This is a follow up to my post about the competitive aspect of Regionals.
Some people who might not have gotten a chance to experience an awesome two-day Regionals probably want some insight into what they can expect. Even the PTOs who ran the best events have their gears turning, wondering to themselves, “How can I make this event better next time?” The coolest people who work for The Pokémon Company International are wondering the same thing. I got a chance to talk with Mike Liesik and Tom Shea (PTO, TJ Collectibles Owner) about these two-day Regionals. There was a lot to process, but here are some of the nuggets I was able to take away.
Communicate: Tom Shea couldn’t stress enough how important it is for organizers to communicate with their players. What does that mean exactly? If there is going to be a delay, let players know how long and why. I immediately thought back on the events I had attended, and knowing that there might be a 30 minute delay due to a computer crash made the time pass a lot more easily than not understanding why the event was held up, awkwardly standing around – uncertain how much time I would have until I could be doing something productive or enjoyable. Knowing when a lunch break will be is another great example of communicating with your players. Most organizers have played, and I hope they can relate back to these points and see why this transparent behavior makes for a better environment for their players and parents.
Destination: One of TPCI’s goals was to add more destination events to players’ seasons. I got to enjoy traveling to Rhode Island, and, while it wasn’t the same destination as Florida, California, or Hawaii might be, it was still a great trip with my friends. If PTOs can function as a concierge to their players and parents, they are likely to generate a higher turnout. This was a tall order on the first go-round, because if the event doesn’t run as smoothly as PTOs might hope, it could leave a damaging first impression on players who were unfamiliar with them (keep in mind that includes not only TCG players who were unfamiliar with these PTOs, but also VGC players who were used to a very different Regionals format). I hope not only will PTOs function as a concierge to their players, but also that players will be great to one another. Let me start by saying to all of you that are looking at the Philadelphia Regionals in the Spring, you should check out the Market Street Station near the Philadelphia Convention Center. Pat and Geno’s Cheesesteaks are also a staple of the Philadelphia experience. For something historic, the Liberty Bell is fun, but I could go on and on.
The Role of Judges: While not really a Regionals exclusive topic, Tom made a really great point about the role of judges. File this under, “It isn’t what you say, but how you say it” – judges don’t give penalties; they assess penalties (you earned it). There are guidelines for which penalties happen when. By making sure players understand what went wrong, why the penalty has to happen, and how to avoid being penalized in the future, things can go more smoothly in the future. Mostly everyone wants matches decided by game play, not by time limits or penalties; this is part of that goal.
Be Prepared for Two Days: Some players simply weren’t ready for two days of competition. Making Day Two went from being a pleasant surprise to an inconvenience for some people. I understand that some gifted players are trying to juggle the VGC and TCG experience, and I wish that was a problem I had. I heard some players talking about how they didn’t take off from work on Sunday, had other plans, or hadn’t made hotel arrangements. At best, this is being unprepared; at worst, it’s a scrub attitude (have some confidence, guys!). Parents, expect your kids to play both days. Ideally, the event ends early enough Day One that you get to take advantage of the concierge attitude your organizer has taken and that you get to enjoy the best of whichever city your Regionals is held at. Even better, you’ll get to enjoy it with your Pokémon friends! Looking back on my time in Hawaii, Orlando, and San Diego, it was my time with friends I remember most fondly – not the sunshine.
Give Feedback: As players, we need to make our wants and needs clear. Many people are invested in how well a Pokémon event runs: players, parents, judges, organizers, and TPCI representatives. Be constructive, but let these people know how you think things can work better! Maybe your solution won’t work perfectly, but it is hopefully one step closer to the best working solution. If not, you’ll at least let someone else know it is a problem worth thinking about, or feel better with an improved knowledge of why things need to be the way they are. In my own experience, simple things like asking for a second place to post the pairings at a high turnout event can make the event run more quickly, more smoothly, and make everyone’s day better.
Growing up, before I would go off to school each day, my mom would remind me to make it a better day for somebody else. If we all did this at each and every Pokémon event we went to, I can only imagine how much more fun next Regionals will be! Let us know how someone made your Regionals experience better in the comments.