The Structure of the New Season. A News and Opinion Article.

by Pikkdogs ~ August 29th, 2011.

A big hello to all you OHKOers out there.  This is kind of a news/opinion article about the upcoming season.

The Past

The structure of the tournament season has been pretty stagnant for the last couple of years.  The season starts in September and October with Fall Battle Roads, a small local tournament with a small ratings value.  Next we have Cities starting in November and continuing in December.  We then all celebrate Christmas and the New Year, and get ready for State Tournaments in March.  Next we go to one day in April which hold the Regional championships.  Battle Roads show up again in May and June, while Nationals are usually in June or July.  And of course, the World Championships are in August.

So that is what we have been doing for the past couple years.  It seems like a good schedule, lots of events but not too many where people would be spending an excess amount of time and money going to tournaments.  A lot of other card games have more tournaments, but this schedule seems to be pretty good for emphasizing local metagames.  So what’s the problem?

The problem is that when it comes to the bigger tournaments, the best players drop out to protect their ratings so they can be invited to worlds. This leaves the more exciting rounds of the tournament, a lot less exciting.  For example, at U.S. nationals I was excited to see the best players play deep into the day on Sunday.  Instead, most of the top players either dropped after a game or two, or never entered the tournament at all.  They were nice to talk to, but I would rather see them play then talk to them while we watch a league game.

How I Would Change Things.

If the goal is to make bigger events more exciting than one option is to put more emphasis on the bigger events. My favorite events are Battle Roads, but it seems like a lot of players are winning the BR’s and Cities, and using this to take them to Worlds.  I do not want to suggest that these tournaments should not mean anything, but I think if they were only worth about half of what they are worth now (especially Cities) it would be hard for some people to already make it into worlds before Regionals and Worlds.  If the only events that could make a difference in getting to Worlds would be Nationals, Regionals, and States; then I think those events would be a lot more exciting.

If you do not want to devalue the smaller tournaments, which I think might be best, then I think the rating system should be less important.  By this I mean that we should have more spots at Worlds decided by smaller tournaments.  Instead of having 40 invites to worlds (in North America) decided by ratings invites and only a few decided by invites from National tournaments, we should lower the number of ratings invites to about 5 and have invites to Worlds given out at States and Regionals.   

I think it is kind of similar to the problem that NASCAR is having right now.  Most casual fans only care about who wins the races, but the drivers who are doing well in the point standings are not winning races, instead they consistently doing good in races.  Even though consistency is very important in Pokemon, it is more exciting to see the best players win the tournaments.  So if there are only a few spots given out to rating qualifiers, the best players will stay in the bigger tournaments longer, if they don’t they probably won’t be invited to Worlds.  I think Pokemon should stop awarding players who just dominate their local area and instead award people who do well against the best in the country.

What Changes Have Been Made

So that is what I think should happen to solve the problem, lets look at what Pokemon has done so far.  We do not know exactly what Pokemon has up their sleeves, but they have tipped their hands a little.  This is the schedule that has so far been released for the upcoming season.

Battle Roads: Sept. 17-Oct.16th

Fall Regionals: Nov. 12-13.

Cities: Nov. 25- Jan 8.

As you can see, there is a new tournament added in, Fall Regionals.  This means that the regionals will be split between Spring and Fall.  This could mean that you will have a chance at going to 2 regionals this year instead of just 1.

I don’t think that this will solve the problem of having people qualify for Worlds before Nationals, it will probably just make it worse.  Now people can go to 2 regionals instead of 1, another reason not to play at Nationals.  I do not like this decision for another reason, if I were go to a second regionals, it would take me about 6 hours to drive there.  I do not like having to drive that far for a tournament that is not Nationals, and I am sure a lot of people feel the same way.  And if nobody goes to the 2nd regionals, why have them on different days?  Another bad thing about this decision is that it is taking another weekend in fall away.  Even though Pokemon is important to me, I live for watching football.  And this new regionals will take another day of football away from me.  Why should Pokemon try to play against the most popular game in the civilized world (that’s right Europe, I’m talking to you)?

I do not think that the new regionals will be the only change.  I do think we will see changes to the ratings system in the next few weeks in an attempt to keep the bigger tournaments more interesting.  Hopefully they will gives us more invites from tournaments and less from the rating system.

So, Will These Changes Be Enough?

Well it is too early to say if the changes Pokemon has made will fix the problem because they have not announced all the changes.  But, Pokemon has seemed to be open to change in the past, so lets hope they can think of a cool new system that gives us a cool local game while still making Nationals important.

Sorry about that European joke before, I do like Europe.  I’ll prove it to you, I enjoy many European things like Doctor Who…….ahhhhh….Danishes…..and………um…..wearing very small underwear.

If you have any thoughts about how to better fix the tournament season schedule, or my underwear choices, please leave your thoughts in the comment box.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

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