The typical Pokemon trading card game tournament scene unfolds as I wander around this insanely large building – some players dressed as Pokemon characters, a few in tuxedos/elaborate dresses, one guy in a kilt and top hat, several wearers of T-shirts with team names and slogans – it’s as if the cast of The Big Bang Theory had a litter of 1,500 and this is the family reunion. However, with another look and not finding any potato salad, something is atypical. It’s the inflatable Pikachu that would fit well in the Rose Bowl Parade, it’s the “life-sized” statues of Reshiram and Zekrom, and it’s the four mascots: Pikachu, Tepig, Snivy, and Oshawott, giving hugs to the younger players and high fives, (or high ones if you want to be digit specific), to the older. This party is a big affair because this is the Pokemon National Championship Tournament in Indianapolis. For a big event you need a big room and this, The Indiana Convention Center, has plenty rooms of enorntic size. I would say “ginormous”, but that’s overused, and my kids hate it when I destroy their slang, so I have to do it as often as I can.
The happy, energetic tone ended quickly though when my son, who is playing in the Seniors Division, called my cell phone; he couldn’t find me so he had to call. He was crying and he wanted to go home because he lost his first two matches. Seriously after a nine hour drive from Iowa, I did not want to get back on the road, so as I was preparing to console him back to normal, he… laughs. My curse for being a practical joker is that sometimes it comes back around to haunt me. My son, Bane, was living up to the English version of his name, although it’s really Polynesian which instead has a positive meaning. Bane was actually winning, but players don’t travel from all corners of North America unless they’re experienced and plan on competing, so he finished after day two with a record not worthy to make top-cut. As always he handled it with dignity and managed to make the most of his time by playing in side events for prizes.
This was a record setting year for competition numbering over 1,000 players in the Masters Division, which makes Iowa’s Jay Hornung and his third place finish, at the very least, impressive. Jay has been one of the world’s best players for years, so he was expected to deliver, and we’re proud that he did. Jay was one of four master players to win several prizes including a trip to Hawaii to compete in the World Championship Tournament.
For the rest of us though it’s back to having our ratings and championship/play points returned to zero, with a few months to catch our breath before the next championship series begins with Battle Roads Autumn in September.
If you’re a competitive player but haven’t been to the National Tournament, and if it’s within’ budget, it’s a good idea to go, win or lose, to get the experience of being in this extreme event. It will better prepare you throughout the new season and you’ll be less intimidated next time around. Friends from our league are already talking about next year’s Nationals, so hopefully we’ll help break the attendance record in 2013, and I won’t fall for my son’s practical jokes, and I’ll find that potato salad.
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