What’s up PokeBeach? It’s been a while, but I’m finally back to talk to you! Today, I decided to discuss something different. I’ve still got two deck-breakdowns for you, but I also wanted to take a look at another side of Pokemon that a lot of people don’t think about before going into a big tournament.
For most people nerves can be a big issue when they are trying to play their best because it can distract from making the right plays and sometimes leads to unfortunate defeats. Nervousness depends on how seriously you take the game. If it’s just a hobby for you then you’re a lot less likely to get nervous at tournaments, but for people who have goals such as playing at Worlds, or even getting Top 16 in the U.S., nerves are usually present.
So let me give you some advice coming from a player who has had to learn how to deal with his anxiousness the hard way. After I do that I’ll be going over two strong Gallade variants in the Standard format.
Playing at Peak Efficiency
So you’re at a tournament. Whether it be a Regional Championship, a Cities, or just a League Challenge, you need to do well today. There’s a lot on the line and you have about a million thoughts going through your head. There are a few things that you can do before you even hand in your decklist to try and calm yourself.
- Talk to People: One of the best things to take your mind off Pokemon is to go talk to some friends. Don’t talk about Pokemon but instead find something else that you’re interested in to discuss. You’ll find that talking about other things will quickly distract your mind and it’s a great way to clear your thoughts before you head into the tournament.
- Keep Warm: This sounds ridiculous, but it really does help. Being from the U.K. I found myself in the same situation almost every tournament in which I would be cold as well as a nervous wreck. This would cause me to shiver like crazy and later on in the day it would be very hard to concentrate. The lesson I learned from this is that you should always wear a few layers and it’s not a bad idea to take a flask of hot drink with you too.
- Be Confident: Don’t doubt yourself before the tournament even begins, you can win this! Instead of thinking about things that could go wrong, focus on how great your deck is and how much testing you’ve done. Even if you haven’t done so great in your last few tournaments you have to stay on the positive side because otherwise you’re just not going to do well.
Once the tournament starts you’re going to have to stay focused. There are lots of factors that can throw you off your game and it’s important to know how to deal with whatever you might come up against.
Playing Against a Bad Matchup
For starters, you should always come prepared with a way to deal with any matchups you expect to see. Playing a deck that you know has an auto-loss is a big mistake that you can make before the tournament even begins. So assuming that you have a plan to deal with whatever matchup that you’re facing you should follow it unless you absolutely have to bail. Adjusting tactics that you’ve gone through over and over is never preferable, and it can be made worse if you have to adapt on the spot.
Coming across your one bad matchup is always off-putting, and this alone can get you really irritated before the game even starts. You have to ignore the fact that you’re playing at a disadvantage and really concentrate so that you have a chance. Sometimes it’s also good to think from your opponent’s perspective; they’re probably thinking “Nice, looks like I’m gonna have a free win here”. Your opponent’s overconfidence can really work to your advantage if you capitalize on it.
Playing Against a Renowned Player
At least once per tournament you’re likely to come up against a big name, whether they’re famous to everyone or just a local champion. I know from experience that playing against players who are well known can affect your mentality and even make you fairly stressed; you’d much rather be against someone you hadn’t heard of than Jason Klaczynski. The key thing to remember is that they don’t have some magical power that makes them good at Pokemon, and you can play just as well as them if you put your mind to it.
One of the things that I think helps these players win event after event is that a lot of their opponents are put off by their prestige which causes them to misplay. By clearing your head and reminding yourself that you have the potential to play just as well as them if you put your mind to it you can completely eliminate the potential disadvantage and deal with your nerves effectively.
Getting Put in a Bad Situation
One of the things that comes with nerves is not being able to think straight. This is a big problem when you get put into a tricky situation where things don’t look so great and you start to give up. Trust me, I used to be that guy who would back himself into a corner when he faced something he didn’t know how to deal with, and since learning how to deal with this I’m pretty sure my win rate has increased significantly.
There’s almost always something you can do to stop yourself going down the path to defeat, and you have to consider every option before making big decisions. Thinking to yourself “If he has x then I’m screwed, so how likely is it and can I do anything differently?” is a huge step forward, and knowing that you should always consider different options is going to make a massive difference. Don’t be that guy who, after the game, thinks to themself “Well if I didn’t do that then maybe I could have won”, be the guy that says “Wow I managed to win that by playing around my opponent!”.
So all in all, it’s best not to let nerves get the better of you. I can speak generally here, but most people have their own way to deal with nerves that works for them. Keeping your cool in games and having a positive mentality honestly does wonders for your ability to play, and if you follow my tips I can guarantee that your overall tournament performance will improve.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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