Good afternoon, good evening, and good night, Cut or Tap readers! I’m Jay Lesage, and I recently just got back from the Latin American International Championships! Three of the four Internationals have now concluded, and I’ve essentially lost track of which time zone I’m in – if you know a sleep doctor, feel free to leave me a contact number in the comments. It’s been a year full of travel, and for anybody who’s been following my journey this year via my articles, I’ve been telling a story. Every time I attend a tournament, it completes a little bit of a puzzle, and by puzzle I mean my season as a whole. When the season is over, every player has different puzzles to share with everybody, with some being more postured than others. Every player has a goal when they enter a new season, and my goal entering this season was extremely bland – I wanted to attend all four International Championships. Picking goals sounds like a very “elementary” thing to do, but is extremely key to becoming a good player. Today, we’ll go over milestones as a TCG player, where to improve at, and then recap what happened at the Latin America Internationals.
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Attainable
- R – Realistic
- T – Time
As cheesy as it sounds, or as silly as people think this is, it is very critical that before we even enter a tournament we must establish our goal going into a tournament. These various goals are identified by certain placement brackets within a tournament, and can be achieved by certain practice levels and deck choices.
For example, Sam Hough played Gyarados at the Latin America Internationals knowingly because it gave him the most optimal chance of making it to Day 2, however, he was knowledgeable it wouldn’t win him the tournament. Why did he do that? Sam made the intelligent goal of making it to Day 2 in order to secure his placement in the Top 4 in North America. Not only does this placement add another accomplishment to Sam’s long list, but it also allows him to earn precious prizes at certain deadlines – overall, a very well-thought out play by Sam. The reason he opted to not play a deck like Darkrai or Decidueye was because he felt that “he’d hit too many 50/50 matchups, and didn’t want to risk losing points by grinding out nail biters all day”. He knew that Gyarados had several strong matchups, and provided he drew neutral hands and didn’t face more than three Decidueye, he would easily coast to a 7-2 record.
This is just one example of a goal. Sam is in a very distinct position that a lot of players dont have the opportunity to execute, so let’s take another look at a seperate goal. Alex Hill is a very notorious player who usually places very highly at events, and this is for a very good reason: in Alex’s own words, “I play to win these events”. Earlier this year at Europe Internationals, I was in a position at 6-1-1, where I could play my final round out, but instead opted to take a tie. When I asked Alex what he would do in my position, he told me he would rather play it out, so that when Day 2 came around, he would have to win one less game in order to make it to the Top 8. This is a very interesting strategy, and although it is less safe, it will generally reward the stronger players more often then not. Alex has a common goal that many players will face, and that is to ultimately win the whole event. Alex will usually play something that fares well against the whole field, and something that is very consistent.
Then, there’s somebody like myself. I’m a player who will usually have a play similar to Alex’s in terms of matchups and consistency, but will just aim to play it as safe as possible and benchmark my success – even if I enter the Top 32 with the weakest amount of points, that’s completely okay! I’d rather tie my 9th round rather than just lose, and not have a chance the following day. It’s a very safe play, and will net you an average amount of prizing consistently, as well as an even flow of Championship Points throughout the year. This style of goals usually rewards those who are attempting to get their invite in the easiest route possible, as you’ll always secure, and not live on the edge. Much less riskier in fashion, but also has less payout over the course of the season. Go figure!
When you create a goal for yourself, it doesn’t always have to be at a large scale event, it can begin with something as small as winning a League Challenge. Whatever it takes for you to go out there and strive for victory is worth it, and you should always take the chances you want to in order to complete your goals.
After being in the country for a bit, I thoroughly enjoyed everything that South America had to offer! It was a much different experience, and the venue we attended was excellent! There was even a live band coupled with several exclusive decorations designed specifically for the event. There were over 650 Masters in attendance at the event, which translated to 9 rounds with a Top 32, and then 5 rounds of Secondary Swiss followed by a Top 8 elimination bracket. My tournament run went something like this:
- ROUND 1 – Groudon/Wobbuffet (WW)
- ROUND 2 – Deciplume (LWL)
- ROUND 3 – Volcanion (WW)
- ROUND 4 – Darkrai (WW)
- ROUND 5 – Mega Mewtwo (WW)
- ROUND 6 – Darkrai (WW)
- ROUND 7 – Deciplume (LWT)
- ROUND 8 – Mega Rayquaza/Manaphy (LWT)
- ROUND 9 – Yveltal/Garbodor (LL)
- Final Record: 5-2-2