Flesh and Blood crowned a new world champion on November 17th at the largest competitive event that the trading card game holds all year. Alexandros Argyriou snagged the top spot - and a $100,000 prize for his trouble - against opponent Shing Tsang at a three-day event in Barcelona.
While not quite as popular as Magic: The Gathering or blistering hot newcomer Disney Lorcana, Flesh and Blood has developed a thriving and dedicated scene both at local hobby shops and organised play events. The 2023 year culminated with the Barcelona-based world championship that boasted a reported attendance of over 1,500 people, according to a press release from publisher Legend Story Studios.
Argyriou battled his way up a ladder composed of 463 rivals whilst using a deck helmed by Fai, Rising Rebellion. Flesh and Blood matches revolve around a single hero for each opponent, who use the rest of their deck of cards to attach equipment and weapons, defend against incoming attacks and launch their own assault. The ultimate goal is to whittle down their foe’s health first, and each hero brings a unique strategy to the table. Fai, for example, excels at chaining together devastating attacks that deal extra damage at key rupture points, along with powering up Draconic abilities.
The final match against Tsang pitted Argyriou’s Fai deck against Iyslander, Stormbird, but the Hong Kong-based players couldn’t bring down the Greecian threat in the end. Along with the prize money, Argyriou was awarded a Gold Foil Legendary Black Envelope, a PTI, and a Champion's Prize Card. Elsewhere at the event, Florin-Cristian Loghin claimed the Calling Barcelona trophy and the majority of a $30,000 pot with Maxx Nitro as their hero. This no-invitation event allowed anyone to throw a deck on the table and show the attendees their mettle.
Legend Story Studios director James White announced that the 2024 professional play season will increase its prize money pool from $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 and earmarked 18 individual Callings around the world - 2023 hosted 11, in comparison. Players will have three sets to look forward to in February, June and September, and two marquis events in the Los Angeles and Amsterdam Pro Tours. White did not disclose the locations of the 2024 World Championship, yet.
White and Legend Story Studio also used the 2023 World Championship to pat themselves on the back by unveiling a personal documentary about Flesh and Blood four-year journey from quiet upstart to flourishing TCG that has just this year launched a Commander-esque 4-player version in collaboration with Tolarian Community College, along with regularly topping its own attendance records at organised play events.
Store to Stage: The Evolution of Flesh and Blood TCG is a 17-minute video shot and produced by the LA-based MYLES and currently available on YouTube. It tracks the last 12 months of the TCG’s history by following members of the community who are active in the pro play circuit, fan events and the general culture surrounding Flesh and Blood.
The video is ultimately celebratory and optimistic about its future in a field where the competition for tables and budget is mighty slim, but it's difficult not to sympathise with the enthusiasm shown by hobby shop owners, professional players and influencers who have built a career around and amongst a game that seems to truly believe in its own success.
Flesh and Blood will kick off 2024 with the upcoming Queenstown Celebrational, which is a much more casual player-focused affair stuffed with a week of events, community contests, and an open Calling for those who feel like kicking cardboard butt.