Home > 2022 North America Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Championship > Dragon Duel Championship Player Profiles

Dragon Duel Championship Player Profiles

July 16th, 2022

Dragon Duel tournaments are one of the crown jewels of any big event weekend: Yu-Gi-Oh’s youth division is an incredible opportunity for up-and-coming Duelists, and a showcase for the next generation of star competitors. Dueling greats like Chris LeBlanc, Dominic Couch, Oliver Tomajko and countless others all came up through Dragon Duels, levelling up their skills and beginning to make their names in the process. 

This weekend, the North America Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Dragon Duel Championship is running in parallel to the all-ages main event, and the competition is fierce. All of these players earned their invite sometime over the last three years; from Regional Qualifiers in 2019, to Last Chance Qualifiers literally yesterday. The qualified Dragon Duelists had exclusive access this morning to the Token Machine, and a special signing with voice actors Oliver Wyman (Aster Phoenix), Matthew Labyorteaux (Jaden Yuki), so while they had some downtime we were able to do some quick interviews with eight of the competitors.

Name: Ismael N.
Age: 14
From: Costa Rica

Ismael earned his invite to this tournament not once, but twice!  He qualified the first time around in a Regional Qualifier in Mexico in 2019, and then again in Utah just this past year. He’s running Salamangreat today, looking to upset some of the more popular decks in current competition. His key to success? 

“Consistency. Salamangreat’s really reliable, so it’s good in a long tournament format. It can get into really long games and win from there.” We asked Ismael if he was doing anything different with his, and his answer was swift: “I’m running a LOT of hand traps! Fifteen Main Decked, and more in the Side Deck.” With those kind of numbers, he can buy the time he needs to go off and blow through his opponents. 

Salamangreat was an interesting deck choice, because as you’ll see in a moment, lots of competitors named it as their worst matchup. Ismael’s definitely a player to watch in this tournament.

Name: Connor R.
Age: 13
From: Portland, Oregon

Connor won his way into today’s tournament at a Regional Qualifier in Salem Massachusetts earlier this year. Today he’s running Mekk-Knights, banking on the Deck’s rogue position in current metagames: “I think they’re a good anti-meta call, the amount of going-second stuff I can play… cards like Mystic MineDark Ruler No More. I’ve got a good Swordsoul match-up, good match-ups against all the backrow decks, and I can beat bsasically anything if I draw Dark Ruler!

With a strong understanding of a strategy his opponents may not be familiar with, Connor could prove to be exceptionally well prepared to take a unique approach to this tournament. We’ll be sure to check in on him once the tournament begins.

Name: Stellan Z.
Age: 12
From: Evanston, Illinois

Stellan didn’t have his invitation to the Dragon Duel Championship until yesterday, but thanks to a topnotch performance in a Last Chance Qualifier event here in Rosemont, he’s in the tournament! He’s running Predaplant Despia, because of two of his inspirations: “Yuri plays Predaplant in ARC-V, and Despia makes it more competitive. I follow what Jesse Kotton plays a lot, and he ran Predaplants at the YCS a little while ago.” If you’re gonna take cues from a star competitor, Jesse Kotton’s certainly an excellent choice!

“My best match-ups are Branded Despia and Adventure P.U.N.K., but I DO NOT like Eldlich! I don’t like Skill Drain, and I have trouble with backrow.” We spoke to a lot of players in this tournament who said they were effectively betting against Eldlich; they were devoting less Deck space to backrow hate and Eldlich tech, and were just gambling that they wouldn’t encounter the Deck. We’ll have to see if that gamble pays off.

Name: Zephry N.
Age: 9
From: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Zephyr’s from Chattanooga, Tennesse, and at 9 years old she’s one of the youngest comptitors in the tournament. She’s been qualified for months now, after a big performance at a recent Regional Qualifier in Knoxville! And while she’s cosplaying Tri-Brigade Ferrijit the Barren Blossom here today, she’s actually playing Floowandereeze. We asked here why she chose to play birds.

Her answer? “It’s an easy deck to play!” 

Her dad chimed in, sitting next to her. “That’s not what you told me…”

“Fine,” she admitted. “I wanted to floodgate other children.” 


Hilarity aside, that floodgate element to the Floowandereeze strategy had Zephry feeling pretty confident about some of her match-ups: “Despia, the Therion decks… if you Dimension Shifter them, they’re done.” Meanwhile like most Floowandereeze Duelists, she was dreading the mirror match since it can be high variance and come down to the coin flip. “Salamangreat, too! If you go first and put up a Barrier Statue, they’re dead, they can’t do anything. But if they go first and summon Bagooska, I can’t do anything.” 

Zephry’s clearly ready to compete in today’s Championship! She’s another competitor we’ll absolutely have to follow through the day, so be sure to check back and find out how she does.

That’s it for now, but we’ll be back later with more profiles of these gifted young Duelists. You never know who could wind up being the next decorated career duelist, and so many great stories have started right year, on the Dragon Duel circuit. Stay tuned, because we’ll definitely see some breakout performances this weekend.