[EN-OP6/EB01] Josh Graham: Runner Up Mexico Regional with Sakazuki

Hi, my name is Josh Graham, and I’m one of the creators of TCG Matchmaking. I’m also a member of Team Will to Win Gaming, sponsored by Kayfabe cards and I play at Alquimia Food and Games every week with my friend Jorge Carlos Rojas who also made top 4 at this tournament.

I’ve been playing One Piece since the end of set 2, almost one year to date. I also started competing in August 2023 and won my first serial card also in Mexico City. To date I’ve won 7 serial cards (4 with Sakazuki!) and I’m very competitive. Before One Piece, I was a former Hearthstone Grandmaster and a Yu-Gi-Oh! YCS Champion so I’ve been playing card games my whole life.

Click into the image for decklist in One Piece Top Decks

About Sakazuki Deck

I chose to play Sakazuki because it is the deck that gives you the most amount of options every turn. It gives you the ability to filter your hand and give you the right amount of counter, cost reduction and removal to be able to win just about any game.

With 8 searchers, Kuzan, Sabo, Moria and your leader you’re able to sculpt your hand to deal with any situation. I always felt like having that level of control over my options would result in giving me the results that I want.

It is a deck with almost no bad matchups and is extremely well positioned into the EB01 metagame, with good matchups against Uta, Enel, B/Y Luffy and a 50/50 matchup with R/P Law and Gecko Moría. I also felt like Katakuri would get pushed out with all of the new predators coming for his crown, and I was right so I had less to worry about.

I played the standard 8 2000 counters for Sakazuki in the EB01 metagame. All are double searchable and you’re able to recur T-Bone with Rebecca (and thus with Gecko Moria into Rebecca) meaning that you’re able to get counter when you need it and won’t draw too many when you don’t. 

I also felt with 2 Sabo was the right amount. Any more and you’d draw too many. It isn’t a card you are typically happy to play. It’s mostly a tech for Amaru but also gives you an indestructible body you can curve into 7 cost Borsalino against Gecko Moria going first. I almost played 0 considering I thought the card would be bad into the two main matchups I thought I’d play: Sakazuki mirror and R/P Law. The online ranked meta is a lot faster in adapting to the top decks than in real life, so I’m glad I played 2 Sabo as it was good into all the non-mirror, non-Law decks I played against.

Matchups in Mexico Regionals (385 players)

Sakazuki's Strengths and Weakness

Sakazuki’s main strength against the meta is how flexible the deck is in sculpting a game plan in each matchup. If I need counter, I can make a lot of counter with multiple searchers and Rebecca/Gecko Moria. If I need removal, I have multiple searchable removal cards as well as plenty of searchable cost reduction.

The deck is as powerful as you are creative with your lines of play. I’ve played Sakazuki at almost every tournament since it was released, and he doesn’t disappoint. 4 Serials, another top 16 and a top at Bandai Cardfest in Los Angeles!!! I’ll miss him when he’s gone.

Sakazuki’s main weakness is early game aggression before it can stabilize and set up the defences. It takes a lot of counter-intuitive countering to stay alive in these matchups. Understanding when to counter and take life is some of the hardest things you’ll ever need to learn in this game and Sakazuki really tests that skill due to how fragile its defences can be with only 8 2000 counters and 6 blockers.

Mulligan and Tips

When going first or second, I will mulligan for Tashigi and Brannew. These cards help us get through the early game with the right pieces as well as bodies for Hound Blaze. When going first, I use the searchers to piece together Hound Blaze and Great Eruption to give me early board control and attack my opponents hand. When going second I am searching for Kuzan as well as a Rebecca/Hina/Hound Blaze combination to bridge my mid game to Gecko Moria. I also am much less likely to keep hands without a Gecko Moria going second, unless the hand is spectacular otherwise.

Tips for anyone looking to play Sakazuki would be making sure you understand life management as well as how to pressure the opponent as Sakazuki is typically what is referred to as a Tempo deck. It tries to get ahead on board and then use removal to stay ahead. Sakazuki likes to convert those early game leads into damage so that you can close out the game with Hound Blaze. If you want a more detailed understanding of how to play Sakazuki or you just want a better understanding of how to approach One Piece, I coach evenings Monday through Thursday every week from 6pm until 12pm EST.

Shoutout

I’d also like to use this opportunity to shout out our discord server: TCG Match Making. You can find the link right in the OPSIM. I’d also like to shout out my main practice partner: Jorge Carlos Rojas. You have done such great things in such little time, bro. I know you will be at the top with me soon enough. Shout outs to the boys in Cross Discord. Laser Focused. 15 million members.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Us