The Status of Organized Play
April 23, 2004

Uh... Happy April Fools? Yeah, I'm currently fleeing from Officer Jenny for the Pokemon prank I pulled. "Hola, I am El Fugitive!" But in all seriousness-ness, I'm truly sorry for whatever chaos I caused and I'm happy to start reporting factual information to all of Pojo's Pokemon Fanatics.

Pokemon Organized Play has finally taken a step in the right direction. Since October of 2003, Players, Professors, and Organizers have suffered from a lack of a stable structure of rules and regulations at Sanctioned Tournaments. Trouble was expected due to the transfer of the license, but no one foresaw problems within Organized Play. It's taken a good seven months to finally fix some of the problems that have hurt sanctioned tournaments.

  • Communication
    Pokemon Organized Play, an it's employees, had a very little presence in the community when sanctioned play began, its only recently that we've seen Jimmer Simmerson and Dave Schwimmer posting on the PokeGym. As well Pokemon USA has pushed for a new policy to return emails in a timely fashion. Listening to players is important, especially those who are involved directly with sanctioned events. Premiere Tournament Organizers have a mailing list for this very reason. More needs to be done though to communicate with the normal players, since there are several Premiere Tournament Organizers and insiders who decide to share information that's not officially released yet. Disclosing sensitive and usually unconfirmed things causes confusion. If anything, this needs the most work
  • Advertising
    Pokemon USA has done an awesome job spreading the word about the Pokemon TCG, countering the Yu-Gi-Oh CCG ads on television. We've seen banner advertisements on all of the major Pokemon TCG websites for each new upcoming premiere event. Great PR work.
  • Penalties
    We've had no Penalty Guidelines since October to enforce sanctioned tournaments. As such, many judges have continued to use the DCI guidelines (Caution, Warning, Prizes, Game, Match, Disqualification). While this may suffice for a few months, there are many new judges and players who do not know the older penalties. By having new Penalty Guidelines, there would be less confusion on what all judges should do in a problematic situation, thereby making most rulings uniformed around the world. There's nothing worse than a player who has played at his local store and then goes to a large event to find out that the policies for unsportsmanlike conduct are different.
  • Suspensions
    In addition to Penalties, there have been quite a few players and organizers who have not been following the guidelines that have already been established for sanctioned tournaments. Pokemon Organized Play needs to publish a list of suspended and banned players, as the DCI and Upper Deck does, to make sure these repeated offenders are no longer allowed to interfere with the game. If Pokemon Organized Play does not step up to the plate and publicly announce suspensions and banned players, more will attempt to cause problems like those before them did. As of right now, nothing is holding back anyone from selling League support (like in the United Kingdom) or submit invalidate tournament records (Naught Reeul). Don't let these people make a mockery of the game!
  • Professor Program
    Wizards of the Coast Pokemon Professors were welcomed to sign up for the new Program in September 2003. The program was slated to begin that Fall, but nothing was done to start the program. Then Pokemon Organized Play asked for questions for the test to bring in new Professors, promising product for those questions they used. That product never went out. Then the list of grandfathered Professors, the ones who signed up in September, was removed from the POP site last December. It's only recently been said that the fine folks at Team Compendium have been working with Pokemon Organized Play to create the test. It looks like great efforts are being made to start the program, as an incentive to judge instead of play for invitations to Worlds.
  • Tournament Manager Software
    Quite frankly, despite all the intensive updates to the Tournament Manager Software, it's crap. It's buggy, its limited to the Windows Operating System, and has caused many invalidated sanctioned tournament results. It really needs to be fixed and there are plenty in the Pokemon community who are tech savvy who would love to assist Pokemon Organized Play. Take Steve Gillette, one of the best organizers in the country, has attempted to help others using the program with his TMS Guide on The Compendium: http://compendium.pokegym.net/compendium.shtml. Others have tried to create a whole new Tournament program from scratch that runs on various operating systems. If that's not dedicated, then I don't know what is.
  • Rankings
    I'm happy to announce that the official Pokemon Organized Play site has totally redone it's player rankings system. As well, POP Identification Numbers are being rotated out for My Pokemon Accounts, the only way you can have your name ranked and awarded travel packages. From the looks of the new rankings, a lot of work went into it. So far, the only problem that is occurring is that you cant change your password or date of birth. Aside from that, everything looks great. Check it out here: http://op.pokemon-tcg.com/mypokemon/mypokemon.asp
  • Premiere Events
    There has been no better time to be playing the Pokemon Trading Card Game. Since August 2003, we've seen four Prerelease events, worldwide City Championships, State Championships, and much more to come before this year ends including World Championships, National Championships, Conventions, and another Prerelease event. In addition, the prize support is amazing and is distributed to each age group. While playing events isn't all about being about prizes, there's some awesome incentive to play.
  • Pokemon League
    The Pokemon League has lacked a good gimmick to bring players in. The choice of promotional cards for each season was atrocious. I mean, Oran Berry, who seriously thought anyone would enjoy a reprinted common card? Players start at the local level and then attend premiere events. More focus needs to be given to the Pokemon League next year when it begins again.
  • International
    I can not begin to go into the troubles that have occurred with Organized Play due to all the various distributors' control over their players league, tournaments, and events. Basically, the International scene is a mixed bag, with some distributors doing things well and others totally neglecting their players. There are just too many cooks in the kitchen and it doesn't look like Pokemon USA is going to do much to require distributors to follow guidelines for sanctioned events. I guess they fear they'll lose a distributor. Maybe I'm a bit biased, but to hold the license to produce the Pokemon TCG in a certain country is something I would work towards keeping.

All in all, progress is finally being made to fix some of these problems and I think everyone should acknowledge the hard work that is being made on both sides to improve the condition of Pokemon Organized Play. It promises to be a great year in 2004 and I certainly cannot wait to see some of you at US Nationals and Worlds in Orlando.

Note from Pokepop: "Phil writes, "It's only recently been said that the fine folks at Team Compendium have been working with Pokemon Organized Play to create the [Professor] test."
More accurately, Team Compendium has had the opportunity to review and give feedback for a limited number of the questions that may be on the test. The test is being created totally by PUI employees.

Team Compendium & PokeGym.net"