Experts' corner

Mark Dizon

Level One - Be Nice

Because of what happened in Dallas - Level One talks about how you can be a nice person at Pokemon and still win.

02/05/2019 by Mark Dizon


My biggest takeaway from this is learn from my mistakes. I have made some mistakes and errors in the past that could have avoided the situations I describe in here. Had I just taken the moment to pause, I wouldn’t have said some hurtful or rude things. If you can learn one thing from today's article, is that people remember when you speak. Never forget that.




Magic the Gathering is tough. It is a game that challenges the mind and forces you to play almost perfectly to achieve wins. When you have a mirror match against an opponent, the game is often decided on how the players approach the game itself versus overcoming the variance that is presented in mirrors in most card games. We are not flipping coins here but rather trying to outplay the person across from us. I had seen some success, but my ultimate goal was to make the Pro Tour. I had been one win away three times and each time I had missed out on my goal. I had top 8d an open and made the second day of multiple Grand Prix’s, similar to Pokémon Regionals but larger prize pools and fields of 1600 + players. Imagine if every regional was the size of NAIC. I truly loved the game and devoted a lot of my time into it. However, looking back, it was a very toxic time in my life.

The hardest thing about Magic is that it sucks to lose. You will lose a lot. I mean you lose quite a bit in Pokémon but it doesn’t feel as bad as when you lose at Magic. I was the saltiest, miserable person when I lost. When I lost it was never my fault. I would blame it on mulligans (in magic you can mulligan any hand but must go down one card less) I would blame it on my opponent drawing the exact number or sequence of cards they needed to beat me. It totally sucked. I was known as a grinder. Someone made this chart below that tracks how you become less nice as you become better at Magic. People knew I was a good player. However, I wasn’t a nice player. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a rule shark or anything in that sense, however, I talked down to my opponents during specific turns to try to get them off their game. They were on free reign to do it to me as well, but most players are genuinely nice. I wasn’t one of them. All I cared was about trying to win tournaments. Every win was great for a day. However, every final lost, semis lost, bubbles and 0-2 drops ate away at me. I couldn’t understand why it just hurt way more to lose than it felt super nice to win. If winning felt like a 6 out of 10 losing as an emotion felt like a 9 out of 10 every time. Why would you ever play a game that makes you miserable like that? Why would you subject yourself to that?


I was originally going to write a Dallas Recap,  the events at Dallas prompted me to write about this as a Level One Article instead. At the center of everything. Why can’t we just be nice to one another? I think that’s one of the biggest reasons I enjoy Pokémon for the most part. Is how for the most part, genuine people are. In general, how nice people are even the pros? Playing Pokémon has made me a better person because If I stayed like Magic Mark, I would have been ostracized by the community. It all starts with your decision on how you will carry yourself and that is something I had to learn quickly. I couldn’t get people to use abilities under Garbotoxin because that was considered baiting. That was my first big one. A judge told me that was against spirit of the game, I was like spirit of the game what is that? In Magic, we just called it mind games. I decided after that moment to just try to play the game for what it is and try to have fun with it. Nobody in Magic tells people to have fun.

Do you know what really opened my eyes to how different the game was? It was how helpful the pros were. So, here’s the background. It is December 2016 and I am frustrated by the state of the standard magic the gathering metagame. My magic sponsor tells me to try Pokémon. He hands me a PTCGO account with a full Yveltal deck and I play 300 games in 6 days before my first league cup in January. I honestly fell in love with how the game worked. How the game flowed. I got some unlucky matchups in my first league cup. I beat a bad matchup round one which was Vespiqueen Zebstrika, I got donked and then I lost to another Vespiqueen Zebstrika. It was hard adjusting to the B01. (On a total side note – how with BO1 Cups are we still taking so long to finish cups and they take the same amount of time as magic tournaments with 50-minute rounds B03 Top 8 cut, baffles my mind). I actually achieved a top 4 in my second league cup and I felt I had made it. Obviously, I didn’t ha-ha. However, it was at this point I wanted to get better and put the time in the game. I stopped playing Magic and focused solely on Pokémon. I reached out to players who at the time were winning with Yveltal. I reached out to Jimmy Pendarvis and Jacob Lesage and they both were willing to help me.  This would never happen in Magic. Slowly but surely it was through the help of others I was able to get better at the game. In Magic, no one helps each other, everyone keeps the information for themselves. You know whose great? Russell Laparre, you can reach out to him to bounce deck ideas and he will respond to you. Zach Lesage literally posts his lists here the night before tournaments. This is free information. Zach just won Mexico City. If you never ask for help, you will never get it.




Obviously, there are times when we lose and we will get salty. Last year when I was trying to get my invite, I was playing in a pretty stacked top four. I immediately became top 8 Mark from Magic the Gathering and I was so mean to my friend, yes, a friend, that I borderline between the rules. I told him he was misplaying and that it was only a matter of time till I capitalized. This is one of the worst moments of my time playing Pokémon. Though I ended up winning the cup against at the time a much better competitor, I didn’t realize that I lost a friend and burnt a bridge. It would take a whole year to repair a relationship that I hurt just to try to gain percentage points to win a league cup. I even told myself, I was trying to help him. I was helping him be mentally stronger. I am sorry once again Alex and I am happy that we are close to being like before now. 

Often in our pursuit for the top, we can lose part of ourselves. Sometimes when we want to win so bad, we become people we don’t want to be. Losses sting more because you have a goal to achieve and you are aiming to achieve these goals. Some people will never believe that you are earning your place and you just must accept that. I remember last year at Charlotte Regionals, I had literally felt sick from a loss. I sat down and played so tight in game three. I knew what cards my opponent had and he went perfect perfect. He went Rare Candy Gardevoir. Secret Spring. Sycamore, which he had drawn. Secret Spring second gardevoir. DCE Choice Band. Knockout your Zoroark. I literally shook his hand. Said thanks for the game and wanted to vomit. I ran to the back of the venue. Sat down and was just sick to my stomach. I really needed that win to lock up getting points. In the last round, I had a chance for the top 256. My Opponent and I had made a gentleman’s agreement that whoever was ahead would win the game. Tied in prizes in turns. I revealed my hand showing him that I would win next turn. My opponent said he wouldn’t concede. Knowing that we both would miss points. I conceded to him so that one of us could get points. I couldn’t bear to have played a whole day and both of us not get points. I remember my friends didn’t agree with my decisions, but I was doing my best as a player to try to understand, what I would want others to do for me.

I truly cannot understand how mean we can be to each other as a joke. From Memes to posts we can say the worst things just for a laugh. Just because of a game. I do believe it you are being mean, someone should stand up for themselves. If someone talked to me like that at a workplace, I wouldn’t let it slide. We are all literally giving up our time on weekends to play Pokémon, and we are all cutthroat for points to achieve our world championship goals. I have seen players angle shoot so hard against newer players, and I can’t help but think, these are the players you want at the tournaments. You want to grow the game. You want bigger prize pools. You want these newer players to get their friends to play. The adage is true that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. I want you to know that no game or hurtful thing is ever worth losing yourself over. This is especially true with how I handled my game with Alex earlier on. There’s a player in my local community who recently came back to the game this season. I could tell that he was obviously adept at the game when I played him, and I think I have beaten him once all season when we played. He left the game due to people being mean in the past among other things and felt the community was toxic. One day he and I were having a healthy discussion on metagame and he quoted how I was extremely rude to him after I lost the first time against him. I really had to take a step back there and introspectively look, this is someone I consider a friend now but was I really that mean to him. Had I not learned. He said it was more how I described how I lost, and he was probably right, I was probably not in the best of mind as it was pretty much a win and in. However, that really stuck to me on how others can perceive who I am. This was especially before was given the opportunity to write here at I am not here to give you game knowledge. I am not here to tell you how to play. I am here to help you introspectively look at yourself and improve in Pokémon in ways that aren’t just about the game. To take a step back and observe what you are doing and how it affects those around you. To try to break down some of the barriers we experience in the game.

I am playing a league challenge. It is against a newer player. First time I have ever seen them. I know that this player is the brother of one of the local Yugi-oh personality. I am playing Gardevoir and he is playing Tapu Koko spread. We are down to the late stages of the game. I have one prize left, he has four prizes left. After taking my fifth prize he has only one card in hand. The game is down to the wire. We are the last match playing and people have crowded around. My opponent only has one card in his hand. He draws and I ask him if he has Tapu Lele Promo and Counter Energy. His only outs to win. He says no. Plays nest ball to search for the Lele Promo. He slams Cynthia his draw for the turn. He draws the first card. Draws the second card and immediately slams the Counter Energy. He screams let's go and bangs the table. Everyone mouth has dropped except mine. They were like Mark you played the game so well and lost to that. I extend my hand to my opponent and say Thank you for the game. Inside I am upset but not enough to be super salty. I have been my opponent and drawn rainbow energy for Traschalanche to win the game when I needed it. My opponent apologizes for his celebration and I tell him it is okay. Don’t worry. As he signs the slip he reads my name and goes oh! Your Mark Dizon who writes for 60cards wow! I didn’t know you were Canadian.

At this point, I could have been extremely salty about the situation and you wouldn’t blame me. However, If I had gone off and told him how lucky he was and how he didn’t deserve to win and things like that even if I meant them or not, we might have never seen him again. He would have been like, that Mark Dizon from 60cards is not a nice person. He would have had a negative connotation of Pokémon Writers. It would be like my writing was a lie. It would have been my fault that someone stopped playing over a game in a league challenge. I really want to credit some of the amazing pros who can overcome that stigma. Playing Azul has always been a great experience. He always has some great information to tell you or help after a match. I am proud of both the strides made by Daniel Altavilla and Zachary Lesage this year. They have always been so passionate about the game, but I think in the past twelve months they’ve learned that their passion and actions influence players and they both have taken self-reflective looks at themselves and they have been doing very well this year. Always take a minute before you jump to conclusion or aggression. You never know who is watching. If you play the game to play the game and you devote your time on trying to be a good person. You will have no problems. I am still learning every tournament and every match on how I can be the best person I can be playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Look at yourself and figure out who you want to be remembered as and how you would want others to talk about you. There is more to touch on that what is here, but I think this is enough for now.

That’s it for this level one. We will have a lot to talk about with Team Up out now. Are you excited? I am excited. Until next time. Say Thanks for those games.


[+20] okko


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