Over the 2019 season of competitive UFS events, players vied not only to win individual events, but also to earn enough points to achieve the title of Player of the Year! It was an exciting race, but in the end, one player pulled ahead right at the end of the year. Today we are pleased to announce that the Player of the Year for the 2019 season is none other than Shane Duckworth. I got the chance to ask Shane a few questions following his win, and I’d like to share that interview with you all.
How do you prepare for events?
Shane: I usually have around 5 to 8 decks built at all times, constantly testing them and making modifications as they progress through their training. When the event is about 1 or 2 weeks out, I’ll jam as many games as I can with the deck(s) I am feeling at the time, make modifications if necessary, then lock in the chosen deck for the tournament. UniVersus has a good problem where there are too many cool characters to play, so sometimes I like to write my deck list ahead of time to help prevent me from switching to something else. If I am unsure of what deck to play, I end up choosing it the day of. At World’s 2019 I had no idea what to play for singles, ended up choosing Goro about an hour before the tournament started, had to find some cards as I was writing my deck list, and ended up getting 4th place.
Does your deck building process change based on the event? Size, region, scale, etc.
Shane: No matter the size of the event, I always assume my opponents will be tough and are going to be playing their best. I always tune my decks to have at least a decent matchup against everything in the field. I want my deck to be able to kill efficiently while having a good amount of defensive pieces. The diversity rule never affects what I choose to play.
What was your favorite deck to play this past year?
Shane: Tim Keefe 2, hands down. Perfect Accuracy is one of my favorite cards of all time and was powerful enough to be a card that was maxed out (4x copies) in Legacy decks. Tim2 gets two copies for FREE on both players’ turns which is super busted. The next deck would have to be Jet which I played in Dallas, TX. I wanted to show people how strong 1x copies are in UFS. Every game was completely different and it was very fun to be multi-dimensional, having different lines of play all tournament long.
How about your most memorable moments?
Shane: Winning the Turbo World Championship was the biggest highlight of my entire life. I won my first turbo qualifier with Jacqui Briggs, then two months later I won Turbo Worlds with Goro, scoring me the Turbocharged Honda Civic prize car. I’ve played card games since 1999 and the turbo car was the best prize I have ever won. It feels like all those years spending time with a hobby finally paid off and materialized into basically a brand new car. I have to give a shout out to Tony Tu for working with me on the Goro deck. Another great moment was traveling to UK Nationals and playing in their event. It was a tournament where every round I played against someone I never played against before.
What was the first UFS deck you ever played?
Shane: Cassandra from Soul Calibur 3 way back in 2006. I grew up during what I like to call the “Golden Age of CCGs” where so many card games started coming out after the big Pokemon CCG boom in 1999. After being introduced to the local card shop for the Pokemon League, it ended up becoming my second home as I spent a lot of time there playing every card game they would end up carrying. I played Pokemon, Digimon, Raw Deal, WCW Nitro, Sailor Moon, Score Dragonball Z, Yugioh, Harry Potter, Duel Masters, Lord of the Rings, dot Hack, Neopets, Yu Yu Hakusho, Fullmetal Alchemist, Inuyasha, probably missing a few others, and then our store got stocked with UFS when it first came out back in 2006. I bought a Cassandra deck from another player for 20 dollars and that is where it all started.
Can you share a few cards you think are under the radar at the moment?
Shane: I think Throw it Down is absolutely incredible and very few decks are utilizing it. Funky Tomato does the same thing, but Throw it Down serves as an unforeseeable hand trap that can stop big damage attacks like Spirit Shotgun, Downward Spiral, or Matricide just to name a few. It stops enablers like Big Shot Punch, and it even stops character abilities! It also sports a godlike +0 high block!
I also think Shokan Prince is very underrated and should see play in more 5 hand-size characters. It places such a big stranglehold effect on the opponent and forces them to play sub-optimally, often pushing them into Deadlock. If there is ever a time where 7 hand-size characters are incredibly popular, I would consider playing Shokan Prince in 6-handers, or at least dedicate 3-4 sideboard slots for it.
What does winning Player of the Year mean to you?
Shane: Player of the Year is all about leaving behind a legacy. The point system rewards those who frequently travel. By showing up to as many events as possible, you get to meet more people, make more friends, play against players you have never played before, see different decks, and overall just have a good time with the community. Also, the more you make top cuts and get your decklist posted, the more people see your name. I’ll take prestige over materialism any day.
How do you keep focus during a high stakes match?
Shane: My eyes are almost always on the board state during a game. I actually rarely look at my opponent until afterwards when we say “GG”. Some players enjoy intimidation factors, but I prefer to be immersed in the game, making calculations and try to perform the best moves possible. Loud noises don’t seem to distract me much.
Do you ever go back and dissect any of your plays from pivotal matches to reflect on either what you did right, or what you did wrong?
Shane: Usually whenever I lose, I know where the turning point was and recognize it as either a mistake or just if I was unlucky. Most of the time it is a mistake that could have been avoided, and the best thing to do is learn from those mistakes and play better next time.
Are you finally going to win that *Shane Duckworth* character card this year at Worlds?
Shane: Anything is possible™
You play other games, of course. Which other games do you enjoy the most?
Shane: I dabble in other current card games, but I don’t enjoy them nearly as much as UniVersus. My favorite video game of all time is In the Groove 2, or Stepmania for PC. My favorite first person shooter of all time is Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, and my favorite fighting game of all time is Smash Bros Project M, but I will also play Melee because it is supported.
What do you enjoy doing while not flipping cardboard?
Shane: I love swimming. I’m lucky enough to live close to a gym with a swimming pool, and I always go for a few laps after hitting the weights. I played a lot of Japanese RPG games as a kid and I’ve tried to get back into them again, but it isn’t going so well.
Do you have any advice for other players?
Shane: The best thing you can do is practice with as many different characters as possible. UniVersus is a lot like Smash Brothers – the more time you put into a character, the better you get with that character. Also, the more characters and decks you play with, the more you understand those characters and know what to do when you’re playing against them. Getting out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to grow, so pick up a deck focused around a different style of play and see what you can do. As you keep playing, you will keep evolving into a complete universal fighter.
2019 Tournament Record – Shane Duckworth
1st Place – Turbo World Championship (Goro)
2nd Place – Little Rock PTC (**Jedah**)
4th Place – World Championship (Goro)
7th Place – Team World Championship (**Akuma**)
3rd Place – Dallas PTC (Jet)
6th Place – UK Nationals (**Tim Keefe**)
4th Place – UK Team Nationals (**Tim Keefe**)
1st Place – Omaha PTC ( **Tim Keefe** )
5th Place – Kenosha PTC (Nightmare)
2nd seed – US Nationals ( **Tim Keefe** ) (Diversified)
4th Place – US Team Nationals ( **Tim Keefe** )
4th Place – Davie PTC ( **Tim Keefe** )
2nd Place – San Antonio PTC (Gill)