There’s Always Next Time — Expectations, Failure, and Succeeding in the New Structure

Hello fans and subscribers! My name is Ryan Grant and this is my first article for PokeBeach. I would like to start by giving a huge thanks to PokeBeach for this amazing opportunity. I am thrilled to be writing and bringing you content for this fantastic site!

This is my fifth season playing competitive Pokemon and my best accomplishments since I started playing are: Top 4 Wisconsin States in the 2012-2013 season, Top 4 Wisconsin States, and Top 32 Madison Regionals in the 2013-2014 season, Top 8 Minnesota States, First Place Iowa States, Top 8 Fort Wayne Regionals, Top 64 Nationals in the 2014-2015 season, Tenth Place at the Origins Win a Trip to Worlds, Top 8 at Minnesota States, First Place at Wisconsin States, Top 32 Houston Regionals, and Top 32 at Nationals in the 2015-2016 season, I qualified for and played in the 2015 and 2016 World Championships, and this year so far I have made Top 32 at Phoenix Regionals and Top 16 at Philadelphia Regionals.

Although I’m used to just competing, writing brings a new aspect to Pokemon that I’m stoked about. Helping people gain information, see new perspectives, and improve is what I’m all about. Whether that be through deck analyses, tournament reports, meta analyses, or useful tips, I will do my best to bring you content that is informative and helpful.

The Point

The theme and title of this article is “there’s always next time”, which is a friendly reminder that there’s always another chance to do something better, no matter what it is. If you didn’t make cut at a tournament, there’s always next time. If you made a misplay that caused you to lose a game, there’s always next time. If you don’t qualify for Worlds, there’s always next time. I know it can be a bummer when you don’t do well at an event or meet your expectations, but all you can do is learn from your experience and grow. Learning from your failures is a key to success in anything and the Pokemon Trading Card Game is not an exception. First, I’ll talk about the new tournament structure, how it’s been going this year, how it compares to previous years, and if it could be done better next time.

The New Structure

The new and current tournament structure is quite different from the ones I’ve experienced since I started playing. This year, Organized Play decided to eliminate Cities, States, and Nationals. Cities and Nationals have now been replaced with League Cups and International Championships. League Cups and League Challenges share the same best finish limit, the same goes for Regionals with Special Events, and International Championships with the 2016 World Championships. Points from the last World Championships count at the beginning of the season. Lastly but not least, cash prizes for players 18 and older have been added to all Regionals. Some of you may like all the changes and some of you may dislike all of them, but I think there’s an almost even balance of pros and cons.

Pros

The Motivation

The absolute best change they made would have to be adding cash prizes to Regionals. Cash prizes are awarded to players all the way up to Top 64 depending on attendance. The amount of money awarded for Top 16 and higher increases with a larger attendance. For anyone younger than 18 years old, you can choose to get either a scholarship or Visa Gift Card. So, overall, I’d say cash prizes are the MVP of this new structure.

Another thing I love about this season is the ability to go to multiple International Championships. In previous years you could only go to National Championships in countries you had citizenship in. Now, you can essentially go to multiple “Nationals” and have four finishes from Internationals and 2016 Worlds.

Speaking of best finish limits, you now have eight for Regionals and Special Events. Before you only had four and it was shared with States, having eight and cash prizes makes traveling to Regionals more worth it than ever! If you make day two or better at a Regionals, you realistically can either profit or at least get your trip paid for between cash prizes and Pokemon product.

The last thing I really like is how spread out Regionals are this year. It is much easier to attend multiple Regionals when there aren’t a bunch on the same weekends.

Now there are plenty of lovable traits about this season, but I’d say there’s just as many detestable ones, maybe a little more.

Cons

You will surely be missed!

Now more than ever, getting an invite to Worlds really seems dependent on your ability to travel to Regionals. Eliminating States is something I highly disagree with. I may be biased because I usually do very well at States, but getting rid of them took away a lot of Championship Points for everyone. That combined with a reinstated 500 Championship Point requirement means qualifying for Worlds is much more difficult than the previous two seasons. Now I gladly welcome the challenge, but not everyone has the time or money to travel. States were a great opportunity to get a solid amount of Championship Points, and usually you could go to at least two or three without traveling too far.

The only downside to Pokemon adding cash prizes has been the disorganized Regionals that weren’t properly ran. There have been tournaments that have started two or more hours than they were supposed to because the organizers were not properly prepared for the increased number of players. Also, due to old registration systems, Phoenix was delayed because many people had to waste their time and money printing out registration forms and we had no lunch break. Even last weekend, Athens started late and they got no lunch break as well.

The next thing I dislike is changing City Championships to League Cups and combining the finish limits with League Challenges. I always loved when Cities time would come around and there would be plenty of them to play in. Now only certain Leagues get them and as far as I know it’s only Leagues hosted in a store, and they’re limited to one League Cup per quarter. Now there’s less tournaments to go to, and you share your Cup finishes with your League Challenges. I understand wanting to make League Challenges less competitive, and more of introductory tournaments for beginners. I totally get that and agree, but if they wanted that to happen, they could have made League Cups start sooner, made them more abundant, and they could even take away Championship Points from League Challenges. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but it’s an option. Also, if they really wanted to make sure they were less competitive, having no League Cups right away and having many League Challenges in the beginning of the season did not help. I know I went to many League Challenges and they were all full of many competitive players. The lack of Cups in the beginning of the season made the Challenges feel like an intense battle for Championship Points.

That wraps it up for the pros and cons, now I just want to talk a bit on how I think they could improve for next time. Now I’m not claiming to have the end all answers to a perfect season, nor do I think any structure could fit perfectly to everyone’s wants and needs, but I do think I have some ideas that could help for the majority. I think bringing back States, or having more Special Events in place of them would be highly beneficial for everyone. States were a nice buffer between Cities and Regionals, and I know many people will miss them. I think they should increase the number of Leagues that can have League Cups, allow Leagues without a store to have Cups, and increase how many they’re allowed to have per quarter. They should also separate League Cup and Challenge finishes, and potentially take away Championship Points from Challenges. The last thing they need to do is make sure information about the upcoming season, card legalities, and anything else important is released as soon as possible. I know this is obvious and many people complain about it, but it’s something we are in dire need of.

Succeeding and Getting an Invite in the New Structure

As I said earlier, qualifying for Worlds this year will most likely require a decent amount of traveling. The only exception to this is people who earned one from their performance at the 2016 World Championships and anyone who does extraordinarily well at an International Championship. Those are the only ways to get an invite from one tournament. You could also win two League Cups and two Regionals and qualify, but that’s far from an easy task. If you do not have the time and money to travel, that shouldn’t shy you away from tournaments altogether. Other than getting to see all your friends and the fun of the game, you can still win cash prizes at Regionals this year which makes it worth it to still compete. In previous years, my main reason for competing was earning an invite while also hoping to do well enough for travel stipends. Now I’m even more motivated to compete with the chance to win money. So, as you can see, you can still succeed in this new structure without earning an invite.


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