Monday, May 14, 2012

The Deck Out goes global: France

Hello all The Deck Out readers!

In today’s goes global –entry, I’ll concentrate on France, which just had presidential election. France is a well-known country worldwide because of its rich culture but it’s also a home of one deck that was a secret deck in the World Championships but soon became a metagame deck all over the world – Gyarados. After that, France hasn’t been doing that well internationally (besides winning Prague Cup this year).

Just like in almost every middle-European countries, the Pokémon OP is going strong in France. The game has been growing for several years and there is no crisis to be seen. Let’s take a look what France has to offer for all of us!


Population: 65,3 million
The most famous living person: Audrey Tautou, Daft Punk
The most famous company: L’OREAL, Michelin
Currency: Euro
Fun fact: The Eiffel tower was originally intended to be dismantled and sold as scrap after its construction.

Local Player Profile

My source for this entry is 21 years old player who lives in Antibes. Look at South-East of France, between Nice and Cannes. Think about Cinema, "Festival de Cannes". Right now he’s a student in Sophia Antipolis, a place known for the Informatics companies you can found there.

He started playing in 2007 during the Festival International des Jeux (Cannes). He was 16. He thought, he would win easily because this game should be played by kids… He came with a starter deck-like and was beaten on the first round by Fabien Garnier, he became French Champion two years after.

The same Fabien told him to go on Pokécardex, the most important French TCG website and in partnership with the French distributor. Eventually, my source became moderator, then admin.
He runs his own league in Antibes. He’s a League Owner, Tournament Organizer, Pokémon Professor, Judge. The "1st at tournament" status is the only thing missing, the only tournament he finished 1st, was a pre-release.

After Worlds 2009, he played less, due to a fewer support to the league of Nice. That's why in September 2010, he started his own league but still, he did only 2 BR (with less than 10 players) and 1 National in 2009-2010, all the time with the Machamp SF-pixies he played in Grinder 2009, and started the 2010-2011 season the same way. Then in November 2010 a friend and he went to a UD prerelease at Milano, which is only 3 hours from Nice if you drive at 160 km/h (instead of 130 km/h, but who cares ? Italia,Yeah !). Then in February 2011, he went on an Italian SPT with Nikola Vakarelov and some friends, after that he started again attending tournaments with competitive decks, eventually he was in top16 during National 2011 playing Magnezone (this was the list Nikola Vakarelov worked for Nats, he finished 1st with it).

Non-competitive playing and leagues

As far as my source is concerned, there is no unofficial leagues in France. Having an official league in France is easy due good organized play. And yes, the league players play also in tournaments. My source knows some tournament players that don't go to league, but they do go to the tournaments.


The tournaments my source assists are a lot of fun. Competitive players may be like “serious business” during the game (or not, my source loves joking during games). However, once the round is finished, it's nothing else but fun, talks, trades etc.. Sometimes we do feasts during the tournament. My source would say the tournaments are laid-back, fun, and a bit competitive but not too competitive that it wouldn’t be fun.

Everybody is doing his/her best so everybody else has the cards they need for a tournament. My source gives sometimes cards of his personal collection during leagues to help new players building consistent decks.

Competitive playing and tournament organizing

My source thinks that on one side, they have some really good deck builders in France that can be very creative. On the other side, when big tournaments come, most people just take an archetype and put as few techs as possible. It's as if adaptability wasn't important at all, and to be honest, the least teched decks eventually win in France.

My source thinks that there are about 15 Tournament Organizers in France. However, the South of France has a lack or organizers.  Also, almost every League Owner is also TO of the tournaments of his city and Judges don't change much for tournaments that runs on the same place.

Asmodee is France’s local distributor. Asmodee is the distributor or both Pokémon and Wakfu TCG (a Magic-like, where any card could fulfill the role of Special Energy - giving 1 mana and 1 effect at the same time). My source thinks that even though Pokémon lets them make a lot of money, they concentrate their business on board games.

Player base

For Nationals, the average attendance number is 200 people.

When it comes to smaller tournaments, it depends on the location. In South of France, it's between 16 and 30 players for a tournament, while in North it's more like 40 people for a BR and 60+ for a SPT.

The player base has grown in North of France, in South the player base is staging. It could grow a lot more in South of France, but there is a lack of Organizers as already mentioned. My source is a tournament organizer and league leader because he wants tournaments near his town, but he wishes that someone else would take his place as the main organizer. He welcomes anyone, who wants to become an Organizer to South of France, you will be more than welcome!

While the player base grows slowly, at the same time it becomes more healthy. The time of trash talking, obscure-rules-to-my-advantage-because-I-normally-can't-win-against-you, and stacking is finally over and now there are only players that want to win by skills. My source enjoys this healthy situation and I don’t wonder why.

As mentioned before my source is in charge of Pokécardex, which is the French Pokegym-like, and the starting point of anything for French (and French Swiss) players. Other websites tried to cover TCG and other Pokémon subjects but eventually they all cut TCG. Every other website related to Pokémon TCG died or became a commercial showcase, so Pokécardex is the only website left that covers TCG and isn’t commercial.

However, Pokécardex has a partnership with Asmodee, the French local distributor : they cover new sets, and we get boosters for that. It's not much, but still it helps for tournaments, especially when you need some rare cards before a tournament.

Some leagues have started their own website. The problem is that when they stop posting information about their activities, everything collapses. My source then always see people asking "Why is there no tournament on [insert city]", while there is, but League Owners don't seem to know about Google Pagerank and that's why they hide themselves more than anything else, when they concentrate on their own website only.

Hopefully, this doesn't last long until information comes to Pokecardex. Still it worries my source so he tries to develop tools that helps Organizers announcing information more easily. My source has so many projects with Pokécardex, and so little time, that he would need months of free time to do all of them. His last idea is to centralize European communities but he still doesn’t know how he is going to do that. Esa’s note: Yeah, good luck with that, it will be very difficult!

The amount of playersper age division depends on the place. Where leagues are small, there are mostly masters. Where leagues are big there is more Juniors and Seniors. At Nationals, the age gropus are divided about like this:
35% Juniors
15% Seniors,
50% Masters.

Esa’s note: Looking very much healthier than in most countries!

Last year my source’s league was like 0% Juniors, 20% Seniors and 80% Masters. Now he has 20% of Juniors, 25% Seniors and 55% Masters and he is very happy with the growth of his league.

Right now my source thinks these players are the most respected ones in France:

- Hervé Marcant (rampardos):  less for his player skills, mostly because we love so much our OP Communicator :)

- Christophe Caron (Tichris) : 2nd on National 2010 against his friend he trained himself with.

- Stéphane Ivanoff (Luby) : now Champion of Prague Cup, he was already known for his skills and his involvement in the TCG community.

- Fabien Garnier and William Gilbert, the people behind Gyarados, are now less involved in the TCG community so they are less known now.

Last year my source would have told me that French players would never do good results outside France unless Act of God. Now he doesn’t know, and he isn’t saying it just because of Prague Cup results.


France is a huge country where the Pokémon TCG seems to be striving just like in Germany if we look at the number of players. France has also had some international success in one of the most skill-based formats of all time and with a secret deck! Only the future will show us if the SD was only one-hit-wonder or if France will be producing more cool surprises in the future as well!

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment!

P.S. In my next entry I’ll analyze the most hyped deck at the moment: Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX!

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

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  1. What about me, Vincent Azzolin, runner up at last national, with SPEED GYARADOS fuck yeah ! :'(

    1. I think Esa will only mention runner ups from Nationals if they play at least 1 Snorlax in their list... I guess you didn't...

  2. French junior and senior players are very good too, with 2 european champions and a vice-champion on Praha, and 1 senior champion in Arhnem and 3th/2nd place in junior in Arnhem too!

  3. Please make a 'the deck out goes global: austria' articel! :D

  4. I've been a French player for now 2 seasons (it's going to be my second nationals in a few weeks), and I must say the French community for Pokémon TCG is the best community I've ever encountered and been with. There is always a lot of fun, friendship, help and giving, players are in most part very kind (sometimes you need to learn to know them, but once done they are really great people).

    I've went 5-3 at Arnhem, like many other french players there. I've met a lot of good european players there (I played against your brother, maybe he remembers a french girl playing a Zeel with Zebstrika ^^), and I'm still trying to increase my skill.

    The competition level is really going up in France, and a lot of new players are now really strong, thanks to help from other players. The competition will be hard at the nationals !

    Vincent -> hum ? I don't remember you :P

  5. Vincent says:"I know you remember me, tynamo vs tynamo, a old love story <3"

  6. do write about deck out goes global: singapore! we'll be honoured :D


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