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With the exception of Pendulum Monsters without a Monster Effect, Match winners have a condition that causes its controller to win the Match if it decreases the opponent's Life Points to 0 with a direct attack (sometimes with additional requirements, such as having an Xyz Material of a certain Type). For Match winners that are Pendulum Monsters, their Pendulum Effect includes an Ignition Effect that allows them to banish 3 monsters of the same Type as it controlled by the player, then target a Pendulum Monster, which then causes its controller to win the Match if it decreases the opponent's Life Points to 0 with a direct attack that turn.
All Match winners have a high Level/Rank, ATK (with the exception of "Leonardo's Silver Skyship"), and DEF (except the Link Monsters), and require the use of 3 monsters to be Summoned (with the exception of Normal Pendulum Monsters), some or all of which must be of a specific Type. For example, the Main Deck Match winners all cannot be Special Summoned (except the Pendulum Monsters), and require 3 Tributes of the same Type as themselves in order to be Tribute Summoned (except Pendulum Monsters without a Monster Effect).
Starting in 2013, all Match winners are designed based on the country or city which hosted that year's World Championship.
The first Match winner, "Victory Dragon", was given away as a promotional card with "Shonen Jump Magazine". It was quickly made Forbidden due to its ability to interfere with something outside of the current Duel, leading to many ruling hassles and declarations of unsportsmanlike conduct regarding players who would surrender right before "Victory Dragon" attacked, therefore losing only the Duel instead of the Match.
All Match winners since the release of "Victory Dragon" have only been available as top prize cards or attendance cards at each year's World Championship, making them almost impossible to obtain with prices easily amounting in the thousands of dollars or more per card. All of them, barring "Victory Dragon", have the Limitation Text: "This card cannot be used in a Duel" present on the lower left corner of the card, making them illegal in official tournaments.
Two new Match winners debut at each World Championship, with a single Ultra Rare copy of one card being given to the champion and three Ultra Rare copies of the other being given to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishers. A Super Rare reprint of the previous year's top Match winner is also given out to all attendees. This reprint always has the word "REPLICA" printed on it, and is generally less expensive than the original version, although the price is still astronomically high compared to most other cards.
Starting from 2013, the previous year's Match winners have received reprints in the current year's OCG-exclusive Extra Pack as Extra Secret Rare cards; the first to be released were the 2012 Match winners, "Legendary Dragon of White" and "Legendary Magician of Dark", in the 2013 set Extra Pack: Sword of Knights.
The Match winners "Legendary Dragon of White" and "Legendary Magician of Dark" were reprinted in World Superstars, marking the first time Match winners were printed in the TCG in a language other than English.
- "Leonardo's Silver Skyship" is the first Normal Monster Match winner.
- It is also the only WIND Match winner.
- It is also the Match winner with the lowest ATK.
- It is also the first Match Winner to be Special Summoned without a single restriction.
- "The Twin Kings, Founders of the Empire" is the first Match winner to have two separate Match winner effects.
- "Shelga, the Tri-Warlord" is the first Psychic Match winner, as well the first WATER Match winner.