The Gym Leader Challenge is the Fincastle Gym’s longest running tradition. Shortly after beginning our league, Gym Leader Joel went to work on taking the core concept of every Pokemon video game to date and incorporating it into our gym. That concept is having Gym Leaders and type-specific decks available for its trainers to test themselves against. Originally, we scrounged the web for a supply of the 2008 league promo badges to reward our trainers for wins over gym leaders. That supply soon dried up, so we went to our trainers, held a contest and eventually created our own gym badges based on the design of Kelli Bowen, a trainer that was part of one of the many great families that have come and gone over the years at the Gym. We have documented every challenge we’ve ever taken… every win, every loss, every battle that came down to the wire. Those who have prevailed are immortalized on our Wall of Fame.
As Pokemon has continually changed league formats over the years, so have we adjusted how we conduct challenges. We’ve had to manage how we conduct challenges throughout these changes as different league formats have altered the time available for challenges. Gym Leader challenges have not happened as frequently this year as they have in the past since we’ve had to allot league time for both TCG and VG League Challenges. Despite the slowdown, the overall number continues to climb towards 400.
Why is 400 significant? The Gym began celebrating attempts for badges, whether or not they were successful, by offering special rewards for each 100 attempts. The 100th challenger took home a binder with a collection of league promo and foil energy cards. The 200th challenger won a large assortment of EX cards, also in a promo binder. The 300th challenger took home a custom-built deck (Plasma Lugia EX/Deoxys EX). We have not decided on the reward for number 400, but we are leaning towards supplying that player with another competitive format-ready deck.
The Gym currently stands at a total of 359 challenges completed to date. Gym Leader Joel loves statistics and has complied a breakdown of all wins and losses, by deck & leader. The overall win/loss records for all of the leaders is 297 wins and 62 losses. That 297-62 record translates to a win ratio of 82.7%. Not too shabby considering that most attempts come from a deck that we are weak to. Let’s look a little closer at all of the decks and how they have fared. The leader that is generally assigned to that deck is listed in parentheses (as any leader can step up and defend a badge in another’s absence, however this does not happen often).
- Steel: 23 wins, 7 losses – 76.7% (Joel)
- Water: 40 wins, 3 losses – 93.0% (Logan)
- Dragon: 14 wins, 3 losses – 82.4% (Georgia)
- Fire: 40 wins, 9 losses – 81.6% (Joel)
- Grass: 42 wins, 13 losses – 76.4% (Joel)
- Psychic: 57 wins, 11 losses – 83.8% (Marthe)
- Dark: 19 wins, 3 losses – 86.4% (Logan)
- Lightning: 33 wins, 11 losses – 75.0% (Marthe)
- Fighting: 29 wins, 2 losses – 93.5% (Joel)
Gym Leader Marthe seems to be a popular target, as her two decks have fielded 112 of the 359 attempts so far. However, Marthe’s proved that she’s more than just an organizer, as she has maintained an overall win % of 80.1, especially considering that the Lighting & Psychic type card pools have left her with little to work with at times over the years. While her Psychic deck is the most challenged at the Gym, it also sports the most wins at 57.
Gym Leader Joel, who works to master 4 different types, sports the most difficult deck to defeat of the gym leaders with his Fighting-type deck (29 wins, 93.5%). Fighting-type cards offer a lot of variety, encompassing all pokemon that are Ground, Rock and Fighting types, which Joel is able to use to his advantage. Trainers have to guess as to whether they should bring a Grass, Water or Psychic type deck when challenging Joel’s Fighting deck. Even those who guess correctly find that he knows his way around a Fighting deck and is difficult to defeat regardless of the match-up.
Gym Leader Logan follows closely behind Joel with 2 very difficult gym decks to defeat. Logan sports a 93.0% with his Water type deck, which he has successfully defended 40 times and a 86.4% with his Darkness type deck and its 19 wins. Much like Joel and the Fighting deck, Logan outplays most opponents despite any type-disadvantage that he has to overcome.
Gym Leader Georgia’s Dragon deck is the most recent addition to the gym leader challenges as the Dragon-type was not introduced into the TCG until 2012. It follows that her deck is the least challenged type, only fielding 17 battles to date. Pokemon has made it extremely difficult to field a Dragon type deck, as they release small numbers of Dragons in each set and plague them with varying energy costs that don’t allow different Dragon pokemon to enter into the same decks. The September 1st rotation takes away both Giratina EX and “Double Dragon Energy”, leaving her nothing to work with. If Pokemon does not give us anything more substantial to use, we are considering stretching the parameters of the Dragon deck to include recent printings of cards that are traditionally Dragon-type pokemon, but printed as Colorless, Water and Fighting types, like Drampa, Dragonite, Kindra, Rayquaza and Garchomp. In the meantime, Georgia may take a few turns to step into the Fire type slot.
Fairy type pokemon did not enter the TCG until 2013, after we printed our own custom league badges. We have not ruled out adding the new type to our repertoire, but it will likely not come until we renew interest in challenges with many of our new trainers. We are making limited progress on new VG gym teams. We have a few teams available and are working to complete others. The core of our VG gym team have had a very busy summer. We hope this fall will bring a renewed focus on the VG portion of the Gym.
The Fincastle Gym plans on making gym leader challenges more of a priority in the coming weeks by both promoting sign-ups and explaining the process to those new to the Gym or not familiar with our challenges. If have any questions about any of the above, feel free to email us or seek out any of our gym leaders at the next league meeting. We are only 41 challenges away from #400, which can get here sooner than you think. We will not post any further updates on the numbers until someone hits #400, because we want it to be a surprise. Even if you are #400, you won’t know until the challenge is completed! So sign up against the leader of your choice. You never know, you may defeat one of us and walk away with a badge. If you’re lucky, you might take home a brand new deck! See you at the Gym!
TCG Gym Badges Earned (aka, The Wall of Fame):
- Austin W – Steel, Grass
- Tyler D – Lightning, Steel, Grass
- Chris L – Lightning, Fire, Grass
- James H – Psychic, Steel
- Tessa Y – Fire, Psychic, Grass, Lightning
- Angela Y – Lightning, Fighting, Psychic
- Dustin F – Psychic
- Brycen F – Psychic, Lightning, Fire, Grass, Darkness, Steel
- Troy B – Lightning, Psychic
- Jordan L – Grass
- Hunter H – Grass, Darkness, Steel, Lightning, Psychic, Fighting, Water, Fire and Dragon
- Kelli B – Fire
- Eli T – Grass
- Isaac B – Steel
- Jeff D – Psychic, Fire
- Jacob A – Steel
- Alex D – Lightning, Grass
- Jacob V – Dragon
- Alan G – Fire
- Ryan N – Psychic
- Wesley H – Fire
- Alex T – Grass
- Rob C – Psychic, Water, Lightning
- Dean E – Grass, Fire
- Robbie F – Lightning, Grass, Psychic, Darkness, Water
- Nathan S – Dragon
- Davis N – Lightning
- Eddie R – Grass
*players in BOLD have won all 9 badges