08/14/2019 by Mark Dizon
Hey 60 Card Readers! How is the summer treating you? I feel that we haven’t had a break from Pokémon due to the 2020 season starting right away. I have been putting a lot of thought involving goal setting for the new season especially with the new changes to qualifying for the world championship. That’s for another article, because today is the Wednesday before Worlds. I have just touched down in Washington and I am a nervous wreck now, I have never tested for a tournament as much as this one and I haven’t landed on a deck yet. It’s interesting, because nervousness and excitement are very close feelings. I am excited for the event due to the spectacle of worlds but nervous due to the human nature of wanting to do well. I know many of you are in the same boat, so as you are preparing for Worlds or the Open here are some ways I am dealing with it. Last year I qualified for Worlds and promptly dropped with an 0-3 record. I could say my performance was disappointing, but it was absolutely positively a learning experience for me.
Realize You Are Good Enough To Be Where You Are.
I know when we go to a tournament, we lose, we immediately start questioning ourselves. Should I be here? Why did I spend $50 and a whole ton of my time to enter this tournament. Is this really what I want to give my weekend up for? I have lost three straight win and ins for points! Argh.
Trust me these emotions run high, and they suck. Believe me when I say this happens to everyone. I remember starting 0-1-1 at Hartford Regionals and being completely upset at myself. I really needed to gain a good finish to continue the push towards Worlds and here I was at 0-1-1. I had just tied a PokeParent who played a standard deck! And just added Max Potions. Look we can be honest and say all we want about not underestimating your opponents, but we do it subconsciously sometime. I was playing Drampa/Garb and the matchup felt atrocious since she barely played any items. Another Argh. From there I would rattle back 3 wins in a row to get to 3-1-1 and then took another Tie, putting me in the no more losses for day 2 bracket. The next round I lost. Bringing me to 3-2-2. My whole tournament came mentally crashing down and I had to get lucky to finish 5-2-2 in exactly 64th Place, with top 64 points being handed out. After my second loss, I really doubted and questioned my season, I really wanted to quit. You can’t however. You need to remind yourself that you are good enough to compete and if you put in the hard work, results will show up eventually.
By just entering the tournament you are proving that you can compete. That you want to compete. That is the first step towards the long journey. Sometimes will be tough. I remember when Zach Lesage was having a hard time getting better than top 32/64 at a regional, and in one year turned it to the point that he won first regional in the modern era, achieved a top 8 at an international and created one of the most polarizing brands in the game. We also saw Rahul Reddy take time off, have some devastatingly close finishes, but also prove how consistent he is and put out great content. Now those are pro examples, but even look at your own league cup examples, or basic league examples. You need to look for the small victories for yourself and help that motivate your growth. You are good enough to compete, you just need to make sure you are putting in the work.
Don’t Focus On Your Results, Focus On Your Play
There are many fundamental truths when it comes to the game of Pokémon. Two my favorite are as follows.
1. There is a huge amount of variance when it comes to winning or losing a game of Pokémon. There are many factors outside of your control.
2. It is unrealistic for you to win every game. You will lose.
Coming from a huge magic background, I was always taught by my mentors to be number one play tight as possible and try to make the least number of mistakes in a game. If you have two players, playing optimally, it comes down a lot that the player with the least mistakes should win more. By being able to understand and capitalize on our opponents mistakes we put ourselves in extremely good vantage points to win. Number two is when you lose, understand why you lose.
It’s easy to say that you got donked, or that you dead drew or got unlucky. Those games will happen, but those excuses should be a last resort. During testing, I make sure to write down why I lost. To learn not to make those mistakes again. Some reasons I have loss in testing when it came to this new format, is I wasn’t reading every card. I would skip over and assume. For example: Did you know great potion is only to active GX? Did you know Espurr’s Spread attack is only to benched Pokémon? Did you know Scoop Up Block Mime, only prevents picking up Pokémon that have damage on them? So that an undamaged Pokémon will be Scooped Up? These are all misplays that I had because I didn’t fully read my card. Seems so simple, however I bet you do it more than you think. Understanding the small things will only improve your play.
Whenever I have two losses in a tournament, I know I cannot get another one or I will miss day 2. Variance wise, this will happen often. However, I can tell you there have been multiple events where I cannot take another loss, or I will miss day two or miss points but I have been able to dig in and rally myself back to finish the deed. When I have my back to the mall, I focus on trying to play my best even more. Not taking losses so seriously and understanding what happen will only help progress your future Pokémon Tournaments.
Don’t Give Up On The Game Too Easily.
How many times has it happened that you start your opening Pokémon, have to play your Lillie for three and have nothing else to do? How many times have you started the game and have to play a search card for a Pokémon and pass. It sucks. How many times does your opponent take a five-minute opening turn when your turn is attach-pass? All these situations can cause us to stop playing the game and assume we are about to lose. If you are about to get donked or your opponent is taking a huge lead, sometimes it is correct to scoop. However, I have seen many players stop trying in games that they are still in. A lot of the times this happens when we are playing from behind, however it can even happen when playing from a position of power. The reason being is we go onto auto-pilot and then have a hard time attempting to close out the game. Going back to focusing on playing our best wraps back up into this.
When we play Pokémon, we need to make sure that we play with the same level of focus throughout the game. When you reach this state and you understand your game plan, it allows you to figure out different lines to victory. Especially with the advent of Tag Team Pokémon, if you can take a knockout on one of them, that is 50% of your prizes. Games can swing so fast now so don’t give up so easily. Play focused, have a plan and try to close it out.
Enjoy The Moment
If you are in Washington this weekend for Worlds or the Open, either as a competitor or spectator. Enjoy every moment of it. There is no other tournament like this. I remember when the excitement in the room when they revealed Pikachu and Zekrom Tag Team GX last year. The opening ceremonies being beside players form so many countries. Being able to play meaningful games against opponents you’d never play against was a treat. We don’t experience this at league cups and regionals. The Pokémon Center, the side event wall, the photo ops. Worlds has it all. It happens once a year and it is a motivating factor for players to return. If you do have a bad tournament, make sure you realize how amazing of a feat it is that you got their in the first place. There are only a certain number of players invited to this event and you were one of them.
Alright back to testing now. I am going to focus on learning some possible plays and figure out what I am most comfortable with. The format is so slow and sequencing and tight play is at the most importance. It is really hard to get back into games based on us not being able to string together Pokémon and supporters the way we used to. It has taken some getting used too. I really like how Pokémon has made this changed and made it so this is the first tournament with the new set. All players are at the same starting point and we will be seeing a lot of new archetypes. I’m excited and I hope you are too. If you see me at worlds make sure to come by and say Hi! Good luck to you all friends. And to my friend Zoroark GX, I miss you already.
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