Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Deck Out goes global: Spain

Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain
Hi everyone!

As promised, this week, I’ll be making 3 entries and that’s why there will be another entry already today. I’ve been very busy during the last few weeks so I’m happy to get back to normal rhytm and concentrate on the blog.

Today’s The Deck Out goes global’s country is a country, which I’ve personally visited – Spain. Did you even know that Spain had an Organized Play? I didn’t and in fact they don’t even have a one! However, that doesn’t stop them from playing Pokémon TCG and hoping that once their community is big enough, they’ll one day have an Organized Play in their country, which will lure even more players into the community. So, let’s look what The Deck Out goes global has in store for today!


Population: 46 million
The most famous living person: Enrique Iglesias
The most famous company: SEAT
Currency: Euro
Fun fact: Bullfighting is considered an art as well as a sport and popular attraction. It is also the biggest and most controversial sport in Spain and is an integral part of Spanish history, art and culture with bull rings in all major cities and beyond.

Local Player Profile

My sources for this entry is a  12-years old Spanish player who has been playing the Pokémon TCG for 3 years and a 20-year old Spanish player who has played for one year. The 12-year old player is studying at Secondary School and he enjoys playing both Pokémon TCG and Pokémon Video games. He has won the Videogame Nationals of Spain in 2010. The 20-year old source is currently studying Fine Arts career at university.

It’s good to have two sources that are so different from each other because that way, I can get a realistic and two different points of view into Spanish Pokémon TCG.

Non-competitive playing and leagues

First of all, Organized Play doesn’t exist in Spain. I was very surprised to see so many Spanish players in ECC because of that. However, I guess all you need is Great Spirit of the Game and community and you are able to get players into Pokémon, no matter where you live. Since Spain doesn’t have Organized Play, they don’t have any official tournaments like BR, CCs, States or Even Nationals.

However, there is a very lively Pokémon TCG community in Spain in some card stores for example in Madrid and Barcelona.   In those stores, they Spanish players buy the Pokémon singles, booster packs, boxes, tins etc. and play and organize tournaments.

In Spain, there are no official leagues either since there is no organized play. The Madrilean players are working hard to change this fact by proving their competitive prowess. Popular Pokémon TCG-dedicated websites like SixPrizes and The Deck Out have helped them to stay updated on decks used in the current metagame around the world.

In Madrid, they have Pokémon TCG tournaments every week, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Each Wednesday there are about 9 or 10 people, but on Saturdays there are around 18 players. They use the current format to play, but in other communities they play with DP-On or EX Ruby and Sapphire-On since the tournaments aren’t official.
There aren’t a lot of competitive decks in Spain due the fact that not everyone is playing with the official format and most importantly, there aren't enough players that play the Pokémon TCG card game to have enough competitive decks.


The atmosphere at Spanish tournaments is neither relaxed nor competitive, well, it also depends of the players that are attending to the tournament. If the most of the tournament players are very well-known players because of winning many tournaments, there is a tense atmosphere, if not, it's quiet.
People take care of their cards and decks when playing or trading, but some young kids left their cards on tables when playing or going to buy anything.

The atmosphere is mostly laid back, but Spanish players do get very competitive during matches because it’s a race to get that valuable cards everyone wants. By playing according the current format metagame, they improve their skills in order to prepare for the official international tournaments. This is part of their commitment to get organized play in Spain as soon as possible. Of course, they don’t forget the fact that they are playing to have fun, to relax and spend a good time with the rest of the group. Also, players don’t have any problem in lending their cards to other players.

Competitive playing and tournament organizing

TPCi is sending Spanish players the English material and also Spanish one, but most players prefer the English cards due to the scarce Spanish legal sets, which are: HGSS-UL-BW-EP.
The game is getting better in Spain; TPCi is thinking about visiting one of the tournaments in Spain and then think again, if it would be a good idea making an OP in Spain.

The number of tournaments depends on the area, Barcelona and Canary Islands have very few tournaments per month, but Madrid has them every week.

The tournament's organizers are always the same - the boss of the store - which the tournament is taking place organizes all the tournaments-
Spain’s local distributor is Asmodee. The company started giving Spanish players Pokémon TCG material with HGSS, before this, they had a horrible distributor called Panini, who gave them misprinted cards and not giving them important sets such as MD,RR,SV,AR etc.

Spanish players communicate and talk about Pokémon TCG in a website called . Players who read English use sites like SixPrizes, The Deck Out and PokeGym. Spanish players also have their own blog and forums, Pokémon Supporters (, where they offer the latest news of the TCG in Spanish, tournaments, decklists, articles on future expansions, etc. In the forums, Spanish players discuss in depth about any TCG-related topic about the current or future format.

Most players are creative due to the high price of some cards and make their own Rogue decks. People who built Tier 1/Tier 2 decks are also creative since they put in unbelievable techs - in my source’s opinion - that work for most match-ups.

Additionally for Madrid, there are also tournaments in Jerez, Tarragona, Valencia and Tenerife. Twice a month, there are tournaments in Barcelona, but they only play with cards in Spanish, so they are lagging behind the current format. What Spainlacks are official league leaders and professors to get every city coordinated to the same level.
To stay with the current format, Spanish players have to import English cards, but even then they have some troubles to get material. By the time when ECC was just around the corner, a big shipment of Next Destinies was supposed to arrive a week before the ECC, but only SOME OF IT had arrived ONE DAY BEFORE THE flight DEPARTURE to Arnhem. All players were quickly opening packs so they could lend the Mewtwos to the Spanish team. Thankfully, for Spanish players, there is such thing as team work.

Player base

The average number of people that comes to our tournaments is around 14 people and the number is increasing since Pokémon TCG is gaining more popularity at Spain.
However, the truth is that their entire country can't compete in Worlds because right now if a player wins a match against someone, almost every time he'll win against that guy. There are no more than at least 50 players that play competitive decks and most of them are from the Master Division, so the only Spanish' competitors that could make their way to TOP-xx of world would belong to Masters age division. In my sources’ opinion, the game has to increase faster than it's doing if Spanish players want to do well in every age division in the Worlds Championships.

Since game is getting bigger and will get even bigger in the future, new players are appearing and newer sets are coming to Spain. My source is hopeful that there will be Organized Play when a new rotation takes place, where they’ll have almost all sets in their national language. There are no age group division in Spain due the fact that the player amounts are still very low.

There aren't any players in Spain that almost everyone knows of, what my other source thinks are good players at his area such as Arturo Oviedo for being one of the best players at Madrid and for winning a Yu-gi-oh tournament at Worlds 2010,or Marco Casero for opening the first Spanish singles store, .

The number of players in one of my sources’ area was almost non-existent. He remembers that, when he played my first tournament back in July, the average was hardly about 4-5 people. After they began to promote the game through their blog and spread the word, the number raised to a solid 22-23 people in a matter of a few months. He has no doubt that the potential for this game in the country is high, and that it can keep growing up. They made that much progress in just a few months, and he’s sure more people would be interested if there would be official tournaments in Spain.

The age division’s percentages go about like this in Spain: 85% Masters, 5% Seniors, 10% Juniors.

This year a Spanish team wnt to Arnhem for the European Challenge Cup for their first Play!Pokémon tournament. Mostly made of players from Madrid, the team had 10 Masters, 1 Senior and 1 Junior. Their best result in Masters was 5-3, so no Masters were able to reach the top32. However, they still had a great time because their Junior player Raúl Peña Azcueta finished 4th in his first P!P tournament. The other Spanish players worth of mention are the  rest group who went to the ECC: Marco Casero, Damián Broens, Antonio Peña (PokéDad, father of Raúl Peña), Fernando Picatoste, José Yago de Alberto, Fernando Márquez, Jerónimo Márquez and Álvaro Carpio.

My source thinks Spanish players do have the potential to play and build decks at an international level, now their objective is Worlds and they are working to get to that goal. In only one year the player base has grown a lot and it will keep growing even more.


As you can see Spain has a lot of potential. It’s a big country with a lot of people so the potential for Pokémon TCG is huge for Spain. Getting an Organized Play in Spain would probably help them to get even more players just like my sources think and I’m impressed how much volunteer work, the players have already done to promote the game for new players. I’ve been there myself because I was there when we started to build the Pokémon TCG community of Finland from a scratch. And when I look at what the Finnish players and community has achieved worldwide, I have no doubts about Spain’s success as long as PCI gives the OP. I encourage PCI to give Spanish players a chance to grow their community by giving an Organized Play to them!

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave comments!

P.S. Remember that there will be a third update this week and it’ll be the first entry of the “Ask Esa” –series. It’ll probably be published somewhere around Friday.



  1. News from the future, Worlds 2012:
    "Spanish player won".

  2. Great Post! Thanks for this Esa, and good job! We will continue working :)

    Marco Casero.

  3. Greetings from Spain.

    Very good article about our country, but there are some mistakes about it.

    First of all, as far as I know, there are no city which plays EX or DP-on nowadays. There are some communities where they use open format (Base-on), because there are very few players and they try to get back old players who used to play back when we had OP, but with the intention of changing to official format when able.

    Secondly, in Barcelona we don't use only Spanish cards. English and Japanese cards had been always allowed, and since a month or so ago, ND can be used in tournament (the expansion arrives in our language in May 9th). There are some people (like me) who prefer to buy cards in our language (for collector purposes), but we have no problem on using English ones.

    On the other hand, I feel the website is getting underrated in this article, since it was the first Spanish Pokémon TCG Website, and also have information about, latest news of the TCG in Spanish and OP, tournaments, decklists, articles... and have also a forum to discuss.

    I'd like, with the purpose of improving the information of this article (which I think, with all respect, is not accurate at all), to contact the writter of this article to discuss the topic and explain all I can about the misinformation.

    Again, thanks for giving room for Spanish players on the Pokémon TCG community, and hope we get OP after Worlds :)

  4. The information given about tournaments in Barcelona is totally wrong. I am heading the tournaments in that city, and we play almost once a week, not twice a month as it's said. And we not only play with Spanish cards, but also with English and Japanese.

    I don't know who gave you all this information, but it's not accurate at all. Maybe your contacts are not 100% objetive about the state in all the country.

  5. When is the next eye on Japan article coming?

  6. Bain metete tus cartaspokemon por el puto culo!!

    PS: Great article Esa! :)

    1. Stop arguing los de barna noteneisnizorradeljuegonideinglescapullos. Please

  7. I don't know spanish, but that looks very outdated, it has some web 1.0 layout that looks like rubbish lolXD.

    Keep up the good work Esa, i'm looking foward to an Eye on Japan article.

  8. Hello from Spain first good message and I mean that Barcelona does not play well with only letters in English and Spanish and play Japanese official form from hg & ss - nd. bye from spain

  9. Thanks for all the comments and contacts, I'll be making a Spain part 2 next week with the fixes, I've gotten from all the Spanish players. I must thank you all for your activity. It seems that things are heating up in Spain.

    Anyways, the next Eye on Japan article will be probably before Worlds, once I am able to find a new contact from Japan (the former one moved to China for one year).

    Thanks for all the comments and from now, please keep the discussion fair and square. I still have Google translator, you know.

  10. Spain part 2? Why? I don't want to read about their internal conflicts or their poopfighting lol xD. I want to read about the UK!!

    1. It will be only a mini-article correcting the errors in this article. And don't worry, I don't want to be reading about poop-fights either! Thankfully it was a VGC player and not all Spanish players aren't like that. Also, The UK entry will be released next week as well!

  11. Well, sorry, I live in Barcelona, and participated in European Tournament. I am a new player, and went to Arnhem when it took less than a year playing. The atmosphere seemed great, and I made many friends. In spite, but to be the only person in Barcelona to go, I know many others who have tried but failed. The information we have is partial, and does not work as not even in the bulls and culture (Here in Catalonia the bulls are illegal). Here in Barcelona we are about 50 players, from juniors to masters, not yet having all the means at our disposal, we played with care, and take everything in every tournament, which incidentally is one a week. And although I have not played more, that I want removed, and make a discreet role in Arnehm. So I challenge those who wish, to come to Barcelona, ​​go with their art, food, and for participating in a tournament and see if it will be easy to win.

  12. Hi,

    Just read your article. I'm not a fan of the TCG myself, but find it sad that TCG never got it right in Spain. Previous distributor apparently was the cause.

    I attended Spain VGC last Saturday and there were some TCG players at a stand. These people had contacted Asmodee / TPCi so they were allowed to hold a stand during the VGC tournament. I talked to a girl as I was covering the event for the official Nintendo magazine in Spain and found this interesting. This initiative and the ones you mentioned on your article may push the TCG forward in Spain.

    It's hilarious that Malta has one representative at Worlds each year, and Spain simply doesn't. It's time to change that.

  13. Hey, now that i see Melkor's post i have to say as this a fun fact, Senior's VGC Champion of Spain Miguel is also a TCG player, nice guy and strong player too! i've played in tournaments with him, he uses a strong Eelektrik deck right now.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. The guys at the stand, Melkor, we were the people of Pokemon Supporters, me and two more who were explaining how to play to anyone who approached. Hopefully our work will serve for something

  16. Thanks Esa, I really appreciate this article, we wish having the OP soon :)

    Only one point, I'm from Barcelona too, and we usually play 3/4 tournaments in a month, what's more, our TCG skills are improving every day, and finally there're people with a lot of potential here in Barcelona and Tarragona. Yeah, it's true that there're lots of rogue decks, and that's funny too, and as you said before, there are some rogues that work really good. Remember, we play pokemon for fun ^^

    The Madrid comunity is a little bit active than us, and we work together, including the rest of the country, to show to the world the Pokemon TCG

    PS: I'm a part of this 5% of seniors :D

    I hope you and the community the best


    1. "Yeah, it's true that there're lots of rogue decks"
      Oh look, he doesn't know what is a rogue deck, how cute.

    2. yes, I know it, and you?
      are you from barcelona? I don't think so... let us know your name mr. anonymus, if you're so cute
      sorry Esa for comments like those, in every part of the world there exist a single person that wants to hurt a great united community, and I'm already waiting for your second part, I'll be really pleased!

    3. Barcelona? I'm not even from Spain son. And sorry, i won't give you my name, i'm straight.
      In your post you are implying that rogue deck means a terrible deck, and that's wrong, as wrong as a smartass Senior can get.
      Can't wait for part 2 to see these rogues, i will have a good laugh.

    4. I never mention any deck, so how you know how are our decks?? Don't say nothing if you don't know anything about us, we're fighting to get the OP, don't disturb us mr. anonymus
      I'll stop arguing right now, that's rubish for this website

  17. If the Spanish ever go to Worlds, I just hope they don't go flinging feces everywhere like they did in the VGC xD
    Anyway, interesting article Esa. Keep up the good work! Can't wait for that US article!

    1. Spaniards didn't went flinging feces, it was just one.

    2. Surely, just a silly one

    3. It was just one guy who did that at the hotel he was staying, this has nothing to do with spain nor pokemon vgc/tcg spanish players.

  18. Surely you are English and Spanish lost against any ... only envy, I feel sorry


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