After a long two days in Columbus, Ohio where thousands of competitors descended upon the 200th Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series, we're at the finals. The final match of the night put Daniel Ramirez-Medina facing off against Manav Dawar for the championship in the second biggest Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament of all time.
The opening match started off slow as both players started to feel each other out without anything major coming right out of the gate. Ramirez-Medina went with a Dark Gouki Deck while Dawar went with a Sky Striker Deck. Media snapped forward with some quick damage to being Dawar down to 6500 LP, but Dawar fired back over the course of two turns to bring down Media to 2000 LP. Both men spent the next few tradeoffs killing off monsters and banishing stuff off the board to keep whatever advantage they can.
Ramirez-Medina made a quick comeback starting with the Firewall Dragon, but the move was a bit predictable as he pulled off the maneuver a few different times in the tournament leaving Dawar a predictable path for him to demolish his plans, but pulled out a Knightmare Mermaid to make the match interesting. Throughout the match you could hear Ramirez-Medina laugh it off knowing he was making some okay choices but not the best he could with his hand, even helping out Dawar at moments in the match as he had fun. One last summons from Dawar and that was game one as he goes up 1-0.
The second match started off about like the first one did with Dawar kicking it off and both players feeling each other out. Ramirez-Medina was still getting a kick out of the first match chuckling to himself and having fun with the match. The first few hands were spent tossing out spells and dispatching each other's creatures, not really making headway into either player's LP. At one point they had to pause the match to make a ruling on a specific play.
Ramirez-Medina went thought his deck a few times after going for a couple of Engage plays, which basically burned his way through the deck to find what he needed, leading to a Widow Anchor, then eventually leading to a link summon to a Bearhug, but still didn't tick any LP off after all that work.
Dawar's hand was the first to snag any piece of life as he took 500 off Ramirez-Medina, while Ramirez-Medina spent several turns chain summoning to build up an army with the plan of taking Dawar out in one large blow, leaving the vast majority of this match watching Media shuffle and draw for about eight minutes, burning through most of his extra deck in the process. It took a long while, but eventually, Ramirez-Medina pushed forward and pulled out a full 8000 damage in a single turn and took out Dawar, tying it up 1-1 and going into a game three.
After some intense shuffling, the third match started super serious as the giggling vanished and both men got involved, especially after seeing they pulled out some pretty even hands that looked like we were in for a decent match. Dawar started off strong out of the gate, laying down a number of key cards to show he was ready for whatever came his way. Medina had a couple cards discarded and a chance to recover them, but failed and immediately sent some power stuff straight to his graveyard. Ramirez-Medina even showed off what was in his hand at one point afterward to have fun with the game knowing he just lost something that could be a game changer after going down to 7600.
Medina knew he was going to have a tough road to follow after Dawar's next turn sent him down to 4200 LP, but there was nothing he could do to stop the slow but steady onslaught. He picked up a few cards to try and hold off the attack, but it was too little too late as his hand wasn't helping him out. He chose to fight rather than flee, even though the giggles came back, throwing out a Solid Strike and attempted a few summons to ease the pain. Ramirez-Medina fought back and figured he would go down swinging, knocking down Dawar to 6500 LP. But this match was pretty much over within a couple turns as Dawar marched over Ramirez-Medina's LP in short form with a Phantom Skyblaster play, followed up by a trade-off round and a burial on points for the victory and the championship.
WINNER: Manav Dawar (2-1)
Congratulations to Dawar for a hard-fought battle to become the 200th Yu-Gi-Oh! Champion. A fun fact to all of this is that he placed 64th overall in the standings, literally bottom of the top 64 before they started doing single-elimination rounds. The man literally fought his way back from the bottom of the pack to become champion. So for all of you out there who go into tournaments and pay your fee and don't win every game, let this be a lesson to you. If you paid to be in a tournament, play EVERY game. You never know how life will go if you try and play your heart out in every game, even with a loss or two. There were people with better records than Dawar who bailed on the tournament before the end of all the Swiss Rounds, all because they took a couple losses. Never quit on a tourney until you're officially eliminated! Dawar is proof positive that anything can happen.