This week I’m here to give you a bit of incite on how different premier Yu-Gi-Oh! events are in South America compared to the ones in North America. I won’t be including ARGCS events into this article since I have only been to ARG Boston/Worcester, so I feel like my opinion would be bias since my experience is limited to that event. There are many interesting factors that I would like to examine that include: size, percentage of the quality of players, how competitive players are, unique language barriers, distinct ways the tournament is run and unique things that happen in the knockout stage of the tournament.
Before I get into my analysis, I would to like to state that I’m not here to say whether or not either continent’s tournament are better or worse, I’m just giving my opinion after going to a good amount of events on both fronts. Please don’t get offended by my opinion since at the end of the day, it’s just that, my opinion. It is also limited to the events I have been to. As a background, I have gone to three Yu-Gi-Oh! WCQs in South America (2010, 2011, 2014) and to most of the premier events in North America starting with YCS Columbus (2011).
Let’s begin with the obvious, events in South America are much smaller compared to the average event in North America. Although, all YCS events in South America have greater numbers than the smallest Yu-Gi-Oh! Shonen Jump hosted in the United States. As a reference in terms of numbers, there were 154 players present at Shonen Jump Honolulu (2008) and 191 players attended YCS Lima, Peru (2012). These numbers aren’t very significant since events like Shonen Jump Honolulu and YCS Long Beach are extremes in terms of attendees. More importantly in terms of ranges, recent WCQ (since 2010) and YCS events in South America go between 200-400 players (the largest being YCS Ecuador). In the United States, premier events mostly range from 800-1800 players, not counting WCQ or events in California (since again those are usually on the extreme side). On average, events in North America are 4-4.5 times larger than events in South America.
Along with the difference in number of players attending comes the number of rounds in the Swiss portion of these events. Since 2010, I have never heard of there ever being more or less than eight round of Swiss in a South American premier event. Along with that all of their YCS events have a Top 16 cut where not all 6-2 records make it through. Yet, their WCQ events have a Top 32 cut with about the same number of players and rounds. Only difference is that even most 5-2-1 records make the cut.
Percentage of the Quality of Players
I would say this is the most important basis of comparison, it sort of correlates to the idea of the new 60 card control deck, it doesn’t matter how many cards you run as long as the ratios are right. I would say there’s around 60-80 players in North America that attend most premier events around the country. Since it’s a lot more expensive to travel in between countries in South America there isn’t really a group of players that travel to most premier events. There’s also the fact, that large stores sponsor players here and it doesn’t really happen to that extent in South America. So, because of these factors I might even go as far to say that the number of players who travel to most events back home doesn’t go past 10 and I feel like I’m being generous. Obviously, each event is mostly represented by the host country and they each have a fair representation in the form of their local duelists. To wrap up this aspect, I would say that even percentage-wise there is a smaller showing of above average duelists than in North America. Although, if it was easier to travel to events, I would say the percentages would be around the same on both continents.
You may think this basis of comparison is the same as the previous, but I would say it also depends on other factors. Since there aren’t many events in South America and even if there were you’d probably not be able to go to all of them. To the few events you do go to you better go with a competitive mindset. From what I have heard, players who frequent European events aren’t necessarily better but more competitive. They probably won’t let their opponents take back a move since they go through hours of testing along with the cost to travel to those events, it’s justified to be on that level of competitiveness. I would say European events are similar to South American events in this aspect.
As a side note, on competitiveness I would like to talk about the Road to the Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship this year. In the South American WCQ it may seem a little more difficult because only the winner gets to go unlike the six got to go through in the NAWCQ. Although percentage-wise, to go to Worlds this year through the NAWCQ you needed to be in the top 0.359% of the tournament compared to 0.397% in the South American WCQ. All in all, it’s a small difference percentage-wise, and we should also consider the number of rounds in each WCQ or the amount of difficulty to win out from Top 32.
Difficulty to Top
I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s a lot easier to top in South American events due to the amount of rounds, number of above average players and the limited resources each player has. The amount of rounds directly affects the way you play, sometimes it just becomes a test of endurance and ability to keep your tournament mindset throughout it. The greater amount of players mean more rounds, which both in turn mean a longer Day 1.
Then comes a factor that doesn’t really affect players here as much as it does in South America, again it also has to do with the lack of sponsors, it’s hard for most players to get the new expensive cards that come out in newer sets. This doesn’t only have to do with the higher prices (mostly because of shipping and handling) but there’s also a lack of a market for single cards. Most stores back in South America (with few exceptions) only sell sealed product. It just isn’t worth it to the average player, since booster boxes go for around $80-90 and you may not even pull what you need. This is the reason for lack of cards like Evilswarm Exciton Knight and Number 101: Silent Honor ARK in some deck lists featured from regionals and nationals in South America. Once the WCQ came around, for the most part decks were complete and this is caused by friends borrowing cards from duelists who aren’t going due to different reasons. Since everyone is usually able to go to nationals that explains the previous lack of cards.
Like love, I would go as far as to say that Yu-Gi-Oh! is a universal language, although there may be a misunderstanding in intricate game states. For the most part, when speaking of South America the only conflicts arise when someone from Brazil plays someone who speaks Spanish, the way this is usually worked out is that both players play in English. If one of them can’t, it gets a little confusing but it’s Yu-Gi-Oh!, it can’t be too complicated. Also, depending on where the event is held at there is no need for translations of Spanish or Portuguese cards.
I have no complains on both continents except for a few slow rounds from time to time and prizes not getting to events on time but I can understand that, customs make it difficult. Besides that, I had a small incident in the WCQ in South America when I was trying to grind Side Events because they wouldn’t accept my printed out white entry slips since they had events in a color coded manner. After speaking to the Head Judge, he accepted my slips but wanted me to staple the color according to the event and that was fine by me. I thought that was only something that would be an issue back home but at YCS events in North America, I was asked to do the same. It’s totally understandable, so they can keep things organized.
Something that really stood out to me, is that once you get to Top 16 in a premier event in South America is that the judges are most suspicious about any sort of cheating. They let you know when you should start shuffling your opponent’s deck, when you should stop and the number of piles of your pile shuffle. You usually get two judges watching your match once you get to Top 8 but that seems pretty standard across the board.
In the finals of YCS Brazil, they even went so far as to be the ones rolling the die to determine who went first. This is due to past experience in Latin America and their acknowledgement that cheating exist and it’s worth at least trying to prevent it from happening at those stages. It may be a bit too much but a healthy median between both continents would be nice.
In conclusion, playing in South America is quite different but at its core it’s still Yu-Gi-Oh!. They both have qualities that encourage players to become better but I would say South America is limited by their resources. North America is capable of doing much more but at the same time there are innovative players in South America. A few duelist who come to mind are Emiliano Passoni with his Spellbook build (2013) and Luis Cossio’s Tribute Stun (this year). To wrap it up, I enjoy playing on both continents, they both have their charm. Let me know what you guys have noticed is different in the different settings you have played in. Take care and until next time!