Hello everyone, It’s me, Alex, back with some lists! In fact I’m coming at you with ten lists! Not the typical lists that people use to net deck, but lists that will help you prepare for National Championships. Just to clarify, these aren’t only deck lists, but rather lists of things that relate to the Pokemon National Championships.
I’ve always loved making lists. All through High School, College, and even today, I make a list for everything. Top 10 movies? Inception, Spaceballs, and Cool Runnings top that list. Top 50 Bands? Gorillaz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Muse are the winners there. So why would I leave Pokemon out of the equation? Usually you see different people make a “Top 10 Plays for X Tournament,” style list. While that’s all fine (and definitely one of the things I will be doing in this article) I thought that I would spice things up and give you not one but ten lists to digest! Some of them will be silly, some actually helpful, but all will (hopefully) leave you entertained!
As an aside before I dive in I would like to update you on my article series. I have the third and final article on my ‘Summer of Alternative Formats’ series in the works. I felt that this article would be of more benefit to those going to nationals. For those of you waiting on that article about U150, it will come out shortly after the U.S. National Championships! Now, onto the rest of the article!
List One: Top 10 Ways to Prepare for National Championships
10) Chewing Gum
I don’t know about you, but gum is always a way to help me keep my cool while playing. There is a lot of research and information out there about how gum can lower stress levels during times of high anxiety. I always make sure to pack a few packs on gum so I have enough to last me the tournament. I expect to go through at least two packs on the weekend alone. I’ll probably go through a total of five or six on the drive over plus the weekend.
9) Meet New People
Okay this might seem like a little bit of an odd thing to put under “a way to prepare,” but hear me out. Many people in the Pokemon community are not the most social butterflies in the world. Practicing your skills in talking with other people might eliminate some of the stresses of being in a room full of people you don’t know. Think about this; if you’re super confident when you go in for that hand shake, and your opponent isn’t, you’re going to have the upper hand in the moral battle that can plague even the best of players. Again, kind of a weird thing, but it definitely can’t hurt your experience.
8) Pack a Lunch
Hunger can strike when you least expect it. It’s good to have a back up apple, Protein Puck, or something else that can give you that extra boost of energy needed to finish out a tournament strong. Usually a tournament will have an ample lunch break, but what if the round before your lunch break lasts a bit too long, and then you’re stuck waiting in line for the hour they give you? You’re going to wish you had a quick snack to munch on!
7) Eat Before
Going hand in hand with packing a lunch, getting a good meal in to start your day is also a smart idea to keep that sustained energy flowing. You hear it all the time; “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” and that’s no exception here. Starting off your day groggy or in a funk and not awake is probably not the best way to win a tournament. Imagine being hungry, crabby, and then losing your first round. You’re going to regret making the decision to come right away.
6) Get Rest
Like I just said, nobody wants to start their day groggy or in a funk. I know it can be hard to sleep before a big tournament. After six years of competitive play, I still can’t fall asleep at a decent time before tournaments, even League Challenges. I guess I put that pressure on myself. Though at at the very least, it doesn’t stop me from trying to go to bed early. Instead of play testing with my friends or going out on the town I try to catch those last few Z’s before I have to focus the next day. There’s no reason to stay up playing cards when you’ve just spent the last month (hopefully) practicing with your team or online.
5) Charge Your Phone
This one is actually a biggie. It’s always a tragedy when a phone dies, but it’s even more sad when it dies during a Pokemon tournament. Online pairings? Nope, now you have to wait in line. Wondering where your friends are going for lunch? Now you have to eat alone. Girlfriend trying to call you to check in? Now she thinks you’re ignoring her, and you get dumped when you get home! Make sure you’re at 100% as the day starts. Finding an outlet is hard enough as is.
4) New But Shuffled Sleeves
We’re getting into the really important stuff now. There are a lot of things you can do to avoid deck check errors, and one of them is buying new sleeves about a week before the tournament and playing a few games. Every player has a couple of sets of black sleeves, and none of them seem to match. In order to avoid that, get some new ones and only use them for the big dance. Playing a few games in them is never a bad idea, since you don’t want them sliding all over the place, but on the other hand you don’t want them so worn or dirty to be considered marked. I actually just got a new pack today. I’ll probably shuffle them while in the car to National Championships to get them ready to go.
3) Print Your Deck List Beforehand
Just like the sleeves, double and triple checking your deck list the night before and printing it off is a great way to avoid penalties due to errors. As long as you don’t make any last minute changes to your list, you should be fine to head to the library, a friend’s house, or to the computer in your house and print off your deck list. Not only that, but you also avoid all of the deck checking sharks that linger around trying to get a better grasp of the meta. These people have not done enough research and are already in a hole to start the tournament. Don’t give them any help!
There are so many places to watch people play Pokemon. Your local leagues, streaming sites online, and videos posted everyday by content creators. Pro athletes study game film, movie stars watch movies, and Pokemon players watch other people play. It’s all part of getting better, and there’s no harm in doing it. I for one tune into streams daily, no matter how good the well known the players are. It’s not only a good way of getting some alternative thinking, but also a good way of tapping into the current meta to see what people are thinking about.
And easily the best way to prepare for the U.S. National Championships is research. This can mean a lot of things; from brushing up on all of the current legal cards, to checking out articles here on PokeBeach. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you’re getting those brain juices flowing and thinking about Pokemon. My roommate and I sit down once a month and scroll through all of the currently legal cards to make sure there aren’t any ideas we are missing. Sure, this can generate some very bad decks, but at least we know what things do! You never want to be that person who has to reach across the table to read a card. Most players view that as a sign of weakness and might pounce the moment they sense any lack of confidence on your part. Research is by and far the best way to improve your game and to prepare for the largest tournament in the world.
List Two: Top 10 Road Trip Albums
Here is a list of albums that are either fantastic for road tripping, and / or albums I plan on listening to on my drive from Spokane to Columbus.
10) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John
9) Whitey Ford Sings The Blues by Everlast
8) AM by Arctic Monkeys
7) Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars by Fatboy Slim
6) Lukas Graham by Lukas Graham
5) Fight With Toys by Flobots
4) Audioslave by Audioslave
3) The Getaway by Red Hot Chili Peppers
2) 1 by The Beatles
1) Demon Days by Gorillaz
List Three: Top 10 Things to do at U.S. National Championships
10) Watch the Live Stream
Live sports, going to the movie theater, and seeing a concert, all things infinitely better then just sitting at home and watching it on your screen. Same goes for Pokemon. Usually the stream is displayed on a big screen where you can sit and watch it. Cheering on your friend or favorite player is a lot of fun when you’re doing it as a group. I have heard that there are going to be multiple streams this year, so hopefully that means multiple options to watch you donk people with Vileplume / Vespiquen.
9) Play Unique Formats
Shameless plug. Go check out my last two articles about the Cube and the Elite Format! I will be bringing my Cube to Ohio this year, and I plan on doing a day where a couple of you readers sit down and Cube with me! But U.S. National Championships is a great time to play some different formats with people who love Pokemon. Sometimes (especially living in a small area like I do) it can be hard to find enough people to want to try new things. At the National Championships, there is never a shortage of people looking for new and exciting ways to try Pokemon!
8) Play Old Formats
Similar to alternative formats is the old format crowd that always brings LuxChomp to large events. Playing old World Championship formats is a great way to tap into the game and look at the history of how the current format has evolved. I’ve always said that playing different formats and alternative formats is a great way to improve your play and here is no exception. Only with this, you’re actually playing a format that used to be used.
7) Side Events
If for some reason you make the hike out to Columbus but don’t want to slave away at the main tournament, you can always play in pick up tournaments! There are always cool win-a-mat and small tournaments going on to hone your skills with, as well as win some cool swag. They usually don’t cost too much, and are a great way to pass the time. If it’s your first year playing, and you don’t have a lot of experience in just yet, this might be the route to go to get the feel for the environment without having to shell out 30-60 dollars on entry fees.
6) Meet Famous People
Yes, this one might be a bit of a stretch, but let me attempt to sound all wise and wisdom-like. There’s probably some famous saying about meeting one’s heroes, and at the U.S. National Championships, you will find no shortage of heroes of the Pokemon game. I see a lot of people with their playmats all blinged out with signatures of some of this games great. Take a moment to realize that you’re standing among some of the greatest players in the game.
5) Meet New People
While not everyone’s cup of tea, this is easily my favorite thing to do at large tournaments. There are so many cool people in this community, and I enjoy meeting every single one of them. I’m also excited to meet many of you guys too! The people that read and enjoy my articles are some of my favorite people I’ve never met. Also since I just jumped on to the PokeBeach premium writers squad a few months back, I finally get to meet all the rest of the gang in person!
4) Meet Friends
It seems I enjoy connecting ideas on my lists. This one also goes hand in hand with meeting new people, is meeting old people! Or rather, people you’ve already met and know and love. I’m aware of how weird that all sounds. But yes, a large tournament like this is the best time for the Pokemon family to come together and enjoy all there is to offer in the great game of ours. I’m grateful to have grown in this community. Before I was one of those lame west coast players that always seemed to struggle to get over to the Midwest. Now that I know some more people, I’m even more excited to see some people I never get to see!
3) Buy, Sell, Trade
At everything but the World Championships, you’re not going to find a higher concentrated group of vendors and traders in the world than at U.S. National Championships. I have found tons of hard-to-find cards for my Cube at this tournament over the years. Not only that, there are a lot of bulk buyers to take those extra cards off your hands for a little extra spending money for the tournament. I’ll be selling mine for the gas money to drive all the way back to Washington. Yikes!
2) See the Area / Ohio
I’m not from the Midwest, so I’m not sure what to recommend in this category, but I do know there are some cool things that I plan to see as far as a tourist is concerned. There’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and other things too! I actually don’t really know a lot about Ohio, but wherever U.S. National Championships is held in the future, take the time out of the weekend to look around a bit. Traveling is always fun, no matter where you go! The biggest thing on my bucket list has always been to see every baseball stadium in the country. I got to check off Fenway Park last year in Boston, and this year in Ohio I’ll be able to check off Great American Ball Park and Progressive Field. Who knows, on the way home I may check out U.S. Cellular.
1) Play in the Main Event
And of course, the number one thing to do at U.S. National Championships is, well, the U.S. National Championships! It’s the reason everyone goes to the event in the first place. And now, with this year having the most prize support out of any year ever, we can expect there to be record amount of people at this tournament. It sure is going to be a really fun time all together! Please, if you see me, come up and say hi!
List Four: Top 10 Favorite Pokemon
Not necessarily the cards but the actual Pokemon.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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