Well, we finally got there. The Fincastle Gym has been slowly but steadily advancing towards completing its 400th Gym Leader Challenge over the opening months of 2018. We hit that number this past Sunday at the Gym. As we were putting this article together, Gym Leader Joel searched for any significant number 400’s to use as a theme and was left with little good material to work with. The first responses to an internet search of “400” lead to explanations of the search error message, “HTTP – 400 Bad Request” (computer jargon informing you that your search ain’t happening). Beyond that, there were some hits on State Route 400 in Georgia and a leap year in medieval times. Gym Leader Marthe even suggested looking up #400 in the Pokedex and lo and behold… it was Bibarel. Really? Talk about a pokemon that’s hard to spin into something cool. I think the last good Bibarel cards was… never. So little to work with, yet the 400th challenge netted one lucky trainer the best gift that we’ve ever put together at the Gym.
First things first… we started Sunday with an Expanded format tournament, which went rather quickly, allowing us time to field a few challenges. Before we get to that, here’s how the League Challenge played out.
1st Place – Kevin C
2nd Place – Logan H
3rd Place – Joel H
1st Place – Georgia H
2nd Place – Daniel S
1st Place – Eddie R
Once complete, the only taker on a challenge was Daniel S. Daniel took the Fire-type deck that he used to obliterate the Grass-type Gym Leader and set it loose against the Steel-type Gym Leader (both of which are Joel). The previous iteration of the Steel deck, based on Solgaleo GX, proved to be tough to beat, even for Fire decks. Now, Joel has a new Steel-type deck that he really enjoys and it may be as hard, if not harder to take down, than the Solgaleo GX deck. In the opening game of the challenge, it surely seemed that way. Despite a slow start, Gym Leader Joel was able to trade KO’s with Daniel and eventually get ahead of him and take the game. However, Daniel quickly flipped the board on Joel in the second game.
On his first turn, Daniel attached an energy to the seemingly forgotten, Flareon EX, then played a “Kiawe” to attach 4 more Fire energies to the same Flareon. Joel began to set up his field, which is not the fastest process. Daniel immediately sent up the EX on his next turn and took his first KO, then followed with another on the next turn. Seeing that there was nowhere to go but down in flames, Joel conceded game two so that they could move onto the final game.
On the verge of being the first trainer to win a “100th “ match, Daniel was visited by the spirit of Bibarel. He got a very slow start with no Supporter cards showing up in his hand to aid him in getting his main attackers out or any energy cards to help out what he did have. Unfortunately for Daniel, Gym Leader Joel also got his speediest start of the match and was taking KO’s from the get-go. Joel took the third game and the match.
To Daniel’s surprise, despite the loss, he completed the 400th challenge at the Fincastle Pokemon Gym. What Daniel did not seem to be aware of was what that entailed, as he does not seem to be an avid reader of our site… ahemmm! We were more than happy to detail it for him. We explained to Daniel how the 100th challenger, Chris L, received binder with a collection of every league promo card to date (at that time). The 200th challenger, Addison M, received a binder with a large collection of EX’s and full art cards. The 300th challenger, Isiah M, received the first ever custom-built deck (with sleeves) given away by the Gym (a speed plasma Lugia EX deck). As #400, Daniel gets the best gift to date.
Daniel will have his choice of several decks that we have built and tested in the PTCGO. Next Sunday, or the next time he attends, Daniel will get to shop through the lists and choose the one he likes best. He will be able to choose from decks like, Golispod GX/Zoroark GX, several variants of Silvally GX/big basic GX’s (which all function similarly but focus on a big attacker than is either a psychic, fire, grass, fighting and lighting type), a speedy Ho-oh GX/Turtonator GX deck and even something like Joel’s current Steel-type deck. Regardless of which list he chooses, it will include one Tapu Lele GX, the standard Supporter/Item line that we run in our decks and will be sleeved in a set of new Dragon Shield card protectors. In hopes that Daniel does not go the way of the recipient of the 300th challenge gift (who accepted the deck, never played a game with it and disappeared from our league), Daniel will receive coaching from the Gym Leaders in the decks use and will receive free entry to all league events for the remainder of 2018. If during coaching and testing of the deck we see a way to improve it, we will make those changes with Daniel. If he goes the route of #300, sells the deck and disappears into Mexico with the proceeds, well, more power to him.
We don’t think Daniel will choose the latter. Daniel has been with the Gym for over two years and is a valued member. He always competes with a positive attitude, even when some of our tournaments get over-run with point-chasing, World Championship-level competitors. We hope this rare league thank you gift will give him a leg up on upcoming tournaments and future Gym Leader Challenges. Congratulations, Daniel!
Well, next up is challenge #500. As our league marches on, we think back to the hundreds of players that led us to this point. We know that as many of a trainers move on and grow older, that the Gym will become a distant memory. Whether their time at the Gym helped them with their reading or math skills, helped them come out of their shell and learn to have fun being themselves, set them on a road to thinking competitively and having success in this game or other ventures, or simply helped them make some new friends, we hope we made an impact that will stay with them in some way, for the rest of their lives. The Gym Leaders remember each and every trainer who has ever walked through our door and we cherish the memories of them all.
We don’t know that we can surpass the level of this gift when we reach #500, but at a minimum, we will do our best to match it. Gym Leader Joel is always up to something, so we don’t think whoever claims #500 will be disappointed. How fast we get there depends on how many of you take us on. We always encourage all of trainers to jump in a try a challenge. When you have the type advantage on your side, we find that you will often surprise yourself when you enter into a challenge at the level of success you will have.
Check back in a few days as we will post an update on all of the Gym Leaders and their decks and then we will begin our look at the Expanded format. Join us this Sunday and help us get on our way to #500. Be sure to congratulate Daniel on being lucky #400! See you at the Gym!