Team High Tables and Why I Love the Game

by SGT Pokedad MD ~ October 5th, 2012.

There are many leagues and teams out there and many have cool yells and chants. Many have cool shirts and mascots. Some even do very well at premiere events. My league; Summit City Pokémon doesn’t have those things and some of us do pretty well at premiere events. What we do have though is an unofficial, sub-league team and I am its undisputed president: “Team High Tables.”

If you go to any premiere event; you will find my reserved table.  Just look for the highest numbered table and that’s where you will most likely find me. Stop by some time on your way to the lower numbers and say hello! If I am not there, wait a round, I’ll get there soon enough. Our unofficial sub-league team membership varies but I appear to be the solid foundation. You can give me the exact same deck that is destroying any event, and I will find a way to make it not work, misplay and have EVERY needed card prized. I am a horrible deck builder, a mediocre player yet I LOVE THE GAME.

Why on earth would I still play this game if I am that bad? Well, I can’t say I fully understand it myself, but I will attempt to share some of my thoughts with you about the lighter side of Pokémon and competitive play. I didn’t grow up with Pokémon and my first introduction to competitive play was at US Nationals 2011 in Indianapolis. As a passing target of something to do with my two young boys, we drove down from Fort Wayne on a Sunday afternoon, “Just to see what Pokémon was all about.” A couple hours later, our whole lives were changed.

When we got there, my oldest son had a VERY OLD deck made from some cards given to us. We didn’t know how to play and didn’t know what to expect in Indy. We wandered a bit during league play and the final matches of the TCG and the Video Game championships. We took the obligatory pictures with Snivy and Pikachu. As we were watching some league event players play some pick up games, an event organizer came over and asked us if we were playing. I mumbled that I have NO IDEA what is going on, that my oldest had an old deck, and that my youngest and I had nothing. He simply smiled, said, “Let’s take care of that” and off we went.

From there, he took us to the head table. He had someone produce for us a Tangrowth theme deck and some large number of booster packs. He sent my oldest off to play TCG and video games with others since he was eager and had some sense of how to play. Then, he sat my youngest down with a very young master player. He told him to show my son how to modify his deck, play with him and take him through the league line. My youngest played his first game ever and “won” while my oldest jumped from game to game playing anyone who would look his way. Four or five hours later, we emerged from the convention center with bags, cards, mats, boxes, hats, lots more swag and a lifetime of memories.

I remember that day very clearly, because I had found a Trading Card Game that was very kid friendly with a player base and staff that appeared to be open, honest and focused on having fun. After our trip I found Summit City Pokémon and signed us all up. We started to attend league and even I got into playing. The more I played and got involved, the more I was hooked. Now, with anything in life, you will come across a few people who aren’t as nice, but I can honestly say that I have had a hard time finding people who really ruin the game for me.

Over time with Summit City, I got more and more involved and finally became a Professor and League Leader.  I also am a member of the Safari Zone league and help with that league from time to time as well.   I don’t just help run leagues, but I TRY to play well, and I also TRY to build decks that might actually work. Through everything though, I stay involved because it is FUN and it is good to see the juniors and seniors and the masters for that matter, enjoying themselves.

Now, I won’t say that I never get frustrated when I am not playing well. It happens, A LOT, but that is ok. By keeping my focus on the fun, and not the winning, I am able to meet some incredible folks and have some awesome times. How many people can say that they went to a Spring Battle Roads and lost to a “Baby Six Corners” deck that was put together literally with spare cards and even included a Grimer with no Muk?  I can and it was HILARIOUS! We were near the end of Swiss and I “technically” won at the end of 30 plus 3 on prizes, but we were having so much fun and a crowd had gathered, because I was laughing so hard I was crying.  I eventually decked out with an Eelectrik stuck active and Mime Jr. using “sleepy lost” to eat my cards away.

By focusing in on the fun, I am able to have a great conversation, and fun match while still losing. I am able to return that awesome hospitality shown to my family when I see other new players. I am able to trade my Secret Rare Rayquaza with my son for a decent trade of some cards I needed/wanted even though I was a little on the short end of the trade.

I love the challenge of the game. I love the puzzle of trying to find the best 60 card combination that will yield consistency and victory. I have more failures than successes, but it is the fun that keeps me going. The friends I have made and the smiles I see on the kids faces is like Thanksgiving with the family combined with Christmas morning every time I go to League or a premiere event.

While we may, “…want to be the very best…” we need to keep in sight the Spirit of the Game Tenents: Fun, Fairness, Honesty, Respect, Sportsmanship and Learning. With these in mind, no matter how poorly you may play, you will have fun. We run across many people who get wrapped up in rankings, or championships points.  We run across even more people who complain about prize support from time to time.  Prizes are great and often help keep people stay involved; but for me, more than anything, it is the fun an adventures that keeps me involved.

This past Nationals was even more fun and exciting for me, even though I went 2-4 drop.  I even got donked in the 6th round by a Durant deck.  Yeah, I said Durant.  Lone Tynamo start he goes first.  Flips over Mewtwo EX and either had the DCE or top decks it.  Can’t remember either way, but oh well.  Some would get mad and express their frustration; me? I thought it was hilarious and couldn’t wait to tell all my friends from league.  Now, like I said before, I still get frustrated and can be a realist.  I decided after that donk, that I would drop and focus on side events. It was in the side events where I started to have some real fun.  I played some pick up games and entered some 8 man pods with varying luck. Regardless of the outcome, I had some fun matches and even more fun talking with others.  We chatted about where we were from, poked fun at each other, but still had a great time.

Perhaps the most memorable event for me though was my first professor cup.  My first round I was paired up with Big Daddy Snorlax from the PokeGym.  While at the time, I had no idea who he was, we had a battle for the ages, coming down to the wire and some lucky draws.  What I enjoyed he most, was seeing the juniors who were judging, remind me that I needed to spread out my prizes, watching them monitor the game play and enjoying their authority over a bunch of professors! After that round, he game me a PokeGym die and to this day it is my favorite. I didn’t care if I won or lost, the game was awesome.

I apologize for my ramblings, but I struggled to really explain why it is that I like the game when I am SO bad at it. But, if you follow my thoughts from above, you will see that it is the journey that keeps me engaged.  It is the people I’ve met and will meet, the challenges that get put in front of me. It is the smile on the faces of the other players I battle. It is being able to give back to the community and help others grow in return for all the generosity that I’ve received. It is the sense of extended community and family that I’ve built over the last15 months.

I’ve enjoyed watching my friends and family grow and have fun. I look forward to every new set, to every challenge put in front of me. I watch all the major sites, and read almost everything that gets posted.  I love the hints, thoughts and theories.  I am going to try and write some more articles. Now since I am not very good, I will most likely do tournament reports, random thoughts, and stupid deck ideas.  I look forward to meeting you all in person, so stop by the bottom of the rankings and say hello some time!  Of course you can also leave a comment below if you want to chat and let me know what to write my next article about.

Prof. SGT Pokedad MD

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