We know that it probably seems that we’ve forgotten about Pokemon if you tally our recent posts here over the last several weeks. Far from it, our friends. The Fincastle Gym has had its proverbial nose to the grindstone as we enter the sometimes hideous Expanded Format that accompanies the Winter Regionals series. We’ve been busy shifting deck builds to fit the Expanded mold, as well as EV training and breeding VG characters to adjust to the new Legendaries-included format. All of this comes as rec league basketball seasons conclude and Gym Leader Logan’s robotics season hits its critical stretch. Oh yeah, and in the midst of all of that, Gym Leader Marthe had to organize and run the Virginia Regional VG event. We get tired just thinking about it. The work has been worth it though, as our Gym Leaders, despite having limited time to even think about anything Pokemon, had strong showings at the Virginia Regionals. Gym Leader Georgia’s success has broken new ground at the Fincastle Gym. Here’s a little detail.
Last season, Gym Leader Georgia did not put in the early work needed to get her invitation to the TCG World Championships. By the time she realized she needed to hunker down, it was too late. During the final events of the 2015 season, Georgia was hurt by low attendance at events (top cutting twice without receiving any points) and by Juniors parents that taught their children how to ID their way to success. Lesson learned… control your own fate. Georgia has taken control this season. Having already earned her invitation to the 2016 TCG World Championships, she entered the Virginia Regionals TCG event on Saturday with an oldie but a goodie (Plasma Kyurem) and piloted it to a 4-2 record and a 16th place finish (points only to top 8 thanks to another low Juniors turnout of 53 players). No worries, as she had fun playing a deck that earned her a Regional Championship 2 years ago.
On Sunday, Georgia entered the VG event with a team that we put together on Thursday night of that week. Thanks to the addition of the Gym’s VG Gym Leaders Dean and Noah, Georgia, as well as her dear old dad (that’s me), have a much better grasp on the VG format. Our increased enlightenment on all things VG make modifying teams and strategies much easier to do. Georgia opened with a loss, and then went on a tear, battling her way into her 2nd Regional top 8 of the season. Georgia fell to the #2 seed, as down to 1 Pokemon each, she had only access to Water and Lightning moves against a wounded Primal Groudon with “Harsh Sun” in play (checkmate).
Despite the close loss, the top 8 finish earned Georgia her invitation to the VG World Championships. Not only is Georgia is the 1st player ever at the Fincastle Pokemon Gym to earn an invitation to Worlds in the VG, she is also the 1st ever to earn invitations to both the TCG and VG championships in the same year. We guess that, in a way, that does create an interesting problem to address when the event gets here. However, it is a problem of abundances, which is the right kind of problem to have in our book.
Speaking of throwing something together at the last minute… Gym Leader Logan was also in the hunt at the Virginia Regionals. As Logan’s high school years proceed, one thing that has become obvious is that he does not have time for Pokemon right now. When Logan hits driving age, we can’t see that situation improving very much. Play testing for Logan has basically become talking briefly about an idea with Gym Leader Joel, Joel building it on the PTCGO and trying it out and then reporting back how it worked. Maybe 1 out of 15 of those decks will actually see card form and if we aren’t crazy about them, they don’t stay real decks for long. For Regionals, we talked out a deck that Joel tested and eventually built, only to play it a few times and scrap. That left Logan rethinking what to do as late as the Wednesday before the event. We went back to an older deck and made some mods and that was all we had time for. For Logan, it was a “drive as deep as you can with what we’ve got” approach to this TCG tournament.
Logan’s performance reminded us why we started the Gym in the 1st place. Logan is a very skilled strategist and a calm thinker under fire. Looking at most of his match-ups on paper, you’d likely predict an 2-5 day. Logan outplayed opponent after opponent, finishing the day with a 4-2-1 record. He did miss the top cut of 8, however, championship points went out to the top 16 Seniors. The top 16 finish put Logan within striking distance of his own World’s invitation. He knows he’s not there yet, and an invite is properly placed in order behind his other commitments. However, an invite would be a sweet addition to his list of accomplishments, especially since we know we’re going with Georgia anyway. We shall see.
The highlight of Gym Leader Joel’s weekend was the fried twinkie from the concession stand. That was one amazing twinkie. He actually started the TCG day in good fashion, going 2-0 and landing at table 4 where he lost a close match. Unfortunately, round 4 pitted him against a slow playing Master playing Seismitoad. He lost 2 close but very frustrating games which resulted in his temporary filter loss, which resulted in an “unsportsman-like” penalty that was well-deserved (believe me) and game loss for round 5. He played rounds 5 and 6 before dropping, as his day was decided.
Here is one interesting observation that may or may not be of use to anyone attending future Expanded events. Joel played in the main event and several side events on Sunday. All told, he played somewhere around 18 games for the weekend. One of the enjoyable aspects of playing a TCG is being able to meet someone new, strike up a conversation and engage in a battle of wits. The only games in which Joel sat down across from an opponent who sat there in silence, looking down or away, making no attempt at any friendly exchange, were interestingly enough, all games where his opponent flipped over Seismitoad/Giratina/SSU/Hammers/etc. Now why could that be? Coincidence? Maybe. Joel’s extremely hairy and possibly frightening appearance? Could be. Or could it be that when you go to an event with a jackass deck that is completely aimed at aggravating your opponent, that you know it’s not going to end on good terms and that on some level you are ashamed of yourself for being such a jerk? Ding, ding, ding, ding. Hey, it is what it is.
We continue to stand by our stance that the printing of Seismitoad EX is the worst mistake that Pokemon has ever made. So much skill and strategy, all gone by attaching a single energy card… and yeah, we know there are ways around it, we just hate that you are faced with a choice of playing something like that, or having to build your deck to handle something like that, or just auto-losing against it. What is most unfortunate is that anyone new to the game that plays in their 1st big tournament only to face garbage like that (or Sableye/Garbodor) all day is not likely to stick with this game long. At any rate, if you see that “please don’t hit/hate me” face across from you in future events, I’d say you can take a pretty good guess at what you are about to play against. Descent from soapbox now complete.
We are back at the Gym at our regular time this Sunday. Come on by and play either TCG or VG, or both. See you at the Gym!