The Fincastle Gym Leaders came back home from their trip to the 2018 Pokemon World Championships in Nashville, TN. Upon returning, we immediately had to pack up for GEXCON, in D.C. on the following weekend, so we are unfortunately delayed in getting this report out. While not competing in the main event, Gym Leaders Joel, Logan and Georgia did try their hand at the Nashville Open, a regional-level tournament held on Saturday. They were also there to cheer on Ridge and Anna Radtke, as they competed in their first Video Game World Championship. Overall the weekend was a really cool. There were a multitude of things to see, including a massive Mega Construx Blastoise accompanied by its previous forms, a diorama to end all dioramas, a decked out Pokemon Center full of unique things to buy and of course, lots of Nashville themed decorations throughout the hall. The weekend full of competitions had its strikes and gutters, ups and downs for The Gym. As the Dude once said, you know, sometimes you eat the bar, and, sometimes uh, you know…. Alas, The Gym abides.
On Friday, Anna R took on the Juniors field, playing in what turned out to be 5 rounds of swiss that would determine who would battle their way to the Finals on Day 2. As we always hope for ourselves at these events, Anna got a good mix of both US and International players. She opened with a Round 1 match against Shuya Kimura from Japan. They split the first 2 games of the best 2 of 3, with Anna winning Game 2, before Anna lost a close Game 3 and the match. Anna faced fellow American, Abby Roest, from Idaho for her Round 2 opponent. Anna fell behind early in both games of what was eventually a 0-2 defeat.
Anna’s reward for 2 tough opening rounds was to get up-paired against a 1-loss opponent from Japan, Rikako Hirakawa. Anna fought hard, but again was defeated by a very seasoned competitor. The 3rd loss knocked her out of contention for Day 2, but Anna shrugged it off and kept fighting. Anna won her last 2 rounds, which ended with a Round 5 sweep of American, Azariah Fierro. While we are sure she was hoping to finish stronger, the 2 win, 3 loss record was nothing to sneeze at. She received no mercy in her pairings and 2 of her losses were very close matches that could have just as easily gone her way. Her weekend was far from over, which we’ll get back to shortly.
Ridge took on the Seniors field and was hit with a handicap before his 1st match ever began. Joel took on some last-minute “ev training” and leveling up to assist Ridge before the tournament. Of the 3 pokemon he built, Joel missed that the Manectric he polished off for Ridge was traded and was missing the correct region symbol, making it ineligible for entry. Tournament officials allowed Ridge to swap it, but it had to be done on the spot, which gave him few options. He replaced it with Tapu Koko, which can be an adequate replacement, but not on his “Intimidate” team that he had been practicing with on Showdown.
We did not end up with details on his opponents, but we know that he had to avoid 3 losses to make Day 2. Ridge did not lose his 3rd match until one of the last rounds of Day 1. He, like Anna, never backed down. Ridge still almost made it through, despite the team error, which is an accomplishment by itself.
Ridge returned on Saturday for the Open, playing another 5 rounds in what was essentially, the 1st Regional-level event of the 2019 season. All 5 of Ridge’s rounds went to a game 3. Ridge lost rounds 1 & 2 to Niels de Jonge (Netherlands) and Gwen Edgar (US), then reeled off 2 wins against Heath DeRouchie (US) and Lewis Tan (Australia). His bid to make the top cut fell short and he split games but eventually lost in Round 5 to Emma Cox (US).
Anna bounced back from a tough Day 1 to also compete in the Nashville Open video game tournament. Anna found another gear for this day’s event, busting out of the gates and running her overall match record to 3-0, without losing a single game in any of the 3. Despite losing her last round to Kenneth Fung (Canada), Anna entered the top cut as the #2 seed. In the semi-finals, she faced her Round 2 opponent, Azariah Fierro again (who we don’t think wants to see Anna again after 3 separate defeats in one weekend) and, as she did in the previous meeting, she swept the team in straight games and advanced to the finals. Anna was unable to pull out the win in the finals, claiming 2nd place overall in the 2018 Nashville Open. Way to go, Anna!
The Radtke siblings picked up lots of cool “swag” that only competitors receive for earning their invitations. We never got a bead on the exact total, but Anna gained a huge chuck of Championship Points that count towards her total for the 2019 Worlds for finish in the Nashville Open.
As mentioned earlier, Gym Leaders Joel, Logan and Georgia competed in the TCG version of the Nashville Open on Saturday. The “gutter” for the The Gym is pretty easy to describe. Georgia started 1-0, then succumbed to the cold/back-to-school-crud that plagued her for the previous week by yakking in a trash can and then dropping from the event. Upon hearing of that, Joel dropped in the middle of his Round 2 match to tend to her. Woo-hoo. What can you do? We found some nearby sushi rice, ginger and chili pepper and got her back on the road to being able to breathe again and then eventually went to the Johnny Cash museum. Not really the weekend we envisioned, but again, the leaders abide.
Gym Leader Logan, the most experienced player from The Gym, picked up the torch and carried it well. Despite the field that was easily 60% Buzzwole (probably higher), he piloted a Zoroark GX list of his own that we were working out until the last minutes. The work paid off. We don’t have a match-by-match account, but we know that he played 8 rounds of the swiss. During those 8 rounds, he played identical Buzzwole decks in 6 different rounds. If you asked one of us how we thought those matches would have gone, we likely would have guessed 4 to 5 losses, as Buzzwole is just so easy to play and so over-powered. In addition to surprising several players who surely thought the had an easy win when they saw Zoruas at the beginning of a game, Logan surprised even us.
Over the 8 rounds, Logan went 5-2-1, missing auto entry into Day 2 of The Open on Sunday by the lone tie. Against Buzzwole, he went 3-2-1, which should’ve been 4-2 had he not been slow-played, the favorite tactic of jerks in the Master division (in which Logan is still a rookie) which there is unfortunately no remedy for. His other 2 wins were complete dismantlings of a Zoroark/Garbodor and a Rayquaza GX deck. His deck was a great call, and we only wish we could have devoted the time to earning an invite to the main event for Logan. We are running long here, so we will feature the deck he played in an article later this week.
It was a long weekend, which threw all of the Fincastle Gym Leaders and members a few curve balls. Everyone had a great time (except for the yakking incident). What we always try to remind ourselves and those who competed is this: This was the World Championships… the top event of the year with the most talented players in the world. Everyone there wanted to win, but only 1 person did in each division. Learn from the experience and take pride in what you did. It can only make you stronger.
Check back soon for a closer look at Gym Leader Logan’s deck. See you this Sunday at The Gym! Enjoy some photos from the event.