Spain & OP: a love story
This time Marc Costa shares with all of you the current situation of the Organised Play in his country, Spain, alongside with some interesting things Spanishes have been doing through years and some detailed sequence of the latest events with a final personal reflection.
03/06/2016 by Marc Costa
(This article is part of 60cards article competition)
Hey again! It's Marc Costa with another article, this time with a deeper one instead of sharing some personal decklists and thoughts.
First of all, I'm very grateful to everyone who supported my last article, and also the judges, it's great to see that the content I wrote about is well-written and interesting for the readers. The two decks I talked about were the most seen on Top 32 of the ECC, so at least I did a good advising to all the players who were fortunate enough to participate there. What's more, Night March/Milotic came up winning the whole tournament in hands of one of the best players I've ever played against, if not the best, Mehdi Hafi, so huge congratulations to him.
But today we're here to talk about something different... I feel I must advise you about the current situation of the Organised Play in my country, Spain, so with anymore to say, let's jump deeper into the article!
Table of contents
The Organized Play disappeared in 2003 from Spain. Since then, the Pokémon TCG was apparently inexistent, but in 2007, with the start of the Diamond and Pearl era, the Spanish community started growing exponentially until nowadays.
But, even without any kind of support by Pokémon, we managed to organise lots of events and have an Organized Play carried on by players. Today I don't want to focus on how things developed through those years because you can find it on my first articles on 60Cards (from 2003-2014, check out my first article, and for 2015, check out this one), but rather I would like to tell you some little things that we've been doing since our roots.
- Organisation: the main operation center was a forum, where people from all over the country met and shared decks, asked for advice, wanted to trade some cards or whatever reason. Also all the tournaments were advertised there, even though the forum is actually missing importance mostly because new technologies like Twitter, Whatts-App and Facebook are easier for users to check and not everybody likes forums at all.
- Tournaments: because nobody was doing anything for us, we were the same players who had to look out for shops who wanted to organise Pokémon TCG tournaments, even sometimes we had to show and introduce the game to the owner of the store and convince him to get Pokémon stuff and let us do some tournaments in his local. Even in some stores we had to schedule the tournaments, show our planification to the store, and then announce them by ourselves, as the store was only giving us tables and chairs to play and wasn't that much interested for the game.
- Prizes: obviously we had to pay for them. Because we have always been playing in shops, all the money-fee was for the prizes of the tournament. Every player had to pay the prize of a single booster pack, and at the end of the tournament, all the booster packs (the same amount as players) were opened all together and all the cards were put onto a table, where every competitor had to take a card every turn following the final ranking of the tournament, repeating this process until all the cards were picked up (the winner of the tournament picks its card first, the runner-up picks next...). By doing this, all the players go home with some cards in his pockets and even if you happen to be the last of the ranking, at least you'll be able to pick some rare card, reverse card and some nice Trainers you might need. It also helps new players introduce to the game, as more competitive players don't need Trainers and also some uncommon or common cards are left out there, so new players can take all of them when anyone wants any card left on the table. This system is called "picking", and it's been working great for us.
- Evolution of the tournaments: first of all, they were tournaments every two weeks, which were so damn desired by the players because we wanted to play so bad. When the community started to grow, we changed the organisation in order to have a tournament once a week, and since 2-3 years ago, we (I talk on behalf of Barcelona and Madrid, the biggest communities) organise a tournament once a week and two League days, where players meet for having some relaxed games out of the competitive environment.
- Big events: lastly, it was so difficult to organise big events. It's hard for people to travel hundreds of kilometers for just having fun and meet friends mostly because money issues, but step by step, people started travelling and discovering the great things of doing so. To organise big events, stores and players needed to get together and join forces to call for the maximum number of players from all the country, but the joy and satisfaction of making big events came true was totally worth the effort.
All the things I talked about before definitely helped in achieving our dream: getting the Organised Play as soon as possible. After some issues, broken dreams and false promises year after year, on November 4th 2015 the Organised Play came to Spain! We were finally allowed to be given Play! Points through the tournaments we organise! And we also got some cool promos to be given for the League. It might sound stupid because everybody loves Championship Points more than Play! Points, but after so many years of fighting you can't figure out what it's like being given the chance.
Things started going up and up. Since then Spain is living a huge grow on the player base from both TCG and VGC (Organised Play was given to VGC two weeks before than the TCG), and they both worked out together to achieve the OP. Following Russia (receiving the complete OP on October 13th 2015) and Greece (getting back the OP on October 23rd 2015) we were the next (and as far as I'm concerned, the last) country entering the Organised Play structure, and we are so happy to join you.
Obviously, things need to keep rolling because if you get stucked at some point, you're going to die sooner or later, so Spanish players got involved and the Organised Play started to mature slowly but surely.
On November 23rd of 2015 Leagues were given to Madrid, Barcelona, Cádiz and Santander, and some weeks after that some more cities like Sevilla and Tenerife also received them alongside with the Florges evolution chain promo cards too. Play! Points started to appear through all the country!
Also, some people started doing the Professor exam in order to become official Organisers and/or Judges. It's really important because we weren't able to do so while we didn't have the OP, and now we'll have guys and girls ready to run tournaments (even me, a player from my roots, opted to get the Judge certification, and I must say it's a grateful experience as I've already been pleased to judge two little tournaments, it's especially nice to help other people and share your knowledge with the newest players).
And things keep rolling and rolling... and do you know what happens when a League is active for 2 months? The shop is given the opportunity to organise League Challenges with Championship Points!! It was definitely exciting hearing that, and on February 6th 2016, Metrópolis Center, the biggest shop of Spain from Madrid, organised the first ever League Challenge in Spain. To be given Championship Points without having to travel to the nearest countries like Portugal or France is amazing! Now League Challenges are starting to expand through all the country, and Barcelona, my hometown, celebrated its first ever League Challenge on February 12th 2016 in the shop Freegame, but I sadly missed it because it was my sister's 18th birthday. Coincidences of life, Marc!
I think I've said everything I wanted to tell you today about the current situation of Spain, and I'm very proud of what we have achieved already, even though I believe we will be getting bigger events like Cities, Regionals and even some National sooner than later.
But I don't want to end this article without sharing some personal experience. As I mentioned before, I had to miss the first ever League Challenge in Barcelona, but I didn't miss the second one which was set on Saturday February 27th 2016... Does this date sound familiar to you? Yeah it should, as it was the 20th anniversary of Pokémon! So well, it was that kind of days you never forget. In the morning, as I was in Barcelona with a friend of mine watching a football game, my father told me that my mother was admitted again to the hospital as she broke her shoulder, and I had to left the football game and go to the hospital. My mother was clearly suffering because the injury, but I couldn't do anything for her, so both my father and mother convinced me to go to the League Challenge, which was taking place that afternoon. I left the hospital so damn worried and fucked up because she is lately facing some bad news, but she is strong and always goes ahead. When I arrived to the place the League Challenge was taking place, the shop Freegame, I was absolutely out of concentration, and so was I that I ended up in the last spot of the final ranking for first time in all my Pokémon career, which started on 2007 (I was playing Night March/Milotic and ended up with a 1/3/0 with some nice misplays by my side). Luckily, as a consolation prize, I got a Mew pin from the Mythical Generations product for being the last classified, a pin I'm going to take everywhere I go as a reminder of that day, of how important is to be concentrated during a Pokémon tournament, of how things can go either well or wrong but you must never lose your smile and have fun, a reminder of how important is my family for me.
Thanks for reading.
Your's sincerely, Marc Costa
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