04. 01. 2017 by Caleb Gedemer
Ever wonder what went into making some of the better players in the Pokemon Trading Card Game? Personally, I have always been curious about things like this, and today you will step into my shoes to see how I got to where I am at. I am especially proud of how I have been coming along this season, using a logistical and realistic approach to (hopefully) pave my path to the World Championships. Today I will also finish up with some final thoughts going towards upcoming Standard format events. I hope you enjoy!
Table of contents
Starting this piece takes a bit of background on myself: I have been playing competitively for five years now (this is my fifth full season). Outside of those five years, I had been playing casually for even longer. This casual nature of play was mainly due to me being naive and younger at the time, also, my parents were not willing to take me to events as often as they were in my later years.
In my adolescence, most of my knowledge of the game was derived from forum communities back when those were popular. These forums provided very little substance to what was really going on in the competitive world, so they were of little help. Even earlier than that, I did not actually have access to the Internet (imagine that, in the world we live in now), and with little tournament experience, I was quite frankly clueless as to what I was doing. The combination of my lack of mobility in getting to tournaments, combined with a lack of knowledge made it hard to become competitive.
I did, however, have many successes even in the Junior and Senior divisions albeit my limitations. At almost every event that I was able to attend I would place in the Top Eight or so, or even win. I was unfamiliar with the tournament structure, so “qualifying for the World Championship” had no real meaning to me, and I never qualified in these early years as a result.
Around the time when I was in my second year in the Senior Division, I became more acquainted with the competitive scene through help from knowledgeable local players. I still was never able to compete enough to get an invitation to the World Championships, that is, until my final year in the Senior Division. I attended fourteen events (this number seems crazy these days with the number of events I play in) this year. I had the mindset that I had to do well at every event I went to. This was very stressful for a teenager, but I was able to do it. Most of my time outside of school was devoted to Pokemon (I was too young, still, for a real job). This made me extremely skilled with the decks that I chose to play.
Aging up the next year, I basically abandoned the thought of making Worlds again. With the bar of points being raised to five hundred, I thought it was a pipe dream. But, after winning four City Championships rather handily (I attended seven, making the top cut at six of them and winning four), this dream became reality. My success carried over to bigger events, and I performed well the entire season, squeaking into Worlds with just over the necessary point total.
Going into my second year in the Masters division, I had found myself in the centerfold of a group of solid players, where we collaborated to better ourselves and work as a team. I spoke with players (some of which are not as active anymore) like Alejandro Luna, Austin Bentheimer, Franco Llamas III, Joe Baka, Ryan Bruckner, and Ryan Grant, among others. Alejandro Luna and Joe Baka, specifically, had ties to the greatest player of all time, Jason Klaczynski. Still as a younger player, I always dreamed to get to play Pokemon with Jason at some point, but it seemed like something out of a storybook.
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