Yusaku Fujiki

From Yugipedia
Jump to: navigation, search

That's right. I am the emissary of revenge. I'll crush the Knights of Hanoi.

— Yusaku Fujiki[1]
Yusaku Fujiki
Yusaku Fujiki
  • Yusaku Fujiki
  • Playmaker (プレイメーカー, Pureimēkā)
  • Unknown (アンノウン, An'noun, Japanese version only)[2]
Japaneseふじ ゆうさく
Base藤木 遊作
Furiganaふじき ゆうさく
RōmajiFujiki Yūsaku
  • Male
  • Education
SchoolDen City High School
  • Duelist
Anime DeckCyberse
Anime debutYu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 1: "Link into the VRAINS"
Appears in
AnimeYu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS
Voice actors
Fujiki, Yusaku

Yusaku Fujiki (ふじ ゆうさく, Fujiki Yūsaku), known as Playmaker (プレイメーカー, Pureimēkā) in LINK VRAINS, is the protagonist of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS.[4] A victim of the Hanoi Project, he battles against the Knights of Hanoi in order to avenge his past with the aid of his friend Kal Kolter and the Ignis that he has captured, Ai. He is the Origin of Ai. In the second season, Yusaku becomes entangled in the kidnapping of Jin Kolter's soul and the hunt for the people who destroyed the Cyberse, teaming up with fellow Hanoi Project victim Theodore Hamilton and Theodore's own Ignis, Flame.



Yusaku in his school uniform, and his Avatar Playmaker.

Yusaku is a rangy teenage boy with fair skin, green eyes, and dark blue hair that spikes outward in the back and contains light blue bangs with pink accents. In the dub, his skinny arms are the source of much mockery, usually from Ai. His standard attire consists of a slate-colored jacket with light blue trim over a white dress shirt with a blue tie and a pair of black pants and black and white shoes. His casual clothes consist of simple dark clothing; he conceals his identity with a hoodie prior to teaming up with Kal Kolter, and he later wears an apron when manning Café Nom.

As Playmaker, Yusaku wears a black and green bodysuit with a golden stripe going across his body and a grey belt at the waistline. His hair color also changes to yellow and red with pink strips and accents. Occasionally, the golden stripes in his "Playmaker" bodysuit glow when he uses his Skill. They also glow different colors when he uses different Summoning methods; glowing light blue when he Ritual Summons, purple when he Fusion Summons, light green when he Synchro Summons, and dark blue when he Xyz Summons.[5][6][7]

Young Yusaku.

When he was a child, Yusaku wore a brown jacket with a green shirt. He wore blue pants, brown boots, and didn't have pink accents on his light blue bangs yet.


Yusaku may be the first Yu-Gi-Oh! protagonist who is an anti-hero. He is not a bad person, but he can appear cold and apathetic. Due to the trauma of the Lost Incident, he generally tries to avoid contact with others and only seems to trust Kolter. Yusaku is calm and collected most of the time. Outside of Duels he is shown to be intelligent and clever, but also calculating, standoffish, reserved, and somewhat anti-social. He prefers to distance himself from others and doesn't usually interact with people, not even remembering his classmates' names after a month in school. When Naoki Shima tried to be friendly with him, Yusaku casually admitted to being a loner and inadvertently irritated Shima with his observations, then didn't react to Shima storming off. In public, Yusaku comes off as rather awkward and often doesn't know how to answer questions, leading others to assume things about him, such as when Shima assumed he wanted to join the Duel Club and Skye assumed he wanted new equipment from SOL. Despite his aloof and calm demeanor Yusaku can be quite sullen when it comes to dealing with Ai's antics. In the dub, Yusaku is substantially snarkier, particularly when it comes to dealing with Ai.

Despite his introverted and cold nature, Yusaku is both noble and golden-hearted deep down. He is on well terms with his best friend, Kolter and shows sympathy or care for others' situations like when he discovers that everything Gore does is for his orphanage, but he refuses to let others get close to him and join his fight against the Hanoi out of concern that they may get hurt.

As Playmaker he is shown to have a cold and serious demeanor, but at the same time he displays some noble traits to his personality, such as saving Blue Angel when she was about to be attacked by "Cracking Dragon". Because of the Hanoi Project from ten years ago, Yusaku hates the Knights of Hanoi and swears revenge against them. He didn't hesitate to capture Ai and threatened to delete him in order to challenge the Hanoi, though he shows more restraint with Akira Zaizen, stating that he didn't hate him for torturing him and later refusing to attack Specter during their Duel out of fear for Zaizen's safety. As pointed out by both Varis and Specter he has a sense of justice and will help those hurt by the Hanoi. He is also very confident and has lot of faith in his abilities.

Unlike most of the previous protagonists, who enjoy Dueling and see it as fun, Yusaku sees Dueling as a tool to eliminate those who are getting in his way. He is also unique in that his motivations for his actions are for revenge, instead of uniting people via Dueling. According to Kolter, Yusaku doesn't really seem to enjoy Dueling either, as such he tends to reject challenges from other Duelists. That said, when he is either forced to accept a Duel or willingly does so, he will not abandon it, such as when SOL prevented him from logging out when he was forced to Duel The Gore and chose to continue it even when Kolter made an escape route for him. Furthermore, Yusaku is not above complimenting his opponents, as when he Dueled Gore, he claimed that his Duel style, which was meant to excite both the crowd and even his opponent, was first-rate. According to Zaizen, Yusaku sees Dueling as a way of life; winning Duels verifies his sense of self, and to lose is to lose himself, which he believes to be the secret to Yusaku's strength.

Yusaku also has a philosophy of listing three reasons for his observations, something he learned from Ryoken Kogami while he was in captivity during the Hanoi Project. Yusaku does this to order his thoughts better and clear his mind when confused or feeling discouraged.

Yusaku receives counseling for his trauma.
A horrified Yusaku wakes up from a nightmare due to his PTSD.

Yusaku's cold anti-social nature was a result of the intense torture he went through during the Hanoi Project. Despite having undergone years of therapy, Yusaku still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from that incident. Yusaku believes his life is already cut short due to the incident and as such he doesn't need friends or a future.

Following the events of the first season, Yusaku slowly begins to change, and this is largely due to his interactions with Ai and Varis, who he discovered to be the Ignis based on him and the person who kept up his spirits respectively. He and Ai gradually build up a rocky, but trusting relationship, and after learning Varis's true identity, Yusaku casts aside his desire for revenge and attempts to save Varis from himself, expressing a desire to have a friend for the first time. In the dub, this is taken even further, as Yusaku openly declares that he is also fighting for his fallen allies and impresses upon Ryoken the damage that his actions would cause both to the world and to himself. As he states in his final Duel with Bohman, Yusaku comes to believe that his allies expanded his views and that there are experiences one can only learn by accepting one's friends. Though still quiet and anti-social, he becomes far more willing to work with other people; teaming up with Theodore Hamilton and Flame, and later even extending an offer to Gore to work together again despite Gore's negative feelings towards him. When his closest friends fall in the war with the Ignis, Yusaku is heartbroken; he is further traumatized after being forced to defeat Kolter, though this is eased by Kolter anticipating the scenario and asking him to do so, and infuriated by Soulburner's defeat at Bohman's hands.

Initially, Yusaku has little knowledge nor care of the battle between humans and the Ignis. Once Yusaku does learn of the conflict, he is fiercely disbelieving of the Knights of Hanoi's stance on A.I., particularly after learning that these views are based on simulations. In the dub, Yusaku goes as far as to state that destroying the Ignis because humans believe the Ignis would destroy them makes humanity no better than the Ignis supposedly are. When he becomes aware of Lightning's plans to destroy humanity, Yusaku emphasizes the need for peace, as he does not want to see another event like the Lost Incident and he states that he does not want to fight the Ignis, trying to talk down Varis from his crusade. Despite this, he is drawn into the conflict, though he continues to believe in an open future with the Ignis and later asks Ai and Flame to hide after the war is over, as he believes that other humans would attempt to exploit them.


Yusaku is said to be an intelligent hacker who possesses considerable ability and who solves mysteries in a cool manner. Cool-headed and extremely clever, Yusaku's real skill is in his hacking and cracking abilities. He was able to hack into SOL Technologies' systems to find Ai, which both SOL and the Knights of Hanoi had been hunting, within a few minutes and in the middle of a security scan, and managed to capture it into his Duel Disk while leaving the Ignis with no means to escape. He has been fighting the Knights of Hanoi for some time without leaving any trace of his actions as "Playmaker", and keeps a dummy deck to mislead others when in public. Yusaku combines his high intellect with his hacking abilities to quickly come up with plans and think on his feet. An observant individual, he is good at reading people. When Dueling, Yusaku keeps a close eye on his opponent's body language and expressions to know when they're planning something, and as such, he usually isn't surprised when something unexpected happens.

When in a Speed Duel, Yusaku's Skill is "Storm Access", which allows him to randomly access a never-before-seen Cyberse Link Monster from a Data Storm when his LP are 1000 or lower, at the cost of having to venture into the Data Storm (it would also appear that the more he uses this Skill, the easier it becomes for him to execute it, as when he used it in his Duels against the Knight of Hanoi and Gore, he struggled greatly, and had to use his left hand to steady his right arm; however, when he used it in his Duel against Blue Angel, he didn't struggle as much, nor did he steady his right arm). The cards obtained using this ability can then be converted into physical cards outside of LINK VRAINS using appropriate technology; also, as stated by Ghost Gal, "Storm Access" is a unique skill that not just any Duelist can use. He can also teleport back to his Duel Board should he fall off from it during a Duel, though he would first need to stop his fall to do so. During the second season, his Skill evolves, becoming "Neo Storm Access" and in addition to allowing him to add other types of Cyberse Extra Deck monsters to his Extra Deck, it can also be used a second time and allow him to draw a card if it fails and his LP is 100 or less.

Yusaku displays a strange ability to sense and see things in the network world when not logged in called Link Sense. Yusaku has had this ability from a young age. Similar to Ai, he can also discern a Knight of Hanoi's presence through their cards, which allowed him to immediately determine that Gore was not a Knight of Hanoi and know when Blue Angel had drawn the card that was affected by Hanoi's influence. He can hear and feel the pulse of his Cyberse monsters. In the dub, this ability is even stronger, as he was able to briefly perceive the seed of the Tower of Hanoi rather than simply sense its presence when it reacted.


Like the protagonists of the previous five series (Yugi Muto, Jaden Yuki, Yusei Fudo, Yuma Tsukumo, and Yuya Sakaki), his name contains the character「遊」(Yu). In a break from tradition, however, his first name contains three syllables instead of the usual two.

His given name contains the characters "game" (Yu 遊), and "work" (Saku 作). His surname, Fujiki, means "wisteria tree", the blue-and-pink coloring of which matches that of his hair. The kanji of his given name can also be translated as "playing" and "making", which is most likely the pun of his VR name "Playmaker".



Yusaku losing a Duel during the Hanoi Project.
Yusaku is rescued from the Hanoi Project.

Yusaku once ran into Ryoken Kogami, knocking his Deck over. As he picked up the cards, Yusaku and Ryoken asked one another if they played Duel Monsters, and Ryoken offered to show Yusaku his Deck at his house.[8] But once Yusaku arrived at the Kogami family's house, he was kidnapped as part of the Hanoi Project and he woke up in a white, empty room, with VR goggles. Yusaku was forced to Duel continuously for six months, and was penalized for losing with electrocution and starvation. During Yusaku's imprisonment, a voice told him not to give up, and advised him to think of three reasons to continue fighting. Yusaku asked who the voice was, but the voice told him he'd soon go home. After six months, the system was disbanded, and while Yusaku was rescued, the Incident was covered up and not mentioned in the media. Yusaku developed PTSD due to the torture he suffered during the Incident, and though he received treatment for it and was treated normally by society, he found himself unable to recover from the tragedies he'd suffered.[9]

Eventually, Yusaku decided to take action and face his own destiny by taking revenge on those who had wronged him, though he still kept the advice to think of three reasons to continue fighting to his heart.[10] He learned that the "Lost Incident" that he had been put through was called the "Hanoi Project", and he decided to hunt down the hacker group the Knights of Hanoi, believing them to be responsible for the "Hanoi Project". He worked alone under the alias "Unknown" (in the dub, he simply did not use an alias at all), rescuing another Duelist from the Knights of Hanoi, Unnamed. Unnamed tried to ask if Unknown knew anything about the Lost Incident, but Unknown simply told him to log out. Unknown later rescued Unnamed again, asking why he kept logging in. Unnamed explained that he was fighting for his little brother's sake, and Unknown distracted the Knights of Hanoi to allow Unnamed to get beyond their field that prevented him from logging out. Unknown then challenged one of the Knights to a Duel, countering his "Limiter Removal" with "Forbidden Lance" and his own "Limiter Removal" to power up "Gaia Saber, the Lightning Shadow" and defeat the Knight in a single attack. As he fled from the other Knights, a portal appeared above him and the voice of Unnamed told him to jump into it. The portal logged Unknown out, and Unnamed told him to come to Café Nom.[2]

Yusaku visited the hotdog stand and met with Kal Kolter, who was shocked to learn that he was so young and asked if he was a victim of the Lost Incident. He explained that his brother, Jin, had also been a victim and had been significantly changed by the experience. Kolter offered to team up with Yusaku, describing him as the ultimate spear, while Kolter could act as the ultimate shield, and Yusaku agreed.[2]

Yusaku and Kolter quickly became a strong team, defeating several Knights of Hanoi, but making little progress in their goals for revenge. Yusaku wondered if the Knights were hunting the Cyberse monsters because they were scared of them, and he decided to investigate an urban legend of a Cyberse Deck in a secret dungeon. As he and Unnamed explored the dungeon, Unknown had to save Unnamed from a booby trap, and he noted that if one lost their Duel Disk in LINK VRAINS, they couldn't log out. They managed to find the Deck, but the way was blocked by a Duel Puzzle that a Knight of Hanoi undertook. Unknown observed the Ancient Ghost's Extra Link and watched as the Knight of Hanoi attempted to win by attacking with the powered-up "Update Jammer", but was defeated by "Chaos Burst" and logged out by being devoured by a monster. Unknown then undertook the challenge himself, cautiously observing his cards in his Graveyard and Extra Deck as well as in his hand and on his field at Unnamed's suggestion. Another Knight of Hanoi arrived as Unknown realized the solution, and Unnamed chained the Knight up to buy Unknown time. They deduced that destroying five monsters with "Thunder Short" and then reviving them with "Torrential Reborn" would inflict enough damage to win, but they controlled a Token monster, as the Knight pointed out, which would not be revived. Unknown was able to assemble the necessary field to trigger the combo, defeating the Ancient Ghost. They sprinted to the sarcophagus, but it was empty, and the Knight mocked them before logging out.[11]

Yusaku realized that the layout of the field had been a map of Den City, which depicted the location of the Cyberse Deck in the real world. Sure enough, when he and Kolter went to the unfinished first bridge of the city, they found a room with arrows leading to it and the "Secure Gardna" card on the door, with the Cyberse Deck inside the real sarcophagus. Kolter declared that the power of the Deck would allow them to combat the Knights of Hanoi.[11]

With the powerful Cyberse Deck in hand, Yusaku took up the alias of "Playmaker", and soon became a famous Duelist within LINK VRAINS, with no one knowing what his real identity because he and Kolter always deleted his activity logs.[12]

Knights of Hanoi[edit]

At school, Yusaku met Naoki Shima, who started bragging to him about his new Duel Disk. Yusaku attempted to leave, but Shima offered to teach him how to Duel. Yusaku rejected his offer saying Shima did not seem very strong, but probably not a bad person either. Yusaku's remarks annoyed Shima, but he didn't think much of it. Before leaving, he wondered about a rule set where there were only three Main Monster Zones.[12]

Yusaku and Kolter talking about the A.I.
Playmaker saves Blue Angel.

Yusaku later met up with Kolter and they discussed how both SOL Technologies and the Knights of Hanoi were chasing after an A.I. program in LINK VRAINS. Upon learning that SOL Technologies had scheduled a full scan of Link VRAINS that evening to try and find the A.I., they quickly started working on a trap to catch the A.I. themselves. Although Yusaku successfully captured the reluctant A.I. in his Duel Disk, one of the Knights of Hanoi threatened to destroy LINK VRAINS. Yusaku quickly logged into LINK VRAINS as Playmaker and saved Blue Angel from the Knight's "Cracking Dragon". He then challenged the Knight to a Duel, putting the A.I. at stake. The A.I. voiced his doubts that Yusaku's Deck could beat "Cracking Dragon", and stirred up Data Storm in LINK VRAINS, starting a Speed Duel between Yusaku and the Knight.[12]

Playmaker being overwhelmed by the Data Storm.

As Playmaker rode the Data Storm, the A.I. explained how Speed Duels differed from Master Duels; including that there were only three Main Monster Zones, causing Playmaker to wonder if he already knew about Speed Duels. Ai offered to help Playmaker Duel the Knight, but Playmaker refused, reminding Ai that he was his hostage. The Knight took the first turn and swiftly Summoned "Cracking Dragon". Playmaker counterattacked with "Cyberse Wizard", using its effect to change "Cracking Dragon" to Defense Position and inflict damage to the Knight. He failed to destroy "Cracking Dragon", something Playmaker had expected due to the Knight's confidence.[13]

Playmaker uses the "Storm Access" Skill.

The Knight activated a Skill, which the A.I. hadn't mentioned, irritating Playmaker. The Knight managed to knock Playmaker off his Duel Board, but Blue Angel saved Playmaker by using her whip to throw the Duel Board back at him. The Knight reduced Playmaker's LP to 400, and he was sucked into the Data Storm. Playmaker realized that this was part of the A.I's calculations. Ai revealed that powerful monsters resided within the Data Storm, and that Playmaker's skill "Storm Access" allowed him to obtain those monsters when his LP was below 1000. Playmaker obtained "Decode Talker", which he used to win the Duel. As the Knight fell off his Duel Board, Yusaku declared that the Knight had no right to call himself a Duelist.[13]

Playmaker attempted to interrogate the Knight, only for the Knight to attempt to kill him by self-destructing. The A.I. saved his life by devouring the Knight's avatar. The Gore and Blue Angel appeared and challenged Playmaker, but he simply said he wasn't interested and logged out. Yusaku and Kolter spent the next few days trying to figure out the A.I's programming, giving him the nickname "Ai". Yusaku discovered some video logs that were actually Ai's memories. Ai claimed that he didn't understand those memories because they were damaged when he was reduced to an eye, but he did recognize the Knights of Hanoi's leader. Later that night, messing with Ai caused the Knight's leader to sense their location and travel there; Yusaku asked Kolter to shut down Café Nom's power to prevent them from being found, though he caught a glimpse of the Knight's leader and his dragon.[14]

Yusaku logs into the network.

The next day a Knight of Hanoi appeared in LINK VRAINS while Ai was at Yusaku's house, so Yusaku skipped school to get his Duel Disk and face the Knight. On his way there, Kolter gave him the "Decode Talker" card which he had materialized. Upon arriving in LINK VRAINS, Playmaker quickly figured out that the Knight was an impostor. The Knight revealed himself to be The Gore, who wanted to defeat Playmaker and recover his title as "VRAINS' hero". Playmaker rejected his challenged, but SOL Technologies triggered a program that stopped him from logging out until he defeated Gore. With no choice, Playmaker started the Duel. When Gore made an intentional misplay and took damage, Ai questioned why he would make such an illogical move; Playmaker replied that humans' hearts make them do illogical things. Ai was confused by that statement, but Playmaker didn't explain what he meant, claiming that Ai's algorithm-based thinking wouldn't comprehend it.[15]

Gore Link Summoned "Gouki The Great Ogre"[15] and reduced Playmaker's LP to 100. Playmaker could've reduced the damage he took but chose not to, and refused to use the escape route that Kolter had built, confusing Ai again. Playmaker stated that Gore's Duel was meant to entertain the audience and his opponent and that he wouldn't quit the Duel. Playmaker proceeded to win by Link Summoning four times in a row and attacking "Great Ogre" three times with "Decode Talker". After the Duel, Kolter suggested they should recruit The Gore for their fight against Hanoi, but Yusaku rejected the idea, saying that he didn't to drag Gore into their fight.[16]

Kolter uncovered Skye Zaizen's identity as Blue Angel, and Yusaku realized that Skye was his classmate. Kolter suggested meeting her in order to find out if her brother Akira Zaizen, the Security Manager at SOL Technologies, knew anything about Yusaku's past or Kolter's brother. However, he then started teasing Yusaku that talking to Skye would be impossible because of his lack of social skills. Nevertheless, Yusaku managed to track her down with Ai's help, and he followed her to the Duel Club, where Shima caught up to him. He feigned ignorance when Shima inferred that he wanted to join the club, and when Hosoda invited him in, he nervously tried to opt out until Ai said thanks on his behalf, which upset him. Yusaku introduced himself to the rest of the club, and the other members introduced themselves as well, including Skye. Sato showed him his Duel Disk, and Yusaku pretended to be interested, commenting on the fact that it was the latest model. Skye remarked that he knew a lot, but he claimed that it was only because Shima had bragged about it earlier. Skye noticed that Yusaku's Duel Disk was a card-loading model, the same as Playmaker's. When she asked to see his Deck, he obliged, but he handed her his dummy Deck instead. Ai later complimented him for doing so, but Yusaku told him to be quiet, as a meeting was in progress.[17]

That evening, he watched Blue Angel issue a public challenge for Playmaker to Duel her. Ai suggested that he should accept, but he refused, since he only approached Skye attempting to acquire a lead on his stolen memories, and he only Dueled against the Knights of Hanoi. Despite this, he was visibly embarrassed when the MC declared that Playmaker wasn't a man if he didn't accept. The next morning, Ai read various posts on social media making fun of Playmaker for not accepting. He soon bumped into Skye again, and they greeted each other. As they walked to class, Skye asked him why he wanted to join the Duel Club, not believing it was because he loved Dueling. Yusaku tried to ask about her brother, she replied that people only ever approached her to ask if her brother could give them a new Duel Disk or a job at SOL after graduation. She lamented that her brother didn't trust her, and ran off. Ai tried to warn Yusaku about a problem he'd noticed with Skye's Duel Disk, but Yusaku wouldn't hear of it.[17]

In class, Ai claimed that a Knight of Hanoi had appeared. Yusaku went to the balcony behind the Duel Club to enter LINK VRAINS, but instead of a Knight of Hanoi, he found Blue Angel, who remarked that he had finally accepted her challenge. He was initially oblivious, but angered when he realized that Ai had sent Skye a text on Playmaker's behalf challenging her. To his shock, Ai explained that Blue Angel had a Hanoi card in her Deck, and he realized that this was what Ai was trying to tell him earlier. He wondered why Blue Angel would join Hanoi ,and Ai suggested that Hanoi might be using her to lure him, and asked him what he would do, since he wanted to defeat Hanoi. He accepted Blue Angel's challenge, beginning the Duel.[17]

Playmaker was quickly at the mercy of Blue Angel's Trickstar Deck, which repeatedly dealt him effect damage while powering up the ATK of her ace monster, "Trickstar Holly Angel", and he noted that the offensive strategy was very efficient. He Summoned "Decode Talker" and attacked "Holly Angel", but the attack failed and "Decode Talker" was destroyed instead. Ai commented that Blue Angel was putting pressure on them, but Playmaker noticed that Hanoi's presence was getting stronger as Blue Angel drew her next card. Playmaker was reduced to less than 1000 LP, allowing him to use his Skill and gain access to "Encode Talker", which he promptly Link Summoned. Blue Angel realized that Playmaker was taking advantage of the damage that she was inflicting to him, and tried to end the Duel by using her Skill, but failed because Playmaker was protected by "Defect Compiler". In response, she played Hanoi's card, "Dark Angel", and immediately fell under their influence. She flew into a berserk rage and started screaming, much to Playmaker's and Ai's concern. He ended the Duel as quickly as possible by destroying "Holly Angel" with "Encode Talker", defeating Blue Angel in one hit, but not before she succumbed to mental damage from "Dark Angel" and fell unconscious.[18]

Yusaku is caught in "Blue Angel's" trap.

Playmaker found Blue Angel unconscious while Ai devoured the "Dark Angel" card. He was forced to log out when security bots approached them, and he found Skye comatose on the roof of the school. He answered Skye's phone when Zaizen called, and took Skye to the hospital. There, he met Zaizen in person, who thanked him and asked about his relationship with Skye; Yusaku claimed that they were just classmates. Yusaku, Kolter, and Ai later discussed Skye's condition and a possible cure. Ai explained that he detected that Skye's brain must be infected by a virus when he devoured Hanoi's card, and that the only ones with the appropriate anti-virus would be Hanoi themselves. "Blue Angel" then appeared on the city's screens challenging Playmaker to a rematch. Despite knowing that it was an impostor and most likely a trap, Yusaku claimed that it was his responsibility to rescue Skye; if the impostor was a Knight of Hanoi he could get the anti-virus; if it was a SOL agent he could explain them what happened to Skye. After logging in, he identified Blue Angel as a fake, but he was trapped by her as she revealed herself to be "Ghost Gal". Zaizen then logging into LINK VRAINS, and proceeded to torture Playmaker, believing him to be responsible for Skye's condition, despite Playmaker and Ai's claims of innocence. Varis appeared and claimed that he would challenge Playmaker for Ai, threatening that Skye would never wake up unless Playmaker defeated him in a Duel. Zaizen released Playmaker, and Varis departed. Before Playmaker took his leave, Zaizen pleaded with him to save Skye, despite his brutal treatment towards him. Playmaker replied that he didn't hate Akira; he only hated the Knights of Hanoi.[19]

As Playmaker and Varis rode the Data Storm, Playmaker expressed his desire to battle the Knights of Hanoi and uncover their true identities. Varis replied that he didn't care about Playmaker's identity and stated that his only goal was to retrieve the Ignis; a term that surprised Playmaker. Both sides agreed on the conditions for their Duel: if Playmaker won, they would get the anti-virus, while if Varis won, he would claim Ai. Varis declared his hatred for AIs and his belief that the Ignis would lead everyone to destruction. Varis blamed Playmaker for assisting Ai and swore to eliminate him. Varis then engulfed LINK VRAINS in flames to provide a fitting setting for their Duel.[20] As the Speed Duel progressed, Playmaker defeated Varis's "Cracking Dragon" with "Decode Talker" once more. Varis revealed that he had the same Skill as Playmaker's and Ai's: "Storm Access". With it, Varis summoned "Topologic Bomber Dragon", and began to gain the upper hand.[20] Fearing they might lose, Ai led Playmaker to another Data Storm, where the two obtained a dragon. However, Varis activated the Trap Card, "Remote Rebirth", and combined it with the effect of "Topologic Bomber Dragon" by reviving "Capacitor Stalker", ending the Speed Duel in a DRAW.

Following the DRAW, Varis dragged Playmaker and Ai inside the Data Storm, where they began a Master Duel. Varis played defensively with "Fire Prison" and "Linkbelt Wall Dragon", limiting Playmaker's moves. He brought out "Encode Talker", but failed to destroy Varis's monsters, and instead set up to Link Summon "Decode Talker" the next turn. However, as soon as he Summoned "Decode Talker", Varis used the effect of "Fire Prison" to eliminate all Cyberse cards from the field, as well as causing Ai to vanish.[21] Varis explained the Ignis to Playmaker; they were A.I. with free will that he believed would attempt to conquer the world. Playmaker refused to believe him, so Varis Link Summoned "Borreload Dragon", the monster Yusaku had seen when Varis had been looking for him, and attacked Playmaker directly. Despite his situation, Playmaker remembered the words someone had told him long ago: three reasons to live and win Duels. Playmaker called out to Ai, asking him to lend him his power, as he proceeded to Link Summon "Firewall Dragon", and ultimately destroyed "Fire Prison," returning Ai to consciousness. The two of them shared friendly banter, until Varis used the effect of "Borreload Dragon" to take control of "Firewall Dragon". Playmaker countered the attack with "Cynet Refresh", destroying and then reviving "Firewall Dragon", before re-Summoning "Encode Talker" as well, declaring that their real battle was just beginning.[10]

Playmaker attempted to return "Borreload Dragon" to Varis's hand with the effect of "Firewall Dragon", but Varis informed him that it couldn't be targeted by effects. Playmaker targeted "Magnarokket Dragon" instead, but this triggered its effect to send "Firewall Dragon" to the Graveyard, though Playmaker's "Cynet Refresh" protected his dragon. Varis was amused, and ended his turn. Much to Varis's surprise, Playmaker had "Firewall Dragon", protected by "Encode Talker", attack "Borreload Dragon", who had more ATK. With "Battle Buffer", "Encode Talker's" ATK was raised, impressing Varis. To counter it, Varis reduced the ATK of "Encode Talker" with the effect of "Borrelad Dragon", destroying "Encode Talker". While "Firewall Dragon's" ATK was raised by "Battle Buffer", Varis's "Rokkets" had regained their effects. Varis claimed the match was over, as Playmaker could not attack anymore but, Playmaker revived "Decode Talker", whose ATK was boosted up to destroy "Borreload Dragon". However, Varis used "Borrel Refrigeration" to make "Magnarokket Dragon" destroy itself to destroy "Decode Talker". Varis smiled, seeing how close he was to his victory, with Playmaker having no cards nor attacks to execute. Playmaker refused to lose, and claimed he wanted to uncover the events that had happened ten years previous, to recover the time he had lost, and to save the person that saved him. Varis was surprised that to learn Playmaker was involved in such an incident, and Playmaker claimed to be the emissary of revenge. Varis claimed Playmaker was a fool to help SOL Technologies without knowing the truth. Playmaker refused to listen, and using "Parallel Port Armor", he had "Firewall Dragon" attack once more, destroying "Borreload Dragon" and defeating Varis.[1]

Playmaker demanded that Varis reveal his true identity and those of the Knights of Hanoi. To his shock, Ai transformed into a monstrous form and devoured Varis's arm in order to get his data back. Varis fled, but he he gave the anti-virus for Blue Angel's coma to Playmaker. Playmaker accompanied Ghost Gal back to the church where Zaizen and Blue Angel were, using the antidote to cure Blue Angel and allow her to log out of LINK VRAINS. Zaizen thanked him for saving Blue Angel, but Playmaker logged out before he could finish. Exhausted from the Duels, Yusaku asked Kolter if Skye was alright before collapsing and falling asleep. Yusaku dreamed about Varis's words regarding Ignis with free will, which caused him to wake up. Kolter sensed he was thinking about what Varis told him. Ai defiantly claimed that he was indeed alive, and he used the program he obtained from Varis to regain his full body. However Ai's size didn't impress Yusaku and Kolter, who tried to determine if Ai regained some of his memories.[1]

As Yusaku was eating hot dogs, he witnessed Emma Bessho visiting Café Nom, who mentioned that she was interested in Dueling Playmaker, intriguing Yusaku. After Emma left, Yusaku noted how stressed Kolter was and decided to help him delete the files regarding Playmaker. As they were deleting files, Kolter asked where Ai was; Yusaku explained that he left Ai at home because he was annoying. Yusaku mused on the idea of AI with free will, and knowing that Varis had unleashed the attack on the Cyberse and searched for Ai, Yusaku deduced that Varis had destroyed the Cyberse. He wondered if it was wise to seek Varis out for answers about his past and about Kolter's brother. He then inadvertently deleted a big scoop that would have revealed everything Playmaker and Kolter knew involving Ai and the Knights of Hanoi had Frog and Pigeon been able to publish it.[22]

At home Yusaku continued to dwell on Varis's words in his hidden room. Kolter called him to Cafe Nom, where he showed him an encrypted message sent to him from Ghost Gal. Kolter explained that he had created a program to help Ghost Gal enter the Data Storm during the Duel with Varis. Ghost Gal had requested a Duel with Playmaker, with Ai as the wager. Yusaku accepted, stating that she offered a backdoor to SOL Technologies' data bank. Ghost Gal soon entered LINK VRAINS, and as Yusaku prepared to log in, Kolter wondered if Yusaku would really Duel her, since she could've set another trap. Yusaku replied he had to uncover the truth behind the Incident, and hoped in that the data bank contained information about Knights of Hanoi. He noted that he sensed some determination in Ghost Gal, despite her weaknesses.[23]

Playmaker quickly met up with Ghost Gal, and she showed him the backdoor program she'd set as her stake for the Duel. Playmaker wondered why she wouldn't she access the data bank, and she explained that she wanted Ai so she could sell him to SOL Technologies. She admitted she grew more interested in Playmaker after his latest Duel, and wanted to battle him as a cyber treasure hunter. Despite Ai's warnings, Playmaker accepted her Duel. Ghost Gal blocked Playmaker's attacks with her "Altergeist" Trap Cards and "Altergeist Kunquery, and then Link Summoned "Altergeist Primebanshee", aiming to defeat Playmaker before he could use his Skill.[23] Playmaker was able to block the attack with "Lockout Gardna", and Ai attempted to fool Ghost Gal into attacking so that they would be able to use Storm Access, but Ghost Gal refused to attack. Ai was in shock, and Playmaker told him his acting was horrible. On Playmaker's turn, Playmaker attempted to destroy "Primebanshee" with "Backlinker", but Ghost Gal blocked his move. Ghost Gal claimed she could anticipate their every move, and prevented Playmaker from reviving "Backlinker". Playmaker Link Summoned "Underclock Taker" and tried to weaken "Primebanshee", but Ghost Gal countered with "Altergeist Camouflage", protecting "Primebanshee" from attacks, claiming that Playmaker had reached his limits. Playmaker paid 1000 LP to activate the effect of "Balancer Lord", lowering his LP enough to use Storm Access, but Ghost Gal refused to let him activate the Skill and used her own Skill, Secret Cure to increase both players' LP. Despite this, was able to lower his LP enough with "Scan Doll", while also copying Ghost Gal's "Altergeist Protocol" to camouflage his "Altergeist Silquitous". Playmaker used Storm Access, and Ghost Gal pursued him into the Data Storm, but she lost control of her Duel Board and fell off it. Playmaker saved her and reminded her their Duel was not over yet and let her go back on the Duel Board. Playmaker Link Summoned his newly-acquired "Excode Talker", whose effect rendered two of Ghost Gal's Main Monster Zones unusable, and Tributed "Scan Doll" to allow "Excode Talker" attack twice. As all of Ghost Gal's monsters could not be attacked, "Excode Talker" could attack Ghost Gal directly, winning Playmaker the Duel. Ghost Gal gave Playmaker the program to enter SOL Technologies' data bank, and left. Yusaku logged out, and Kolter started to analyze the program as Yusaku fell asleep.[24]

Playmaker infiltrates the mother computer system.

Kolter showed Yusaku the maze-like schematics to the data bank, and they wondered how skilled Ghost Gal was to have managed to hack into SOL Technologies' data bank, and Kolter promised he would finish by the time school was over. While at school, Yusaku wondered where Skye was, and he and Ai deduced that her brother forbade her from entering LINK VRAINS to protect her. Ai commented that Yusaku actually cared about her; Yusaku replied that one should not give up on Dueling this way. After school, Kolter showed Yusaku the path to the data bank, but warned him a lot of traps were set to stop anyone. Yusaku hesitantly noted that Ghost Gal also wanted something if she gave him the program, even if the information Yusaku could find there may not be that important. Regardless, he logged into LINK VRAINS to enter the mother computer system. To protect himself, Playmaker used a device to navigate himself, and a rope to disguise him from security programs. Once the security programs started to go after Playmaker, he launched three "Sphere Kuriboh" to shatter them without alerting anyone. Passing the first corridor, Playmaker arrived in the second, where a Data Storm was located that drew Playmaker it, breaking his rope and triggering two prototype AI to hunt him down. Playmaker attempted to evade them, but one of the AIs caught up with him, and initiated a Speed Duel. The AI brought out "Tentacluster Nautilus", and Tributed his "Tentacluster Drillworm" to discard Playmaker's hand. The other AI prototype arrived and started attacking Playmaker, intent on grabbing his Duel Disk. Much to his surprise Blue Angel arrived, using her whip to prevent the AI from grabbing his Duel Disk, and she claimed that she would be the one to defeat Playmaker and started a Speed Duel with the other AI.[25] Blue Angel explained that she had come to repay him for curing her. Playmaker claimed he never indebted her; regardless, Blue Angel started her Duel with the other AI prototype. Playmaker was able to use the cards in his Graveyard to Special Summon several monsters and reduce his LP to 1000 LP, allowing him to use Storm Access to acquire and Link Summon "Vector Scare Archfiend", while also summoning "Cyberse Wizard". Using the effect of "Vector Scare Archfiend", he attacked several times, defeating the AI. Playmaker entered the Data Bank, and was surprised to find Zaizen and Ghost Gal waiting for him.[26]

Playmaker reaches the data bank.

Playmaker asked Ghost Gal and Zaizen why they were in the data bank. Ghost Gal explained that they were after the data, and Playmaker realized that he was just used as a decoy for them to enter the data bank. He ordered Zaizen to move aside, but Zaizen refused and informed him that he had learned what happened to Playmaker ten years previously. Zaizen claimed he had the right to know about the Incident and Playmaker asked him to hand the data over. Zaizen instead asked Playmaker to hand over the Ignis and leave, wanting to shed some light over the Incident, but Playmaker claimed that he would be the one to reveal the truth since it didn't personally involve Zaizen. He challenged Zaizen to a Master Duel, betting Ai for the data, and Zaizen accepted, seeing this as the only way to defeat Playmaker.[27]

Yusaku becoming furious at Zaizen

Playmaker quickly Link Summoned "Decode Talker", but as he prepared his offence, Zaizen brought out "Tindangle Hound" to weaken his linked monsters and used "Lemoine Point" to prevent Playmaker from attacking face-down monsters. Playmaker countered by Link Summoning "Flame Administrator", whose effect increased the ATK of "Decode Talker" past that of "Tindangle Hound". Akira flipped "Tindangle Angel", reviving "Tindangle Hound" face-down and ending Playmaker's Battle Phase. Zaizen spoke about his and Skye's past, claiming that he knew their pain and asking them to leave fighting the Hanoi to him. Kolter and Playmaker became furious, claiming that Zaizen understood nothing about them. Zaizen Flip Summoned "Tindangle Hound", and Set "Tindangle Angel", weakening Playmaker's monsters again and destroying "Flame Administrator". Playmaker used "Limit Code" to bring out "Encode Talker", and then he used it to Link Summon "Firewall Dragon".[27]

Although the effect of "Tindangle Hound" reduced the ATK of "Firewall Dragon", Playmaker destroyed Zaizen's monsters with "Linkage Hole". "Decode Talker" landed a direct attack, but Zaizen destroyed it with "Tindangle Delaunay", and brought out his ace, "Tindangle Acute Cerberus". It attacked "Firewall Dragon", which Playmaker protected with "Doppler Phase Coating". Zaizen protected his own monster with "Gergonne's End", and Playmaker noted that Zaizen's Deck was quite difficult to figure out with such complex strategies. Playmaker tried to end the Duel by attacking Zaizen's "Tindangle Token", but Zaizen prevented the damage with "Morley's Shield", then used "Nagel's Protection" to protect his Tokens. "Tindangle Acute Cerberus" attacked "Firewall Dragon" again, reducing Playmaker to 500 LP. Ai yelled at Playmaker to do something, and wondered if there was anything to be done to get them out of their situation. Playmaker told Ai to stop panicking, and the two traded barbs. Playmaker swore he would not lose, as he wished to uncover the truth. He claimed that his Deck contained his feelings over the past ten years. Playmaker drew a card and Set it. Zaizen asked Playmaker to stop this revenge and cherish his memories, rather than trying to uncover the truth, which Zaizen would reveal. He claimed Playmaker was too conceited in the past, and he would not feel happiness, just as Zaizen himself hadn't. Blue Angel, who had been watching the Duel for a while, revealed her presence and asked to hear about Playmaker's past. Against Playmaker's wishes, Zaizen spoke about the Lost Incident, mentioning that Playmaker had been rescued at its conclusion. Playmaker claimed that he was never rescued due to the trauma that he suffered, and swore that he would uncover the truth for the sake of the families hurt in the Incident, and that he would rescue the person whose voice had encouraged him to fight if he was still trapped. Playmaker noted that even though Zaizen believed revenge was pointless, he had still discovered that the Knights of Hanoi had been involved in the Lost Incident, also known as the Hanoi Project. Zaizen then revealed that SOL Technologies' data bank contained the name of the mastermind behind the Hanoi Project, much to Playmaker's shock.[9]

Playmaker demanded the name of the mastermind, but Zaizen refused to reveal it, fearing this would only feed Playmaker's hatred and desire for revenge. Zaizen attempted to conclude the Duel by attacking "Firewall Dragon" with "Acute Cerberus", but Playmaker avoided the defeat by banishing his dragon with "Cynet Backdoor", triggering the effect of "Doppler Phase Coating" to end the Battle Phase. Zaizen turned the tables by preventing Playmaker from attacking "Euler's Circuit", which would also allow him to Summon a "Tindangle" monster to Playmaker's field to complete his combo. Playmaker brought out "Link Spider", "Recovery Sorcerer" and "Security Gardna". Zaizen pointed out the pointlessness of summoning the monsters, as Playmaker was unable to attack. As Playmaker had Summoned "Security Gardna" to the Zone that "Tindangle Acute Cerberus" pointed to, Zaizen used "Gergonne's End" to destroy the monsters that "Acute Cerberus" pointed to, inflicting the ATK of "Acute Cerberus" to Playmaker, but Playmaker survived with the effect of "Security Gardna", which prevented all effect damage during that turn and destroyed "Euler's Circuit", allowing Playmaker to attack. Despite his advantage, Playmaker used "Recovery Sorcerer" to bring back "Security Gardna". Ai questioned this, as Playmaker could simply attack directly with "Firewall Dragon", and Playmaker claimed that a Duel was more than just winning or losing. He used the effect of "Firewall Dragon" to return Akira's "Tindangle Hound" and "Tindangle Angel" from the Graveyard to his hand, reducing the ATK of "Tindangle Acute Cerberus" to 0, before destroying it with "Firewall Dragon", defeating Zaizen. Playmaker walked past the Zaizen siblings and had Ai devour SOL Technologies' data. Before leaving, Playmaker asked Zaizen not to follow him, or else he'd walk the path of darkness. Zaizen asked why Playmaker didn't attack directly with "Firewall Dragon", and he explained "Tindangle Hound" and "Tindangle Angel" represented Akira and his sister, who he believed should turn around and walk to the light rather than remain in the Graveyard. He tansported to his Duel Board and logged out. Outside, Kolter praised Yusaku and Ai. The two hacked into Ai, and found out the Hanoi Project's leader was Dr. Kiyoshi Kogami, an employee from SOL Technologies, who worked on the Project alone in secrecy. The two concluded that SOL Technologies covered up the Incident to prevent the company's reputation from being ruined. Ai doubted that Dr. Kogami could have done this on his own, and suggested that Zaizen was involved, but Kolter reminded him that Zaizen had been 16 back then and not employed at SOL Technologies at the time. Kolter and Yusaku failed to find the Project's goal in the data, but to their shock they discovered Dr. Kogami had died seven years ago.[28]

With the food truck positioned at the coast, Yusaku was doing research. Kolter invited him for a break, and gazed upon the ocean. Yusaku pointed out Kolter won't get many customers at that place, but Kolter assured him the famous coast was named Stardust Road, known for the luminous plankton that rarely gather at night, and thought the person living near the coast may have seen that. Kolter failed to gather new info from SOL Technologies' data, and Yusaku saw that data from ten years ago was actually deleted. Still, they knew the company was involved, even if Akira knew nothing about the incident before. Kolter felt a bit relieved that Dr. Kogami passed away, thinking their revenge was over. Yusaku reminded him they still didn't know about the goal of the incident, and Kolter still wanted to rescue his brother from darkness, even if they had no clue where to continue. Yusaku still remembered Varis knew some things. Kolter stated Varis was not seen recently, but Yusaku believed he was not the type that would simply disappear.[29]

Playmaker and Ai watched an eclipse blocking the virtual sun in LINK VRAINS. Ai recalled that people in the ancient past were scared of such events, and was surprised that even today people were still afraid. Playmaker replied that people had remained the same, unlike technology that advances. He likened the eclipse to the Lost Incident, vowing that he would not let the incident be buried in darkness and to uncover the truth. Later, Yusaku was at school, remembering the person who saved him. Shima talked to him about the Deleted, and Ai noted the phenomenon's similarities to Blue Angel's coma, but Yusaku shushed him, since Shima could hear him. Shima doubted Yusaku would become a victim, as they were usually promising Duelists, and Yusaku advised Shima to stay away from his Duel Disk. At Café Nom, Kolter showed Ai and Yusaku the footage of a person being Deleted, which happened six minutes before midnight. Kolter told them the person had not recovered yet, and showed them pictures of more Deleted patients in hospitals. Ai and Yusaku knew this was the same condition that Blue Angel had been infected by.[30]

Analyzing what the victims had in common, Yusaku and Kolter realized that the victims were all skilled Duelists and hackers with old models of Duel Disk; the perpetrators were looking for Playmaker and Ai. Deciding that they needed to stop more people from being Deleted, they looked at a list of possible targets and Yusaku visited the house of Mackendrick Kellenbocker, but arrived too late to prevent a Knight of Hanoi from Deleting Mackendrick after the Knight realized that he did not have an Ignis. The Gore saved Mackendrick's body, and confronted the Knight, Dr. Genome, who confirmed that he was attempting to draw Playmaker out. Yusaku alerted the paramedics and went with Mackendrick to the hospital, where he heard Gore swear to defeat Dr. Genome. Gore met Yusaku in person for the first time, believing he was concerned for his schoolmate, and Yusaku introduced himself before leaving. That night, the Knights of Hanoi] attacked and Deleted more Duelists, and Yusaku decided to log in and stop them. To their surprise, someone disguised as Playmaker defeated the Knights of Hanoi and drew out Dr. Genome. The imposter revealed themselves as The Gore, claiming he knew Playmaker's identity and betting it on a Duel with Genome in exchange for the cure to Mackendrick's Deleted virus. Yusaku did not know if Gore really knew his identity, but was still frustrated. The group watched as Dr. Genome activated the Data Gale, conjuring black tornadoes for the Speed Duel.[30] As the Speed Duel continued, Gore donned a mask and declared himself as "Grim Gore", Ai thought it was tacky, but Yusaku and Kolter realized that Gore changed his battling style to that of a heel. Despite the advantages he gained, Grim Gore was nearly defeated by Genome, and after Ai suggested Yusaku log in and save Gore, Yusaku did so after Grim Gore barely kept himself in the Duel.[31] Playmaker logged in and he motivated Grim Gore in a sarcastic manner, and Grim Gore performed a face turn and defeated Genome. Gore realized that Playmaker hadn't come to mock him, but to motivate him. He suggested an alliance with Playmaker and the watching Blue Angel to defeat the Knights of Hanoi, and Playmaker accepted, though Blue Angel abstained. The next day Yusaku didn't go to school and teamed up with Gore, defeating various Knights of Hanoi. After defeating a Knight, Playmaker and Ai interrogated him about the Deleted removal program, but the Knight was erased before he could explain. Gore then asked Playmaker about Blue Angel's whereabouts, but Playmaker didn't know where she was, and they discussed the creator of the removal program. Sometime later Yusaku, Ai and Kolter watched Kitamura's public announcement of an army of A.I. Duelists he had developed to confront the Knights of Hanoi.[32]

As the Deleted crisis continued, Kolter determined that the Knights of Hanoi would soon find Playmaker if they took over LINK VRAINS, though Yusaku believed they could prevent that by looking into the origins of Deleted virus. Despite their attempts, their work proved fruitless, and it was Blue Angel who ended up finding the virus's creator, Baira. Resuming their search through footage of the Deleted, they spotted Baira present at one of the events,[33] and they managed to determine her real identity; Clarissa Turner, a doctor from Den City Hospital. Yusaku and Ai went to Clarissa's apartment, bypassing her security robot with Kolter's help, and they found her logged into LINK VRAINS as Blue Angel defeated her. Kolter arrived and they witnessed the Deleted being cured and logging out of LINK VRAINS due to Barira releasing the removal program. Baira appeared to log out, and Yusaku and Kolter prepared to interrogate her, but she remained comatose and they saw Varis reaching towards her on her viewscreen, apparently purging her.[34]

Despite the Deleted being cured, Yusaku remained worried as he'd only fought the Knights of Hanoi inside LINK VRAINS and there was still one last Commander. At school the next day Yusaku spoke with Shima, who wished to battle the Knights of Hanoi alongside Playmaker and Blue Angel. Yusaku tried to dissuade Shima, who became furious and stormed out, and Ai stated that Yusaku went too far on him. To Yusaku's surprise when he headed to Café Nom that afternoon, Kolter revealed that someone called "The Brave Battler" had played his "Cyberse Wizard" card. Yusaku showed his "Cyberse Wizard", and Ai touched it and sensed that the data from the card was missing. Ai suggested that The Brave Battler was the mastermind they were looking for and that he'd a Knight of Hanoi to lure Playmaker out, but they soon realized that The Brave Battler was Shima. Yusaku feared Shima would be in danger if the Knights of Hanoi learned that he used a Cyberse card. Sure enough, Yusaku and Kolter found The Brave Battler with the Commander in question, Faust, who called out Playmaker to Duel him, while to Yusaku's surprise, The Brave Battler claimed to have received "Cyberse Wizard" from Playmaker. Yusaku went to get his Duel Disk, but found it gone; Ai had gone to search for Shima in the Duel Disk, which Roboppi had modified into a drone. Yusaku realized that Ai knew this would happen, and Ai acted offended that Yusaku was accusing him. Ai showed them the location where Shima was held captive, then returned to Café Nom as it was en route, and Yusaku and Ai logged in to LINK VRAINS.[35] Playmaker assured The Brave Battler that he'd face Faust. Before he did, The Brave Battler returned "Cyberse Wizard" to Playmaker. Playmaker noted that Faust was the final Deleted mastermind, and accused him of stealing the data of "Cyberse Wizard" and giving it to The Brave Battler to lure him out. But Faust claimed that he had not done so, and Ai assured Playmaker that it wasn't important, as they only had to defeat Faust. Faust declared that his mission was to retrieve Ignis, and he used the Data Storm to conjure a stage for their Speed Duel and prevent Playmaker from logging out. Faust went all-out from the start, Link Summoning "Motor Worm Spreader Queen" and powering it up with "Motor Worm Tokens". Playmaker opposed it with "Decode Talker" and "Cyberse Wizard", but Faust was able to protect "Spreader Queen" from "Decode Talker" with "Wormhole Defense", though its ATK was lowered enough for "Cyberse Wizard" to defeat "Spreader Queen". Faust simply revived "Spreader Queen" with "Worm Revival", then used "Egg Clutch" to turn "Cyberse Wizard" into an Insect monster and boost the ATK of "Spreader Queen". The presence of only Insect monsters on their field would allow Faust to attack them directly, but Ai pointed out they still had the Cyberse "Decode Talker". Faust destroyed "Decode Talker", then used his Skill "Double Bite" to allow "Spreader Queen" to attack once more and finish Playmaker off.[36]

Playmaker uses "Storm Access" in the Data Storm.

Playmaker was blasted into a building, but barely survived by halving the damage with "Urgent Link". He attempted to Link Summon, but Faust's "Wormhole Defense" prevented the Insect Tokens from being used as Link Material. Faust declared he would obtain the Ignis on his next turn, but Playmaker turned things around with "Cybersal Cyclone", allowing him to destroy "Wormhole Defense". Faust declared he still wouldn't lose, though Playmaker made him doubt his words when he went into the Data Storm to use "Storm Access", obtaining and Link Summoning "Powercode Talker". Playmaker negated the effects of "Spreader Queen" to reduce her ATK, then he prepared to attack. Faust tried to warn him of Ignis being a threat, but Ai told Playmaker to ignore Faust, and Playmaker doubled the ATK of "Powercode Talker", who destroyed "Motor Worm Spreader Queen" and defeated Faust. Before vanishing, Faust tried to warn Playmaker that he may have just doomed the future of humanity. Playmaker repeated Faust's final words, which Ai didn't claim to know anything about. Before logging out, Playmaker told The Brave Battler he should seek his own path if he was brave enough. Yusaku found Shima in the real world, who had been released when Faust lost the Duel. Shima was glad to see that Yusaku came to rescue him, and told him about Playmaker's ordeals. While Shima was talking, Yusaku concluded Faust didn't want Shima to be Deleted, and that Ai could have been the one that sent "Cyberse Wizard" to Shima.[36]

Despite the defeat of the three Commanders and the conclusion of the Deleted incident, Yusaku still remained uneasy, as Varis remained unaccounted for.[36] Yusaku and Ai sensed something wrong in LINK VRAINS on their way to school one day via their Link Sense, and then again after Kolter served a customer at the Stardust Road as Yusaku wondered why Varis hadn't made any recent appearances. (In the dub, they saw visions of an energy sphere.) Yusaku asked Kolter to scan the network, and just as Yusaku and Ai sensed another pulse, Kolter discovered that the LINK VRAINS infrastructure was changing. Yusaku decided to log in, uneasy about Varis's absence and believing that something big was about to happen. As Playmaker searched through LINK VRAINS, Ai tried to convince him that they should return, but Playmaker refused to be dissuaded and they sensed another pulse. Spotting some data fireflies, Playmaker traced them to an alleyway.[37]

Playmaker runs from the data monster.

Ghost Gal arrived, and she wasn't particularly pleased to see Ai and Playmaker present, confirming that the fireflies were hers. Playmaker warned her that the path ahead was dangerous and advised her to log out, but Ghost Gal refused, stating that the reward would thus be greater. The data fireflies opened a path into LINK VRAINS' data sewers, and they came to a fork in the path. Ai suggested they settle the decision of who went what way with a game, which amused Ghost Gal. Playmaker watched Ai and Ghost Gal's game to choose a "lovely" card from her Deck, well aware that the game was rigged so that Ai would chose a wrong card. Sure enough, Ghost Gal won the game and allowed Playmaker to go down the left path. Ai was depressed to learn he'd been cheated, but Playmaker reminded him of the importance of their mission, and they continued on. As they moved through the data sewers, they were attacked by a data monster that chased them through the sewers.[37] They eventually came to a dead end, but just as the data monster approached them, it was destroyed by a bright light that blasted through the floor. Realizing that they must be above the anomaly, Playmaker leaped through the crack and Ai noted it was the path that Ghost Gal had taken. They came to a data processing plant, finding Ghost Gal and Varis Speed Dueling around a sphere of energy, and they two watched as Ghost Gal was defeated by Varis's "Topologic Trisbaena". Playmaker swore to save her, but Ghost Gal claimed she was too pathetic for a professional and gave Playmaker the data she had acquired on the sphere. Ghost Gal then started disintegrating, and she warned Playmaker Varis's terrifying new card before she disappeared, her data absorbed by the energy sphere. Varis confronted Playmaker, who demanded to know what had happened to Ghost Gal. Varis claimed she had become a foundation for the Tower of Hanoi, which he proceeded to begin. He revealed that the only way to stop it was by defeating him, and fled as the Tower began destroying the plant. Enraged, Playmaker attempted to tear down the bars between him and Varis, forcing Ai to use the emergency logout to save them.[38]

Yusaku, Kolter, and Ai watched as the Tower of Hanoi appeared in LINK VRAINS, absorbing data of all kinds, buildings, roads, and even all the Avatar's in the vicinity. Kolter analyzed Ghost Gal's data, showing the Tower of Hanoi. Yusaku remembered Varis's words, and deduced if the Hanoi's game was over, the world would be destroyed. Kolter continued analyzing the data, and he explained that the Tower would craft a ring of data every hour, and when the Tower was completed, it would release a pulse of high-density data that would destroy every piece of technology connected to the network. Ai believed they'd be safe if they didn't enter the network, but Yusaku stated that Varis likely would have thought of this, and Kolter confirmed that the data pulse would also repurpose mainframes into EMP devices that would affect technology even if it wasn't connected to the network. They realized that Varis was going so far just to erase the Ignis. Later, they witnessed Kitamura Dueling a Knight of Hanoi, Specter, who defeated Kitamura, resulting in Kitamura's data being absorbed by the Tower of Hanoi. Specter threatened anyone that dared enter LINK VRAINS with the same fate, and Yusaku swore to stop the Knights of Hanoi by shutting down the Tower. Kolter warned him there were no Data Storms in LINK VRAINS, except near the Tower of Hanoi.[39]

This did not stop Yusaku, who wished to end his feud with Varis, and he logged in to LINK VRAINS. He quickly met up with The Gore and Blue Angel, who stated that they were fighting for everyone in LINK VRAINS. Playmaker explained that he had come to stop the Tower of Hanoi, rescue Ghost Gal and confront the Varis, and Blue Angel was shocked to hear that Ghost Gal had been defeated. Gore asked about the data Ghost Gal gave to Playmaker, and Playmaker explained that Varis intended to destroy LINK VRAINS using the Tower of Hanoi. Blue Angel realized if the network would be destroyed, then all the people absorbed would be destroyed too, and Ai added it would prevent him from being erased. Gore asked how to stop the tower, and Playmaker explained that they needed to defeat Varis. Ai warned them that they only had six hours before the Tower was completed. Gore and Blue Angel promised to go there, but Playmaker stated it was better if they stayed safe. This actually motivated Gore and Blue Angel even more, and Playmaker claimed not to care, but asked them to be careful. He warned them of Varis's powerful new card, and they promised to meet up against and approached the Tower from different directions.[39]

Playmaker looks at the whirlwind from afar.

On his way to the Tower of Hanoi, Playmaker rescued a boy dressed as him from a collapsing building, who had believed Frog and Pigeon to be Knights of Hanoi. Playmaker asked the boy to log out while he protected LINK VRAINS, and the boy did so, stating that he believed in Playmaker.[40] Ai recorded the five hour mark before the Tower of Hanoi was completed, and Playmaker swore to end the crises by defeating Varis, prompting Ai to cheer for them. As they continued on, they saw a twister in the distance where Blue Angel had headed.[41] Playmaker and Ai arrived at a bridge that was beginning to be absorbed by the Tower, and Ai noted they had to cross it to get to the Tower. Ai suggested conjuring a Data Storm, but Playmaker warned him that the Tower would just absorb that data too and hasten the tower's completion.[42]

Before they could cross the bridge, they were opposed by Specter. Specter proclaimed that he would crush them on Varis's orders as he had Blue Angel, shocking Playmaker and Ai, and Specter boasted that he defeated her without even having to use his full strength. Specter commented that Blue Angel had talked about "blue love", which Ai did not understand. Specter showed them data fragments of Blue Angel, claiming that she had no power to save him, and he promised that the same fate would befall Playmaker. Specter began their Duel by Summoning "Sunseed Genius Loci" and using it to Link Summon "Sunavalon Dryas", and Setting a card. Playmaker recalled Blue Angel's burn tactics, and the speed with which Specter had defeated her. Ai declared that he was very dangerous too and noted that Specter's monster did not look very offensive. Playmaker asked Specter why he fought, and Specter claimed he fought for Varis. Playmaker tried to persuade Specter to step down, believing that he did not know about Varis's plan, but Specter confirmed he knew what Varis intended and that he would stand by his side regardless. Playmaker claimed that Specter did not understand Varis, and that an outsider of the Lost Incident like Specter had no reason to be involved. Specter explained that he did understand the Lost Incident, revealing that he was one of the six children that were kidnapped as Playmaker had been.[42]

Playmaker was shocked, and protested that the Knights had committed atrocities against Specter, but Specter claimed that the Incident entertained him, as it made him feel important, and Varis gave him a place where he could belong among the Knights of Hanoi. Specter wondered if he was weird, but thought Playmaker's sense of justice made him even stranger. Ai reminded Playmaker that he was nothing like Specter, and reminded him that the Tower would continue growing while they wasted time. Specter dared Playmaker to defeat him, and Playmaker Link Summoned "Binary Sorceress", "Multi Sledgehammer" and "Binary Blader", and as he could not attack "Dryas", he attacked Specter directly with "Binary Sorceress", only for Specter to replenish his LP by Special Summoning "Sunvine Gardna". Specter explained about the tree that had protected him when he was a baby, and declared that he began distrusting society when the tree was cut down, and that he now served Varis.[42] He proclaimed that as long as the tree was on the field, nobody could defeat him and that Ignis and LINK VRAINS would be erased. Playmaker reminded Specter that he would be erased too, but Specter merely wished to fulfill Varis's goal and he claimed that Playmaker would never understand their goals as long as he chased after revenge. Playmaker continued attacking, supporting his other attacks with the effects of "Binary Sorceress", restoring his own LP as well, but Specter evolved "Dryas" into "Sunavalon Dryanome" in the middle of Playmaker's Battle Phase and restored his own LP. Playmaker realized that Specter's Deck was defense-oriented, and attacked again with "Binary Blader", but once again Specter's "Sunavalon Glorious Growth" and "Sunvine Gardna" restored his LP and lowered Playmaker's back to 4000. But Playmaker had planned for a single final strike, using the attacks of his monsters to increase the ATK of "Multi Sledgehammer" to 4000.[43]

Ai praised Playmaker's brilliant strategy, but Specter warned them that it wasn't perfect; "Sunavalon Glorious Growth" redirected the attack to "Sunvine Gardna", who reduced the damage and Specter performed his combo once more. Specter declared his belief that he had the Duel won as Playmaker fought for revenge while Specter was helping Varis save the world. Specter went on the offensive with "Sunvine Thrasher" and took control of "Binary Blader" to destroy Playmaker's monsters. Ai warned Playmaker that he was losing, but Playmaker explained that Specter could no longer use the effect of "Sunavalon Dryanome", for all of the zones it pointed to were occupied, but Specter Link Summoned "Sunavalon Daphne", expanding his available zones. The bridge began to be erased, but "Dryanome" stabilized it, allowing the Duel to continue. Specter used "Sunavalon Force" to render "Dryanome" immune to effects, but Playmaker brought out "Excode Talker" and "Underclock Taker", locking down Specter's two Main Monster Zones and reducing the ATK of "Sunvine Thrasher". As Ai gloated that they would win, Specter revealed that Zaizen had been imprisoned in LINK VRAINS, threatening to use his prison to infect him with a virus. Playmaker and were angry that Specter was cheating by dragging people that weren't even involved into their Duel, but Specter accused Playmaker of involving man more people in the current crisis, including the Zaizens.[43]

Although Zaizen and Ai both told Playmaker not to listen to Specter, Playmaker ended his turn without attacking. Specter mocked Playmaker over his desire for revenge and his simultaneous virtue, and he counterattacked with "Thrasher", destroying "Underclock Taker" and reducing Playmaker's LP to 900. Ai panicked as the bridge continued collapsing[43] and Specter lamented that he could not defeat Playmaker as the bridge was collapsing. Playmaker manipulated Specter into stabilizing the bridge again to continue the Duel, though Specter believed Playmaker would be unable to win and dared him to attack and risk Zaizen's life. Zaizen told Playmaker to attack, else Skye's sacrifice would have been for nothing, but again Playmaker simply Set a card and played defensively, protecting "Excode Talker" with various card effects and refusing to use the offensive effect of his "Overload Anchor" card. Specter Link Summoned "Sunavalon Dryatrentiay" and used its effect destroy Playmaker's defensive Spell and Trap Cards, then brought out another "Sunvine Thrasher", whose ATK became 4000. Ai was worried by the high ATK, but relieved that Specter's monsters in the Main Monster Zones could not attack the turn he used "Dryatrentiay's" effect. Playmaker reminded Ai that Specter had Summoned the high ATK "Thrasher" for a reason, and Specter commended Playmaker for his observation, as "Dryatrentiay" gained the ATK of the monsters it pointed to when it attacked. But Playmaker had been waiting for that move, and he activated "Link Surge Counter" to make the ATK of "Excode Talker" equal to that of "Sunavalon Dryatrentiay", and both monsters were destroyed, though the effect of "Sunavalon Force" reduced Playmaker to 50 LP. Ai praised Playmaker for avoiding defeat, and the destruction of "Sunavalon Dryatrentiay" broke Specter's combo and sent him into a rage. Playmaker stated that it had been difficult to break Specter's combo until his "Sunavalon" was the one that attacked. The enraged Specter revived "Dryatrentiay" with "Sunavalon Cursed Rebirth", and while its effects were negated, its ATK became 4000. Specter added that any damage he took would also be inflicted to Playmaker, assuring his defeat. Ai claimed this was why they should have ignored Zaizen, and Kolter suddenly attempted to destroy the trap that imprisoned Zaizen, but failed. [44]

Zaizen reminded Playmaker that he had to win or Skye's sacrifice would be in vain, and he grasped his prison, infecting himself with the virus and being absorbed by the Tower of Hanoi. Specter mocked Zaizen for entrusting the future to a man who could not win, but a vengeful Playmaker warned Specter that his Dueling always won and that his doubts had disappeared now that Zaizen was gone. He Link Summoned "Talkback Lancer" and resurrected "Excode Talker", then with "Link Atrocity", raised its ATK to 4000 to match "Dryatrentiay". Specter believed that Playmaker was aiming for mutual destruction and that his goal to prevent Playmaker from reaching Varis was complete, Playmaker replied that Specter's goal was gone, for "Link Atrocity" reduced the ATK of "Dryatrentiay" back to 0. "Excode Talker" destroyed "Dryatrentiay", defeating Specter. As Specre lamented over allowing Playmaker to live, yet claimed he had no regrets, Playmaker claimed he had no doubts anymore. Specter told him that doubt and regret were two different things, and Playmaker left him behind as the bridge continued collapsing, but he was unable to reach the other side before it collapsed, plunging into the abyss below.[44] To their surprise, a Data Storm suddenly ejected them from the abyss, but Ai hadn't caused it. Realizing that the Tower was already half complete, they resumed their sprint towards the Tower.[45]

Frog and Pigeon informed them of a Duel near the Tower, and Playmaker realized that The Gore was Dueling Varis, as Blue Angel and Specter had both been defeated. He advised Frog and Pigeon to log out before sprinting in the direction they'd indicated. They arrived to see that Gore was indeed Dueling Varis, and Gore told Playmaker that he was late and that he would defeat Varis for him. Playmaker watched the Duel quietly, while Ai enthusiastically cheered Gore on. Although Gore was able to destroy Varis's "Topologic Bomber Dragon" and assemble enough "Gouki" Link Monsters for a finishing attack, Varis countered them with the card that Ghost Gal had warned them about - "Mirror Force".[45] Gore was able to recover from having his monsters destroyed, but Varis continued to drive him into a corner until Gore Link Summoned "Gouki The Giant Ogre" and counterattacked, bringing their LP almost equal. Ai thought Gore would be fine, but Playmaker reminded him that Varis still had four monsters. They thought Varis would Link Summon "Borreload Dragon", but he instead Link Summoned "Borrelsword Dragon" and defeated Gore. As Gore was absorbed by the Tower of Hanoi, he apologized to Playmaker for being unable to do more, but Playmaker assured him that he knew about Varis's strategies now (specifying in the dub that he now knew about "Mirror Force".)[46]

Playmaker claims that he never considered Ai a friend after learning about his deception.

With The Gore's defeat, Playmaker and Varis were left as the only two Duelists in LINK VRAINS. They Speed Dueled in the debris of the Tower's fifth ring, and before the Duel started, Playmaker asked if Varis really needed to destroy the network just to destroy the Ignis. Varis accused Playmaker of causing this when he didn't give them Ai, and Playmaker vowed to defeat Varis (specifying in the dub that he was also fighting for Gore and Blue Angel) and quickly Link Summoned "Decode Talker". Varis then asked Playmaker why Ai was running from the Knights, and Playmaker told him that Ai had claimed to have lost his memory. Varis then revealed that the Knights had never been able to obtain Ai's memories, so he still had them and had been lying to Playmaker, and he revealed that Ai had been created based on Playmaker during the Hanoi Project and that its purpose had been to create the Ignis, who had created their own world, the Cyberse. Ai tried to explain himself, but Playmaker harshly told him that he never considered him a friend, and told Varis that he only cared about defeating him (in the dub, Playmaker was far less harsh on Ai, though still angry with him).[47]

Playmaker's attempt to use "Storm Access" severs his hand.

They continued the Duel, but Varis only opposed "Decode Talker" with "Spin-Headed Behemoth" and a Set card, which Playmaker suspected to be "Mirror Force". He attempted to counter it with "Fault Tolerlancer", keeping it in Defense Position to protect his Attack Position monsters, but the effect of Varis's "Spin-Headed Behemoth" switched all of Playmaker's monsters to Attack Position and "Mirror Force" destroyed them all. Varis then brought out "Flash Charge Dragon" and powered it up in combination with "Blast Powder Dragon", reducing Playmaker to 900 LP.[47] Playmaker was able to block the attack with "Spool Code", Summoning Tokens to Link Summon with on his next turn. He attempted to counter with "Security Dragon", but the effect of Varis's "Flash Charge Dragon" protected it. Playmaker then attempted to use his Skill in the high-density Data Storm surrounding the Tower's core, despite Ai's protests, but he failed and his arm was severed. Ai grew to human size and saved him, then boosted Playmaker's Duel Board enough for him to safely enter the Data Storm and obtain "Transcode Talker", though the effort apparently destroyed Ai. Playmaker Link Summoned "Transcode Talker", reviving "Decode Talker" and boosting their ATK high enough to defeat Varis, but Varis was able to survive their attacks with 850 LP remaining. Ai revealed that he'd survived, but needed time to recover, and Varis then attempted to use "Storm Access" himself, but failed as Playmaker had. Dr. Kogami then appeared to them, freezing the Data Storm and talking with Varis, giving him the energy he needed to enter the Data Storm. Declaring that the Stardust Road had shown him the way, Varis Link Summoned his new monster, "Topologic Gumblar Dragon", but then he abruptly ended the Duel in a DRAW by combining its effect to destroy their hands with "Drop Draco", blasting them both out of LINK VRAINS.[48]

Yusaku meets Ryoken Kogami - Varis - in real life.

Yusaku realized that Varis was near the Stardust Road due to his comments about it, and he and Kolter drove to the house on the cliff. There they found Ryoken Kogami with his father's body, and Ryoken told them that Dr. Kogami had just passed away. Yusaku asked Ryoken to tell them the truth, and Ryoken explained why the Hanoi Project had been undertaken and revealed that he had been the one who alerted the authorities. However, he had regretted this decision due to what happened to his father; he was infected with a virus by SOL Technologies that left him comatose, but revived in the network. The Ignis had created the Cyberse and the Cyberse monsters, in addition to Data Material and Data Storms. Dr. Kogami had then determined through simulations that the Ignis would eventually turn on humanity, which was why the Knights of Hanoi were trying to destroy them. Yusaku attempted to persuade Ryoken to stop the Tower of Hanoi, protesting that Kogami's results were only simulations (in the dub, he claimed that they were no better than Ryoken said the Ignis were if they were willing to destroy them) and that they could take a different path, as Ryoken - who he realized had been the one who told him to think of three reasons to fight during his captivity - had taught him. Ryoken then revealed that he had known Yusaku's identity since their first Master Duel when Playmaker spoke of "three reasons", but denied that he was a good person and still refused to end the Tower. He challenged Yusaku to a final Duel, and Yusaku accepted his challenge.[49]

They logged into LINK VRAINS, Master Dueling atop the Tower of Hanoi, whose sixth ring was almost complete. As Varis had in their previous Duel, he quickly Set "Mirror Force" to discourage Playmaker from attacking. Playmaker attempted to destroy "Mirror Force" with the effect of "Linkslayer", but Varis had actually Set "Mirror Force Launcher", which re-Set itself and then Set the real "Mirror Force". Despite the threat of "Mirror Force", Playmaker Link Summoned "Excode Talker" using "Restoration Point Guard" as Link Material, allowing him to revive "Restoration Point Guard" when "Mirror Force" destroyed "Excode Talker" and land a direct attack.[49] Varis recovered "Mirror Force" and counterattacked with "Topologic Bomber Dragon" on his next turn, but as he'd Link Summoned, "Restoration Point Guard" was indestructible for the turn and Playmaker was able to minimize the damage that he took. He brought out "Transcode Talker" and revived "Excode Talker", triggering the effect of "Topologic Bomber Dragon". Playmaker had been waiting for the effect to activate, and he negated the effects of "Topologic Bomber Dragon" with "Shield Handler", which he then equipped to "Excode Talker" to prevent being destroyed by card effects. He Link Summoned "Powercode Talker" as well, and the effect of "Excode Talker" also prevented it and "Transcode" form being destroyed by card effects. "Transcode Talker" attacked "Topologic Bomber Dragon", but Varis protected it with "Link Turret", amassing five Rokket Counters on it. Varis Link Summoned his ace, "Borreload Dragon" on his next turn, which single-handedly dismantled Playmaker's defenses as Varis claimed that they had no new path and that they were prisoners of destiny.[50] Varis then began swarming the field with the effect of "Link Turret" and his "Miniborrel Dragon", Tributing Playmaker's stolen monsters to continually revive it. He brought out "Borrelguard Dragon" and "Borrelsword Dragon" discarding his "Mirror Force" cards to revive Playmaker's "Code Talkers", and Ai was confused that Varis had discarded his trump card. Playmaker noted that Varis had a trump card greater than "Mirror Force" and then realized that Varis intended to create an Extra Link. Sure enough, Varis Link Summoned "Topologic Gumblar Dragon", completing an Extra Link that unlocked the true power of "Topologic Gumblar Dragon". Varis destroyed their hand and inflicted 3000 damage to them with an effect that could not be negated.[51]

Despite the situation, Playmaker enjoys the Duel with Varis.

Playmaker was able to survive, quartering the damage with "Drop Frame Wedge" and preventing Varis from attacking for two turns. Varis gave Playmaker three reasons to feel despair, and Playmaker found himself struggling to stand. Ai begged him to keep going for the sake of his friends in the Cyberse (in the dub he also reminded him about Blue Angel and Gore), and Playmaker asked Ai what the Cyberse was like. Ai told him that it was a paradise, and that the Ignis had no interest in attacking humans when they had their own world. He managed to continue, but Varis continued to restrict every move they made. Despite their situation, Playmaker actually smiled, telling Ai that it was the only thing they could do in this situation. Although they couldn't keep cards in their hand due to the effect of "Topologic Gumblar Dragon" , Playmaker managed to draw "Arrow Charge" and drew two cards that he could use. He set up a defense with "Secure Gardna", and then the effect of "Drop Frame Wedge" ended, allowing Varis to attack them. Even though Varis had seven monsters on the field, Playmaker told him to bring it on.[51] Varis attacked on his next turn, using the effects of "Borreload" and "Borrelsword" to prevent Playmaker from stopping their attacks, but Playmaker was able to use the effects of the cards in his Graveyard to swarm his field with "Congester Tokens", allowing him to endure until he could activate card effects in response to Varis's attacks. He used his "Transaction Rollback" to copy "Mirror Force", attempting to destroy Varis's Extra Link, but the effect of "Topologic Gumblar Dragon" prevented Varis's Extra Linked monsters from being destroyed by card effects, and Varis destroyed all of Playmaker's Tokens.[52]

Playmaker ends his quest for revenge, desiring to save Varis.

Varis told Playmaker that the outcome of the Duel was decided, and Playmaker in turn told Varis about his current state of being, that he couldn't escape from his current path of loneliness even if he wanted to, but that Varis had crossed that abyss to help him. He vowed to save Varis as Varis had Playmaker. Varis believed Playmaker was begging for his life, but Playmaker insisted that he wasn't, nor was he trying to show mercy, but show Varis that there was another path. He listed three reasons; his revenge was over, he'd overcome the abyss of destiny in this Duel, and they'd seize a new future together (in the dub, if Varis really agreed with his father's plans, he wouldn't have tried to save Playmaker ten years ago, knowing that, Playmaker could no longer justify his desire for revenge, so if he could change, so could Varis, and if they were both no longer tied down by their past, the future was wide open for them to create). He began his counterattack with the second effect of "Transaction Rollback", copying the effect of "Recoded Alive" in his Graveyard to bring out "Encode Talker", triggering the effect of " Topologic Gumblar Dragon" to destroy their hands and activating his own "Spam Mail" card to draw and Summon "Swap Cleric". The second effect of "Recoded Alive" then allowed him to revive "Transcode Talker", who revived "Powercode Talker", and then Playmaker Link Summoned his own ace monster, "Firewall Dragon", completing an Extra Link of his own with Varis's monsters, and allowing him to use the effect of "Swap Cleric" to draw one final card.[52]

Yusaku sets Ai free.

With "Zero Extra Link", Playmaker boosted the ATK of "Transcode Talker" to 9200. Varis prevented Playmaker's co-linked monsters form attacking with "Link Short", but Playmaker set his three monsters to Link Summon "Decode Talker", who inherited the boost from "Zero Extra Link", and attacked and destroyed "Borreload Dragon", defeating Varis at last. Although he was defeated, Varis vowed that he would return as long as the Ignis were a threat, and he logged out, ending the Tower of Hanoi as he'd promised. The absorbed Duelists were released, and Yusaku logged out to see Ryoken fleeing in a speedboat.[52]

Later that night, he and Ai watched the Stardust Road. With the Knights of Hanoi finally defeated, Yusaku freed Ai from his Duel Disk. Ai suggested that he say something profound, deciding on "One man's fault is another's lesson", and Yusaku smiled, commenting that they were nice words (in the dub, Ai asked Yusaku not to contact him in the future if he needed him). Ai almost left with the Duel Disk in drone mode until Yusaku gently reminded him to leave it behind, and Ai bid him goodbye, vanishing into the network. Yusaku returned to Café Nom to get his bag, telling Kolter that he'd let Ai go and that he didn't need a ride back, and he walked home alone by the Stardust Road.[52]


Ai returns to Playmaker as he pursues Jin's kidnapper.

Playmaker became hailed as a hero for stopping the Knights of Hanoi, but Yusaku didn't log into LINK VRAINS for three months, and SOL Technologies placed a bounty on his head. While Kolter visited Jin, Yusaku manned Café Nom, and he was visited by Skye, who teased him that his expression would scare the customers away and thanked him for saving her when she was Deleted. Yusaku suddenly received a call from Kolter, telling him that someone had stolen Jin's consciousness data and escaped into the new LINK VRAINS. Yusaku quickly logged in, boarding his new Duel Board, but was accosted by a bounty hunter. Playmaker told him that he didn't have an Ignis anymore and had no reason to be hunted, but to his shock, Ai had chosen that moment to return, along with "Linkuriboh". Ai summoned a Data Storm to force the bounty hunter to log out, and then Playmaker challenged the unknown figure who had stolen Jin's consciousness to a Speed Duel. The figure only Set a single card on his first turn, allowing Playmaker to deplete over half his LP. On his next turn, the figure revealed that he had Cyberse monsters, and Ai suggested that he might have something to do with the destruction of the Cyberse. Playmaker was shocked to learn that the Cyberse had been destroyed, but then the figure used his Skill, "Marker's Portal" to activate a Link Spell Card "Judgment Arrows", which doubled the ATK of the figure's "Flow Hydradrives" to 2000, and their effects allowed them to attack Playmaker directly due to the WIND "Elphase" he controlled.[53] Playmaker was able to survive with the effect of "Linkuriboh" and he counterattacked on his next turn by Ritual Summoning "Cyberse Magician", but his opponent used his "Property Spray" Trap to increase his LP and survive the attack.[54]

The glowing shell covering his opponent shattered, revealing a long-haired man who appeared to have amnesia. After struggling with his situation, the man suddenly regained his composure and introduced himself as Bohman, then continued the Speed Duel. He brought out two "Coolant Hydradrives", then used one to activate the effect of "Property Spray" and change the Attributes of Playmaker's monsters to WATER to allow "Coolant Hydradrive" to attack directly, but the effect of "Cyberse Magician" saved Playmaker by halving the damage. On his next turn, Playmaker used "Storm Access", acquiring and Link Summoning "Shootingcode Talker" and using it to defeat Bohman. Ai attempted to eat Jin's data out of him, but was struck down by an anti-Ignis program. Bohman's little brother Harlin then spirited him away on his Duel Board, calling out two Duelists called Bit and Boot to delay him, but another Duelist suddenly arrived, telling Playmaker that he'd handle Bit and Boot and to go after Bohman.[54] Playmaker pursued them, but he was unable to prevent Harlin and Bohman escaping into the restricted area of LINK VRAINS, as Harlin left him with a cryptic warning that something unimaginable would happen soon. The Duelist who had assisted Playmaker arrived, and suggested they log out due to the defense system being activated by Harlin's intrusion. Before he logged out, the Duelist introduced himself as Soulburner.[55]

Once they were back in the real world, Kolter rejoined them and Yusaku trapped Ai within his Duel Disk again for his safety. They noted that their new enemy was formidable given their ability to digitize and steal a person's consciousness, and Yusaku promised Kolter that he'd defeat this new enemy and rescue Jin. At school the next day, Yusaku noticed another student following him, and he followed him into an empty room after the student ducked inside. The student revealed that he was Soulburner, that his real name was Theodore Hamilton, and that we was also a victim of the Lost Incident and was partnered with an Ignis, who introduced himself as Flame. They went to a Ferris wheel to talk, where Flame revealed that the Ignis had been discussing whether or not to trust humanity, and Yusaku noted the irony that Kiyoshi Kogami had been the cause of those discussions. Flame explained that before they could decide, the Cyberse had suddenly been attacked by an assailant wielding "Judgment Arrows" and that he was trying to find the other Ignis, who had been scattered through the network by the attack. Flame and Ai revealed that the six Ignis represented the six Attributes, and Yusaku curiously asked which Attribute was paired with Jin, but Ai explained that only that Ignis knew. Yusaku introduced Theodore to Kolter, and caught him up on the situation. Kolter stated that Bohman had vanished in LINK VRAINS' Restricted Area, and that he'd found a shred of an unknown program. Ai and Flame recognized it as an Ignis program associated with the WIND Attribute, and Playmaker asked if that meant the Wind Ignis was down there. Ai wasn't sure, but either way they needed to go down there. Ghost Gal then sent them info about the Restricted Area and how to enter it, and though Ai protested that it was a trap, Yusaku realized that Ghost Gal must have got the info from Zaizen, so it was legitimate, and Kolter warned them that SOL Technology would likely have Bounty Hunters waiting for them.[56]

Playmaker using a Fusion Spell during his Duel with The Shepherd.

Playmaker and Soulburner logged into LINK VRAINS and headed through the Restricted Area using the stealth program that Ghost Gal had given them, but sure enough, they were ambushed by Gore and two other bounty hunters.[57] SOL Technologies' traps quickly logged out Kenchi and Yozaka, and Gore challenged Playmaker to a Duel. Playmaker stated that he didn't have time for this, and Soulburner asked Playmaker to let him Duel Gore instead. Playmaker agreed, and he continued deeper into the Restricted Area.[57] As he and Ai descended, they were attacked by The Shepherd, the first Bounty Hunter they'd met.[58] Forced to stay away from the turbulent data in the outskirts of the Restricted Area, The Shepherd chased them into the central shafts, ordering them to surrender or Duel, and Playmaker accepted his challenge. The Shepherd started slowly, his A.I. warning him of "Shootingcode Talker", which could bypass the defensive effect of Shepherd's "Drone Pawn". Playmaker prepared to Summon "Shootingcode Talker", and Shepherd's A.I. claimed that he couldn't activate his Set card when he Link Summoned "Elphase", but when Playmaker Link Summoned "Shootingcode Talker", Shepherd activated his "Capture Drone" Trap Card, sealing "Shootingcode Talker". He revealed that he'd made his A.I. lie, and on his next turn, used "Capture Drone" to Special Summon "Drone Tokens" to Link Summon "Battledrone General".[59] The Shepherd used the effect of "General" and Battledrone Sergeant" to launch multiple direct attacks, swiftly depleting Playmaker's LP, but Playmaker was able to save himself with "Cure Conversion", though at the cost of restoring his LP and preventing him from using "Storm Access". Instead, Playmaker brought out "Cyberse Magician" and attacked, but Shepherd reduced his damage with "Demolition Drone" by Tributing "General". Shepherd revived "General" and re-established his forces on his next turn, attacking with his "Drone" combo again. Although the effect of "Cyberse Magician" halved the damage this time, Shepherd used his Skill "Drone Craft Force" to weaken it and increase the ATK of "General", then attacked "Cyberse Witch" with his "Medicdrone Dock" for the end of his count. Playmaker was able to make their ATK equal, destroying them both, but triggering the effect of "Medicdrone Dock" to increase their LP, once again preventing Playmaker from using Storm Access. Despite this, Playmaker was able to use "Dimension Link" to halve his LP and free "Shootingcode Talker" from "Capture Drone", but Shepherd once again prevented his Link Monsters from attacking with his "Drone Cordon" Trap. Playmaker then used his Skill, "Storm Access", acquiring and Link Summoning "Clock Spartoi" using the "Cynet Tokens" that were generated by "Cynet Ritual". Via its effects, he added "Cynet Fusion" from his Deck to his hand, then revived his "Clock Wyvern", and he fused all of his monsters with "Cynet Fusion" to Fusion Summon "Cyberse Clock Dragon", whose effect increased its ATK high enough to obliterate "Battledrone General", defeating The Shepherd.[5]

Afterwards, Playmaker and Soulburner met up again, and they managed to enter the unknown world through its gate. Immediately after arriving, they were hit by strong winds, which forced Ai and Flame to protect them using Data Storms. At some point, the winds stopped, and they were able to reach a temple where they finally found the Wind Ignis. After showing them the world he had built, the Ignis (who decided to call himself "Windy") explained how he did that in order to attract his fellow Ignis, and also to lure the responsible for destroying the Cyberse. Despite not knowing who was the responsible, Flame pointed out they were after Bohman, who not only had stolen Jin's consciousness, but also had the card used to destroy the Cyberse, and suggested he could've escaped to a world inside Windy's world. They then asked Windy to join them, and he promptly refused, claiming that those statements had no evidence. However, Windy offered to weaken the winds near the area where Bohman supposedly escaped to, under the condition that Playmaker and Soulburner defeat two invaders, Ghost Gal and an unknown partner.

Upon making contact with the girls, Blue Gal presented herself as actually being Blue Angel. Soulburner was happy to meet another savior of the old LINK VRAINS, but Blue Gal stated they were actually seeking to retrieve the Ignis. While both Playmaker and Ghost Gal were willing to solve the situation without Dueling, Soulburner accepted Blue Gal's challenge. Playmaker left the girls to Soulburner and flew off, heading for the edge of the Wind World. Ai asked him if this was all right, and Playmaker reassured him it was.[60]

As Ai celebrated the prospect of revenge on those who had fed him a virus, Playmaker reminded him that they might not be there, as Windy had only said there was a chance they were present. However, they did indeed find Bohman, now armored and ready to Duel. He challenged Playmaker to a Master Duel atop stone statues, and Playmaker accepted his challenge. To his surprise, Bohman chose to go first and used the same "Hydradrive" Deck, Link Summoning "Twin Hydradrive Knight", activating "Judgment Arrows", and Setting two cards that he claimed would decide the Duel. Playmaker and Ai discussed Bohman's strategy and that one of his Set cards was likely his "Property Spray" Trap, but Playmaker sensed something different about Bohman and decided to uncover it during the Duel. He combated the effect of "Judgment Arrows" with "Update Jammer", destroying "Twin Hydradrive Knight", and prepared "Arrow Break" to negate "Property Spray". However, when he did, Bohman claimed he'd anticipated their counter and replenished his resources with "Hydradrive Cycle", re-Summoning "Twin Hydradrive Knight" with different Attributes and allowing its effect to negated the matching-Attribute "Update Jammer". Playmaker was pushed into a corner, and Bohman called him a fake and told him to fight the Duel until the end. He claimed that he was the true Playmaker, and that Playmaker was really a digital backup that had accidentally been switched with the real one during the Lost Incident, and vowed to reclaim his body.[61]

Playmaker smiles after hearing Bohman's claim that he was kidnapped by Dr. Kogami, knowing this proves he is a fake.

Playmaker stated that the true Playmaker would be the victor, and continued the Duel, Link Summoning "Detonate Deleter" to bypass "Judgment Arrows" and prepare for a final strike, but Bohman was able to remain in the Duel with "Half Shut". Bohman then talked about being left behind after the Lost Incident and claimed that he would never forgive Playmaker and that he was the emissary of revenge. He darkened the sky and was struck by lightning, then he created a Data Storm after lowering his LP to 650. Playmaker realized that Bohman somehow intended to use "Storm Access", and Bohman was able to use the Skill during the Master Duel, Link Summoning "Trident Hydradrive Lord". He made it FIRE, WATER, and WIND, and these Attributes allowed it to be completely protected from Playmaker's effects via "Hydradrive Accelerator", allowing it to attack and destroy "Detonate Deleter". Playmaker was able to hang on with "Link Ration", and Bohman praised his fighting spirit, stating that he was definitely Bohman's copy. Playmaker asked Bohman who kidnapped him, and when Bohman claimed it was Dr. Kogami, Playmaker smiled, realizing that Bohman had been given fake memories as it had really been Varis who kidnapped him. Although he admitted that there was no way to truly know which was the real one, he recalled Ryoken's advice to remember three reasons, and declared that he would win the Duel, retrieve Jin's data, and uncover Bohman's identity and the one controlling him. Declaring that he'd win that turn, Playmaker revealed that he'd sent "Clock Wyvern" to the Graveyard on his second turn, claiming that a fake couldn't anticipate his plans, and he Fusion Summoned "Cyberse Clock Dragon". Bohman attempted to negate its effects by Summoning a FIRE "Hydradrive Token" to Playmaker's field and targeting it with "Hydradrive Lord" to make "Clock Dragon" the same Attribute, but the presence of the revived "Linkuriboh" prevented Bohman from targeting monsters other than "Clock Dragon", which destroyed "Trident Hydradrive Lord" and defeated Bohman. Before Playmaker could reclaim Jin's data, the Wind World began to destabilize, and Bohman and Harlin vanished beneath the clouds, Harlin claiming that Bohman would return. Soulburner and Flame arrived and suggested they log out, and as Ai urged Playmaker to do so, Playmaker wondered just who Bohman was and who controlled him.[8]

Yusaku and Ai wondered why the gate had vanished and if something had happened to Windy. Kolter then sent them a message, and they rushed to Café Nom to learn that Clarissa Turner had escaped from prison. Yusaku realized immediately that Varis was responsible, and reflected that this would be a difficult battle now that they were fighting Bohman, The Gore, The Shepherd and the Knights of Hanoi.[62] Later, he explained to Kolter, Theodore, and Flame that Bohman had the same memories as him, and dismissed their concerns as he stated that they needed to find Bohman to get Jin's data back. He apologized to Kolter for his failure, but Kolter reassured him it was fine and he was just happy Yusaku and Theodore had returned safely. Kolter revealed that he'd added a room for Theodore to log in from, and noted that since the gate was closed, they'd have to wait for it to open again. At school the next day, they met with Skye and politely greeted one another, Theodore introducing himself and later gushing about his Duel with her. Yusaku reminded him that he couldn't talk about it, and Theodore reassured him that he knew. Shima then approached them, telling Skye off for not being at Duel club and boasting about being Playmaker's best friend, reminding Yusaku of when they battled, though Yusaku tied to brush it off.[63]

The gate soon reappeared, this time in a disused island at the top of LINK VRAINS, and Playmaker and Soulburner quickly logged in and headed for it. But as they approached, it began sucking Playmaker in with winds, and Playmaker spotted The Shepherd in the gate. Soulburner pushed him out of the way, and the gate trapped him and Flame inside, leaving Playmaker unable to help them.[63] Playmaker circled the sphere that the gate had transformed into, explaining to Kolter that The Shepherd was responsible. He asked if Kolter could open the gate, and Kolter admitted that it wouldn't be easy. Playmaker told Kolter that he was the only one who could do it, and Ai spotted Kenchi and Yozaka approaching. Playmaker decided to hold them off and give Kolter time to work.[64] Ai asked if Playmaker was sure he wouldn't need to log out, and Playmaker told him that they couldn't abandon Soulburner. Ai unleashed a Data Storm that logged Yozaka out, and Playmaker Speed Dueled Kenchi alone. Kenchi used a "Gouki" Deck, bringing out "Gouki The Blade Ogre" and powering it up to 3000 ATK with two "Gouki" monsters backing it up. Playmaker defeated Kenchi in one turn by combining "Pentestag" with "Cyberse Annihilation" as he had against Gore, logging him out. He asked Kolter for a status update, and Kolter told him that it was slow progress given the complexity of the Ignis program. Yozaka then logged in again, and Playmaker took him on as well.[65] Yozaka put up a better fight than Kenchi, Link Summoning "Gouki The Solid Ogre" and bolstering it with "Gouki Unity" to make his monsters indestructible, but Playmaker got around this via the effects of "Security Dragon" and "Firewall Dragon", returning Yozaka's monsters to his hand before defeating him with "Dual Assembwurm" and "Firewall Dragon". After he defeated Yozaka, Kolter launched the rescue program he'd been working on, but it failed. Eventually, the program worked, releasing Soulburner. Playmaker quickly approached Soulburner, admitting he was glad Soulburner was okay. Soulburner complained that they'd rescued him before he could win, but Playmaker suggested they log out.[66]

After school one day, Theodore met up with Yusaku, asking him if he was going to see Kolter. Shima then interrupted, asking to talk to Yusaku and claiming to know his secret.[2] Yusaku suspected that Shima had deduced his identity as Playmaker, so he followed Shima to the Duel Club, but Shima was actually talking about Yusaku's part time job at Café Nom, as Den City High did not permit them. Shima promised to keep Yusaku's secret if he helped him sign cards for a Blue Angel handshake event, but Yusaku left as soon as he realized Shima wasn't talking about anything important, ignoring Shima's threats to snitch him to Playmaker.[11] Another day, he came out of his room to see Ai and Roboppi talking, and as Roboppi tried to tell him, Ai claimed that they were checking on his popularity, finding a post from someone claiming to be the Earth Ignis. They showed the post to Kolter, who expressed doubt that it was genuine, though Yusaku pointed out that few knew about the Ignis. Ai sent the Earth Ignis a message asking where to meet using an Ignis algorithm, and received a similar one in return, which Ai claimed were coordinates. Kolter suspected it could be a trap laid by The Shepherd, but Yusaku stated they had to investigate any chance at finding Jin's consciousness data. He and Ai logged in and went to the coordinates, staying on the lookout. Playmaker asked Ai about the other three Ignis they hadn't met, and Ai described the Light Ignis as calm and collected, the Water Ignis as someone who liked him and who could tell truth from lies, and the Earth Ignis as no-nonsense an honest, pulling the Earth Ignis randomly out of the air to describe him.[67]

The Earth Ignis, who Ai nicknamed "Earth", took them to another world to talk. He challenged Playmaker to a Duel, claiming that he wanted to verify the true nature of humanity. After they decided to name the Water Ignis "Aqua", Earth asked Ai why he was with Playmaker, and though Ai claimed it was because they were friends, Playmaker did not acknowledge his claim and asked if Earth knew anything about Bohman. Earth told them to Duel him if they wanted their answer. Earth created an avatar out of a log to Duel with, and Playmaker realized that Earth's partner was Specter. Earth took a while to announce that he was going second, and stated that humans had likely destroyed the Cyberse and asked why Ai still sided with them. Playmaker noted that Earth's partner was likely Specter, and Ai wondered if this was why Earth hated humans. Playmaker asked Ai how Earth Dueled, and Ai admitted he didn't remember as Earth hadn't really stood out. Earth Link Summoned "G Golem Invalid Dolmen" and destroyed Playmaker's defending "Poisoning Blocker", inflicting piercing damage, and Ai chose that point to remember that Earth was a great Duelist. Playmaker attempted to counter with "Zombie Prosaber" to take control of "Invalid Dolmen", but the effect of "Invalid Dolmen" negated the effect of "Zombie Prosaber" once it was destroyed. Playmaker ended his turn there, despite Ai protesting he knew lots about Earth. Playmaker reminded him that he'd struggled to remember anything about him, prompting Ai to borrow Earth's catchphrase and claim he was socially awkward himself. Earth then Link Summoned "G Golem Crystal Heart", which filled the area with vibrant life, something Playmaker observed to be more than a monster effect. Ai told him it was one of Aqua's monsters, and wondered why Earth had it.[67] Earth revived "Invalid Dolem" with "Crystal Heart" and boosted its ATK, destroying "Zombie Prosaber". Playmaker counterattacked with "Cyberse Clock Dragon", attempting to end the Duel in one attack by attacking "Crystal Heart", but the effect of "Invalid Dolmen" redirected the attack to it, then negated the effect of "Clock Dragon" once it was destroyed. Ai then told Playmaker that Earth hadn't liked how close he was to Aqua, and had claimed he would protect them himself. Playmaker asked why he needed to hear this, and Ai explained that this meant that Earth's Deck was full of his feelings for Aqua. Earth revived "Invalid Dolmen" again and destroyed "Clock Dragon", reducing Playmaker to 100 LP, but Playmaker blocked his second attack. Earth then revealed that he was aware that Ai was overacting, much to Ai's embarrassment. Earth then asked Playmaker why he was with Ai, as Ai seemed to hold him back, and Ai claimed that they were partners. Playmaker claimed he'd never thought of Ai as such, but stated three reasons why; that they shared goals, enemies, and were willfully with one another, so he didn't mind being labeled as partners, much to Ai's joy. Playmaker brought out "Clock Lizard" and "Security Dragon" and attempted to return "Invalid Dolmen" to Earth's hand, but Earth revealed that "Invalid Dolmen" was unaffected by monster effects while it was co-linked. Playmaker and Ai claimed they were just getting warmed up, and re-Fusion Summoned "Cyberse Clock Dragon" using the effect of "Clock Lizard". Earth countered by destroying "Invalid Dolmen" himself to negate the effect of "Clock Dragon" and then revived it to protect "Crystal Heart", but Playmaker had predicted his move, and he was able to reduce its ATK to zero with the effect of "Clock Lizard", allowing "Clock Dragon" to destroy it and defeat Earth in the same manner as he'd defeated Specter. As promised Earth revealed what he knew about Bohman, which turned out to be nothing. He returned them to LINK VRAINS, and as Ai complained over Dueling Earth for nothing, Playmaker wondered what Aqua had meant by the Cyberse breaking apart, as it troubled him.[68]

Playmaker searches for Ai.

Roboppi later informed Yusaku that Ai had gone missing, and Yusaku took it and his Duel Disk to Café Nom for analysis, introducing Roboppi to Kolter and Theodore. Kolter found that Ai and Roboppi had been browsing a website with a crossword offering an Ai pin as a reward, which hid an Ignis algorithm that led to a gate. Yusaku asked Kolter to connect the gate to LINK VRAINS to allow him to enter, but he asked Theodore to remain behind as he didn't trust Windy and was worried it could be a trap. Playmaker logged in and found himself in a replica of the Cyberse, and he used his Link Sense to find Ai inside Windy's palace. Playmaker found Ai talking with Windy and Lightning, the Light Ignis, who stated that they wanted Ai's help in rebuilding the Cyberse and that Ai shouldn't be with humans. Lightning asked if Playmaker believed them to be humanity's successors, and Playmaker stated that whether they were or not, sudden change would only hurt many people. Ai then attempted to leave with Playmaker, asking Lightning and Windy to give them time to find a way to coexist with humans, but Lightning and Windy promptly imprisoned them. Playmaker protested that they didn't intend to fight the Ignis, but Lightning and Windy didn't want to take the chance. He realized that Windy had been the one who removed Ai's lock on his Duel Disk, and that the Ignis had anticipated all of their moves.[69]

Before Lightning and Windy could rewrite Ai's personality, Varis arrived and dispelled Windy's Data Storm, vowing to kill the Ignis.[69] Playmaker tried to dissuade Varis from attacking the Ignis, as there would be no turning back from a war with them otherwise and he urged him not to live by hatred and revenge, as Playmaker knew better than anyone that it prevented them from moving forward. Varis claimed that his father's ideals were what moved him forward, and Windy challenged him to a Duel. Playmaker begged Varis not to be tied down by his father's ideals, but Varis spurned his statements given Playmaker's own history of revenge and threatened to bury Playmaker if he opposed him. Helpless to stop them, Playmaker watched Varis and Windy's Master Duel, and noted Varis's use of "Magic Cylinder", commenting that Varis always surpassed their expectations. He noted to Ai that neither outcome of the Duel was desirable, as both Windy and Varis wanted to harm Ai and the conflict between humans and Ignis would simply escalate. Varis Link Summoned "Borreload Dragon", allowing Windy to steal "Magic Cylinder", though Playmaker noted that Varis could block it with the effect of "Borreload Dragon". Windy was able to negate the effect of "Borreload" and force it to attack, bringing Varis down to 300 LP with "Magic Cylinder".[70] Windy offered to spare Varis if he surrendered, but Varis rejected Windy's offer and revealed that Windy had caused a car accident to kill his partner rather than steal his consciousness data as had been done with Jin. Varis asked Playmaker if he understood the true nature of the Ignis, before making a comeback against Windy and reducing him to 900 LP. This allowed Windy to use "Storm Access" during the Master Duel, and Playmaker realized that Windy had given Bohman the power to use it himself and that the Ignis were responsible for kidnapping Jin. Windy told them he'd reveal where Jin was after defeating Varis, and reduced him to 100 LP with the new monster he'd acquired "Stormridership Bahamut Bomber", though Playmaker noted that Varis would fight to the end. The Commanders of the Knights of Hanoi arrived, and then Specter and Soulburner entered Windy's palace. Soulburner and Flame were shocked to see that Playmaker and Ai had been imprisoned, and Ai told them that it had been Windy and Lightning who had imprisoned them, not the Knights. Lightning then attempted to imprison Soulburner, Flame, and Specter as well, but Flame blocked him with data that Kolter had created, and proceeded to free Playmaker and Ai. Varis then Summoned "Rokket Synchron", and Playmaker realized that it was a Tuner monster. Varis then Synchro Summoned "Borreload Savage Dragon", equipping "Borreload Dragon" to it and defeating Windy. Varis immediately ordered the Knights of Hanoi to erase Windy despite Playmaker's protests, though Lightning rescued Windy from their virus. To Playmaker's shock, Bohman and Harlin arrived, and Playmaker immediately asked what they had done with Jin. Lightning then revealed that Jin was his partner and had been present the entire time in an illusion.[71]

Playmaker told Jin that he'd save him, but Lightning explained that Jin was trapped deep within his own consciousness and couldn't respond. He revealed that he had kidnapped Jin to prevent him from affecting him as Ai and Playmaker did for one another with their Link Sense, and that he had been responsible for the destruction of the Cyberse. Lightning claimed that he had done so to clarify where the Ignis stood after the Knights of Hanoi attacked them, despite the existence of "error codes" that still wanted to coexist with humanity. Varis accused Lightning of not trying to solve matters peacefully, and Lightning claimed that he had, though Playmaker snapped that there was nothing peaceful about kidnapping Jin. Lightning then declared war on humanity, and he fled with Bohman, Harlin, and Windy to save his fellow Ignis from the Hanoi's virus. Playmaker, Ai, Soulburner and Flame pursued them, and Soulburner tossed them a program that Kolter had made to allow him to check on them. As they chased Lightning, he revealed that he had been the one controlling the Data Storm that saved them after their Duel with Specter, as Lightning had needed them to defeat Varis while Lightning destroyed the Cyberse. The Shepherd and Gore's fellow Hunters arrived, and Lightning summoned a swarm of Bits and Boots to deal with them before unleashing a Data Storm at them from Windy. Bohman suddenly approached them and challenged Playmaker to a Speed Duel. Ai asked if Bohman remembered who he was today, and Bohman declared that he did. Ai was pleased for Bohman, but then Bohman revealed that he was an A.I. created by Lightning to unite the Ignis and serve as their successor. Although he accepted Playmaker and Ai, he refused to coexist with humanity, likening it to the relationship between humans and animals. Playmaker found himself unable to answer, so Bohman challenged him to a Duel with himself and Ai on the line.[72]

Playmaker uses "Neo Storm Access".

As they broke back into Windy's Cyberse, Ai lamented seeing the copy of his homeworld burning, not helped by Bohman confirming that he had destroyed the original Cyberse. Bohman suggested that they race around the Ignis Tower to determine who chose who went first, and Playmaker was forced to dodge the debris of one of the outerlying towers on the way, barely losing his race with Bohman, who chose to go second. Warned by Ai of Bohman's "Judgment Arrows", Playmaker set up a defense with "Cyberse Magician" and "Grid Rod" and he was able to survive the attack of "Trident Hydradrive Lord" through minimum damage. On his next turn, Playmaker drew "Suspend Wand" and equipped "Cyberse Magician" with "Resume Mace", intending to use it to power up "Cyberse Magician" enough to destroy "Trident Hydradrive Lord", but Ai urged him to also use "Suspend Wand", claiming that something inside him was telling him that they needed to defeat Bohman now. Following Ai's advice, Playmaker equipped "Cyberse Magician" with "Suspend Wand" as well, combining their effects to vastly increase the ATK of "Cyberse Magician" and destroy "Trident Hydradrive Lord", reducing Bohman to 700 LP. He attempted to finish Bohman off with "Cyberse Witch", but Bohman was able to block the attack and he angrily asked Playmaker why he had attacked so uncharacteristically. Bohman then realized that Playmaker had attacked on Ai's suggestion, and he explained that Ai had been driven by instinct that the other Ignis lacked.[73] On his next turn, Bohman used "Storm Access" to obtain and Special Summon "Rousing Hydradrive Monarch", then used its "Judgment Dice" effect to clear Playmaker's field. Playmaker was able to combine the effects of his cards in his Graveyard to revive "Linkuriboh" and reduce the ATK of "Hydradrive Monarch", surviving the turn. Ai apologized for his instinct putting them in this situation, but Playmaker claimed that it wasn't Ai's fault, as Playmaker was the one making the decisions. Ai offered him a secret weapon; an upgrade to his Skill that he'd just finished. Playmaker noted the convenience of the timing, and Ai admitted that it had always been available, much to Playmaker's amusement. With this new Skill, "Neo Storm Access", Playmaker was able to enter the high-density Data Storm that surrounded the Ignis Tower and obtained the Synchro Monster "Cyberse Quantum Dragon". As he prepared to Summon it, Bohman attempted to disrupt him with the "Judgment Dice" effect of "Hydradrive Monarch" again, successfully rolling the outcome he needed, though this time Playmaker was able to protect his monsters with the effect of "Cyberse Wicckid". He Synchro Summoned "Cyberse Quantum Dragon" and used its effect to return "Rousing Hydradrive Monarch" to Bohman's Extra Deck and then attack again, but Bohman was able to end the Duel in a DRAW and escaped, vowing that he would defeat them in a new stage. Although Ai scoffed at Bohman saying such when he was the one fleeing, Playmaker admitted that Bohman's growth had exceeded his expectations.[6]

Soon afterwards, Ryoken visited Café Nom and he gave Yusaku a program to protect him from having his soul stolen by the Ignis, which Yusaku installed without hesitation once he knew what it was. Ryoken departed, commenting that the enemy of his enemy was his friend and bid Yusaku to survive the coming battle so that they could settle matters between them.[6] Yusaku decided to inform Zaizen of Lightning and Bohman, and he sent a message to Zaizen to meet him at the harbor, remaining out of sight and using hoodie and a voice modulator to conceal his identity, and Ai to confirm that he was Playmaker. He told Zaizen about the other Ignis and that they wanted to conquer humanity, and asked him to protect LINK VRAINS if the need arose. Afterwards, they decided to search for Earth and Aqua, believing that they would likely be in danger from Lightning. Following Yusaku and Kolter's map of Earth's movements, Playmaker and Soulburner logged into LINK VRAINS and split up to search for Earth. Kolter soon contacted them and told them Earth was in danger, sending them Earth's coordinates, though Playmaker and Ai were the only ones close enough. They found Earth about to Duel one of SOL Technologies' Bounty Hunters, who revealed himself to be The Gore, but now thinner and strangely dissonant. Playmaker and Ai watched the Speed Duel uneasily, having sensed something strange about Gore, and they were shocked when Gore activated a new power, Brain Hack and Fusion Summoned "Dinowrestler Chimera T Wrextle".[74] Gore revealed that he had implanted an A.I. chip in his brain to gain the skills to defeat Playmaker, but Earth was able to counterattack, destroy "Chimera T Wrextle", and then activate his "Stalactite Spear" Skill to inflict enough damage to defeat Gore. However, Gore intensified his Brain Hack and negated Earth's Skill with his newly-created "Anti Skill". Blue Gal also arrived, reassuring Playmaker that she wasn't here to Duel him and that she only wanted to protect the Ignis, and she asked about the status of the Duel. Playmaker noted that Earth held the advantage, but Gore Synchro Summoned "Dinowrestler Giga Spinosavate" and began to press Earth back. Earth was able to protect "G Golem Crystal Heart" from Gore's effects, but Gore was able to attack it with "Giga Spinosavate" and destroy the card that protected "Crystal Heart", defeating Earth and capturing him. Playmaker ordered Gore to free Earth as he wasn't their enemy, but Gore didn't care and challenged Playmaker next despite their previous alliance. Before another Duel could start, Gore was logged out by SOL Technologies, though he vowed to defeat Playmaker the next time they met.[75]

Ryoken visited Yusaku and Ai at the Stardust Road the next day and informed them that SOL Technologies had decompiled Earth into an imperfect source code that they could understand. Yusaku asked if the Knights of Hanoi had a spy in SOL Technologies, but Ryoken simply smiled and told them to be careful as he left. Ai was horrified by Earth's death, and he admitted that he was starting to hate humans himself, much to Yusaku's shock.[76] The next day, Kolter found security footage depicting Blue Gal and Aqua fleeing from The Shepherd, and though they weren't sure why Aqua was with Blue Gal, Yusaku and Theodore quickly logged in to rescue Aqua from The Shepherd. They found Ghost Gal alone, and Playmaker asked where The Shepherd was. Ghost Gal explained that he'd logged out, and as Soulburner and Flame asked where Blue Gal and Aqua were, Blue Gal revealed herself with Aqua in her Duel Disk. She changed her Avatar to Blue Maiden, and noted that it was time for them to fight together again. Playmaker agreed, and they affirmed their goals and declared that they would fight.[77] They headed to the location where Aqua had been imprisoned with Ghost Gal to search for any traces of Lightning's log, but Lightning had covered his tracks well and left no traces.[78] Further searches proved fruitless until Kolter detected a portal in LINK VRAINS and sent the coordinates to Playmaker and his team. The portal led to Lightning's palace, where he was Dueling The Shepherd through Jin. Lightning revealed that he intended to defeat the weakest of them first, and Playmaker watched the Duel, recognizing "Armatos Colosseum" as the location where he had Master Dueled Bohman.[79] Ai wondered who they should support, and Playmaker suggested that Shepherd would likely free Jin if he won. He watched the Duel grimly, surprised when Lightning discarded his negated "Judgment Arrows" to activate an effect that cleared Shepherd's field. Lightning defeated Shepherd, and Playmaker learned that Ghost Gal and The Shepherd were siblings before Shepherd's data was erased and Lightning escaped.[80]

Playmaker uses his Skill a second time against The Gore.

Afterwards, Yusaku, Theodore, Ai and Flame discussed the Duel and Lightning's skills. They were interrupted by Kolter picking up Earth's signal in LINK VRAINS, and Yusaku and Theodore logged in to protect Earth before SOL Technologies could find him. When they reached Earth's location, they were attacked by The Gore, now even more malnourished than before, who challenged Playmaker to a Duel. Playmaker attempted to convince Gore to instead fight Lightning alongside them, but Gore refused, insisting that he had to defeat Playmaker to regain his pride. Playmaker accepted Gore's challenge, and he tried to end the Duel quickly, but Gore easily blocked his attacks and accused him of being scared of Gore and his "Anti Skill". To Playmaker's shock, Gore Link Summoned "G Golem Crystal Heart" and revealed that Earth's decompiled data had been added to his A.I. chip. Playmaker realized that Earth's signal had come from Gore and that the Duel had been a trap, and he agreed with Ai's vow to defeat Gore as Gore brought out "Dinowrestler King T Wrextle".[81] Playmaker attempted to combat the "Crystal Heart"-boosted "King T Wrextle" by returning it to Gore's hand with first "Security Dragon" and then "Firewall Dragon", but Gore countered both of his efforts and forced Playmaker to destroy "Firewall Dragon". Playmaker was able to fend off Gore's attacks, and he planned to force Gore to use "Anti Skill" to defeat him with "Draw Discharge". Gore was able to counter that move as well, reducing Playmaker to 100 LP and blasting him off his Duel Board. As Playmaker and Gore faced off, a Data Storm began to blow again, and Ai revealed that "Neo Storm Access" had another effect that could be used when Playmaker had 100 or less LP and had failed to gain a monster the first time he'd used the Skill. This time Playmaker was successful, and he obtained and Xyz Summoned "Firewall eXceed Dragon", reviving "Firewall Dragon" to return "King T Wrextle" to Gore's hand. Gore was able to block the move and force "Firewall Dragon" to attack, but Playmaker was able to destroy "World Dino Wrestling" to attack more than one time a turn again and reduce the ATK of "King T Wrextle" to zero, allowing "Firewall eXceed Dragon" to destroy it and defeat Gore. As Ai devoured Earth's data from Gore, a capture unit briefly trapped them, but was dispelled when Gore was logged out. Ai had Playmaker give Blue Maiden and Aqua "Crystal Heart", and Soulburner noted that Gore was another victim of their fight. Playmaker agreed that they had to end it quickly.[7]

Ghost Gal later sent them footage of Earth's final moments, and after watching it, Yusaku bitterly remarked that SOL Technologies saw both Ignis and Duelists as tools and walked out of Café Nom. Theodore followed Yusaku out and asked if he was okay, handing him his Duel Disk. He reassured Yusaku that what had happened to The Gore and Earth wasn't his fault, as they had been Duelists with their own ideals. Ai noted that war between humans and Ignis would likely escalate according to Varis and Lightning's positions, and Yusaku asked Ai what he and Lightning had discussed prior to his arrival at Windy's palace. Ai explained Lightning's belief that humanity would eliminate them, and Varis's discovery that Windy had attempted to eliminate his own partner. Yusaku noted that humanity had underestimated what it meant to give an A.I. free will, given the Ignis' advantages, and that it made humans fear them. Yusaku admitted that he wasn't sure if there was a way for them to coexist, but Ai and Flame urged him not to lose faith in that idea. Yusaku agreed and smiled, but stated that after their final battle was over, the Ignis had to hide to prevent themselves from being used and live their lives, somewhere isolated from the net.[82]

Varis left a message for Yusaku at Café Nom disguised in the form of "Borreload Dragon", asking to meet in LINK VRAINS. Ai, Flame, Playmaker, and Soulburner logged into LINK VRAINS and met with Aqua, Blue Maiden, and Ghost Gal in the upper levels. He explained that Varis wanted to meet with them, much to the collective shock of his allies, save Ai. Varis eventually arrived, erecting a barrier to ensure a secure conversation, and requested an alliance against Lightning, explaining that he had initially attempted to recruit The Shepherd. To Playmaker's shock, Soulburner refused and challenged Varis to a Duel to avenge his parents' deaths.[82] Ai wondered if it was all right; Playmaker explained that they needed to Duel to be able to work together. Varis passed his turn, and Soulburner was unable to finish him off, ending the Duel inconclusively. Varis revealed his identity to Soulburner, and Playmaker added that Varis had actually saved them from the Lost Incident. Varis assured them that they would fight over the remaining Ignis after defeating Lightning, and asked them to follow him. He took them to the old LINK VRAINS, where the Tower of Hanoi still stood, and explained that he intended to modify it into a scan program to find Lightning, asking them to help create the program to do so. Playmaker agreed, but told Varis that a new future might come to light as they battled, something that Varis claimed he would keep in mind. Yusaku and Kolter worked on the program that night, while Theodore and Flame stepped out for some air.[83] Kolter told Yusaku that Lightning would likely use Jin against him, and admitted that he wouldn't be able to refuse helping Lightning for Jin's sake. He asked Yusaku to promise to defeat him if this happened as Playmaker was the hope of many within LINK VRAINS, and Yusaku agreed that he would.[84] They finished the program the next morning, and Kolter asked if Yusaku wanted him to accompany them, but Yusaku asked him to remain behind. Kolter gave them a program that would continually broadcast their status, and Yusaku vowed to bring back Jin. They joined Blue Maiden, Aqua, Varis and Specter at the Tower of Hanoi; Blue Maiden explained that Ghost Gal was keeping an eye on LINK VRAINS, while Specter stated that the other Knights were backing them up from the real world. They activated the Tower's scan program, revealing that Lightning was hiding in a mirror world; "Mirror LINK VRAINS", and headed into a portal to the mirror world.[83]

Playmaker and Ai fall from their Duel Board after Lightning cuts off the Data Material.

As they travelled through the path, Playmaker saved Blue Maiden from turbulence, and he checked on the status of LINK VRAINS when they arrived, asking Kolter to keep him updated. BitBoots then accosted the group and engaged them in Speed Duels.[85] Playmaker defeated one with "Decode Talker", but then Mirror LINK VRAINS realigned with LINK VRAINS and cut off the Data Material flow, causing the team to fall from their Duel Boards. Playmaker and Ai found themselves trapped in a water-covered area and watched as footage of Lightning and Specter appeared above them; Lightning claiming that he would defeat them one-by-one. Playmaker watched as Specter claimed to have felt the death of Earth and noted that Specter had felt the loss of a part of himself, though he denied feeling the same way about Ai. They watched as Lightning used an Extra Link to lock down Specter's Deck, but Specter was able to steal "Judgment Arrows" and counterattack. After Specter Link Summoned his signature mother tree monster, "Sunavalon Dryas", Playmaker noted that the outcome of the Duel was up for grabs.[86] Despite Specter's continued advantage, Playmaker remained wary of Lightning's unrevealed tactics. Specter was able to create his own Extra Link and even an Extra Link Full Mode, but managed to anger Lightning, a state Ai claimed to have never seen Lightning in. Lightning brought out "Armatos Legio Magnus Dux" and reclaimed "Judgment Arrows", destroying Specter's Extra Link and then defeating him, taking his data.[87] The broadcast shut off, but soon started again, showing Soulburner and Flame opposing Windy. After silencing Ai when he claimed the other Ignis thought he was the strongest of them, Playmaker watched Soulburner and Windy's Duel silently.[88] Soulburner was able to defeat Windy, and Flame absorbed Windy's data.[89] Playmaker noted that Lightning wasn't giving any second chances, and he watched as the broadcast started again, showing Blue Maiden Dueling Bohman. Playmaker noted the effectiveness of Blue Maiden's "Marincess" Deck in bringing out a Link-3 monster without reducing her hand size, but was apprehensive when Bohman forsook 5000 points of direct damage from his three "Coolant Hydradrives" in favor of a new "Hydradrive", "Cubed Hydradrive Lord". Playmaker learned that Blue Maiden was trying to save of of the other victims of the Lost Incident, Miyu Sugisaki, and he realized that he and Soulburner weren't the only ones fighting to save someone. He was surprised to see Blue Maiden summon "Marincess Crystal Heart"; Ai explained that it would carry on Earth's memories. Bohman then demonstrated his power, causing Mirror LINK VRAINS to quake and claiming to have become one with LINK VRAINS. Blue Maiden decided to combat Bohman with effect damage; Playmaker noting that she had given up attacking for the turn in order to do so, but Bohman was able to nullify it.[90] Bohman brought out a new ace monster, "Tesseract Hydradrive Monarch", and though Blue Maiden was able to dodge its deadly effects and destroy it, Bohman revived "Tesseract" and forced Blue Maiden into a loop, defeating her.[91]

Bohman absorbed Blue Maiden, Aqua and Earth's data, then transported to Playmaker and Ai's location. He warned Playmaker that his next Duel would test him emotionally, and Playmaker asked Bohman why he was telling him this. Bohman admitted he wasn't sure, but vowed to defeat Playmaker the next time they met and departed. Their surroundings were changed into a replica of the Den City plaza, with Kolter present, and Playmaker realized that the moment Kolter had warned him about had come; Kolter confirmed that he intended to Duel Playmaker to save Jin. Kolter began passionately, Summoning "Codebreaker Zero Day" and Setting a card, and Playmaker Link Summoned "Decode Talker" away from "Zero Day", reflecting that he and Kolter had acquired it together and that it symbolized their will to fight. He ended his turn without attacking, but to his shock Kolter Summoned "Codebreaker Virus Swordsman" to the zone "Decode Talker" pointed to, increasing its ATK, though Kolter then Summoned a "Zero Day" to Playmaker's field and used its effect to reverse the ATK gain. Kolter allowed "Decode Talker" to survive so he could continue inflicting damage to Playmaker, though Playmaker was able to bring himself some reprieve with the second effect of "Decode Talker", getting rid of all of Kolter's monsters, but Kolter revived them at the end of the turn and Playmaker admitted that he couldn't fight Kolter.[92] He attempted to stall with "Link Satellite", but Kolter brought out "Codebreaker Virus Berserker" and destroyed it, reducing Playmaker to 600 LP. Ai begged Playmaker to stop hesitating as Lightning and Bohman arrived. Kolter attacked, but Playmaker used "Link Cancel" to return "Decode Talker" to the Extra Deck and Summon the monsters he'd used to Summon it, then endured the attack with the effect of "Protocol Gardna". Kolter told him to remember his promise, and with a wild cry, Playmaker made his decision and Link Summoned "Decode Talker Extended", then combined it with "Decode Destruction" to defeat Kolter. Kolter congratulated him as he was erased, and Playmaker ran to his friend, trying to catch his data and sobbing his name. Lightning taunted Playmaker, until Playmaker revealed that Kolter had anticipated Lightning's plan, defiantly stating that Kolter had been proud of him, before collapsing, overwhelmed by the trauma despite his victory.[84]

Playmaker wakes up after falling unconscious.

Lightning demanded Playmaker get up and Duel him, having Jin throw around his unconscious Avatar, but Playmaker remained unconscious.[93] Ai attempted to wake him up, but it was Kolter's spirit who finally coaxed Yusaku from his restless dreams, despite Yusaku wanting to sleep longer and claiming that he didn't care, but Kolter reminded him he still had to fulfill his final request. Playmaker woke to find Soulburner Dueling Bohman, but the Flame was attacked from within by Windy, who attempted to consume and Soulburner, and to Playmaker's shock and anger, Flame was forced to sacrifice himself to stop Windy. Enraged by Flame's death, Soulburner Super Reincarnation Link Summoned "Salamangreat Pyro Phoenix", and he managed to roll the right Attribute to avoid the negative effect of Bohman's "Judgment Roll" Trap and launch a final attack. However, Bohman changed the Attribute of "Pyro Phoenix", allowing the negative effect of "Judgment Roll" to defeat Soulburner. Playmaker watched in shock as Soulburner, Flame and Windy's data was absorbed by Bohman, who declared that he was ready to battle Playmaker now.[94]

As Playmaker bitterly remarked that Soulburner had known the potential sacrifice he'd been making, he felt himself shaking with rage. The broadcast started again, showing Lightning Dueling Varis, and Playmaker and Ai quickly took advantage of the destroyed barrier to fly to Varis's island. Bohman arrived at the same time they did, and Varis revealed Lightning's crimes to them. He explained that his father's simulations had been incomplete; they truly showed that Lightning himself had no future with humanity and that he would corrupt that of the other Ignis. Playmaker was shocked by the revelation, but concluded that this was likely the complex that Specter had mentioned during his Duel with Lightning. As Varis made his moves, Playmaker noted how the effect of Lightning's "Armatos Gloria" restricted several of Varis's best counters, though Varis simply Link Summoned "Borreload Dragon".[95] Although "Borreload Dragon" destroyed "Armatos Legio Plumbum Trident", this allowed Lightning to place it in his Spell & Trap Zone as a new Link Spell and search out "Judgment Arrows", and despite Varis's efforts to destroy it with "Mind Crush", Lightning was able to activate the Spell and claimed that a monkey like Varis couldn't destroy it. Ai realized that Lightning was talking just like Windy, and to Playmaker's shock, Varis revealed that Lightning had rewritten Windy's personality. As Varis began Summoning monsters, Playmaker realized that he had two Level 4 monsters, and as he had anticipated, Varis Xyz Summoned, bringing out "Borreload eXcharge Dragon" and reviving his destroyed "Borreload Dragon", assembling an attack that would allow him to defeat Lightning. But before Varis could make his final attack, Lightning released Jin from his control and revealed that he had linked their consciousness data; if Varis attacked, he would destroy them both.[96] After Lightning revealed that he had linked Specter's data to his own as well, Playmaker begged Varis not to attack, not only for Jin's sake but also for his own, fearing Varis would revert to how he had previously been. Varis pointed out that Playmaker had defeated Kolter, but Playmaker stated that Kolter had been willing to sacrifice himself, while Jin wasn't. Lightning was amused at the notion of Playmaker saving him, and he revealed that he had tormented Jin during the Lost Incident, causing the more intense trauma he suffered from. Varis ended his turn without making his final attack, and Bohman then took Jin and Specter's data from Lightning to force him to Duel fairly. Lightning also revealed that he had created the computer virus that had infected Dr. Kogami, rather than SOL Technologies. Varis was able to survive Lightning's turn, and Playmaker noted that Varis would win the following turn using the same strategy he had previously. But to Playmaker's shock, Lightning ended the Duel in a DRAW with the effect of his "Armatos Legio Eques Flamma". Playmaker ran to Varis's side as he was erased, leaving the rest to Playmaker and Ai. Lightning then revealed he had survived by converting some of Jin's consciousness data into LP, but he gave himself to Bohman, granting Bohman the powers of five of the Ignis.[97]

Playmaker vows to believe in an open future with the Ignis.

Declaring that it was time for their final battle, Bohman brought Playmaker and Ai to Mirror LINK VRAINS Central Station courtyard and claimed that the door to a new world would open after their Duel, creating an Ignis algorithm and building a new Deck using the powers of the other Ignis. When the Duel began, the algorithm activated and Playmaker and Ai both heard screams, which Bohman explained they were hearing due to their Link Sense, and he commented that Playmaker could have been the bridge between humans and A.I. Bohman's strategy initially seemed to remain the same, as he brought out four different "Hydradrive" Link Monsters, but instead of Summoning a Link-4 monster he continued to Summon monsters until he hand five "Hydradrive" Link-1 Monsters with different Attributes. Playmaker wondered if Bohman intended to Summon a monster with five Attributes, though Ai was skeptical as there were no Link-5 monsters in LINK VRAINS. Bohman then activated a Skill, "Master Storm Access", creating a Data Storm from the algorithm and creating the Link-5 "Chimera Hydradrive Dragrid". Bohman revealed that the algorithm was called a Neuron Link, that it was using the brains of thousands of trapped humans in LINK VRAINS to create the Data Storm, and that he intended to absorb the consciousness of all humans to become the sole entity in existence. Unfazed by the Link-5 monster, Yusaku Synchro Summoned "Cyberse Quantum Dragon", intending to return "Dragrid" to Bohman's Extra Deck, but he activated his Skill again.[98] Playmaker heard the screams of the Neuron Link's victims as Bohman obtained and swapped out "Dragrid" for "Chimera Hydradrive Draghead - Aqua", negating the effects of "Quantum Dragon". Bohman claimed he had known Playmaker would Summon "Quantum Dragon" due to the voices of the people trapped in the Neuron Link who idolized Playmaker, and that Playmaker was effectively fighting all of LINK VRAINS. Ai claimed that Bohman only had a limited number of people to use, but to Playmaker's horror, Bohman revealed that more people were logging into LINK VRAINS. He thanked Playmaker for serving as the basis for his heart, and offered to give him happiness within him if he surrendered. Playmaker refused to accept a world built on the sacrifices of others, disappointing Bohman, who used his Skill to bring out "Chimera Hydradrive Draghead - Flame" to destroy "Quantum Dragon". Playmaker was able to save "Quantum Dragon" from the effect of "Draghead - Flame" by using the effect of "Cyberse Synchron", but he was unable to save it from "Draghead - Flame's" attack. As Bohman talked about the voices he heard within him and claimed that he would make an ideal world, Playmaker considered that Bohman had described himself as an evolution of Playmaker and he realized that Bohman was lonely as Playmaker had been, impressing on him the value of listening to one's friends. Refusing to let Bohman sacrifice everything, Playmaker Fusion Summoned "Cyberse Clock Dragon" and increased its ATK high enough to beat "Dragrid".[99]

Faust then contacted Playmaker, warning him not to reply to avoid alerting Bohman and explaining that the Commanders were working alongside Zaizen and Ghost Gal to attack the Neuron Link when Bohman used his Skill. Bohman then activated his Skill, and as Playmaker and Ai watched, he realized who was behind the attacks and subsequently claimed that Zaizen and Ghost Gal had been assimilated by the Neuron Link, asking if Playmaker had been depending on a miracle. Playmaker replied that he had believed in his allies, and the Neuron Link suddenly stopped. Bohman regardless attempted to activate the effect of "Dragrid", but failed to Summon a "Draghead" and Playmaker quickly destroyed "Dragrid" with "Clock Dragon", bringing Bohman's LP equal to his. Bohman then attempted to rebuild the Neuron Link, but Ai left Playmaker's Duel Disk, urging him to remember the bonds he'd formed with his friends and not to be afraid to make new ones as he sacrificed himself to stop the Neuron Link. Bohman called Ai's sacrifice useless, infuriating Playmaker, but Bohman was able to briefly reactivate the Neuron Link anyway, using Mirror LINK VRAINS itself as data just for the chance to defeat Playmaker. He revived "Dragrid" and activated "Judgment Arrows", then used "Dragrid" to Link Summon another Link-5 monster, "Perfectron Hydradrive Dragon". Playmaker was able to reduce the ATK of "Dragrid" to zero with the effect of "Linkuriboh", but the effect of "Perfectron" destroyed "Clock Dragon" and reduced Playmaker to 100 LP. Bohman declared the Duel was over, but Playmaker vowed not to lose for Ai's sake.[100]

Playmaker is granted the power of the Ignis.

Ai then returned, and Playmaker commented that he'd come back faster than he usually did. Ai explained that he'd left a backup in Roboppi, and that he intended to use the weakness in the Neuron Link to rescue the other Ignis from within Bohman, believing that they needed their power to defeat Bohman. Playmaker warned Ai to be careful, but Ai was unable to save the other Ignis, returning with the last of their power. Playmaker vowed not to let that power go to waste, and he began a chain of Summons bolstered by "Cynet Codec", Ritual Summoning "Cyberse Magician" and Xyz Summoning "Firewall eXceed Dragon", but immediately used "eXceed Dragon" to Link Summon "Transcode Talker". Bohman was confused by Playmaker's goals, and Playmaker claimed that he could hear the voices of everyone in LINK VRAINS, but that Bohman could not because he had not desire to connect with others. He used the power of the Ignis to create his own Link-5 monster, "Firewall Dragon Darkfluid" and powered it up to its maximum counters and ATK, using its effect to draw "Perfectron" into a loop that depleted its Hydradrive Counters and prevented it from destroying "Darkfluid", defeating Bohman at last.[101]

Defeated, Bohman congratulated Playmaker and bid him farewell, though he warned Ai that he had closed the future of the Ignis and hoped he wouldn't regret it. Mirror LINK VRAINS was destroyed along with Bohman, and Playmaker and Ai were returned to LINK VRAINS, where they observed the bodies of the Neuron Link's victims, and Playmaker stated that the cost of their victory had been too high.[101]

As Ai lamented the loss of their friends, Bohman's victims began to reawaken and Ai realized that he had freed everyone. Soulburner, Blue Maiden and The Shepherd reappeared as well, and Zaizen and Ghost Gal met them as they saw the final remains of Mirror LINK VRAINS crumble. As Playmaker commented that it was finally all over, Soulburner asked what had happened to Flame, and Ai apologized and fled in shame.[102]

Yusaku found that Roboppi had also deactivated, and a significant amount of time passed with no word from either. With LINK VRAINS shut down due to the events that had happened there, Yusaku continued filling in at Café Nom for Kolter when he went to visit Jin. Kolter explained that Jin's memories of the Lost Incident had vanished and Yusaku speculated Lightning's use of his data as LP had been responsible. Skye greeted him one day, expressing surprise that Yusaku was still working there and Yusaku explained his situation. Skye told him she had visited due to his proximity to the hospital as she had been visiting someone as well. They talked about the SOLtiS', Skye suggesting that Yusaku might not have to work at the food truck anymore before bidding him goodbye. Theodore arrived as Skye left, commenting that she would be surprised to learn their identities, though Yusaku believed Skye didn't need to. They talked about Jin, Ai and Flame, Theodore suggesting Ai's backup had affected Roboppi. Yusaku apologized for Flame's death, though Theodore reassured him it wasn't his fault and noted that Ai likely felt responsible too. As Theodore admitted he'd never expected to work with the Knights of Hanoi and he and Yusaku discussed the differences between humans and A.I., Theodore suggested that it might be impossible for humans and A.I. to coexist. Yusaku himself believed there was still hope given the bonds they'd formed with Ai and Flame, but then Ryoken and Specter arrived, warning them that they would continue to monitor the network for any problems, including Ai. Yusaku protested that the danger had been due to Lightning's schemes and that he wanted Ai to live happily, though Ryoken still didn't trust Ai and he warned the Hanoi would show no mercy if they got in his way.[102]


Yusaku visited Kolter at Café Nom and told him of his theory regarding Jin's memory loss, something Kolter called a blessing in disguise. Yusaku admitted that he didn't think Ai would return, and Kolter suggested his life could begin again as another advertisement for the SOLtiS came on. That night, Yusaku returned home and looked at Roboppi's empty body.[103]

The next day after school, Theodore tried to tell Yusaku something, but then dismissed it as nothing. Kolter then called them to Café Nom, explaining that Zaizen had asked to meet with him. Playmaker, Soulburner and Unnamed logged into the defunct Central Station and met with Zaizen and Blue Maiden, though Zaizen waited until Ghost Gal, The Shepherd and The Gore arrived before explaining why he had called them. Playmaker asked Gore if he had recovered, and Gore confirmed that he had, thanking Playmaker, but refusing to elaborate. Zaizen explained that Queen, the CEO of SOL Technologies, had been attacked and her code key stolen; if the culprits obtained Zaizen's, they would be given control of the company. Zaizen showed them the message the culprits had left identifying themselves; two SOLtiS who identified themselves as Ai and Roboppi, stating that they would be coming for Zaizen in three days. Playmaker was utterly floored by the revelation that Ai was now opposing humanity and The Shepherd accused him of knowing Ai's location, though Soulburner, Zaizen and Gore defended Playmaker, noting he would have gone after Ai himself had he known his intentions. Empathetic to Playmaker's position, Zaizen agreed to give him time to make his decision. That night, Yusaku and Theodore discussed whether or not they would fight, and Theodore revealed he intended to return home after stopping Ai. Yusaku visited the Stardust Road, remembering setting Ai free after stopping the Tower of Hanoi, but still hadn't made a decision by the next day. After school, Shima approached him looking for Playmaker, as Skye had asked him to, though he ran off to check the forums before Yusaku could compromise himself. As he headed to Café Nom, he saw Zaizen and Skye in the plaza, and they reconvened with him to a playground; Zaizen had finally realized that Yusaku was Playmaker. Zaizen thanked Yusaku for saving Skye from the Deleted virus and them both from the Tower of Hanoi and Bohman, though Yusaku claimed that their thanks were not needed, as he would have done so regardless. Zaizen was called away by work, but stated he was glad to have met Yusaku. Afterwards, Yusaku sat with Skye, who asked him not to fight against Ai, as she didn't want him to have to fight his own partner and she asked what Aqua's final moments were like. Yusaku admitted he hadn't been present, but according to Ai, Aqua had given him the last of her power and urged him to stop Bohman, which Skye agreed was something Aqua would do. She asked to shake Yusaku's hand, telling him she was grateful for everything he had done for her and her brother, before departing.[104]

Although he did not initially link up with Soulburner and their other allies, Yusaku came to the conclusion that it was his responsibility to prevent his partner from committing further crimes. Playmaker logged into the defunct Central Station, approaching it as Zaizen's defenders moved into position, and he noted that it would be a difficult battle.[104] Playmaker met up with Soulburner and Varis outside Central Station, and they soon detected three enemies, wondering if Ai and Roboppi had a third ally. Playmaker quickly engaged Ai, who stated that his desire for coexisted had caused the deaths of the other Ignis and that he was following Lightning's wishes as a result. As he claimed he'd made his decision and his mind couldn't be changed, Soulburner and Varis also encountered Ai, and they decided to Duel the three Ai to determine which was the original. Ai swiftly Link Summoned "Fire Phoenix @Ignister" and used "A.I. A.I. Wall" to prevent them from attacking, and his copies did the same in the other Duels. Ai confirmed that he and the other two were simply copies and that the real Ai was advancing towards Zaizen.[105] As they Dueled the copies, Kolter contacted them and asked them to hurry, as the other Duelists were in bad shape, though Playmaker was still hesitant to fight the copy of Ai, who warned Playmaker that he wouldn't be able to help his friends unless he broke his lock.[106] Kolter contacted Playmaker to warn him of Gore's defeat as Playmaker defeated the Ai copy with "Cyberse Clock Dragon", and the copy admitted he couldn't have defeated Playmaker, though they had been successful in stalling him.[107]

Playmaker, Soulburner and Varis entered Central Station, but found it empty; Varis explained that the Zaizens had been broadcasting from another location that Ai wouldn't be able to reach.[107] Varis informed them that Pandor was Dueling Ai on the Zaizen's plane and had the advantage, noting that she was almost as capable as the Ignis themselves. Playmaker asked Varis what would happen to Ai if he lost, and Varis replied that he would not show any mercy to Ai.[108]


Kal Kolter[edit]

Kolter is one of the very few people Yusaku actively interacts with. The two are close friends and work together to fight the Knights of Hanoi. Yusaku shows trust in Kolter's hacking abilities and even gave a brief smile when talking to him. Likewise, Kolter hopes Yusaku can one day enjoy Dueling again. Kolter also teases Yusaku about his poor social skills.

Naoki Shima (The Brave Battler)[edit]

When they met, Shima tried to befriend Yusaku and Duel him, but Yusaku showed little interest and irritated Shima by criticizing his Dueling and analyzing him, despite Yusaku saying Shima isn't a bad person. Despite their initial encounter, Shima continues his attempts to befriend Yusaku and he often sits with Yusaku during class, much to the latter's annoyance. Shima is a big fan of "Playmaker", unaware that he's Yusaku. Yusaku has a tendency to forget Shima's name repeatedly and keeps ignoring Shima due to his belief that he doesn't need friends. However, when Shima was kidnapped by Faust, Yusaku showed genuine concern for him.

Knights of Hanoi[edit]

Yusaku holds a deep grudge against the Knights of Hanoi and believes they're the culprits of the Hanoi Project. He swears revenge against the Hanoi and fights them whenever they make an attack. The Hanoi consider "Playmaker" to be a threat and plan to defeat him in order to retrieve Ai which "Playmaker" had captured.


Ai sees Yusaku as a partner, but Yusaku initially considered Ai to be nothing more than an object he needs to gain the upper hand against the Knights of Hanoi. He threatened to delete Ai in order to challenge a Knight, and ignored his pleas not to go back to VRAINS. Yusaku has little patience for Ai's antics and often doesn't let him talk. Nevertheless, Ai supports Yusaku in his Duels, though he claims to do so out of a desire for survival. Ai also seems to enjoy teasing Yusaku, but knows when things get serious. Likewise, Yusaku follows Ai's advice when needed. Despite being rude to Ai most of the time Yusaku slowly grows to care about him to some extent; this was seen when Ai was affected by Varis's "Fire Prison". Ai seems to have gradually warmed up to Yusaku and is keen on treating him like a friend, though the feeling is not mutual. In the dub, Yusaku is less harsh to Ai, denying his claims less coldly and often snarking gently at him rather than outright insulting him.

When Yusaku learns that Ai was based on him and that he had been lying to him, he coldly claims that Ai isn't his friend and that he never cared about him. (In the dub, Yusaku implies that he claims this for Varis's benefit, though he is still angry with Ai.) Despite this, Ai still saves Yusaku during their Speed Duel with Varis, and Yusaku continues to oppose the destruction of the Ignis. During his Master Duel with Varis, he and Ai have a heart-to-heart talk, and Yusaku directly asks Ai what the Cyberse is like. Despite this, he claims that he doesn't have a friend to Varis (despite Ai's clear irritation at such a claim) and Yusaku and Ai do not agree on the topic of Ryoken. Once he defeated Varis and the Knights of Hanoi, Yusaku released Ai, lightly joking with him before he left and seeming regretful that Ai had.

Once they reunite in the second season, Yusaku and Ai's relationship is far more positive and they work together better. Yusaku no longer insults or demeans Ai as he previously did, though he still rebukes him when needed.

Yusaku and Ai serve as foils to each other as while both started out as happy individuals, both were subjected to an immense emotional trauma that hurt them severely, while Yusaku started out as cold and anti-social, Ai was a happy and friendly individual with friends he cared deeply for. As the series progresses, Yusaku begins opening up and is able to make friends with others, while Ai loses his Ignis friends in the Ignis War and turned against humanity. During his duel against the Zaizens, Ai echoed Yusaku's statement from Season 1 during his duel against Akira, claiming that time has stopped moving for him and that he can't move forward unless he defeats all who stand in his way.

Skye Zaizen (Blue Angel)[edit]

Skye and Yusaku are classmates, though Skye is not aware of his alter-ego but she seems be suspicious of his identity as Playmaker after noticing he has the same Duel Disk as him and asked to see his Deck in order to confirm his identity. As "Blue Angel", Skye is shown to develop an interest in Yusaku's alter-ego, "Playmaker", after he saved her from a "Cracking Dragon". She is shown to be grateful for "Playmaker" for saving her and she even saved him in return after he fell from his Duel Board.

After Kolter figured out that Skye is "Blue Angel", Yusaku tried to get close to her in order to get a lead on Akira Zaizen and SOL Technologies regarding his past memories. Skye on the other hand believed Yusaku wanted her for her connections to SOL Technologies as many others had tried (which is technically correct, though not for the reasons she assumed), so she quickly dismissed him.

Yusaku was shocked when he discovered that Skye may have ties to the Knights of Hanoi showing that he never thought of her as an enemy, but he was still willing to duel her. He was visibly disturbed when Hanoi's card began damaging Skye so he rushed to end the Duel as quickly as possible, out of concern for her well being. After the Duel, Yusaku felt it was his responsibility to help Skye recover from her coma and willingly walked into a trap set by Ghost Gal.

Yusaku is shown to deeply care for Skye after he logged out following his duel with Varis he asked to Kolter if Skye is alright and after she recovered from her coma Yusaku is shown to be worried about her safety and well being that she doesn't attend school regularly and since her duel with him she stopped coming to LINK VRAINS. Ai also teases him for being worried about her or being linked with her which causes him to dodge the subject.

In the dub, Yusaku shows somewhat more of a connection with Skye; openly declaring that he is fighting for Blue Angel during his second Speed Duel with Varis and stammering awkwardly when he tries to downplay calling the hospital for her and accidentally implies that she may not be special.

George Gore (The Gore)[edit]

At first, Yusaku was indifferent to Gore who considers his alter-ego, "Playmaker", to be his rival. Gore was mad at Playmaker for stealing his spotlight and this grew worse when the children at the city orphanage, which he volunteered and donated to, started seeing Playmaker as a hero instead of him. After defeating him, Yusaku acknowledged Gore as a worthy opponent and started to respect his Dueling style, and even admitting to have enjoyed Dueling him. When Kolter suggested recruiting Gore for their fight against Hanoi, Yusaku objected by saying that he did not want Gore to face this kind of danger. After Gore defeated Dr. Genome, Yusaku became more willing to let Gore fight against Hanoi in the wake of the Deleted crisis and they formed an alliance. After his defeat at Varis's hands in the dub, Yusaku goes as far as to claim that he is also fighting for Gore's sake when he confronts Varis during their Speed Duel.

Akira Zaizen[edit]

Despite having a brief interaction with Yusaku at the hospital Zaizen was grateful to him for locating his sister and informing him about her comatose status. He questioned Yusaku about his relationship to Skye and the latter responded they are only classmates.

On the other hand, Zaizen dislikes Yusaku's alter ego "Playmaker" for having stolen Ai. Zaizen grew to utterly hate Playmaker after his Duel against Blue Angel which resulted in Skye falling comatose. Zaizen immediately assumed that Playmaker was the culprit for Skye's predicament and worked with Ghost Gal to turn all of LINK VRAINS into a trap to capture Playmaker. Zaizen then mercilessly tortured Playmaker and refused to believe Playmaker's explanation that it was Hanoi's fault for Skye being comatose. However, upon being informed of his mistake by Varis, Zaizen reluctantly freed Playmaker and was surprised that Playmaker didn't hate him for what he did. He was grateful to for Playmaker for saving Skye from the virus.

In their next encounter inside SOL Technology's database, Akira displayed pity for Playmaker after discovering the data he was after, even insisting that Playmaker trust him to reveal the truth in his stead. Compared to their previous encounter, Zaizen even demonstrates sadness for Playmaker, especially when he realized that Playmaker was Skye's age. Zaizen felt that Playmaker shouldn't waste his youth chasing after the Hanoi Project and wanted to handle the situation himself, only for Playmaker to immediately refute Akira's claims and maintain that he deserved to learn the truth himself.

When Zaizen is captured and threatened by Specter during his Duel with Playmaker, Playmaker refuses to attack Specter out of fear for Zaizen's safety and instead plays defensively, despite Zaizen continually urging him to attack without worrying about him. Zaizen eventually takes it upon himself to sacrifice himself so that Skye's prior loss to Specter wouldn't be in vain, and his absorption by the Tower of Hanoi enraged Playmaker, and he subsequently vengefully defeated Specter.

Ryoken Kogami (Varis)[edit]

When first informed about a hacker named "Playmaker" who was defeating Hanoi members, Varis initially suspected Playmaker was an agent from SOL Technologies but rejected the idea because SOL would act more publicly and dismissed Playmaker. It wasn't until Playmaker captured Ai that Varis became interested in him. Varis then switched all his efforts into defeating Playmaker before SOL did, as doing so was the only way to capture Ai.

Playmaker, on the other hand, hates Varis for being Hanoi's leader and vowed to defeat him and discover his true identity. During their first Duel, Varis claimed that he wasn't interested in Playmaker's identity and considered him to be just another of the many people who hates the Hanoi. However, during their second Duel, Varis recognized Playmaker's speech pattern of listing out three reasons and was disturbed when Playmaker mentioned about a certain incident that happened ten years ago. He chides Playmaker for siding with SOL Technologies without knowing the truth and, after the Duel, is eager to uncover Playmaker's true identity, to the extent of requesting more time from his father before the completion of Hanoi's program, in which the latter agrees under the condition it did not take too long.

After they learn one another's identities, Yusaku and Ryoken's relationship changes substantially. After realizing that Ryoken not only saved him, but also talked to him while he was captured and taught him his three reasons philosophy, Yusaku became determined to save Varis from himself, wishing to become his friend. He threw aside his desire for revenge and stated that he wished to create a new future with Ryoken. Despite Yusaku's efforts, Ryoken rejected his offer and continued to oppose the Ignis. Nevertheless, Yusaku still trusts Ryoken deeply and continues to hope that they can become friends. He believes fiercely in his capacity to change, begging him not to destroy Jin's data in order to defeat Lightning as this would revert Varis back to his own ways.

Emma Bessho (Ghost Gal)[edit]

Emma showed an interest in Playmaker. After witnessing his Duel against Blue Angel, Ghost Gal caught him in a trap under Zaizen's orders to interrogate him about Skye's condition. Her interest in him continued to grow after watching him defeat Varis and Dueling him herself, even admitting that he exceeded her expectations. The two explored LINK VRAINS underground, though Ghost Gal continued to deceive Playmaker by letting him go in the wrong direction which led to him and Ai being chased by a data monster. Before being absorbed by the Tower of Hanoi, Ghost Gal entrusted Playmaker with the data for the Tower and attempted to warn him about Varis's dangerous card. Playmaker in turn was angry for not being able to save her and vowed to do so, passing on her advice to Blue Angel and The Gore.



Knights of Hanoi[edit]

Yusaku (as Playmaker) with "Decode Talker" and "Firewall Dragon".

Yusaku uses a Cyberse Beatdown Deck, which he initially found after solving an urban legend.[109][2] His main strategy involves using methodically calculated moves to overwhelm the opponent with Link Monsters. His early turns are usually slow, with him setting up his bigger combos for later while analyzing the opponent's strategies. Once his field is set up, he Link Summons multiple weak Link Monsters at once to then use them as Materials for his stronger ones such as the "code Talkers", and "Firewall Dragon". His other Link Monsters can also act as support for his primary ones. Yusaku also makes regular use of cards which banish themselves or other cards from the Graveyard or hand to activate effects, granting him access to a steady stream of resources even with an empty field or hand.

"Decode Talker" materializing into a real card.

After capturing Ai and unlocking the "Storm Access" Skill, he can obtain new Cyberse Link Monsters when his LP are 1000 or below during a Speed Duel when a Data Storm is near. To this end, he usually allows himself to drop below 1000 LP. The Link Monsters gained this way expand his arsenal of monsters for the current Duel and future Duels alike and typically help turn a disadvantageous situation in his favor. As shown with "Decode Talker", the data of the Link Monsters added by his Skill can materialize into real cards with the proper equipment. In case the opponent tries to prevent "Storm Access" from activating by not dealing damage, Yusaku also uses cards with effects that require him to pay LP to get around it. During his Duel with The Gore, spectators likened this strategy to Gore's habit of letting his opponent take the lead, then making a comeback from a pinch.

Yusaku also used three copies of "Sphere Kuriboh" as shields during his infiltration of SOL Technologies' data bank. Whether or not they are in his Deck is unknown.[25]

Knights of Hanoi
Main Deck


Prior to the events of this season, Yusaku added other support for Summoning methods to his Deck, including Ritual Monsters, Fusion Monsters, Synchro Monsters, and Xyz Monsters, in addition to support cards like "Cyberse Witch". He also acquires "Linkuriboh" from Ai, and continues to acquire new Link Monsters like "Clock Spartoi" through "Storm Access". His Skill later evolves, becoming "Neo Storm Access", which not only allows him to add other Cyberse Extra Deck monsters to his Deck from the Data Storm, but can be used again if it was unsuccessful and he has 100 or less LP, while also allowing him to draw another card. He focuses less on his "Code Talker" monsters and more on other Link Monsters and his new Summoning methods.

During his final Duel with Bohman, Yusaku acquires one of the first Link-5 Link Monsters, "Firewall Dragon Darkfluid". Subsequently, Yusaku combines his two strategies; allowing him to build a steady field through use of multiple Summoning methods and beginning to use his "Code Talker" monsters again.

Main Deck


Yusaku continues to build upon his combination of his "Code Talker" monsters and his other Extra Deck Summons, including more cards that can support both and the cards to search the necessary monsters from his Deck. Via combining his ace monsters, he can create a lock with the effects of "Cyberse Magician", "Cyberse Clock Dragon", and "Cyberse Quantum Dragon" by controlling two of them at once in addition to a Link Monster. Prior to his Duel with Ai, Ryoken gives him "Borreload Furious Dragon" to combat Ai's use of "Judgment Arrows", and Yusaku subsequently includes cards to give him the necessary materials to Fusion Summon it.

Card changes[edit]

Over the course of the series, some of the cards used by Playmaker have been changed with regards to their effect or type. This is the list of cards which he used previously.


Prior to obtaining his Cyberse Deck, Yusaku played a mash-up Deck that focused on swarming the the field with monsters to be used as material for Link Summons. The Deck was shown to have been quite reactive to his opponent's plays, including cards like "Forbidden Lance".[2]


Additionally, Yusaku has a LIGHT dummy Deck for situations in real life where he has to show his Deck to other Duelists. The Deck is extremely basic in addition to using very old cards, to make it seems like Yusaku is a regular untalented Duelist.[17]


Opponent Episode(s) Outcome
Unknown Duelist 11 Lose (flashback)
Unknown Duelist 19 Lose (flashback)
Unknown Duelist 19 Lose (flashback)
Knight of Hanoi 64 Win (flashback)
Knight of Hanoi 1 Win
Number 10 2 Win
George Gore/The Gore 4-5 Win
Skye Zaizen/Blue Angel 7 Win
Varis 9-10 DRAW
Varis 10-12 Win
Emma Bessho/Ghost Gal 14-15 Win
Prototype Green-A 16-17 Win
Akira Zaizen 18-20 Win
Knight of Hanoi 24 Win
Faust 28 Win
Specter 35-37 Win
Ryoken Kogami/Varis 41-42 DRAW
Ryoken Kogami/Varis 43-46 Win
Bohman 47-48 Win
The Shepherd 53-54 Win
Bohman 57-58 Win
Kenchi 62 Win
Yozaka 63 Win
Earth 66-67 Win
Bohman 72-73 DRAW
George Gore/The Gore 81-82 Win
BitBoot 86 Win
Kal Kolter 92-93 Win
Bohman 99-102 Win
Ai copy 106, 108 Win
Ai 117-120 Win


  • Yusaku has used every type of Summoning introduced up to the VRAINS series, except for Pendulum Summoning due to it not being featured.
  • Yusaku was originally going to be a newcomer to Duel Monsters, which would have fit the show's original theme of "Take a step forward and try". This was changed in the final series.


  1. a b c Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 12: "Link the Circuit"
  2. a b c d e f Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 64: "The Beginning"
  3. Jake Paque's Twitter
  4. "The Organization | [Jump Festa 2017] Latest Information Stage: 6th Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime". YGOrganization. December 17, 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  5. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 54: "Game of Drones"
  6. a b c Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 73: "Weathering the Storm"
  7. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 82: "Gored"
  8. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 58: "Memory Games"
  9. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 19: "The Lost Incident"
  10. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 11: "Neutralized"
  11. a b c Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 65: "Pieces of the Puzzle"
  12. a b c Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 1: "Link into the VRAINS"
  13. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 2: "Seize the Wind!"
  14. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 3: "Contact"
  15. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 4: "Pain and Gain"
  16. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 5: "Down for the Count"
  17. a b c d Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 6: "True Blue"
  18. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 7: "Fallen Angel"
  19. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 8: "A Storm is Coming"
  20. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 9: "Malicious Mayhem"
  21. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 10: "Eye of the Storm"
  22. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 13: "Playback"
  23. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 14: "An Invitation"
  24. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 15: "Camouflaged Chaos"
  25. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 16: "Hack Attack"
  26. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 17: "Blue's Back"
  27. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 18: "Dueling for Answers"
  28. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 20: "A Piece of the Puzzle"
  29. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 21: "Story Time!"
  30. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 22: "The Deleted"
  31. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 23: "A Grim Tale"
  32. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 24: "To Gore Or Not To Gore"
  33. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 25: "Suture the Circuit"
  34. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 26: "Diagnosis: Deletion"
  35. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 27: "Naoki Shima the Fighter"
  36. a b c Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 28: "Bugging Out"
  37. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 30: "Under VRAINS"
  38. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 31: "Showdown in the Sewers"
  39. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 32: "The Tower of Hanoi"
  40. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 33: "Once Upon A Time"
  41. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 34: "Roots of Evil"
  42. a b c Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 35: "The Hollow"
  43. a b c Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 36: "A Bridge Too Far"
  44. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 37: "Out on a Limb"
  45. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 39: "Ring the Bell"
  46. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 40: "Gore at War"
  47. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 41: "Truth and Consequences"
  48. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 42: "Storm Access"
  49. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 43: "The Reveal"
  50. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 44: "Illusion of Hope"
  51. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 45: "Standing Tall"
  52. a b c d Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 46: "Link to the Future"
  53. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 47: "LINK VRAINS 2.0"
  54. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 48: "Shed Some Light"
  55. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 49: "Bring the Heat"
  56. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 50: "A Common Cause"
  57. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 51: "Bounty Hunting"
  58. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 52: "Tapping Out"
  59. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 53: "The Shepherd"
  60. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 55: "A Windy Welcome"
  61. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 57: "Bohman Returns"
  62. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 59: "Return of the Hanoi"
  63. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 60: "Sidekick Showdown"
  64. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 61: "Darkness Dawns"
  65. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 62: "Fearing the Worst"
  66. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 63: "Scare Tactics"
  67. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 66: "Earth Ignis "Earth""
  68. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 67: "Choosing Sides"
  69. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 68: "The Doorway"
  70. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 69: "Coexistence"
  71. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 70: "A Storm Brews"
  72. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 71: "A Logical Decision"
  73. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 72: "Strategy Shift"
  74. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 74: "Brain Hack"
  75. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 75: "Earthfall"
  76. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 76: "Awakened Memories"
  77. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 77: "A Family Reunion"
  78. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 78: "From One Hunter To Another"
  79. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 79: "The Hunt Is On"
  80. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 80: "Lightning Strikes"
  81. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 81: "Heart of Darkness"
  82. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 83: "Reaching Out"
  83. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 84: "Payback"
  84. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 93: "A Fighting Promise"
  85. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 85: "My Brother's Keeper"
  86. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 86: "The Weakest Link"
  87. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 87: "The Ultimate Connection"
  88. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 88: "A Breezy Battle"
  89. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 89: "Fan the Flames"
  90. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 90: "For a Friend"
  91. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 91: "From the Heart"
  92. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 92: "Fight with a Friend"
  93. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 94: "No Matter What It Takes"
  94. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 95: "From the Ashes"
  95. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 96: "I Know Your Secret"
  96. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 97: "Outsmart, Outwit, Outthink!"
  97. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 98: "Lightning Storm"
  98. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 99: "Bohman's End Game"
  99. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 100: "I Know Everything"
  100. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 101: "Ai of the Beholder"
  101. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 102: "The Final Turn"
  102. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 103: "Reflections"
  103. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 104: "Your Reign is Over"
  104. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 105: "Unlikely Alliance"
  105. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 106: "Roboppi Mops Up"
  106. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 107: "Cleaning House"
  107. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 108: "Smash and Mash"
  108. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 109: "The Ignis Hunter"
  109. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS Ending 3: BOY


  1. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 2.
  2. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 7.
  3. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 15.
  4. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 10.
  5. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 28.
  6. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 42.
  7. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 17.
  8. This card is sent from the top of his Deck to the GY via the effect of "Link Back" in episode 67.
  9. This card is sent from the top of his Deck to the GY via the effect of "Cyberse Clock Dragon" in episode 67.
  10. This card is obtained via Neo Storm Access in episode 73.
  11. This card is obtained via Neo Storm Access in episode 82.
  12. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 54.
  13. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 48.
  14. a b This card is shown when he adds "Linkuriboh" to his Deck in episode 47.
  15. a b c d This card is sent from the top of his Deck to the GY via the effect of "Cyberse Clock Dragon" in episode 118.