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Why Jaden Should Have Beaten Yugi at the End of "Yu-Gi-Oh GX"

Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.

Yugi vs Jaden

Yugi vs Jaden

Jaden Yuki In Yu-Gi-Oh GX

The second Yu-Gi-Oh anime series, Yu-Gi-Oh GX is often criticized for its atrocious English dub, but I maintain that the original sub offers a fun batch of duels throughout its lengthy run. Protagonist Jaden Yuki wields a variety of Elemental HERO monsters and showcases his powers by defeating the vast majority of opponents he faces.

In the 180th and final episode of the series, "The True Graduation Duel! Judai VS The Legendary Duelist," present-time Yugi transports Jaden back in time to face his past self. The following confrontation results in one of Yu-Gi-Oh's most controversial matches. What actually happened, and who should have claimed victory? Examine both sides as we learn all about the debate-provoking finale of Yu-Gi-Oh GX! Naturally, GX spoilers follow.

Yugi vs Jaden—What Actually Happened

We'll examine the intricacies of the duel in a bit, but the end result of the match isn't made clear—the scene cuts to Jaden leaving for new horizons, thanking Yugi for helping him regain his enjoyment of dueling. However, many believe Yugi would have won. Jaden's hand only contains Winged Kuriboh, and he's up against a 5000-ATK Slifer the Sky Dragon with monsters whose ATK and abilities won't be enough to beat it. He's also got no set spells/traps, and even if he somehow did manage to inflict some damage, the Kuriboh in Yugi's hand could have negated a single blow.

Also, the way Jaden talks in the last scene about getting stronger and facing Yugi again implies he lost. Perhaps our fusion master couldn't quite stand against the King of Games—or couldhe? Let's examine the several reasons Jaden could (and possibly did) win this duel!

Elemental HERO members

Elemental HERO members

1. Jaden's Deck Has a Better Theme

Hold your pitchforks and torches—I'm not saying that the HERO structure exceeds the Dark Magician theme. It doesn't, especially with the modern supports Dark Magician has received. However, Yugi's deck as shown in the end of GX is a random mess of too many strategies that don't blend well. It slightly emphasizes Dark Magician, but tosses in things that really just don't belong. Alpha the Magnet Warrior, Swift Gaia the Fierce Knight, Kuriboh, Watapon, and Slifer himself just don't combo off each other.

Remember, Yugi only managed to summon Slifer through a card's effect that he borrowed from Jaden, and under normal circumstances his Dark Renewal wouldn't have been able to revive his Egyptian God. I'm not saying Jaden doesn't have a few odd stragglers in his deck (especially in this duel—more on that later), but his overall theme of summoning HERO fusion monsters remains consistent.

Swift Gaia the Fierce Knight

Swift Gaia the Fierce Knight

2. Yugi Gets Way Too Lucky

I understand card games by nature have a luck element, and the anime tends to give the characters exactly what they need when they need it. However, a keen eye observes just how kind the writers are to Yugi (and less so to Jaden) during this bout. For instance, Yugi just happens to draw Swift Gaia the Fierce Knight (which, as we just mentioned, is a poor choice for his deck) when he has no other cards in hand. Of course, Gaia's effect revolves around this exact condition, letting Yugi summon it and make a comeback when Jaden corners him early on.

Then there's Watapon, Yugi's weak monster that lets him special summon it when it's added to his hand by an effect, which of course it is. Still not convinced? Remember that when Jaden plays Hero's Guild, which lets both players draw a card and summon it if it's a warrior-type monster, Jaden draws Neo-Spacian Grand Mole—one of the few non-warriors in his deck. Yugi of course draws Slifer, which also isn't warrior, but this lets him send it to his graveyard, ready to be revived later. And speaking of Hero's Guild and its numerous faults...

Hero's Guild

Hero's Guild

3. Jaden Uses Cards Clearly Intended to Help Yugi Win

At this point, Jaden has spent 180 episodes showcasing his deck and the various cards he rotates in and out. You'd think the cards he plays in this contest would be familiar faces, and most are, but three new spells stand out as duds that are obviously just there to allow Yugi to make a comeback.

Hero's Guild

The aforementioned Hero's Guild is a luck-reliant effect that of course fails Jaden and aids Yugi, and it's something Jaden's never played before—because it stinks. Both players draw a card, can summon it if it's a warrior, and discard it otherwise. Why, after growing his deck, gradually gaining power, and showing off dozens of other cards that could have helped, incorporate such a lousy card at the very end? To help Yugi win.

Code Change

Next is Code Change, which changes a monster's type to one its owner declares, which Jaden intended to use to actually make Hero's Guild work on his Grand Mole, but this ability ends up being stolen by Yugi and used to revive his Slifer by changing its type to fit the criteria of Dark Renewal. Jaden's deck not only didn't need Code Change, it ends up working against him and is yet another subtle tool to help grant Yugi an edge.

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Impact Flip

Finally, there's Impact Flip, yet another magic card we've never seen Jaden use, an equip spell that makes the opponent mill one card when your monster inflicts damage. Jaden doesn't use a deck-out strategy (where milling is beneficial)—this card actively works against Jaden, especially when it ends up sending Yugi's Archfiend of Gilfer to the graveyard (by the way, another lucky stroke on Yugi's part).

And if you thought these unwelcome anime-exclusive cards were bad, take a look at...

4. Yugi Uses Limited/Anime-Only Cards

To be fair, I'm not saying that Jaden doesn't benefit from anime-only effects; after all, he uses Subspace Battle, an impressive anime-only trait that helps him place three monsters from his deck to the graveyard. But as we just discussed, his other anime-exclusive units hinder more than help him, and aren't nearly as sinful as the anime-only boosts Yugi gets.

Yugi uses Mirror Force and Magic Cylinder, both impressive traps that were limited in 2008, when the episode debuted. Technically, since limited cards allow one per deck, this wasn't cheating, but without these almost-banned units (which the anime typically avoids using to prevent showing the same meta cards over and over), Jaden would have overtaken his foe early on. More than that, Yugi's Slifer seems to lack its go-to-graveyard when special summoned downside that balances it in real life.

As bad as these are, they can't compare to Card of Sanctity. In real-life, this card forces you to banish all other cards you control in your hand (and needs a minimum of one) to draw a mere two cards from your deck. In the anime, this card lets both players draw to six cards. This is an absolutely ridiculous effect that would be banned before you could say Blue-Eyes were it actually released, and it's just there to replenish Yugi's hand when it empties. Without this clearly-boosted ability, Yugi probably would have lost the same way many real-life duels end—by running out of cards.



5. Jaden Has Beaten Yugi's Deck Before

Much earlier in GX, Yugi faces Dimitri, a duelist who stole Yugi's deck. Not based his strategy around it, not copied his theme, but actually stole the literal cards that compose Yugi's ensemble. Some fans contend that facing Dimitri wasn't the same as facing Yugi despite the cards not changing, but I disagree—as long as Dimitri wielded Yugi's deck list to its full effect (which he did), Yugi couldn't have performed better himself. Unless you're argue he'd use special powers to draw whatever he needs—and if that's the case, you're making him invincible by default with protagonist armor.

Plus, this was before Jaden received the Neo-Spacians cards, meaning before even reaching his pinnacle, Jaden successfully overcame a duelist who played Yugi's deck just as well as Yugi himself could.

Illegal Slifer the Sky Dragon

Illegal Slifer the Sky Dragon

6. Yugi Would Have Lost Slifer

Near the very end of the match, Pharaoh (after taking over Yugi) revives Slifer from his graveyard during Jaden's turn using a trap card, and that's about where the duel cuts away.

Thing is, in both anime and official rules, Slifer is sent to the graveyard at the end phase. And not just its controller's end phase (which would have given Pharaoh one turn to use him), but also at the opponent's end phase, meaning even if Jaden couldn't have beaten Slifer in battle, he could remove him by just ending his turn.

From there, it'd be difficult to call the duel because we don't know what Yugi would draw, but Jaden seems to have the advantage, having both a field spell and strong monster fielded while Yugi's hand carries several tribute-needing monsters that wouldn't be easy to summon from an empty field.

Why Most Fans Want Yugi to Win

Even if I disagree, I understand the Yugi-won perspective. Yugi is the original protagonist, giving him many nostalgia points, and the original series had a much better English dub than GX's garbage translation. Thus, many remember Yugi as the competent King of Games while Jaden is that guy from the series not worth watching, so most fans simply want Yugi to win.

But Jaden supporters exist, especially ones who witnessed the far-superior English sub of GX, and by examining each point of Jaden's duel against Yugi, we see just how far the writers had to stretch to end with a seeming-advantage for Yugi. Had they provided Jaden the pro-level cards Yugi employed, not have given Jaden three random self-sabotaging spells, or not granted Yugi an absurdly-overpowered anime-exclusive like Cards of Sanctity, Jaden would have seized the victory.

But for now, as we eagerly await any future Yugi and Jaden anime appearances, share your own thoughts on this match and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh duel review!

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: If all Yu-Gi-Oh protagonists dueled, who would win?

Answer: Since new cards are generally better, the most recent hero would likely win a "real" duel. But if we're using anime logic, they'd probably have Yugi triumph since he has to uphold his reputation as the King of Games.

Question: How does Dimitri steal Yugi’s deck in Yu-Gi-Oh GX?

Answer: As memory serves, it was on display at Duel Academy and wasn't nearly well-guarded enough, so he basically just took it at night.

© 2018 Jeremy Gill


JustSayin on April 26, 2020:

As the original yugioh series were in "my time", i naturally watched it before GX. But i liked GX way more than the original and was pretty disappointed when Jaden lost to Yugi the cheat master. Especially at the end, where all J had to do, was end his turn...but the anime absolutely can't show a bad draw from the protagonist, so he would probably have drawn some card to win

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on March 31, 2020:


That's sort of true; the official wiki for the anime god cards states:

"If they are Special Summoned in Defense Position when your opponent has attacked with a monster, you may switch the attack target to them."

Which is quite different from real dueling (where you get to redeclare or cancel an attack when the number of monsters on your opponent's field changes)

Anonyme on March 31, 2020:

Egyptian gods have an ability when summoned from the graveyard in the battle phase you can redirect the attack of youre opponent to the egyptian god that was revived . Like yugi vs marik when he used slifer to shield obelisk from ra and when kaiba revived obelisk to shield his lord of D from yugi's dark magicain

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on March 09, 2020:

Maybe, but things aren't that clear-cut; the scene shows a shot of Neos and Slifer entering battle-like positions, but I don't believe Jaden officially declared a battle (after all, it'd be a poor move).

In other words, it's open to interpretation whether Jaden suicided his own monster, thinking he had no chance, or whether it was just a dramatic final shot but not an actual declaration of combat.

Duelist on March 09, 2020:

Didn't Atem win because Neos attacked Osiris (Slifer), which means that Jaden lost his remaining 1600 LP?

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on February 26, 2020:


Yugi's deck may have improved, but it's hard to say since we never see the modern-day Yugi duel. He also presumably wouldn't have the help of Atem (Pharaoh) anymore.

Nigel on February 26, 2020:

Jaden Dueled Yugi of the past not the present which means Yugi of the present time has a better deck than he did in the past considering the fact that he had an eye on Jaden so his deck at present is more equipped to topple Jaden but he chose to send him back to face the fun loving Yugi to help Jaden regain his love of Dueling not to test his skills if he wanted to test Jaden fully he would have faced him in his present state with a new constructed deck with that modern time cards

DuckyDog on February 06, 2019:

I would enjoy seeing some kind of "Battle City" situation with the YuGiOh protagonists, maybe make it happen with some Arc V dimension explanation. During Arc V, I was disappointed that other characters from the dimensions weren't featured (With the exception of Jack and Crow) and even the ones who were acted more like obstacles, though that argument is not really applicable to Crow. Not to mention seeing different decks focused on different summoning techniques (Tribute,Fusion,Synchro,Xyz,Pendulum,Link) fighting each other.

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on October 21, 2018:


Many fans agree, but remember, this delves into a debate of anime differences and the near-useless cards Jaden randomly received for this duel, essentially plot tools to help grant Yugi an edge.

Not that I necessarily think Jaden deserved the win, but it's an interesting debate with valid points on both sides.

Arthur Gomez on October 21, 2018:

Yugi won because the anime Dark renewal trap card literally does not read special summon, that means, the next turn Slifer with 6000 attack could drop Jaden's life points to zero.

Bullet Adams on October 07, 2018:

I believe the Winner is Jaden because He had the advantage going into The last turn of the duel

Yugi Had Kuriboh Valkiryon,Black Lust Soilder and Buster Blade in his hand & 3500 Attack

Jaden had Winged Kuriboh in his hand by the end of his combo and had Neo-Spacian Flare Scarab, Elemental Hero Neos, Elemental Hero Shining Flare Neos and 1600 LP

Plus Yugi Ran Through every one of his Most Powerful Monsters except for Summoned Skull Buster Blader Black Luster Solider Valkyrion The Magna Warrior i think

so with that being said If Yugi Couldnt drop Jaden's lifepoints to Zero after Slifer went to the graveyard due to its own effect if we are going by that ruling

again Yugi Would need atleast A Monster With a Attack of 2100 Or 1400 To win the duel Judging on how much life points Jadden had left Yugi Could Survive at least 1 More turn due to Kuribohs Effect Jaden judging by what Yugi Drew had atleast 2 due to winged kuriboh

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