01/15/2019 by Mark Dizon
Hey, 60 Card Readers! How did your weekend go? Are you preparing for Dallas? Did you have great results at league cups this weekend? I recently won a league cup with Attacking Steelix, so I’ve been able to take a break from League Cups to have my mind refreshed for the game. Before I start this article, I want to congratulate my brother for winning his first league cup this weekend. I was able to beat my brother in the finals of a league cup last weekend and since then he has been able to gain a 2nd, a top 4, a top 4, and now a final. He has been putting up results and his march to getting his worlds invite entrenched in his mind. That is his goal this year to be able to attend worlds as a competitor. That’s what we're going to talk about in today’s level one. While I think this will probably come up in multiple different articles in the future of this series, this will be the first Goals Oriented one. Without further ado lets jump right into it.
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to goal. One of them is focusing on the goal itself, and one of them is focusing on the process of achieving your goal. I am way more leaning on the side that focus on the process of achieving your goals other than focusing on the goals themselves. Before we get into the process-oriented focus lets go over SMART GOALS. In the future, if you end up working in a corporate environment, chances are you will be introduced to SMART GOALS. SMART Goals are used by businesses and they are divided into an Acrostic Poem. S is for Specific. M is for Measurable. A is for Attainable. R is for relevant. T is for Time Based. When setting up for a Smart goal you want it to be specific. I want to achieve a Top 8 in a regional this year. It must be measurable. Did I achieve a Top 8 this year out of how many regionals I played? It must be attainable. I am a top 16 North American chaser this is within my sights. It must be relevant. I need a top 8 to prove myself to the other players. It must be Time Based. By the end of this Season. SMART Goals are usually measured by I will achieve X by Y Date by doing the following to reach my goal. What do you think about this goal? Put yourself in the seat of the 18th person right now chasing the top 16 stipends. You have half a season approximately left and you have had a few top 32’s and top 16’s. What are you thinking about this goal at the moment? Do you like this goal? I will give you some time to think about it and you can read my answer below this picture.
I personally am not a fan of this goal. The reason that goals like this can affect a player’s mental state and lead them to perform worse. This goal is based on a result. Achieving or not achieving this result creates a pass-fail rate. You either Succeed or you do not. This goal makes you focus more on the result. This goal makes it harder for you to really see your play and what you are trying to achieve. Think of the pressure that this puts on a player. Added pressure that they do not necessarily need. There is already a lot of pressure when playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Why do you need to add more? Flights, decks, searching for cards, trying not to misplay and now you are adding this top 8 quest to the rest of your thoughts. What if you had gone to multiple regionals and only had two left to achieve this goal. What has it impacted on your motivation? I play Pokémon to get away from my regular duties and adulting and life. I know many of you take it as a break from school, work, it is a hobby for you to have fun with and enjoy your time. By putting these limitations on yourself you are making it harder for yourself to enjoy your time. To have fun. You are making it almost like a job. If we look at some of the best players in the game, they play Pokémon and they usually win. Are they salty when they don’t win, of course? We all hate losing. However, a lot of them can understand the variance of the game and see it in a way that they did well in this tournament and they will focus on going on to the next tournament. Ask Jimmy Pendarvis if he thought he would win three regionals in a row, and his answer would probably be no. (Note I haven’t asked Jimmy this question, so Jimmy, if you are reading this, let your boy know). Goals that involve a mentality of reaching a goal or failure adds even more pressure on you especially round by round. The smallest misplay can provide you with anxiety or cause more chaos in your braining clouding your judgment. You begin to lose your motivation as you play more, and you begin to self criticize yourself. Trust me it isn’t your fault. IF you have ever played a sport or any other organized game, you have many critics. Your coach, your teammates, other players. For example, I am a soccer goalkeeper. I have many a time as a youth let in a goal. Some of them, a lot of them have been soft. The immediate aftermath of a goal isn’t to apologize to the goalkeeper, it is to look at them in frustration. Soccer is a team sport until a goal is scored. I have my coaches voice criticizing me in my head. It is the exact same even in this card game. When something goes wrong, you begin to criticize yourself going farther from your goals.
When you focus on the process or how we get to the point we can get to the goal it makes the journey that much more endearing. When an athlete makes the goal of learning how to dunk for example, or how to take a penalty kick in soccer. The best way is to focus on how to achieve the feat. Is the feat attainable? However, instead of critiquing it in a pass or fail manner, you can critique on the breakdown. For a penalty kick. You focus on positioning, run out and point of contact with the ball and direction of the body. When you look at dunking, if you have the height, you can focus on the gather, the jump, and the arm position before making it to the basket. In Pokémon which isn’t strictly a physical sport. You can focus on the process of playing. From everything such as the mechanics of using trade or shuffling to save time, this allows you to practice being prepared for a tournament. You can focus on the main things you need to know in Matchups. Sure, you can have the goal of day 2ing a regional but if you do not know how to play your matchups, you surely will not achieve your day 2. If you are tired and have a hard time playing when fatigued it is going to make your win percentages go lower. You can practice getting ready for regionals, in manners such as getting ready for league cups. If you got to League Cups Tired can you effectively get into top 8 and win the event. When you play the game itself are you fully focused on playing or are you easily distracted by other games or players around you? Do you only focus on the result of your games or is it based on how you play? You can play the perfect game of Pokémon and still lose. Anyone can get donked. That’s the great power of the game. Anyone has the chance to win the game. However, if you only focus on what occurs as a result of your games instead of the way the games play out you are going to have a hard time improving. Sometimes you really need to take them to focus on what you want to achieve from the game that can improve you.
If you think back to the Pokemon Video Games. Magikarp has always been a Pokemon favorite. Here is this little fish that all it can do is splash but twenty levels later and it is a ferocious competitor that you want on your team as long as you are not playing against lightning Pokemon. That is exactly why we focus on the journey to becoming a Gyarados over just being upset that every level Magikarp goes up nothing happens. You need to put the time in to achieve what you are aiming to do.
As I am heading towards the rest of the season my goal is obviously to reach the Pokémon World Championship and give myself a chance to compete. That is the overarching goal, the process focused goal is to try to be able to win 2 out of every 3 matches I play. If I can keep a rate like this up and keep myself from getting demotivated by losses it would allow me to gain points from most regionals. The threshold needed to get points from most regionals’ hovers around the 6 and 3 record. Doing this will require a lot more practice and better deck decisions from me because I need to make the most of the premier level events I am going to play. Practicing and finding time to practice is a goal. The biggest fear is the possibility that regionals that are to occur later in the year are going to get smaller and smaller due to the invite threshold being so high. Will they eventually end up adding more points to what you have already earned to try to get more players to worlds as they did in 2017.
Speaking of Goals and attending the Pokémon World Championships. I fully believe that day one of worlds should be a bigger event akin to a regional. If we look at Pokémon to its very notion of becoming the very best like no one was before. The large day one of worlds gives the possibility of a no-name player to become a world champion. A non-player could see this and make this the reason that they start playing. With more players come bigger fields and bigger prize pools. I do not think the allure of worlds changes based on the number of attendees. I know the tournament will always be harder. As someone that earned their invite last year and then proceeded to 0-3 drop the tournament, you can be assured that I want to make it back this year to redeem myself. The game must provide value to players and provide a glimpse of hope. Seeing Tord or Jimmy or Pram or Azul or Igor or Danny winning multiple tournaments is amazing, seeing Robin win worlds was so cool. There will always be underdogs to root for and sometimes the underdog wins. If we are going to have a higher worlds threshold, maybe things need to change on the regional level to incentivize players to come and play more than the current systems where players fall off once they realize their worlds dream is dead.
Pokémon is only getting bigger. The cards and mechanics they are trying are only getting bolder. The expanded format might need a fix. However, you need to take a step back and see where you are involved in this and what you need to accomplish. If your goal is to be able to day 2 regionals maybe it is time to get a coach to help you break through. If your goal is to win more cups maybe it becomes having to test more locally and create a playtesting group to improve. If your goal is to make fewer mistakes it might involve keep a notepad and keeping track of your misplays, so you can go over them and not make them again. With that being said I hope you can figure out what you want from Pokémon this year and that it can be your best season yet!
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