Experts' corner

Frank Percic

New Year New Me: some quick tips for reaching that next level in competetive play

01/11/2019 by Frank Percic

Hello again 60cards readers and welcome to a somewhat different article. With 2018 coming to a close, the new year presents a time to reflect on what is to come. At the beginning of this season so much has happened. Most notably my friend and teammate Jimmy Pendarvis has slowly begun to solidify himself as one of the best players in the modern era of pokemon with 3 consecutive regional championships, a feat that I thought impossible and one that may never be repeated. Lost Thunder has somewhat reinvigorated the game with cards powerful cards such as Ninetales GX being prevalent in many decks. One thing of recent debate is the overwhelming power of Zoroark GX. After winning every single major event this season and supplementary cards like Lusamine and Oranguru to allow infinite resources, many have called for the banning of this card. What Zoroark's fate for 2019 will be is beyond me. However, I think the most important thing for any player in this new year is to live up to your full potential. So, rather than writing about a deck, upcoming tournament, or controversy surrounding a card. I would like to end 2018 with some new year's resolutions, in hopes to teach each person reading this how to be a better player overall.

Set good goals

The first thing I want to lead off with is some personal goals of mine. When attempting to succeed it is important to set healthy and realistic goals. So, what you should take away from this section is how to properly and healthily set your own personal goals. Personally, I would like to see the following for myself in 2019.
1: top 8 a regional
2: Make day 2 at the world championship
3: Popularize a deck

Breaking down just the first one, I would like to talk about how to set good goals. Since my first and only top8, I have been thirsting for another strong finish at a major event. Especially a regional. I came so close last season with a 9th place finish and feel like I can again find myself in top8, and hopefully the finals. I set this goal as I knew it would be something I would have to work at, but not something out of my reach. I have consistently been able to make day 2 at multiple regionals and have once before made top8. So setting another top8 in my sights seemed reasonable enough. Achieving this for me has not been something very consistent, so I know I will have to work for it, but also not something impossible as I have done it before. When setting your goals your parameters have been similar. If you top8 your cups often but have yet to win, make it a goal to finally get that championship matt. If you have made day 2 at a regional or 2 but find it hard to do that often, make it a goal to have multiple day 2s this season. Your goals can be as simple as a certain placement, doing well in the expanded format, or even something as simple as listening to more Pokemon TCG podcasts. Veer your goals in whatever direction you can see yourself in. Be wary as to not make it too easy. If you often win cups in your area don't set the goal of just winning another league cup. Similarly, try not to be too lofty either. If you have yet to play in a regional championship, don't make your goal to win the very first one you play in. Strive for the closest benchmark to you and then continually move forward. Last season my goals were to earn my invite to the 2018 world championships and to day 2 my first regional. Eventually, I was able to do that in November of the season so I again set my sights on something more difficult in the form of a top 8, and eventually a day 2 invite to the world championships. When setting my goals in that season, never would I have expected myself to be in the top16 players of North America. However, I kept on setting realistic reachable goals to fulfill until I eventually found these feats within my reach.

Make new friends

New Year's resolutions and getting better at pokemon isn't just about wanting to do better. There is a lot of training involved in achieving success within the game. Many hours of thought and practice go into winning an event small or large. However, there are some things that can help. Firstly, having friends to help you in the game is a huge benefit. Having multiple brains working on ideas and sharing knowledge is far more powerful than just going on your lonesome. Not only this, but having someone else to play against, correct your mistakes, and help you to improve is much better than learning the hard way. Someone once told me “I try to always test with players that are better than myself” and that is something that really stuck with me. Personally, I feel like u had a very fast track to success within this game. This was due to a large part to the fact that many great players included me very early on in my Pokemon career. After my very first tournament Athavan Balendren, one of the best players in my area, invited me over to play and spent a great deal of his time teaching me how to improve my game, whether it was playing the proper card at the right time or just building my deck more efficiently, I quickly learned through him how to compete on a more serious level. Something that probably would have taken months to do on my own. Soon after, I found myself crafting, playing, and learning from players like Andrew Mahone, Travis Nunlist, Phinn Lynch, Igor Costa, and Jimmy Pendarvis, all of whom many consider top tier and still have far more achievements than I. After just 2 months of playing, players like these were indirectly lending me so many smarts through not only playing with me but allowing me to observe and mentally take note of what I could do to be better. Therefore, everyone's resolution this year should be to make some new friends. You never know what ideas and skills you'll garner from having a new set of eyes and ears in your circle.

Play more

One of the biggest things for me and pokemon has been a trial and error type of success. I have competed in more events than I can care to found and traveled a number of miles that I do not want to think about. The biggest thing I have noticed is that with each event I learn something entirely new, especially early on in my playing. Some great advice that I can hope to give to anyone who is serious about improving and becoming more professional in their pokemon endeavors is to just get yourself out to more big events. Playing in my second regional, I thought that I would be destined to do well. However, I did not understand the power of the clock. Ending at 3-3-3, I found many of my opponents slowing their gameplay in order to win or tie in their favor. Knowing when to pick up the cards and move to the next game in a best of 3 formats is something I hadn’t needed to know until that point. Yet, I learned the hard way that it was something I would have to work on. A few months later i found myself finishing with a 6-3 record not even close to having a tie in any of my rounds. Clock management is just one example of the many things that I have learned along the way this far, and almost all of these lessons have come in the form of 9 rounds best of 3. The more comfortable and acclimated you are to playing in tournaments the more prepared you can be. So a great resolution would be to play in more events when trying to be a better player.

Find meaning

Some resolutions outside of pokemon may seek to find the meaning in one's life. However, that isn't exactly what I'm getting at. One thing that I always say in my private coaching sessions, is to find the reasoning or “meaning” when performing an action. A perfect example would be: you (player A) attach a tool card to your active Pokemon and then pass the turn, player be then removes said tool on their turn before passing to you and on this following turn you now need the tool that was just discarded. There was no meaning in attaching that tool. You just did it because it was a card in your hand that was available for play, but did it get any use? Another example would be. Player A uses field blower to get rid of a stadium in play that does not affect the board state. On the following turn player B attaches a tool card that completely shuts off player A's main strategy. Player A now has no way to remove said tool. Had the player in that scenario actually used their card with purpose rather than just playing it for the heck of it, they would be much better off. Simple mistakes like these happen all the time not only in these simple blurbs, but also in even more complex instances than what I had created. Things like using supporters for a draw and then not having enough later, or attaching energy and then not having one in a needed time. The quickest and most simple way to improve your game and fix the habit of playing cards at poor times is to simply ask yourself “how much use am I getting out if this?” by taking the time to think about your actions you will eventually form healthy in-game habits that will be done without much thought at all. When going to attach a tool, are you immediately getting the intended effect, or can you wait until you actually NEED it. Play a few games, and with each action ask if the card you are playing is using its full potential. I guarantee you will find errors in your game and immediately improve upon them.

Have fun

Okay, sorry that this is pretty cheesy and lame. But seriously, there's a good point in this. One thing that I’d learned after a grueling season of booking flights and hotels, missing school and work, sometimes all for nothing, is that the fun of the game can ultimately become lost in the competitive nature of cash prizing. I found, for a long time, difficulties enjoying playing pokemon and distinguishing my friends in the game when it came to treating one another well when it came to things other than pokemon. At the end of the day, everyone needs to realize how unique and special this hobby is that we all share and that it is important to appreciate the social aspects of it, rather than the competitive ones. While winning can be fun, it is never worth mistreating people, and especially not mistreating yourself or your mental health.

Thank you, everyone, for reading this article and I hope that you can gain something from it. Whether you see this as a quick reality check or have picked up some important skills in both goal setting and changing your style of play, I am glad to contribute something to better the community that has been so generous to me. This has been but a brief scratch in the surface of improving your own game, but I’ve tried to keep it as general as possible since each individual person has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. If you would like to further explore how to improve your game on a more personal level I am now reopening my coaching services this new year. Feel free to message me on twitter @pokepercic or find me on facebook.

Good luck and I hope you reach all of your goals in 2019!!

[+20] okko


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