SPAIN (FINALLY) DOES EXIST!
A brief unofficial National's report and the evolution of the Pokémon TCG in Spain in the last 6 years
01/15/2015 by Marc Costa
Hello everybody! My name is Marc Costa and I’m a Pokémon TCG player from Spain, a country which has been for many years forgotten by the Organized Play. This is my first article at 60 Cards, the emerging website in the Pokémon TCG community with quality articles written by well-known players around the world, so it's a pleasure to be writing for you today.
I'm a nobody in the community so I'll briefly introduce myself. I'm from Barcelona, Spain, a country without Organized Play (yet). I've been playing just for fun since 2008, in 2012 I became somehow competitive, but I didn't really start playing at the highest level until this year. I've achieved some little achievements in Pokémon TCG, but that's a topic for another day.
Today I'll be talking about the unofficial National Championship of Spain that took place on 15th November in Madrid, and also the current situation of the game in Spain, making some flashbacks to the past.
MetroPokémon Day 3
As I mentioned before, first of all I'm going to report what has been the most important tournament in Spain in years, since the Organized Play was removed from us in 2003.
The tournament took place in Metrópolis Center, one of the biggest shops of our country, the 15th November of 2014. It was the third edition of this tournament where people from all around the country was invited to. In previous editions there wasn’t much participation: only 25 people attended in 2012, all of them from Madrid. Last year some people from Catalonia (myself included), Andalucía and Canary Islands attended and we were 39 players! But this year it was a real splash: people started to make their pre-registrations and there were people from Madrid, Catalonia, Andalucía, Valencia, Cantabria and many others from all around the country came to play, making an awesome 66 people tournament! The prizes were also really awesome. The entry fee was 15 euros and you got a booster pack from Furious Fists, another one from Phantom Gate, and some promotional cards and stuff with it, such an incredible prize with only your entry fee.
I'm a close friend of the shopper of Metrópolis Center and organizer of the tournament, Damián Broens, and I slept at his house the weekend I spent at the capital of Spain (thank you so much). I also helped the organization before the tournament itself, and recorded a sign of every player, judge and helper who attended to the event. We clearly claimed our wish to obtain the Organized Play, that's the awesome result of all the signs I could collect, that's the Spain's flag!
Back to the tournament, that's how it was for me. I will briefly report my rounds, which consisted on 6 Swiss rounds at best of three with a 50 minutes time plus 3 extra turns, like the official structure, with a Top 8 for the bests from the Swiss rounds at best of three too, but without time limit. I chose to play the well-known Yveldor deck with a strong focus on Seismitoad EX, playing four copies of it. My tournament went as follows:
In first round I faced VirGen, my worst match up. I was steamrolled by my opponent mostly because my Jirachi EX was prized and I was left with no hand. I somehow managed to win the second game, but in the third one my Jirachi EX was again prized, letting me with nothing in my hand. Pretty bad luck to start, but that was fair because my opponent was a close friend of mine and I knew he would do great in the tournament. I would need to win some games in a row in order to have chances to earn the Top 8 spot.
I clearly won my second round against a Blastoise deck; just started Quaking Punching on turn one and got Garbodor active as early as I could. I also won the third round against a Plasma Lugia deck, which put me in some trouble mostly because my lightning weakness, but with some luck I managed to won. The last round before having launch was facing a Seismitoad EX/Pyroar, which I won once again thanks to Garbodor.
After that, it was time to have some food all together with the players and refresh our minds. There were so many people on the top tables drawing to get a tie, so I needed 2 wins or 1 win and a tie to get in to the cut.
Back to the tournament after lunch, I faced a Big Basics deck with Donphan. I don’t even know how, but I lost 2 consecutive games in 20 minutes, which put me in a really bad spot and only hoping to get in to the top if a miracle happened.
I played the sixth round looking at the other tables trying to know if I would get a chance to get into the top. Going to the game, I was facing a Plasma deck, which I won with some problems because of the really nice starts he had.
A shake of hands, wait for the final classification and… I was 11th, just one point away of the Top 8.
Top 8 guys showing the awesome playmat they earned!
Although I missed the top cut it was an awesome experience all in all. I met a lot of players who I only knew through the forums and we showed that Spain is worth the Organized Play. Without being an official tournament, 66 players attended. I cannot imagine how many people would had been if the tournament had been sanctioned!
We went to sleep at 6AM, that's what happens when you hang out with such awesome guys. The next day I had totake the train in the afternoon, so I spent my day taking a walk in Madrid with my friends Adrian, Eduard, Joel and Alfred (the last three made the cut, Edu becoming second, Joel third and Alfred sixth), all from Barcelona who had to take the train or bus in the afternoon too.
Pizza is love, pizza is life
So yeah, it was an awesome weekend in and out of the tournament. I encourage all the readers to travel with the excuse of playing some Pokémon TCG tournament, you will meet some nice people and that's the coolest part of the game!
Evolution of the Organized Play in Spain
Now that I've shared this experience with all of you, it's time to talk a little bit about the situation of my country, Spain.
The Organized Play disappeared in 2003. Since then, the Pokémon TCG was apparently inexistent, but in 2008, with the start of the Diamond and Pearl era, a forum called Cartas Pokémon was born in April of that same year. One day on September my mum gave me some POP 3 booster packs and I started my adventure in this world. I joined the forum on October with only 13 years, and the community was really small back then but so friendly.
The community was growing year after year, and the most active regions were Madrid, Barcelona and Jerez. Not so many things changed through the first years, but in 2011 something happened.
Cartas Pokémon was remaining as the principal forum and community, but some people from Barcelona argued with some players from Madrid through the forum about what today are stupid things, and part of the community was broken. Some guys from Madrid created a new community called Pokémon Supporters, but only players from Madrid were active there. Also it was the year which Esa Juntunen, the awesome writer of The Deck Out, made a whole article to Spain. In the commentaries section something like an argument took place, mostly because the guy who contacted Esa was wrong in some topics that were explained in there. Seeing that, Jordi Olivera, also known as Professor Bain, the owner of Cartas Pokémon, sent an article with some corrections to Esa, who kindly posted a second article with those corrections, but we didn’t avoid appearing at the eyes of the world as a broken community, which hurt us a lot.
But in 2012 things started to reestablish. The community started to recompose in little steps but Pokémon Supporters was remaining as an active blog and forum. A great community of Madrid mobilized to Arnhem in order to compete at the European Challenge Cup 2012. They didn’t achieve great results but started to make people aware that Spain did exist. In summer I travelled for first time to Madrid to play a big tournament, the second trip of a Spanish guy to some other region of the country, following Fernando Picatoste and Damián Broens, who made the same in 2011 but coming to Barcelona. My trip was mostly motivated because of them, as they both caused a great feeling to me and in few hours we became friends. So that’s it, in the middle of the war between the biggest cities of Spain I went to Madrid, where I managed to win the tournament earning a booster box of Plasma Freeze, but most important, proving that Catalan players would love to reestablish the community. I also met some of who are my best friends nowadays in the Pokémon world, and I came back to Barcelona with an amazing experience and I encouraged people to travel to Madrid too, because they were like a family, not like the rude comments Barcelona and Madrid shared.
Pokémon Supporters closed the next year, in 2013. I became one of the writers of the webpage after my first contact with the citizens of Madrid, so it was a bad experience to see that an incredible project ended like that, mostly because the owners of the forum and the blog were out of time to carry with it. The same year, the previous edition of the MetroPokémon Day 3, the second one, was announced, and people from all around the country attended. That was a significant move as the people who went there, me included, shared the awesome experience the tournament was, and we some likely encouraged our friends to do so the next year.
After that I started my adventure with a blog called Laboratorio Pokémon, the most well-known blog of Spain which I carry on with friends from Madrid and Barcelona, but that’s a topic for another day. Instead, if you are curious about it just send me a message and I will kindly tell you the url link, and if you understand a little bit Spanish, just join us for fresh news, reports, decks and so on!
But last year, 2014, has been a real splash for us. The whole community was finally reestablished and we all feel like one. The community has grown exponentially thanks of our product distributor, Asmodee, who finally launches the sets practically at the same time than in America. What’s more, on February I went to Arnhem to compete at the European Challenge Cup with 4 guys from Madrid, and we continued moving and making some noise in the name of our country. We could stablish some good relationships, for example Antonis Anapolitanos, a big organizer from Greece, and Steffen Erikssen, the webmaster of Pokédemia and actually competitive player and active TO. Following the first serious blog in the Spanish community, a Youtube channel was born on 2014 by 3 Catalan guys who are really close friends of mine, following the idea of The Top Cut, making very nice videos about decks, tournaments, explaining how to play the game… all these things together and the work of a lot of people who have been fighting for the game since 2008, resulted as an official announcement made of Pokémon TCG at Asmodee, announcing that Organized Play was coming to us the next season! That was the ultimate goal we could achieve, and it’s like a dream entering in the list of countries with OP.
Yeah! We're going to officially play Pokémon TCG
We don’t know yet if we are going to have Regionals or Nationals, but we’re really happy about what we have earned, and we will be pushing up the game until we die. Despite not having the OP for years, I think that some Spanish boy or girl could make through Worlds next year, if not this one, because the level is really high out there, and the Montepellier’s Autumn Regional winner, the Spanish Roberto Sánchez, proves so.
I wish that all the community welcomes us in the good way, we’re really happy to join us, see you at some European tournaments, or maybe, at Worlds!
Thank you all for reading,
PD: Special credits to Jordi Olivera, who has helped me writting the article and correcting my grammar mistakes
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