Card master: Local trading card game champ to compete at world tournament 

Bryce Miller (kneeling) won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January. Courtesy photo.
Bryce Miller (kneeling) won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January. Courtesy photo.
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Bryce Miller began collecting trading cards when he was a little kid, but it wasn’t until he was about 17 when he learned that he can use them to play actual games. 

Over the years, Miller, 31, has tried many different trading card games, but the one that he found to be to his liking was Digimon. The game came out in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Miller immediately was drawn to its uniqueness. 

Bryce Miller won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January. Courtesy photo.
Bryce Miller won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January. Courtesy photo.

“I got into it because it was a very unique game compared to other games I played and was based off of a famous (intellectual property),” said Miller, a Stevenson Ranch resident who works for a medical company. 

Nearly four years later, Miller became the national champion in Digimon, competing for 16 hours over two days and beating out more than 1,000 opponents at the Bandai Card Games Fest held at the Los Angeles Convention Center at the end of January.

 

Despite the mounting pressure as he continued to win — Miller had to win 16 games, with each taking just under an hour to complete — Miller said he was focused on not stressing himself out and treating each game like it was just another Sunday at his local game store. 

“I was just trying to play the best I could,” Miller said. “Even (when it got to the) top 64, I’m like, ‘OK, well, I’m just playing like it’s another day at my local game store. I’m not trying to focus on the fact that I’m doing incredibly well right now.’” 

Miller was able to defeat his opponent in the final round despite his opponent utilizing a strategy that was meant to counter his. 

“The strategy I was playing is considered by people the best strategy,” Miller said. “The one I was playing against is considered the most hated strategy, the most frustrating and coping for a lot of people to play against. And he built his strategy to beat mine. That’s how he was kind of climbing up the ranks himself.” 

Miller’s prizes included a trophy, two different trophy cards, a trophy mat and some promotional products that would otherwise be difficult to secure. 

The first day of the event saw the total group of more than 1,000 compete in what is known as a Swiss-system bracket — one that does not eliminate after losses and the top players then move on to the championship bracket. 

Miller said the game recently changed formats, one that favors his style of play. In fact, he said the card set that he used throughout the tournament only came out two weeks prior to the competition, and Bandai has already said that it is restricting how many of each card in the set can be used at official tournaments. 

“People knew it was going to be a good strategy,” Miller said, “and Bandai had already said that after this tournament, starting in March, the best card in the deck, which is the title card, is getting limited in the format to one copy instead of four copies.” 

Now that he’s off to the world championships, Miller will not only get to compete against some of the best in the world, but also cross off an item on his bucket list: visiting Japan. 

Bryce Miller won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January, garnering some unique prizes. Courtesy photo.
Bryce Miller won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January, garnering some unique prizes. Courtesy photo.
Bryce Miller won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January, garnering some unique prizes. Courtesy photo.
Bryce Miller won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January, garnering some unique prizes. Courtesy photo.

“It is my No. 1 destination vacation place, so I’m very, very excited,” Miller said. “Even if I do terrible at the world championship, I get to go to one of my top exciting places to go to in the world.” 

Miller said he’ll be spending 11 days total in Japan, four days for the event and then another week to explore. Other than competing, Miller is also looking forward to trying authentic Japanese food and seeing some of the historical artifacts. 

“I’m a big fan of their food,” Miller said. “I’m excited to try the authentic food experience. I want to see a lot of the different cultural artifacts that I kind of I’m a fan of, like anime and video games and other trading card stores and all that kind of stuff. And just seeing some of the really unique sights.” 

Bryce Miller won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January, garnering some unique prizes.. Courtesy photo.
Bryce Miller won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January, garnering some unique prizes.. Courtesy photo.
Bryce Miller won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January, garnering some unique prizes. Courtesy photo.
Bryce Miller won the Digimon trading card game national championship in January, garnering some unique prizes. Courtesy photo.

Miller left for Tokyo on Tuesday and is set to compete on Sunday. Bandai is paying for his travel and lodging for the four days of the event. 

As one of 16 competitors, Miller isn’t worried about how he does; he just wants to have a good time playing the game he enjoys. 

“It’s just a hobby,” Miller said. “I want to compete still, if I can, at the next national championship. And hopefully by the time that next national championship rolls around, another deck that I like to play comes out, because the format changes all the time in card games. What’s gonna be good this year, is gonna be drastically different than next year. The year before, I did terrible at the national event because I didn’t like any of (the cards).” 

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