One of the first ideas that came to Gym Leader Joel upon learning in July of 2016 that we would host and organize Roanoke’s first-ever Regional Championships event was to develop a program to prepare trainers from our leagues for the tournament. Joel outlined the details for Hee-Haw’s Generals, the Fincastle Pokemon Gym’s juniors team, shortly after and waited for the response. And waited, and waited… and waited. The service that the Gym is offering is the same that many pay-to-view deck sites offer, for a fee of course, with one big difference. Our service does not cost a dime. We have several promising TCG prospects that are perhaps a bit young (5 & 6) for a day-long tournament. However, we did get a video game trainer who wanted to give the Regionals a whirl. While we feared that our first taker jumped in the game a little too late to properly prepare for the event, Gym Leaders Dean, Noah and Joel scrambled to help him gather a team together and then put the rest in his hands. Ridge R, now known to us as “The First General”, showed what a quick study he is. Ridge stepped up, practiced with his team and at the Blue Ridge Regional Video Game Championship, claimed 4th place, falling one match short of potentially winning the whole thing.
First things first… a little background about Ridge. Ridge joined the Gym several years ago and has competed in our local events in both the TCG and VG. Ridge has always liked to do his own thing. By that, we mean that he builds decks the way he wants to. Sometimes the combos that he attempts raise Gym Leader Joel’s eyebrows a bit and accordingly, sometimes they work and sometimes they do not. It has never struck us that the results were as important to him as was the fact that he played something that he made (sounds a little like Gym Leader Logan…). Up until about a month ago, Gym Leader Joel cannot recall even playing a VG battle with Ridge, so his video game skills were an unknown factor for us. That factor cleared up for Gym Leader Joel a week before the Regional. During league play, Ridge, with his Regionals team fully ready, thrashed both Joel’s Water-type gym team and Gym Leader Logan’s “Trick Room” team. We were in agreement that he looked pretty ready to us.
As Gym Leader Joel watched (from our “Dark Moon” vendor location) Ridge and his family check in, the only person, including Joel, that showed no sign of nerves was Ridge. Ridge cruised through his opening rounds. The only blemish to Ridge’s record throughout the swiss rounds came in Round 3, where he lost to Parker H. Despite the loss, Ridge stayed ahead of the pack to enter the Top 4 as the 4th seed, with only one loss on the day, requiring Ridge to return on Sunday morning to vie for the title. However, the #1 vs #4 match-up landed him into a rematch with his Round 3 opponent. We did not have time to sit down and review the recording of his best 2 of 3 Top 4 match against Parker, but sadly the results ended up the same. Ridge, unable to out-maneuver her team, finished in 4th place as Parker’s opponent Zachary L pulled off the upset in the finals handing Parker her only loss on the day (a win by Parker would have placed Ridge in 3rd ). Regardless, the Top 4 finish in his 1st major event was an excellent end to the weekend for Ridge. Ridge grabbed 120 championship points, a sweet trophy, a Top 4 playmat and a booster box of cards. Despite coming late in the season with not too many chances to pick up more points, the huge chunk of championship points puts Ridge in striking distance of enough for a World Championship invitation. Invite or no invite, the Fincastle Gym is proud of its First General.
After observing this past weekend’s event, we think that many area parents likely did not comprehend the scope and size of a Regional Championship or the Nationals and Worlds that we have often have reported on here. If they did not see the value in what the Gym is offering through the Generals program, perhaps they do now. Sometimes it takes seeing it in person to get beyond the assumption that events like the Blue Ridge Regionals are not just another 20 person event in a library meeting room or in the rear portion of a local game store. This past weekend’s event was a big time tournament, larger than any such event to ever hit the Roanoke Valley. It pushed the boundaries of recent National Championships in terms of attendance and surpassed those events in other ways (innovative side events, contests and vendors). And, to beat the band, Ridge finished 4th. Great job, Ridge!
We are holding a League Challenge at the Gym during our normal league time this Sunday (5/14). Just as a reminder, Guardians Rising is not tournament legal yet (becomes so on 5/19), so make sure your deck included cards only up through Sun & Moon. Join us for the challenge or come by for league play. See you at the Gym!