The Irish Duelist passes 1,000,000 hits. | The Irish Duelist

The Irish Duelist passes 1,000,000 hits.

Over 3 years ago I started a blog, one which would change my life. Today it's broken the 1,000,000 hit barrier, so I just want to thank you all for your incredible support.

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Back in 2008 I was earning my degree at Limerick School of Art and Design, something I was struggling with simply because I wasn't enjoying the course and (funnily enough) I was getting too involved in Yu-Gi-Oh! to concentrate on my coursework. I'd spend most of my days lounging about on the Internet instead of making progress on my main projects. I almost failed my second year and seriously considered dropping out, fortunately I scraped through and began my third year of study in September.

Over the Summer I was quickly establishing myself as one of Ireland's strongest players, and was beginning to travel to International events, like the European Championship and Pharaoh Tour Finals. I'd also attend locals all over the country in order to boost my ranking (before Upper Deck went down I was rated #1 in ireland by a large margin). Yu-Gi-Oh! was quickly becoming a major part in my life, but with a Degree to earn something had to give.

Come the start of the semester I sat down for a long, hard talk with my tutors, where basically I had to make a decision; either integrate Yu-Gi-Oh! into my studies, quit the game or drop out. Naturally I did the former, and pondered about finding a way to find some artistic potential within the game. It was difficult, but one day after a discussion with another tutor she suggested I start a blog. That way I can write about the game and hopefully find something to focus my projects on.

The first blog post of The Irish Duelist came into being on September 11, 2008, a simple introduction post where I outlined what I was thinking of doing. Didn't take me long to get into writing very long posts about my experiences with the game, 1 day in fact. That article would later become the basis of my final year's work at LSAD, where I realised that it wasn't Yu-Gi-Oh! that needed to be the basis of my work, but myself (and my involvement in the game; I ended up doing a few documentary/diary-style videos).

What followed over the next year or so was various opinion articles, tournament reports, some Metagame-style content (card previews etc.) and the odd bit of news. All of this was happening while Upper Deck got involved in its big controversy over counterfeit cards, which would eventually have big implications for the TCG as a whole. Ireland in particular took a hit that it's never really recovered from, although things are looking up now in 2012 thanks to some dedicated individuals. The blog steadily became more popular as I was highly active on the forums, eventually becoming a Moderator/Admin on most of the ones I frequent.

In late 2009 Konami put out a call for writers, looking to provide a strategy site for players to read and learn with now that Metagame had gone down. I sent in an email with a link to The Irish Duelist and after some initial discussion I was fortunate enough to become one of the site's strategy writers. The site was unveiled in November and my first article was on how to deal with Gorz the Emissary of Darkness. I'm still writing with the Strategy Site today, here's a link to the articles that have been published.

Now that I was writing with Konami the focus of the blog changed a bit. I t was still about me and my journey through the game, but the focus began to shift towards becoming more of a news site, giving fellow Duelists something to read every day, whether it be about a new release or something interesting I found. I still did tournament reports too, like this one from 2010 UK/Irish Nationals.

At that event I was introduced to Peter Frottier of Konami Europe, where we had a quick chat and exchanged contact details. A few weeks later I got an email from him regarding European event coverage. Europe never had its own dedicated Yu-Gi-Oh! coverage site before, so we were breaking into new ground with this one. I was also introduced to the ever-so-awesome Oliver Gehrmann, and the 2 of us have been helping out Konami with coverage ever since.

This blog's literally changed my life, and helped me turn my hobbies into a career. Never would I have imagined when I started the blog that it would take me to places like Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, New York etc., or that it would help me kickstart my life as a digital artist, in fact it's still hard today to believe all of this has happened.

To give a few special mentions, I want to thank all of you for reading the blog and being involved in making it what it is. Also, many thanks to everyone from Konami that I've been fortunate enough to work with, to Oliver, Jason, Mike and the other freelance writers for the Konami sites that I've collaborated with in the past. The various forum communities, most notably DuelistGroundz, UkayPro and Pojo, the many people who randomly try to friend me on Facebook and finally once again, to you for reading. The past 4 years have been incredible, and here's to many more.