Yugi-Parent Spotlight: Eve Riskin

November 20th, 2012

The Dragon Duel division gives younger Duelists their own arena for tournament competition. As the division grows, parents are becoming the unsung heroes of many a YCS! Plenty of Dragon Duelists have chalked up stellar accomplishments over the past few years, but behind every Dragon Duel winner stands a supportive mom, dad, or guardian that’s helping them grow – not just as a competitor, but as a person, too.

Today we sat down with Eve Riskin to talk about her experiences being a Yugi-mom.  If you read the coverage this weekend, you saw her twelve year-old son Aden Garrabrant scoring a Top 4 finish in the Sunday Dragon Duel.  Aden has been a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan for ages, but he started taking the game more seriously about two and a half years ago.  His mother’s been an integral part of his growth as a competitor.

A Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington, Riskin also serves as an Associate Dean.  She has a busy career, but she makes the time to support Aden’s ambitious involvement with the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG.  And we mean ambitious!  While Aden started off following in his older brother’s footsteps and Dueling casually with friends, he started playing in tournaments at age nine at Card Exchange, a landmark card shop right here in Seattle.  From there he branched out and began attending events at three different stores, competing in as many as five tournaments a week.  It’s a level of competition that would impress even veterans of the YCS circuit, and Riskin’s willingness to take her son to stores all over the city was what made it possible.

Now they’re starting to travel to YCS tournaments as well!  “This is our third big event,” explained Riskin.  She took Aden to Long Beach back in March for his first YCS, then traveled with him cross-country to the World Championship Qualifier this past Summer in Ohio.  “We had a great time at all three events.  We have a ton of fun traveling, and Aden is so happy doing it.  As a parent, as long as your kid is happy, you’re happy,” stated Riskin.   “It’s not really ‘about you’ anymore.”


We asked Riskin what kind of impact she felt Yu-Gi-Oh! was having on her son.  “It gives him something to do that doesn’t involve a screen.  It gets him away from the TV, from video games.  Being one of the youngest competitors at his locals, Aden’s learning to deal with a wide range of people.  He’s learning to assert himself, while still carrying himself with alot of respect for his fellow players.  He’s learning how to work a room too, and how to arrange deals between people.  I think it’s helping his math skills, too, but we’re a family of engineers!  So we kind of take that for granted.”  Riskin laughed.

“It’s helping him learn to be a good sport, teaching about winning and losing.  Aden won one of the bigger public events at the North American WCQ.  He went there with another friend, and didn’t do very well in that particular Dragon Duel, but he handled it really smoothly.  I think it’s important to be able to go through life and be happy even during the times you’re not winning.  There’s a tremendous emphasis on competition these days, in all parts of life, but the reality is that you can’t win all the time.  So it’s important to get through those periods and appreciate when you ARE winning.”

For Riskin, supporting her son in all of his interests is tremendously important.  “As a parent I think you should support a kid in their passion.  My sister’s a therapist, and she’s said that in her opinion, if you have a teenager without a passion, there should practically be a DSM code for it,” a risk classification category, “because they’re so much more at risk when it comes to negative influences.”  Riskin continued, discussing more of her family: “His brother is into freestyle soccer, but TCG’s are Aden’s thing.  It’s nice that he’s engaged, busy, and not watching TV, so we’re really happy about it.”

With Aden successfully topping the Dragon Duel today, we asked Riskin if he had specific goals as a competitor.  “I don’t know if he does,” she replied, “but I could see him sticking with TCG’s over the coming years.  We have the infrastructure set up now, and he has other hobbies like karate and music.  Still, it’s his last year in the Dragon Duel division so he’s realizing he should play in it while he can.”  Aden’s no stranger to Dragon Duel success, having won his first Regional Dragon Duel about a year ago.  Plus he was 3-0 in yesterday’s main event before dropping to play in Public Events.  Despite the tournament success, a big part of Aden’s time in the game is focused on interpersonal elements and trading: “He’s doing a ton of trading this weekend, working the crowd,” noted Riskin.  “Some days I think he’s practicing to become the next Bernie Madoff.  I think he’ll do really well in life as long as he stays out of jail!”  She chuckled again.

With a balanced interest in both trading and on-table competition, Aden’s traveled to YCS’s and WCQ’s; achieved substantial tournament success; and cultivated a level of dedication to local events that’s unparalleled even by most Duelists twice his age.  He has his mother to thank for that; without her support, none of it would have been possible.  Yugi-parents like Eve Riskin are an integral part of the game, helping usher in the next generation of Dueling legends.