Back To Pessimism

(RaNd0m’s Take on the 15+ Fiasco)



            “You have got to be kidding me. Just when I thought RaNd0m was smart and staying out of this… he HAS to come in with his opinions. Geez…”


            Before I get started, just want to remind you guys… there will be a “Readers Respond” section at the end of this as promised. There were a lot of good questions about my opinions of the 15+ debacle, but I won’t post those mainly because this entire article is a response to that.


            My opinion on Ness’ article is simple. It was one of his best. Jason has been a friend of mine for quite awhile now, and I’ve disagreed with him quite a bit. Ask him if you don’t believe me. I’ve had people on BOTH sides at my neck! But in all honesty, it was the calmest I have ever seen him write. Although many called it a “rant”  or “flame”, it wasn’t. It really wasn’t.


            And basically, he’s right. The 15+, mainly, has been the sector in this game the longest. Many of the 15 or 16 year olds have played this game since the beginning. And they feel like the second they turn 15, they are tossed out. Wizards seems to want them out… into what Wizards may see as a more stable game: Magic.


            And if you think the American 15+ have it bad, LOOK AT EUROPE! Only one chance for them to win a trip to worlds. The whole continent gets one chance. Geez, might as well call them the “European States of America”, because that’s how they are being treated. Only worse. I don’t see that as being fair. Is it that easy to get past customs over there?


            And the big question… Why are the 15+ being discriminated against? This makes no sense. I hate it when people call us whiners, etc… because we are asking for the same thing 14- gets. I could see us being called whiners if we were wanting MORE than the 14-… but when we just want to be more equal? I don’t get it.


            It’s NOT the trips. 75-80% of the 15+ just want the competition. They want to play Pokemon. They want to be able to play something they’ve invested lots of money in. I don’t see a problem with that. Guess who does?


Wizards. Or so it seems.


The letter the Professors got from James Lee was definitely controversial, but it came at a time when everyone was already feeling defeated. Basically, it’s going to be the same as last year folks! Exactly the same. It was worded cleverly though. It made us feel like we were getting more. “DUDE!!!! Five Professor Tournaments this year! FIVE!”


Yeah, that’s right. Five. Four in America… and we had four total last year. The only real difference is Europe getting one.


What’s worse is the fact that this stages 15+ vs. 15+. It’s horrible. We’re fighting over the most ridiculous issue. In my opinion, we should all be on the SAME SIDE. But we aren’t.


There are problems on both sides; extremists on both sides. Some of the stuff that has gone on has been ridiculously intolerable, and other stuff has been ridiculously ridiculing! Teenagers vs. Parents… don’t we have enough of this in the common household? ;-)


 I have the perfect setup, and I think the majority of the 15+ would agree to this. I think the majority of the 14- would agree to this! Here’s my idea(s)…


-         Four Professor Qualifiers in the U.S.

-         Two Professor Qualifiers in Europe… being in Britain and Belgium.

-         At each qualifier, have an original format, one never played before.

-         Top 4 at each qualifier wins a trip and an invite to the Pokemon World Championships to play in the Professor Championship.

-         At the 14- Gym Challenges, have a 15+ tournament as well. At the 15+ tournament, the winner gets an invite to the Professor Championship at Worlds.

-         Also have a grinder before Worlds, with the top 16 of the 15+ getting an invite. This would make it where the tournament was big enough.


If that doesn’t give out enough invites, (That’s about 70 right there) have

additional means of winning an invite. Maybe having Professors who work 4 hour shifts winning an invite as well?


            Also, hold this event with equal coverage as the 14-. I’m not saying it has to be at the same time, because that would be difficult. But honestly, if the Professors are so needed, how did Wizards run the past Super Trainer Showdowns? It makes no sense.


            I feel that this is fair. It may be asking for a lot, but I don’t see why we should be asking for just a little. The 14- and the 15+ are almost equal in this situation. That’s the way it should be.


            This would increase earnings on Wizards’ part extremely, because at this rate, they won’t HAVE a game in a few years. Many people might be moving into Magic, but I would imagine more would move out of card games altogether. You won’t be making the same amount you once were.


            Pokemon has potential. I wish you people at Wizards would see that. It’s NOT a kiddie game, as much as you want it to be. That’s like wishing and wishing for your kid to grow up, yet he remains young. It’s the same way with Pokemon. It’s NOT a kiddie game, and it will not BE one. The 10- division is going to pot. The 11-14 division is smart enough to realize the fun and games will be over soon. It’s not looking pretty.


            So I’m begging you guys at Wizards, PLEASE give the 15+ the division back with the format I stated above. I feel it’s a great way to do things, and I don’t see how it hurts you not to. It definitely won’t cost you that much.


~ RaNd0m




Reader’s Respond!


Remember, I respond in Italics. =/ Well, the BIGGER italics. Skywolf paraphrases with italics in his letter to me. I also just realized Skywolf’s letter is longer than my actual article! What are the odds X_X?


I got this REALLY good letter from Skywolf1, from the WizPog forum. It basically shows the alternative to my article above. Good reading.




This  is  Skywolf1 from the WizPOG forums.   I understand and realize your disenchantment with the current state of affairs that  face the Pokemon TCG right now, especially in light of the recent e-mail to the Professors.


However,  I have  a different theory.  One, that  to  me, seems to make  much more sense logically.


For what it is worth.


For those of you contemplating leaving the game for M:TG or other TCG's, I'd like give you my take on this e-mail, and hopefully convince some (or all) of you to stick with the game WE all love, this game called Pokemon.

Before I attempt to "interpret" what the e-mail from Mr. Lee was about paragraph by paragraph, let me tell you this. Rome wasn't built in a day, and NEITHER was the Professor Program. Meaning, if many of you older players (MYSELF included) really enjoy this game as much as we all do, WE'LL stick with it through thick and thin. This will make more sense, when I try and attempt to "dissect" Mr. Lee's e-mail. So here goes:


My name is James Lee and I am the Global Training and Certification Manager for Wizards of the Coast. In this role, I am also the manager of the DCI Judge Certification Program and the Pokemon Professor Program. Our beloved Master Trainer Mike remains the primary consultant on all things Pokemon here at the DCI, but final decisions on policies and procedures in the Professor Program will be mine. For this introduction, I would like to clarify some issues that have come up in recent weeks.

This identifies who the "Primary" people are with regards DCI judging and the Pokemon Professor Program. I don't know if this was one of the duties that Mr. Strohm would have had, given the fact that his position has been, more or less, "broken down" into three seperate positions. We also know now who the driving forces are with regards to Policies and Proceedures with this young program. I think that it is a very positive step that Mr. Lee has taken time out of his schedule to address the needs and concerns of the professors and the "older" division as a whole.

First, many of you have been waiting for your Professor ID cards. Until my return from holiday this week, I believed that our vendor had mailed them all to you two weeks ago. I learned yesterday that a billing error caused the cards to be put on hold. Today, this matter has been resolved and our vendor will be paid this weekend. By Friday next, your cards will begin to be printed and mailed. This first run will include all Professors through the end of July. In two weeks, we will export the files to create and mail cards to all other Professors and the Master Professors. As such, Professors who passed in August and Master Professors should expect their cards in the later half of September.

This answers yet another question that has been on the minds of several of you. Hopefully, we'll see these cards in the time frame stated by Mr. Lee.

Second, there has been much discussion regarding the conduct of Professors and Master Professors. Wizards of the Coast and the DCI does its best to maintain the highest reasonable standards for its programs and their participants. However, we have neither the resources nor desire to become a morality police or an arbiter of personal disputes. As an individual rises in position and prominence, he or she will be held to higher standards. This means that if an adult is having a dispute with a child and their behaviour is unacceptable, the adult will be subject to a tougher sanction. This means that a Master Professor may risk demotion for actions that would be tolerated from a Professor.

I didn't have a problem with the DCI's position UNTIL I got to the part that has been placed in bold. My feeling is that there shouldn't be a distinguishing difference when it comes to issues resulting either directly or indirectly from "unsporting conduct." Players who have attained "Professor" status, should be held to a higher standard of proper conduct. After all, the second reason for the professor program was to "teach" younger players. I feel that there should be a "zero tolerance" rule, when it comes to "improper" and/or "unsporting behaviour" from both Professors and Master Professors.

Third, discussions on message boards and between Wizards of the Coast and 15 or older Pokemon players have shown that there is some misunderstanding regarding our policies on tournaments for this age category. Wizards of the Coast and the DCI are the ultimate authorities for Pokemon organized play. This means that we are the decision makers. TPC owns the license and are powerful voices in our discussions, but we are the ones that make the final calls. Our customer service staff and Master Trainers provide us with feedback and the "voice of the people," but Wizards of the Coast takes full responsibility for our ultimate decisions. At the present time, the regular tournament structure of Pokemon available to those under the age of 15 is not the one available to those 15 or older. The Professor Program offers the structure and competition which presently best suits that population. Let me address this philosophy hereafter.

I get "mixed" signals here. As I am sure, many of you. When it comes to "Pokemon Organized Play" yes, I am sure WotC does have MORE say when comes to this particular aspect of the game. However, I believe that The Pokemon Company has alot more PULL when it comes to HOW the "Organized Play" is going to be carried out. Ultimately, after MANY compromises have been made, and TPC offers WotC a list of "options" as to how they "want" Organized Play to be carried out, yes, I do believe that THEN Wizards of the Coast does have the final authority, but the choices I feel are pretty much set in stone for any particular issue. Yes, the "structure" for -10 and 11-14 has ALWAYS been different from that of the "Older" divisions, and many of us KNOW that to be true. At present, also means, currently, and I think is safe to say means that could change in the near future as well. MTM had stated that "Pokemon WILL NOT move backwards", so I feel it is safe to say, that just because the "older" division doesn't have the same perks as the other divisions, doesn't mean it will necessarily ALWAYS be the way it IS NOW. As far as "What best suits the population" I interpret this to mean, "The Professor Program is young, give us time to identify the needs of the "older" player within the means available and allowable to us.

The Pokemon Professor Program serves two primary purposes designed to cater to the two primary categories of participants. The first is that it provides tournament competition opportunities to a catergory of individuals no longer eligible to play in the "children's game." As the Professor Program matures, we will continue to examine our events and opportunities. This year, we learned many things and hope to improve our offerings in 2003. We expect to have five Professor challenges this year (4 in the US and 1 in Europe) which would feed that Worldwide Professor Championship. These events will be held to the highest level of Pokemon standards and will include the most challenging formats and involve match play.

The "meat and potatos" of the e-mail, and the cause of much SPECULATION between professors and older players alike. I have bolded this paragraph to draw attention to its significance. I will start by stating, many of you, are, I feel "READING THIS THE WRONG WAY". Why? Let me first address the first part in relation to the "Children's game" sentence. We have all known, that this game is and always has been marketed and geared towards children. We know this. We have ALWAYS known this. "The first is that it provides tournament competition opportunities to individuals no longer able to play in the 'Children's Game'." Let me ask you all honestly here, how are we being ostricized here. We have asked for Tournament Competition in a game mainly catered to the "younger" set. This simply means, that "-10" and "11-14" will have more opportunities in the way of Tournaments than "older players". However, it DOESN'T mean, that "Once you turn 15, you have NO BUSINESS playing this game." Not at all. Truthfully, if WotC thought that "15+ had no business playing this game, then why would they look to us to keep this game alive by teaching younger players?" Why would they bothered to create the professor program? Why, would they give us 5, yes FIVE professor challenges, not for -10, not for 11-14, BUT ESPECIALLY for 15+. Why would they bother to let us give our imput on new formats and ideas? The OTHER divisions DEFINATELY don't get that. I for one, LOVE the idea that the innovater of TCG's is giving US, the OLDER player all these opportunities. Opportunities, that the other DIVISIONS definately probably will never get. I, for one, would take this, over NOTHING at all, ANY day of the WEEK.

The second aim of the Pokemon Professor Program is to identify and partner with those players out there who truly love the game enough to devote themselves to increasing the experience and opportunities of other, younger players. These are the Professors who are running events, answering questions, managing websites, and promoting organized play locally. Right now, we see our Master Professors as these individuals. We will be giving them sneak previews of upcoming league materials and the opportunity to earn special promotional cards by bringing these opportunities to the attention of their local stores. We also hope to identify the best of our Master Professors as individuals we can sponsor to larger events as staff and judges.

Yet, further evidence of how we are NOT merely be tossed aside but GIVEN even MORE incentives. How many other TCG companies do YOU know of, that would give OLDER players opportunities to shape a game? I just don't see it. I remember not to long ago, how we were asking for Pokemon Judges. We Got IT. Special Promo Cards. We GOT IT. Upcoming league materials. WE GOT IT! WE as in 15+ got it, professors, got it. NOT -10, NOT 11-14, but PROFESSORS. WE GOT THESE THINGS SPELLED OUT RIGHT HERE. WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU WANT TO QUIT THIS GAME NOW?!?!?! My God, it is just getting better! Now, if anything, we older players, NEED to get back INTO the game!

As we enter into the second year of the Pokemon Professor Program, it is our hope that you will learn and grow with us. We are listening and doing our best to offer what we can with what we have. If you have questions, ask for the answers before presuming the worst. If you are unhappy with an outcome, be assured that our decisions were not made without much consideration. MTM and DMTM and many others who love Pokemon and care very much for the fans are speaking up for you. They hear you and bring your ideas and suggestions to the table each time an important decision is made. As with all things, we do not always get everything we woud like. However, I hope we can continue to work on getting everyone what it is that they need.


James Do Hung LEE
Wizards of the Coast
Organized Play Program Manager
Training and Certification

Correct me if I am wrong, but I SEE NOWHERE in this entire e-mail how the "OLDER" division is being shafted in any way, shape or form. BBP, I hope that I was able to put this into a better perspective for you. Some goes for you Random. I think this is just the beginning, NOT the END. When you break it down, honestly, the older divison has MORE, MUCH MORE than the other two divisions put together, and I think it is just fixing to get better. PLEASE, I implore you all that give a DAMN about this game, just give it a chance. WotC, I think knows what they are doing.

Take Care,



Hey Skywolf, thanks for writing. You made a lot of great points. I agree with you on many points. But basically, I feel that for the 15+ to want to stay in the game, they need a bit more than they are getting. A bit more competition.  I outlined that in my article above. But thanks for the great points, and I feel like I should put that in this article as it somewhat counters my perspective.


            Well I must agree with you that most new anime is *EXTREMELY* popular when it 
               first starts (as long as it has a good story line, magic, great art work, and 
               other stuff ^_^) like Pokemon. I admit, I used to collect the cards and play 
               the game but I didn't quit for Yu-Gi-Oh. Heck I quit Pokemon LOONG before 
               Yu-Gi-Oh! hit the US. They never showed any new episodes anymore plus Team 
               Rocket was getting on my nerves -_-' And I was a huuuuuge fan of DBZ but then 
               they stopped showing new episodes! (Its gets rather annoying when they play 1 
               series for 3 months straight..) But as long as Yu-Gi-Oh still has new eps. 
               I'm in. But I completely agree with you that ppl that quit playing Pokemon 
               just for Yu-Gi-Oh is kinda weird =\
               ~ Empress of Air
Hey Empress, thanks for writing. Yeah, you all know how I feel about Yu-Gi-Oh. However, you’d be surprised at how much hate mail I got from that article! It was insane!!! >_< Let me rephrase what that whole article was about: Don’t say Pokemon is horrible just because you like Yu-Gi-Oh. And vice versa. *sighs*
Hey, man, I was wondering. Could I do your next Saga of Sets for you? You said you didn’t like doing them… I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!
               ~ Anonymous
I don’t do this often, but I’ll do it here. Basically, I’ve had a LOT of people ask me this question. So here’s what I’m going to do! I’ll hold a “contest” of such. Go ahead and send me as many cards as you want with about 4-5 line reviews for them. In my next Saga of Sets (Challenge), I’ll post those. For each card not done by you guys, I’ll do myself. It’ll really be cool, right? =D Go ahead and send me as many reviews as you want to: rand0m_for_life@hotmail.com. Make sure you review GYM CHALLENGE cards. The next SOS I do will be called “Power to the People SOS” or something ;)
Thanks for reading. Happy Gaming!
~ RaNd0m