Yu-Gi-Oh! boy

Connor Snow goes through his cards as he places them on a play mat. Mats and card-protecting sleeves are typically used in trading card games to protect the value of decks and individual cards. Some owners’ card collections can tally up to several hundreds of dollars.

GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County teen is headed to Tennessee next weekend, thanks to his collection of trading cards.

Connor Snow, 18, of Gallipolis, will be heading to Nashville on June 26-28 for the 2015 Yu-Gi-Oh! North American World Championship Qualifier.

Snow started playing Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2009. A trading card game, Yu-Gi-Oh! is based on a Japanese manga, or comics, series. As a trading card game, individuals purchase different assortments of randomly distributed cards ranging from common to rare in packs. Players then take these cards and form decks in accordance with the game’s rules, trying to maximize potential on strategies and loopholes individual cards allow. Some of the most expensive cards can cost nearly $40 when valued by specific collectors.

“Some of my friends started playing because they watched the TV show. They actually wouldn’t stop annoying me about how I should start playing. So I eventually gave in. And I’m really glad I did,” Snow said.

In 2012, Snow started watching YouTube videos of card players going to larger competitive events and decided that he wanted to test his skill at the game. He said he originally felt he might do poorly in competitive play, but surprised himself with his first few competitions.

“I started going to local tournaments in Huntington, W.Va. I thought I was going to get last place in my first tournament but I ended up getting second place (and) going undefeated before the final round all day,” Snow said. “The next tournament a month after that was probably the biggest one I’d been to in Huntington. It felt like there were maybe a hundred people there, when in reality it might have been 12. I remember you had to make the top four and play off from there.”

Snow said he beat a regionally ranked player at this tournament and it felt like “a really good accomplishment.”

Regional tournaments are sponsored by Konami, an internationally recognized publisher and developer of video games, trading cards, anime and arcade games. Oftentimes, these events are held in larger cities such as Columbus or Cleveland.

Connor said individuals who typically rank in the top 15 percent of these tournaments are invited to the national qualifier matches.

“In 2012, I went to my first regional. I didn’t get an invite to nationals though until 2015,” Connor said. “In Morgantown, W.Va., I ended up going five wins with two losses, finishing 12th place overall out of 160 players. Two months after that, I went to the 2015 and 150th YCS (Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series match) in Columbus. There were 1,752 people that entered. To make the second day of the tournament, you had to make between first and 128th place. After day one, I got 53rd place. The second day I finished 64th place out of 128.”

Snow said that one can earn an invite to the national qualifier tournaments by placing high in competitions such as the YCS in Columbus. That is how he earned his invite to the upcoming Nashville tournament.

Snow said he conducts free tournaments, with prizes, at Bossard Memorial Library. He thinks getting the constant weekly practice has helped him excel.

“Every week, getting that competitive flow, has helped me,” Snow said. “I like the competitiveness of the game and I feel like it’s brought me closer to my friends.”

Snow said that he and his companions play every Friday at 1 p.m. during the summer at Bossard Memorial Library and welcome newcomers to the game.

Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.