Members of Club Yu-Gi-OHIO carry a banner in the homecoming parade. Credit: Courtesy of Ryan Arnold

Monsters are no fear for members of Club Yu-Gi-OHIO.

Club members meet Friday evenings to practice depleting their opponent’s life points in the Japanese trading card game Yu-Gi-Oh!, Ryan Arnold, the club founder and a fifth-year in chemical engineering, said.

Arnold said he got the idea to start the club when he visited a local card store to participate in a Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament hosted by entertainment company Konami. When Arnold’s opponent happened to be another Ohio State student, he said the two hit it off immediately.

Kyle Barton, a fifth-year in meteorology and Arnold’s competitor, introduced Arnold to a group of fellow Yu-Gi-Oh! players. Because participating in Konami-hosted tournaments can be expensive, the group decided to turn to Ohio State in hopes of making a club.

After finding an adviser and being founded in spring 2018, Arnold said the organization gained momentum. What was once a group of six people who shared a passion for the game now boasts a 70-member roster, Arnold said.

The club will soon host its first Intercollegiate Cup, the student organization’s own Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament.

Arnold said the event took one year to plan, and students from schools as far as the University of Washington are expected to attend.

Brendan Outlaw, the club’s secretary and a second-year in communication, said he helped come up with the Intercollegiate Cup idea.

“This intercollegiate tournament has been a huge project for us, and to see it succeed is huge,” Outlaw said.

Dean Watkins, the club’s treasurer and a fourth-year in microbiology, said Ohio State’s growing support of esports helped make the tournament possible. Watkins was in charge of organizing prizes, such as boxes of cards, a trophy and jerseys, as well as lining up sponsorships and organizing the logistics for other schools’ Yu-Gi-Oh! clubs or schools with limited resources.

“[I] try to make sure they can get here and have a good time, while also planning the event to be as rewarding and as fun for both our players and their players alike,” Watkins said.

Watkins, who plans to graduate in spring 2020 and then attend medical school, said he believes his time playing the card game may be coming to an end, but being a part of the club was one of his favorite college experiences.

“Where [the club] is now and how close everyone is, it’s been really, really special for me, especially because up until this point, I really hadn’t been part of a club,” Watkins said. “I kind of kept to myself because I was focused on my studies, and it really helped bring me out of my shell and have a group of people that I could really trust.”

Arnold, who also will graduate in spring 2020, said founding and leading the club taught him how to manage a team. He said it was a rewarding experience to bring people together through a game for which they share a passion.

“I’ve met a ton of friends in this, and these are people that I hang out with outside of the club,” Arnold said. “People that I get advice from — people that I can depend on — that are there for me, and I’m there for them.”

The club meets at 5 p.m. weekly every Friday in the Enarson Classroom Building basement. Students can sign up by emailing Arnold at arnold.1016@osu.edu or attending a meeting. The Intercollegiate Cup will take place Saturday in meeting rooms one and two of the RPAC. Check-in for the event starts at 9 a.m. and the event starts at 10 a.m. For more information, visit https://u.osu.edu/clubygohio/.