Starting in 2013, all Match winners are designed based on the country or city which hosted that year's World Championship.
All of the Match winners' conditions require decreasing the opponent's LP to 0 with a direct attack, sometimes with additional requirements. All also require (at least) 3 monsters to Summon or use, some or all of which must share a Type with the Match winner. All Match winners since 2010 have been based on the most recent Extra Deck mechanic of the time.
- Main Deck (non-Pendulum) Match winners all cannot be Special Summoned and require 3 Tributes of the same Type as themselves in order to be Tribute Summoned. There are 13 of them, covering 10 different Types.
- Synchro Match winners must all be Synchro Summoned, and require a Tuner of the same Attribute as themselves along with 2 non-Tuners of the same Type as themselves.
- Xyz Match winners must all be Xyz Summoned using 3 materials (of any Type). Its Match-winning attack requires a material of the same Type as themselves to be attached.
- Pendulum Match winners are either Effect Monsters (champion) or Normal Monsters (runners-up):
- As a monster, they act like other Main Deck Match winners except that they can be Special Summoned, but only by Pendulum Summon, and their Match-winning attack requires the player to control no other monsters.
- In the Pendulum Zone, they have a once-per-turn Ignition Effect that allows them to banish 3 monsters of the same Type as them from the player's field, then target any Pendulum Monster the player controls, which then gains the usual Match-winning condition for one turn (its controller wins the Match if it decreases the opponent's LP to 0 with a direct attack).
- Link Match winners must all be Link Summoned with at least 3 Effect Monsters of the same type as them, and must be Extra Linked in order to gain their Match-winning condition.
- The champion's prize card always has a Link Rating of 5 (left, down-left, down, down-right, and right Link Arrows), while the prize card of the runners-up always has a Link Rating of 4 (left, down, up, and right Link Arrows).
The first Match winner, "Victory Dragon", was given away as a promotional card with Shonen Jump Magazine. All Match winners since then have only been primarily available as top prize 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 (except "Victory Dragon", which is Forbidden) 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 copy of one card being given to the champion and three copies of the other being given to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishers. The champion's card almost always has higher stats (Level/Rank/Link Rating/ATK/DEF), except for Pendulum Scale, compared to the card for the runners-up. The prize cards were Ultra Rare between 2004 and 2014, and Extra Secret Rare from 2015 onward.
Match winners have been reprinted on specific occasions, often at a lower rarity, for example as World Championship attendee cards. A reprint always has the word "REPLICA" printed on it.
Starting from 2013, the previous year's Match winners have received reprints in the current year's OCG-exclusive Extra Pack; 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.
|2003||"Victory Dragon"||Effect Monsters|
|2004||"Ulevo"||"Meteo the Matchless"|
|2005||"King of Destruction - Xexex"||"Queen of Fate - Eternia"|
|2006||"Testament of the Arcane Lords"||"Armament of the Lethal Lords"|
|2007||"Chimaera, the Master of Beasts"||"Emperor of Lightning"|
|2008||"Tyr, the Vanquishing Warlord"||"Lorelei, the Symphonic Arsenal"|
|2009||"Aggiba, the Malevolent Sh'nn S'yo"||"Skuna, the Leonine Rakan"|
|2010||"Stardust Divinity"||"Grizzly, the Red Star Beast"||Synchro Monsters|
|2011||"King Landia the Goldfang"||"Queen Nereia the Silvercrown"||Xyz Monsters|
|2012||"Legendary Dragon of White"||"Legendary Magician of Dark"|
|2013||"Grandopolis, The Eternal Golden City"||"E☆HERO Pit Boss"|
|2014||"The Twin Kings, Founders of the Empire"||"Leonardo's Silver Skyship"||Pendulum Monsters|
|2015||"Kuzunoha, the Onmyojin"||"Sakyo, Swordmaster of the Far East"|
|2016||"Juno, the Celestial Goddess"||"Shelga, the Tri-Warlord"|
|2017||"Sanctity of Dragon"||"Iron Knight of Revolution"||Link Monsters|
|2018||"Noritoshi in Darkest Rainment"||"Amatsu-Okami of the Divine Peaks"|
|2019||"Kaiser Eagle, the Heavens' Mandate"||"Skyfaring Castle of the Black Forest"|
- There are no Fusion or Ritual Match winners.
- "Leonardo's Silver Skyship" has the lowest ATK of all Match winners, having 0 ATK.
- "Shelga, the Tri-Warlord" is the only WATER Match winner.
- The first two Link 5 monsters were both Match winners, meaning that for a period of 23 months, the highest printed Link Rating was tournament-illegal. ("Firewall Dragon Darkfluid" would be released in July 2019.)
- In the TCG, all of the illegal Link 5 monsters were released before any legal Link 5 monster, as "Kaiser Eagle, the Heavens' Mandate" was released in August 2019 while "Firewall Dragon Darkfluid" was released in the TCG in October 2019.
- At the time of its release in August 2014, "Leonardo's Silver Skyship" was the only way to Pendulum Summon generic Level 8 and 9 monsters, as all other Scale 9 and 10 cards at the time restricted Pendulum Summons to one or a few specific archetypes. This situation would not change until May 2015 with the release of "Dharma-Eye Magician".
- Ironically, this meant that "The Twin Kings, Founders of the Empire" had an "except by Pendulum Summon" condition that was nearly useless at the time, as the only way to apply it would be to use the other Match winner that its holder would not have been awarded.
- As of 2021, all 3 Normal Pendulum Match winners remain the only Scale 9 or higher cards to have no negative effects or conditions.
- At some video game tournaments using the Tag Force series of games, Match winners have been allowed (due to the game not marking them as Forbidden) since the game mechanics enforce the rule that surrendering is only allowed during the player's turn, and only starting from the 10th turn of the Duel.