Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Planning Pokemon

Play at your best, travel well, and find growth in this FREE article.

03/26/2019 by Zach Lesage

Playing Pokemon is Difficult…

What's up 60 Cards readers? Its your resident writer Zach Lesage here with another helpful article. With the hunt for those final Championship Points creeping up on the season being real, I decided to release this article again. If you are a new player or a local League Cup warrior, there is plenty to learn when it comes to playing in a major event. The goal of this article is to help you improve as a player, learn a few ways to deal with major events, and to have the most enjoyable experience overall! There is plenty of ground to cover so let’s jump into it!

Plan Your Trip Carefully

Ok, so you want to play in a Regional Championships, let’s just use Denver as an example, you might want to begin with planning your trip. It might sound like it is easy to do some of the things I am going to mention, but even professional Pokémon players seem to forget a few things along the way! Here is my go-to list, as a person who travels internationally weekly, which should be able to give you some guidance along your way!

Have Ideas

Do you actually want to attend an event? Maybe you want to experience a new city or you just love a destination in the US. You should totally get a vibe for events that you would like to attend and start thinking about it. Travelling around the world is not cheap, you might need to book off some time for work, you might need to balance a budget, etc. The whole point is, start planning non which events you want to attend, find out how you can get yourself to those events, and start working out the logistics.

Booking a Flight / Driving Plans / Hotel Plans

After you have thought about it, you should actually commit to it! It is relieving to book your flight early enough so that you don’t have as much stress on your mind, but not to the point of you missing out on potential deals! If you are driving, don’t wait the day before to see if you need maintenance or start asking your friends if they are coming with you.

Oh, just another thing, you actually need a place to stay at events! There is quite a bit of planning that you might have forgotten about, so make sure to check that you actually are good to go! If you do end up forgetting something, start working quickly, time is of the essence! 

Registering for the Event

Speaking about other things that you can do, you should register for the Regionals, forgetting this is super common and can seriously ruin a weekend! There have been notable players who have forgotten to register for International Championships and they have lost out on the opportunity to play. DON’T LET THAT BE YOU! As soon as you know that you are going to an event, make sure that you pay for your entry, you can thank me later. Most events are available for registrations on RK9 Labs so be sure to check it out, but if you can’t find it, feel free to ask! You likely have a few friends attending the event or you are semi-active on Reddit / Twitter / Facebook so check out all of your available sources to make sure you can play!

Acquiring Cards

If you know what deck you want to play, make sure you have the cards for it, it is literally that easy! If I had a dollar each time a player asked me if I had an extra [insert card here], I would totally be somewhere on the Forbes list of rich guys! I’m being serious! I know my deck choices about a week before the event, I pack all necessary cards, and I make sure that I can play my one of original choices! It is possible to come up with that last minute tech card, but I’m telling you, for the most part you can pack your necessary cards accordingly!

If you make a check list of all of those things, you are likely good to go! Make sure you continuously check up on things like flight times, Regionals dates, booking off the right dates, and making sure you don’t forget to pack your bag! The end goal is to make sure that you have an enjoyable event that is well planned out!

Event Necessities 

So you made sure that you picked a handful of your favourite decks, you have your flight booked, and you are on your way to the next big event! Everything is going great until you get to round five and you have a splitting headache. Oh, you are also dehydrated. Oh, you also haven’t eaten. Oh, you also don’t have money to pay for any of these things because the concession stand takes cash only and you just spent the last of your cash on that new plushie! In my world, I try to be the most prepared which allows me to see a decent bit of success! Here is my pre tournament check list that allows me to get through my day!

  • Water
  • Healthy Snacks
  • Tylenol 
  • Deck
  • Deckbox
  • Damage Counters / Dice / GX Marker 
  • Cash / Credit Card
  • Backpack

While that list is super simple, it is quite easy to forget something from that list and it can ruin your whole day! I personally enjoy a caffeinated beverage (I am totally a Grande Nitro Coldbrew Black No Room kinda guy), but I would only recommend caffeine to those who partake regularly and I don’t recommend it for Juniors / Seniors / young Masters. Caffeine can wake you up, but if you can’t handle it, you might end up with an awful day of leg shakes and a beating heart.

Sometimes events have stations where you can refill your water bottle, those events are the best, but be sure to bring a back up water bottle just in case. If you are wondering what snacks would classify as healthy, I try to stay away from Doritos and keep myself full on organic trail mixes and fruit! It’s not always the most interesting way to eat at an event, but my mind is always sharp and my belly doesn’t feel upset all day!

Picking Your Play

If you have made it this far in the article, you will likely have a super enjoyable time! But wait, we are talking about a Pokémon event of course, we want to make sure that you are prepared as a player! Well, there are plenty of ways to pick you play and all for various reasons, but how do I pick my decks for events? It might get a little long winded, but this is gonna be some quality stuff right here! Usually before an event, I look to do as much research as possible to see exactly which decks are actually out there! If you aren’t a premium subscriber to this site, which you totally should be by the way, there are plenty of free resources such as YouTube channels and information on Twitter! We regularly post FREE articles too and yes, I will take the shameless plug opportunity here haha! After doing your rounds of research, you should build the ‘metagame’ with your real cards (feel free to use proxies) and on PTCGO to make sure that you know how each different deck plays out! You might fall in love with a deck that you have never tried before or you might end up hating the deck that earned you all of your League Cup CP! Pokémon is quite a fascinating game when it comes to deck choice, some players have their favourites, some are superstitious, and some players are lost in general! The goal is to be as prepared as possible, know the metagame, make an informed choice, and be prepared for how your day plays out!

One thing that I get asked often is, ‘what is the play for this weekend?’ and that question is almost impossible to answer. How prepared are you with your deck? Do you know the metagame? Why do you like one deck over another? What have you played the most? Do you know why you are doing with your deck? Is the deck difficult to play correctly each round? What is your goal this weekend? If you ask yourself a bunch of questions, you might actually find the answers that you were once searching for! It is often difficult to be EXACTLY right for every decision you make, but we can all be more cautious to what actually lurks out there! When in doubt, make sure that you at least think of some decent questions to ask yourself to find some answers!

In Tournament Success

It can easily be said that you can be a great in game player, but you find yourself falling victim to not knowing how to prepare for a tournament. Like it isn’t even preparing for a tournament, it is more like when you are playing in game at a tournament. Ask yourself a question right now… do you think someone has ever taken advantage of you in Pokémon? Unfortunately no matter how you answered that question, the truth likely remains the same; there are some bad Crabominable in every group. I don’t want you to look at every player like a criminal, but I also want you to be cautious. Imagine yourself walking down an alley, in a new city, and you are carrying a stack of cash in your backpack… you might look twice at your surroundings and clench your belongings slightly more. Treat it as you wish, but I think it is better to cautious than to fall victim to a shady opponent. 

If you think something is wrong in one of your games, it is best to ask your opponent questions (without being heated / accusing them), and if there is an issue to call a judge. Let me tell you a recent example, I was at the 2018/2019 Latin American International Championships and was playing my last round to see if I would make Day 2 or not. At some point in the game, I played a Marshadow (SLG; 45) , used Let Loose, and I finished my turn. I looked through my Discard Pile, looked up, and I saw that my opponent had eight cards in his hand! I immediately asked my opponent how he drew that many cards and he was as shocked as me! It isn’t always cheating, sometimes players make simple mistakes, but if nobody catches them them, you still can suffer from not knowing. Look at it like this, if you had an extra an extra four cards in your hand, is there a chance that you will have better cards in your hand? It is quite obvious, it really is, but some players don’t pay attention when they play. Nevertheless, my opponent received an appropriate penalty and we moved on to finish the game. It wasn’t me being rude, it wasn’t my opponent being a giant cheat guy, it was more of a casual interaction. The goal is to make sure that the game is being played out the way it is supposed to and that everyone at Pokémon tournament has fun!

On thing to remember is that Judges are there to make sure that everything runs well and they are genuinely great people. You shouldn’t feel afraid to call a judge if necessary, just make sure that you are respectful to your opponent and that you are clear on what the issue is. You might not always find something wrong, it is better to find nothing wrong at all, but it is a great idea to make sure you are cautious. If you have a judge ruling that doesn’t go your way, you do need to remember to remain calm and respect the Judge’s decision. If you truly feel like there is an issue with the ruling given to you, you should respectfully ask for the Head Judge for a second opinion; everyone makes mistakes sometimes. It is way better to call a judge earlier than later because you never know how much stuff has gone wrong in a game or how to properly fix it either. DON’T SELF POLICE GAMES, CALL A JUDGE! I don’t know how many times I see this at events and it truly bothers me, if something is wrong, just use the most qualified people available (THE JUDGES). You might be surprised to find that some players try to self police games to avoid penalties because they have previously received similar penalties in the past, it is best that everything gets reported. Since I have only said it a few times, remember to ALWAYS keep your cool when asking your opponent a question and when calling a Judge.

Grow as a Player

So here we are, you finished your weekend and you either smashed your goals or you are a little grumpy… what happens next? Well, most players find out that they are either the best or need some slight improvements after an event so where do you fall? I personally always fall in the “need some slight improvements” categories because I am terrified of perfection, I don’t want to be a perfect Pokémon player. Wait… WHAT?!?! Yeah, I know it can be difficult to understand, but give me a moment to explain myself, ok? If I was perfect, how could I experience growth? How could I experience the triumph? How would I feel if I won everything? Would the game still be fun? Uhhh, I guess those are all good questions and the answers will soon follow suit.

I try to look back at EVERY tournament that I play in, figure out exactly what went wrong, and ask myself questions. I like asking questions because it allows me to self discover answers, sometimes I need to stretch a bit for answers, but it is better than that one friend who always “dead drew!” I have found this activity has allowed me to soar into the realm of super stardom in Pokemon and it is one of those things that players need to do more. Why wouldn’t you self reflect on the tournament after the fact? Seriously? Like if you need help with this, get your teammates or friends to ask you some questions, it might be easier than you think. If you can take one thing from each tournament, work on self improving on it, you will totally see some promising results soon. You can also ask your opponent after the match, I am sure they would love to give you some tips after the match to see you grow! It becomes more and more difficult to grow as you get closer to the top so relish in what you have available now.

Best of Luck!

As the season is approaching the end, it is best to fairly approach yur goals to determine what works best for you. If you need those CP, don't be afraid to book a ticket to a Special Event to complete your season. If you don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, it might be time to hire a coach to help you or to prepare yourself for next season. I know that I am peronally looking at myself, evaluating my growth, and determining my plans for the rest of the season. Anyways, I will be releasing some more articles this week in preparation for Denver so be sure to check those out.

Twitter: zlesage_pokemon

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