A Zero Turn Kill, abbreviated ZTK, is one of the rarest outcomes of a Duel. To achieve a Zero Turn Kill, as per its name, a player must win the Duel without ever having a turn; this generally requires that the opponent go first and the player win during the opponent's first turn. All ZTKs require a great deal of luck, and almost always rely heavily on the opponent's actions.
Known methods to achieve a ZTK are:
- Drawing all five pieces of "Exodia" in the initial draw or during the opponent's first turn
- Having the opponent send three copies of "Jackpot 7" to your Graveyard during their first turn
- Using the last effect of "Gorz the Emissary of Darkness" in a very specific situation
- Activating Trap Cards after the player's "Makyura the Destructor" is sent to the Graveyard during their opponent's first turn, in various situations (Traditional Format only)
- Using the effect of "Infernity Des Gunman" in an extremely specific situation (Tag Force 5 only)
- Various methods involving the opponent having more than one turn before the player starts their first turn, through the Heads effect of "Arcana Force XXI - The World".
It is also possible for the opponent to lose on purpose using their own cards or surrender during their first turn.
- The chance of drawing all five pieces of Exodia on the initial draw of five cards, assuming the player is using the minimum of 40 cards in their Deck, is 1 in 658,008.
- In casual play, if the banlist were to be ignored and 3 copies of every card were allowed regardless of their status on the Forbidden and Limited lists, the chance would be about 1 in 2,707.85.
- Outside of the initial draw, this ZTK can also occur if the opponent activates effects that allow you to draw cards during their first turn, such as "Cup of Ace".
- While ZTKs almost always require at least the opponent to start their turn, this ZTK can notably be considered the only 'true' Zero Turn Kill since it can be pulled off before either player has started their turn (thus achieving victory in a total of 0 turns for both players, not just 0 turns for the winning player).
- This can be extended to a theoretical "Zero Turn Draw" scenario where the Duel ends in a Draw before either player has started their turn; for this to happen, both players would have to draw all five Exodia pieces in their initial draw. If both players are using a minimal 40-card Deck, the chance of this occurring is nearly 1 in 433 billion; if both players are running 3 copies of each piece in casual play, the chance would still be over 1 in 7 million.
Jackpot 7 ZTK
- There are numerous ways for your opponent to unintentionally send 3 copies of your "Jackpot 7" to the Graveyard during their first turn, at which point the effect of "Jackpot 7" will allow you to win the Duel:
- Card effects like "Sky Scourge Norleras", "Hand Destruction", and especially "Card Destruction" (OCG or Traditional Format TCG only) can cause you to discard one or multiple copies of "Jackpot 7" from your hand to the Graveyard.
- If your opponent uses a card like "Book of Taiyou" on a "Morphing Jar" or "Needle Worm" that they have Set during their first turn, the effect of the flipped monster can cause you to discard one or multiple copies of "Jackpot 7" from your hand or Deck to the Graveyard. This is especially probable if your opponent attempts an Empty Jar FTK.
Gorz the Emissary of Darkness ZTK
- You must have "Gorz" in your hand during your opponent's first turn.
- First, your opponent must play a card that causes their Life Points to be lower than yours, such as "A Hero Lives".
- Next, they must activate an effect that inflicts damage equal to or greater than their Life Points but lower than yours. Using the above "A Hero Lives" as an example, they must activate an effect that inflicts at least 4000 damage but less than 8000 damage (for example, "Tempest Magician's" last effect). Note that for the ZTK to work, this effect damage must be done as a single effect, not multiple small effects akin to a Burn Deck.
- At this point, you can activate the last effect of the "Gorz" in your hand to Special Summon it and inflict the same amount of damage to your opponent, thus winning the Duel before starting your turn.
- This is notably the only known ZTK to require neither a Forbidden card nor an alternate win condition to pull off.
Makyura the Destructor ZTKs (Traditional Format Only)
- Your opponent must send a "Makyura the Destructor" to your Graveyard with a card like "Hand Destruction" during their first turn. Afterward, you can activate Trap Cards from your hand in such a way as to win the Duel:
- Play "Bad Reaction to Simochi" and three "Gift Cards".
- If your opponent Summons a monster with at least 4000 ATK, such as "Malefic Cyber End Dragon", activate "Ring of Destruction" and "Barrel Behind the Door" to inflict 8000 damage.
- If your opponent heavily mills your Deck enough (such as if they are attempting an Empty Jar FTK), activate multiple copies of "Blasting the Ruins".
- Depending on what your opponent does during their turn, other card combinations may also be possible, although quite unlikely (such as activating "The Gift of Greed" should your opponent draw at least 33 cards in their first turn, which can be pulled off in certain Traditional Format FTK builds).
Infernity Des Gunman ZTK (Tag Force 5 Only)
- You must have an "Infernity Des Gunman" in your hand during the opponent's first turn.
- Your opponent must lower their own Life Points to 2000 or below, and also must cause you to discard all the cards in your hand. (One way to pull off the latter is through the effect of "Sky Scourge Norleras", perhaps combined with "Phantom of Chaos".) At this point, "Infernity Des Gunman" will be in your Graveyard.
- Finally, they must activate a card or effect that inflicts effect damage. At this time, banish "Infernity Des Gunman" from your Graveyard and activate its effect. Your opponent must choose to apply its optional effect and the top card of your Deck must be a Spell or Trap Card. "Infernity Des Gunman" will inflict 2000 damage to your opponent and cause you to win the Duel.
Skipping the player's first turn
If the opponent is able to Summon "Arcana Force XXI - The World" on their first turn and successfully activate its Heads effect, then they will be able to have two or more turns before the player has started their first turn. This opens up additional ZTK possibilities:
- If you are able to control a monster before your first turn (such as through the effect of "Despair from the Dark" or "Dandylion", or if the opponent uses a card like "Ojama Trio" or "Shien's Spy"), and if your opponent Summons "Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon" and attacks, and chooses to apply its optional effect, then you can discard "Dimension Wanderer" from your hand to inflict 3000 damage to your opponent. If your opponent had 3000 Life Points or fewer at the time of attacking, then this will win the Duel before you start your first turn, achieving a Zero Turn Kill. (Such a situation would not normally happen without the effect of "The World", because the opponent must enter their Battle Phase, which would not normally occur before the player's first turn.)
- If your opponent can pull off a World Lock to continuously skip your turns, then it is possible for you to use the effect of "Makyura the Destructor" to activate "Destiny Board", and win over the span of four of your opponent's turns while never starting your own. (Traditional Format only)
In the anime
- The anime-only card "Intervention of Fate" can be discarded from the hand to activate a Normal Spell Card from the user's hand when the opponent Summons a monster. In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX - Episode 084, Sartorious used it to activate "Ace of Sword" (also an anime-only card) against his opponent Prince Ojin's "Satellite Cannon", which had been boosted to 4000 ATK, thus inflicting 4000 damage to Ojin on his own turn and winning the Duel. This was the only successful instance of a true ZTK in the anime.
- Notably, Prince Ojin had two turns while Sartorius had none, thanks to Ojin's "Mischief of the Time Goddess" (yet another anime-only card) skipping Sartorius's first turn (in the same vein as "The World" noted above).
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's - Episode 091, Kalin Kessler could theoretically have pulled off an ZTK against Lawton using "Infernity Des Gunman", if "Infernity Climber" had been in Kalin's Graveyard at the time (it is unknown whether "Climber" was sent to the Graveyard during the first turn or later in the Duel). Lawton foiled the ZTK by opting not to apply "Infernity Des Gunman's" optional effect. (Note that "Infernity Des Gunman's" effect is slightly different in the anime than in Tag Force 5.)
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL - Episode 138, Don Thousand pulled off an outcome close to an ZTK against Mizar, activating "Numeron Network" from his hand during Mizar's turn, and then using that to activate "Numeron Rewriting Magic" from his Deck, which in turn forced Mizar to activate "Card of the Prime Dragon". This was not a true ZTK however, as Don Thousand did have a turn before winning (although he passed that turn, doing absolutely nothing).