Hey everyone! With the last of Regional tournaments coming to a close this weekend, our sights are set on Nationals and Worlds. Those of us with our invites are looking to improve our standings for stipends. Those without invites are making their last ditch efforts to earn the last of their points at Nationals, or scraping the points together at League Challenges. Participating in large tournaments can be challenging for many reasons and I’ll be talking about what sorts of steps you can take to improve your play and your focus, as well as your overall enjoyment of the game.
State and Regional tournaments are exhausting, as are Nationals and Worlds. Pokémon is a competition “to see who’s the very best”, so it’s technically a sport. It may not be physically draining, but it is mentally draining and that can cause you to misplay or be put on tilt much easier. Many of us are always so indecisive about what to play: “What’s the meta this weekend?!” “What’s everyone going to play?” “What was that guys list who won last weekend?” we ask. Play-testing and knowing the game are half the battle. A Southern California player and friend of mine Kenny Britton, (who has been playing for years and has qualified for Worlds relatively consistently) play-tests around two 4-hour sessions of bad match-ups for whatever deck he has decided to play. Whereas myself, I play-test my worst match-up maybe once or twice and just talk theory with a few friends. Kenny used to play-test a lot more in prior years as I’m sure many other upper tier players have. The game has recently devolved into something just shy of skill, and more luck based. As you get a better grasp of the game and delve into the format as it shifts and changes, the need for play-testing really starts to diminish. I recommend deciding on a deck at least a few days before and play-testing that deck’s worst match-ups. On the way to the tournament, talk out some worst-case scenarios with your friends and fellow players. This way some of the things that didn’t happen during play-testing get brought up and hopefully have a solution. Like any sport, you need to stay hydrated – I cannot stress how important it is to drink water at long tournaments. Not only will you feel better but you’ll be able to focus better in the later rounds. It may seem trivial, but so many of you drink soda and coffee and energy drinks, I’m not saying to quit drinking those, but if you stay hydrated then your chance to misplay goes way down.
Sugar or Salt
We have all gotten bad hands, we have all been N’d down to 1 and have it not go our way. We’ve all lost games. Getting salty on occasion just comes with playing in competitions. You can’t let it get the best of you, you’ll end up misplaying and inevitably lose and get even more upset. Keeping your head on straight is the best way to come back from a bad position. Whether you misplayed, or are down in prizes, staying levelheaded is the best thing you can do. I’ve personally had games where I’m at 6 prizes and my opponent was at 1 prize (Top 32 at SoCal Regionals against Eddy Gutierrez) and I came back and took all 6 of my prizes. I was really considering scooping and going to game 2 after he took his 4th prize but I decided to just hold out and stay positive. Your mental attitude can have a huge effect on how a game goes. Now, to be fair, with how the format is right now, I do believe that it’s about 50% luck, maybe even more than that. So you getting upset is worth nothing.
At Seattle Regionals I played Vespiquen/Flareon and in round 4 I was 3-0-0, I opened Wobbuffet with a hand of 3 DCE, 2 Flareons and a Jolteon. I go first and Draw a third Flareon and pass. My opponent was playing Blastoise and he opened Articuno, attaches and passes. I draw Xerosic, and pass again. He attaches to Articuno and gets his Blastoise out and passes. I draw again, the 4th DCE. This continued and needless to say, I lost that game. As you can see this game can be really unlucky sometimes, no matter how consistent your deck is, you can still dead draw. There really isn’t anything you can do to prevent this, so you might as well just enjoy the game, play Luvdisc or go play Pokkén.
My Journey This Season
Right now I have 506 Championship Points. I earned 286 of them with Vespiquen/Flareon (top 8 and top 32 at regionals, and various City and LC wins and cuts), 190 of them with Night March (1st and 2nd place at two states) and the last 30 points with Manectric/Pyroar (top 4 at a cities). There are plenty of other tournaments that I attended and didn’t cut or earn points at. With such a luck-based format I realized that going to an excessive amount of tournaments was the way to earn my invite this year which could be conveyed as “pay to win” like many other games. This might very well be the case, but the format is constantly shifting and will reach a decent enough equilibrium again.
Night March has a reputation for having zero skill involved to be played. After winning Nevada States and getting second at another States, I agree with that. It was a brisk walk to top cut in both of those tournaments.
Vespiquen/Flareon is one of my favorite decks, I love the idea of minimum risk with maximum reward. For example, prize trading with EX’s, especially with Life Dew attached.
As someone who sticks to the same decks without changing, the most I really do for play-testing is playing against my worst match-ups and talking worst case theory with fellow players and friends. I live in Southern California, one of the most condensed and competitive player bases in the U.S. Even though we get a lot of LC and City tournaments, the turnout is always pretty big and really competitive making it difficult for some of the less experienced players to get their hands on some points. At the same time, this makes it really frustrating for veteran players who lose to bad luck and whiff their invite by a few points at the end of the season. I plan on attending a couple more LC’s and Nationals to try and secure my Top 16 points for Worlds. I’m sure many of you are going to try and scrape the last remaining available points together to try and secure whatever stipends you can, whether it be top 16 or top 100 for Nationals. Best of luck to you all.
Nationals and Worlds
With Nationals and Worlds being the next big tournaments in our cross-hairs, we look at the upcoming results of this weekend’s Regionals to get an idea of what we will see at Nats. Also with the Nats increase in prize support and cash payouts, we can all be sure that it’s going to be more competitive than ever. I expect to see Night March, Dark variants such as Yveltal and speed Darkrai, Fairies and Toad/Fairies, Greninja, Trevenant, Wailord, YZG, Fighting variants and hopefully some new decks that utilize the new cards, such as Omastar BREAK, Marowak, Barbaracle, Serperior, Regirock EX and Zygarde EX. With such a wide range of decks it’s hard to say what’s going to really be played and do well during Nationals. The best thing you can do is play-test with as many of the decks as you can, figure out which one has the best match-ups and feels best to you, then play-test that decks worst match-ups and learn it inside and out. Fight the salt and play hard.