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World champion trading card player visits Bartlett shop for sneak peek

Marcell Threatt Chicago (left) stares card which BrandSmith (right) signed personally for him meet greet Forever After Antiques

Marcell Threatt of Chicago (left) stares at a card which Brandon Smith (right) signed personally for him at a meet and greet at Forever After Antiques & Collectibles in Bartlett on Saturday, February 16, 2013. Brandon is the World Champion, Canadian Regional Champion and North American Champion for the game, Cardfight!! Vanguard. | Erik Anderson~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 19, 2013 6:37AM



Brandon Smith of Berkeley, Mich. has traveled to Japan and back as the World Champion of Vanguard Cardfight!! competition.

This weekend, Smith packed up his cards and brought them to a Bartlett card store, where he and dozens of other players previewed a long-awaited set in the “Awakening of Twin Blades” series. The event took place at Forever After Antiques & Collectibles in Bartlett.

With boxes of pizza about the store and 15 participants around noon Saturday, shop owner Michael Loda said he expected 200 would check it out by the end of Sunday, typically the busiest day for card players, he said.

“They are basically playing the new set in Cardfight Vanguard,” Loda said. “It’s the first sneak peek so it’s a big event.”

Smith, who joined the group downstairs in the shop’s basement, where rows of competition ensued, hung out with friend Brandon Bastianelli.

“It’s like a battle of wits against your opponent,” said Bastianelli of the Vanguard card gaming phenomenon. “You have a limited amount of resources based on what you draw. You start with five cards. From there you draw one card at a time.”

Smith said Yu-gi-oh! has been around in the U.S. “for about 12-13 years” and while he was in Japan competing in 2012, “the majority of card shops I went to were also playing Vanguard Card Fight!!”

Smith, who said he received certificates and trophies from his various victories, described the new card set as “amazing. It brings out some of the better cards like neo nectar that have been long awaited.”

Loda explained that Cardfight!! Vanguard (Vanguard) is one of the world’s most popular trading card games, behind Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and Yu-gi-oh! He also said high school, college students and other young adults engage in Vanguard, which he emphasized is “a less violent alternative to video games and extremely violent movies.”

Erica Juarez of Bartlett said she is an hourly worker at the card store and antique store.

“I don’t do the whole Yugiouh Vanguard thing but I do watch similar things. It’s something to get your mind off the stress of life. It’s a hobby,” Juarez said. “There are TV shows, called anime, with storylines and plots.”

Children as young as 6-7 years old and adults in their thirties have frequented the store for Vanguard cards, Juarez said, adding, “I understand the whole appeal of it because at one time, I wanted to be an animator.”



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