Ask Gym Leader Joel what his favorite movie is and without hesitation, he will tell you that it is “The Matrix”. So it follows, that his favorite movie line is, “…I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” This has special meaning for Joel, not only because it is from an incredible movie, but more so because his father said this same phrase, almost word for word, often to Joel as he grew up in the late 70’s/early 80’s, years before the film. His father’s point was to teach Joel that while he could guide him and offer advice, Joel had to decide things for himself, taking responsibility for his actions, but also feeling the true sense of accomplishment that only comes when you do something on your own. It is this same mantra that Joel lives by that was the driving force behind his creation at the Gym, the Gym Leader Challenge.
The decks used for challenges were built to showcase both how mono-type decks can use various abilities, items and combos to work together, as well as how you can take advantage of weakness in the TCG. We’ve seen many young players come after gym leader decks, often failing at first, but then coming back with improved decks until they eventually defeat a leader and earn a badge. The trainers that we’ve seen do this could not have hidden the excitement and satisfaction on their faces if you paid them to, nor should they have (and proud we are of all of them). Could any of our trainers just copy a good list and defeat a leader? Of course they could, and several have done so. With full blown tournament reports after every event and YouTube sites with videos of how to build and play lists that just won a big event, its not difficult to put something together that can win you a badge at the Gym. Emphasis on “win” as opposed to “earn”. You get a badge either way, the question is how do you get there.
The Fincastle Gym Leaders feel that building a deck to specifically counter something, even as basic as an energy type, is a strong exercise in becoming a better player. Even if it is a deck that you would never play in a tournament, or ever again for that matter, building it on your own, so that you know the purpose of every card in the deck gives you an insight that you don’t get from someone else’s list, even if you listen to them explain it over the course of a 30 minute video.
One of the Gym’s trainers in the Senior Division, Robbie F, appears to be taking steps from being a “net-decker” to becoming a strong individual player. As he earned his 1st 3 gym badges, we’ve seen him predict what he thought he might face and build decks with specific counters to those pokemon/combos. He has produced some of the most one-sided wins over gym leaders that we have seen to date. This past Sunday, Robbie came after Gym Leader Logan’s Darkness-type deck. His Manectric EX, Pyroar, Terrakion deck was a toolbox deck specifically tailored to attack Darkness types. A brief glance at the combination Robbie brought does not seem to showcase a lot of synergy. However, we did not build the deck, he did, and he knew exactly how to use what he put together.
Slow starts in both games by Gym Leader Logan were insurmountable, as Robbie was waiting with a counter to anything Logan did. Robbie defeated the Darkness deck in straight games, handing Logan only his 3rd loss ever as the Darkness leader. The win nets Robbie his 4th badge at the Gym. We at the Gym take no credit whatsoever for Robbie’s development. We provide the place the play and the environment to try out different decks and improve, or if you will, we provide “the door”. It is Robbie that is walking through it. The satisfying thing for us is to see someone that gets what we are trying to do and does not take the easy road. Great job, Robbie!
The Gym Leaders know that with Nationals fast approaching, many players are fine tuning their best decks (or feverishly watching YouTube for something they understand). However, we encourage anyone who plays the TCG to always keep a “fun” deck together. By “fun”, we suggest that you look at your collection and pick something that you want to try to use in a deck and do exactly that. Find cards that support it and put something together. Maybe it will work, maybe it will not. We think the real fun is in trying it out. It also doesn’t hurt to take a little break from serious play-testing.
We won’t be so pretentious as to making any claims about freeing your mind, or anything. As much as Gym Leader Joel would like to shave his head and wear those funky little glasses with no temples, we think it best that he holds off on that for now. However, we’re pretty confident in our position of knowing the path and walking the path. Our door is always open… where you go from there is a choice we leave to you. See you at the Gym!
TCG Gym Badges Earned (aka, The Wall of Fame):
- Austin W – Steel, Grass
- Tyler D – Lightning, Steel, Grass
- Chris L – Lightning, Fire
- James H – Psychic, Steel
- Tessa Y – Fire, Psychic, Grass, Lightning
- Angela Y – Lightning, Fighting, Psychic
- Dustin F – Psychic
- Brycen F – Psychic, Lightning, Fire, Grass, Darkness, Steel
- Troy B – Lightning
- Jordan L – Grass
- Hunter H – Grass, Darkness, Steel, Lightning, Psychic, Fighting, Water, Fire and Dragon
- Kelli B – Fire
- Eli T – Grass
- Isaac B – Steel
- Jeff D – Psychic, Fire
- Jacob A – Steel
- Alex D – Lightning, Grass
- Jacob V – Dragon
- Alan G – Fire
- Ryan N – Psychic
- Wesley H – Fire
- Alex T – Grass
- Rob C – Psychic, Water, Lightning
- Dean E – Grass, Fire
- Robbie F – Lightning, Grass, Psychic, Darkness
- Nathan S – Dragon
- Davis N – Lightning
*players in BOLD have won all 9 badges