We’re working on a nickname… something that fits nicely with someone who continually breaks new grounds… maybe something do with earthquakes… I dunno, the “Quaker” sounds too 1600’s. Like we said, we’re working on it. Whatever it ends up being, it will be a name that Gym Leader Georgia has earned… and then some. Not only is she the first player from the Fincastle Pokemon Gym to earn World Championship invitations to both the TCG and VG competitions, Georgia now holds the claim of earning the highest finish at the National Championships by a player from the Gym. Georgia battled her way out of a deep hole, twice, this weekend and narrowly missed the Top 8 finals (which were locked quickly as all 8 players used “intentional draws” over the last 2 rounds to get in). For her efforts, Georgia picks up another 100 Championship Points, $1000 more in prize money and 2 booster boxes of cards. Not a bad weekend’s work.
The 2016 National Championships had another massive turnout. The TCG event alone drew nearly 1600 competitors (we did not see any numbers yet on the VG side, but that side of the hall looked to be packed). By division, there were 1105 Masters (divided into 2 flights, Blue and Orange), 300 Seniors and 186 Juniors. Masters played 9 rounds, cutting to a Top 32 in each flight that would return to compete to gain entry into a Top 8 playoff. Seniors also played 9 rounds with the same conditions. Juniors played 8 rounds, again cutting to a Top 32 that would compete again on Saturday for the Top 8. All rounds were in the 75 minute, best 2 of 3 format. If any of you watched any of the matches that were on live streams on Pokemon.com, you likely saw Gym Leader Marthe, as she judged several of them.
As Friday’s competition began, Georgia started the day in a strong fashion by staying undefeated over the opening 2 rounds. Things got a little bumpy as lunch time approached. Georgia took a sketchy tie, then followed with 2 straight losses to level her record out at 2 wins, 2 losses and a tie. In game 3 of the tie, in which Georgia was leading by prizes, Georgia did 100 damage to a 100 HP Garbodor w/a “Fury Belt” attached, which was a KO, but her opponent convinced her that it had the additional 40 HP that the “Belt” only grants to Basics, allowing her to not give up the prize card and keep the ability lock on long enough to avoid losing game 3 of that match (guess Georgia was thinking a little too much about lunch). Thanks to that SNAFU, Georgia’s prospects were not looking so great. At least not until she put together a string of 3 straight wins to close the day at 5 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie (5-2-1). As her tie and losses all came from top ranked opponents, Georgia’s tie-breaker resistance was very strong (60.68%) and she found herself in 32nd place after Day 1, all that was necessary to return for another bout of swiss rounds on Saturday with the Top 32.
Georgia opened Saturday’s rounds with an easy 2-0 win over a Night March deck. She followed that with a loss to Seismitoad/Darkrai/Garbodor in round 2. Georgia won the opening game of round 3 against a Houndoom mill deck, then decked out in each of the next 2 games to lose round 3 (she needed one more turn of attacks in each of those games to win). With a Day 2 record 0f 1-2, Georgia was likely out of contention for the Top 8 playoff, as we knew the parents of the undefeated players would soon step in and have their kids start ID’ing (intentionally drawing). This did not deter Georgia, as she dug in and battled on. She wrecked a Greninja deck in straight games to win round 4. In the final round, she faced a Zygarde/Lucario deck, the only Fighting-type deck she faced on either day. She ran out to an early lead and eventual win in game 1 of the match. However, her opponent (Vince???) returned the favor and took a quick game 2 victory. In a deadlocked game 3, Georgia took her last 2 prizes with a “Mind Jack” KO on a Lucario EX that looked to be in a position to win the game for her opponent. The win ran her Day 2 record to 3-2, landing her in 11th place, the Gym’s highest finish to date!
Gym Leader Joel joined Georgia by battling to his best finish ever at Nationals in the Masters Division. Joel opened with 2-0 match wins over Manectric/Garbodor and Darkrai/Giratina, 2 very popular decks at this years event. He tied a Manectric/Maxie’s Gallade deck in round 3. He followed the tie with 2-0 wins over Seismitoad/Yvetal/Gallade and Vespiquen/Garbodor in the next 2 rounds to push his record to 4 wins, 0 losses and 1 tie (4-0-1). Joel’s only misplay of the tournament cost him a round 6 win, as, after crushing a “Fairy box” deck in game 1, he also had game 2 in hand. However, fearing the “item lock” from his opponent’s Seisitoad EX, he used “VS Seeker” to pull a “Lysandre” out of his discard pile to hold until needed. However, it was lost to an “N” shuffle. 2 turns later, with the winning KO on his opponent’s (Stefan ???) bench, he drew the “VS Seeker” needed but there was now no “Lysandre” to retrieve. His opponent took a KO in turn 3 of the “plus-3” turns to steal game 2 and force a tie. Still at 4-0-2, he still had a clear path to the top 32.
We don’t know what happens to decks as they are repeatedly shuffled and how they end up in the state that they do, but Joel intends to do a little reading into strategies on that topic. In Round 7, against “Night March”, a deck that he had been waiting to thrash all day, his deck did the improbable. Over the entire 3 game match (as he somehow squeaked out a win in game 2), he never saw/drew a draw-support card, or any way to get one. No Shaymin EX, no Hoopa EX, no “Ultra Ball”, no “Trainers’ Mail”, no “N”, no “Sycamore”. The only Supporter in hand over 3 games was a “Hex Maniac”. How is that possible? We’d love to get a statistician to run some numbers on that one, as that has to be approaching lottery winning odds. The Round 7 loss was not day ending, but it was not kind, as it sent him to play Dylan Bryan in Round 8 and his Vespiquen/Vileplume deck. As his opponent was hitting for 180+ by turn 2 in both games, Joel could not do much more than watch him take the match in straight games. Joel recovered for another 2-0 match win in Round 9 over a Genesect EX/Bronzong deck that put up a good fight, but could not counter Joel’s deck. When all was said and done, Joel finished in 79th place in the Blue Flight with a record of 5-2-2.
Gym Leader Logan looked to be on the same path as Georgia and Joel early on, as he burst out of the gates, running his record to 3-1-1 over the 1st 5 rounds. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off for Logan and the afternoon stretched on. He lost his final 4 rounds, which were plagued by a combination of bad match-ups and errors that were spawned out of increasing frustration, as his deck struggled with consistency all afternoon. We think everyone that has played this game for a while knows what its like to have a tournament like that, how each thing builds on the last and how hard it is to play out of that kind of day. Logan never really settled into a comfort level with a deck in the weeks prior to Nats and with the benefit of hindsight, probably chose the wrong deck (Gym Leader Joel takes credit for that one). He has plenty of time to recover and prepare for Worlds.
Several other Gym trainers and Roanoke area players were also in the mix this weekend. We don’t know if Hunter H’s day exactly mirrored Joel’s or not (as he was in the Master’s Orange Flight while Joel competed in the Blue Flight), but they ended up in about the same place. Hunter finished in 76th place with a record of 5-2-2. While they both had excellent performances, both Hunter and Joel could not help but be disappointed by being so close to making it into the Top 32. Robbie F felt the same pain, as a last round loss landed him in 76th place in the Senior Division, with a record of 5-3-1, an excellent mark for his 1st Nationals. A win would have placed Robbie very close to, if not in, the Top 32. Either way, all 3 of them should be proud of their very strong performances.
We will have to wait until the weekend shakes out to see if Georgia will land in the Top 16 TCG Juniors in North America. The points earned this weekend will put her dangerously close. If she lands there, Georgia will gain automatic entry into Day 2 of the World Championships in San Francisco. Either way, both Gym Leaders Logan and Georgia have secured their invitations to the World Championships and can start fine tuning their decks for event. We think we once heard some one say that they preferred to play elsewhere (rather than at the Gym), as they did not think we were a competitive place to play. Let’s see, after a season with more City, State and Regional Championship titles and top finishes than we have time to research at the moment, a Nationals Top 16 finish, 2 World Championships TCG invitations and 1 VG invitation, we think whoever said that may want to step back and smell what the Rock is cooking, so says I. See you at the Gym!
*** Yes, we know that Pokemon announced the rotation for the upcoming 2016-2017 season today and we have our annual article ready to post. However, we’re not going to detract from Georgia’s accomplishment by posting it now. Check back on Tuesday, as we will post it then. Check back soon!