[EN-OP5] Antonino: 3rd Place OPTCG European Finals with Sakazuki

Hello, last weekend there are 2560 players from around the world (mostly NA and European) traveled to Utrecht Netherlands to play One Piece Card Game European finals. The top-3 decks are all Blue Black Sakazuki.

Today we caught up with Antonino, a player from Italy who managed to make 3rd place and he will share with us about his deck and tournament review.

1. Quick self introduction (when did you start to play OP card game) and your achievements?

Hello everyone, my name is Antonino Borzi and this past weekend I reached third place at the OPTCG European Finals in Utrecht. First, I'd like to thank OPtopdecks for the invitation and for this interview and to say hello to the whole community, Italian and not, who followed and supported me even from home during my journey in these European finals, especially to my team: K2Tcg.

I started playing OPTCG exactly when it was released in December 2022. Initially I approached the game purely for collecting as I was a big fan of Oda-San's work and really liked the card art. From there I started going to local tournaments to be able to win shop exclusive promos and on the advice of my girlfriend Romi who I salute I convinced myself to go to my first competitive tournament and first official one piece tournament in Europe in Birmingham. It was an experience that made me fall in love with the game and the community in general and despite having no experience in any other TCG or games in general I managed to place 33rd out of 512 with purple Kaido winning a chopper treasure cup, a card that seemed impossible for me to win at the beginning. From there it went all downhill, I won my first serial at the treasure cup in Barcelona by making top 8 with Red luffy where unfortunately I had to clash in top 16 with a close friend Juan Mendez (Gato) to whom I send my regards and wishing him luck this year to get his serial. After this top I made top 16 with Black lucci CP at the regional of bologna thanks to Alfred Goh who inspired me to play the deck and taught me a lot seeing him playing at the Grand Asia Open and few Asian Flagships. After that, post op3 ban when everyone thought the dad was dead I made first place at the 1024 players treasure cup online with red Whitebeard (miss you dad) closing 10-0 and top 16 at the regional of Milan with the same deck. 

2. How do you generally play this deck? (Early, mid, and late game decisions).

Sakazuki is a deck that is as fun as it is difficult to play. It makes you feel a mix of emotions, sometimes you hate it and sometimes you love it, but you still know that there is no better deck that rewards the pilot more if it is perfectly piloted. Lately you often hear players (Yellow players mainly 😊) complaining and shouting about banning certain cards because the deck is very strong compared to others and I totally disagree. The deck is definitely very strong, but I can say with certainty that it's the deck that needs the most skill from the birth of the game and needs an excellent pilot. It has so many micro decisions to make, starting with the trashing ability of the leader that if not used properly leads you to lose most of the times.

During early and mid-game I usually tend to control the opponent’s board developing mine by using as few resources as possible (keep this in mind) to avoid being short of hand cards in late and not being able to remove big threats of the opponent. Apart from cleaning board you also want to mix it with pressure to setup lethal in late with cards such as hound blaze. 

3. Generally how do you deal with all the current tier-1 decks (Sakazuki, Katakuri, Purple Luffy , Enel etc)
Rebecca Blocker: The ultimate combo

Sakazuki Mirror: It's obvious to say that you want to go second because you are in a card advantage position, which is why I decided to put pilaf in because on T2 and not only (there are too many strong spots) it allows you to even that advantage or to put you in a win position. A key card in this matchup is Rebecca because it gives access to the so-called "combo" in combination with Lucci and Hina that allows you to clean up your opponent's board every turn and in case your opponent can't respond to the combo anymore the game could almost be over (bottoming pieces of combo he doesn’t have in trash is OP). Be careful not to easily get to one or 0 life as cost reductions plus hound blaze could easily override your blockers and allow your opponent to find the lethal

4C Kuzan: The Yellow Nightmare

Katakuri: Going second simplifies this matchup quite a bit as it allows you to make your plays on curve and prevents a potential 10c mom from entering the opponent's board. My advice is to always attack from 5 or 6 opponent's boards or lives and use the don for any triggers or standing pieces left on the field to clean them. It is quite a complicated matchup in case the opponent triggers a lot, so before each play you must analyze all the possible situations that could lead to that play. Also, except for the first life(nullify gedatsu effect) I always tend to counter all the attacks less than 7k and let them pass if they are 7k or more. 4c Kuzan is a key card in this matchup and against yellow in general since if it manages to stay on the board (often a Thunderbolt target) most of the times it wins the game by itself.  

Enel: Similar matchup to katakuri (Trigger gap 😉 ) , but different way of approaching lethal because of the leader ability that makes the deck a t1 and also different way of approaching resource management. In this matchup you will feel like you are in a constant resource war and against a strong opponent's hand you will be in an unfavorable position if oppo sees very well every turn. For this reason, you need cards like pilaf or cards that allow you to draw so your hand is always fueled. Also, I'm always careful not to get to one life because in case I don't see a Sabo my other blockers are all too vulnerable to one or more potential Amaru, which is why I don't attack my opponent the turn before he can go lethal with Amaru if it’s not for me committing lethal and I usually leave him at 2 lives trying to develop board and to remove as much as possible the opponent's threats always remembering that important resource management.

Hound Blaze: The Pluffy Killer

Purple Luffy: I think that this match is almost hound blaze dependent, if you don't see any copy of that card, you should be ready to concede ☺ Jokes aside, Pluffy is a very aggro deck that goes 10x faster than you so how can you beat a deck that goes faster and more aggro than you? By going as aggro as possible by removing threats. Hound blaze is the card that allows you to do this as it removes and gives you a +3k to one of your pieces to attack life or a rested opponent's piece to turn off his aggression. So, my advice is to go aggro and always try to control your opponent's board because if you can't exert enough pressure and your opponent manages to stabilize his board with blocker and vanilla the game is already over.

4. What do you think is this deck’s weakness?

I think that the weakness of Sakazuki are the decks that put you so much pressure in the early game and you having no answers to that. If you can survive the explosive start of some deck and manage to pilot it perfectly the deck is unstoppable. 

5. How were your matchups during the Europe Final?

Here are my matchups:


Pluffy(W); Saka(L); Enel(W); Enel(W); Saka(W); Saka(W); Enel(W); Katakuri(W); Saka(W); Saka(W)


Enel(L); Zoro(W)

Final result: 10-2

Top 64:  Pluffy 2-0

Top 32: Sakazuki 2-1

Top 16: Zoro 2-0

Top 8 : Sakazuki 2-1

Top 4: Sakazuki 1-2

3rd Place Final

Sakazuki 2-1

6. Any tips or hints that you want to share with other players?

Yeah, there are some tips I would like to share to the readers, if you arrived at this point without getting bored you deserve that. First, leader ability: you don't have to trash every turn, maybe in early to fill the trash but once you've played a brannew that filled the trash and have your hand set don't feel obligated to trash, try to think 3-4 turns ahead and figure out if you really need to trash or not.

During my early days of testing, I felt frustrated because the deck wasn't giving the results I wanted. The main problem was that I wasn't playing it properly, so make sure you give it the right amount of time to test if it's the deck you'd like to master and have great results with, test each matchup 50-100 times until you understand each play and mechanic.

7. Do you have any message or shoutout to your team or your local community?

Yes, First of all I want to thank my K2TCG (Be sure to follow us for content soon) teammates Matteo Longhin, Giansalvo Oliva and Roberto Rondino that were so unlucky on not getting that top knowing how much they have worked to arrive there. They are the best players I know, and our group together is a force of nature, we will conquer Europe one day I am sure.

Also I want to thank the whole Campania community, especially Luca Irano(Lekelly) for the testing against Zoro to help me solve the matchup as best as possible and Lorenzino for always believing in Pilaf(Best card). Gigi (il TCG), Mirko, Montre, Nacho and the other Italians and friends I shared the top cut with, especially Riccardo (Xorph3n) that finally deserved to be up there with his favourite colour and worked so hard to reach that. I send the greetings also to the players from Veneto, from Sicily (especially to Riccardo and Matteo for our intensive testing days <3 ) to the whole Barcelona community(David, Ains, Erick, Marc, Gato, Monaru and more), the no name group(Armando, Mattia, Riccardo, Dima, Frenk and Gallo), the Colosseum Community and the guys from Perugia ( Betti burnt my phone XD ).

Special mention to one of my closest friend Luca de Luisa and my Girlfriend Romi who supported me every day and believed in me. 

Other mentions to which I would like to dedicate one speciale last space are Caste, Rello, Gianciaccio, Angelo, Katayuri, The Rizzato Brothers (Shachi & Penguin), Bubo, Sas, Lucas, Khaisake, Giseq(Young beef), Ste, Deku, Polish, Edo, Simo, Gap, Vale, Ilduty, Mirko, Mino and Leo. I hope I am not forgetting someone so don’t hate me in case I did ☹ 

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