another Gates, then activated Reckless Greed, drawing a second Reckless plus Snoww, the Unlight of Dark World. He flipped Royal Decree, and Giorlando Chained Dark Bribe to negate it! Balan drew Torrential Tribute. He activated Dark Hole to destroy Thunder King, then activated Gates to banish Broww, and discard Snoww. He drew Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World with Gates, then searched another Snoww with his first copy. Giorlando had three cards in hand, and two cards Set. Balan activated his second Gates, banishing Snow and discarding Grapha to draw another Dealings and destroy Giorlando’s Solemn Warning with Grapha’s ability. He activated Dealings next, drawing Cyber Dragon, and then discarded Snoww; Giorlando discarded Gemini Spark. Balan searched his Deck for a third Snoww with the effect of his second. He played another Dealings, drawing Mystical Space Typhoon, and discarded the final Snoww; Giorlando had a quizzical look, clearly torn on his decision, but discarded Hero Blast. Snoww got Balan a Beiige from his Deck. Mystical Space Typhoon destroyed Giorlando’s Torrential Tribute, and Balan Summoned Beiige to bounce it back to his hand, Special Summoning Grapha from his Graveyard. Balan had five cards in hand, plus Gates and Grapha, to Giorlando’s three in hand cards. Grapha attacked for 3000 Battle Damage, and Balan Set Reckless and Torrential.
Giorlando drew to four cards, and Normal Summoned Elemental HERO Stratos to search his Deck for Elemental HERO Neos Alius. He Set a card to his back row, and in the End Phase Balan got a third Gates plus Mirror Force with Reckless Greed!
Balan attacked Stratos with Grapha, destroying it and knocking Giorlando down to 3800 Life Points. He Set Mirror Force.
Giorlando Summoned Neos Alius, and Tributed it for Gemini Spark, destroying Gates and drawing a card. He then activated Miracle Fusion, banishing Stratos and Thunder King to Summon Elemental HERO The Shining! Balan cleared the field with Torrential Tribute, leaving Giorlando to return Stratos to his hand and Set another Spell or Trap.
Balan activated another Gates, banishing a Snoww to discard a Beiige; Giorlando shut him down with Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror. Allure of Darkness got Balan two more draws, and he banished a Grapha from his hand.
Giorlando tried to Summon Stratos, but Balan negated it with Solemn Judgment.
Balan drew Reckless Greed and Set it.
Giorlando Summoned Crusader of Endymion, and attacked into for 1900 Battle Damage. He Set another Spell or Trap.
Balan drew Gellenduo! He flipped Reckless Greed to draw Mystical Space Typhoon and another Gellenduo, then activated Mystical Space Typhoon to destroy one of Giorlando’s two face-downs; Dark Bribe. Balan Special Summoned Cyber Dragon, then attacked to destroy Crusader! He was left with Cyber Dragon, a Set Spell or Trap, and three cards in hand; he Set a Gellenduo, then Set a Spell or Trap.
Giorlando drew to two cards, and Set one to his back row. He had two Sets, one Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror, and one card in hand.
Cyber Dragon attacked into Dimensional Prison, and Balan ended.
Giorlando Summoned Elemental HERO Neos Alius and attacked, to flip up Gellenduo. “That’s a good card,” remarked Giorlando, briefly stymied.
Balan Set his second Gellenduo, and Set his topdeck to his back row.
Giorlando attacked the next Gellenduo, but Balan flipped Mirror Force to destroy Neos Alius! Giorlando activated Pot of Duality, revealing Emergency Call, Typhoon, and Smashing Ground; he took Smashing Ground.
Balan drew Fabled Raven, with Foolish Burial and Gellenduo Set, plus another Gellenduo still face-up. He spent some time inspecting his Graveyard, before banishing Beiige and discarding Raven for Gates – he drew Heavy Storm! He activated it, and Giorlando Chained Hero Blast to destroy a Gellenduo and get back his Neos Alius! Balan ended. “You ruined my plan, bro!” Balan laughed.
Giorlando drew to four cards, and attacked with Neos Alius after Setting 2 cards to his back row – he almost couldn’t believe it when he hit another Gellenduo. “Ay-yi-yi…” He fanned out Balan’s banished cards, then inspected his Graveyard, figuring out what could be left in his opponent’s Deck. Balan only had nine cards left.
Balan drew Broww, and Summoned it, returning it to his hand to Special Summon Grapha! Grapha attacked Neos Alius, and destroyed it! Giorlando dropped to 2800 Life Points.
Giorlando drew, and the part of the crowd that could see his new card exploded! He activated his topdecked Miracle Fusion, banishing two Alius for Elemental HERO The Shining, and Summoning his third Neos Alius! Shining swung over Grapha to deal damage, Gellenduo was destroyed by its effect, and Neos Alius made a direct attack to finish the Duel!
Joseph Giorlando overcomes an incredible string of combos, and a seemingly insurmountable number of sheer cards!, to fight back towards what might’ve been his only out and reclaim the Duel! Giorlando was still in this! One more game would determine who would take a seat in the finals, to take on Simon He’s Dino Rabbits in the last Match of this tournament. Seven minutes remained.
Balan opened with Reckless Greed, Tour Guide from the Underworld, Morphing Jar, Dark World Dealings, Broww, and Heavy Storm. He activated Dealings, drawing Grapha, then discarded it. Giorlando discarded Pot of Duality. Balan Summoned Broww, and Special Summoned Grapha, Setting Reckless.
Giorlando activated E – Emergency Call to get Elemental HERO Stratos from his Deck, and Summoned it to fetch Elemental HERO Neos Alius.
Balan drew Dragged Down into the Grave, and Normal Summoned Tour Guide to Special Summon Broww. He attacked over Stratos with Grapha, then made direct attacks with Tour Guide and Broww; Giorlando dropped to 4700 Life Points. Balan stacked Tour Guide and Broww to Xyz Summon Wind-Up Zenmaines.
Giorlando labored over his next move, before eventually deciding to activate Mystical Space Typhoon; Balan Chained Reckless Greed, drawing Dealings and another Grapha. Giorlando Summoned Neos Alius, then immediately Tributed it for Gemini Spark to blow an Xyz Material off Zenmaines. He then banished Stratos and Alius for Elemental HERO The Shining, and attacked Zenmaines, removing another Material. Smashing Ground destroyed Zenmaines in Main Phase 2! Giorlando Set a single Spell or Trap, with one card left in hand.
Balan activated Heavy Storm, destroying Giorlando’s own Storm. He drew Mirror Force with Dark World Dealings, then pitched Grapha, destroying The Shining; Giorlando got back his HERO monsters, but Balan used Broww to Special Summon back Grapha, and Giorlando offered him the handshake!
Michael Balan is headed to the last Match of the biggest TCG tournament ever, to face Simon He with Dino Rabbit!