Experts' corner

Mark Dizon

Level One - Late July

Going for your invite this year? Well, now we the threshold. Join me in the classroom and let's break down how to get your invite even if you have zero points right now.

11/08/2018 by Mark Dizon

Wow, Readers. We finally hit late July. The thresholds are in and we have the goals that need to be reached to get the elusive invite to the Pokémon World Championships this year in Washington D.C. We waited all summer for this. We have seen three regionals go by, a new set launch, and are on the eve of an international. Based on the Heyfonte posts, the number has players strictly on the fence concerning the announced threshold. Some players are taking the threshold as a challenge, while others are seeing it as a detrimental roadblock leading many players to change their plans for the continuation of this Pokémon season. Depending on which side of the fence you stand, this is some major news. 


Five Hundred and Fifty Points. Last year’s threshold was Four Hundred Points and now we need to achieve One Hundred and Fifty Points more. I have talked a lot about how we would talk about goal setting when it comes to the Pokémon Trading Card Game. There are actually multiple different types of Goal Setting. In this article, we are going to go over the big picture goal setting for the average player. Not going for top 16? Trying to make the world championships? Well, you have come to the right place for us to talk numbers when it comes to trying to achieve your invite this year. For every grinder on the scene trying to rack up cup finishes, challenge wins, and regional top 128’s the main focus of this article is for you. 


The Roman Philosopher Seneca is attributed to the quote “ Luck is what happens when Opportunity meets preparation”. Now I know we have talked a lot about Luck and Variance in the previous editions of Level One but here we are back at it. To achieve your invite repeat after me “I need to get a little lucky”. Yes, you are going to need to get a little bit of help when it comes to luck but at the same time so will I. We are in this together. 

So what has changed from last year? What does Pokémon want? I thought we would get a Five Hundred Point Threshold. From our invite structure last year Pokémon separated the best finish limit when it came to Cups and Challenges and made them have there own best finish limit instead of sharing one. This probably came about to make League Challenges relevant, as the attendance number were not what The Pokémon Company International wanted. I personally only attended League Challenges last year only for fun and maybe played in six total for the whole year. This quarter I have already attended eight, that's two more in one quarter than I had attended the whole previous year. There are a lot of arguments online that technically the invite threshold was only increased by thirty points due to the extra one hundred and twenty championship points available due to the best finish limit now provided by League Challenges. The biggest problems in this statement occur with having to attend more Pokémon events than you had to as well as the guarantee of first place isn’t actually guaranteed. People always liked to argue last season that a player could achieve their invite by winning two cups per quarter. Last year, Caleb Gedemer was the only player to achieve this feat out of the Four Hundred Plus that attended Worlds Last Year. This year there has also been a shortage of the number of cups ran per region. While I believed in the past that Pokémon wanted worlds to be an attainable goal, that anyone could become a world champion was their marketing strategy, the increasing of the threshold has thrown that whole idea out the window. Pokémon now will have a smaller worlds which a lot of players had asked for, a smaller worlds with better prizes, rewarding players more and not just having players stop playing once they reach four hundred points. 


I do think that even with the added best finish limits for league challenges that the invite is way harder to achieve this year due to the fact that you are not guaranteed that extra thirty points per quarter. The other big problem is the scarcity of league cups. If you are going to get your invite you need to do quite well at league cups. This is where the bulk of points have to come from and with at least each area losing twenty-five percent of their league cups, this makes it even harder to attain the invite. So where are you on this scale? Are you going for your invite or not? Are you looking to luck into it? Let us break down some scenarios for averages to get your invite. 


Example One: I have zero points but I want to do my best to make it to worlds. Oops, well you are not in the best position but never say never. The invite is five hundred and fifty points, unfortunately, they announced the threshold at the end of the first quarter, and yes it is early November haha. With three quarter left having to accumulate five hundred and fifty points, we need to see how much we need to attain per quarter. So divided by three the goal per quarter becomes one hundred and eighty-five points per quarter. That's a lot of points. If you aren’t traveling to regionals this is going to come very hard. Barring a big spike at internationals, the slow and steady approach requires a total consistency approach. 
0 to 550 in three quarters  - the league cup superstar method 

90 CP in league challenges (three quarters, two firsts per quarter)
216 in league cups ( a final and top four per quarter) 
550 – (216+90) = 244 CP remaining 

That means you need to get about 245 points from regionals and you would need to average 40 points in five regionals finishing top 128 in those events. This does not involve an international finish, which earns more CP. 


0 to 550 – the league grinder method 
75 CP in league challenges (three quarters, first and a top 4 per quarter)
171 CP in league cups (three quarters, top 8 and a top 4 per quarter) 

550-(171+75) =306 CP remaining 
This person has a harder road, but it is an understandable path as some regions it is harder to qualify than others, in this model it requires an international finish for sure. Last year we did see quite a few players earn four hundred points in the last few events, but this year you will need to play before the last quarter most likely to get your invite. 


Example Two: I have some points, what do I have to do to get my invite. I’ll use myself as an example here. For Quarter One I have achieved two league challenge finishes for thirty championship points, a top eight and a top 4 in league cups earning me fifty-seven points and a day two and top sixty-four in the only regional I played this year in Philadelphia for fifty points. All together I am currently sitting at one hundred and thirty seven points. Using realistic goals this is what I need to accomplish to reach my invite.

550-137=413 CP 
413 divided by 3 = 140 CP per quarter rounded up 
I know I can win two league challenges per quarter = 30 CP per quarter 90 CP Total 

413-90=323 CP remaining 

I know I can top 8 and top 4 league cups per quarter, in the past I would put a final and a top 4 but now with league cups become scarce, I need to be realistic to myself. 

57 times 3 = 171 
323-171 CP =152 CP 
I need to earn the remaining 152 CP from the following events I am considering going to Roanoke, Anaheim, St Louis, Toronto, Greensboro, Hartford, Madison. I am considering going to the European International Championships, and am guaranteed to go to the North American International Championships. 
Knowing St Louis and Hartford will probably hit over eight hundred players, I know I can aim for the top 256 CP threshold in each of those gaining 60 CP. 
152 CP – 60 CP = 92 CP. With this remaining number gaining two top sixty fours at any of the remaining events would allow me to achieve my invite. 


Now that you have a clear guideline if you believe you can reach your invite. Here are ways to help you with your goals for the rest of the season. 


Break it Down by Quarter and track your Quarterly Goals 
If I took my remaining point needs and made a quarterly goal of one hundred and forty championship points per quarter. I know that I would achieve minimum eighty-seven points from League Cups and Challenges meaning that I need to get a top sixty-four per regional that I attend. By attending two regionals per quarter it gives me multiple shots at my goals, at the same point if I miss my goal and end up getting two top 128s at those regionals, it allows me to gain an extra forty points and then work on lowering the number of points in the subsequent quarters. I can also track my practice when it comes to these events. When practicing for an expanded regional, I should be tracking how many games of expanded I am playing to give me the best opportunity at these events. In North America, we are forced to be adaptive and able to play two formats while some regions mainly only play standard. Keeping this in mind and making sure you that you are devoting time to the extra formats are extremely important as half our regionals in North America are expanded. 


Don't Let Bad Tournaments Define You
This is something I even have to work. A lot of the players out there will be discouraged when they don't do well at League Cups event after event. As we have said in multiple articles that even the best in the game will experience variance and go through rough stretches. Even if you are the number one player in North America, you are never the favorite to win the tournament against the field. The difference in skill level at the top is growing and again with the scarcity of league cups, this variance rises. Keep plugging away and playing and focus on making your tournaments count. Knowing which tournaments you need to do the best at is extremely important. Generally to win League Cup you need to have seven wins. Seven Wins at a regional will guarantee you the same amount of points as winning a league cup for the most part and the added bonus of winning more points than at a league cup. Focus on doing well at regionals and closing the League Cup Top Eights that you get in. With the modern era of Pokémon on us, the amount of information online really makes these tournaments closer and you never know when you will lose to the random rogue Steelix Mill deck. 


There are a lot of players who will say they do not test for events and can just do well. Unfortunately, I am not one of those players. Last night at league, I tested the new Malamar Giratina deck, and I can tell you it plays much more differently than GasKan does. Playing to learn how decks play and how to play versus them is extremely important to how your tournament results are factored. It is reasonable to be surprised by a deck one round in a tournament but not knowing how to play one of the big three decks can really ruin your tournament and you need to be accountable for that. Understanding how to metagame is also important if you have the ability to play multiple decks. Take for example our last format, the Rayquaza decks were beaten by the Shrine of Punishment decks, the Zoroark decks solved how to beat the shrine decks, and the Rayquaza decks came back to feast on the Zoroark decks. Formats are cyclical. Know when to play which deck. It is extremely integral for your success as a player. 


Review Your Results
With testing and tournament, you play, make notes. I know it sounds trivial, but if you compare for when you studied for a test with notes to review and when you didn't, I am willing to bet you did much better on the tests you studied for. With Expanded being a vast format, I often bring a sheet of paper on how to play versus the matchups. I look at this paper in-between rounds so that when my opponent flips over their pokemon, I know the game plan immediately and don't have to waste time using mental power on those decisions. By looking at your matchup spread in your local area, this can also help you figure out what deck people will switch too and whether or not you should be playing your deck. 


Play Against Better Players
We are all playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game. I am going to assume that most of us have played the video game. I would expect an eighty percent of the community has played some sort of Pokemon Video Game. In the games to prepare to level up, you need to fight more trainers and higher-level trainers. It is the same as in the card game. You need to seek out those who are better than you and either play against them in locals, get some coaching or become friends and have a general testing session. These players will help you improve your game by pointing out things that you can be doing better and that you are doing incorrectly. I can honestly say that without playing against better players last year, who taught me the ins-and-outs of certain decks, I would not have achieved my invite. Shout-out to Chris Venier for teaching me how to play Zoroark-Lycanroc at the beginning of the decks rise. You are obviously reading this article, and I can say that Caleb Gedemer’s article and Ryan Allred’s articles on Zororoc also helped me in playing that deck. If you like what you are getting in articles, subscribe to a website. If you can win back in packs what you are learning from that site, then it is bringing value to you.



Well, that is all for this week. How did you feel after learning the threshold? Are you still going for you invite? Are you just playing tournaments for fun now? I am really excited to see what Brazil brings about and how the format changes. Lost Thunder has some new cards that will shake our existing format. I am going to be here trying to figure out if Professor Elm makes Zoroark even more competitive in the format. 



Until Next Week, 



[+22] okko


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