The challenges facing the “powers that be” at Pokemon vary from season to season. When it comes to deciding the format and rules for each year’s VGC season, those decisions are very consequential, as once they are released, that’s what you get for the entire year. There are no major shifts in the format like there are in the TCG as various sets are released throughout the year. Sometimes the VGC format is pretty wide open and sometimes it becomes painfully narrow. Two seasons ago, the addition of the “Primals” (Groudon and Kyogre) was devastating to the format, as it narrowed it so much that almost all of the top 32 teams at the Virginia Regional Championship were identical. Inversely, the 2017 season was much more open, seeing a much wider variety of teams take the top spots at events throughout the year. 2018 is here and so is the new Ultra Sun & Moon format. Each new season usually brings a surge of new players with it with the hopes that the season will provide a fun, different and creative environment for the players. While we can’t see the future, we like the 2018 format and its possibilities. Continue reading
Play!Pokemon has announced its 2017 edition of the TCG’s annual rotation. As expected the oldest 3 sets from the X&Y series, Primal Clash, Roaring Skies and Ancient Origins are leaving the Standard Format officially on September 1, 2017. This means that all cards printed in XY BREAKthrough and newer sets will remain legal for the Standard Format. The promo card pool will be cut to include XY promo #67 and higher and all Sun & Moon promos. This also means that promo set dubbed, Generations, remains in format, as it was officially released on February 2016. The Fincastle Gym, now in its 7th year of existence (9 years of playing the TCG) has developed what we hope is an easy-to-follow guide to walk both new and seasoned players through the annual rotation. We have posted articles each of the last 5 years and like the layout that we’ve come to over the last 2 years. We’ll stick to that design again this year, so if you have navigated our past posts, this year’s article should be familiar to you. Continue reading
We are just over 2 weeks away from the biggest Pokemon event that Roanoke has ever seen. Roanoke’s first Regional Championship takes place over the weekend of May 6th at the Berglund Center in the heart of the downtown area. Organizers David and Pam Tuskey and our very own gym leader Marthe Honts have been planning for the last year to make this event not only a success, but a unique event that all lovers of Pokemon will be able to enjoy. By combining their collective years of experience, they have put together a schedule of events that take this Regional beyond the standard mold (main event + side events at spare tables w/ 1 card vendor in the corner). From a cosplay contest to Pokemon GO tours to the east coast’s first ever Battle Fiesta, the Blue Ridge Regional will offer more than you have seen at similar Pokemon weekends. Continue reading
In a year of many firsts for the Fincastle Pokemon Gym, we have reached another one that we did not recognize until our time in San Francisco watching Georgia and Logan compete against the best players in the world. The 2016-17 season will be the 1st time since we have been involved with the game that we do not have a competitor of our own in the Junior Division. The Junior Division has been very good to the gym leaders as both Logan and Georgia quickly became dominant forces in the Juniors during their respective years within those ranks. Beginning with Gym Leader Logan and the 1st scholarship that he won as a Regional Champion, the siblings have amassed a collection of “goodies” (like mats, hats, plushes, deck boxes, backpacks and more booster packs that we can account for) and cash travel allowances that given them a leg up on saving for the future. As Georgia graduates into the Senior Division this year, the rewards have grown to even higher numbers, leaving us wishing that we had another Junior. A spark went off in Gym Leader Joel’s head as he watched Georgia dominate her American opponents and battle down to the wire against 3 of Japan’s top finishers at Worlds (and no, we’re not adopting a child to compete… although his idea is along those lines). Continue reading
The 2016 World Championships presented several “firsts” for the Fincastle Pokemon Gym. It was the 1st time that we’ve had a trainer qualify for the VG Championship, as Gym Leader Georgia had a strong VG season to go with her TCG season where she amassed 600 Championship Points. Unfortunately, Georgia was unable to participate in both events, as they took place simultaneously. Had she automatically made Day 2 of the TCG event (as her 600 points were only good enough for 24th in North America), she could have played Day 1 of the VG event and then decided what to do on Day 2 if she made it through Day 1 of the VG competition. This was Georgia’s 2nd time qualifying for the TCG Worlds, as she also made the DC event in 2014. Joining her was our league veteran, Gym Leader Logan, earning his 3rd World Championship invite. Logan previously qualified as a Junior for the 2011 and 2012 Championships, when the Pokemon TCG was an entirely different animal. Despite all of their successes, the 2016 Worlds was the 1st time that both siblings qualified in the same year. Continue reading
The Gym Leaders are back home, mostly adjusted to the time change and back into the normal swing of things. We wrapped up our weekend in San Francisco by doing some bonus sight-seeing, a relaxing way to pass the time… but our competitive leaders would have rather been in the mix for the title. We did not go pokemon-less for the rest of the weekend however, as Georgia was fortunate enough to get one of the random wrist bands included in some players’ competitor pack. The band granted access to a limited autograph session with Junichi Masuda (Game Producer & Director at GAME FREAK, Inc) and Shigeki Morimoto (Game Director at GAME FREAK, Inc). Georgia walked away with what may be the most unique “half-art” Entei in existence, as she had both VIP’s autograph her favorite card. Here’s a couple of photos for the meeting and then we’ll get into her deck. Continue reading
Well, to highlight the point that we made yesterday about Georgia’s match-ups and the strength of the Japanese contingent… here’s how Georgia’s last 3 Day 1 opponent’s stood at the end of Day 2. Asaki Hasegawa (her 4th round opponent) is in 4th place overall with a record of 5 wins, 0 losses and 2 ties, entering the Top 8 playoffs as the #4 seed. Hajime Imura (her last round loss) finished in 9th place (1 spot out of the Top 8 playoff) with a record of 5-1-1. Iori Kato (her 5th round loss) finished 32nd with a record of 4-3. Georgia was dialed in yesterday, crushing every US players she faced. How she drew this trio of amazing players is beyond us. We assume Top 8 matches are underway and we don’t know how they are progressing, but 5 of the 8 are Japanese. Continue reading
The Fincastle Gym Leaders took 2 very different paths today at Day 1 of the World Championships, 2 paths that ended up at the same destination.
Day 1 of the TCG World Championships sported over 830 players all after one goal, achieving enough wins to make it through to Day 2. The Junior Division had 155 entrants who would play 6 rounds of swiss. A record of 4-2 would be required to make it through to the 2nd day. The Seniors had 205 players chasing the exact same goal, a record of 4-2 over their 6 rounds. If needed (which it was not), Pokemon said that they’d fill in the spaces needed to even the Day 2 numbers with the best of what was left (which they did not, so we are not sure why they said it). Both Gym Leaders, Logan and Georgia, fought to 3-3 records, missing the cut. We’ll look briefly at their days and then reveal the list that we were holding for Day 2 to put in the hands of whichever leader made it (or both if they both made it, as we had 2 copies built and ready to go). Continue reading
So… after putting in a good morning of practicing our decks, the Fincastle Gym Leaders headed out for an afternoon tour of Muir Woods. Expecting to return and check in at about 5:30pm, we were pushing 7:00pm, as our tour van was held up in traffic. I’m glad we didn’t get there at 5:30! We arrived to find what turned out to be the side of the line, so we walked around the hotel, past the 2nd third of the line and found the end of the line somewhere around Oakland. After standing in the same place for about 20 minutes, things began to move. As Pokemon shifts their practices to their new “model”, they are being forced to learn that the same old setup does not quite cut it. While we hung out in northern California, Pokemon was reassigning their personnel, which did break things free and get everyone moving.
Lesson learned… hopefully that they will not try to squeeze check-in into such a small time period in the future. Anyway, we made it through and collected what is definitely the coolest player “goodie bag” package in our years of playing. Both Logan and Georgia were thrilled with the collection of Worlds items. The boost in player “swag” is definitely one of the positive results of paid entry to major events all year. From there, we scrounged up some food and headed back to wrap up preparations for tomorrow.
Opening ceremonies begin at 9:00am and after a brief players’ meeting, play will begin. We are all nervous, excited, antsy… all the feelings that go along with an event of this magnitude. Our Gym Leaders have been there before and know what they have to do. We’ll post lots more pictures as we get them, so check back tomorrow evening. Until then, cheer to the west!
The Fincastle Gym Leaders have been in the City by the Bay for a few days now and we’ve been trying to take in as much as possible in a short amount of time. From its iconic landmarks, to its amazing food, to its cool and breezy weather (much appreciated by Virginians this time of year), we love what we’ve been able to sample of ‘Frisco. However, its time for the Gym Leaders to get down to business and focus on why we’re here… the 2016 TCG World Championships. Continue reading