CardSharp Pro – The YGOrg Review

Joshua Graham is an individual known to almost anybody who plays this game seriously. He’s been known for brilliant ideas, YCS tops, and instructional posts on Duelistgroundz, but most recently he’s been gaining recognition from a new program he’s started: CardSharp Pro.

The last two months have shown that he wants to sell you “How to Win at Yugioh”.

Hello and welcome to YGOrganization, where today we want to show you our review of the CardSharp Pro System, how it affected us, and most importantly, how much value you’re getting for your hard earned $97.

We’re going to be reviewing all of the content available to us on his website. This is what you will get access to upon purchasing account access:

  • An introductory article explaining the product, and who he is.
  • A “Beginner” video – Aimed at covering the basics.
  • An “Intermediate” video – Aimed at covering theory.
  • An “Advanced” video – Aimed at making you ‘as good as the Pros’.

I assessed the best way to review such a product was to have people from four levels of experience in this game take a look at the product, that way it would lower bias, and evaluate it to see if a sort of ‘demographic’ existed that could make better use of the product.

  • A beginner, who only knows how to play the game as far as the rulebook is concerned
  • An intermediate player, who knows combos, intricacies, but still is only playing for fun
  • An advanced player, who would be capable of winning their local once in a while, seemingly the target demographic.
  • An expert player, somebody with a lot of experience, Tier 2 event wins, and hopefully beyond the necessary ability to understand the content within the post.

There’s still a level above it – The pro player – who has multiple YCS wins and unmatched game theory, but since this video is meant to turn you into one of them, naturally one isn’t needed to review the product.

We each watched the videos separately, and did our reviews at different times without talking to each-other during or afterwards. Nobody other than me due to reviewing this, knows what the others have said. This was done in an effort to remove any bias or drawing additional attention to something the initial party would have missed. If they missed it, that’s something I wanted included.

We’ll start with a quick introduction of our reviewers, and their opinions on section 1: the “blurb.”

Our beginner player: Anika Nagy.

Anika is a kind girl from Australia who recently has started to want to take Yu-Gi-Oh! seriously. She has no local wins, and only knows how to play one deck, so we figured she’d be perfect for a beginner level review. Can the CSP system turn her into a YCS Champion in only 90 days?

“I just wanted to start by saying that, I haven’t been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! that long. I do not claim to be a pro player. My level of knowledge is pretty basic, nothing more then what my SO has taught me and what I have picked up by going to his tournaments and that’s why I have been asked to partake in this article. This is my honest, unbiased opinion on a product that can be targeted to a wide variety of players… provided they are willing to shell out 97 dollars.”

“I honestly feel like I’m watching an ad on daytime television. Feels very “but wait there’s more!~” type infomercial which takes a lot of the attraction away. He comes across in it far too strong.” – Ani

Our intermediate player is John “Cheesedude” Klauser.

John is an admin for the one and only Yu-Gi-Oh! wiki. Responsible for its upkeep, accuracy, and legitimacy, he works in much of his spare time correcting and collecting information about the game. Suffice to say he knows his stuff when it comes to the game’s overall information and mechanics.
However, John isn’t a tournament player. The most you’ll get out of him is a cool duel against one of his Anime inspired decks in a DN Grudge match for kicks. He isn’t entering a YCS anytime soon, but he’s certainly above the “Beginner” level.

“This was a bit much. I love this game, but the blurb struck me as playing things way too seriously. Far be it from be to call something wordy, but I think this could have been chopped down a bit. Something rubs me the wrong way about the tone, to the point that certain paragraphs may as well be replaced with “buy this now!” The wording could use some work too: “This module represents the first of three modules” is quite redundant.” – John

Our advanced player is Earl “Pharaoh Atem” Ratliff

Earl has been playing this game since its infancy. He’s been around the block. Many know him as the 2nd-in-command over at DuelistGroundz, others as co-founder of The Organization’s translation team and, later, its website. He rarely plays, but when he does, he does it seriously. He makes an effort to understand each deck he plays, and learn each match-up, but he doesn’t do it as often or as seriously as players who try to win a regional or other event. He’s got the know-how, and the drive, but is short the ‘practice’ to get to the skill. The CSP program is advertised to be aimed at precisely his level of play ability, so we’ll see how things go for ol’ Earl.

–Disclaimer: Earl was specifically asked for a ‘short version’ of his review, because he is infamously known to turn a simple answer into an entire book. He apologizes that even his short version is the size of the remaining article.–

“Nothing of value – not one red cent – should be paid for the content of the opening blurb. It’s ultimately devoid of substance and is nothing more than “buy my work”. It doesn’t make any sort of strong case for why the work is worthwhile. It doesn’t introduce the work in a meaningful sense. It reads like a SALES PITCH, not a primer on how CSP System is worth your hard-earned money. It’s too vague to be of value.

The most annoying part about the blurb is how incompetently placed it is: it is placed in the portion of the CSP site accessible only by paying customers. The people able to access this site shouldn’t be pandered to like idiots this way: when someone is a paying customer, they’ve ALREADY BEEN CONVINCED to purchase your product, so you don’t need to spend 300 words convincing them AGAIN that they ought buy it. It’s like going to a movie and having the first seven minutes of the feature presentation say “go see this film!” over and over. It’s ridiculous.

It is not good to begin with a bunch of unsubstantiated promises. What’s worse is, he should be THANKING people for the purchase in the opening blurb, instead of using it for more advertising. Let’s hope the vids are leagues better.” – Earl

The last reviewer is myself, I being a player who has been playing as long as Earl, but actually taking it seriously the entire time and collecting tier 2 event tops. As final editor of the article and review, I will abstain from introducing myself with fluff and also just say that the intro blurb was effectively written by Billy Mays.

The First Video

The above image is a screenshot from the first video. All 3 videos follow the same format. He sits on his couch, talks a bit, and the rest is basically a powerpoint presentation. Being that you have to pay for the content within, we will not provide a screenshot of the ‘content’.

“Feels very bullshit for the first “module”. It does assume the watcher has basic knowledge of Yu-Gi-Oh and how to play. This isn’t a “learn2play”, it’s “how to be a better player”. It has some pretty interesting concepts though, obviously coming from the mouth of a pro player. Still, not convinced it’s worth 100 dollars. Doesn’t explain a lot of the terms he uses, this is 110% because I’m a noob, but it does hinder his efforts in order to teach me.”
– Ani
“The opening of the video was much more promising than the opening blurb. I would say the video was pretty helpful. I very much appreciate talk about the psychology of the game. I think this video is a pretty good reference point for new players (or even as a refresher for someone that hasn’t played in a while). All-in-all, I think it has worth (and far more than I would have thought given the intro blurb). Though “new” players would have to be at least re-defined as “someone who has played a least a bit” since there were quite a few terms that I would think a new player wouldn’t know being thrown around. It really feels like this should be the second video and there is another that does not exist that should go first.”
– John
“The intent of the Beginner video is to lay down a useful framework by which the remainder of the course may function. It does this. The video claims to want to build you from the ground up: a problem with this is in how it uses various forms of jargon and other statements that will not be understood by a novice – this is essentially a “beginning video”, but not a video for true beginners at all. The video shows a confusion in what sort of audience it seeks.

“Past that, the content is extremely common-sense. The explanation of each of the fundamentals is nearly tautological, and seems padded out – there’s nothing here that’ll really make someone’s misunderstanding of these basics turn into genuine understanding. Many of the first video’s points can be summarized in two words: “be efficient”. Deal with threats through the minimum investment required to solve a problem, create threats for your opponent to deal with through minimum investment required, and so on. Min-maxing is the nature of the true heart of the first video: getting maximum return on minimum investment, be that investment a card, some life, or some other choice or resource. If this is the bedrock, I am concerned about how much this costs.

“The same goes for the deckbuilding and siding basics, as well as the in-game mindsets. This video doesn’t really even feel like it’s geared toward helping people who view the game as a game: it seems moreso aimed at people who don’t see the game as a game, and just choose and use cards without actually thinking much about those choices at all. Some folks play this game by just going through the motions instead of actually paying attention, but the product seems aimed at the sort of player who “wants to get over a wall and start winning” – no video can actually teach someone how to be disciplined and attentive.

“So, what is the target market for this? Players who’ve never touched the game in their life, or players who’ve played for a long time and are willing to consider a hundred-dollar investment in “being good at YGO” as wise? If it’s the latter, then this beginner video should really not be necessary. It’s THAT rudimentary, and something this rudimentary shouldn’t be part of something someone needs to develop competitive prowess.

“If it’s meant for absolute beginners, then there’s still too much stuff here that’d go over their heads: it is jargony in places – you can’t expect a newbie to know a ‘cossack’ just by namedropping it, for example.”

– Earl

“The videos are embedded into a website, using flowplayer. The picture quality is clear and there is no background noise coming through the microphone. He has opted to play calm soothing music in the background under a voice-over as text plays across the screen in bullet-point form. It’s basically watching a PowerPoint presentation.

“He covers basic fundamentals clearly and explains some terms not known to beginners. Uses advanced cards assuming you know what they are. Says there are 3 videos total. He did cover things that are very important to know, but nothing I would expect anyone to not know about once they reach a certain level. If you have made it to day two of a YCS, or topped a regional, you will learn nothing from his beginner video other than perhaps what somebody on his level prioritizes over another, such as when and how to care about Life Points. Aptly named, this was indeed the ‘Beginner CSP Video Training Module’.”

– Dan
So we established that not only does our 97$ get us the three videos, but that the first is only ten minutes long.

Some claim the related Facebook group open exclusively to CSP purchasers costs $20/month to join. We are investigating this further.

Still, two videos left and 70 minutes of content, right?

However, the site now says 60 minutes of content, despite advertising 80 earlier.

The Beginner video is slightly less than 10 minutes long.
The Intermediate video is slightly less than 11.5 minutes long.
The Expert video is slightly less than 20 minutes long.
This means the total length is slightly less than 42 minutes. Not 60.

Let’s move onto our reviews of the 2nd video.

The Intermediate Video

“Again, in his intermediate video, he mentions a few terms that I have not heard before. He also does not explain them, but does brush over an example or two. Has some pretty good information about how to side against meta decks and which archetype to play in order to have a decent advantage. It’s concise and delivered in a short amount of time; he doesn’t pussyfoot around, which is what I like.”
– Ani
“I enjoyed seeing the game separated into four categories, I’m just not sure it really works that way. I also take issue with implying that certain types of Decks “stop you from playing ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’. That is part of the game. There are many styles of Decks and “stop your opponent” is a pretty basic tenant of the game – you said so yourself in the first video. I also don’t really think “archetype” is the right word to use for Deck type here.”
– John
“Okay, we’re through the intermediate video and I have learned NOTHING so far. A good chunk of this one was spent on obvious things, jargon, and meaningless nominalist distinctions between ‘ways of playing’. The one hope left for anything worthwhile – and it had best be damn good to be worth nearly $100, since the parts so far could be stated by anyone sensible in the game and are thus worth $0 – would be in the advanced course.

“I actually found myself saying out loud ‘I cannot believe that this is supposedly intermediate content’; it felt far too simple, far too base, far too ‘already known and easily deduced.’ Sincerely, the lessons in this video are all about forcing the opponent to play the game on your terms rather than their own, so that they can achieve their goals less often and less quickly than you achieve yours, while reminding the player to get maximum investment out of minimum effort.”

– Earl
“There is no way to full screen the video. He didn’t explain what a floodgate was this time, so he isn’t completely consistent in his level of explanation, sometimes he assumes you know, others he doesn’t. I’m slightly forgiving of this as it’s an ‘intermediate’ video and the last was a beginner, but at no point between the videos, be it during them or on the site, did he say to practice, read, or research anything to increase their current knowledge before starting video number two. He misuses the term “archetype”, but goes into the four styles of play that decks typically follow. He doesn’t get very in-depth into the kinds of variants each has, simply lumping all ‘aggro’ decks into one thing and asserts that the same style will handle all subsets of aggro decks. His information is factual, correct, and applied logically and in a short period of time – you won’t be sitting there for hours watching the video. The content is definitely something worth watching at least once, so far. One video left.”
– Dan

With one video left, at the very least his videos use accurate info and are trying to instruct. An appreciated effort.

Final Video and closing thoughts

“The advanced part is split into two halves, the first is technical, which covers three concepts and then practical covers another two concepts. The technical side kinda went over my head, but made sense in general. This is completely due to me being new to the game, but it did help me understand the key ideas expressed in the video. He covered things like mind games, but no specific techniques into making your opponent misplay, which was kind of disappointing. This is consistent with his other concepts, they are very general with one or two examples but no hard examples. This is definitely something he needs to work on if he wants to make it worth 97 dollars.

“The practical side covered playtesting techniques; this goes in-depth well and covers changing techniques and getting accurate results. Tournament preparation such as the mental strain involved with winning events and a pretty concise tips list.

“In closing, for a beginner it’s definitely not worth 97 dollars. You can get all of the information in these videos just by befriending players and going to local tournaments. The information given is advanced but is common knowledge and no amount of watching these videos will make you win a YCS. But, remember this is coming from someone who is a beginner and may help an intermediate or advanced user more than they helped me.” – Ani
“Once again, the talk of psychology was great. I appreciated the Side Decking tips for sure. I also found the ending segment about tournament preparations interesting. Other than that, I didn’t find this one particularly helpful. I cannot see these sorts of tips enabling one to win tournaments by themselves without quite a lot of practice. This is a complicated game. What he has put forth is mostly sound. I said earlier I said there should have been a video before beginner. With what Yu-Gi-Oh is, there is the potential for MANY more videos after the advanced one. The info is not bad, but it most certainly it is not going to go what the blurb advertised it would.

Would I pay money for this? No. Would I recommend the Beginner video to people just starting out or getting back into the game after a hiatus? Yes.” – John

“”This video is in two parts, a technical side and a practical side. At the end of the technical side I had learned a grand total of absolutely nothing. I entered the practical side hoping I may actually pick up some tips or learn some knowledge. He starts off by explaining mind games and a proper method of playtesting while giving examples of how to do it effectively, encouraging teambuilding and tech testing, and proper styles of play. He makes complete sense but uses a lot of terms you wouldn’t expect a beginner to understand, at least, not without explaining to them what they are. He then goes over tournament tips, similar to what you’d read on ARG articles, Kris Perovic’s site, or even the old ones. Nothing really ‘profound’ or epiphany inducing. As somebody who has played this game for more than a decade, I can honestly say that I learned nothing from the technical side of his videos, but I did learn some interesting playtesting ideas I had not previously thought of. ” -Dan

“Final verdict:

“I have learned nothing from this product, and I am not the strongest player out there. I consider myself quite weak, in fact.

“This program claims to teach me everything I need to know to be great at YGO. I do not believe I know everything I need to know to be great at it, so I feel like the program fails that mark. The fact that I learned nothing from it that I did not already know is an indelible stain on the program.

“The ‘right mentality’ he proclaims to teach is honestly a bunch of common-sense stuff I expect anyone to be able to espouse. Aside from jargon, which can be taught and explained to someone new immediately, the ideas of making smart, efficient decisions with one’s tactics and strategy as one’s only concerns is just… elementary.

“Playing the game on your own terms, not on your opponent’s, is fundamental. Forcing the opponent to take actions he doesn’t want to take is rudimentary. Building your deck without devoting too many slots to the wrong goals, concerns, and methods is essential, but basic.

“He claims we ‘cannot get this anywhere else’ – I disagree, DuelistGroundz instilled this sort of thing into me very quickly. POJO could even instill this in someone, if you avoid the swarms of players there who hate doing what must be done in order to play better.

“Of course some of the best follow these recommendations, they’re as endemic to ‘good YGO’ as water is to the human body. If you DON’T play and deckbuild and think with the opposition’s own plays, decks, and thoughts in mind, you ARE going to lose for it. That’s not some next-level YGO strategy, it’s ‘don’t be a careless moron!’

“Someone should not charge nearly one hundred dollars in order to hear this. It’s dreck. I consider it beneath anyone who isn’t completely new to the game.

“The blurb claims that it is “crucial to go against the grain” when people are all ‘playing the game a certain way’ – but these tips are not some sort of secret plan of how to win, nor are they against the grain at all. All they boil to is ‘pay attention to the community and its habits, pay close attention to the cards and how they work, and deduce your way to the top from there.’

“If this is next-level YGO, I have bad news: everyone’s already playing it, and thus tips on how to do it are NOT worth your cold, hard cash!” – Earl
“I am not the biggest fan of josh, in fact I chuckled a few times at ironic statements he’d make during the video, but at the same time it’d be wrong to be biased in my review and not take this seriously, so I will say that the content in the video is true, accurate, and helpful to a certain level of player. That level of player is not who he’s marketing it to (somebody who wants to top but can’t seem to), it’s more of a ‘get you from going 4-3 on day 1, to actually making it into day 2 level stuff. He’s clearly worked hard on this, put a lot of time into editing it, and you can tell he does want you to learn from the videos, but I’d at most value it at about $20, and only to players who find they top 8 their locals ‘once in a while, and then lose when I make it’. I applaud the effort Josh, but it’s not groundbreaking enough to warrant a $100 price tag out of highly competitive players. Information like this shouldn’t cost money in the first place” – Dan
So there you have it. Four reviews of the CardSharp Pro program. So what do you think? Worth a buy? or should Joshua Graham stop trying to juice players for money? Let us know what you think below. We hope this review helped anyone on the fence with their decision of whether or not to purchase.

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