Road to World Champion

The road to becoming a World Champion in real life Yu-Gi-Oh is a long one. Many players in this community have never been in a real life tournament and may never even get the chance. That is one of the reasons we are bringing the experience to the online platform. However, it’s important to also understand how a player reaches the top in real life. There is a lot of information online about the system but it’s been dispersed between several sites. This article will aim to gather and help explain that.

The journey to the top begins with a Player getting an invite to the World Championship Qualifier (WCQ) Tournament. Not all tournaments however will count towards WCQ. There is a tier system for Tournaments and only Tier 2 and higher will count towards getting that invite.

Tier Event Level Description
Tier 1 Casual Official Tournament Store level events, Sneak Peeks, and Duelist Leagues.
Tier 2 Competitive OTS Championships1, VIP Qualifiers, UDS Qualifiers2, Regional Qualifiers3, Dragon Duel events, and Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME Extravaganzas (YEX)4
Tier 3 Premier TCG: Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series (YCS), Ultimate Duelist Series (UDS) Invitationals5, National Championships. OCG: Yu-Gi-Oh! Open Tournament (YOT), Ranking Tournaments6, Asian Championships (ACS)7, Asia Championship Winter. Both: World Championship Qualifiers (WCQ)
Tier 4 World Championships The only event in this tier.8
  • Only the events in green will count towards to becoming a World Champion. All other events will not award World Qualifying Points or invites to WCQ.

How does a Player earn an invite to the World Championships?

There are two ways to get an invite:

  1. Earn it via WCQ.
    To get an invite to the World Championship, a duelist has to earn an invite to the World Championship Qualifier (WCQ) first.


    In the TCG, one can earn an invite to the WCQ at Regional Qualifiers, Dragon Duels, OTS Championships, Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series (YCS), or National Championships. None of these events require any prior qualifications and are open entry including the National Championships. All other events including UDS and VIP Qualifiers, YEX4 and UDS Invitationals do NOT give invites to the WCQ. Winning a VIP qualifier gives you VIP privileges like bragging rights, no entry fee, special seating, and a 2-round bye at a YCS. Same goes for winning a UDS qualifier, except you get the VIP privileges only at the UDS Invitations. Winning UDS doesn’t get you any step closer to WCQ, but you do get a lanyard and a pin (yay?).

    Number of Participants at YCS or Regionals Number of Invites Awarded
    4 - 49 4 Invites
    50 - 99 8 Invites
    100 - 149 16 Invites
    150 - 199 24 Invites
    200 - 299 32 Invites
    300 - 499 48 Invites
    500 or More 64 Invites
    Number of Participants at Dragon Duel Number of Invites Awarded
    4 - 8 4 Invites
    9 - 16 8 Invites
    17 - 32 12 Invites
    33 - 64 16 Invites
    65+ 20 Invites

    The number of invites awarded depends on the number of participants in the tournament as shown by the table above.3 A maximum of 64 invites are given at Regionals and YCS; maximum of 128 invites are given at the TCG National Championships; and a max of 20 invites are given at Dragon Duel events. Also if a player already has an invite, it’s passed on to the next player. So if YCS and Regionals give the same number of max invites, what’s the advantage of attending a YCS then? You’ll find the answer below where we discuss “World Qualifying Points”.

    The only exception is at the OTS Championship, where only the top 4 duelists get an invite to WCQ.1

    Lastly, if there weren’t already enough ways to get an invite to the WCQ, the TCG has one more event called the Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQ) in which the winner will get an invite to the WCQ.


    In the OCG, things work a little differently. In Asia, the only events that will lead to invites to the WCQ are the Asian Championships (ACS), Ranking Tournaments, Yu-Gi-Oh Open Tournaments (YOT), and the National-level equivalent, the Asian Championship Winter. There are 6 regions in Asia - Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, and Taiwan. Japan and Korea do their own thing which will be discussed later. In each of these 6 regions, there’s one ACS Qualifier and the winner from each will get an invite to the Asian WCQ.7

    The YOT events are basically the same as ACS. The winner from a YOT held in each of the 6 regions will advance to the WCQ. Other than the name difference, YOT is exactly the same as ACS since the number of invites to WCQ is the same.

    The OCG also has a point system called Ranking Points. However, unlike TCG there is only one special event that awards these points called Ranking Tournaments. A player gets 15 points just for participating and then 10 points for each win. The top 32 players with the most points after every Phase (6 months) in each of the 6 regions, will compete in a tournament called the Rank-Up League. The winner of each Rank-Up League gets an invite to the Asian WCQ. Note that since each Phase is 6 months, there are 2 Phases. Phase 1 (previous year) is from April 1st to Sept 30th and Phase 2 (current year) is from Oct. 1st to Mar. 31st. Only the winners from Phase 2 are invited directly to Asian WCQ. The Phase 1 winners instead, get invited to the Asian Championship Winter.6

    Last, is the Asian Championship Winter (i.e. Asian Nationals) which only awards the winner an invite to the Asian WCQ. The Asia Championship Winter takes 12 Duelists - 6 from each of the region’s ACS Winter Qualifier and 6 from each region’s Rank-Up League (Phase 1). This is again a lot different from the TCG National Championships where it’s normal to have a maximum of 128 invites to the WCQ.9

    World Championship Qualifier (WCQ)

    Let’s say you made it to the WCQ. The WCQ is a Continental level event, so only the best duelists from each Continent will be invited. These Continents include North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia. If you’re wondering about Africa, for some reason it’s considered part of the European TCG and that goes for the Middle East as well. The list of official countries that participate in each of these Continents can be found here.

    The number of players who advance from the WCQ from each Continent depends. North America and Europe have 4 spots each. Central America, South America, and Oceania only have 1 spot each. Asia has 2 spots.

    WCQ Events in the TCG Invites to the World Championships via WCQ
    North American WCQ (NAWCQ) 4
    European WCQ (EUWCQ) 4
    Central American WCQ (CAWCQ) 1
    South American WCQ (SAWCQ) 1
    Oceanic WCQ (OCWCQ) 1

    In addition, there are also some exceptions. South Korea and Japan are excluded from the Asian WCQ (formerly ACS Finals). South Korea has its own WCQ and the winner of that gets 1 spot. This may be due to the fact that they have their own product line that follows a mix of TCG and OCG cards, even though they are part of OCG. Japan also has its own WCQ and the top 4 players of that advance. Hence, if we count Japan and South Korea as part of Asia, then there are 4+2+1 = 6 players total that represent Asia. This seems unfair given that Africa, a continent by itself is pooled with the European WCQ yet South Korea, a small country in Asia, will have its own WCQ. Japan can advance 4 of their own players given that they are the host country for the World Championships and the origin of the Yu-Gi-Oh card game. In the future, China may also have its own WCQ as it just began official organized play this year (yes during covid-19).10

    As you can see, there is a drastic difference in terms of invitees allowed to the WCQ between Continents. For example, during the year of 2019, the NAWCQ had 2101 participants; EUWCQ had 1900; SAWCQ had 402; OCWCQ had 248; Japan WCQ had 48; South Korean WCQ had 46; and lastly, the Asian WCQ only had 19 participants.11,12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

    WCQ Events in the OCG Invites to the World Championships via WCQ
    Asian WCQ 2
    Japan WCQ 4
    South Korean WCQ 1

    Lastly, the former World Champions of the past year including the Dragon Duel World Champion are guaranteed an invite. If the Dragon Duel Champion is older than 12 years, then they can compete directly in the main event. Otherwise, they compete at the Dragon Duel level.

  2. Earn it via World Qualifying Points. (TCG only)

    Like the OCG, the TCG has invented their own point system, but this point system is another chance to earn an invite directly to the World Championships not the WCQ. The top 16 players with the most World Qualifying Points from each Continent are invited to the World Qualifying Points Playoff. The Playoff is held the Friday, a day before the WCQ. Hence, if the player didn’t get an invite via the Playoff, they still have a second chance via the WCQ.

    Rank World Qualifying Points Earned
    1st 32
    2nd 31
    3rd 30
    4th 29

    In the table above, 32 points max were awarded if the event awarded 32 invites. So the number of max points depends on the number of invites awarded which in turn depends on the number of players who attended. The Duelist who comes in 1st place will earn 32 points, the 2nd place Duelist will earn 31 points, and so on, down to the 32nd place Duelist who will earn 1 point.3

    In addition, a YCS will award an extra 32 points if they made it to the top cut. So in the example above, the 3rd Place would get 30 + 32 = 62 World Qualifying Points total. This is the advantage of competing at a YCS as opposed to other Tier 2 events like Regional Qualifiers.18

    Note that in the case of OTS Championshps where only 4 invites are given, this also means only the top 4 players will get World Qualifying points. That is, the 1st Place will earn 4 points, 2nd Place will earn 3 points, and so on, down to the 4th Place that will get 1 point.1

    World Qualifying Points Playoff (WQP Playoff)

    Let’s say you made it to the Playoffs. Now you have to grind your way to the top again. The number of players that advance in a Playoff depends on the Continent.

    Continent Invites to the World Championships via Playoff
    North America 2
    Central America 1
    South America 1
    Oceania 1
    Europe 2

World Championship

At last we reach the World Championship itself. The net amount of players from each region / continent looks like the table below which you can confirm by going to the 2019 World Championships.

Continent / Region / Champion Number of Players at World Championship
North America 6
Central America 2
South America 2
Oceania 2
Europe 6
Asia 2
Japan 4
South Korea 1
Former World Champion 1
Former Dragon Duel Champion 1
Total 25

That’s it folks! After all that grind, it ends up being 25 players only appearing at the World Championship! The purpose of this article was to explain how the tournament system actually works in real life. You’ve seen that there is a large unequal distribution of players from each Continent and that the TCG has way more invites to the WCQ than the OCG. The Asian Championship Winter awards 1 invite to their WCQ while the TCG National Championships awards 128 invites.

It’s also important to understand how tournaments work in real life to help design a system for online. We made our own system that awards “Tournament Points” (TP) for online tournaments which will lead to the YGO Omega Championships (YOC). To learn more, read here.


Well Japan has a leg up compared to the rest of the world. Before I read this I always assumed it was equal or at least fairly close how people get into worlds

It depends. If you compare the number of people invited to Japan WCQ vs North America WCQ, it’s very less. Japan is the host country where the Worlds are held each year too.