Everyone hears about the big events from these places, and hears about all sorts of decks coming from there, and such.
But there is a forgotten backwater in Yugioh, one which not many care for, and even less notice.
South East Asia.
In the month of August, I took a 3 month trip around South East Asia, dueling every weekend.
During this time, I took some time to do some research on the game state of Yugioh in South East Asia.
I would like to bring to light some trends I have seen during my trip, as compared to Japan, about Yugioh in these countries.
The countries I studied were Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. I also had a friend who studied Singapore, the Philipines, and Indonesia, during the same time, looking into similar factors as I did.
I would like to take the time now to thank everyone who I’ve met with, played with, traded with, gave me free stuff, the store I played at and our sponsors(yeah they didn’t pay for us to duel but MEH), and all the people who made this trip possible, fun, and educational.
The TCG is expensive. The OCG is Cheap. Correct? Think again.
Duel Tour South East Asia has proven this wrong to me. Yes, in Japan, Yugioh is a rather cheap hobby to puruse. However, in South East Asia, this is quite different.
Lets start with Structure decks. In Japan, 1000 yen, or 10 USD, will get you your Structure/Starter Deck of your choice. Great for getting cards you need.
But when you look at Malaysia, the price is 70RM. This is the equivalent of around 2300 yen, and 23 USD. That’s right, Malaysia is shelling out 23 USD per structure deck.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. My entire food bill for the entire week in Malaysia was around 100RM. 70RM could easily feed you for a week in Malaysia(GOOD food too. If you go to Malaysia be prepared to eat a lot).
Lets compare. 1000 yen in Japan would be around 1 lunch of so-so quality. Yet, in Malaysia, 70RM would buy you food for a week. Yet, the same amount of money is used to purchase the same amount of cards.
In singapore, the price for a deck is 30 Singapore dollars, at 2000 yen/20 USD. While not as pricey as Malaysia, because Singapore is significantly richer, that’s still twice the price that Japan and the rest of the world pays for the same amount of cards.
Compared to food, 20 Singapore Dollars would probally feed you for a day, or two if you spend real smart/get your friends to pay for you.
Alas, Konami’s distibution doesn’t help either. I have word that Konami’s Distributor sells to the stores the structure decks to Malaysian retailers for 55RM each, giving you 15 RM profit to the retailer for each one sold…
Regardless, Konami should not be selling to retailers for TWICE the price they sell the same product to the rest of the world.
Needless to say, Yugioh in South East Asia, despite being OCG, is not a cheap hobby to maintain…
On top of that people use TCG cards there too…
Organized Play: Wait was Konami here?
One of the biggest things that stuck out at me when I was on my trip was the organized play. Its next to nonexistant. With the sole exception of the nationals and the asia tournament(but that includes China, Korea, Hong Kong too), there are no tournaments sponsored by konami, whatsoever.
Being from a city where there are four to five konami sponsored tournaments daily, this really bugged me.
Oranized play has been reduced to more or less completely fan or store run tournments, with you having to pay a smallish fee to enter, and play for store produced prizes, at the best.
Luckily for Singapore, they have a forum for themselves, so they can organized said tournaments quite easily.
Unluckily for the rest of the places, they don’t.
Another thing about tournaments that stuck with me was when I was in Malaysia. I was playing with Lam, LGQ and TYKS, when the shopkeeper suddenly announced a tournament. There was no prior notice, but the people joined. It was interesting how the game state and tournament state is so casual and open that tournaments happen at whim.
Another thing that I noticed in the tournaments around South East Asia is the format they use. In Japan, almost all the tournaments are played single elimination, so I was quite surprised when I was still in the running after losing one match. In South East Asia, mainly due to the amount of space, the swiss and cut to top 8/16 is easily possible, but also made the game, in my opinion, far more “fun” oriented, with the focus more on playing than winning.
I feel that this might be a better take on the game, but your mileage may differ.
Then again, the fact that Japanese tournaments are single elimination are mainly because of the amount of duel space avaiable. In my Locals, about 6 people can play at a time(yes, and we have 40+ Weekly attenders), while in singapore, the smaller stores had about five of the same sized tables, allowing for much more players to play at a time, without the fear of time constraints.
Another thing I noticed a lack of was the communication between players after the match. In Japan, its quite common practice to, after a match, to discuss the various plays, the opponents deck, and offer some changes, and exchange remarks about the match overall, sometimes at the table, but most of the time at most locals, right after submitting the win/loss record. In South East Asia, I found none of this, with people and spectators looking on with a puzzled look when I did this…
Heres one place where places like Malaysia and Thailand really stood out. Because of the high price of cards, many players have to be on a real tight budget to build their decks, leading to very interesting card combinations in an effort to make the deck work. Also, it takes a considerable amount of time to complete decks in these areas, making a good deck something to work towards, for most of the population.
In singapore, due to the more availability of cards due to the overall well being of the country, more card stores, etc, deck building is significantly easier, but nonetheless costly.
One direct offshoot of this in Malaysia and Thailand is the increased amount of trading. People trade cards the rest of the world would tear up, and bring a lot of cards to the gaming store to trade, much like how the game was supposed to be intended to be.
Also, people brought two files, one for the money cards, like the rest of the world, but another for commons and rares, which most people would simply not bother to bring. There is quite the trade market in these countries between the common files. It helps both the making of decks, and also the overall community.
(I also noticed that Debris Dragon often tended to be in the money cards file… I feel responsible.)
One of the reasons Ive noticed that Singapore has a stronger YGO community is that compared to Malaysia and Thailand, the infrastructure of the city is much, much better. It is easy to move around the town, unlike Malaysia. This indeed does contribute to the fact that the Singapore community has a more interconnected yugioh community, contributing to the better cards, cheaper cards, and better tournament structure. Definitely the fact that everything in singapore is less than half an hour train ride away helps.
Another big thing I saw was the lack of DT cards seeing play. Being away from Japan, of course Duel Terminal Cards would be much more pricey, but in Malaysia, they were next to unobtainable, impossible in Thailand, and a rare commodity in Singapore, as comapared to the common card status to money card status in Japan. While this means that things like the Fishborg OTK and Dewloren FTK(LAST format) will be harder to pull off, it also poses as a limiting factor in deck building, cutting off staples such as Mist Wurm and Catastor.
But, according to some players, the DT cards are illegal for Konami tournament play in these countries, further limiting the card choices available.
With the lack of any sponsored play, bad distribution, giving only cards that are available in a language near unreadable by players, I will safely say that Konami has truly foresaken the players of South East Asia as a whole, and the players making an effort to keep the game we all love alive.
This concludes my studies during my Duel Tour of South East Asia. I hope it was a good read.