In a year of many firsts for the Fincastle Pokemon Gym, we have reached another one that we did not recognize until our time in San Francisco watching Georgia and Logan compete against the best players in the world. The 2016-17 season will be the 1st time since we have been involved with the game that we do not have a competitor of our own in the Junior Division. The Junior Division has been very good to the gym leaders as both Logan and Georgia quickly became dominant forces in the Juniors during their respective years within those ranks. Beginning with Gym Leader Logan and the 1st scholarship that he won as a Regional Champion, the siblings have amassed a collection of “goodies” (like mats, hats, plushes, deck boxes, backpacks and more booster packs that we can account for) and cash travel allowances that given them a leg up on saving for the future. As Georgia graduates into the Senior Division this year, the rewards have grown to even higher numbers, leaving us wishing that we had another Junior. A spark went off in Gym Leader Joel’s head as he watched Georgia dominate her American opponents and battle down to the wire against 3 of Japan’s top finishers at Worlds (and no, we’re not adopting a child to compete… although his idea is along those lines).
Since the Gym began, we have had a number of talented Junior Division players play at our league. While several of them have had flashes of success, those results have been limited by a variety of factors. New players at our league often do not have access to the card base to make the decks that would allow them to compete at the highest levels. They also tend to be less aware of the spectrum of decks that they might face at major tournaments. Now, more than ever, the meta game shifts drastically, meaning that a deck that may be strong at one point in a season, may not stand a chance later in that same season. Depending on the age and skill level of the Junior, some deck strategies are too complicated for them to play well. There are plenty of decks in the format at the moment that Master Division players “misplay” severely, a tendency that only magnifies when that deck is put in the hands of a younger player.
The other major factor that separates players in the Junior Division is playing experience. Gym Leaders Georgia and Logan are exceptional kids and students, but they do not possess a secret ability to play cards and form strategies. For the same reasons that one cannot just pick up a racquet and become a tennis star, or pick up a golf club and enter the PGA tour, or don a leotard and compete on the US Olympic gymnastics team, one cannot pick up a deck and win Worlds with it. Georgia and Logan have earned every dollar they’ve made playing the TCG, by practicing and play testing. They both have extensive experience playing in the most stressful situations, as both players have won Regional Championships with crowds gathers around, watching every play on every turn. They have both faced must win matches at every level, including Worlds, and they know what it feels like to be on the winning and losing end of such matches. Imagine, at 11 years old, comprehending that you were 1 turn away from a chance to win $25,000. That’s a little heavier than missing a free-throw in a rec league game.
We love those scenarios and Georgia and Logan embrace them… for as much as we expect the best from them, they expect more from themselves. Now, with all of that being said, let’s get back to the spark Joel had before it fizzles out. This year presents a great opportunity in more way than one. In addition to our own interests being clear of the Junior Division, this season will bring the biggest Pokemon event that Roanoke has ever seen. For those of you who have not heard, Gym Leader Marthe, in conjunction with fellow PTO’s David and Pam Tuskey, is organizing the Roanoke Regional Championship. The Roanoke Regional will be held in our own back yard, at the Roanoke Civic Center, over the weekend of May 6, 2017. This will include both the TCG and VG Championship event, as well as many side events and activities, in addition to an ever-growing list of vendors that we hope will add a “con” type atmosphere to the event. We could not think of a better time than this season to share our insight and experience with competitive play with interested Juniors who attend our league. Thus. we give you, Hee-Haw’s Generals.
If you’re going to join a team, 1st you need to know the name. For those not familiar with the VG community, understand this… no matter how good you may or may not be at the Video Game, you have to have a cool nickname. Gym Leader Joel has been playing under the mantra of “Hee-Haw” since his 1st Nintendo DS purchased back with the release of Pokemon Black & White. Hee-Haw has not gained the VG notoriety on (or even near) the level of “Wolfey” or “Cybertron”, but he and his teams have at least been able to surprise a few players and create some close finishes (very few of which end of in Hee-Haw’s favor). However, Hee-Haw has been able to help Georgia with the construction of several teams that carried her to her 1st VG World Championship invitation.
So, that’s where Hee-Haw comes from… now a little about the Generals. Both Gym Leaders Joel and Marthe are graduates of Washington & Lee University, who are, of course, the Generals. Washington & Lee, a private university, is a traditional southern school that sports an excellent national reputation for its commerce, journalism and law schools. More importantly for us, it is a school based on honor, as it remains one of the few schools in the country that maintains its student-governed Honor System in an educational climate that has driven such systems away under the cloak of political correctness. The short version of the Honor System is this… if you lie, cheat or steal, you are tried by a council of fellow students and if found guilty… you’re gone, expelled with no other recourse than to enroll elsewhere. Joel and Marthe are proud alumni that actively support W&L in any way that they can. All of the basketball and baseball teams that Joel has coached over the years have carried the Generals name and our 1st pokemon league team will continue that tradition.
Hee-Haw’s Generals will represent both aspects of that name. Hee-Haw plays to have fun and our team of Juniors will play with that as their main goal. Hee-Haw’s view is pretty simple, if you are having fun, then you are winning more than half of the battle. By joining the Generals, you are agreeing to comport yourself with honor as any good southern gentleman or lady would. Those same guidelines that govern a student at Washington and Lee go for any participating as one of Hee-Haw’s Generals, no lying, cheating or stealing. Pretty simple rules… but it’s amazing how simple any decisions you have to make become when you approach them with those rules in mind. And we will enforce them just as they do on campus.
Here’s how the Generals will work. Any Junior-aged player that comes to the Gym, for either the VG or the TCG, will be eligible, and like our league, there is no cost to join. If you are a new player, we suggest that you simply learn to play and battle as much as you can against any and every one at league. If you find that you enjoy matches and are interested in becoming more competitive, talk to Gym Leaders Joel and Marthe. What we are offering is to assess where you are as a player and help you build competitive decks, with lists of our own and with insight from decks that other players have done well with at organized events. We can show you a variety of different types and styles of decks and how they work. With that knowledge and a little advice from us about the meta game at the time, you can choose the deck that you want to learn. We will help refine the lists, work out any kinks, improve consistency and if needed, tailor the list to your play-style. Our #1 goal will be to have our team members firing on all cylinders by the time our Regional tournament hits in May 2017. By that time, we hope the Generals will have a strong base that can continue into the next season.
We’re sure that the next question on your mind is this: “What if I don’t have the cards to make the deck?” That’s part of being on a team. While you are learning, we will provide proxy versions of the cards that you don’t have so that you can practice at league and at home with the deck. When an event that you want to compete in comes around, if you have not built your own copy, we will provide the real deck, deck list, sleeves and all at the beginning of the event for you to use. Of course, when the event is complete, then you simply turn the deck back into the Gym Leaders.
It’s just like checking out a book at the library. We expect you to take care of the deck and respect the property that we are lending you. But just like a library, there is no cost to you. Anything you win at the event is yours. The only thing that we will do after an event is to brag on you on this site if you do well. We can’t make you any guarantees that you will have the same success that Georgia and Logan have experienced. The Junior Division has become insanely competitive, especially at large events. We never know how any of us will fare at a tournament until its underway. The only thing that we can control is that we arrive with a competitive deck that we know how to play well. From there, it’s in your hands… literally.
As this will be the Gym’s 1st foray into managing a team, we obviously will have a few kinks to work out. The biggest stumbling block that we foresee is our own card supply. Depending on the response, we may have to limit the number of Juniors we support. We will help everyone that is interested, but there may have to be a limited number of official teams spots. If those numbers don’t match up, then we will first make calls based off of where we assess your skill level and ability to endure a long event. The location of a particular event may also determine who represents the Gym. If your parents can’t get you to the event, then you obviously can’t represent the Gym. Once those assessments are made, if we still have a large number of players available (which we hope we will), then we will hold some sort of play-off at league to determine who gets the spots. We are not sure how many official spots we will open at the moment, but our goal is to have the cards and decks for 3 Generals.
Don’t forget the VG. Those who wish to compete in the VG events may also become Generals. The VG arena may prove easier to support team members, depending on where the VG format goes when Sun & Moon come out. With the exception of legendary characters, our team of VG gurus can breed competitive pokemon quickly with proper stats and moves, which would be VG team members that you can just keep. The biggest unknowns for the Gym are the 2016-17 VGC tournament structure (still waiting for details from Play!Pokemon) and what the format will be after the new games are released. Right now the format is dominated by a small group of powerful legendary characters (like Xerneas, Primal Kyogre/Groudon, Mega Rayquaza) and a small handful of support characters. That is very likely to change with the new game. Any VG Junior wishing to join Hee-Haw’s Generals can get started by looking at and practicing current popular teams until we hear where the new game will take us.
Our idea for the Generals will grow as this and future seasons progress. We can’t foresee any needed changes until we get the team started and observe what we may need to adjust. We hope that however big our concept gets this year, that we only can make it bigger and better in the years that follow. Gym Leader Georgia is even designing a team logo, that we plan to get onto a team shirt later this season. We plan to submit a local media article that will follow this announcement in the very near future. If you’ve ever thought about getting into the Pokemon TCG or VG, we cannot envision anytime better than right now. Come by and join the inaugural team of Hee-Haw’s Generals. We can’t wait to get started! See you soon at the Gym!