In Tha Pen: On the COVID-19 Crisis and Creatively Keeping Keen in the Meantime

Hello all! The world is on fire, so it appears. If not the crisis it has been made out to be, the coronavirus–and more specifically the resulting contagion of COVID-19, has been a massive disruption to the lives of all. My college has moved toward online classes for the remainder of the year, so I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to move back in with my parents for the time being, alleviating some of the financial burden. To be quite frank, the ensuing social isolation within my family home has truly left me to mine own devices, resulting in having a lot more free time than I have been used to, as the Fraternity events and full days on campus walking between classes take their leave in favor of Zoom calls and the occasional stroll in solidarity. That is, the world is standing still currently, as Mother Earth takes a seemingly necessary break–and the effects on civil life have extended into our game too. Events are cancelled for the foreseeable future and we are beginning to question whether London’s World Championship will even occur as planned, in the penultimate week of what may end up be an indoor summer. Fewer players are buying cards, fewer players are on the PTCGO ladders, and fewer players are scheduling coaching sessions; I highlight the latter point not in an effort to complain about the circumstances–I’m very fortunate for my living situation and not everyone is as lucky–but I feel it is important to elucidate the ways that COVID-19 has changed all of our lives at a more personal level. 

To jump on my proverbial soapbox for a moment, if the circumstances at hand feel abundantly serious to you, it is because they are abundantly serious and because you are responding adequately. I tend to detest the idea of dancing around the topic at hand when writing articles, because I don’t ever want the content I put out to employ adhering to a word count as its lead exigence, but in a situation as potentially critical as this one, context seems more important than ever. For most players (especially those my age or younger) this is the most confusing of times that we’ve ever lived in, and with no certain answer regarding the state of the rest of the season, we are all currently questioning whether it is even worth dedicating time to the game, let alone if we should be grinding for the Ultra Prism through Rebel Clash format, given that there is a somewhat probable chance that we never even play a tournament in the format.

Quandaries such as these really pose a set of complex questions; is it even worth playing pokemon at all right now, or so much as give it a passing thought? And if you, the player, happen to proceed past the two of those questions, the next logical question is “how can I possibly maintain my skills as a player and scholar, at a time where my opportunities to play have never been more scarce?” While I preface my answer to the question with the admission that I’m about as unsure as you all are, I have been trying to maintain a simple list of creative ways to remain in mental shape, should the circumstances call for a continuation of the 2019-2020 season. Today I’ll be touching on a game called “mental pokemon” along with some non-pokemon related ways to keep your brain sharp, and finally spending an extended period of time talking about old formats, and the ways that you can utilize them in order to maintain a fresh understanding toward approaching unfamiliar card interactions. The concept of knowing how to navigate the more complex unfamiliar situations is one that often proves itself invaluable, especially in circumstances like the “first regional in the format” quandary; a conundrum that my schedule of events has found me quite familiar with this season!

Navigating the unfamiliar

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