Scrub Player Syndrome: They Won’t Have Those Cards!

Often, when talking about the inappropriate attitude people approach competitive Pokémon play with, my friends and I will use identify their mistakes as being a symptom of scrub player syndrome. Today’s symptom I’ll address is the belief that the people at your event will not own “those cards.”

All eyes are on Mewtwo.

As we prepare for States Championships 2012, Mewtwo EX is the hottest card on the block. Your odds of pulling one in a box are 50/50; you’re probably dropping over $50 if you buy one on eBay as I write this. Playing just one in a deck is more expensive than building Durant was for the City Championship leg of the season. Tropical Beach has also been a really expensive card, going for upward of $90.

Can I assume people just won’t play these cards? I don’t think so. Commerce is international, people can acquire these cards through auction sites like eBay or through online stores like Troll and Toad. Your “local area” not having these cards is no longer realistic. There are ultimately, though, 4 separate scenarios at play:

A) A player who is good enough to win the event you are at, and they possess all the cards they want to compete.
B) A player who isn’t good enough to win the event you are at, but they possess all the cards they want to compete.
C) A player who is good enough to win the event you are at, but they don’t possess all the cards they want to compete.
D) A player who isn’t good enough to win the event you are at, and they don’t possess all the cards they want to compete.

Your goal is to be a player from the first scenario. The player in scenario D should be nearly irrelevant to you. If you can’t beat them, you might be them. Player B and C are the interesting cases.

I don’t believe Player C exists. At best, Player C exists very rarely, ONLY when the number of copies of a card are incredibly low (Tropical Beach, Tropical Tidal Wave). There was never a shortage of Luxray Level X, and there were two counters, Mewtwo Level X & Machamp, that were easily accessible. Even with these counters balancing the metagame, many top players still wanted to play SP and piloted SP lists with expensive cards to tournament victories. They were playing many mirror matches, becoming very good at it along the way. Despite the high price of Luxray Level X, players using SP and teching it into Gyarados fully expected their opponents to have it. No noteworthy players successfully banked on their potential opponents not owning Luxray Level X for a win. The Mewtwo situation we will face at States is admittedly a little different than the Luxray and Tropical Beach scenarios. No one saw me play a Tropical Beach during City Championships and thought, “I can’t win against that.” Luxray had counters like Mewtwo Level X (in a tin), Machamp SF (a regular rare), and even Toxicroak G (Promo from a booklet), where Mewtwo’s chief counter will be Mewtwo (further increasing its rarity and desirability).

Player B is the dream killer. They show up with the good cards, because good cards exist and you should expect people to have them. However, this player just isn’t as skilled as Player A. Maybe they’ve made some crucial deckbuilding error despite owning the best cards. Perhaps they’ll misplay themselves into the ground. Worst of all, maybe they’ll just get penalized back to the stone age. If you show up unprepared for the best cards, however, this person’s odds of beating you increase an uncomfortable amount. Suddenly, you’re losing to “that guy” who will damage your resistance, or, worse still, you lose to them in the first round of top cut.

Don’t take this the wrong way; there are two messages here. The first is that you should have the best cards to increase your chances of winning. That isn’t really something I think I need to emphasize. By realizing that everyone else is operating this way, too, you should be planning on beating other good decks, which are utilizing the best, even if they are the rarest, cards. This is basic game theory: I will do what is best for me, and other players, as logical agents, will do the same if it is also best for them; this is the same idea as sports players investing their time into training their bodies for an activity. Pokémon players should expect to invest their money into the top cards. If you’re good, you should be able to beat someone with a subpar deck anyway. “This will be great as long as they don’t have Mewtwo,” shouldn’t sound reasonable to most of you, but for those of you that it did, eliminate a symptom of scrub player syndrome and quit it.

15 responses to “Scrub Player Syndrome: They Won’t Have Those Cards!”

  1. Justin Sanchez

    I dont agree with this 1 bit. Not having a mewtwo ex will change the choices of many players. And its more than likely they will run durant which not only is a deck that doesnt require much to get to work in the first place, is a deck that is a built counter to mewtwo in the first place.

    Saying “people i would expect to win an event” is a dumb statement with durant in the format. I mean lets use your own logic vs you, i flipped a lot of heads to win nats apparently. Couldnt this happen to some guy playing durant? Considering how few choices the deck has to actually make mistakes. While there are ways to play the deck flawlessly(jason), the deck isnt hard to play by most means.

    In any other format ill agree with you. This one, cant say i do.

  2. Justin Sanchez

    Also towards the SP arguement, it was the bdif. Durant can beat any deck at any moment…players realize this. People who dont have and dont want to spend their money on mewtwo WILL use the next best option.

    1. Monferno

      “Can.” It’s not doing as great as it was, and people are a lot more prepared for it. It’s not a horrible option, but there are much better options.

  3. Raen

    I would disagree greatly with your argument against the existence of player C. You didn’t factor in money or budget at all. For example, I can’t afford more than one Mewtwo EX, which greatly limits what I can do right now. Nothing about not being able to afford the cards puts me in any of the unskilled categories.

  4. Martin Moreno

    I don’t get it

  5. Espy87

    Player B = the worst.

    Currently though, I believe I belong in the Player C catergory.
    I used to play to win but nowadays I don’t put in the time to playtest.
    When I go to an event, I just go to have fun. I could care less if I win the event.
    I do enjoy beating the “good/popular” players though. ;/

    1. Koichimew


  6. Anonymous

    I don’t agree with nor do I like this article at all.

    Player “C” does exist because I am one of them. I just don’t have the finances anymore to pay outrageous amount of money for one card that its value is being manipulated by “shill bidding” e-sellers and being bought by the ignorant Pokemon community.

  7. Mees Brenninkmeijer

    Just be a boss and be C and still actually do really well 😉

  8. Anonymous

    Lol at all the people thinking they’re “player c”. If you think you’re player c, you’re actually player d.

  9. Zackary Ray Anderson

    AM a A hahahaha

  10. Jimmy O'Brien

    Justin, you’re disagreeing with a point I never made. “Not having a mewtwo ex will change the choices of many players.” It obviously will, but many players never attend a competitive event. People could choose Durant while they own Mewtwos. If the deck is as good as you’re making it out to be, some well-motivated individuals will play it, believing they have a chance to win with it (and you seem to agree with them).

    Perhaps, “people I would expect to win an event,” is deceptive, but I think you’re missing the point if you think it is a dumb statement. No one is surprised when certain players win events (Jason Klaczynski, Kyle Sucevich, Frank Diaz, and many others).

    Raen: You’re right, I didn’t factor in budget. When figuring out who won the event, they don’t adjust the results for your budget. If I was talking about football, Player C might be the player who reacts well enough to score a touchdown, but lacks the muscles to succeed in many situations. Prioritizing your time differently could give you those muscles. Prioritizing your cash differently could get you those cards. I don’t think you are less skilled by having different priorities, or being in a different financial situation than someone else, but the players with the PTCG as a top priority to them will be your As and Bs.

    NES4LIFE2011: I don’t have enough information to know if you’re a Player “C” or not, I have nothing against Player “C”. If the card’s price is high due to an ignorant community, you should be able to go win States without it. Good luck! Also, accusing sellers of shill bidding is neither here nor there.

  11. Elitist Player Syndrome

    Player D can be a threat. He might not win the event, but he can knock you out of Top 16, even if he’s running a suboptimal deck that day (Durant, for example).

  12. Justin Sanchez

    Jimmy you’re missing the point. Durant being the cheapest deck and the best alternative to anything with mewtwo makes players who cant get mewtwo still competative. Your use of players who you wouldnt expect to win an event doesnt apply here. The only people who cant play durant correctly are people who either cant announce an attack, or are looking to lose by not benching pokemon. The deck is simple, cheap and a great alternative. Obviously i get the never let your guard down aspect, thats true. But not expecting EVERYONE to have multiple mewtwo is a pretty good assumption.

  13. elmowreckface

    In retrospect. I agree completely. 50 dollars is pretty cheap compared to other games. Tour guides are 150 and you have to have 3. Or none. Uyou can get by with one mewtwo.