The Premier Events Tops List Explained

Patrick HobanHello everybody and welcome back. I’m pleased to say that after much hard work my friend Arya and I have updated the TCG Premier Event Tops list. The list is a collection of the greatest players to have ever played the game and keeps track of how many tops each player has, how many wins each player has, and keeps a record for every premier event that has ever taken place. You can check out the list by clicking here. I’m going to use my article this week to explain the list and talk about what counts as a premier event top, what does not count as a premier event top, why something counts, the limitations of the list, the evolution of the list, and what I hope to add to the list.  Here is the link to the list:

What Counts as a Premier Event Top

Shonen Jump Championships (SJC) – Shonen Jump Championships are where competitive Yu-Gi-Oh really began. The legends such as Lazaro Bellido and Jerry Wang made names for themselves here. The first one was in late 2004 in California and continued at a rate of 1-2 per month in the United States until 2009 when the legal dispute between Upper Deck and Konami occurred. When the court case was settled and Konami gained all rights to Yu-Gi-oh, they rebranded the series Yu-Gi-Oh Championship Series.

Yu-Gi-Oh Championship Series (YCS) – YCSs are essentially the same as SJCs with the name change being the primary difference. YCSs also expanded outside of North America in 2010 where the series made its way to YCS Bochum. Since then YCSs have continued to be held outside of North America at an increasing rate and have now been held in Europe, South America, Australia, as well as North America. The number of YCSs within the US has significantly declined when compared to SJCs. Last year there was less than half the amount of YCSs in the US than there were SJCs in the US in 2008.

Pharaoh Tour (PT) – Pharaoh Tours were the European version of SJCs. They occurred from 2005 until 2007 and were only during the last three months of each year.

Pharaoh Tour Final (PTF) – Pharaoh Tour Finals occurred in January of the following year. They were invite-only events that you could qualify for by doing well at a regular stop on the Pharaoh Tour or at smaller events such as a Pharaoh Cup or Pharaoh Challenges.

Fortune Tour (FT) – Fortune Tours replaced Pharaoh Tours in 2008 similar to how YCSes replaced SJCs, but the name change was not due to the legal dispute between Konami and Upper Deck. The change was  a result of Yugi no longer being a main character in the show. These were also only in the last three months of the year. These events only occurred in 2008.

Fortune Tour Final (FTF) – Just as the Pharaoh Tours had a Final in January each year that you must qualify for, Fortune Tours had a Final as well. Each of which took place in January of 2009. After this year the legal dispute happened and there were significantly fewer events in 2009 all around the world. These were replaced by YCSes once that was settled.

ARG Circuit Series (ARGCS) – The most recent series of tournaments  to be added to the list is the ARGCS. These highly competitive tournaments resemble YCSs and currently take place all around the United States.

World Championship Qualifiers (WCQ) – The term Nationals was dropped after Konami took over as WCQs were more of a continental tournament. United States Nationals and Canada’s Nationals were combined into a single North American WCQ. The European Championship had been around much longer and is their version of the WCQ.

United States Nationals – Prior to 2010, the United States National Championship served as our way of qualifying for the World Championship. The US National Championship is the only Nationals that counts towards the list as it was very similar to just another SJC. I’ll explain why other Nationals are no longer counted toward the list later in the article.

World Championships – There has been more than a little controversy about whether or not 26 person tournaments should count the same as a 4,000 person tournament. As I will explain later, attendance is not a real factor in determining what counts as a premier event top. The prestige of the event alone is enough to have it count toward the list.

What Does Not Count as a Premier Event Top

Nationals Outside of the United States – As I mentioned above the list only counts US Nationals as a premier event. It used to include Canadian nationals as well, but as the standards for what counts became stricter, they no longer fit the bill and were removed. I’ll explain these standards shortly.

Video Game Championships – Each year a Yu-Gi-Oh video game was released and at nationals there would be a video game national championship held alongside the regular national championship. Winning would qualify you for the video game world championship. These don’t count toward the total.

Australia PT, PTF, FT, and FTF – This is something I hope to change, but the list does not currently include those events in Australia. The coverage is long since dead and proving who topped what when is difficult. I hope to be able to add them as more information becomes available.

Regionals – Regional tournaments do not count regardless of size. They are too localized.

Asian Events – This list is only concerned with TCG events. The separation of ban lists between TCG and OCG has magnified the differences between the two games. There is no Asian form of a YCS and the only event that could count is the Asian championship. Many tournaments like those on Shriek are simply locals.  To keep the list consistent, we’re only counting TCG events.

Factors to Determine Why an Event Counts

Size – Size does not matter. It has been determined that size is not an accurate way to measure how competitive an event was. Size is too inconsistent. If we wanted to include an event when it reached a certain number of participants we’d have to count regionals in Philadelphia and California. These are not premier events and aren’t on the same level as the events that do count. SJCs and YCSes have fluctuated from around 200 to over 4000 in size. It’s clear that there is too much variance here to have this as a main factor. Any objection to having size as a factor would also result in the World Championship, the grand stage, being removed from the list.

Travel – An important factor to consider is travel. Are people willing to come to an event if it isn’t close to them? The reason why this is important is because there are relatively few good players in any one given area. This is why regionals can never count. They are too localized. You can have a 1,000 person regional, but if only a couple of them are actually good at the game, how competitive is the event? Let’s take a look at Circuits. At least half the people that have topped any given Circuit tend to be on the list. They don’t all live there, but instead they travel to them. The result is a very competitive environment with lots of good players, regardless of size.

Competition – This is very closely associated to willingness to travel because as I said there is a limited amount of competition in a given area. We want what constitutes as a premier event to have the highest levels of competition.

Other Concerns

Adding ARG Events Inflates Numbers – One of the most common concerns with counting ARG events is that it could inflate the number of tops someone has. Really this isn’t a fair criticism because there are overall fewer events. In 2008 there were 17 events in North America that counted toward this list. Last year there would only be 7 events that would have counted if ARG did not count. Adding ARG events puts the total number of events per year back to where it used to be, not massively inflates it.

ARG Events Don’t Meet the Qualifications – ARG events do in fact meet the qualifications. The competition is very high. The top cut is always filled with people on this list and four of the five winners to date are on the list. Additionally the events are not localized. Jim records where each person is from when they enter. The most recent tournament only had 32% people from within that state. He says that it is always around 60% coming from out of state. This means that players do travel to it and therefore it fits all of the qualifications.

Expanding on Nationals Outside the US – Nationals from outside the US don’t currently count toward the list. They are localized events and only have a few good players per area. One way of looking at European countries is as individual states in the US. In doing this, it is easy to see similarities between nationals in countries such as Spain and regionals in any given US state.

The Limitations of the List

The Numbers are Absolute – Really this is the biggest downfall of the list. When you see that Dale Bellido has 15 tops and Billy Brake has 17 tops, you’re going to associate Billy with being higher ranked. Billy has been to roughly twice as many events as Dale and only has 2 more tops. I’d love to do it based on percentage of tops and perhaps construct a points system, but that kind of information isn’t available. We don’t know how many events most of the people on this list went to which makes it not an option and the only alternative is an absolute number.

Cheating – Adam Corn currently sits atop the list with 23 tops, but is currently serving a ban for cheating after he finished serving another ban for cheating. Should we strike him from the record books? Well I don’t think it’s fair to make it seem as if he never topped an event. We could put an * next to his name to indicate that he’s been banned for cheating, but how far does that go? There are plenty of players who cheated, but were never banned for it. Vittorio has the reputation of the European Roy St. Clair, but to my knowledge was never actually banned. Putting the * would leave the list incomplete and thus I’ve decided to avoid it altogether and let players determine for themselves. If you have any questions regarding a player’s history in this area, feel free to comment and I’ll respond with what I am aware of.

Coverage – Lots of people complain about coverage for YCS events today, but let me be the first to tell you that if every event could have that kind of coverage it’d be absolutely wonderful. Lots of European coverage is incomplete and there are in all likelihood a great number of Pharaoh Tours and Fortune Tours that are currently not counted because we don’t know where to look for the coverage. The Metagame site was destroyed, but thankfully there is a backup link to preserve this history. Some events such as SJC Houston 2009 were never even covered. Until recently we believed that SJC Costa Mesa was a cut to Top 8. In actuality it was to Top 32. Edison the 75th SJC was a cut to top 64, but the coverage page gives no indication for who made 33-64th. We’ll certainly continue to update the page as coverage becomes available.

The Evolution of the List

Changes to the list such as deciding what counts and what doesn’t are primarily decided by Arya and me with us listening to the concerns of the other players, but it was not always like this. Before we had the list, a friend of mine named Tyler maintained the list on DGZ. When he originally made the list it was titled “North American Premier Events Tops Thread.” The list was a huge success on his part as it allowed the average player to know how a player stood in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately, it did not include enough as it would make it seem like Yu-Gi-Oh outside of North America were not a thing. When I got the list one of the first things I did was add foreign YCSes. This was still limiting as it now seemed like Yu-Gi-Oh did not exist outside the US until 2010, which was not the case. That is why with this most recent update I have included all Pharaoh Tours and Fortune Tours that I have been able to find. Arya and I also added WCQs in other parts of the world such as South America and Latin America. Regrettably, we have at least temporarily removed Canadian nationals from the list. They were originally counted under Tyler’s list, but when we expanded the list to include European countries but left off other nationals because they did not meet requirements of what the list counted, it became quite obvious to us that Canadian nationals had the same issues as nationals in these other countries.

Potential Changes to the List  

Adding Links to Coverage – One of the bigger projects I’d like to take on is add links to each to coverage pages for each event listed. This is primarily a time concern and I’ll add them when I have time.

Adding Australian WCQs, PTs, and FTs – We have not been able to locate coverage for Australian events and will add all of these events when the coverage is available.

Reconsidering the Nationals – This is forever a hot debate as everyone believes their own nationals should count. Perhaps we will change the standard for what counts and what does not count. One proposed plan would be to count any tournament that qualified you for the World Championship. This would allow us to re-include the Canadian Nationals through 2009 and add European nationals for 2004 and 2005 (in 2006 they got the European Championship). Doing this certainly has its pros and cons and Arya and I will decide what we feel best represents the list.

This wraps up my explanation of the tops list. I hope you all think the history of the game is as important as I do. This list is something Arya and I have put a lot of time and effort into making and any decision that we make has the list’s best interests in mind. If you have any suggestions on how to improve on the list, any considerations for other countries’ nationals, or any coverage so that we might expand the list, I’d love to hear it in a comment down below. Thanks for taking the time to read my explanation. Until next time, play hard or go home!

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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  • Bruce Watne

    Patrick Hoban has some sort of mental disease. I don’t know what it is, but this dude is a retard. He’s really good at a card game that occupies some free time, but outside of that. Everything I read that is from him is cancerous and ridiculous. This guy doesn’t have a clue. inb4 scrub comment.

  • Noah Cumming

    I think the most disrespectful part of this entire thing is saying that Canadian Nationals before hand is localized and only contains a very small number of players. I know for a fact you know that Canada has a ton of top players with Dale, and Lazaro Bellido, Justin Delhon, Justin Wong, Bo Tang, and not to mention Matt Peddle, as well and many others. I think the fact you consider an ARGCS to be a top cut tournament over Nationals outside of the states to be greater than topping a Nationals outrageous. All respect to you as a player but I feel all your success In the past year has gone to your head a little and you should really calm it with the whole “premiere event tops” kinda stuff.

  • Adrian Gomez

    This is another attempt for Patrick to say, “Oh hey, looks like I’m the best player in the game” Lists like this are stupid and only feed egos of ARG douchbags. These guys simply want attention when no one really cares

  • Gonçalo Varejão

    In 2010 there was this tournment in Paris, the Dark leeroy challenge , i think it meets the qualifications, people travelled to the event and it was very competitive in my opinion.

  • guigjkhjh

    If this isn’t an example of stone cold narcissism, i don’t know what is.

  • Nick Habeeb

    The puddles of semen from your ARG circle jerk fest covering what I hope isn’t another ego boost article is making it very hard to read. Could you please wipe it off?

    • guigjkhjh

      Well fucking said brother!

  • 92blueblood_la

    But some regionals are bigger in turnout than a ycs?how is a 1100 cali regional not as good as a 200 man argcs

    • Samuel Pedigo

      He already explained it: Because elite players travel to ARG events, the skill level of the competition is higher. On a round-to-round basis, it’s much more challenging. Attendance doesn’t matter. Quality does.

      • 92blueblood_la

        You could argue its tougher getting 1st place at an LA regional as opposed to ycs sidney. Aint no way youre getting 1st place through 10 grueling rounds without facing some guys who have plenty of credentials, at the top tables.IMO

        • Samuel Pedigo

          Who’s to say that there aren’t people in Australia who aren’t capable of building of credentials the same way people over here have? You don’t say that about European events because you have become familiar with them. There’s just been less coverage and fewer events over there. At both events, then, there are strong players… but the difference is that an LA regional brings in good players from that region. YCS Sidney brought players across the globe. Even if you don’t count fellow California player Robbie B. etc, they had people from all around that area visit. The winner was from Singapore!

          The same could be said about many regionals around the country, too, as there are groups of great players spread throughout. But what’s going to differentiate them that would make it clear which ones should count and which ones shouldn’t? Attendance? That actually makes it less likely that you’ll see one of the “big fish” in any given round with so many more “small fish”, especially since you don’t typically have additional power-players traveling to them… because it’s a regional.

          • 92blueblood_la

            I brought up Sidney only because it got a bad rep for the locals skill level as a whole. (online, frm players that attended). All premier events are not created equally, all im saying not all of them are as impressive as the not saying doing well here is the same as ycs atlanta, just saying all regionals are not created equally as well. theres hotbeds of yugioh, and some areas are a bit more obscure. Thats a fact. I do think attendance matters,that is an opinion.maybe the player shouldnt be revered, but there is an be made and get daps for. Maybe more so than a 70 man regionals. i do get your point of where do we draw the line, to differentiate which ones count or dont. But i never actually suggested counting them, i simply said why isnt it as good?good as in impressive.just sonething to think i about. I do appreciate you sharing your opinions with me though, and havent completely disregarded your points. Just sharing some things as well. All with good intentions

          • Samuel Pedigo

            Oh, don’t get me wrong. Nobody is saying making Top 8 at a 1,000 person event isn’t an achievement. It’s awesome and yeah, definitely more so than most smaller regionals. I think I speak for Patrick as well when I say that I would be proud to have done that, even if it were a regional. But I wouldn’t quite group it with my other accomplishments or an ARG Top. We have to draw the line somewhere and there are factors that we believe make it less competitive/difficult than a smaller-numbered event that many top players travel to. As you said, all good intentions here, nothing being disregarded etc Your input’s definitely appreciated!

  • Alan Davies

    Oh yes, another bullshit article that doesn’t talk about the actual game at all. This site’s pumping out a lot of these recently.

    Go to Tcgplayer or Coretcg if you want actual content guys.

    • Cervantes

      wtf if coretcg?

      tcgplayer, right, the place where people talk about how good 3 horn of heavens and 3 scapegoats are in samurai

  • Heavy storm

    He asked you a question tubby, what are you doing in his swamp?

  • Hulk Hoban


  • Hulk Hoban


  • J Wilde

    Where is the list?

  • Patrick hoban

    What are you doing in my swamp?

  • Anonymous

    What the fuck? What right do you have in determining the scale that we view other players on? It’s entirely subjective, the pretentiousness of this motherfucker.

    • Samuel Pedigo

      It’s subjective, you’re absolutely right. You could say the same about statistics in sports. “Sure that Quarterback has great numbers but look at all the great Wide Receivers he has to work with.” The list isn’t so that you can rank them in the order they are presented in. It’s there as a reference from which to go off of when making your own personal decisions. You’re free to look at it and say “Yeah, Billy has more Tops on that list but the Belido brothers have Canadian Nationals” or “Paul Cooper has an insane amount of regional Tops” if those are important to you.

      Hoban isn’t forcing you to view other players based on this list. You have the option of ignoring it and even creating your own version of it in order to judge players by what you find important. Patrick has a deep appreciation for the history of the game and has displayed an amazing amount of commitment towards keeping a record of it. Even if you or I don’t agree with all of his decisions, we should at least appreciate the tremendous amount of effort that has gone into managing it. It’s an great way for referencing the history of the game and using it as a basis for forming deeper opinions.

      • Peradise

        It’s completely different from sports. Statistics are fact. The contexts in which we view them are subjective. Patrick Hoban and Arya have ultimately constructed their list using arbitrary parameters. If you want to compare it to sports, then the method is similar to the QB Rating or ESPN’s Total QBR, both of which are imperfect, and perhaps straight-up bad, representations of QB performance. With the QBR, as well as with Hoban and Arya’s list, the researcher/compiler/statistician selects which statistics are relevant to evaluating a QB’s performance, or a Yu-Gi-Oh! player’s performance, respectively.

        I’m not as critical of Hoban and Arya’s list as Anonymous, but we have to recognize and challenge the flaws of the method. I do not agree with some of the “findings”, nor was I expecting to, but some assertions about the methodology are simply unacceptable.

        For example, Hoban writes, “It has been determined that size is not an accurate way to measure how competitive an event was.”

        I really am curious as to which person(s) determined that size is not accurate or relevant, and not just because of ambiguous sentence structure. Hoban must validate this claim with quantitative evidence for such strong claims to be made. Beyond that, I would bet good money that there is a positive association between the size of a tournament and the tournaments level of competitiveness. Sure, the highly competitive SJS’/YCS’/ARGCS’/etc. may be more competitive than some larger tournaments, but in the overall network of tournaments, larger size probably indicates higher competitiveness. Some very large Regionals, then, might fall in the same competitiveness bracket as the aforementioned highly competitive tournaments.

        I have more . . . grievances, but this comment is getting long enough. In truth, I highly doubt that this list was constructed using any type of acceptable statistical methodology. That’s fine: there are limited resources and judgment calls have to be made. I simply ask that Hoban presents the list for what it is.

      • guigjkhjh

        Just because hes not forcing anyone to read it doesn’t refute the fact that its still pretentious/narcissistic.

  • Neo Dasus


  • Duelrock88 .

    where i can find the list ?