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Yu-Gi-Oh! bans non-Japanese players from the TCG's Japan tournaments, even if they live in the country

Rule change would deny non-native duelists from even competing at local store-level qualifiers.

Image credit: Alicia Haddick

Competing in Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game tournaments just got a lot more difficult for non-native players. The trading card game’s publisher, Konami, recently updated its competitive rules and restricted who can earn slots at the highest levels of play.

Spotted by Twitter user and TCG YouTube creator DifferentFight, the ruling comes from a supposed longer list of Konami-sanctioned overhauls to Yu-Gi-Oh!’s 2024 competitive season. Among some fairly standard clarifications is one bullet point that, when translated via Google, reads thus:“Eligibility to participate is limited to those who are Japanese nationals and have an address in Japan at the time of advance reservation for the shop qualifying round and on the day of participation.”

This means hopeful duelists seeking entry into the 2024 Yu-Gi-Oh! Japan Championship qualifiers might not be able to attend if they’re expatriates, foreign residents or any other non-native designation. Such a ruling only seems to apply to Japan’s qualifier, where the winner will go on to represent Japan in the world championship.

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Commenters pointed out that Konami has deployed similar rulings for other competitions, such as the Konami Arcade Championships that include Dance Dance Revolution and other classic arcade titles.

There’s a case to be made that Konami is simply protecting the Japanese representative slot from being won by someone who traveled over for the express purpose of crushing other Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG players, or perhaps earning a spot in a different country’s league after losing their own. It’s not entirely unheard of, but Konami’s reaction is garnering confusion and anger from the online playerbase.

As of now, non-Japanese players won’t even be able to attend in-store qualifiers, which represent the first step on the competitive ladder that eventually ends with an invitation to the world championship. In the past, non-native winners could take part and even win the qualifier but would need to abdicate their invitation. It’s not the cleanest solution, but it does still allow players - regardless of nationality - to join in the competitive fun.

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Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.
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