Journey To Worlds: Part IV

On August 1, 2018 by Valerio Zucco

The last paragraph I wrote in my article back in 2015, after losing in the final of the World Championship:

It might be an almost impossible task, but I want to be world champion again. Given the nature of how I lost in 2011, right or wrong, maybe even selfishly, I have never really accepted that the World title belonged to someone else. Syunsuke beat me fair and square, he deserves to be called the world champion. Enjoy it – because I want it back.”

So here I am, about to attend my 4th World Championship in the last 9 years, yet it still feels pretty new to me – I do realize how lucky (Figuratevely and literally) I am, and have been. Half way to completing the promise I made three years ago.

The Road to Worlds


Was a very low point. I wasn´t at all active, and resulted in my first ever WCQ where I did not top. I had no interest and took a random anti-meta deck.

Sometimes life throws you curveballs, and I somehow managed to win a YCS for the first time. After multiple tops, I finally managed to pull it off – I was the first and continue to be the only player to win all 3 big events: YCS, WCQ & Worlds.

Galileo De Obaldias 1st place – YCS Rio de Janeiro Tournament report


After winning the YCS, I found some motivation, and played 7 events during the year, all starting really well with 5 straight tops:

YCS Guatemala (Top 8), YCS Colombia (Top 8), National Championship (Top 4), WCQ (Top32) and YCS Mexico (Top 4).

Unfortunately, the format changed and I proceeded to “scrub” out the 2 events I played in Europe while visiting the family (YCS London & Prague: Spyral format – probably my worst format ever!). On top of this, it was another year where World´s went by, and I didn´t get to go.

The new points rule for qualifying gave my hope of going to world´s a breathe of fresh air, however, with the point system rewarding regionals as much / more than premier events, there was no way I could compete.


The thing about life is, in general, there is always something else to strive for. What was my next goal? What else could I achieve that I could be proud of? Enter champrank. For official events, I was relatively close to being #1 on points, but quite far off on # of tops.

YCS Costa Rica (Top 4): Top 4 meant I was now #1 on champtrade & unitedgosus ranking. Ever. The enormity of this was very humbling.

Galileo De Obaldias Top4 – YCS Costa Rica Tournament report

Ok, what´s next? The change in the point system, rewarding premier event performance more so than before, gave me some hope, but I was far behind my friend & team mate, Juan Sebastian Andrade. On top of this, I would have to compete against the person I was rooting for and hoping that would go to worlds. A sort of, parching of the torch if you would.

The Stretch

YCS Memphis (Top 32): I had a choice to make. It was now or never. I decided to roll the die and took a last minute flight.

From this YCS onwards, it would be swing after swing in the momentum for the world´s race with my two friends, Juanse & Paulo. They outnumbered me in number of tournaments played and future events, but I had believe that I could do well in the events I had left, and with a little luck, be in contention.

YCS Chile (Top 16): We all played, Paulo didn´t top.

Los Angeles Regional: Among other regionals that we all played (I played 3 small ones vs. numerous for them), this was a big one. I decided not to go because of my girlfriend´s birthday, and it severely cost me, as they opened a big gap with both doing incredibly well.

YCS New Jersey (Top 16): This was huge – I needed a BIG weekend to just stay in contention. We all played, only I topped. I played Paulo in Round 10, where a victory for him would have almost sealed worlds, while a victory for me meant I was still in the race. Fortunately, I was able to win.

Jeffrey Jones vs Galileo Mauricio De Obaldia Soza

WCQ CA (Top 16): What better way to avoid the race but by winning the WCQ? Unfortunately I came up short, losing to the eventual winner in the T16.

Galileo Mauricio De Obaldia Soza vs Miguel Angel Reyes Medina

WCQ Nationals – UK (Top 32): An event that meant very little, and everything at the same time. 6th place would guarantee me World´s. The build up, the road to this made me more nervous for this event.

This was it. My events were over, and the result was no longer in my hands. If I am honest, there was more relief than disappointment, knowing I had done my best – no regrets.

It was a rollercoaster of ups and downs. A few more points here and there, had I not skipped on a couple of regionals in Panama.

Regardless of the outcome, I was proud that I was able to make a good run for it with very little time & tournaments available. And in the case I could not go, either Juan or Paulo would go, two of the best players, and more importantly, nice people who I consider long lasting friends would get to go – and they would deserve it.

I finished the season as #1 on points & # of Konami tops, and I was going to worlds for a record tying 4th time. Unreal! Despite this, I consider that Juan Sebastian had an even better season than I did – hats off my man.

Shout Outs

I usually do not do this, as it is extremely risky! But I really wanted to give a shout out to those who made a difference, either by helping me with last minute decks (I promise, one day I will prepare properly for an event!), simply offered support, people I met along the way who made a huge difference in my enjoyment of the journey.

Of course, I will miss a LOT of people, but I will try to generalize as much as possible. Please..don´t hate me if I missed anyone!

United Gosus: To the whole team, but specially to Adrian Dursun. He is the sole reason I topped the True Draco YCSs, receiving his guidance allowed me to top with minimal/no preparation.

Panama: Everyone who lent me cards, provided morale support and back me the whole time.

Europe: Too many people to name, but the UK crew are amazing. The support they gave me, the friendships I made, with them and others, are priceless. (Darren, Omar, Luke, Jake, Jawad, Marcello, Raphael….the list could go on forever).

Latin America: The support as always is unparalleled, thank you guys.

USA: Joe Bogli, the florida crew (Ruben, Giovanni, Travis, Michael State, Kamal … and the rest of you guys!), Arnold!

My work/boss: For being awesome.

My girlfriend: For being understanding with all the travelling (I also travel for work!). I barely saw her for a few months!

Paulo & Juan Sebastian: The biggest shout out is reserved for these 2 guys. I couldn´t have asked to compete against two better opponents. Much love.

Closing Thoughts

The road to qualifying was exhausting, despite having played fewer events than what is normally needed. Balancing my work, personal life and going to these events, was extremely difficicult – only made easier by the great friends who helped me along the way. I´m glad it paid off in the end, but I truly hope that Konami changes the system so that it REALLY rewards the better / more consistent player – they are heading in the right direction.

Records will be broken in time. There is always something more to aim for, another world championship will not change that (I will then want to be the first to win 3!). So regardless of what happens in Japan this weekend, I am going to see a beautiful country, see some great friends I have made along the way, and be content that I have achieved more than my wildest dream hoped possible in this game of ours.