Student Joseph Knight has written about his latest venture in participating in the Yugioh European Championship.
Yugioh EU Championships Blog Post:
In August of 2022, I was given a chance to participate in the Yugioh European championships after being invited to the regional championship. Thanks to the funding graciously provided by SUL and the student union, I could stay in Antwerp, Belgium, for a whole week! Here is a recollection of some of the areas I could visit outside of the tournament.
A stone's throw away from my hotel, Chocolate Nation is a chocolate museum where anyone visiting can view the entire process of making real Belgium chocolate. It was quite a unique experience, as each room had an audio tour, which you listened to through headphones, and then when each section was finished, the door to the next room would open. In addition, images were projected onto objects and walls in sync with the audio tour for an incredibly immersive experience. My favourite part of the tour was the tasting room at the end, where you could try a small, melted sample of every chocolate flavour sold in Belgium!
Not only that, but the gift shop had numerous chocolate gifts and goodies you could buy for friends and family (or, in my case, even yourself). I even ended up buying a bottle of "advocaat" thinking, "this looks like white chocolate, and it is being sold in a chocolate store, so it must be some form of chocolate liquor", but after tasting it a couple of weeks after, I was so, so wrong. However, the ordinary liquor I bought, called "elixir d'Anvers", is a local liquor that works exceptionally well when making a cocktail but not so much when drunk on its own, as I also found out later. Chocolate-wise, I bought three taster bags with small chocolate pieces of every flavour, like the tasting room, for my brother and parents. For myself, I purchased the same bag but larger.
Antwerp City Brewery:
The most famous beer in Antwerp is Bolleke from the De Konnick brewery, which shows anywhere you visit in the city. No matter where you are if they serve alcohol, they sell Bolleke and its less intense counterpart, Tripel d'Anvers. After trying these beers straight from their source, I can understand why Belgian beers are world-renowned for their taste, as Bolleke has become one of, if not my favourite, beers since going on this trip. Honestly, English beers can't compare in the slightest. In the brewery, you can find out how they produce Belgian beer from start to finish, and afterwards, you can taste all the different beers they have, as there are around three small pubs in or around the building. It was a great idea to come here as it helped "calm my nerves" before the 3v3 tournament the next day.
Outpost Game Centre:
Outpost differs quite a lot compared to the trading card stores in the UK. First of all, they sell alcohol (including Bolleke) and other drinks at a bar IN the card store, and they also have a PC area where you can log on and play games with your friends. I only went there to buy some cards/card sleeves for the upcoming tournament; however, I left feeling rather impressed but a bit sad that all the card stores in the UK can't be like this.
Outpost is a chain of card stores, so when I found out that there was a store in Brussels whilst waiting for my Eurostar, I knew I had to visit. I found another quaint store like the one in Antwerp, where I could sit down, relax and play a couple of rounds of Yugioh with some people at the store. It was here where I realised that all the practice I did for euros, and then playing in euros, greatly improved my playing ability from what it was beforehand, so I ended up beating everyone I played in the store (one guy even 5-0). So, after making some trades and adding some people to my socials, I left with a feeling of accomplishment.
Friday was essentially the warm-up day. I finalised my deck list before hand-in, played in the 3v3, and met up with everyone arriving that day. Initially, I was going to participate in the 3v3 tournament with my friends the whole day, but someone on our team had to quit after round two to meet a friend at the airport, so our run ended early. I didn't mind, however, as I still got to practice for the main event the day after. Checking out the vendor's booths was exciting a fun, too, as they have rare, expensive, and even foreign cards, which you rarely see, if ever, in the UK. Nothing else too important happened that day, apart from some testing and having the best kebab of my life in the evening for dinner.
This was it, what I had been preparing for weeks to play in. Overall, I was pretty nervous as this was the first tournament I had been to on this scale (2000+ players!), but I was only there to have fun, so I didn't mind if I lost. However, for the first time in a large tournament, I managed to break my curse and win the first round. It wasn't even close, as luck was just on my side that game. It was pretty funny, however, as the guy I played against often goes to The Brotherhood Games in London. So I travelled to Belgium to play someone I could play against every Saturday, which was what I thought whilst laughing a bit throughout our match. Honestly, the odds of that are insane, with 2000+ people attending.
Round two was relatively uneventful, and I lost that match because time ran out. Finally, in round three, I won against a rogue matchup which honestly scared me quite a bit, as it countered the deck I was playing in an oddly specific and annoying way, though I managed to pull out a victory in the end.
Now, round four was when my luck started to run out. I ended up getting paired against the same deck four rounds in a row, Tearlament, which my deck has an exceptionally weak matchup against. Unfortunately, even though I managed to eek out two wins against the deck, my run was cut short at round 8, where I decided to drop from the event because my record of 5-3 was not good enough to get top 128 in the event, even if I won all my next games. All was not lost, however, because I got to go out to a steakhouse and drink my sorrows away with all my other friends on the tip who also dropped.
I had one goal on Sunday. That was to win something in the side events I could take home as a memento of the trip. To do this, I had to win tickets by participating in smaller tournaments, called win-a-mats, or the more significant, mega-regional. Despite it being easier to win prizes in the win-a-mats, I wanted to redeem myself and enter the Mega regional. Overall, I played against a wide variety of decks in this tournament, which is perfect for my deck, as it is designed to be generically good into 75% of decks, and not finely tuned for one or two matchups, like most meta decks are. By the event, I finished 4-2, which was not enough to win any of the larger prizes, like a giant card which could be resold for £1000+, but it was enough to earn a cool playmat, which I will probably never sell as it is my remembrance of the tournament.
Honestly, one of my favourite parts of this trip was eating high-quality food almost every day. For example, the first day I was there, I bought a Katsu curry from a Japanese restaurant, which was entirely out of this world. As I mentioned before, Bolleke had to accompany every meal (because it tasted great and was a local speciality, not because I am an alcoholic, I swear). I visited the same steakhouse near where I was staying twice because their Rib-Eye steak was to die for, and the atmosphere was lively yet not overcrowded. However, the show's real star was a meat-filled baguette I ate two times on this trip, one because it tasted amazing, and two, it only costs 5 euros for the whole meal! One of the excellent parts about going to most European countries is being able to sit at a café outside in the sun and have a cold drink to pair, and if I'm honest, I did this many times on this trip.
As I felt like I had explored most of Antwerp, I decided to explore Brussels for a bit while waiting for my Eurostar. So, apart from the card store, I only walked around, admiring all the fantastic architecture on display.
Overall, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go on this trip. I want to thank the university for making this possible because it was one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever been on—hanging out with friends, trying out new foods and drinks, and playing my favourite game against new opponents for an entire weekend. I couldn't imagine a better trip if I tried. Not only that but the journey there and back was both completely painless. I want to attend more events like these in the future, but who knows how hard I'll have to practice and play to get my invite next year.