Monday, April 9, 2012

The Deck Out goes global: The United Kingdom

The Royal Court
Hello everyone!

Today's country is the UK or whatever you like to call it. The UK has a lot of good and known Pokémon TCG players (i.e. the Sekkoum brothers) and they have also had international success in the tournaments. When I think about The UK as a country, first things that pop into my head are Harry Potter, football and pop-music.

I haven't ever visited the UK but I'm planning to do so probably this year. There are lots of sights to see in the UK including Big Ben, Kensigton Palace, Tower Bridge etc. However, for now let's focus on the Pokémon TCG in the UK and how it looks like.


Population: 62,2 million
The most famous living person: David Beckham, J.K Rowling etc.
The most famous company: BP (Oil) & Rolls Royce
Currency: Pound
Fun fact: An Englishman drinks more tea than any person of any other nation (over twenty times more than Americans!).

Local Player Profile

The source for this entry is a 18-years old player – Nathan McLewee - , living on the South Coast of England, studying Business Studies/Economics as well as being a pretty active Pokemon player. He started playing about 3-4 years ago, going straight into tournaments, rather then attending a league first. He went 1-3 and 2-2 during both tournaments as a Senior, before he aged up as Master. He had a really hard time adjusting to the change, and dropped to second from the bottom in the rankings by the end of Battle Roads. He’s a competitive person by nature, and that gave him the motivation to start researching decks online, and spending more money on better cards for his deck. His hard work was rewarded with a 2nd Place State Championship finish that year, as well as coming 11th place at my Nationals, and he has continued to be involved in the game since. He has won several Battle Roads, 3 City Championships and a State Championship since, but a lack of money to play in the World Championships has meant that he has never been as active in tournaments as he would have liked. He also manages and writes for the website that you may be familiar of.  


Nathan would like to think that the UK has a great atmosphere within their tournaments. Although, they have several players that do play for rating invites each year, the majority of people are very laid back and friendly with each other, even those doing so. He has often needed to borrow cards for decks, and have had people competing with him that day happy to lend them to me, which speaks volumes about the people who play there. 

Competitive playing and tournament organizing

A lot of European countries in particular tend to be very separate from other countries, in terms of what contacts they have in the game, and what websites they read or post in. However, this isn't the case for the UK, and they tend to be very similar to the USA and Canada in the decks they choose to play, as well as visiting the mainstream websites such as SixPrizes or the Pokegym.

Nathan thinks that the UK could definitely use some more innovation in terms of creativity and deck choices, as they're usually very main stream and don't tend to experiment. Occasionally this will change, such as Tom Hall making Machamp/Magnezone a popular play last season after having a great run through City Championships and State Championships with it, or Tommy Roberts winning one State Championship and getting to the Top 4 at another with Gengar/Garchomp C. However most players are aware that it's usually safer to choose an archetype to test with, rather than devoting time to a deck which is likely to not be played by them eventually. Nathan would say that their players wouldn't be afraid to try something different if they felt it was a solid play, like our Nationals last year had a lot of our best players choosing Dialgachomp over Luxchomp, but they don't really have that desire to try and build something new.

Nathan isn’t sure who their local distributor is (although we do have one), because they don't get particularly involved with the UK’s organized play. Nathan knows there are other countries within Europe who are granted extra Sponsored Invites to the World Championships or Scholarships, but the UK doesn’t really have that. Most of their tournaments are run by individual people, usually Gaming Shops, Poke Parents or people who run tournaments as part of a general business with Trading Cards.

Player base

Nathan thinks the UK have been lucky in the sense that they're an English speaking country and have one of the highest populations in Europe, which means that they were always a good bet for overseas investment by Play! Pokemon. Nearly all our leagues are official, and most hold at least 1-2 Battle Roads each season. Unfortunately, Wales and Scotland both only have one league each, which means that the Organized Play is most popular within England. 

As with most countries, their Masters attendances are usually bigger than both the Juniors and Seniors combined. Nathan would say that on average, having 25 players per Battle Road, 35 per City Championship, 60 per State Championship and 200 per National Championships is usually about right. However, there are some areas, like in the Midlands, where a Battle Road from this season had over 40 players.

Although their Nationals attendance hasn't increased with the last 2-3 years, their other tournaments have been growing in size very comfortably, which maybe suggests that people attend a lot more tournaments now rather than the player base in general increasing. When Nathan first started to play, the Masters would usually have around 16-20 players for a State Championship, but now they reach a Top 8 Cut nearly every time. Nathan would credit this change mainly to a Gaming Shop in Nottingham, which have advertised Pokemon OP really well, and built up a big player base there.

When Nathan started playing, the best players in his country were all situated in the South, with most people a 1-2 hour drive from London. However, with the increase in the popularity of Organised Play in the Midlands, the country has become a lot more balanced in terms of how competitive each area are. There are now a lot more players who possibly deserve a mention here, but Nathan has had the opportunity to play most of those people in the past and would say that these 3 players are the UK’s best players.

Sami Sekkoum has been the most consistent World Championships competitor within the World, and is on another level to anyone else Nathan has ever played. Sami has attended every World Championships, only missing the Top Cut once, and made it to the final in 2009. Nathan would go as far to say that he is the best player to have never won the World Championships, and is potentially the best player in the World. 

His younger brother Yacine only plays in the UK’s National Championships and the World Championships if he gets an invite each year, but he won their 2011 National Championships as well as getting to the Top 8 in the 2008 World Championships, and came the closest to stopping Jason from winning a Second World Championships. Nathan is sure that if he played throughout the year and tested more, he would be on a similar level to Sami.

Tom Hall, I'm sure a lot of people know from writing on the SixPrizes Underground, and tends to dominate most tournament, which Sami and Yacine don't play in. He consistently places high/wins at our State Championships, wins several Battle Roads and City Championships each year, as well as being one of the favourites to win the National Championships.

Nathan feels that the UK is one of the better countries during most World Championships because they usually have around 1-2 players in the Masters Top Cut, and have come close to winning on several occasions (with a 2nd place, 3rd place (Seniors) and a 5th). Most of their players usually go 3-4/4-3 during the Swiss, and he would guess this is the case with most countries. They only have 2 players that are good enough to go all the way and win the tournament (Sami and Yacine), but for a country with a Nationals attendance of a similar size to most Regional Championships, Nathan thinks that's a great achievement. The USA, Japan and Finland are the only countries to have won the World Championships in Masteris, but he’d say that they have a great chance of being the fourth country to win that achievement.


It seems to me that the game is thriving in the United Kingdom. The player base hasn’t been decreasing like in other countries and I think the language is a huge factor to this. It’s easier for new Juniors and Seniors players to start the hobby because they understand what the cards say. When I first started playing Pokémon TCG, when I was 8-years old, I had to ask my mom to translate the cards for me. However, quickly I learnt a lot of English from the cards and funnily enough, I can credit Pokémon TCG for my good English skills.

The United Kingdom also has some very good players that are known worldwide. I’ve played against both -Sami and Yacine - in World Championships and can say that they are both great players. I agree with the fact that Sami is probably the best players in world, who hasn’t won Worlds yet but I guess that’s because he doesn’t usually play during the season that much. However, this season he seems to be pretty active if we look at the CPs he has, so I think he’ll once again get a very good placement in the Worlds this year. As I said, Pokémon TCG is going strong in the United Kingdom and I hope that the future will look even brighter for the UK’s Pokémon TCG community.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave any feedback/comments!

Image tags:


  1. Dude.. John Lennon died in 1980..

  2. David Beckham's career died when he went to the US

  3. Galeon: Rofl, what were I thinking. I should've deleted the "living" part in the beginning of the series. My bad.

    Anonymous: Haha, his career might have died but I think it made him even more famous worldwide.

  4. so I need help witha Cmt deck im just getting back into pokemon my email is id appreciate you returning a email

  5. Esa, I really feel upset when you write to UG Sixprizes about the meta, and then make this on Thedeckout, seems like you are keeping the blog just to keep it.

    1. I agree. It's like we have to pay to read good articles which Esa won't share on this blog.

    2. You people thought it was going to be diferent? this blog is a drag for Esa now, i predict the next Eye on Japan will be a UG exclusive.

    3. That's a bit unfair. This Global series was announced ages ago, and I like it.

      Esa is still providing good content and meta deck lists, so I'm fine with things so far.

      Of course, if the Eye on Japan stuff DOES go to the subscription site, then I would see it differently. Until it does, give this blog a chance.

      ~baby mario

  6. I understand how everyone feels but if you really have been following my blog all the time, you know why I'm "only making metagame things to UG". At the moment, I'm very concentrated on my entrance exams for Finnish top university and that's something I can't fail.

    The project of The Deck Out goes global was already delayed and it's a LONG project. Also, it's something I wanted to do since I really think that international scene is very overrated in the Pokémon TCG community. Also, they're so much faster to write than metagame analysis articles, so I have more time for reading for exams.

    When it comes to UG, I feel like it's my job. I don't have to work if I write for UG so the time really isn't off-blog time. I write for UG once in a month, so it's pretty easy just do your month's work in less than one day. However, the time, I've spend for writing articles (and will spend) for my blog is ^3534 hours the time, I've spent in UG articles.

    After all, I've already covered every single CURRENT metagame deck excluding Fighting decks, so I don't really have nothing to write about. Things will change when the new set is released and there are tournaments for me. My next tournament will be 1½ months away (Nationals), so I'm not playing that much at the moment. This is an optimal time for me to write about non-metagame things.

    Isn't there really anyone, who enjoys The Deck Out goes global - project? I'm so interested in different cultures that I love to read about every single country that play Pokémon TCG. I guess most people aren't.

    Anyways, I appreciate everyone giving their truthful opinion. I won't be stopping making The Deck Out goes global -articles because I feel like it's my mission. They really aren't that different from Eye on Japan -articles. The only difference is that instead of "Japan" there stands "Spain" or "The UK". Japan is very cool in my opinion but still, there are over 25 countries playing Pokémon TCG, other than the U.S. and Japan.

    I'm taking a break from Eye on Japan at the moment since my source moved to China for a while so either I have to find a new source or wait him to come back. However, I think it sad that there really is a comment saying that my next Eye on Japan will be an UG-article. The whole point of Eye on Japan and the real mission of my blog = to widen people's point of view to the game, would have been completely destroyed by it. And, I really couldn't even do it - some things just belongs to everyone. I really hope that you understand that I have a life AND that I'm not a native English author. So far, I've probably produced more content about Pokémon TCG on the internet than anyone ever and I probably write 4 times slower than the other writers!

    Thanks a lot for understanding and for comments! I'm also planning do to all the things in the future that I said here:

    I would love you to remember two things:
    1) I'm a human being
    2) I do this blog completely volunteerely and I'll do it as long as I don't think it's a drag for me

    1. You are doing an excellent job, and it's great that writing one UG column a month pays you enough to keep you from having to work. Please continue!

      Unfortunately, in the Pokemon online subculture there are some people who are quick to unfairly insult and deride others. Try to not let it bother you.

  7. As I've said above, I really like the global articles.

    Especially the ones from countries where they struggle even to play the game.

    Makes me realise that countries with good OP are pretty lucky.

    ~baby mario

  8. Esa, you don't have to listen to those anons. In one of your entries, I remember you mentioned the whole Eye on Japan stuff and why it was going to be delayed for a while. Do some research before posting, anons.
    Anyway, great article Esa. I find this entry helpful because I might go to the UK sometime.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.