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Top 10 Illegal Match-Winning Yu-Gi-Oh Monster Cards

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

What Are Matches in Yu-Gi-Oh?

Most Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments have players duel in a "match," which is basically a "best 2 out of 3" format. This gives players a chance at a comeback after a bad initial hand and lets them switch out cards from their side deck after seeing what their opponent is playing, adapting their tactics to fit the situation.

However, some monsters have the ability to win entire matches with their effect, meaning you can end a match with just one duel. These abilities usually trigger by reducing your opponent's life points to zero with direct attacks, and kindly bear with me as few quality pictures exist for these rare cards. They're banned in nearly every official tournament, but for casual players or special events, here are the 10 best match-winning cards in Yu-Gi-Oh!

Legendary Dragon of White

Legendary Dragon of White

10. Legendary Dragon of White

ATK: 3000
DEF: 2500

Legendary Dragon requires three level eight monsters for his xyz summon, and you'll want at least one to be dragon-type; when he directly attacks your opponent and reduces their life to zero while possessing a dragon material, you immediately win the match.

Use Legendary Dragon in "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" decks, Blue-Eyes can serve as material and shares Legendary's type, attribute, and battle stats, allowing them to access many of the same support cards. I enjoy using Legendary Dragon in casual format, but like other match-winning cards, he carries a price tag of nearly $20, so hang on to him if you ever nab him in a booster.

Grizzly, the Red Star Beast

Grizzly, the Red Star Beast

9. Grizzly, the Red Star Beast

ATK: 2700
DEF: 2300

Like Legendary Dragn, Grizzly can win you the match by attacking your opponent directly and reducing their life to zero. Although his stats are slightly weaker, you can use lower-level monsters (who are easier to normal summon) as his materials; you need an earth-attributed tuner and two or more beast-type non-tuners.

As long as their levels add up to eight, they can synchro summon Grizzly and access his powers to seal your victory. Note that Grizly and Legendary Dragon can only be summoned from the extra deck, so you won't be able to revive them from your graveyard with cards like "Monster Reborn."

Stardust Divinity

Stardust Divinity

8. Stardust Divinity

ATK: 3000
DEF: 3000

Divinity essentially functions just like Grizzly, except now your tuner has to be light-attributed and your non-tuners fairy-type. Make sure their levels add up to ten, cast Divinity, and watch as he quickly shreds your foe's life points with his fierce 3000 ATK.

Victory Dragon

Victory Dragon

7. Victory Dragon

ATK: 2400
DEF: 3000

Despite comparatively low ATK, Victory Dragon deserves a mention for being the first card to win matches, although you have to sacrifice three dragons to tribute summon him, making him as costly as an Egyptian God. However, he also shares the distinction of being the only match-winner who is banned, not completely illegal.

This means he's still allowed a single copy in the traditional format and could theoretically be removed from the ban list (although this is unlikely). Still, for the brief time he was legal when first released, Victory Dragon was an infamous game-changer who spearheaded a unique breed of monsters.

Juno, the Celestial Goddess

Juno, the Celestial Goddess

6. Juno, the Celestial Goddess

ATK: 3000
DEF: 3000

Juno actually offers two match-winning victory conditions, one as a pendulum scale and one as a monster. Her value of one is a good choice for your low scale and she lets you banish three fairy pendulum monsters you control to target any pendulum monster you control; if that card reduces your opponent's life to zero with a direct attack this turn, you win the match.

Alternatively, as a monster, you can either special summon Juno with a pendulum summon (no other special summons work with her) or normal summon her by tributing three fairy monsters. Either way, if she attacks your opponent directly and reduces their life to zero, you win the match, but you can't control other monsters, so make sure field is clear when you seal the deal.

The Twin Kings, Founders of the Empire

The Twin Kings, Founders of the Empire

5. The Twin Kings, Founders of the Empire

ATK: 3000
DEF: 2200

Twin Kings is the beast equivalent of Juno, bearing the same pendulum scale, ability, and monster effects. The only differences are his slightly lower DEF (which probably won't matter as you'll likely want him in attack position) and how he works with the more-abundant beast type, giving your additional deck-building choices when accessing his powers.

Beyond that, he's exactly the same; use his scale to banish three beasts and have another pendulum monster strike directly for a match-win, or let Twin Kings do it himself after being either pendulum summoned or normal summoned with three beast tributes.

Kuzunoha, the Onmyojin

Kuzunoha, the Onmyojin

4. Kuzunoha, the Onmyojin

ATK: 3000
DEF: 2300

Kuzonha functions just like our last two cards, but he carries a slightly higher DEF score than Kings and one of the most populated types in the game: spellcaster. Thus, you have a variety of Performage, Magician, and Mythical Beast pendulum archetypes to combo him with, plus several one-offs like "Dark Doriado" and "Foucault's Cannon."

Shelga, the Tri-Warlord

Shelga, the Tri-Warlord

3. Shelga, the Tri-Warlord

ATK: 2800
DEF: 2500

Shelga is actually a normal monster, meaning he doesn't have any special effects to win matches while serving as a creature. However, he carries a solid 2800, and as a pendulum scale, he can banish three psychic pendulum monster to let a different pendulum win the match that turn if it reduces an opponent's life to zero with a direct attack.

What gives Shelga the advantage over his peers is his impressive value of ten, making him a prime choice for your high scale. Not many cards exceed scale eight; having ten lets you summon monsters up to level nine without difficulty. Use Shelga with the "Metalfoes" archetype to quickly swarm psychic pendulum monsters for his scale effect.

Leonardo's Silver Skyship

Leonardo's Silver Skyship

2. Leonardo's Silver Skyship

ATK: 0
DEF: 3000

One of the best machine monsters in the game, Skyship has zero ATK and no monster effect, but carries an impressive 3000 DEF. Even better, he has the same scale effect as our prior cards, banishing three machine monsters to let another win the match with a direct attack that reduces your foe's life to zero.

Machines are a popular card type that offer several units to combo with (like the Qliphort cards), and Skyship's impressive scale ten lets you easily field high-level monsters.

Sakyo, Swordmaster of the Far East

Sakyo, Swordmaster of the Far East

1. Sakyo, Swordmaster of the Far East

ATK: 2900
DEF: 2600

Sakyo works just like our last two entries, either serving as a normal monster with no effects or a high scale that lets you exile other monsters for a match-winning direct attack. This time, he combos with warriors, another abundant faction with several promising options, and Sakyo's impressive combat scores let him excel in either battle position if used as a creature.

Are the Match-Winning Cards Overpowered?

Personally, I've never had as big an issue with the match-winning cards as many players. Sure, they can win two games at once, but they often require three tributes and don't have any other effects, meaning they're not very helpful in any other situation. They can also speed along tournaments, helping reduce the wait time between rounds.

Still, I can see how it could be frustrating to lose your chance at a rematch, and I'm curious to see if Konami ever makes another legal member. But for now, as we eagerly await the next set of match-winning monsters, share your thoughts on the matter and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!

© 2018 Jeremy Gill