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Professor’s Corner – The U.S. National Championships Experience 05/26/2013

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor.

This post is a departure from the norm of my teaching-style articles I post here, so I would like to take a moment to fill you in on what it’s like to go to U.S. Nationals for those of you who haven’t been or have some questions in mind about it. Some talking points, I will illustrate by showing a few pictures from my photo album from 2012 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN.


Regionals is pretty big, but I hear that Nationals is even bigger! Just…how big is it, really?
Our own Leaguers Seth E. and Ian C. (SR TCG) and Gryphon (MA VGC) went to Spring Regionals this year and can attest to being in a huge hall full of players. Now look below at the first picture and imagine that space about 6-8 times bigger! It’s the big party every Pokémon player from across the country should strive to go to and celebrate with all sorts of fun activities they have to offer over a three-day weekend. From blow-up Pokémon displays, to game tournaments, to costumed appearances and cosplayed fans, there’s something for everyone here!

How often does it happen?
Usually around late June/early July timeframe.

What is the Nationals Tournament like?
It is the biggest tournament and the biggest chance for all good players to meet, compete, have fun, and battle for Championship Points and invitations and even paid trips to the World Championships! For TCG and comparable amounts of the VGC, Junior Division attendance tends to be around 150-200, Senior Division around 250-350, and Master Division can reach upwards of about 1,000 players!

Day 1: Friday is usually dedicated to TCG Nationals, where the players will play a few Swiss rounds to determine if they want to continue into Saturday or drop from the tournament and for some to register for VGC Nationals. All the while, small events and special guests and costume appearances are also taking place throughout the day. For those who complete Day 1, they will be rewarded with a Nationals T-shirt, a Nationals-stamped promo card, and 10 additional Play! Points for participating. Professors who qualified for and registered for the North America Professor Cup will play in a few Swiss rounds in the evening.

Day 2: Saturday tends to be the busiest day while TCG continues their Swiss rounds for the day and then plays a few rounds of Top Cut through Top 32 for all age divisions. VGC will be playing their preliminary Swiss rounds in parallel, and more special promotions, tournaments, and appearances are happening throughout the day! More rounds of the Professor Cup are played in the evening.

Day 3: Like the Super Bowl, championships happen on Sunday here! TCG and VGC plays through their Top Cut rounds until Champions are decided, and the Professor Cup Top Cut will be happening in parallel. All Championship matches (Top 2) will be featured on the big stage for all to see.

What can one win for doing well in the Nationals tournaments?
TCG: Quarterfinalists will earn an invitation to attend the World Championships, Top 4 players will earn trophies, paid trips to Worlds, and great Pokémon merchandise. Championship Points and booster packs of the current set may be awarded as low as the Top 128 level, but ultimately depending on respective division attendance.

VGC: Top 4 players will earn trophies and paid trips to Worlds, and great Pokémon merchandise. 2nd-4th place will win Nintendo 3DS-XLs and the Champion will win a 32GB Nintendo Wii U. Championship Points may be awarded as low as the Top 128 level, but ultimately depending on respective division attendance.

See Nationals information under the Tournaments tab for complete information.

Can I still go to U.S. Nationals even if I don’t meet the TCG Play! Points requirements for this year?
YES!!! I will repeat that there’s something for everyone at Nationals. While you won’t be eligible to play in the Nationals tournament, here’s what you can do while you’re there and still be able to enjoy yourself:

VGC Nationals: As of yet, there hasn’t been a minimum Play! Points threshold in order to participate in the VGC. Assemble your best VG team and battle for the Championship!

Mini-League: This isn’t your ordinary League Session that you’re used to going to every week/weekend! Find a player, battle them to a game and get in line for prizes. When you get to the front of the line, the League coordinators will reveal two prizes you can get. The winner gets first choice and the loser gets the other. The prizes are completely random, so you never really know what you can win until you get to the front of the line, so it’s best to be the winner of your game. Once you get your prize, find more players to battle, and rack up more prizes! Sample prizes can be anywhere from pencils, deck boxes, League and Premier Event promo cards, booster packs, and maybe even a booster box!

Side Events: Throughout the weekend, there will be several tournaments you can participate in order to win some really good prizes. Such tournaments include 8-player knockout tournaments, 32-player Swiss, and 64-player Swiss TCG and VGC events. Brush up on your gaming skills, assemble your best deck or VG team, play against other players, and win more stuff! If you really wanted to know how big the prizes can get, I saw someone win a Nintendo 3DS in one of these large-player tournaments last year…

Special Costumed Appearances: Costumed Pokémon will make appearances throughout the weekend and are the perfect opportunity to get photos with friends, family, and yourself!

Special Video Game Pokémon Distribution: While made available during Day 3, if you bring your Nintendo DS/DSi/DSi-XL/3DS/3DS-XL with a Black 2/White 2 version, you can receive a special Pokémon distribution that you can only get at Nationals!

Creativity Corner: Coloring activities are available to the younger groups in an area where parents can also be to spend that quality time with their child(ren) or wait on their child(ren) who may be playing in the Nationals tournaments.

Street Pass City: For those of you with a Nintendo 3DS/3DS-XL, prepare to be inundated with multiple Street Passes throughout the whole weekend. It’s a great opportunity to fill up missing puzzle pieces, get those missing colors to help get through Find Mii-2, share data from other games you have allowed via Street pass, and much more!

Shopping and Vendors: Looking for that certain card you need for your deck or collection? Or how about that Pokémon plush you’ve always wanted to get? Or a gift or souvenir for yourself or a friend? Looking to sell some cards? There will be some nationally-known vendors in attendance to help facilitate your shopping needs.

Volunteer Work: The Pokémon Company staff is always looking for help throughout the weekend. You can act as a runner and take up and submit match slips during the Nationals tournament, judge in Side Events or assist in Mini-League, and more. That’s not to say that your hard work and dedication won’t be well rewarded; you will receive four (4) booster packs of the current TCG set per hour that you work (or 1 pack every 15 minutes), and a Staff-stamped Nationals promo card every six (6) hours that you work. You even get to keep the “Volunteer” T-shirt you wore while working! Your contribution to a smoothly-run event, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated!

Nearby Hangouts: Summertime in down Indianapolis can get very busy, not to mention hot and humid outside. The Skywalk is a convenient network of overpasses linked between the buildings to allow ease of access without having to wait outside at crosswalks. From the convention center, it is a very short walk through the overpass to get to other buildings and parking lots, including the Indianapolis Mall (popular spot to go get lunch during the day and do some shopping), and hotels you may be staying in around the area. When in doubt, follow the crowds!

U.S. Nationals is a big event I highly recommend attending at least once in your lifetime. I am providing the link to the complete album found on Facebook here.

Please let me know if you have any more questions about U.S. Nationals!

Professor Raz

Professor Knowledge Difficulty: N/A – Informational



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