Part 2: The Process
by Martin Moreno
June 16th, 2004 - What
it mean to be a great Pokémon player? Just about everyone has their own
definition on what exactly this is. I severely doubt there will ever be a
set in stone way to measure a player's skill in comparison to others, that
the majority of people will agree on. However I do know what makes a winning
Pokémon player. A winning player is the person who realizes "Winning is not
an event, it is a process".
Before I get into it, I would first like to point out some statements that you may hear a lot in Pokémon that are simply fallacious.
The most common Poké-fallacies:
1) People who play archetypes or "net-decks" are unoriginal and really hurt the game.
The Truth: Most commonly, people who say this are ignorant and in general, bad players. If you are a player who bases your whole card playing 'career' playing original decks in the hopes of proving a point, then you need a reality check. There will always be decks that rise to the top. Learn to cope with it and don't criticize players who will play a dominant deck to improve win percentage.
2) I beat you before in a big event, therefore I am a better player.
The Truth: I am sure some of you out there may have heard this line from an arrogant less experienced player who has managed to get a win on you. Yes it is annoying, and yes there will always be people like this, but people who base their accomplishments on wins against particular players and not how they do overall just do not grasp the concept on how to become a winning player. Just try to ignore people like this.
3) If you ask other players for advise on deckbuilding or play strategies, you do not really know what you are doing.
The Truth: This is the least true statement of all. The Pokémon playing metagame is based on the ideas and strategies of many players put together. You should not at all feel like any less of a competent player if you ask a buddy of yours what they think of an improvement you make on your deck. It is in fact a "Trading Card Game", there is nothing wrong with swapping strategies and ideas, as well as cards.
How do you judge if you are a winning player? I myself feel that consistency is the key to determine whether you are doing good or not in this game. It is best to set personal goals to help you on your way to victory. Here is what I have observed.
Attributes you should have:
Knowing where you are: A very useful tool is having a Nintendo "My Pokémon" account. The many various features included are a great resource to check up on how you are doing with wins and losses. You have the opportunity to see your overall sanctioned tournament record, and also get to compare how you are doing with other ranked players.
However, if you have a high ranking, don't use this as grounds to belittle other players who may not have a rating as high as yours. Remember, it is a ranking, not a status. You may also just check your Pokémon League sheet to see how your holding up on wins and losses, if you attend a league that is.
Many high caliber players only attend major events that come to their area. They may also not have high ratings, which is why I feel using ratings as a way to judge talent is flawed. Typically, if you are able to attend more events than someone else, you will easily be able to accumulate more points. Which is why it is best to use the "My Pokémon" account to see how you are doing on a personal level.
Patience is the virtue: One of the most needed attributes in becoming a winning player is having patience. Without it, you cannot be successful at anything in life. This especially applies to Pokémon. If you are a player who always makes the top 8 cut in your local tournament, or annual Gym Challenge event, but lately seem to just not be able to even make single digit placings because of bad coin flips and hideous starts - then you just have to have the perseverance to wait out the storm. Or maybe consider making changes to your strategy and or deck.
An example of this is recently at the Los Angeles Gym Challenge event. I was shocked when I tied for top 8 and didn't make the cut because of resistance. I never not topped 8 an event I played in the past 2 years. I began questioning myself asking if I came ill prepared to the event. Two weeks later I played in the San Diego Gym Challenge making a few minor adjustments to my deck. I ended up finishing first. At times you have to bite the bullet and accept defeat in order to progress as a player.
Have an open mind: Do not automatically ignore ideas from a player who is not known or has won big events. Also, don't take everyones word as fact either. You should keep your horizons open to get a grip on how to improve your game. Whenever you lose a game, do not take it as a failure. Try to analyze your plays and what you could of doneto change the outcome. Sometimes you can't help how the cards fall and how the coins land, but you can always improve your game by learning from past experiences.
Know how to win and lose: Traditionally, I myself avoid the "good game" line after winning a match. Some people do not take losing very well, and saying this can really press some people's buttons. You should just merely offer a handshake. It also is not very respectful to get over excited when winning a match. Jumping on top of the table reciting Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" in celebration may not be the most respectful thing to do after a big win.
When playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game, my goal is to find efficient ways to minimize losses. Whatever the format is, knowing the metagame is crucial. So I try to play with a variety of popular decks in order to understand what I am up against. Knowing how a deck works is the best way of figuring out how to beat it. Simple enough.
In addition, it's always good to get a lot of practice in. It is the best way to gain skill. You can read message boards and articles for ideas, but it does not supplement real table experience. The more you know what to do in given scenarios, the better your win-loss record will be.
(Jamaican Voice) "But MAH-tin, you ain’t tell me exactly what the process is!"
Well I basically laid out the blueprint on what I look for out of me when playing this game. Taking some of these ideas, you can come up with your own distinct process that applies to you and the goals you set for yourself. Weather you look to have the highest rating in your area, win a lot of trips, be World Champion, or all of the above, It takes planning and preparation. Most importantly of all, don't make winning an event. Make victory a process that will keep you ahead in the long run.
MartinReturns@aol.com (I'd like to hear from you)
Stay tuned for - Part 3: Time for some Strategy!