Why the US National Championship Play Point Requirement is Totally Bogus

After the recent situation where two prominent players may have gotten temporarily banned from Organized Play, I felt compelled to write about this topic, which I’ve expressed discontent over in the past, but would like to tackle in orderly article form.

As a disclaimer, it is not my intention to defend or decry the actions of the players involved with the incident. I wasn’t there and I don’t know the full story, so I am going to plead the fifth on that front.

My hope for this piece is to dissect all the possible reasons why it appears the US National Championship Play Point entrance requirement is in place, and then give counterarguments as to why I think those justifications are bogus (or could be solved in a more effective manner). This write-up will be addressing only the Masters division and I’ll be formatting “Play! Points” as Play Points (without the exclamation point) because I find the extraneous punctuation confusing and bombastic.

Let’s begin with a crash course in the history of attendance, locations, and entrance requirements for US Nationals…

The History of the US National Championship

Attendance

2004: 134 (Source)
2005: 238 (Source)
2006: 316 (Source)
2007: 418 (Source)
2008: 536 (Source)
2009: 681 (Source)
2010: 805 (Source)
2011: 932 (Source)
2012: 1,005 (Source)
2013: 927 (Source) (Added Post-Publication)
2014: 889 (Source) (Added Post-Publication)
2015: 911 (Source) (Added Post-Publication)
2016: 1,105 (Source) (Added Post-Publication)

Note: I am not sure about prior to 2012, but this year and last year 972 Masters have been guaranteed entry into the event. This is a key fact to keep in mind.

Locations

2004-2008: Columbus, Ohio
2009: St. Louis, Missouri
2010-2013: Indianapolis, Indiana

Note: While in Columbus, US Nationals was held as part of the Origins Game Fair.

Entrance Requirements

2004 through 2011

For 8 years, anyone could enter the US National Championship, regardless as to whether they had played at all previously during the season. As long as you had a POP ID and were not on PUI/TPCi’s naughty list, you were good to go (though I do believe that being a US citizen may have been another prerequisite).

2012

Beginning last season, the Play Point system was put into place, which for the first time made the US National Championship an exclusive event. 10 Play Points were required to be eligible to enter, which could be earned by playing in a minimum of two events prior to Nationals.

Here is the Point value breakdown for events during the 2011-2012 season:

  • Regional Championships: 5 Play Points
  • State Championships: 3 Play Points
  • City Championships: 2 Play Points
  • Battle Roads, Prereleases, League Seasons, and Non-Premier Tournaments: 1 Play Point

Note: There was a possibility to attend up to 2 Regional Championships during the 2011-2012 season; Fall and Spring.

2013

This season the requirement to enter US Nationals was raised to 15 Play Points, which could be earned by playing in a minimum of five events prior to Nationals.

Here is the Point value breakdown for events during the 2012-2013 season:

  • Regional Championships, State Championships: 3 Play Points
  • City Championships: 2 Play Points
  • Battle Roads, Prereleases, League Seasons, and Non-Premier Tournaments: 1 Play Point

Note: There was a possibility to attend up to 3 Regional Championships during the 2012-2013 season; Fall, Winter, and Spring.

Also worth noting is that participating in Nationals itself will garner 10 Play Points, and competing in Worlds will earn you 20 Play Points, but it appears these Points will simply be counted toward Player Rewards for 2012-2013 (and not count toward the 2013-2014 season).

With all that precursory information out of the way, let’s dive in to the possible reasons TPCi has likely instated the Play Point entrance requirement for US Nationals. We can’t know for certain (as TPCi leaves open communication with its consumers to be desired), but these are my best guesses.

Arguments for the Play Point Requirement

1. It prevents players from entering Nationals just to get the free “swag” and drop before the first round.

In 2011 there was a bit of a dilemma where in the ballpark of 50 players (likely friends or parents of actual participants) did not show up for their first round match, presumably registering for the tournament the solely for the purpose of receiving a complimentary t-shirt and promo card, which were given to them on the spot. The tournament organizers decided it would be in the best interest of maintaining the integrity of the event by repairing all the castaways, which took upwards of 1 hour.

Coincidentally, only two months later came the implementation of Play Points and four months later came the requirement, which to me seemed to be a knee-jerk reaction to the delay caused in 2011.

Solution: This procedural flaw has since been corrected, as the swag is now handed out a couple rounds into the tournament, which should prevent another mass exodus before round one.

2. It prevents beginners from using Nationals as the launching pad for their introduction to Organized Play, potentially causing issues because of their unfamiliarity with tournament procedures.

I have never judged Nationals, but this is an argument I’ve seen thrown around. Has this ever actually been a significant problem? For 8 years the event was encompassing to players both old and new, and I am having trouble recalling any instances where newbies were detrimental to the event.

For the younger age divisions I can see more potential heartbreak and disappointment from not being conditioned for competitive tournament play, but the 15 and older age group typically has some emotional stability and wherewithal of the game (especially if they are traveling to the event). And I’d like to think that the average PokΓ©mon TCG player would be considerate and helpful if their opponent didn’t quite know what they were doing.

Regardless, I feel the number of beginners entering Nationals and then causing substantial issues (of greater severity than ruling issues and match extensions which inevitably arise anyway) is negligible.

Solution: Unfounded argument.

3. It facilitates growth in local events and communities by forcing players to participate events they would not have otherwise attended in order to earn Play Points for Nationals.

This is the only argument that in theory sounds legitimate and overall good for the game (and it may very well be), but I would contend that most players attend events in spite (not because) of the fact the 15 Play Points punch your ticket for Nationals; they are either on the hunt for Championship Points to qualify for Worlds or they simply enjoy Organized Play.

When playing events becomes a chore (as in the case for those just trying to become eligible for Nationals) is when I feel issues of integrity may arise. The recent incident may or may not be a case of looking for a loophole to rack up Play Points. No matter the motive, you can be sure there have been and will be plenty other instances, many of which you won’t hear about, of players searching for the easy way out in terms of hitting the Nationals Play Point threshold.

Last season I played the minimum of number of rounds then dropped at a tournament with a crap deck to pick up a few Play Points. Did I feel good about it? No. Was I helping to foster a fun and competitive atmosphere? Probably not. But I got Points!

Solution: Basically what I’m saying here is that the motive for playing should always be genuine; we should be encouraged to play because we want to and not because we have to.

4. It prevents Nationals from becoming too large (aka there isn’t enough space or staff to accomodate more players).

Remember that key number I said to keep in mind earlier? The past two years there have been 972 guaranteed spots for Masters. We’ve been teetering extremely close to that figure, and I find it unlikely that the staff would actually turn anyone away who showed up for the event. (Imagine the sour grapes!)

So how do you enforce a cap without blatantly enforcing a cap? Play Points.

The requirement has already accrued from last year, and it would not surprise me at all if it is raised again for the 2013-2014 season. There are 1,764 Masters with at least 15 Play Points right now, but obviously TPCi only expects a certain percentage of them to travel to Indy.

Last year there were 2,884 players with at least 10 Play Points. Only 1,005 played in Nationals, which is 34.8%. If we correlate that to this year’s total number of eligible players, we’d expect to see only see about 614 players participate. Obviously there is more time for players to earn Play Points, but will another thousand become eligible, to match the proportion from last year? I find that highly unlikely and predict attendance will drop in the Masters division for the first time ever.

I believe the percentage of qualified players that attend will be greater than 34.8% (as the diehards are going to comprise a healthy portion of the 1,764), but it’s unreasonable to expect an increase in Masters attendance with those numbers.

To me, this is the reason for Play Points. It’s a logistical issue. TPCi doesn’t want to pony up the dough to reserve more tournament space and staff, and their best solution is for the event to not grow any larger than it already is.

Solution: I mentioned the past locations of Nationals because for 5 years, when the event was held at Origins, we had to pay to get an event pass to participate in the event. 50 bucks or so. We used to have to pay $5 to $10 for events like States back in 2005 too. (See this green VIP badge I won with dollar values clipped out for free entry into events).

Can you imagine that? Paying to enter a PokΓ©mon tournament? (Blasphemy…)

Now, Origins hosted event and the badge we had to pay for covered their costs for renting out the convention center and hiring staff. PokΓ©mon now eats up all that cost by hosting Nationals on their own. They obviously have some set budget allocated for US Nationals each year, and can reasonably expect to entertain only 972 or so Masters each year.

My point is that if paying a $5 to $10 entry fee (chump change compared to 2004-2008) would help cover the cost of the room and get more staff in place so we could abolish the Play Point requirement and have the biggest National Championship ever, I don’t think anyone would be opposed to that.

We’re all spending hundreds of dollars to be in town that weekend anyway anyway, so what’s another Lincoln or Hamilton?

Conclusion

The player base is aging. Many of us have commitments and in the coming years more and more of us will not be able to meet TPCi’s increasing Play Point restriction requirement but would love to play in Nationals so we can spend a weekend with our friends we’ve made and grown up with over the years.

(And yes, I know there are a plethora of side events for non-eligibles to partake in, but it can be difficult to convince a friend to commit three days and cash unless they think they have a shot at becoming “National Champion.”)

I understand that TCPi has a business to run, but I believe by charging an entry fee they can remove the player cap (Play Points), cover their costs, and proudly boast about how ginormous and fun the PokΓ©mon TCG US National Championship is each year.

Also, I apologize for the lack of images in this article, but I hope I was still able to illustrate my point.

Reader Interactions

56 replies

  1. Mark Hanson

    Strongly in support of “Pay to play” events for Pokemon. Every tournament I go to I have to travel at least 3 hours. And that costs me at least $30. I really would not care if I paid an additional fiver to host even small-level events (though I don’t see the need to for shop-run Cities and Battle Roads).

    States, Regionals and Nationals should totally become a “Pay to play” event.

    • Joseph Baggs  β†’ Mark

      Pay to Play is the way to go! even if it was $25, with card prices pretty high you could basically come to the tournament with no cash at all, sell a few staple cards to someone who want to change decks or just needs one more card and make that amount easy, when i was a MTG player a tournament like this would cost easily $50, which no one minds paying if it gets them into a spacious nice clean premium venue for a long event. this also included a hot meal provided by a good catering company, this kept more players at the even, instead of running off to some “very healthy” fast food place…. which actually allowed them to spend more money on card stuff or trade at the event, which is my favorite aspect of the game anyway.

    • Jak Stewart-Armstead  β†’ Mark

      As someone who has always had to pay to play, I think introducing it in North America would be a terrible idea.

      It’s not about the people who manage their own money and ‘wouldn’t mind’ paying, it’s about the commercial benefit of being able to say ‘free to play’.

      • Jay Hornung  β†’ Jak

        A simple change of charging Masters to play and allow them different prizes would be best. I think it would hurt attendance to much at lower level events otherwise.

  2. poet larsen

    Man I hope the Pokemon company reads every single letter in this article. I am a senior, about to be master next year, and I even think, as a senior, that these play points are really bad. The 5-10 dollars would be GREAT for pokemon, as you talked about.

  3. Michael Schaefer

    As far as accumulating points goes… I came into the season half way, and ended up having to attend all 3 states weekends (Oregon, California, Washington) just to catch up… thankfully with pre-releases and battle roads to make up the difference, I’m just barely going to hit 15. I would not be surprised if others are in the same boat as me.

    I wouldn’t mind paying an entry fee for an event of this magnitude at all.

  4. Rafaelkatsuya

    If you know that you need the 15 points, you will go to the league and a bunch of tournaments. It is something doable for everybody, and performance does not matter so you can keep your secret deck for National.

    What if in the future they decide that the National participation egibility is now to be in the top1000 in the ranking of championship points ? There are 7300 something masters in the USA that played at least once this year, and OP is growing every year… They will have to do something in the future I guess…

    • Jay Hornung  β†’ Rafaelkatsuya

      Because having too many customers is bad for a business???? If the game is growing to the point where Nationals is “to big” I feel the budget of OP should change to reflect this.

      • Joseph Lee  β†’ Jay

        Having too many customers is bad for business, because when you have too many some are going to walk away mad, tell others, and next thing you know you suddenly go from too many to not enough. This is why businesses work hard at streamlining when customers come, such as with promotions to attract people to come in during “slow periods”.

        Getting back to those players competing in Organized Play, you’re beneficiaries of what amounts to a “rewards program”, but it costs money to run that awards program. There is also a legitimate question of “How big does PokΓ©mon want the tournament to be?” and “How big should it be?”.

  5. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    It is an unbreakable law that whenever anyone uses the word ‘bogus’, they must include a pic of Keanu Reeves from Bill & Ted.

    The Play Point requirement for US Nats this year seems harsh. Not sure why it didn’t stay at 10.

    • poet larsen  β†’ Jak

      What if they did some sort of mix between paying and playing. So like you could pay $20 dollars or something, or you could get 10 play points.

      • Jak Stewart-Armstead  β†’ poet

        It’s messy to implement. They would have to be prepared to take cash from some people (and not others) at registration and that involves accounting/banking/security.

        I’m not saying I support PP qualification. In fact I don’t particularly like it. I just don’t think ‘pay to play’ is a good solution. I would much rather they did something like ‘lifetime’ PP.

        • poet larsen  β†’ Jak

          What they should do is instead of going off of each season, they should do lifetime points, like you said. That way newer players can learn a little and grow as a player before they go to a big tournament like Nats. And then veteran players, like Jay Hornung, can still compete in it, even if they took a break from the game most of a season.

        • poet larsen  β†’ Joseph

          I think they should. They have already contributed greatly to the community: people like Pooka, Jay Hornung, John Kettler, and many others.

  6. Bella Brown

    In the UK i have to play Β£5 for most events anyway! So charging $5-10 for US nationals doesn’t seem like too much of a problem… does it?

  7. Andrew Wamboldt

    I like the idea of pay for play for states and above. I think: $10 for states, $15 for regionals, and $25 for nationals.

    Would add around $600-1500 for states, $4000-5000 for regionals, and $25,000 to the prize pool for nats.

    • Jak Stewart-Armstead  β†’ Andrew

      You’re nuts if you think that money could go straight to a prize pool. There would be administration, security, staffing and banking costs, maybe even some kind of tax liability.

      I doubt Pokemon would even want the hassle. What do they stand to gain out of it? The whole ‘buy in for bigger prizes’ model might appeal to some players, but it doesn’t really seem very ‘Pokemon’ to me.

    • Adam Capriola  β†’ Andrew

      That’s a totally different topic; I’m only suggesting paying an entry fee to cover the convention center room and event staff for an increased amount of players (because it appears hosting more than 972 is out of TPCi’s budget).

  8. Joshua Pikka

    You forgot one reason.

    When this law came out, I called it the Tom Dolezal rule.

    Tom was famous for not playing the whole year, than going to nats getting top 16, and getting a worlds invite. Some people saw that as unfair to those who worked all year for an invite. Plus, losing to him screwed your ELO.

    I saw this rule as solely to stop Tom and people like him.

    • Jay Hornung  β†’ Joshua

      There is no ELO anymore so that point is mute. How is losing Tom any worse than losing to any other player. At least Tom would probably give you solid tiebreakers.

      • Joshua Pikka  β†’ Jay

        Not saying it is, just saying that this is the reason that I thought the point system was put in effect for.

    • Adam Capriola  β†’ Joshua

      This ties in with my 3rd point. Tom qualified for Nationals with the bare minimum of 10 Play Points last year (Source). It lists 20, but that’s because 10 Play Points were awarded for playing in Nationals.

      This year, again he has the minimum (Source). And I give full kudos to him for working the system perfectly.

      First, all that’s happening is players like Tom (who have other commitments but still want to play at Nationals) are trying to scrape by. Players are still “showing up” after basically not being involved during the year. The forced participation to facilitate local growth is a questionable tactic by TPCi.

      Second, if the “integrity” of the event is at question (which is a point raised by all the players dropping, forcing the round 1 repair in 2011), then I’d argue that the integrity of the event is hurt just as much, if not more so than by excluding good players. I don’t know how TPCi is trying to define “National Championship,” but I’d hope all the best players were included. (And I’m not suggesting special exceptions – I feel anyone should be allowed to enter, as they were for 8 years.)

      Again, this in my mind is all an issue of TPCi trying to enforce a player cap because of a limited budget.

      Great point though, I’m glad you brought that argument up Pikkdogs so I could elaborate upon it.

  9. Grant Manley

    So if I felt compelled to write an article called:
    “Why the play point requirement for US Nationals is totally not bogus”
    would you not allow it on the front page? (Assuming the article itself wasn’t totally terrible quality)

      • Joseph Lee  β†’ Jay

        I was considering writing the same article, honestly, but I probably should focus on more important things that I should be doing. ;-)

        • Joseph Lee  β†’ Jay

          My apologies for being meandering.

          I didn’t start playing in the last three years. I don’t live and breathe OP, but I still think the Adam’s article doesn’t give an accurate picture of the situation.

        • Jay Hornung  β†’ Joseph

          Understandable…I think its far easier for people to see this issue from their own perspective. If you can easily make 15 PP a year the system is perfectly fine, however look at it from the perspective of somebody with a full time job, family, and other priorites that would like to come back and play nationals.

    • Adam Capriola  β†’ Grant

      Go for it, but it might be hard for you to make a convincing argument as a Senior (no offense, I’m just saying you haven’t been around the game as long).

      • Grant Manley  β†’ Adam

        Yeah, and for me the requirement is only 5, which is uber easy.
        I don’t think I’m going to though, it was mostly a hypothetical question.
        Also the article was good though and I’m glad you included the arguments FOR a play point requirement.
        Also I found the Pokegym thread interesting that you linked to early in the article.

        • Adam Capriola  β†’ Jack

          Which further backs my point about Play Points being essentially used to cap Masters attendance and disproves the argument about preventing beginners from entering Nationals as their first tournament. Wouldn’t Juniors and Seniors be the ones that need more practice?

        • Jack Stensrud  β†’ Adam

          I’m not 100% sure that I like the idea of the PP requirement being larger for Juniors/Seniors. I think that 5 is a perfect number, as that would be not too hard for competitive players who have homework/other stuff that prevents them from going to a tournament every day of the weekend. The 5 point requirement would be covered by one of each battle road (2), and a States (3). You can replace Battle Roads for City Championships, and then Seniors players can have enough tournament experience, and it wouldn’t be extremely hard for more competitive, but busy players to still qualify.

  10. Joseph Lee

    Gotta say… I am confused.

    Some of the people complaining about this are the ones that complain Pre-Releases aren’t competitive enough. I think players need to understand:

    You can have a game open to all or you can have a competitive game, or you can have neither. The bar may have been set too high, I don’t know. However given that we are talking about “Nationals”, it is pretty easy to argue that the bar was set too low. I mean, what if Nationals only allowed one representative per age group per state (no residency requirements)? Throw in appropriate territories and the like so you have some 50-odd players who had to win one of several qualifying tournaments to attend?

  11. Twan van Vugt

    In the Netherlands we have to pay €5 for every event bar Nats and i have to say it isn’t that bad.

  12. Drew Harriott

    I agree. Pokemon for many of us is a journey. The game has helped me introduce myself to new things and people I would have ever met If I didn’t play. Lifetime points will actually make the game more motivational and competitive friendly for everyone. If Mr. Miyagi was able to enter his pupil in a martial arts tournament, mind you Danielson was not so experience, and won. Let the little guy have a shot. They can simply use the points to pair people up against people with little to know points. People who want the title will play to win. It will teach other to come more prepared for a premier event and motivate players all over to be their best. I personally went to 3 events and need 3 more points to play in the big dance. From a business standpoint, more people equals more money and more events to come.

  13. Play Pokemon Supporter

    Adam, why are you “going to plead the fifth” regarding the issue with Con Le and Alex Freeza? Do you have some involvement that might get you in trouble? The Fifth Amendment protects you against self-incrimination. Maybe you should be pleading IGNORANCE – in more ways than one!

    You did not cite a single official TPCi source as to your reasoning for the play point requirement. You only share conjecture from assorted people who are not affiliated with TPCi. TPCi is putting on a private, free event. They do not have unlimited capacity or budget. The decision on how they best feel to manage the situation is their decision. Just because you do not agree does not make it “totally bogus.”

    Nothing is preventing you or anyone else from holding their own Pokemon TCG tournaments with the rules you prefer, but as has been discussed at length in other forums already, it is not cheap to do so, most probably to the extent that it is just not feasible since TPCi is the only entity that has the luxury of all that booster pack revenue to offset these costs.

    The argument has gotten derailed here because of the prominence of who if might affect. If it only affected no-name players, we would not be talking about it even though the principles do not change.

    • Adam Capriola  β†’ Play

      1. Maybe I used the phrase “plead the fifth” incorrectly – all I was trying to convey is that I am not going to comment on that alleged situation because I don’t know the details and don’t want to get anyone in trouble by saying something that may be untrue.
      2. Regarding not citing any TPCi sources, this was already explained in the article if you read closely:

      With all that precursory information out of the way, let’s dive in to the possible reasons TPCi has likely instated the Play Point entrance requirement for US Nationals. We can’t know for certain (as TPCi leaves open communication with its consumers to be desired), but these are my best guesses.

      If you have any primary sources for me to mull over, I’d be happy to give them a look.

      1. I’m not sure if you read the whole article, but I gave a sensible solution to the budget issue.

      2. Again, I’m not sure if you read the whole article but at the moment there are over 1,000 less people eligible for Nationals than there were last year. This effects a lot of people; not just “prominent” players.

      • Play Pokemon Supporter  β†’ Adam

        I read the whole article, more than once. I will say your loose use of statistics also hurts your case. You state in 2012 there were 2884 masters with 10+ play points, and that 1005 (34.8%) of them went to Nats. To translate this to 2013, you have to assume that the 34.8% is evenly distributed across the entire population. I don’t have the breakdown obviously (only TPCi does), but it defies any common sense that just 34.8% of the top 100 in play points went Nats and that a whopping 34.8% of those with just 10 play points went to Nats. What does make sense is the more one plays, the more likely it is that one would go to Nats. So, raising the play point requirement (never mind the change in the point values), affects a much smaller part of the player pool: those with relatively few play points but still want to go to Nats. Will we have fewer players this year maybe, but I think that is fine, see my rationale below.

        I do not necessarily disagree with some of your suggestions, but I do disagree with your headline claim that TPCI is “totally bogus” when this is just a difference of opinion between you and TPCi.

        I will offer for the sake of example that I would be agreeable to a $500 entry fee in lieu of any play points. Why, $500? That is the rough cost of a booster box for each of the 4 sets in the season. I think the player that buys that amount of product from Pokemon is the customer that, if they had to choose one over another, TPCi would greatly prefer that person to be coming to their events. I am sure most everyone thinks that $500 is way too much, but I stated my basis and it is one way to look at it.

        My personal opinion is that TPCi does not really want the masters division to be this big. Why do I say this? It is because the game has outgrown many of the venues that it has been using for BR and Cities. Some States are so big that the time that it takes to run the event could exceed 16 hours. This is causing real and serious problems, for safety, comfort, and monetarily. I went to a tournament this year held in a community center where it was determined that we needed a couple more tables to seat everyone. Well, you know what, the fire code prevented anymore people in the room. So, maybe this means a quantum leap in cost for renting a second room in the center. This is also the same situation for making States a two day event, it doubles the cost possibly. I have been to other tournaments in Card/Comic/Game stores where there are so many players that people are standing up, playing on top of boxes of comics, or worse yet, sitting on the floor. Funny thing is the top tables are not the ones relegated to these substandard conditions. So, the more serious player base that frequent the fan sites such as yours, are not going to complain about any of this. But all of a sudden, Con Le, former National Champ, who has apparently not played at all this season until Spring Regionals, wants to go to Nats, but is in a very difficult position to get the required play points, and Jay Hornung comes to his defense, most everyone thinks we have to change the long posted rules because it is so unfair now. Well guess what, there are a lot of unfair, or I should say, inequitable, things in Play Pokemon. Am I lucky to live in a town that has one Fall BR, one Cities, and one Spring BR, else I have to drive about 2 hours for the next nearest events? Or am I unlucky because I do not live, in say, Chicago and can go to maybe 5-10 of each of those? Depends on who you compare me to, doesn’t it.

        No system is perfect, and automatically handles all cases. The discussion related to military service serves as a great example of where the rules do not address this very real situation. TPCi has said they will handle it on a case by case basis. Is that “totally bogus,” I think far from it.

        • Adam Capriola  β†’ Play

          1. I am pretty sure I already addressed the percentage in the article:

          I believe the percentage of qualified players that attend will be greater than 34.8% (as the diehards are going to comprise a healthy portion of the 1,764), but it’s unreasonable to expect an increase in Masters attendance with those numbers.

          1. A player coming to Nationals would need to spend money on a deck, too. Would they spend as much during the course of the year? No, but they are still spending money and TPCi is profiting.

          Is a more “loyal” consumer preferred? Sure, but you risk losing customers with their current model, even if you force some increased sales.

          1. We agree on something!

          My personal opinion is that TPCi does not really want the masters division to be this big.

          If the budget isn’t budging (which is a topic for another day), my solution is to charge entry fees to accomodate the growth in the player base. Is this not reasonable?

          It seems TPCi has put themselves in a conundrum by making events free in efforts of growing the game and making it more accessible but now can’t deal with the growth. They need to change something.

          1. For the record, I have been against the Play Point requirement long before the recent incident. Now just seemed to be the appropriate time to bring it out into the open.
        • Mark Hanson  β†’ Play

          Many players were dissatisfied with the Play Point requirement. The complaints are only becoming more public as an issue arose involving “prominent” players, that occurred partially due to the Play Point requirement.

          You wouldn’t get this kind of rallying support if it was just 2 random Players sparking the controversy. This is the first year the Play Point requirement has been set at 15. We’re now at the end of the year, approaching the important event in question. If players are going to Pre-releases (when they either don’t have time, or don’t enjoy the concept of that type of tournament) just to get Play Points, the system is a bit flawed.

          The fact that it was Conner and Alex just gives an example the whole community can rally behind, because they are known to everyone. If it had been a couple randoms, the news would have never been spread around. Though we want to see Conner and Alex re-instated, the reason for the rally is not for their benefit, but for the benefit of all players like them. People that want to play Pokemon at the highest level of competitive play, but don’t necessarily want to (or can’t) play all year round.

  14. Wayne Clark

    Hope the people who run the tournaments read this.

  15. Ryan Vergel

    One argument I’ve made is that there hasn’t been any justification for INCREASING the PP requirement for 10->15.

    Was 10 PP, and swag given out later really insufficient?

    The only arguments that really stand up after that further point is trying to grow the game on a smaller scale, and trying to reduce the number of participants.

    • Adam Capriola  β†’ Ryan

      It’s most likely a combination of wanting to extend the Nationals player cap, which coincidentally may increase local attendance, like you said.

      Last year was the first time we went over 972 Masters (the supposed cutoff), and TPCi probably wanted to make sure we’d stick around that same number (or less). From what I can tell, it doesn’t seem like their budget increases much each year, at least not in proportion to the growth of the player base, and Professor Dav is stuck trying to allocate it as best he can.

      Free events have helped make the game more inviting, but without appropriate increases in the budget, TPCi has kind of shot themselves in the foot. Either the budget has to be increased, or there need to be entry fees for big events like Nationals to accomodate all the players.

      (Also, maybe TPCi hasn’t made as much money per player in sales as they would have liked, and their logic may be if players are encouraged to play more events, they’ll buy more cards to keep their decks up to date.)

  16. Javier Favilli

    Hi. I don’t usually visit this page for lack of time lol, but one of my friends sent me this article. I have to say I read many interesting points and I would like to draw a parallel with the situation in my country (Argentina).

    Our national tournament is closed to. To enter, you have to win a premier tournament, or be the best uninvited in the tournament. With this system, our local organizer tries us to attend all tournaments. And I think Pokemon tries to do the same.

    The format and rules help new players, or those with less experience, to have more encouraging results. And classifications systems push them to play more events. Pages like this, Pokegym, TheTopCut, TheDeckOut, etc. helps a lot to that players too! They have tools that we don’t dream when we started. Many make the best of himself with this kind of tools, and go to their limits to appear in a video or fulfill his classifications goals.

    I understand this is just a game, and we all want to play the biggest tournaments. But everything in life requires some effort. If you really want something, you have to go for it. I saw new players from places not so competitive playing our National. They were frustrated by the big difference, and nobody enjoy to defeat them.

    I think this allows new players to arrive with more preparation to event of the year. And allows the more experienced players, to have more competitive and fun games.

    and about this… “Can you imagine that? Paying to enter a Pokemon tournament? (Blasphemy…)”

    lol, We have to pay like U$s12 only to play BR (With a booster per person as prizes) and almost $20 for the States (with 2 booster per person as prizes). Just imagine that :P

    Your country has an excellent situation :) Worls in your country or in Canada this year, free tournaments with very big prizes, a lot of players! I’d pay a lot to play a season in USA. Even with the problems, I understand them. But the game is changing, evolving, and as time passes it is normal to have things that we like more or less. The important thing is to enjoy the game, and try to adapt to it.

  17. Mark Hanson

    I actually had an idea that instead of Play! Points as a requirement, TPCi could use Championship Points. If you had to have a minimum of 1 CP to play in Nationals, 1589 players in the US would qualify (compared to 1778 after week 1). This would cut the attendance with a restriction that is performance-based, not availability-based. It would not cut out players who only started playing halfway through the year, and it would improve the caliber of the US National Championships, lower the attendance, and provide a tangible goal as a pre-requisite that players cannot complain about.

    If you’ve had the chance to make it to at least one tournament in the year, you’d be able to play in US Nats. The ball is in the player’s court, not the system’s.

    • Adam Capriola  β†’ Mark

      That’s a neat idea. I like that idea better than 15 PP, but I’d still very much prefer the tournament be open to anyone, if possible logistically.

  18. Andrew Valren

    Recently I have stopped playing Pokemon because of my obligations to school, sports, theater, and family, but I think that they Play Points system is ridiculous. I started playing the game back at the beginning of the original EX series when my cousins introduced me to the game and taught me how to play. However, I was really young then so I didn’t get to go to any official tournaments. Once I got older, I was able to persuade my mom to take us to my first tournament: the first national competition that was in Indianapolis. I went in with my crap rogue deck and came out with a ton of tips and frankly an addiction to the game. The whole atmosphere, getting a picture with the giant Pikachu, free stuff, nice people, everything, I was hooked instantly.I hate that I have had to leave the game and unfortunately I will probably never be back again, but I really enjoyed my time in it and hopefully, some day, I will be back. Anyways, moral of the story, there aren’t going to be any more people like me as long as Play Points exist, and I’m sure that there are hundreds of other players that started just like me, at nationals. Seeing that TPCi had taken away this opportunity for new players deeply saddens me and, frankly, hurts the game.

  19. Stephen Botha

    Adam called it. #PlayPokemon #masters_attendance

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