The Yu-Gi-Oh tournament that came to the Greater Richmond Convention Center last month drew a far different sort of card fanatic than you’d find at the poker tables.
When most people imagine a card game tournament, they might picture a group of stone-faced card sharks risking big bucks around a high-stakes poker table. But the card game tournament held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on Sunday, September 22 was a completely different experience.
That’s because it was the Richmond Yu-Gi-Oh! NAWCQ Regional Tournament. NAWCQ stands for North American World Championship Qualifier, and this regional event gathered over 300 players and vendors from around the country to compete in the Japanese trading card game, Yu-Gi-Oh!
The game is based on the popular Japanese comic and cartoon series of the same name. Its objective is to play cards from the player’s customized deck that, through game play, will lower their opponent’s Life Points to zero. Each card is unique, but they come in three basic varieties for different uses: Monster cards lower Life Points, Spell cards assist Monsters, and Trap cards sabotage your opponent. New cards are constantly being released, and after 17 years, the amount of available cards allow for a huge variety of unique decks and strategies.
Competitors sat across from each other and played nine matches against different opponents over the course of the tournament. After each 40-minute match, they were scored based on how well they performed in the game.
“There’s literally a lot riding on how you do in regionals for World Qualifiers,” said Event Manager Nathan Lawder.
The top 48 players with the highest overall scores in the tournament will go on to compete in another qualifying tournament later this year. Winning that tournament earns them a shot at the North American World Championship. Top players in these tournaments receive prizes, often in the form of expensive “Prize Cards,” which are usually extremely rare and can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.
But most people who attend these tournaments won’t make it to the upper rankings, and won’t see huge prizes. Most players attend tournaments simply to enjoy the game and the community they love. Players could be found in scattered groups around the venue. Together they socialized, played casual matches, and traded cards with each other.
“It started with the TV show,” said Tyree Tinsley, a 10-year veteran of the game. “But honestly the game itself was really good. The people you meet, the experience you have… I just ended up liking a lot of it. And that’s why I’ve been playing for so long.”
Top Photo by Jonah Schuhart