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Paulie Aronson was crowned the champion after a weekend of intense competition at the Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2023. Over the weekend, 28 of the best players in the world gathered in Tokyo, Japan to compete for some exclusive prizes and all the glory.

After 20 years of Yu-Gi-Oh championships, Aronson is the first-ever player from the United States to bring home the trophy and winning cards.

“It’s really cool. I hoped I could get here, but what are the odds? I spent so much time practicing over the past month. It’s really awesome that it paid off,” Aronson said after the win, noting that he skipped his birthday celebration to grind.

Being up on the big stage was “awesome” and the stage was “insane,” Aronson said, adding that the opening ceremony had him tearing up.

Now, Aronson is planning to attend some Yu-Gi-Oh regionals, known as YCS events, around North America for the rest of 2023, including Vancouver and Indianapolis. It looks like he has no plans to slow down and is hoping to carry this momentum into the next season. He is also contemplating commentating some tournaments.

“Some people say, ‘What are you going to do now that you have reached the top, the highest point you can?’ Well, I’m going to keep playing Yu-Gi-Oh! since I have been since I was 10 in 2006 when I started playing competitively,” Aronson said.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! community congratulated Aronson on making history in the game.

The top eight over the weekend came down to Gabriel Soussi, Jessica Robinson, Steven Santoli, Enzo Fiallos Velasco, Santiago Marin Lopez, Jeremy Mitchell, Juan Mateo Augusto Renteria Pastor, and — of course — Aronson.

The Grand Finals was against Aronson and Pastor. It immediately looked to be in Aronson’s favor when he started off his first turn with a great board setup and a handful of counter cards. But, in true Yu-Gi-Oh! Fashion, things took a fast turn. Pastor was able to stop Aronson’s Dragon Link plans with two copies of Evenly Matched. Aronson was prepared, whipping out an Effect Veiler to convincingly take the first game.

The second game was equally in Aronson’s favor thanks to a lot of counterplays that thwarted Pastor’s plans throughout. While Pastor was able to hold on for a while, Aronson ended the second game with a massive combo that had Pastor accept his fate. At this point, the American player was crowned champion in a 2-0 victory.