The Fincastle Pokemon Gym Leaders have had an amazing week. We have spent the week exploring the islands and taking in all the sights. As this week drew to a close, we knew it was time to get down to business. For Logan, it is time to put the vacation mindset behind him and focus on the task at hand…. to take on the best in the world. For the rest of the Gym Leaders, it was time to dive into the field of hopefuls at the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) tournament on Friday morning. The LCQ is open to all who register and is a single-elimination tournament. The top 8 in each age division would gain entry into the main event on Saturday. The matches, unlike most events, were the best 2 of 3 for each round, increasing the likelihood that the better player advances and is not eliminated by a bad hand or a “donk”. Traditionally, countries with few automatic invitations (like Japan) send lots of very skilled players to the LCQ. After a lengthy wait to register, the “grinder” began the weekend’s festivities.
The Gym’s youngest entrant, Georgia, entered the field of 38 Juniors with an excellent chance to play in, needing to win 3 matches to reach the top 8. After cruising through round 1, Georgia took on Ishaan J (unsure of nationality) in the second round in a back and forth battle. Georgia jumped out and took the first game quickly, loading up a Mewtwo EX quickly and sweeping with it. Game 2 of the match flipped on Georgia, as Ishaan set up a turn one “Night Spear” on his Darkrai EX as he ran away with the game. Georgia described game 3 as “Epic”, as she and Ishaan both brought their best. They exchanged prizes over the first several turns. The match was evened at 2 prizes left for each player with Georgia setting in good position with her Mewtwo. However, Ishaan played down his own Mewtwo to take the last 2 prizes in one swoop. Georgia gave it a good run but lost a close one and was eliminated from the “grinder”.
Gym Leader Marthe did not get the international experience, as her 1st round match paired her with Chad D from Seattle. Chad played “Hammer Time”, the Darkrai EX deck that focuses on the “hammer” cards that discard energies from your opponent. Marthe got a full dose of the flurry of hammers, as Chad kept her at bay over both of their games. Marthe kept both games close, hitting on several “Super Scoop Ups” to remove damage and avoid key knockouts, but the energy advantage that Chad held was too much, as he took 2 games in a row to claim the match.
Gym Leader Joel opened with Kyara Takahashi from Japan. After Joel narrowly missed the “donk” on turn 1, Kyara blasted out of the gates, loading up a Mewtwo while keeping another ready to switch in with her bench full of Eelektrik. Kyara cruised through game 1 for a relatively easy win. Joel turned the tables in game 2, applying pressure early and taking out her Mewtwos before she could charge them up. Despite a decided advantage to Joel, she took a lot of the 60 minute time limit up trying to extend the game. However, Joel eventually took game 2 to force a game 3. On the 3rd turn of game 3, time was called and the two went into the plus 3 turns. Joel knocked out a Mewtwo for 2 prizes, which was followed by a return KO from Kyara for 2 prizes of her own. Joel caught a benched Raikou EX and knocked it out to end the game and the match. Onto round 2.
In round 2, Joel faced Milena Rehackova from the Czech Republic. She flipped over cards indicating that she was playing a Darkrai EX deck, which is a good match-up for Joel’s deck. However, Joel’s deck went into “malfuntion mode” as nothing seemed to come at the right time in game 1. Down 4 prizes without taking any, Joel scooped game 1 to save time and try to pull off another come from behind match victory. Game 2 started slowly for each player, with Joel gaining an early lead. Milena battled back, but Joel was a “PlusPower” away from ending the game with 1 prize left (as she had an “Eviolite” saving her Darkrai from the KO). Milena “top-decked” a “Pokemon Catcher” on her next turn and pulled up a damaged EX from Joel’s bench to take her last 2 prizes, winning game 2 and the match.
Joel’s loss wrapped up the day for the Gym hopefuls. Everyone played well and had fun battling through some very tough matches. Gym Leader Logan spent the day in the open gaming room testing his skills against several Masters players and getting a feel for some of the deck that he will likely see on Saturday. Then all of the family entered the open league play room and spent the afternoon playing pick-up games with a variety of players. Notably in league play, Joel took his Fighting-type Gym Leader deck and won five straight games, with wins over Masters Qualifiers from Australia, Brazil and Japan….. perhaps that was the deck to enter into the grinder as all of his opponents struggled on how to approach the deck. Oh well, that’s the game at the moment… the right deck on the right day makes all the difference.
Saturday, the attention turns to Logan. He is playing well and making excellent decisions. Check back tomorrow and see how his day goes. We are all very excited and ready to cheer him on. See you then!