Journey to the Pokémon World Championships
All last year, my one and only goal was to qualify for the Pokémon World Championships. By hook or by crook, I was going to get there. Unfortunately I fell short of this goal last season. I was new to the Pokémon Trading Card Game and ran out of gas in the third quarter of my first year competing. This year, though, I had one break through after another. My first Regional day 2, my first regional top 8, my first worlds invite.
It would probably be best to get the sappy, sentimental part out of the way first, so here goes. This tournament seemed like every other in the preceding days, but any feelings of complacency or even familiarity evaporated when the opening ceremonies began. Hearing the crowd erupt for the cheesy hype videos featuring a mysterious figure fetching the world championship trophies from rainforest and desert ruins filled me with just the sense of childlike wonder the Pokémon Company International was reaching for. I was not only attending the world championships, the pinnacle of a franchise I have cherished as long as I can remember, I was there to compete! I earned my bid to play amongst the best from across the globe with hard work and dedication. In this moment, I truly felt like I belonged.
As happy as I was just to be there, it was still a competition and I wanted to prove myself. Unfortunately, my first chance to shine on the world stage went less than ideal. I did not submit a deck list until 30 minutes before the deadline and my indecision came back to haunt me. While other players had selected one deck and spent the last few weeks leading up to the event mastering the smallest intricacies that truly make the difference at the absolute highest level, I was suffering from analysis paralysis, in search of the perfect play. When it came down to brass tax, I simply was not prepared enough. But as always, I can use this as a learning experience, a stepping stone. There is always room for improvement.
The most important and impactful step I can take, and what I would advise anyone else to do in this situation, is to refine my practice habits. Any time you are not learning something, you are not practicing properly. Note taking can commit information to memory and lessen the need for additional reps. The same holds true for discussions and theorycrafting. If you rely on your memory for everything your process will only grow slower over time. Maximizing the efficiency of your practice can outweigh more raw hours being poured in.
All things considered, this season was an outright success. I would have been so grateful for any of the accomplishments I managed when I was toiling in mediocrity last year. As hard as I push myself to improve, I have to build in time to appreciate the journey and how far I have come.