Experts' corner

Mark Dizon

Level One - Breaking Down a Misplay

How to reflect on a misplay that ruins your tournament and use it to prepare you for the next one.

05/12/2020 by Mark Dizon

Hey Players,

I hope you are all home staying safe – and if you are on the frontlines, we thank you for your service to keeping us at home safe. It has been a crazy few weeks since Toronto Regionals, and all the subsequent events were postponed, and now we are at a point that it's been almost nine weeks. 9 weeks at home – no stores or tournaments to play in person. Pokemon has translated to the Online and we have big and small tournaments every weekend. Whether it is a giant Limitless Open or a Lesage Championship Series or a Neil Pie Sunday Open – it doesn't matter the timezone there is something for everyone. Old Formats – Current Formats and so much more.


I have been playing in a lot of tournaments. I saw some success in three straight tournaments, the medium league cup average of 20-40 people where I strung together three final appearances in a row. I have been streaming these events – I, unfortunately, went from an 0-2 start to a 4-2 comeback to a drop in the second Limitless Open and then destroyed myself personally in the most recent Lesage Championship Series. I have been streaming all my events to feel engaged and feel that I am at an actual Pokemon Event. I miss being able to talk to my friends and in between round banter – so I love being able to talk with chat during the tournament. Have my games been stream sniped? It's possible – but just because they know my hand – means they still have to beat me. This might be something I change in the future.

But let's get down to the nitty-gritty here. I made a colossal misplay this weekend. Could it be possible this wouldn't happen in physical Pokemon? Yes – however, so many things led to this misplay that could have avoided it. Often we blame the downfall on a tournament to luck, our bad luck – our opponent's good luck – but many games can be salvaged, and I want to go over factors I think about after a tournament as I try to digest – what I could have done better and what went wrong. Once we get over the salty part of losing a tournament – these are the questions we should be asking ourselves.




Deck Choice – This might be my biggest "leak" of all. A Leak in a card game player's repertoire is like a leak in a pipe. We all have leaks, things we can be doing better. We need to plug our leaks and this one might be my biggest one. I spent the days before looking to figure out what Mewtwo deck was best. I actually gave a player I coach a Pikarom list that they 3-0ed a local tourney online with. With that knowledge, I should have put some more time in Pikrarom. I gave myself the excuse that I have never done well with Pikarom and always draw atrociously with it. Of most main decks in the Ta Team format – Pikarom is one that I never found success with or enjoyed in testing. My student actually ended finishing second in the tournament, in a Pikarom mirror. I always err on the side of play what you know and something you are comfortable with. I can teach someone to play a deck and make tweaks, however, I am not a deck builder. So new formats are generally my worst times to play. I can do better once the meta has established and someone has broken it. My deck did not look like a bad choice – It was teched to be able to take a 50//50 vs. Dragapult and 50/50's against the field. In the future, my stall techs might come out as Dragapult and Pika should be able to push the control and stall decks out of the field. We all have to learn from our mistakes and leaks; however, this has been the hardest for me because even in certain bad matchups, familiarity and repetitions in a deck can give you an edge versus someone who net decked and picked up the deck for the first time.

Sleep- This is a big one. Quarantine has thrown off my sleep schedules, and this tournament was the fourth online tournament played with about four hours of sleep. Sustainability of your mind is not something that can last when you are not giving it a rest. I genuinely believe that not having an adequate sleep has caused me to lose equity points in the finals due to me not being able to make the best decisions. I think of your brain when playing tournaments as a fuel tank. Some rounds require you to use more of the gas in your fuel tank where some you expend less. Matchups that aren't favoured that you are trying to navigate to a win will generally use a lot more brainpower. Matchups that are favoured and that you can approach in an almost auto-pilot fashion – will deplete less from your tank. Streaming and interacting also use some fuel from your fuel tank. This is why I generally refuse to hear bad beat stories from friends at major tournaments; I don't want to use my fuel to think about how they got unlucky. Sleeping ensures that you have a full tank when you wake up. You also want to give yourself time to be fully awake before you start playing in a tournament so that your mind is ready to go as soon as you start playing. Some players win majors on no sleep – however, the sustainability of that for your average person seems that it isn't the way to go.


Rushing – Was I cocky? I don't think so. I was just so excited and rushed. In a physical TCG game, I doubt this could have happened to me. I was so happy to draw the card! I called for it too. If you look at my twitch clips – I have gotten lucky a lot. The big thing for me here is, I just went for it. The stream isn't even an excuse here because all I needed to do was take a pause. If I take a breather, ensure I am clicking the right thing – I doubt we lose this game and become a meme. Pokemon is a game of small percentage points that we are trying to push to win our games. When we get the luck percentage point and draw the card that we need exactly, it is essential to make sure we can find the correct play with it to ensure we can win. It's unfortunate, it happened, but we needed to move on for it. Another thing on rushing is making sure we are used to the PTCGO clock. It is much faster than real life. I would love to play 35 minutes best of one with no timer. It would give players the ability to take some more time and simulate a more real experience, however, I understand we have to play within the rule sets we are given. If I weren't rushing, I would have also known from my prizes that this was the last switch in my deck. I would have been able to properly ensure that I was making the correct play and not result in the outcome we all witnessed.

Compounding Misplays – This is a huge one. Do not let one misplay dictate further ones. I can remember my distinct misplay in round one vs. Dragapult. I should have used a cherish ball to put a Jirachi-GX on my bench immediately vs. Dragapult VMAX. Coupled with my opponent topdecking Marnie – Into Research – Into Mallow/Lana to dodge a Pale Moon GX – oops, sorry for the Bad Beat Story. However, putting everything into perspective that was so minute that I know for the future. Round 2 looked like a win but was snatched away from me, and I think my opponent just outplayed me and knew how to play his deck. Round 3 – My opponent was unlucky, and I donked them. Round 4, the game was close until the misplay. I also could have clear visioned on turn two. This misplay occurred because I was so tunnel-visioned on trying to Horror-House GX that turn that I missed the line with Latios GX, which chat also saw. It is so important not to let misplays from past games influence your future plays. Each play and each game in each round is its own game. Do not let the things compound on us like this. I mean, we are only human, and mentally it is easier said than done. However, to become a better player, these are all things we need to work on.


Learning – The most critical thing about misplays is learning from them and not making them over and over again. You won't always be able to dodge doing these things; however, by trying to make notes on them, it sets us up for success in the future. I make notes that I review afterward on misplays I have made. Some of them I have made over and over again. I generally do this not with just Pokemon and Magic, but also with team-based games such as Valorant, and task-based things in my job recruiting. Trying to be the best and most efficient we can be will bring us to the next level that we want to get too. Card games are hard. I can tell you that first hand. I wish it were easier for us, but I think learning and growth is one of the best experiences on the journey to be the best that you can.

Acceptance and Focusing on the Positives - Could my tournament have gone better? Yes. Could I have played better? Yes. Do any of us ever have a perfect tournament? The goal of the game is to be able to compete at your highest level. Sometimes, oftentimes the average joe and non-pro in us will fall short of achieving that goal. The most important part is to improve after every fall we have. Corny as it is - Alfred from "Batman Begins" is right. Why do we fall? So we can pick ourselves back up. Misplays will hurt more in your win and in. Adjusting how you are playing is essential. I took a long six-hour sleep after the misplay. I woke up, and let me tell you I cannot wait to go back at it again this weekend. 

I hope you all learned something today, even if this was a refresher for you. Level One has always been to help newer or casual players. I have a new series starting up on 60cards that will be Level Two. Level One will still be written, but Level Two will be behind a paywall and explore the more complex theory. I hope that you are enjoying Pokemon right now. The work you put in now will only prepare you for the future. For every person that isn't playing right now, you are getting game time and practice to get you ready. We are leveling up.

If you enjoy my content and want to interact with me, you can watch me play Pokemon on Twitch on Thursday Nights at 8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time and Saturdays for Online Tournaments at 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. You can join me at the Dojo at


I am the Sensei of your Dojo, Mark Dizon, and you stay safe out there.

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