Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Thoughts on the Season Cancelation

Zach goes over his thoughts on the cancelation of the 2019-2020 Pokémon season.

04/01/2020 by Zach Lesage

A Rainy Day in the Galar Region

What a day... if you haven’t guessed what I’m writing about, it’s that The Pokémon Company International has canceled the remainder of the 2020 season. If you are interested in reading more about that, you can click on this link here. For many Pokémon fans, I’m sure we have all expressed a mix of different emotions. I understand the decision completely, But I feel absolutely gutted at the same time. As a professional player, most of my jobs revolve around the Pokémon TCG realm - writing articles, coaching clients, and winnings from events. Without events, it is unforeseen how my day-to-day life will continue in the upcoming days, weeks, and months. We are also left with uncertainty on a few things. The goal of this article is to allow me to apply my thoughts to some creative median and offer my insight on a few possibilities. Nothing in this article is factual - it is merely my thoughts amidst this pandemic. That being said, let’s jump into it.

Will Juniors and Seniors Age Up?

While this question doesn’t matter for the majority of players, it is still a question that hasn’t directly been answered. With Pokémon rolling over 2020 CP requirements, some JRs / SRs would have aged up if the season continued normally. Now I don’t know the ages of many JRs and SRs, but there are players who have quite a bit of CP. Let’s put it like this, I’m ranked 4th in North America and there five SRs division players in North America with more CP than me. If those players aged up, it wouldn’t necessarily be fair that those two worlds have collided. Most SR Regionals have between 50-100 players with most MA Regionals being 400+ - the disbursement of CP is much more top heavy and obtainable in the SRs division. Similarly, the same issue would happen in the JRs division and there would be a further rift for those players in JRs who don’t age up. It also wouldn’t give the worlds caliber players in JRs / SRs the opportunity to shine in their division. That being said, I think they should change the requirements of age for JRs / SRs and extend the divisions by another year. This would create the least amount of hassle for all players in the game. 

Award Day 1 and Day 2 Worlds Invites 

This is one question that was answered for Day 1 competitors, but it has left players in the Top 16 in North America (and other top players in other regions) wondering how next season is going to work. I don’t want to continuously use myself as an example, but it is easier for me to write about scenario wise. I currently have 1250ish CP and that will carry over into the 2020-2021 season as written. If I was a player looking to enter into the T16 race in this upcoming season, I would quit while I’m already behind. On a personal level, I’m left to ponder on what is to come? What will be the bar for T16 in the 20-21 season? Will BFLs carry over? Am I shooting for a new high score? If I play in OCIC again, can I earn CP if I don’t make finals again? With Pokémon using the word “expanded” for Worlds (poor choice of word on the writers behalf unless the event is actually in the “Expanded” format), it seems like they are welcoming a larger group of players for Worlds. If they automatically awarded all current T16 / T22 / T8 / T8 players in each region a Day 2 invite, they could still carry over the CP from this year and offer a “fresh” opportunity to a new group of players. This solution rewards the most dedicated players in the game and it offers advanced opportunities for those who were close to achieving it this year. If a current top X player in their region were to place in the top X of their region in the 20-21 season, they could offer a pass down system. I’m essentially talking about a T32 for NA, T44 for EU, T16 for OC, and T16 for LA. Those new numbers would allow players to have an opportunity to make Day 2 at Worlds and reward those who were the most dedicated during the 2020 season.

When Will the 2020-2021 Season Start?

This is something that could go either way and I’m not sure which way it will go. New seasons typically start in July after NAIC concludes, but the question is when will it actually start? It’s possible that if this pandemic clears up quicker than expected (we can all hope right?) that we return to the game in an earlier 20-21 season. I could see us having League Cups starting in June, but that might be me being hopeful. On the other side, things might take a turn for the worst and we might delay the usual July start until August (or even later). There are plenty of questions from many that will hopefully get answered sooner than later.

Will BFLs Carry Over?

As much as this might have been lightly touched in other sections of this article, I wanted to bring it up as a full topic. For players who haven’t had the most rewarding Cup season, I’m sure they are hoping for a carryover of BFLs and I’m sure that is how it will work, but why does that mean for players who are close to winning 8 Cups and Challenges? While it is a rare sight in MAs to win 8 and 8, it is realistic for many players to have a soft capped BFL of 8 and 8. Of the International schedule stays the same, are they individual events or are they part of a larger BFL? If I earn CP at the 20-21 OCIC, can I? I already have a finalist position that has earned me 400 CP, can I earn more without winning the whole event? Can the Daytona Beach, FL Regional Champion earn CP if there is another Daytona Beach Regionals? There are so many looming questions... If these events are carried over, it would make it a tedious task for someone like myself who has 5 wins, 2 finalist, and 1 semifinalist finishes at Cups to take the season seriously. On the other hand, it would be ridiculously unfair to add another 8 Cups in the mix for players to try and hit their invite. So sadly, I am leaning towards that the season will carry over all BFLs along with the CP earned. Perhaps there will be other fruitful rewards for players who have hit them or it might be the perfect opportunity to take another break.

When Will the Rotation Happen?

While we have usually rotated cards closer to the end / start of a season, players have effectively lost the opportunity to play with their cards for 6 months. That being said, it’s possible that TPCI will extend the legality of the format by a similar amount of time. I’m not sure if they will base their decision on the pandemic or the healthiness of the format - heck, I have no clue how that decision is made, I just know it has to be made. The one thing that I have been researching is the lettering at the bottoms of cards. If you don’t know, you can look at the bottom left hand corner of any SWH card to find a “D” letter. This is seemingly what will define our blocks of cards. With most formats having a balanced mixed of cards and a precedence of rotations, I have a super duper strong hunch that our rotation is going to be Team Up - on (The observed Japanese “C” and “D” block cards). This is one where only time will tell...

Online Tournaments Everywhere!

You have seen it on Heyfonte and Virbank City, players are hungry to play on PTCGO! Players are offering their own cash prize driven 8 person pods and we have seen local online “Cup-like” events reach upwards of 50 players. With Limitless announcing their online series, which you can read about here, we can assume that it will bring more events with similar offerings. I’m not sure who will step up to the plate to run similar events, but it might be the new “norm” for a while. Events like these give the community something to look forward to at the end of their week. I highly suggest that everyone supports these events. My one hope is that TPCI watches these events for the community reaction and works on improving the PTCGO client. For all we know they will start emulating these larger online events and implement them before the 20-21 season.

Adding More Events?

With the cancelation of events brings the possibility of having the same event twice in the 20-21 season. This is be talking out of my butt for the most part, but it makes sense in my head - kinda. If players had the opportunity to play in a major event before the season was canceled, that geographic area will likely have more opportunities for CP. An example of this would be that players have had the opportunity to earn CP at the Knoxville Regionals early this year and there will likely be another Regionals in Tennessee in the 20-21 season. Players in that area will have more opportunities than an area with a cancelled Regionals such as Toronto, Salt Lake City, and Albany. The same statement goes for LAIC and OCIC compared to EUIC and NAIC. While I think Internationals will get artificially fixed with CP adjustments (maybe?), there is a possibility that the 20-21 season could see doubles of events. As a Toronto area local, Canada lost its only major event of the season, that makes the CP scale in my area lower than what it would have been. In order to balance it, I could see a world where there are two major events close to Toronto (Toronto twice, adding Montreal, adding Buffalo, or adding Niagara Falls). I could see this happening for some of the events that were canceled or maybe an added Special Event into the mix. Or maybe the 19-20 season will literally only apply as bonus CP like our “Quarter 0” in July last year. I’m sure we will find out soon enough.

Announcements Ahoy!

Any “esports” business thrives off of communication and is only as strong as the community that they cultivate. Pokémon is not really esports, but it’s close enough to talk about in this realm. Without events or anything going on, there is no reason to visit the Pokémon website. There would be no reason to buy Pokémon cards. There wouldn’t be much to do at all. I’m sure we will see an increased frequency of announcements from Pokémon to help guide us through this unprecedented time. Between 20-21 seasonal announcements, answering the many questions asked in this article, upcoming events, and more - we will likely hear from them soon enough. Think about it, every year at Worlds we see all aspects of the Pokémon world getting some kinda hype videos. TCG last year showcased V Pokémon, new SWH Pokémon were showcased, and even more! I’m sure all of that will be released gradually to keep our community “hooked” on this game! 

Community Backlash

With the Pokémon season getting canceled, I have seen a few negative responses directed towards myself as a writer and article site owner. Some members of our community are upset that articles have paywalls during this time and I just wanted to touch on it quickly. My answer remains the same as what I have written on Facebook as a response. As much as the “world stopped” during this pandemic, every business is trying to find a way to press on. As a writer and site owner, what else am I supposed to do at this time? Members of our community have paid for yearly subscriptions and I continue to support them. I’m not necessarily asking the community for more money, I am providing a service for those that have already paid. As a content creator / professional player, what is there to blame? That’s the same thing as complaining about fast food restaurants being open because they are considered “essential” - every business will try to adapt right now. That being said, this site also offers free articles to give a taste of what we offer. If anyone is looking to get ready for online events or look at a future format, I have no shame in getting paid. I’m not trying to be a greedy person profiting off this pandemic - I am content creator trying to provide for my family. Your article subscription goes towards my car insurance payment, my groceries, etc. The same way that most people have to work, this pandemic hasn’t stopped me from writing plenty of content during this time. 

Next Stop - Limitless Online Series

While the season was just “canceled” on us, which you can read about here, we can look forward to those who step up. Limitless has offered us a “high-profile” event to play in and it is refreshing to have something positive to look forward to as a change. There are content creators, article writers, and more that are looking forward to the future with interesting content. Things will be better and I can only look forward to my next physical event. Until then, I am going to be writing articles, filming videos, and getting ready for some upcoming online events. I already have a few articles in the creation process and I will be using this pandemic as a way to help our community grow as players. I appreciate all of the support I have received from messages so far and I will use it as motivation going forward! If you are looking for coaching or if you wanna follow me on Social Media, check out these links! 

Social Media

Facebook: Zach Lesage 

Twitter: zlesagepokemon 

Twitch: zlesagepokemon 

Youtube: Rare Candy 



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Thanks for reading,

Zach Lesage

[+0] okko


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