Pikkdogs guide for a successful tournament.

by Pikkdogs ~ December 4th, 2010.

A big hello to all members of Omar-Nation.  This is Pikkdogs here.  Since its tournament season, I think we should have some tournament related advice for our younger players.

When people see me they always say, “Pikkdogs, what are you doing in my closet?”, then after that they say, “how can I become a better tournament player?”While I haven’t had the best success in tournaments, I have learned a couple lessons that I can share.                                                                                                                                                           

1.  Prepare Your Way

Every article that gives you tournament advise always starts  by telling you to get a good nights sleep and get a good breakfast.  While I agree that this is good and will improve concentration, it is impractical for most people.  Most tournament goers are college age and just never get a good sleep or a good breakfast.  So lets not change the routine, just do whatever it takes to make you normal.  Eating a big breakfast when you normally don’t, can get you a big stomach ache, so just do whats normal.  This step isn’t as important as people think it is.

2.  Don’t change your shuffling routine.

This is a huge step in entering a tournament, and is a piece of advice that is rarely given.  I have seen it a lot of times, people test their deck and it works great, then they arrange their decks to make their list.  While this is fine, in practicing you don’t arrange your deck first before you shuffle.  This inconsistency in shuffling can cause your deck to have a different starting hand then you normally do.  A similar effect can happen when you shuffle your deck for a longer period of time then normal or switch from normal shuffling to pile shuffling.  In theory shuffling your deck makes sure that your deck is randomized, this does not always happen, and different shuffling techniques get different results.  I have seen many people, even myself, fall victim to a different shuffling routine. To combat this I usually play a practice game before the tournament, or just play a solitaire game to get your deck like it would be if this were practice.

3.  Focus

During the tournament, your first few games will be fairly easy in regards to focus.  You will most likely be interested in the game and have fun with it, you won’t have any trouble concentrating.  But if you make it to the top cut rounds, the story could change.  You will most likely be playing a great player who knows you and your deck inside and out, on top of that, you will probably be tired, hungry, and thirsty.  This makes it very important, and very hard to concentrate.  To combat this, bring a couple bucks to get water and snacks from the candy machine.  In an ideal world, you would have some friends who will go to a restaurant and bring you back some good food.  Another thing you can do to improve concentration is to find a comfy seat to sit in between tournaments.  If thats not possible, climb into the backseat of your car and get a 10 minute break between games, if time allows.

4.  Follow the rules

This may seem like an easy thing to do, but I can tell you some horror stories.  The most famous recent case was the player who wrote on his deck list “3 Magikarp, and 4 Gyarados.”  No Pokemon player who has been to a tournament would believe that anyone would play a 3-4 line of Gyarados.  The player obviously just mixed up the number of Karps and Dos’s, because there is nothing to gain from mixing them up on the deck sheet.  This player made top cut, but was disqualified for a simple mistake.  So, things like this do happen. Also make sure you know what cards are legal, if you bring an illegal card you will have to replace it with a basic energy card.   Be careful when you fill out a decklist and make sure you follow other rules.  Like don’t make a lot of noise, repeated offenses could get the judges to penalize you.  Another thing is to make sure your sleeves are in mint condition.  Not all judges care about the condition of sleeves, but there are some Sleeve Nazi’s out there.  I have taken a penalty for this before.   And, of course don’t cheat this won’t help you do well.

5.  Get in the zone.

One important thing to remember is to maintain a good game psychology.  I have came into many games in which I was sure I was going to win, needless to say, I didn’t come out of those games happy.   Other people have told me that if they don’t think that they can win the game, then they might as well not even try.  Different players have different states of mind that they have to be in, it is important to choose the one that lets you relax and remain focused.  It is often helpful just to think of the game as a turn by turn affair, and not to think of who your opponent is or what other disadvantages you have.  This allows you to think about your weakness’s in the current game, and not to fool with other emotions.

6.  Get the Prep Work Done and Have Fun.

Once you have internalized the other tips, just sit back and have fun.  Don’t worry about your next match-ups, just retain your focus.  Say Hi to some friends and have a good time, don’t take it the tournament too seriously.  Always make sure that you are having fun, this is the most important part of a tournament.

Well thats all my advice.  I invite other people to leave advice on this topic in the comment box.  Good luck in the tournaments that you go too.

So long and Thanks for all the fish.

Category: Tourney Report | Tags: , ,
  • Ed

    You know. While I usually read articles that talk about tourney prep and agree with the “get a good nights sleep” piece, I never really thought about it the way you said. Really, it needs to be, “don’t do anything too out of the ordinary the night before.” If you’re used to getting 4 hours of sleep, you don’t need to get 9. If you’re used to getting 7, don’t stay up testing/tweaking and leave yourself with 4 hours of sleep. In that case, you’re probably better off getting a tiny bit of extra testing, and then getting good rest.

    To me, the source of problem in #2 is all about having your list ready in advance. Your point #2 could also be, “always pile shuffle.” It’s a good habit, even for playtesting.

    I’m always amazed how many people fill out a decklist by hand at the tournament with 0 time before reg closes. Today, we had people that had to finish it between rnds 1 and 2. That puts you at a disadvantage right off. Come with a list. If you can’t, show up early.

  • Anonymous

    this is the one slot i’m not the best at. I try to stay calm but I end up shaking like a massage chair. Thanks for the awesome article and keep it up!

  • Ed

    Also, about point #5. I think that younger players especially are prone to letting an opponent’s reputation/demeanor take over. Just take it game by game. You’re there to play, so play like you can win.

    I’ve beat top players/decks, and I’ve lost to weak players/decks. To beat the good ones, you’ll need to believe that you can win. But, don’t overdo it. Even when a match looks sealed, if you start playing like it’s already won, then you may gloss over things and leave an opening for the opponent. That may just give them the opportunity they needed to turn things in their favor.

    This is the flipside of letting an opponent’s reputation get the best of you. You may actually have the matchup advantage, but once you decide you’ve lost, you won’t optimize your plays. Good opponents will take advantage of that.

  • Anonymous

    I think #3 and #5 are very close to the same thing and are probably the hardest things to get right during the course of the tournament.

    I blew my state of mind during round 5 of this past weekend’s city championship against an opponent that I have big respect for. As a result I made 4 very bad and obvious misplays that definitely lost me the game.

    It was not only disappointing to take another loss on the day, but it was also embarrassing because I know I can play better and my deck was better than I was playing it. To me, losing some cred in the eyes of my peers is worse than losing the game.

    So, stay focused and get into the zone for each match you play is my #1 tourny rule.