The big day finally has arrived…. time for the best in the world to square off and battle for the best prizes that the Pokemon TCG has to offer. Before getting into the details of Logan’s day, let me point out that watching these matches, as a parent, is one of the hardest, most stressful things that we have ever experienced. My heart rate over the course of the day has swung back and forth to such extreme levels that I am surprised that I’m not writing this from a hospital bed. At this level, every player is so talented and the games almost always come down to the wire, often decided by the card drawn off the top, shuffling into the one card you need or even by a coin flip. The margin for error is non-existent and you need a little luck sometimes to push past the rest of the pack. Enough of all that… on to the days events.
As it turned out, the previous day’s Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) tournament only added 4 Juniors to the field, which surely was a huge disappointment for many of the hopefuls (most thought the top 8 would join… what factored into that final decision is unknown to us). The Junior division field consisted of 88 players from 25 different countries. That adds up to 7 rounds of “swiss” play today, followed by a top-16 playoff on Sunday. By past years standards, a record of 5-2 or better would most likely be needed to get into the top 16 (probably with a little help from tie-breaker resistance). Prizes would be awarded to the top 32, which as we saw last year can be reached with a 4-3 record (and a lot of help from the tie-breaker resistance).
Logan opened the day with Mexico’s #2 player (#41 in world), Kevin Caballero. This match quickly turned into PBS’s newest show, “Where In The World is Kevin Caballero?” Kevin did not show…. what?!?!?!? Late for the World Championships? Kevin never surfaced…. resulting in an easy opening round win for Logan. However, the eventual dropping of Kevin from the event by tournament officials was disastrous for Logan’s resistance, as the win is the equivalent of a win over a player with a 25% winning percentage. All we can say is that we hope Kevin is OK, wherever he may be.
Round 2 pitted Logan against fellow American, Sydney Morisoli, #5 in the US, #18 in the world. This match seemed to start a little slow for both players. However, once the prize exchange began, they stayed even down to the last turns. Logan had 2 prizes left, to Sydney’s 1. He needed a “PlusPower” to pull off the KO of her Darkrai EX w/Eviolite, but could not dig it out. She took out a benched Celebi grab the last prize and the game. Logan now stood at 1-1, a decent start but a strange road to get there already.
Round 3 matched Logan up with Jesper Eriksen, the #16 player in the world, hailing from Denmark. Jesper played “Hammer Time”, the deck made popular by its success at both the European and US Nationals. The best way to describe the deck (in my most humble opinion) is that it has become this format’s “Durant”. The deck relies on coin flips from the “Crushing Hammer” card to keep discarding energy and keep you from attacking. To sum this game up, Jesper hit on 4 of his first 6 “Hammers” and added in a “Lost Remover” to also discard one of Logan’s DCE’s, keeping Logan from attacking for most of the game. Logan took a prize, but that’s all he could manage before falling to 1-2 on the day. Logan was very frustrated after this game (as anyone would have been), especially knowing that he stood at the edge of elimination so early in the tournament. We pulled Logan aside and reminded him of all he did to get here and challenged him to throw everything he had at the field and fight his way back. We honestly feared that he was ready to “pack it in” for the day, but Logan reminded us what he is made of and decided to turn on the jets.
Round 4 found Logan face to face with Akito Shimoda from Japan. A Japanese player is typically not what you want to draw when trying to mount a comeback. Akito showed why, as he stormed out of the gates, taking 3 quick prizes. Logan responded by taking out a Raikou EX, an Eelektrik, a Terrakion and then a Mewtwo EX for the game (with Akito only needing 1 prize at the end). Logan, now 2-2, continued his charge into round 5 where he faced Daniel Perski from Sweden, who fought his way into the field in the previous day’s LCQ. Logan took and early lead in this game a was poised to sweep it. However, as he described, his opponent (as many at this age a prone to do), tried to “narrate” (or basically predict out loud) everything that Logan was doing on his turn. As we try to teach players at our league, this is a very dangerous habit to get into, as it is very disruptive to your opponent and it often leads to you getting caught off guard when your opponent does not do what you announced they were going to do. In this game, Logan played a “Random Receiver” which eventually revealed the supporter card “N”, which Logan showed to Daniel and then laid down while he shuffled as the “Receiver” requires. Daniel predicted falsely that Logan was playing it, so he immediately shuffled his hand into his deck. Logan told him that he was not playing it, but it was too late. Logan called a judge. In that situation, there is no way to undo what was done and return to the game-state. After a long conference among several judges and the head judge, the decision was official. Daniel was handed a game loss, awarding the game to Logan and taking him to 3-2. Rough break for Daniel, but it appeared that the results were likely headed towards the same end.
To follow such a strange win, what does Logan get? How about the #2 player in the world, Ethan Paguirigan from Canada. Ouch. At 3-2, this was a must-win game for Logan to continue his charge. Ethan turns over cards revealing that he is playing Darkrai EX. What does Logan start with…..a lone Mewtwo. Ouch, again. Logan avoids what could have been a disastrous start and begins to grind away. Ethan took 2 easy prizes off of Logan’s set-up guys, while continually hitting the Mewtwo, now on Logan’s bench. Logan played his deck to perfection, taking out a Darkrai for 2 prizes, followed by a Terrakion, a Shaymin and a Smeargle, leaving him with 1 prize left to take. The game went to time and then into the extra turns, with Ethan still needing to take 4 prizes. In extra turns, Ethan finally took out the benched Mewtwo for 2 prizes, leaving his undamaged Darkrai active with an “Eviolite”. Logan shuffled and then used a “Junk Arm” for a “PlusPower”, promoted his Terrakion and KO’d the EX to take the game. In perfect position at 4-2, Logan moved to table 6 to via for his first top cut at worlds.
Round 7, the final round, pitted Logan against Alex Schemanske from the US. Alex’s position entering the tournament was very similar to Logan’s. Their Championship Point totals were only 4 points apart (65 and 61) as was their world ranking (55 and 59). Like Logan, Alex upset several of the world’s top ranked players to reach his 4-2 record. Needless to say, this match would be one for the books. Alex played Mewtwo/Terrakion/Eels, a pretty even match-up for Logan’s deck. Logan started with a Tornadus EX, which Alex wore down and knocked out over 2 turns. Logan loaded up his Terrakions, taking 3 prizes with them while losing 2 along the way. As this game drew near the time limit, Logan still needed to take 3 prizes and Alex only needed 2. Logan held a Mewtwo EX and DCE in his hand, knowing he could take 2 in a turn but also realizing that doing so would give them game to Alex (who had 2 Mewtwo in play, both with multiple energies attached). Logan needed 1 more prize, then he could drop the Mewtwo and close the game out. Logan was faced with an opposing Terrakion with only 40 HP remaining, however his field consisted of only Smearge and Celebi. Here comes that craziest attempt to win that I have ever seen. Logan promotes Smeargle and attaches the DCE to power its attack (…I know….Smeargle has an attack? Right?). “Tail Rap”…… 2 coin flips with each heads worth 2o damage each. 1 flips heads….. the other…… tails. He misses the KO by 10 HP. Alex sends Mewtwo up and KO’s Smeargle, leaving him 1 prize to take. Logan is forced to drop his Mewtwo and return the KO and take 2 prizes, leaving him with 1 as well. Alex sends up his other Mewtwo and takes his last prize for the game. Wow! A whole seasons body of work comes down to a coin flip at worlds. How much can one person take! What a great battle… unfortunately not in Logan’s favor, dropping his record to 4-3 on the day.
The loss dropped Logan out of contention for the top 16. A win would have vaulted him from his 1-2 start right into the middle of the top 16, as Alex’s win placed him in 12th place (Logan would have likely landed in the same spot if he had won). Despite the loss, Logan was still excited as he (and we) were sure he would land well within the top 32 and earn a nice prize package. But wait, remember Round 1 and the no-show from Mexico? Well, the computer did. There were 22 players tied with 4-3 records, ranking from 22nd back to 44th. The 32nd place player’s tie-breaker was 52.55%. Thanks to the 25% thrown into Logan’s tie-breaker pool, Logan’s averaged out to be 50.51%, landing him in 38th place, just six spots out of the prizes. We did not think that was even possible, given the position he placed himself in, but the dropped opponent devastated his rating (and Logan…. and us). Logan played such an amazing tournament and battled back from impossible odds only to miss out on prizes for the 2nd straight year. Heartbreak is not a strong enough word. Last year the prize package was a Nintendo 3DS and 2 booster boxes (72 packs) of the newest set. We could not bear to wait around and find out what he could/should have won. We will find out tomorrow.
Logan did everything he could and played like a true champion. His never-say-never attitude and fighting spirit serve as true inspiration for us (and hopefully for all of you as well). The maturity he exhibits at his age still blows us away, especially on days like this. He is a competitor and true sportsman in every sense of the word and we are very, very proud of him. Thank you to all of you who followed him and cheered for him from afar. He returns home with some awesome goodies from the tournament and will hopefully pick up a few more tomorrow at the open leagues and pre-release tournament. As of tomorrow, Logan officially enters his first year as a Senior competitor, graduating from the Juniors with the close of this tournament. Check back later this week for our deck reports, including a crazy deck we almost played. See you next week at the Gym!