Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Deck Out goes global: Mexico


Maya pyramid in Mexico
Hi everyone!


Today’s country is a country that’s probably most known for its food – Mexico. I also remember Mexico for its good players in the World Championships of 2005 when I was still in the Seniors Division. I knew almost nothing about Mexico before I started to make this entry, so all the things I found was as surprising to me as they probably to you.

I want to warn readers in advance. There are some very controversial topics discussed in this entry so prepare yourselves for it before reading this entry. I hope that this can create constructive discussion about the state of the game in Mexico and hope that other Mexican players comment on this topic as well since I sure hope that things aren’t as bad as they’re pictured in this entry.



MEXICO

Population: 112, 3 million
The most famous living person: Salma Hayek, Carlos Slim Helu (World’s richest man)
Currency: Peso
Fun fact: Mexico City is built over the ruins of a great Aztec city, Tenochtitlán. Because it is built on a lake, Mexico is sinking at a rate of 6 to 8 inches a year as pumps draw water out for the city’s growing population.

Local Player Profile

Due the sensitive content of this entry, I won’t be revealing my source for this entry. All I can say, he/she has been playing a while and attends both – tournaments and leagues in Mexico. His nickname will be “Luke” in this entry (which of course isn’t his real name or nickname).




Non-competitive playing and leagues

The leagues Luke has been to seem to be official and are mostly run by the same Card Game Shop. There os only one league Luke knows [Queretaro], that’s partially run by a Card Game Shop and its own fan base. As far as tournaments go, most people who play at leagues play in the tournaments as well.


Atmosphere

This is hard to talk about because we are talking League in the biggest city in Mexico and smaller but equally important leagues in the middle of the country. Mexico City's Tournament are fierce, shoddy and shady at best in Luke’s opinion. There are many rules ignored or false information given because of mistranslations [Mexican players use english language cards] as well as they lack judges and professors. Since league is carried out in from the Card Game Shops, they pretty much care for assistance and getting product sold out to the attendees. It is a very competitive meta-game in the sense that you have to be careful from cheaters and also very powerful decks.

Cities were dominated by the same "team" or group [who don’t have the best reputation around due to their dirty and shoddy tactics in the trading sense of the game]. The spirit of the game is still available, but sometimes it feels faint since league isn’t really established as one, but more of a day and time where PKMN players can meet up and play [Mexico's main card game happen to be YGO with as many as 120+ players over Sunday against 20+ PKMN players on the same day].

This is Mexico's biggest problem regarding the SOTG [spirit of the game] – It’s a stock market. They often have "players" who simply acquire cards to then sell them to players. They do not play the game and simply compete for best price matches. Players who have friends and know each other make more fair trades and allow their teammates/friends to share their cards... But, again, league is only a space and time given since there is almost no support for a real League

Usually it goes like this: Each week you buy a booster pack, you get the right to play. After 4 weeks you get league rewards, if you paid for 4 booster packs... regardless if you played or not in the league]. Cards are often overvalued and trades are shady [have seen someone trading a HG Ninetales for 3 Durant, 2 Dual Balls, 1 Archeops Holo, 1 Cleffa and 2 Vanilluxe]. It’s hard to trade but easy to buy, and sometimes cards are exaggerated on their values [DCE sells for 9$ even if it’s a LEAGUE Promo].

Luke thinks this might portrait the state of game as something somewhat shoddy and dark, but that’s because he hadn’t had a clear view yet of what’s really going on. As far as it goes, it’s like a mafia in Luke’s opinion! The Card Game shops are the reason for this in Luke’s opinion.

Luke doesn’t want to get into trouble for this one and he only knows some of the higher people who read The Deck Out, but who knows about HIGHER higher people like tournament organizers? They are biased in Luke’s opinion as well.

Competitive playing and tournament organizing

The numbers of tournament participants seems to be always the same in Luke’s opinion. Luke has been discussing with the Mexican players, who have played a long time and the numbers have always been the same. Now the amounts are decreasing and making the meta-game fickle and weak [same decks, no new things]. Luke knows there would be potential if they could have some standardization with our judges, league time and place, and probably a little more support from TPCi regarding their state of the game.

Almost no players are using websites as their support to build decks. Besides Facebook's community [started by PokeMex] Luke has only seen some players use forums, but almost no one uses even the Popular ones [Gym and Beach]. Luke himself is a regular at PokeGym, Pokebeach, Pokemon Collectors, The Deck Out, 6 Prizes, Hey Trainer, PTCG Blog, OHKO, The Top Cut, Unova Passport, PokeMex and TrainersMX, as well as several Tumblr Mini-sites. So, he really uses all the sources that’s possible to use.

Mexico has one distributor for prize support and tournament scheduling in the Center Region [Mexico City and nearby cities] and another for Monterrey and Northern Territories. The tournaments are run by the same people and usually by the same leagues... But again, lack of leaders and lack of good leagues means they are usually hosted by The Card Game Shops and some volunteers. There is very often a lack of judges as well! Luke knows that Nationals have moved to a better venue from Mexico City, but even leagues throw a hissy fit if they aren’t in Mexico City.  Luke understands why - they feel powerless and cannot do their shenanigans. Luke thinks that last year they were moved to Queretaro and it was much nicer mood to all of this nonsense happening on the big city.


Player base

The numbers of players differ anywhere between 20 to 60 for Cities, Regionals and Battle Roads. Luke has not yet experienced Nationals in Mexico but there are rumors of gathering as many as 400+ players to them.
The age divisions look like this in Mexico (very alarming)
Juniors - 1%
Seniors - 4%
Masters - 95%

When asking if Mexican players are good enough to compete at top level in the World Championshios, Luke says Yes and No. It shows skills in the game, but a lack of imagination for creative and out-of-format decks that might have a fighting chance. The language barrier isn’t important since we are expected to know a world-wide known language but Luke has seen many people misplay because of this, as well as taken advantage of. The problem comes when you play in a no-rules game zone... You get used to have to watch your back and cannot cheat anymore, the lack of judges make the game uneven, and skills are usually thrown away. What Mexico needs in Luke’s opinion to make the game better is more judges, a more serious league setting and better SOTG... A good example that Luke wants to point out is that Mexico’s World's invite Winner (National Champion) went 0-7 for Worlds 2011! Luke thinks that this result speaks for itself when it comes to the state of the game in Mexico.


Conclusion

This is of course only one player’s opinion once again the state of the game in Mexico but I think that nevertheless there are some alarming facts. I’d love to hear the opinions from other Mexican players about the game and if things are really that bad in Mexico. I know that Pablo Meza Alonso was once in top4 of Worlds so Mexico has been in the top level of Pokémon TCG at some point. However, I also have faint memory of a bribing issue in Mexico’s Nationals finals in 2006 or 2007. So, I guess some of this is real but of course I can’t say if all parts are as horribly, as they look like.

Anyways, I hope that I can get comments on this from other Mexican players as well and other people, who are familiar with the game in Mexico!

Thanks for reading and please leave any comments!

A legal note: The things written in this article don’t necessarily present the official opinion of The Deck Out. 






















17 comments:

  1. 80% Right, I should mention that the lack of judges is not the real problem, is the lack of good and impartial judges, specially because some favor their local crew when they visit or get visited by other cities. What I see as the biggest problem here is that some judges are just collectors, not players, most of the time they ignore the proper ruling or mechanic for an specific card, only dedicated players check rulings at the gym.

    It should be quite the natural choice, I am a professor myself but I`d rather play than Judge in a tournament, since the rewards are very few compared to the ones that MTG Judges receive.

    While in the competitive issue, most of the benefits of the leagues are distributed in a really small zone, near the capital, there are good players in both the northern or the southern edges of the country, like Yucatan or Chihuahua, but only 10 out of the 32 states in Mexico get premiere events and out of those only 4 qualify for state championships. For the joy of the above mentioned group of skilled players, they can drive there in less than 3 hours, taking away the good cards local players may need to improve their skills, not to mention the unfair traders or thieves that might show up at those events.

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  2. Wow, reading this from someone who plays so far from my place (I'm also a Mexican Player) is kind of shocking, seems like that feeling is well too spread around the country.
    Just to add some to the article, the game is mostly supported for the central zone of the country. Northern States received very little to no support. The principal provider of PK TCG is located in the capital and can care less about people from north; they even don't care about people on the south of the country either.
    You get the feeling they are overpowered: they decide who can be judges and who cannot be. I had taken the Professor Exam and passed it but they will not allow me to even try, nor other people I've met.
    I have to say people from Monterrey are lucky, their community is very warm and their provider is very nice, even their events have a strong management, unlike the rest of the country.
    As for the English cards, in most of the cases they are not an issue, but people use that excuse to cheat and the underprepared judges allow it.
    I have to agree with 'Luke', most of the people use TrainersMX and PokeMex as their source of information for decks and strategy, but there are plenty of people (like me) who use traditional sources like SixPrizes, PokeGym, OneHitKO, TheTopCut, TheDeckOut, PokeBeach; just mention a few.
    What I have seen in my city and other PK Places is that people usually create decks around cards they like instead of card that really can win (that is very common) and the huge amount of people saying they don't want to copy other people's decks does not allow them to improve their skills. For example I tried a Durant deck at my place, from then on nobody wants to play Durant because I already had, THAT'S NONSENSE!!!
    Some of us think the game has stopped growing and is starting to shrink fast due to the impediments the biggest local provider brings to the game.


    By the way, I think this is a great Series of Articles, I really enjoy TheDeckOut.

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    Replies
    1. Reminds me of my time in Toronto and makes me glad for how good the northern California community is.

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  3. The article is full of mistakes and bias, and very poorly written. I was looking forward to this one, but having someone who hasn't even attended Nationals and apparently only plays in Queretaro is not good.

    I have a completely different view on things regarding Mexico. There are good things and bad things, but that always applies to everything.

    Your 'source' also fails to mention that even though someone went 0-7 (which I doubt that's true, not 100% sure but 95% sure), a mexican got Top 4 at worlds just last year.

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    Replies
    1. His facts on where Nationals was just last year aren't even correct...

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. http://origin.pokemonworldchampionships.com/2011/results/tcg
      The standings from last years Worlds can be seen there, he was probably talking about a junior.

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  4. If I'm not wrong we have had good players at Worlds before, Palomino was 4th Place last year at worlds. And if you are who I think, you did pretty well at ECC this year, according to TheTopCut 11th place.

    So I think we have very capable players in Mexico.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, I am who you think and I actually got 7th at the ECC, have attended Worlds multiple times, got 3rd in 2005, and have always had a good record at Worlds, not making cut twice on resistance and making Top 32 once. I could list a whole lot of records to show we have quality in Mexico, and I don't win every event because the competition here is fierce.

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    2. That's a very amazing profile, sorry for my mistake about ECC. I'd love to have the chance to play with you. I hope Nats don't mess up with a Wedding I have in June, so I can go and play.

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    3. It's also quite possible the judges at worlds aren't omniscient. I've seen a couple magicians make top cut before and never get caught. One of our locals WON worlds, and while I have no idea what he did then, he's certainly not Mr. Legit now.

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  5. Finally some great discussion. I think it's obvious that there is personal bias in these things since they are only based on 1 or 2 players' experience. However, I think there is something clearly wrong with the community of Mexico if I look at the first two comments and at my source's comments.

    Pablo: As you seem to have a different point of view to the game in Mexico, would you mind writing your opinion more precisely? I'm sure that a world-class player like you, who has experience from tournaments and community from the U.S. as well, could give some credible information about Mexico.

    Rmmo25: That's the reason why I always add a note to the end of these article. "A legal note: The things written in this article don’t necessarily present the official opinion of The Deck Out."

    I'm no one to judge if any country has competitive players or not if I haven't ever even visited the country!

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    Replies
    1. I'd consider it I guess.

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    2. That`s gonna be quite an Issue... since 15/16 of the Mexican players don`t even know this site exists to give their opinions.

      Most of the the players that have assisted to worlds are mainly from the capital or nearby, Pablo can even go to compete in Europe, while I can barely travel to Nationals, that might complicate the impartiality for the points of view, the greatest achievement for my local players base is 1 World`s competitor for 2010, while Mexico City has more than 40, Monterrey and Guadalajara (wich are the 3 main capital cities) have less than 10... there might be better players around Mexico, specially in the borderline, since they can compete in the US leagues, but they will never get the chance to try a National Championship, specially if they have to travel 12 to 20 hours by bus.

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  6. Sorry if I'm a little rude...

    I'm from Guadalajara returning player for love to the game, but also a seller, is true sometimes I buy cheap and sell expensive, "market rules" althought I don't live for it. Mexico is kind big when we talk about metagame areas, Guadalajara used to had a healthy player base around 60-80 people, now is around 20-30, mostly because the community don't share the same goals, they dislike the current jugde for various issues, and we don't have a regular place to play just some cards shops but the again we're 8:1 against yugioh players.

    I agree that jugde quality is pretty bad but worse is the organization and promotion of the game.

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  7. hello everyone.

    I am a player from Monterrey, Mexico.
    we always try to get new players here and in the past year the community has grown a lot, we have from 30-50 players weekly and growing.

    the metagame here its on its way to a world competitive gameplay, as we are helping each other.

    personally I am a veteran player from at least neo-on but couldn't affort time to play from dragon frontiers until hgss on, we started on a more competitive playing since last year, and I must comment as alexard says. We all think that the nationals should be more at the north, I don't say that they must be here at monterrey but as I was talking with some players from mexico city past state championship. they also think it would be fair for all the players to achieve the highest level, actually we are already waiting for a date for the national to purchase air-plane tickets to save the most, or to rent a bus because as alexander said... its not cheap and moving all the community its a challenge, not all the players that should go can affort the expenses of an air-plane ticket plus hotel and expenses.

    We are always doing our best to get a more competitive community and we hope to have this game we love for some more years...

    we hope this year will be our year at nationals and hope to achieve something at the worlds just to start.

    See you soon and hope to get the best challenge!.

    Jesús Cervantes.

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  8. I am by far the most biased source there will be for Mexico, but at the same time, i am the holder of most of the actual facts and can share some insight on what a lot of people only can assume.

    I will try to address the broader issues, since nitpicking would take me forever.

    Support:
    Yes, it IS true the center of the country is by far the most supported, the reason is simple, player density, now, saying we dont care about the north and south is simply delusional, my reach goes as far as Guadalajara for state championships, and Chihuahua for BR's not to add Jorge Rodriguez runs a lot of stuff on Monterrey, same goes to the south, we held a BR at Merida. Now the hard part is that we have held OP efforts in 30 out of the 32 states, but player bases come and go quite quickly, and as such we have strongholds we keep, but we have supported in the past as North as Mexicali and as South as Cancun, which are the northernmost and southernmost cities I can think of.

    Player Level:
    Mexico players are very talented, especially when it comes to teching, Josue got top 4th at worlds last year, and Pablo almost took it back in his day, so no need to further dwelve there, and it IS true our juniors suffer internationally, the reason is simple, there are NO spanish cards, so we need bilingual juniors... Most 8 year old kids dont know 2 languages, so its a HUGE barrier for them, I have always said, if we had spanish cards player base and juniors quality would boom.

    Judge Quality:
    This is a huge and long issue, what do you value more? honesty or quality ? I have tried dozens upon dozens of judges in my 10+ year run with Pokemon, I keep those I trust most and have potential to grow, I have discarded good judges for many shady reasons, or in many cases, because they would rather play (good call in my opinion) The idea we have "too much power" is a missconception, we have limited resources, and I have yet to tell a single judge he cant judge unless there is a very good reason, since there is a shortage on judges, yet again this is a matter of perspective, hell, I've even been called incompetent or fraudulent plenty times before!

    Now, one thing to remember is Mexico is different than the US, and while I have tried establishing methods from the US, some have downright failed. I recall that we tried moving nationals to Queretaro one year to help boost the local player base, only to have the local player base shrink! The atmosphere felt just like any and all other Nationals we've had.

    Now, regarding trades, there will always be hard traders, but then again, its always up to you whether to trade or not, I have been consulted countless times regarding trades, so I can vouch whether its a good or not trade, but I am not omniscient, so I cant be everywhere, also, on the account that there is lots of lawless areas, how is that different from any other card game ? World class judges are not exactly a dime a dozen, and there is not a single one south of Mexico (Latin America is more than half the continent, and trust me, THAT is a lawless Pokemon area).

    What I would like to express to end this rebuttal is disapointment, mainly because I know we have places to improve and grow, but there is only complaints here, what about all the good points ? How about mentioning we have Top 5 attendance in Nationals worldwide ? Or the Fact that we are the most heavily supported country in Latin America ? I mean, there is no paid trip for Nationals winners for any Latin American National's besides Mexico; I echo Pablo's sentiment, this sounds awfully like sour grapes, and I would love to hear from this kind of things to my email, but I have not received a direct email to improve conditions on the last 5 years or so.

    And BTW, I believe the reason the first comments were aproving of this is because its more than likely friends of the original poster if not "Luke" himself, keeping an eye on this story to unfold.

    Yours truly:

    Ives Rountree

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