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Yu-Gi-Oh!’s 2023 World Championships crowned their first North American winner in nearly 10 years

As no Asian duelists qualified for top cut for the first time in the returning tournament’s history.

Image credit: Konami

After months of competitions from the halls of regional and national tournaments around the world to the biggest stage of all - and for the first time in four years - a Yu-Gi-Oh! World Champion has been crowned. For the first time since 2014 the championship trophy for the TCG has left Asia, as Paulie Aronson became the first-ever US player to reach the summit to be crowned the King of Games.

Held in the home of the game on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the card game’s release in February 1999, the top duelists in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game - as well as the digital Duel Links and Master Duel - duked it out at Tokyo Big Sight in Japan on August 5th and 6th.

Watch Day 2 of the 2023 Yu-Gi-Oh! World ChampionshipsWatch on YouTube

No amount of sheltering from Japan’s notorious summer heat could protect players from the blazing heat of the passion and skill thrown out by every competitor over the weekend. After 28 TCG competitors from 13 countries around the world sparred against one another throughout an extended competition consisting of seven rounds of Swiss, home team advantage failed to prevent a circumstance where zero Asian competitors qualified for Top 8 cut for the first time in the competition’s history.

With four North American, two Latin American players and two European players qualifying for top cut - including European champion Jessica Robinson - the final became an all-Americas affair as US-born Paulie Aronson’s Dragon Link deck went toe-to-toe with the Peruvian Juan Mateo Augusto Renteria Pastor’s Tenyi Swordsoul deck on the game’s biggest stage.

“I put so much time into practising for this event,” Paulie told Dicebreaker shortly after lifting the trophy at the end of a gruelling two days of competition and a 2-0 victory in the final. “I was hoping I could win, but I didn't actually think it would happen.

“It was awesome coming to Asia for the first time, I’ve had so much fun. I made so many new friends just from meeting the other competitors this weekend and we had such a good time together.”

Take a look at Yu-Gi-Oh!'s digital app Master DuelWatch on YouTube

It proved to be a varied tournament for fans, with five different decks making Top 8 and other unique and unexpected decks featuring throughout the tournament.

Elsewhere, Jianyu Jiang (aka Takagi) was the champion for Duel Links in the final against the Korean player Jonghwan Lee (Yukoo), while Europe celebrated taking home the first-ever World Championships for Master Duel as Team Snipehunters (made up of Joshua Schmidt, Jack-Rory Steenkamer and Emre Kizilates) overcame competition from the North American Team 7 (Raymond Dai, Ryan Yu and Jesse Kotton) in an intense 5-3 final.

Paulie Aronson leaves Tokyo as the first World Yu-Gi-Oh! Champion since 2019, and the first World Champion outside of Asia since Canadian Sehabi Kheireddine’s victory in 2014. As the 25th anniversary approaches, it feels like a new dawn is rising over the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game.

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Alicia Haddick avatar

Alicia Haddick

Contributor

Alicia is trapped, unable to escape the addiction of trying (and failing) to be good at Yu-Gi-Oh. Whenever they do take a break from getting their butt kicked, they like to spend time watching and talking about film, anime, games, musicals and Japanese idols.
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