- Yuga excels in Rush Duels but lacks effectiveness outside of this style. He strategizes by discarding weak monsters to buff his ace card, Sevens Road Magician.
- Yudias has a powerful Galaxy Deck but it proves unreliable in battles. He relies on high attack stats and monster recovery, but his simple playstyle has gotten him into trouble.
- Yuma’s deck is designed around Xyz Summons and he has a clumsy personality. His ace card, Number 39: Utopia, takes a long time to appear, but he proves his strength by defeating Nash and winning the Friendship Cup.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! anime has been running for over two decades by this point, but rather than following a single protagonist like Pokemon for example, multiple characters have taken the leading role. All of them are very different in how they see the world around them and their dueling style, but while some would go on to become incredibly strong, others managed to pick up a large list of losses throughout their journey.
When looking at a character’s overall dueling strength in Yu-Gi-Oh!, it’s important to take into consideration their willingness to win, how well they can strategize on the spot, and of course, the power possessed by their deck of cards. With that in mind, here are each of the eight Yu-Gi-Oh! protagonists ranked by how effective they are in battle, and how well they can hold their own when it’s time to pull out the Duel Disk.
8 Yuga Ohdo
- Strongest Card: Seven Roads Magician
- Greatest Achievement: Finally beating Lucidien Kallister after multiple losses
Yuga is a bit of a unique protagonist as while his deck excels when playing under Rush Duels rules, he doesn’t bring much to the table outside of this. Rush Duels allows players to draw enough cards each turn until they have five in total, so it’s drastically different from the usual game, and to take advantage of this mechanic, Yuga disposes as many cards as he can each turn. His primary tactic is sending as many weak monsters to the graveyard as possible to buff his ace in the hole, Sevens Road Magician.
Yu-Gi-Oh! SEVENS is aimed towards a younger demographic, so the duels themselves are usually a bit more straightforward without all the complexities featured in regular bouts, but this also does mean that Yuga seems a lot less intimidating compared to his peers.
7 Yudias Velgear
Yu-Gi-Oh! GO RUSH!
- Strongest Card: Galactica Oblivion
- Greatest Achievement: Defeating multiple Duelists in the Coruffium arena
While Yudias is incredibly powerful outside of dueling thanks to his alien origins, he doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to playing cards, with his Galaxy Deck proving to be a little unreliable on numerous occasions. He usually goes with a pretty basic strategy of throwing out monsters with high attack stats and buffing them throughout a match, but he has also added a little more strategy to his game plan such as being able to perform monster recovery.
His monsters can become pretty devastating if given enough time, but his fairly simple playstyle has gotten him into trouble in several encounters. Admittedly, the Yu-Gi-Oh! RUSH! anime isn’t over yet, so Yudias will likely receive a big boost to his deck in the future, but for now, he’s just not quite as formidable as those who came before him.
6 Yuma Tsukumo
- Strongest Card: Number 39: Utopia
- Greatest Achievement: Defeating Nash, the leader of the Barians
Despite his fiery determination to be the best duelist of all time, Yuma’s biggest weakness is his clumsy and often immature personality. Luckily, his spirit companion Astral is always there to help straighten him out when a duel starts getting serious, but it’s not always enough to see him through to victory. His deck is more or less entirely designed around Xyz Summons which can be brought onto the battlefield by using two or more monsters who are of the same level as the materials.
His most powerful card, Number 39: Utopia, boasts an impressive 2500 Attack, which he will usually buff even more with Spell Cards such as Wonder Wand and Blustering Winds. The truth is, it takes a very long time for Yuma’s big-hitters to appear. Unlike a lot of the other protagonists, he also takes a very long time to start getting wins and starts on a humiliating losing streak at the beginning of the series, but this isn’t to suggest that he can’t still pack a punch when he gets going.
5 Yuya Sakaki
- Strongest Card: Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon
- Greatest Achievement: Defeating the “Duel King” Jack Atlas
Yuya’s deck is primarily comprised of Performapals which are essentially cartoon-like monsters who are quite mixed in their effectiveness. However, while they may look fairly cute and innocent on the surface, many of the Peformapals have unique abilities that can either buff the damage of their allies or mess with the attack of their opponents, making them extremely powerful and tricky to predict.
His ace card, Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, will deal double damage to the opponent if it does battle with a level 5 enemy monster, which does end up making it very strong, though it usually takes a long while before it can be unleashed. Some of Yuya’s greatest feats that prove his strength in a duel include winning the Friendship Cup and beating legendary duelist Jack Atlas himself. His tricky deck makes him a real force to be reckoned with, so long as he doesn’t let his dimensional counterparts ruin the match for him, which they’ve done on numerous occasions.
4 Yusaku Fujiki
- Strongest Card: Firewall Dragon
- Greatest Achievement: Defeating multiple members of the Knights of Hanoi
In the entirety of the VRAINS series, Yusaku only competed in 32 total duels which might sound like a fair amount on paper, but it’s extremely low compared to the other protagonists. Outside of dueling, he is a master hacker and a constant thorn in the side of SOL and the Knights of Hanoi, but he does occasionally incorporate his tech smarts into his dueling style.
Yusaku has been shown to use an ability called Storm Access which allows him to add a Link Monster to his extra deck, but it also means he needs to enter the Data Storm, which he often struggles to do, so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. His punishing training during the Lost Incident has also granted him the strange ability to detect Knight of Hanoi members just through their cards alone. He has still been bested on numerous occasions though, but during his fight with Ai, it’s seen that he’s also not afraid to use all 15 cards in his Extra Deck, which shows that he will do whatever it takes to win a duel.
3 Yusei Fudo
- Strongest Card: Stardust Dragon
- Greatest Achievement: Defeating the Dark Signers and his arch-nemesis Jack Atlas
Yusei has some devastating monsters in his deck including the likes of Majestic Star Dragon and Shooting Quasar Dragon, but while he also has plenty of low-level monsters to summon, he often will use these to cover the battlefield so that he can Synchro Summon later on. Rather than relying on Magic cards, Yusei utilizes Speed Spells to control the pace of a match, though this has been shown to act as a determent at times.
He’s also been shown to be a very determined duelist who can make diamonds out of even the worst cards, something he displays at the beginning of 5D’s when he constantly uses monsters like Junk Warrior, whom he manages to make some great use out of. He does end up relying a lot on Synchro Summoning Stardust Dragon later on in the series, but there’s no denying that his quick-thinking and get-it-done attitude makes him extremely powerful, no matter what deck he’s using.
2 Jaden Yuki
- Strongest Card: Elemental HERO Neos
- Greatest Achievement: Defeating the mysterious entity known as Nightshroud to save humanity from eternal darkness
Jaden’s playstyle is all about high-level Fusions, but what makes his Elemental Hero deck so powerful is that he has the perfect combination of formidable 2 to 3-star monsters, along with some real juggernauts such as the near-unstoppable Elemental HERO Neos. While his deck does go through some changes throughout the story, especially with the inclusion of Neo-Spacian monsters, it’s his change in attitude that makes him so threatening.
After he has been possessed by the Supreme King, which leads him to commit some horrific acts, he becomes a much more cynical duelist who simply wants to end bouts as quickly as possible. By this time, he’s simply spurred on by revenge, and this results in Jaiden decimating entire groups of duelists with ease. He even beats the legendary Nightshroud, who is indicated to be some sort of demi-god in the show, and the fact that it’s implied he goes head-to-head with Yugi by the end is proof of just how strong and experienced a duelist he eventually became.
1 Yugi Muto / Yami Yugi
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters
- Strongest Card: Exodia / Dark Magician
- Greatest Achievement: Defeating the Pharaoh King Atem without any help
Yugi ended up being so strong that the majority of cards that were used by him in the anime were banned entirely in the actual trading card game. In fact, Yugi is so powerful that the few losses he does pick up are usually disputed among fans on whether he even lost or not, such as when facing down Kaiba who threatened to jump off a castle in Duelist Kingdom unless Yugi forfeited.
By far his biggest feat that proves just how immensely strong and experienced Yugi has become is when the Pharoah within his body, known as Atem, separates from Yugi himself. As the two went on to duel one another, it’s revealed that Atem’s will was so strong that he was pulling the exact cards he needed, yet Yugi was still so vigilant and determined that he managed to win the battle against someone who was, in definition of the rules, cheating. It was undoubtedly the help from Atem that made Yugi Muto so powerful, but by the end of the story, he had managed to grow even stronger than his mentor, who was literally an Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh.