It started, like most Yu-Gi-Oh! stories do, with
two Starter Decks. My good friend had a Yugi and
Kaiba starter deck from his mom's comic book store.
We played with no tributes and 4000 life points.
Yugi's starter deck sure was terrible!
Instantly hooked I ran to the closest Waldenbooks
and bought almost a full box of Magic Ruler at full
retail. The first rare I pulled was a Monster
Recovery. The first holo was a Maha Vailo. Yes, I
equipped Malevolent Nuzzler to Maha Vailo like a
true professional duelist.
I ran home and Googled Monster Recovery. Pojo.com
popped up. I read every review by Someguy and
Nickwhiz1. For the next year, I would eagerly lap up
all Pojo content from Sandtrap, DM7FGD, sheckii, and
My first deck was Direct Attackers (Jinzo #7,
Queen's Double, and Leghul) + equip spells (Axe of
Despair, United We Stand, Mage Power) + Insect
Barrier and DNA Surgery and Gravity Bind. The format
had three MST and two Heavy Storm. It did not go
I found IRC and started finding duels online. I
played Max the Master (Max Suffridge). He saw my
deck, said “wtf,” and left. I was quite sad.
My second deck was Exodia. I tested every
version. Then came Don Zaloog and the hand
disruption craze. Yata-Garasu, Don Zaloog, Drop Off,
and pre-negators were everywhere. Needless to say, I
took my ball home and cried. I quit Yu-Gi-Oh!
I became a devoted collector. I resealed packs
with my friend's dad's ginseng medicine maker and
sold the boxes on E-Bay. Yes, I was a hustler/dirtbag
at age 16. What can I say? Starter Deck Joey and
Pegasus hit. My $60 first edition Blue Eyes Toon
Dragons became a dollar. I learned a valuable
When Invasion of Chaos was released, I got
interested in the game again. I played turbo Chaos
with Reloads, Thunder Dragons, and Card Destruction.
I was still terrible. I went to my first regionals,
with heart apounding, and went 6-3. After this
experience, I ran home and Googled every top 8
regional decklist I could find. A regional top 8
performance was a huge bragging right in these
I sent an e-mail to Pojo asking if they needed
writers. The owner gave me a shot to prove myself
and it changed my life. I was still an amateur
player but I could write a good game and feign
competence. I started writing articles and the rest
The initial e-mails I received were very
touching. The game was a lot different in these
days. Some of the more memorable e-mails actually
inspired me at the time to be a better person. There
was a young man who was constantly bullied and
lonely in life. He said he turned to Dark Paladin
(the card, not the writer dear lord) for
inspiration. A part of me wanted to laugh at the
geekiness. But really it was quite moving.
Doctors, lawyers, and other professionals with
far more life experience than me sent me e-mails
talking about their love for the game. Most of them
played because of their sons but ended up getting
addicted themselves. Yu-Gi-Oh! was more than a game.
It linked lives together.
I stopped e-mails like that a long time ago. It
seems like many of the people who simply loved the
game for competitive reasons were either priced out
or driven out by the jerks and thieves that pollute
tournaments. Or perhaps they moved on to something
else. I often wonder what changed all of us so much.
The Shonen Jump scene started and I was teamed
with many of the best players at the time. Team
Savage was a beneficiary of incredible hype but was
filled with players who loved Yu-Gi-Oh! and played
the game the right way.
The right way to me means having good
sportsmanship and never cheating. But it's more than
that. It's using the full card pool that design
intended and trying to create original decks.
Piloting cookie-cutter builds to the top repeatedly
would get respect. But taking a unique creation to
the top would theoretically lead to immortality
(that was my motto for the team, a bit silly yes).
Something began to change when the big teams
began to dominate. Comic Odyssey, Overdose, and
Savage created waves of Metagame and Pojo coverage.
Lesser known players wanted to reach the top of the
YGO mountain. I began to change as well. Buoyed by
my success at SJC Charlotte and Seattle, I finally
became an elite player and became an elitist.
I used a different voice for different audiences.
For newer players, I was a gentle spirit that
desperately wanted them to learn the game, improve,
and have fun. For the jaded intermediates, I began
to grow sick of their elitist attitudes and
immaturity. I took special care to insult them
condescendingly on the forums hoping to stop the
tide of negativity. It was a bad approach.
Metagame decided to hire me. I was very grateful
to Jason Grabher-Meyer and Toby Wachter for the
opportunity. Unfortunately, I was rather immature at
the time and eventually started to wear down from
facing a weekly deadline. My work quality suffered,
I stopped playing the game, and began to “mail in”
my articles for a paycheck. My inspired works were
created for Pojo.
I had many issues with how Upper Deck was
handling tournaments and new sets. I was a bit
foolish in the past due to my ignorance of how
things worked. In reality, UDE had little to no say
over any of that stuff. The people I was insulting
were real human beings (we tend to forget that over
the internet at times) who were doing the best they
could. I've always been sorry for that.
By the time I came back to competitive
tournaments, the game was infested with cheaters and
thieves. Our game was almost taken away by the
UDE/Konami fiasco. Konami stepped in and made the
game far more democratic and appealing to newer
players. I have issues with how they have handled
In the end, I am proud of what I have done with
Yu-Gi-Oh! I have done both positive and negative
things with my column. This game is the last
champion of the TCG industry (along with Magic). For
those who have supported me through all these years,
thank you. For those who have disliked me for
whatever reason, I am sorry. I have been a jerkface
at certain moments in the past.
It started here and it ends here.