I’ve decided to start scaling back my involvement in the Pokemon TCG. While I still enjoy playing the game, I am largely dissatisfied with the current state of Organized Play, and with Organized Play being in such poor condition right now, I think there are some better things I can do with my time than heavily investing in the Pokemon TCG as a hobby.
Pokemon is doing better than ever when it comes to large events. Regional Championships are very well run, and now players have a series of large events between the Regional Championships and International Championships that will give them a good experience. While the major event series are doing well, the local event series are hurting badly to the point where they’re almost non-existent in many areas.
I have an interesting perspective on this as my area went from having one of the best local scenes in the country to having one of the worst in the present. From 2014-2016, I was able to rank 13th, 50th, and 130th in Play Points, just from attending my local League Challenges, City Championships, the nearby State Championships, and the Regional Championships within a 6 hour drive. These days, it’s pretty much impossible for me to even crack the top 1,000 attempting to do the same thing, as there just doesn’t really exist any events around me.
I was fairly optimistic headed into the season, there wasn’t a perfect cup situation, but we would have 3 League Cups within the St. Louis metro area, and then we had another one about 2 hours away in Columbia, Missouri…again, not a good situation, but just barely passable.
However, at the beginning of this season some genius at Pokemon thought it would be a good idea to cut a bunch of League Cups, so now we’re down to 1 League Cup event in the St. Louis metro area for every 3 months. We have a grand total of 0.333 League Cups per a month in our area.
Here is what the nearest League Cups look like for a St. Louis player, using a 250 mile radius on the event locator. (Using Google Maps for Driving Times)
- Crestwood, MO – In St. Louis
- Columbia, MO – 1 h 54 min (3 h 48 min round trip)
- Evansville, IN – 2 h 33 min (5 h 6 min)
- Sedalia, MO – 2 h 51 min (5 h 42 min)
- West Plains, MO – 3 h 17 min (6 h 34 min)
- Independence, MO – 3 h 33 min (7 h 6min)
- Indianapolis, IN – 3 h 35 min (7 h 10 min)
- Bloomington, IN – 3 h 40 min (7 h 20 min)
- Lenexa, KS – 3 h 51 min (7 h 42 min)
- Rogers, AR – 4 h 54 min (9 h 48 min)
- Des Moines, IA – 5 h 28 min (10 h 56 min)
To be competitive in this game, you probably want to be playing in around 6 League Cups per a quarter, but a minimum of 4. However, there isn’t really a way to do that in my area right now. Outside of the Crestwood, and maybe the Columbia League Cup (and even that’s pushing it) you pretty much need to start sacrificing your days / weekends to participate, and I’m not trying to dedicate my entire life to a card game.
The League Cup situation is really sad in my opinion. I was probably the largest advocate that City Championships were Pokemon’s best events and Pokemon should make it so they’re ran year round. Unfortunately, Pokemon likes to act like it’s a monkey’s paw, granting your wish, but in a horrible and unfulfilling way because you weren’t specific enough.
The Organized Play team should be ashamed of their League Cup program. It’s been terrible all three seasons since they’ve moved over to it, showing some improvement towards the end of last season before becoming worse than ever with the genius decision to cut massive amounts of League Cups, even though what they needed to be doing is adding more of them.
City Championships were my favorite event series. League Cups are the event series from hell.
As I said though, I am just scaling back my involvement and not quitting. I will still attend my local League Cup when I can (missing this quarter’s though because of a prior family engagement, and I’m not going to be a degenerate like Pokemon OP wants me to be and blow off my family to play in the one and only local League Cup!) and League Challenges if they’re super close by and I have nothing else to do.
As for Regional Championships, I already have trips booked for Memphis and Portland. After that, I will probably be hitting up the local Regional events, and then maybe Dallas and Denver since they’re cheap to get to, and Dallas in particular has been one of the best run events of the past few seasons. I think Regional events are being well run now, so if there is one part of the circuit to maintain some involvement in, it’s Regional Championships as the Regional TO’s really don’t deserve to be punished for TPCI incompetently running the rest of the circuit.
As I mostly don’t have any events to attend, outside of the random Regional Championships, I probably won’t be testing very intensively throughout the year
As such, not sure how much I’ll end up writing throughout the season from this point forward. I’ll make sure to keep up with set reviews, keep record of my tournaments I go to, and then for any deck or anything that I made, or feel I have good insight on, will probably write on that. For YouTube, I’m going to be scaling back to just doing the Challenge! episodes.
While I’d love to play more competitively, I don’t think a healthy life balance can be struck with Pokemon when you live in an area without League Cup access, so it’s really time to move on and just enjoy playing the game more casually.