Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It has been a while: Aftermath of Worlds


BCIF (No, I'm not kidding!)
Hello everyone!


It’s been a while. In fact, it has been two weeks already since my last article! Today I’m here to share my Worlds experience with you. The feelings I got from Worlds were very controversial. On the other hand, I would have loved to play, but in the end I was more than grateful that I eventually had to be a part of the translation team even though my big brother’s car accident led me to it. Why I was happy translate even though I love playing? That’s a very interesting question indeed, which I will try to answer in this entry.

Anyways, I wasn’t’ able to provide any updates from the tournament venue, because the internet access was 150 dollars per day… I’m very disappointed to that, but oh well, I had a blast nonetheless! As I was inside the staff area from Thursday onwards, I will give you today an inside-scoop about some things that I wouldn’t have probably heard as a player. Of course I can’t say all the things, because some of them were confidential, but I will tell everything that wasn’t!

Let’s get going.






Pre-Worlds

As you may remember, I didn’t playtest Pokémon at all during the whole Miska Camp, which is usually THE place to playtest in Finland before Worlds. In fact, I was the only Finnish Worlds player that even attended Miska Camp this year. Times really had changed a lot since 1-2 years ago. Anyways, I was deciding between two decks: Garbodor/Darkrai EX or Hydreigon/Darkrai EX/Cresselia EX, which me and Matijs tested a bit during the summer. I was leaning more towards Hydreigon EX/Darkrai EX, because of its exceptionally good Gothitelle match-up and good Plasma match-up.

In fact, a few Danish players played it in the Worlds. Simon Eriksen, who made a few changes to list was able to go 5-3 with it in Masters and said that the deck worked, but due to a couple of variables (horrible opening hands, bad prizes etc.), he lost to the three games. I would have loved to see the deck in the top cut. Here is the list Simon played.

Pokémon:

4x Deino (Darkness)
2x Zweilous (The get back energy one)
3x Hydreigon (Dark Trance)
3x Darkrai EX
2x Cresselia EX
2x Keldeo EX
=16

Trainer:

4x Professor Juniper
3x N
2x Colress
3x Skyla
3x Tropical Beach
2x Pokémon Catcher
1x Super Rod
1x Computer Search
1x Level Ball
3x Ultra Ball
3x Rare Candy
3x Dark Patch
4x Max Potion
=33


Energy:

4x Blend DGFP
7x Darkness Energy
=11

I won’t go too in-depth to the deck, but there is one card that is just soooo good – Cresselia EX. OHKOs Gothitelle and Deoxys EX. Nuff said. It was the whole starting point of the deck when I came up with the deck. After all it’s just the plain old Hydreigon/Darkrai EX, with a little more emphasis on Cresselia and Keldeo than before. However, in the end it could be considered as rogue. I respect Simon for taking the chance and playing the deck in the Worlds, because I couldn’t play it.

Anyways, in late July my big brother got hit by a car and it soon became clear to me that I couldn’t go to Worlds as a player. Well, at least I saved some money (a lot in fact, because the flights would have been about 1700$ at this point). I would get the Worlds Promos and the Pikachu plush (which my girlfriend wanted), so I decided I could do the translation. It may be my last Worlds, so I was sure being in the staff side just once would be a great experience – and in hindsight I can happily say that I wasn’t wrong.

I really had no time to playtest in the summer at all, because of my work and with my new emphasis on reading novels. You may have noticed that not that many “real” articles were released in The Deck Out either in the summer. However, I’ll get back to that in the end of this entry. I decided to apply for an author school and activated myself in the professional life as well by attending a seminar relating to my studies, so Pokémon TCG was naturally pushed to the sidelines of my life. It was my last priority in the summer and because of that I wasn’t too sad of letting go of playing in the Worlds. The most important thing was that I could just experience them one more time, it didn’t matter if I was playing or not.




3 darkrai ex
2 cresselia ex
2 keldeo ex

4 juniper
3 N
2 colress
3 skyla
3 tropical beach
2 catcher
1 super rod
1 com search
1 level ball
3 ultra ball
3 rare candy
3 dark patch
4 max potion

4 blend Dark
7 dark basic

Wednesday-Thursday

Interesting fact: this was the first time I traveled all-alone overseas. I have been to Europe alone before, but going to Canada was a bit exciting since you never know what kind of things you will bump into while traveling. Thankfully, everything went smoothly and I was able to sleep a lot in the airplane, so I wouldn’t be jet-lagging that much in Canada. I think I watched “Olympus has fallen” and “42” in the plane from London to Vancouver. I also saw that there were a few other Pokémon players in the same plane as I was.

On Wednesday, I pretty much just walked around Vancouver and took some pictures. I searched for Finnish players and found them from the same place where everyone was playing and watched the games. I also noticed that Amu-san who helped me in Tokyo was there, so I played with him a couple of games with my Gothitelle and Hydreigon/Darkrai EX and then went to sleep.

On Thursday I promised to playtest with the Finnish player and so I did. The international staff had a Thursday as a “jet-lag” day, so I knew I wouldn’t have to do anything on Thursday. Later in the day I spotted Ukinin-san from McDonalds’ and went to chat with him. I chatted him for an hour and then Ulrika (the Swedish translator, who I have met a lot of times in the Stockholm tournaments) came to look for me. She said that I needed to do something today! Oh, well…

I was one of the last people to arrive to staff room. Pia (the head translator) asked me to do some acting as a stereotypic Finn (you can’t really read a Finnish person’s feeling from his face), so I really hadn’t had to act at all! All I needed to do was to be myself, lol. Those who have met me IRL may have noticed that my impressions really don’t change that much while talking. It’s normal for a Finn, don’t worry.

The staff meeting was very interesting and I learned a LOT from all the people that talked and explained things to us, but one thing that I also noticed is that due to the cultural differences I didn’t find the jokes other people laughed at, funny at all!

After the staff-meeting I went to the open gaming room and played with the Finnish players. I felt that jet-lag was crawling to reach me slowly but surely and before I noticed I was dead-tired and went to sleep at 9 PM.



LCQ day

On the LCQ day it was already clear that there would be top32 and 8 rounds for Masters and Seniors. I suddenly started to regret not playing, I love top32 especially with this amount of players in Masters. Almost no 5-3s got through, so it’s a very optimal number, because everyone playing X-2 should always get through to the top cut in the big tournaments (this hasn’t been the case in the last Worlds, which is pure nonsense).

This has lead into cases where two people who know each other and are in 4-2 just arrange the result in a way that the player who has better chances of getting through wins the game. One of the recent examples of this was in 2011 when I was playing beside Chris Fulop and Ross Cawthonin the Worlds 2011 in the 7th round. When Chris won the game, he gave the win to Ross, because Chris didn’t have a chance of getting to the top cut even with a 5-2 result according to his own calculations. The system shouldn’t encourage people to arrange games and that’s why I was very happy with the change this year.

We didn’t have any Finnish players in the LCQ this year even though we usually have at least 2-3 of them. Nevertheless, I had to sit in the translator table and get to know other translators. Not-so-surprisingly I got the best along with the Danish and Norwegian translators since they both were Scandinavian! However, all the translators were such a great people that I talked to every one of them already on Friday. When I wasn’t talking to other translators I just read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and got some food for the translators that needed to actually do something! Thankfully I got out from the tournament venue before the Masters finished and went to spend time with Finnish players and Ukinin-san. We went to eat, played some games and then went to sleep. Before going to sleep I checked that Takuya Yoneda got through with his Garbodor/Darkrai EX deck, which I knew would be the deck to follow on Saturday. That guy is just too good.  



Worlds

The big day. For me, for the Finnish players and all the Worlds attendees. I was excited; because I was sure I had to do some translating and that it would be a very hectic day. The translator table was very close by to the Seniors table 1, so when I didn’t do any translating, I spend my time watching the best Seniors’ games and let me say that they aren’t any worse than the best Masters. The matches were very enjoyable to watch and the decks were VERY interesting.

The question remains, how many translation jobs I had to do? One! Woot. I sure was worth the money for the TPCi… I was also very flattered that I received 2 fan letters to the translator area, which were brought to me by Dave and BDS. In fact, it was bit weird that so many people did actually recognize me in the Worlds even though I haven’t shown my face in my blog for over a year! Maybe the staff badge and the blue translator shirt helped them, haha.

What I want to emphasis about the Saturday is that I don’t really approve the way it was planned for especially Masters. It really put all the non-U.S. players into an underdog position. If you arrived to Vancouver on Wednesday (like I did), there was no way you could have been able to concentrate on games fully all the way to the top4. I was dead when they were playing the top16 and I wasn’t even playing the whole day! I can’t imagine how exhausted I would have been if I was playing. And not-so-surprisingly all the top4 finishers in Masters were U.S. players. Not only over 50% of the Worlds Masters players were U.S. players, they also had an advantage due to a very small time difference.

In Masters Division and in the current format, only one mistake is usually enough to decide the difference of a victorious and a lost game. And it’s very easy to make mistakes when you are tired. Not only that, but this also affected the judges in the tournament and probably the U.S. players as well as Jason made the double attachment (which even the judges didn’t notice at first). Also, the game, which Jason would have lost in top8, got a whole new turn of events when his opponent shuffled his hand into his deck, when Jason revealed an N from Random Receiver. I heard that the judges ruled a prize loss at first, but after talking with Jason and with each other, they ruled a game loss, which led Jason to top4 and eventually to win the whole tournament! Are these the kind of situations that are worth Worlds Championships? I think not. I really hope TPCi will learn from this year’s mistakes once again and will do it better next year.

Sunday was a much more relaxed day and I judged some prereleases and did some volunteering (i.e. standing around and showing people which way to go). I also watched the finals from the screen and was positively surprised about the quality of the commentators (Jwittz and Crimz). It’s great to see that TPCi is really listening to the players of the game. What was very interesting in my opinion in the finals was that, there were no U.S. players in the finals of the Seniors or Juniors, but the whole top4 of the Masters was all-U.S. players.

Anyways, as I pretty much wrote this with a thought-flow method, there may be some things that I left unmentioned, which should have been mentioned, but I hope you enjoyed the report nonetheless! In the end, pros and cons so I can get my thoughts more together!




Pros and Cons

+ My 8th Worlds!
+ I was able to meet Ukinin-san and Amu-san
+ All the people who came to talk to me and liked my blog
+ Samuel M. who gave me a great gift
+ Kaiwen C. for winning Seniors
+ The whole great translation team!
+ The great table in the staff dinner: Lars, Benjamin, Soon and Yoko
+ Danish players playing Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
+ The active Finnish Pokémon moms that may just be able to revive the game in Finland
+ All the people I forgot to thank
+ Vancouver sightseeing
+ Even though I enjoyed staffing, I now know more than ever that playing is my thing
+ A lot of people asking “what has happened to Finnish Pokémon TCG – you used to have a lot of good players?”
+ Great commentators in the top cut games
+ You for reading the report



- A too long first day in the Worlds
- Only one Finnish player had a positive record! (The last time it happened was when there was only one Finnish player in the Worlds)


As always, feel free to comment or ask anything and everything! On a little side note, it may be good to mention that this will be the second-last entry of The Deck Out.

Thanks for reading!



13 comments:

  1. I think that Worlds this year were pretty cool. The high count of masters was a very good thing, that was so good to have 8 rounds. It was good to see players from new nations such as Indonesia and Philippines.

    I loved the introduction video with all the flags and welcome in every language (even I don't understand why Belgium, Portugal, Denmark and South Africa did not had the welcome thing :(....) On the overall I would say that the feeling to be there was amazing.

    It was pretty well organized in my opinion, but the decision to have top 32, 16, 8 played on the same day was quite weird. They could have played them on the morning while they would show the vcg finals, but well.


    I dont know if it's due to the format (all matchups between tier1 deck were close to 50/50), or net decking (everyone now has access to good deck lists) or maybe it's just every one that became very skilled (?), but I felt that it was a very very difficult tournament. I had the feeling that almost all my games were decided on the first coin flip.

    A very interesting fact is that the top4 of the US nats ended with a negative or even standing. Jasons that did not managed to gather the points the whole season, that failed to topcut at US nats, that failed again at the Last Chance Championship Points ended as Worlds Champion 2013 without changing that much his deck. Life is weird...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's because this format is around 75% percent luck. All close games aren't determined by who plays better or who's more skilled. It depends on who gets what they need of a supporter or flips good on lasers. And with the current format at the worlds level you rarely see any misplays games mostly are decided by who draws better.

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  2. "I will give you today an inside-scoop about some things that I wouldn’t have probably heard as a player. Of course I can’t say all the things, because some of them were confidential, but I will tell everything that wasn’t!"

    So... where's the inside scoop?

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  3. Great report, Esa. Your blog is great and has personality. I hope you continue to play on and blog on and your efforts keep the Finnish PTCG alive.

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  4. There were like 3 wifi hotspots in the food court at like 1 min away from the convention centre

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    Replies
    1. I know and that's what made it a lot more frustrating! The translators weren't allowed to leave the tournament area during the tournament (because we were needed between rounds as well), so I couldn't get my hands on the free wi-fis.

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  5. nice to meet you c:

    yeah I didn't know about the lack of expression characteristic, I thought you were kinda bummed about not playing in the tournament or something

    also thx for the chandelure sig

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  6. second-last entry of the deck out?

    You're ending youre blog after two more posts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only noticed that after seeing this comment...that's really sad to hear :(

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    2. It means there will be only one more entry after this.

      Delete
    3. I'm not sure I understand why Esa is discontinuing this blog.

      Delete
    4. Hes moving on with his life.

      Delete

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