Saturday, 20 July 2013

Road to Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championships 2013, my personal take on NAWCQ

Now that the North America World Championships Qualifiers 2013 (NAWCQ 2013) has concluded, and all qualifiers for the upcoming World Championships are over, I have taken some time to review this year's NAWCQ as well as the series for the past year.

Today I am not going to talk about the deck breakdowns, players or any personnel directly related to the event. Today, I am going to share with everyone how the NAWCQ is one the worst WCQs ever, and how unfair the system is.

Firstly, as all veteran players should know, the NAWCQ started out back in 2011, and the 2013 series is the third year of this event. Prior to 2011, the NAWCQ did not exist. Instead, the USA Nationals and Canadian Nationals were two separate events. Since 2010 and before, the top 4 finishers of the USA Nationals would earn their tickets to the World Championships while the overall champion of the Canadian Nationals would earn his/her ticket.

However, starting from 2011, the NAWCQ was implemented where the USA Nationals and the Canadian Nationals were combined into one giant event and top 6 finishers of the events would gain access to the World Championships. Sounds fair? Of course it's fair. Given the size of this event, having 6 passes to the World Championships instead of 5 (since 4 USA top finishers + 1 Canadian top finisher = 5) is more than justified and players should rejoice at this news.

Then, why did I create this post for? Well, this system would be fair....except for one flaw which could affect the fairness of this event greatly. Why do I say so? Let's take a look at where the NAWCQ have been hosted since its start:

2011: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
2012: Columbus, Ohio, USA
2013: Navy Pier, Chicago, USA

Notice the similarities between the venue of the NAWCQ from 2011 to 2013? Yes, they are all held in the USA. Since this is NORTH AMERICA WCQ, why does the venue not rotate to Canada? Well, granted that the USA has much more players than Canada and it is naturally right to host this event in the country where more duelists reside. However, given this argument, is it therefore, correct to make the Canadian duelists travel all the way to USA each year for the WCQ?

Let's bear in mind that the travelling time taken for a Canadian duelist to enter the NAWCQ which is held in the USA could amount to one day (travel back and fro), and that one day could affect the daily work or school life of an average duelist. Therefore, why must it only be the Canadian duelists who suffer from the consequences of travelling to the NAWCQ while most USA duelists would not have this problem (unless they stay in a region far from the host venue). 

Moreover, the cost taken to travel to the host venue is also more taxing on the Canadian duelists due to the larger distance that needs to be covered. Therefore, this may create the problem that many Canadian duelists may not want to attend the NAWCQ despite being qualified for the event, and we do know that Canada has produced many outstanding duelists such as Lazaro Bellido, and having these talents not participating may result in a North America team that is far from the best.

The consequences of not rotating the host nation of the NAWCQ does show. Let's take a look at the North America team for the annual World Championships:

Hansel Aguero - USA
William Samuel Pedigo - USA
Thomas Mak - USA
Joseph Bogli - USA
Bo Tang - Canada
Justin Womack - USA

Tyler Tabman - USA
Robert Lewis Jr. - USA
Jarel Winston - USA
Kevin Rubio - USA
Adrian Shakir - USA
Michael Steinman - USA

Patrick Hoban - USA
David Keener - USA
Noberto Leon - USA
Stephen Silverman - USA
Aaron Riker - USA
Robert Boyajian - USA

From a total of 18 duelists who qualified for the World Championships from the North America zone since 2011, there was, surprisingly, only 1 Canadian duelist while the 17 remaining duelists all came from USA. So how is that fair?

Well, many people may think that this is because the USA players may be more skilful than the Canadian duelists, thus, they have won more seats on the North America team. If you do feel this way, well, let's take a look at how venue plays a huge part in determining the winner each year:

2010 Central America WCQ:
Venue: Guadalajara, Mexico
Winner: Ricardo Lora Zavala - Mexico

2011 Central America WCQ:
Venue: San Jose, Coasta Rica
Winner: Jose Cubero - Coasta Rica

2012 Central America WCQ:
Venue: Mexico City, Mexico
Winner: Alvaro Manuel Gonzalez Orea - Mexico

2013 Central America WCQ:
Venue: Monterey, Mexico
Winner: Alejandro Vivaldo Reyes Suarez - Mexico

Let's take a look at the Central America WCQ. In 2011, it was held in Coasta Rica and the winner was from Coasta Rice as well. Not convincing enough? In 2010, 2012 and 2013, the event was held in Mexico, and the winners of each year were also Mexican. If venue does not play a part, then the 2011 Central America winner should also be from Mexico since the 2010, 2012 and 2013 series were all won by Mexicans. However, that is clearly not the case. From this piece of information, it is not difficult to see how important the venue is in determining the winner.

The main reason lies in more numbers. Regardless of how many invites are given out, the host nation will always have the greatest number of competitors for the event, thus, probability does favour the odds of the winner coming from the host nation as well.

However, it is not always the case as we can see from the South America WCQ results below:

2010 South America WCQ:
Venue: Lima, Peru
Winner: Pablo Juan Vera - Argentina

2011 South America WCQ:
Venue: Sao Pualo, Brazil
Winner: Jose Carlos Ubilla Grijalva - Ecuador

2012 South America WCQ:
Venue: Bogota, Colombia
Winner: Marco Jonatan Oviedo Castro - Ecuador

2013 South America WCQ:
Venue: Guayaquil, Ecuador
Winner: Carlos Andres Perez Padilla - Ecuador

With the exception of the 2013 South America WCQ, the winners have never been from the host country, showing that quality outweighs quantity, especially with the last three series of this championships being won by Ecuadorian duelists. Therefore, if you think quality matters the most, why not rotate the NAWCQ to Canada to give more Canadian duelists a chance to play at this large event? If quality really does play a 100% part in these qualifiers, then American duelists can win at whichever country it is held at, isn't that correct?

Another school of thought is that total expenditure of American duelists on this game far exceeds that of Canadian duelists. Therefore, it is only right to give more American duelists a chance to play at this event. However, once again, how is that fair? By giving the rights of the host nation to the country that spends the most on this game, is that truly fair to Canada?.....Isn't that what we call....discrimination?

Some Canadian duelists will never experience a chance in playing in a WCQ if the event does not rotate over to Canada, and especially the more skilful players in Canada. They may feel that Yu-Gi-Oh! is a game where they can never achieve global accomplishments. Take note that before 2011, the Canadian National Champion has always earned direct qualifications to the World Championships, so is it fair to take this privilege away from them just to host the NAWCQ in a nation with a larger player pool?

I do not feel that this is fair, and from what I can see, there are only two ways that can be implemented to rectify the issue of fairness towards Canadian players in the NAWCQ:

1) Rotate the host nation of the NAWCQ to Canada occasionally (may not be on an annual basis, but do give a chance for more Canadian duelists to enter this tournament).

2) Revert back to the old format where the Canadian National Champion earns the invite and the Top 4 of the USA Nationals earns their invites.

Either way, the most important thing here in fairness. After the 2013 NAWCQ venue has been announced, I have felt that the Canadian players are being short-changed and I have even wondered if the NAWCQ was designed to have Canadian duelists to be a stepping stone for the American duelists to earn 2 more invites to the World Championships. However, that is only my personal opinion.

Regardless of that, I do feel that venue rotation is extremely important. The Asian Championships, European WCQ, Central America WCQ, South America WCQ and the World Championships have all practised a rotation of host country. The NAWCQ is still the only championships that have yet to have this practice.

That is all for my post today, please do feel free to voice your opinions on this issue. I may not be fully correct on all the details here, but one thing is for sure, the Canadian duelists are not receiving a fair treatment for the NAWCQ.

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