Hello once again everyone! This past season has finally come to an end, and while many players are breathing a huge sigh of relief, I cannot help but look past on it all as a litany of mistakes on my own behalf. Many of my friends and fellow writers spent most of the season grinding away, traveling each and every weekend in an attempt to achieve something greater. Seeing the success of my peers is always so motivating to me and I’m sure such successes are even more rewarding for those who personally achieved them. Over the past year, I have had the pleasure and joy at watching many newer or slightly unknown players really come into their and I could not be happier to see a new guard continue to push older players such as myself out of the forefront and create a better game and community.
The punchline to all of this thought is that I unfortunately did not achieve my invite the past year. I ended up going 5-4 at the North American Internationals Championship. Had I won round 9, I would’ve ended 6-3 which would have gotten me that Top 256 finish to end it all but alas, I had a strange day of ever stranger matchups and could not quite seal the deal. I will talk more about what I played in a later section, but this final stumble on my part has forced me to do lots of reflection and introspection. For those unaware, I have been playing Pokémon competitively for over nine years now and have qualified for every World Championship since 2011. Falling short this year ends my seven year streak and while I have written a number of times that I would not call myself a top player anymore, I do not want to see this incident as the final chapter in my story as a competitive player.
Since Columbus, I have been fielding many questions about what comes next for me and I think it would be easy to lookback on my season this past year and make excuses. I could block out many of the things that happened and simply say that I did not play enough events and had I played a little more, I surely would have earned my invite. In some ways, there is some truth to this, but I think it would be foolish to see it as the exclusive problem. Across all four quarters of League Cups, I only placed 4 Cups in total (with two League Challenges), and so naturally if I had gone to a few more of these, I could’ve been closer and closer to my invite. In addition to this, I only attended Dallas, Collinsville and Madison Regionals, and had reasonable performances at all of them except Madison. Had I gone to more Regionals, maybe the invite would’ve come even easier for me.
However, the fact that I chose to go to less events was a decision I consciously made, and seeing it as the only problem in this failure of mine would be nothing more than an excuse. Hindsight is always 20/20, but had I played above and beyond expectations at 100% of the events I attended, then I still would’ve earned the appropriate amount of points to participate in Worlds this year. It is important to always examine ourselves closer and find the real culprits for our failings. It is easy to try and scour for any excuse and prop that up as the real enemy. “I just got unlucky” or “I hit all the wrong matchups” instead of just examining every game you played and discovering that you could’ve won more of them if you had played more intelligently.
I know for a fact that every event I attended this year where I fell short of my own expectations, I threw at least 1-2 series (per event) by making a small error, playing too slowly or not conceding a game fast enough, and it is these sorts of issues that we need to address in order to become better—and not use small, semantical concerns to justify a poor performance. I think this is something that many players overlook and it is that the hard, real decisions the game requires to make are so miniscule that we often miss them entirely or certainly do not understand their impact. The difference in plays that set my decisions apart from Tord or Igor’s are likely very tin, and perhaps only matter a small percentage of the time, but it is in that small percent when made correctly every time that keeps Tord and Igor at the very top and players like me deep in the rungs of the average player.
I know deep down that I still want to be the best player I can possibly be, and it is my intention to take this desire with me into the next season. I think many people in these very circumstances could use this final stumble to justify quitting entirely or using it to begin playing even less, but I just do not want to see it like that. Everyone who is the very best in their respective field or enterprise stumbles and has trouble evaluating their self-worth, and it is only the foolish who never consider that they could be wrong and see all their hardships (at least in terms of playing Pokémon competitively) as bad luck or bad timing. I know I can be a better player and perhaps more importantly, I want to be that better player and I hope everyone is still willing to stick with me through this next season as I plan to go at with everything I have! With that in mind, my preparations for the World Championships have already begun, and while I will not be competing this year, winning the Nashville Open would be a great pick-me-up to start the year!
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