Opinion: A Solution to the Kid Problem

by Pikkdogs ~ March 18th, 2011.

Hey everyone in Omar-nation.  This is Pikkdogs here with an opinion article that analyzes an aspect of how tournaments are orgainized.  I want to point out that I am not a tourney orgainizer or a judge, or anything like that.  I don’t have the expierence that other people do, but I do have my expierence as a player.  And that is what this article shall be based on.

First, before I get going I want to officially welcome Joel to the Teamomar.com staff.  Joel is another Pokemon player in Michigan and I believe he runs a league in the area.  He is a nice guy and a good Pokemon player, he should be a great addition to the staff.  The only problem with Joel is his unhealthy obsession about Lady Gaga (the person not the deck).   Gaga fan or not, we are very happy to have Joel writing for us.  We thank Joel for writing and look forward to his future articles.

Pokemon tournaments are a marvel of diversity.  When I walked around the Michigan State Championships the other day I saw young people and old people, black people and white people, people who look like models and people who look like extras from the Planet of the Apes.

In today’s U.S. society diversity is a good thing, Americans are not just Finnish or Italian; they are African, Scottish, Irish, Polish, Norweigan, Croatian, Chinese etc …  It is this diversity that makes us fairly special.  But, however this article is about a diversity that I think is causing more harm than good.

Children have always been a mainstay of the Pokemon TCG.  Most of the current Master players have grown up on the game.  A lot of the master’s players are also Poke-moms and Poke-dads; this is great because it uses the game to bond father/mother to son/daughter.  But, right now I think the Juniors players are not handled right by TPCI.

As of now Juniors, Seniors, and Masters all play together.  Usually they are grouped in different divisions so they rarely mix, but they each play at the same time.  With so many people joining the game, this causes tournaments to get very large.  Just a couple months ago in my area tournament orgainizers were turning people away from a Cities championship just 20 minutes after registration started.

Not only are tournaments getting larger, they are getting longer.  The 30 +3 format is supposed to have taken care of long tournaments, but if anything the rounds now take longer since players no longer have to worry about time ending a match at an unpredictable period in the match.

Another thing slowing tournaments down is the myriad of announcements that have to be given.  The 30 +3 rules have to spelled out at very frigging event and judges have to constantly tell players to be on their best behavior.  Who are they talking to when they tell players the latter, not to Masters players but to Juniors and Seniors.  I’ve been to tournaments with great players, but I have never seen Chris Fulop runing in the halls screaming.  It is constantly the junior and senior players who are slowing things down.

Now I am not blaming the kids for anything, I did the same thing when i was their age.  A Pokemon tournament should be just like Chuck E. Cheese, where a kid can be a kid.  But, the fact is this behavior is disruptive to those who actually care about the event.  So what can we do about the problem?

The Solution

I think that the Juniors and Masters should be seperated, the Seniors tournaments can go whenever they like since they are not a large group.  If a tournament normally goes on from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. the tournament should be seperated.  It could go like this: the Juniors could play from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Masters can play from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Positives

There are many good things about this plan.

  1. The tournament will be broken down into 2 smaller tournaments allowing the rounds to go by faster.  The judges will no longer have to spend time worrying about 200 people, instead they will only have to worry about taking care of 100 people.  This makes the rounds go by faster and there will be less waiting time for all of the players.
  2. More people will be able to join the tournament.  Players will no longer be turned away because there will be many open spots if the groups are seperated.
  3. Players won’t be hampered by each other.  The kids will have more room to run around and be free, and the older people will not be disrupted by the kids.
  4. The timing is better for almost everyone.  The juniors will be able to leave the tournment by 1 p.m. making the parents of juniors very happy.  Masters will not be required to report to the tournament till noon.  This lets college students (who normally stay up late) get more sleep and have more time to travel to tournaments that are farther away.  Most judges will also be happy.  No longer will 10 judges be needed all day.  Instead 3 judges will be needed all day, 3 more will be needed for just the morning session, and 4 more will be needed just for the afternoon and evening session.

The Negatives

Of course there are negatives to this plan, every plan has them.

  1. Poke-dads and Poke-moms will be seperated.  They will no longer be able to play the game at the same time.  The parents will have to arrive early to watch their kids play, then make arrangements for them to leave when they are done.  The plus side is that they will no longer have to parent during the tournament.
  2. Some judges will have a long day.  Even-though the day will be shorter for some judges, the day will be longer for the tournament orgainizer and  a coupel judges that will need to be around all day.
  3. It could potentially be a long night for some Masters.  Starting the tournament at 1 will not make a huge difference, since the rounds will go by a lot faster.  But, it will probably push the ending time of the tournament back an hour.  Since most tournaments are held on Sunday this shouldn’t be a huge problem, but it could for some people who work on Sunday.

Okay, so there it is my solution to speed up tournaments and make the rounds faster and more enjoyable for everyone.  I know that it is not perfect, and is far from being polished; but at least it is a solution.  I haven’t heard many other people come up with anything that will speed up the tournaments, so this is an option.

What do you think about this plan? Am I on the right track? or am I way off base?

Category: Opinion | Tags:
  • Ed

    I like the opinion piece. I disagree with the opinion. :)

    Essentially what you’re advocating would be to have 2 separate tournaments (albeit separated by only minutes).

    In MN, a lot of the Junior players’ parents play. That would potentially either wipe those Juniors (or the Masters parents) from the roster. Maybe even both would stay home.

    I assume the TO’s would hate this. Instead of organizing 1 event, they’d be doing 2.

    One positive I could see is that some judges that would otherwise play in Masters could potentially judge Juniors/Seniors and then play Masters, but who wants to judge an entire event and then play in one minutes later?

    Separating it kinda ruins the atmosphere for me a bit, too. If you want to play a card game without kids around, pick up some M:TG cards. I know what you mean about there being kids running wild, but the alternative is a game with a far-from-kid-friendly atmosphere.

    One thing I see that TPCI and/or TOs could do is to give Juniors something to do between rounds. At Midwest regionals last year, there was an art station. Between rounds, it was a sure bet that I could find my daughter there. Not all kids are into art, though, but a designated area to play DS, color Pokemon pages, trade cards, etc. would go a long way.

    I think you’re off base on this one, but it’s good to look for solutions.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the comments Ed, you said some good things.

      Yes TO’s would hate this, but it would be so much better for everyone else.

      Even if I am wrong on the solution, I think we need to address the problem. I think in a lot of places (Not Mn) tournaments are just getting way to big and way to chaotic. Separating the tournaments would make it more enjoyable for both masters and juniors.

      Does anyone have alternatives to fix the problem?

  • Anonymous

    I know people who carpool with seniors/juniors, so this would affect that.

  • Joel Howe

    Don’t forget that even though the Pokemon TCG main player-base is the master division, the game itself is directed towards younger children. Juniors and Masters make up most of the numbers for these events, juniors usually make up majority of league attendance as well. Separating the two would be a bad idea as parents play too. There are many possible solutions to this, but separation isn’t one of them.

  • Anonymous

    Is this a Michigan problem? Here in MN, the Juniors and Seniors divisions of tournaments are the most efficient ones. They have far fewer players, and they tend to finish games well before 30 minutes. It isn’t uncommon for them to “lap” the Masters, finishing Swiss round 4 before Masters finish round 3. (Not at States this year, but at all the Cities & BR’s I’ve been to.) I don’t think that peeling off the Juniors & Seniors would speed things up here. It is true that there would be less running around. But is that a speed issue, or a personal comfort issue? Rather, the speed problem is the very ordinary challenge of organizing a large tournament with a dynamic (Swiss) bracket. The more players that play out past 30 minutes, the bigger a challenge this is.

    Ed, you’re right about the in-between rounds activities issue, but it didn’t seem too bad rounds 1-3 at MN States….

    • Ed

      At MN States, card selling Ed had the “activity corner” with his bucket of $1 Pokemon toys.

      Usually here they seem to let the divisions run at their own speed, and yeah, the Juniors get done much faster. At states, they seemed to try to start all the divisions at the same time each round.

      I don’t see it as a speed issue here. To me it’s just about leaving the unattended Junior players without anything to do while their parents are playing. Whether that’s the responsibility of the TO is debatable.

    • Anonymous

      After having expierence in both Minnesota and Michigan, I would say that its a much bigger problem in Michigan.

      Minnesota tournaments are so small, that it doens’t really matter. Michigan tournaments are so big that at some events you have to arrive before registration just to play.

      Great point that Juniors rarely go to time, but you don’t have to go to time to slow things down. Taking an extra 20 minutes explaining the rules does it just as bad as going to time.

      • Anonymous

        I didn’t think about the size difference–looks like you guys had 134 total this year, vs. just 102 for MN. And you had more JRs and SRs than we did. I’m sure the venue plays into it too.

  • Anonymous

    My area never has a problem with this issue. The masters always finish last. Usually the seniors finish, then Juniors, and masters is like 5-10 minutes later.