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Yu Yu Hakusho
Harry Potter
Vs. System

Pokemon Card Game - Tournament Reports
2005 World Championships
Behind the scenes at Pokémon Worlds 2005
by Pokepop

Pokémon USA kept most of the same staff that it used at Nationals last month because we all worked together so well. I was looking forward to getting together with the rest of Team Compendium since we only get together one a year or so and this would make twice in this space of 60 days. The rest of the staff was made of Tournament Organizers and Premiere TOs from all over the country. PUI also pulled out all the stops and recruited a ton of volunteers to make sure that they had plenty of people to take care of every task that needed to be done.

We flew in early Thursday and by the time we got checked in and settled, the entire hall was already set up. It looked fabulous. The only drawback was that the size of the hall was significantly smaller than last year. I can guess what they were thinking. The hall last year was much larger than they needed, so there was a lot of empty space in it for most of the proceedings. Empty space doesn’t look good at an event like this. It makes it seem that less people showed up than were expected. However, with the tremendous growth that we saw at Nationals (3x the participants from the year before!), I suspected we might be squeezed this year. And we were! But, that’s a great problem to have and PUI handled it wonderfully. So many wanted to play in the Last Chance Grinder, vying for a last minute invite to the Championship, that we just about hit the limit of 256 people for 15+. Overall, there were 385 participants just in the Grinder, let alone the actual Championship! We effectively ran two ~ 400 player tourneys back to back. It was incredible!

First, one of the issues with last year Worlds was that even though there was a huge space available, it was locked up at the end of every day. Anyone who knows Pokémon people knows that they don’t sleep at major events. They play and trade through the wee hours of the morning! So, that caused problems with where to play last year. This year, the resort set up a 24-hour gaming area under a tent near the pool. With San Diego’s perfect weather, this was great and it was fully occupied all weekend long. Tables were also set up outside the hall and since it never seems to rain in San Diego, this worked great, too!
Space inside for side events was a bit cramped though. But that didn’t slow the demand. The team running these side events probably put on 50% more offerings than were scheduled due to the high demand. They wound up running out of Unseen Forces product due to how many Prerelease events they ran!

So, what about the Main Event? I worked as a judge for the 11-14 group which numbered over 140 players. It was wild moving from game to game, calling over translators to help communicate with players from the two dozen countries that had been flown over to play. For the initial Swiss rounds, we corrected errors and misunderstandings and gave out Cautions before moving on to higher penalties. I only had to give out one Prize penalty for an unreversible play error.

Due to some misplaced decklists, we had gotten off to a late start. Originally the plan was to run the Top 32 elimination round at the end of the day. Seeing that this would wind up going late into the night, we decided to stop after the 8 Swiss rounds. Otherwise, it would have been too much for the 10 and Under players. They would have started dropping like flies on us!

After the 8th round, the top 32 were announced and we collected all the decks of the lucky players to do final deck checks and to keep them secure. The last 32nd slot for the 11-14 group had a virtual three way tie that had to be decided by the third tie-breaker statistic. I really felt bad for those players that didn’t make the cut based on how their opponents’ opponents played! Reed Weichler (his deck from last year’s Worlds was made into a World Championship Deck 2004) was one of the players that fell on this tie-break. Tough luck on his transition from 10 Under to 11-14. Good Game Reed!

On Sunday, the Main Area had shrunk down since we didn’t need as much space now. Also, the Unseen Forces prereleases were being run that day and people were chomping at the bit to get as much of that set as they could. After running the top 32 elimination, we shifted over to the final play area which was set up for easy viewing by spectators. I’ve never seen bleachers set up for a Pokémon tournament before! Before running the final elimination rounds, a short ceremony was held where the Pokémon creators, Tsunekaz Ishihara and Takumi Akabane, were introduced.

As soon as the number of competitors dropped low enough, we had one judge assigned to each match. By the end of the tournament, one spectator was heard to mention that there were more judges than players at the tables! But POP wanted to make sure that the Worlds Championship was won based on best play and that there be no controversy. We ran the final rounds at a tighter enforcement level, starting off penalties for anything other than minor misplays at Warnings rather than Cautions. The top decks in the final matches of the 11-14 group came down to Dark Tyranitar decks and Turn 2 Medicham ex. At the end, Medicham ex won in the 11-14 group, following it’s win at Nationals in 15+.

Medicham ex didn’t fare as well in the Worlds 15+ group, though. The finals came down to a couple of surprise Nidoqueen decks, a Tyranitar deck with more options than a Swiss Army Knife, and a Ludicargo deck played by last years Champ. I have to say that I have never seen a Pokémon Metagame where so many different decks are viable.

I won’t report on the winners matches as they have submitted reports of their own. Suffice it to say that after Japan swept last year, the US sweeps this year. The final ceremonies are held, complete with giant checks given to the winners. In the excitement following, I manage to get Mr. Ishihara and Mr. Akabane to sign my Championship Arena folder. Whoo hoo!

I have to mention the trophies given to the winners. They are leaded crystal and weigh a ton each. What’s really special is that each one has a Charizard hologram floating in the middle of the trophy. What a special touch. Good job, Pokémon!

Next year is at Disney Land. See you there.



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