2017 Blue Ridge Regional Wrap Up

The Fincastle Pokemon Gym took a well-deserved break following the Blue Ridge Regional Championships before diving into the task of sorting and putting away materials (which we did not complete until the end of last week).  Following that, we did some data collecting from the event that we’d like to share with everyone.  The Regional Championships exceeded our expectations and went as smoothly as any event that we’ve ever attended (more so than many).  We know that those results would not have been possible without the strong response from players, fans and staff.  We hope that all who attended were as satisfied with the weekend as we were.  Now, we sit and wait and hope that we are awarded another Regional next year, a decision that is beyond our control.  Should we be so lucky, we are already thinking of ways to improve upon and expand what we did this year.  Only time will tell.

As we mentioned in articles leading up to the event, our plan was to blend the already established tournament structure with elements of several local anime and comic cons that we’ve attended.  Gym Leader Joel heard a group of players exclaiming as they passed the Dark Moon booth exactly what we wanted to hear. As the players were exiting the main concourse, one of them said, “This isjust like a con, except it’s all pokemon stuff!”  Nothing else from the weekend stands out more to Joel than that exclamation… as it summed up exactly what we were aiming for.  As we’ve described in earlier articles, our hand were tied a bit in terms of bringing in all of the vendors and artists that we wanted to include.  Whether we get another event or not, we are already scoping out area events for any vendor or group that we can include in future events.

Here’s a look at the numbers that we’ve compiled from the weekend.  There were 865 players in the main TCG event.  That figure broke down into 663 Masters, 130 Seniors and 72 Juniors.  The main VGC event added another 200 players to the weekend, bring the grand total to 1065 competitors.  While the next number was a little harder to pin down from reporting conducted by the Berglund Center, we showed over 3000 people through the doors for the entire weekend.  The reason that this number is important to us is that it shows that almost 2000 people who were not competitors came by to at least check things out.  We love that we got a huge group of established players of both the TCG and VGC, but we feel that drawing in that large group of curious spectators and shoppers is the best way to grow the game.

The Fincastle Gym has over 50 players a week between our 2 leagues, yet we only had about 14 competitors turn out for the regional.  We hope that local players will realize that having an event like this in our own backyard is a luxury.  The Gym Leaders, in accumulating 6 total World Championship invitations since our introduction to the game, have had to travel quite a bit to do so.  Not that we are complaining, as we have tailored most of our recent vacations around events, which has led us on trips that we probably never would have thought of taking.  Even if you are not gunning for a World Championship, playing in large events like this is an experience that is hard to replicate.  We hope that we can grow the number of our local players in future events.

Gym Leaders Joel and Marthe feel that the side event possibilities are probably the source of the most untapped potential to expand the events and make them more fun for everyone.  We were thrilled to be the 1st event in the country to ever host a Battle Fiesta style tournament (several, actually, over both days).  We know that the Japanese events have a 2nd tier, where players with a certain number of wins advance and play each other, but as we were flying blind on the Fiesta format, we went with a straight up time limit.  Regardless, players seemed to enjoy the different format, as we had 108 players enter the Fiesta side events.  We plan on looking more into these style events and hosting them at the Fincastle Gym in the near future.  Should we have the chance, we will definitely include them in any future Regionals that we are involved in.  The more standard 8-person side events, League Challenge and VG Premier Challenge also went well, drawing 656, 28, 31 players respectively.  We had an additional 92 competitors play in 4 & 8 person Pokken tournaments.  Pokken was also available for free play all day Saturday & Sunday when not in use for tournaments.

From our understanding, the coordinator of the cosplay contest marketed the Regional in the cosplay community locally, not anticipating such a large turnout.  This is completely understandable, as despite a loyal local following, most Roanoke events have been smaller.  Having seen the event, we understand that she too hopes we get another Regional as she hopes to market it to an international cosplay organization (International Costumers’ Guild Inc) to expand that side of the event in the future.  The solid group of contestants that entered the contest definitely brought their A-game.  From Officer Jenny, to a momma and baby Eevee, to a Pokemon Moon trainer, to a Team Skull family,  there were some amazing costume entries.  If you were there and you missed Rory in the Squirtle outfit, then you probably missed the most enthusiastic pokemon fan on the east coast, if not the continent.  The only thing more entertaining than Rory was listening to his dad describe the gluing process, the multiple trips to the store and how much hot glue he used on the shell.  If only we had the foresight to buy stock in the hot glue industry….

Not everything we threw at the event came out perfectly.  The Gym came up with the idea of the Pokemon GO tour when we learning we were getting the regional, almost a year ago now.  At that time, there were more news stories on the Pokemon GO app than there are anti-Trump pieces currently.  I’d say we missed our window on the app’s popularity.  The craze over the app has cooled off lately, as was evident with the tours.  The response to the GO tours was lackluster.  If we follow current logic, it was probably Russia’s fault.  It was worth a shot, but as we said, its time seems to have come and gone.  We don’t think you’ll see GO tours in the future.

Let’s not forget the main event, as that was the reason for all of the hub-bub.  Props to the TCG finalists, as not too many expected to see quad-Lapras and Wobbuffet/Jolteon EX/Glaceon EX face off in the finals.  Thankfully it was not a Decidueye/Vileplume mirror match, which would not have been entertaining for the stream or the judges involved.  The was a nice variety in the TCG Junior and Senior divisions as well, including everything from Decidueye/Vileplume to Mega Mewtwo to Mega Rayquaza to Volcanion to Yveltal/Garbodor.  The VGC format continues to evolve, as all three divisions sported some interesting teams.  The variety is exactly what the VGC needs, as the previous ORAS format was beyond stale.  Hopefully the VGC will continue to recover from the “Primal vs Primal” days.  Speaking of streams… The Meta Deck (TCG) and Florida Pokemon Center (VGC) both did an excellent, professional job of live streaming matches.  We only had the chance to view a few of the streams after the event, but we like what we saw.  We hope that those of you that follow events either by live stream or by viewing them after the fact as we did, enjoyed their coverage of the Blue Ridge Regional.

The Gym Leaders wish that we had not been as long getting to this post.  As we said, clean up and recovery from the event was followed directly by Logan & Georgia’s last week of school.  We’ve finally had a chance to catch our breath and relax.  Many, many thanks to all of those who had a part in the Blue Ridge Regional.  We hope to learn soon whether or not we will get it again next year.  If we do, we hope to make it more amazing on every level.  Stay tuned.  See you at the Gym!

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