In our last post, the Fincastle Pokemon Gym discussed our desire to light a fire under our long standing tradition of Gym Leader challenges, especially among our younger players. The ever-changing dynamics of league support from Play!Pokemon to local leagues has altered our ability to make challenges the priority that we want them to be. As the 2017 season comes to an end with the conclusion of the World Championships over the weekend, we were thrilled to not only have a young challenger seek a gym badge at Sunday’s league meeting, but even more so to have the 2nd youngest challenger ever seek a badge. Eddie R made league history in 12/16 by becoming the youngest trainer to ever win a gym badge in Fincastle at the ripe old age of 6 years, 8 months, when he won the Grass-type badge. This past Sunday, Anna R, who is younger than Eddie, won her 1st badge, narrowly missing the mark of “youngest ever” to claim a badge in Fincastle by a little over 4 months (she currently is about 7 years, 2 months).
One of the most notable things Gym Leader Joel has picked up in games with Anna R, is that when you discuss or explain something that is going on during that turn, she listens very intently and once she understands (which does not take long), Anna nods her head and exclaims with quiet confidence, “Got it.” As Joel learned very quickly, “Got it”, is not just an acknowledgement of understanding, but more of a statement of her understanding how to play her 1st competitive deck to its potential.
Both Eddie and Anna chalked up their 1st wins against the Grass-type gym deck with similar Volcanion EX-based decks. Eddie took out Joel’s Mega Sceptile EX deck back in December. Gym Leader Joel believed the current deck to be a more daunting challenge as it is centered around the new Tapu Bulu GX card. Like all of the “Tapus”, Tapu Bulu GX, in addition to being a 180 HP Basic, also sports NO weakness, which greatly strengthens any Grass-type deck’s chances against Fire-type pokemon. After this match, we suppose that Anna will call it “Tapu Who????”
Joel began game 1 of the match by setting up both the GX and promo versions of Lurantis to get some quick damage in play and accelerate energy onto Tapu Bulu. Anna quickly responded by promoting a “baby” Volcanion, getting 3 Volcanion EX in play (with a “Fan Club” and a successful “Pokeball”), using all 3 “Steam Up” abilities and 1-hitting the Lurantis GX. From there, she literally steamrolled the deck, taking all 6 prizes to only 1 by Gym Leader Joel.
Before we go into game 2, we believe this merits saying… neither Gym Leader Joel, nor any other Gym Leader take it easy on anyone challenging for a badge… not even 7 year olds. Now, for someone as young as Eddie or Anna, we will slow down the pace of the game a bit. Have you ever seen a 6 or 7 year old shuffle a 60 card deck? It’s not a pretty thing. It kind of looks like someone our age trying to shuffle a stack of cereal boxes. That being said, we are firm believers in learning to compete, learning how to outplay your opponent and learning to lose graciously, even if it is only on the surface.
Gym Leader Joel shifted his focus in game 2 to trying to set up 2-hit KO’s with Tapu Bulu GX and when necessary, use it’s big hitting “Nature’s Judgement” attack for a 1 hit KO. How’s that old saying go… something like, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry when Anna gets 3 ‘Steam Ups’ at just the right time.” That’s how I remember the poem going.
Anna took the 1st four prizes of game 2, which was followed by Joel taking the next 3. Joel had another 2 prizes coming his way as a heavily damaged Flareon EX was Anna’s only remaining pokemon with any energy attached (3 to be exact). She had to KO an undamaged Tapu Bulu GX or probably lose a long game 2. Joel forgot to ask after the match whether she was holding a “Professor Sycamore” or if she drew it on that turn… all he knows is that when she played it, Anna almost burst into laughter when she saw the 7 cards it yielded. There were at least 3 Fire energy in new hand, which she quickly tossed away for “Steam Up” damage, driving Flareon EX’s 110 damage output to 200 in the blink of an eye, taking the KO, the game and the match. The laughter was by no means any type of celebrating at an opponent’s expense. It was clearly the result of Anna knowing exactly what she needed to win (which were pretty long odds) and expressing a mix of excitement and relief when she hit those cards on the “Sycamore”. Did we mention that she’s just turned 7? That is pretty daggone impressive.
Anna becomes the 29th trainer at the Gym to win a badge, the 14th trainer to win the Grass-type badge and becomes the 2nd youngest trainer to claim victory at the Gym. When we celebrated Eddie’s win that landed him that title in 2016, we honestly didn’t think anyone would ever get close to that one. Eight months later and it almost happened again. We’re pretty certain that we’re not getting soft or suffering from a diminishing skill-set or anything like that. No, we’d say that we’ve got some pretty sharp kids at the Gym.
Great job, Anna! Welcome to the Wall of Fame. See you all soon 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
- Anna R – Grass
*players in BOLD have won all 9 badges