"The Big Man" – Standard v. Expanded, Juniors Recaps of Salt Lake City & Roanoke, Points, and the Box-Out!

This is the companion discussion topic for this article.

@bhalliburton You missed us in your chart. Silas was Top 8 at San Jose and Anaheim. And we don’t travel much so can’t compete for top placements. But we have, on the bright side, really loved getting to know some of those high-travel families.

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Doh. Sorry. A missed opportunity to bolster my own argument. Lolz

Just looking for some respect!

We had a similar experience of getting the kiddo’s invite from the recalculation, which was a bit of a letdown. But it was also far from a sure thing in our region – I’ve posted about this before but the cups we go to typically have a 1/2 dozen juniors who will all be going to Anaheim. I know it’s not like this just about anywhere else in the US. Truly hoping that many of the stores that have recently been awarded cups will continue to have them next year during all four quarters. That will help a great deal.

How about making the BFL for regionals lower? Might not completely discourage travel – prizes probably still up for grab for the best – but could help spread out the results to more deserving kids.

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What hotel are you guys staying at? I haven’t met you yet, and I’m sure Nathan will want to test and hang out with other juniors as well.

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Honestly, I think it was mistake to allow the best finish limit to be 4 for Internationals this season, but I don’t know if there’s a good way to rectify it. All that did was enable people to build a gigantic gap between themselves and anyone who stood a chance at contending for points in a top 4/top 16 placement. I like the way the rest of the system is set up at the moment, because it allows for year-long play to be valuable.

I wouldn’t anticipate the BFL being lowered for next year for either event series type. The reality is that TPCi wants people to have to push for that Day 2 invite—pay to play or not.

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Not anticipating it, not even mad at it. Mistake might even have been too strong a word. I’ve been totally fine with the structure this season, in general. It just seemed like a surprising move. I don’t know or care, my kid is not in danger of suddenly propelling to top 4 any time soon. =P

RESPECT! Geez, the Blum’s are trying to get on the list while everyone else on the Internet complains that I put them on the list. :stuck_out_tongue: But seriously, that is what I get for aggregating data by eye-balling results instead of laboriously constructing a spreadsheet. My apologies. It is obviously generally true, but when I went back and looked at Anaheim Top 8, it really jumped out to me how competitve that tournament must have been. Top 8 was stacked.

I don’t think BFL is what drives travel. I think it is love of Pokemon, Top 4 grind, Top 16 grind. (in that order?) Let’s be crystal clear: The problem is not that there are a bunch of kids traveling. In fact, I don’t even say it is a problem. Or that any of this is a problem. It is just how it is.

Frankly, the idea of “you have to Top 8 at a Regionals to show you are baller enough to deserve to go to Worlds” doesn’t sound completely ridiculous. As I have said all year, it is just really hard. Not wrong, just hard.

But I am on the record as saying I prefer a big Worlds to a more exclusive worlds SPECIFICALLY for juniors.

Theo for Top 4 in 2018.

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If you’re ready for Hell to freeze over, I can get behind this.

As the father of twin Juniors (Clark & Owen H.) who have been struggling to earn enough Championship Points to make it to Worlds this year, I really appreciate this article. This is our first year playing competitively, and none of us realized how difficult it would be… especially considering we only planned on attending two Regional events this year - Athens & Roanoke.

I have the utmost respect for the parents & families of the top Junior players who travel extensively for their kid’s love of the game, but their sheer dominance does make it hard for the rest of the field, as you astutely illustrated.

Perhaps the Play! Pokémon organization will think about incorporating Season Play! Points in addition to Championship Points in the future to determine the invitations to the World Championships for Juniors. At the end of the day… the Juniors are the next generation of Senior & Master players who will be essential to the games continued popularity and success. Their attendance at the biggest events should be encouraged and fostered.


Interesting dilemma regarding the boxing out concept. How does Pokémon balance the desire to have more families travel to tournaments as much as possible with also providing enough opportunities for more Juniors to qualify for worlds? I think the adjusting the point kickers is one of the solutions. Juniors only hit the top 16 point kicker in 5 of the 15 North America tournaments. In 3 other tournaments, juniors were only a few away from hitting the top 16 kicker. Going from 32 to 64 is a huge gap in Juniors; as others suggested, maybe a sliding scale of say top 20% of the field would get some points? That solution could result in a few more deserving kids getting their invite while also having them feel that it was appropriately earned and is scalable as the game grows.

On another note, I personally don’t think the high travel families prevented anyone from getting their invite this year so reducing the BFL does not seem to be a good solution to me. Looking at the results, there are very few juniors who finished in the top 20-25% of the field in more than 1 regional that does not already have their invite (after the points requirements were reduced to 350). The handful of spots occupied by the top travelers would have just been occupied by other top players and not necessarily mean that would have resulted in more worlds invites. In most tournaments, the high travel families / top players get paired up in the later rounds and knock each other out of points contention as referenced by Brent’s example of how his kids seem to always get paired in crucial win and in matches. If anything, the high travel / top players are just boxing out each other for top 4/top 16 only, not worlds invites. Just some of my thoughts on this interesting topic…


I realized in responding to other people another interesting aspect of this: The CP Limit/BFL is not the only thing they changed. There is a new, different regionals schedule! Previously, there could be two or even three regionals scheduled for the same weekend. So this was the first time that people who wanted to attend every regionals could. I suspect Pokemon did not realize the appetite that kids and some masters have for the Pokemon.

I agree 100% with @Dfwallace2 that BFL is not the factor. These kids are no different from other kids in that they play for love of the game and they will just go to as many tournaments as their parents allow them to go to. Also, #top4/top16 grind is real. Also, winning makes you want to play more. Ask Pram.

Totally agree that Pokemon has created a system where best players must fight for Top 16. Even if you had 8 BFL, you can always upgrade.

I strongly hope that they use this year as a springboard into next year for bigger and better things. The new system is great. I love it. Theo almost failed to get an invite this year and I still love it. I want to see more of it. With some slight shifts, it could be a truly great system - and this is one of those shifts I’d love to see.

Another thing I’d love to see is a spike in Juniors attendance at all levels so we don’t need to worry about only one or two kids getting points at a Cup (or 8 at a Regional). I don’t care if it’s my kid getting the points or not, it’s just more motivating when more people get more points after playing more people!

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I don’t know, the system was really nice this year mainly because Tiara was cutting every event she went to which also allowed us extra travel money so Aiden was able to attend so many events. If they were to keep the system the way it is then I can easily see Aiden sliding out of top 16 next year since we won’t be traveling as much next year.

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Brent - I disagree with your statement that you have to Top Cut a Regionals to deserve your invitation to Worlds, my son is an example of how you do not have too. Good skill, excellent play, determination and love of the game are how you get there. He has worked very hard all season to be at his best. Yes, we have traveled to a few Regionals (Fort Wayne, St. Louis and Madison), unlike you (and several others in the Top of the Junior standings), we can not afford to be traveling to every regionals to compete, but we go when we can. Between Regionals, League Cups and League Challenges, my son has been in the Top 25 of the Junior standings all year long. Although, he did not fair well in Fort Wayne (finishing at 25th), he bubbled at St. Louis and Madison and has received his invite and would have received it without the points change. If you are dedicated enough and a good player, you can do well in this. And that is our goal. Your self-serving articles fail to mention the other kids that are just as good as the other top juniors. Not to mention, your insulting comments about my son in your Fort Wayne Juniors recap, are unacceptable. My son has played your sons and won. I think you should refrain from making unsupporting comments about other people’s children. I think you would not appreciate that if others said the same about your son. As parents, we are all out for the same thing, supporting our children and their love for the game. If you earned your invite to Worlds, you deserve it. And, if you didn’t Top Cut, doesn’t mean that you aren’t good enough. Think about it . . .

@deblmeye You really come after me. Now, I generally feel like it is better to try to rise above people’s comments - I would say what we have seen in the last week is that people have read something I wrote a year ago, misinterpreted it in some way, and then let it fester, causing them to fly off the handle at some later time. Probably the best thing I can do is try to minimize how involved I am. Having said that, I can’t help but be a bit defensive, in a hopefully intellectual, thoughtful way.

Let me make a few comments:

  1. I do not say that to deserve an invite you have to Top 8. I say that this is how the system was generally architected by Pokemon. But you are absolutely right. There were I believe, 5 of the many, many regional events that were held that had Top 16 points for juniors. Top 16 points at 2 of those 5 Regionals was enough, combined with everything else, to acquire an invite as well. I don’t have access to data on how frequently that combination occurred. The facts are these: With League Challenges and Cups, the most points someone could acquire was 330 before the point scoring change. So to get 400 points, you either needed a Top 8 at a Regional (80 pts), or you needed to be incredibly lucky to attend two regionals with Top 16 points and then get lucky/unlucky enough to get Top 16 at them while not getting Top 8. So there are edge cases.

  2. “Your self-serving articles fail to mention the other kids that are just as good as the other top juniors.” - WOW. So, couple of questions.

a) Not to be ridiculously defensive, but how are my articles self-serving me? They seem kind of whiny, if anything to me. “Oh, we lost, it sucked, we are bad at Pokemon.”

I daresay that rather than serving self, I seem to get shelled repeatedly these days. Until this article, people tell me they like them. I try to write more. I have written less this year than ever because, as I have repeatedly said, even though this is my oldest son’s last year in juniors, I feel a little like the story arc has been completed and so much of our Poke-journey these days is variance and misery.

b) I feel like you are telling me that I should be telling more stories about juniors that I don’t know. Unfortunately, I cannot. I do not know them. Then you tell me I should not talk about other peoples kids. I would actually say that the thing I hear more than anything else when people come up and talk to me is that I am the only person in the entire Poke-sphere that talks about juniors at all. And I try to name-check juniors all the time because parents tell me they love it. Their kid gets recognized in an article! While many are aware of the work of Regan R., Roan G., and William W., I would offer that no one other than myself have mentioned such quality players and interactions with them as I have had with such juniors as Shawn C., Hayden C., Benny B., Max B., The Alvarez family, Mia S., James K., Micaiah H., Shawn C., and Clark H… In the last 4 articles I wrote, I cite specific interactions with these kids (outside of simple matches), plus a kid named Jackson who had bad luck against one of my kids. Other than James K. and Benny B., and Max, who is one of the two or three best juniors in Germany, (as these 3 all have pts that, while not in Regan/Roan/William-sphere, are substantial), I would say that these are the exact kind of kids you are telling me that I should be writing about, right?

Do I talk about Roan, Regan, William more? Sure. I see them at every tournament I go to. How could I not? Also, they are friends with my kids. As I have said in other places, I am not a journalist for juniors, I am a guy that tries to take the time to write about our experience and our journey through this adventure. You can fault me for not making enough friends - indeed, I am awkwardly social - but I have tried to be honest about our journey to make it relatable for other poke-parents.

Honestly I wish I could write more about Sebastian E. and Sebastian M., James K., Oscar and his brother, etc. But I just don’t know them that well. Those kids killed it this year. Absolutely killed it. I think every kid has a story worth telling, I just don’t know those kids. We played a kid at a League Cup the other day, me for fun, my kids in the competition, and he went 0-3 against us, but his catchphrase that came out every game was, “Now I have you right where I want you!”. Funny, big personality, tons of opinions for better or worse on the game. He would be hilarious to interview. But that is not for me.

  1. I am on the record - multiple times - as saying I prefer a low bar for Worlds qualification. I can understand how Pokemon may “want the best of the best” and view Regionals performance as a metric, but I want lots of kids invited to worlds. I don’t think Pokemon really thought about the fact that attendance would limit the number of Top 16 points distributed, creating a system where, generally, you needed to Top 8 to get an invite, but that was what happened prior to the change thing. The change thing did change this dramatically. This has dramatically grown the pool of eligible juniors. Mo’ juniors, mo’ better. I think I say that every article, every discussion, every interaction I have with people. I don’t think anyone could misinterpret what I write: I am pushing for the bar to be lower.

  2. I am fairly sure that when you say I insulted your son, you are referring to this line: “Funniest highlights were Rd 4 when Jackson Ultra-Balled his hand T1 for a Shaymin only to discover both Shaymin were prized and Rd 6 when the other player tried to Ninja Boy into an Yveltal-EX only to discover his last Yveltal-EX was prized.” I have no idea where the insult is in that. Maybe that is my Asperger’s-ness. To go off on a tangent a bit, I will say, and I am sure every Poke-parent has had these struggles, that when I ask my kids what happened in a round, it is hard to get any explanation. I cite these stories in my article because they were memorable enough for my kids to actually remember and they were distinctly non-insulting. These are tales of horrific luck. It sucks, but it is not unsupportive or an indictment of skill, capability, or love of the game. Maybe it is an indictment of what a luck-sack game Pokemon is. We got lucky and won. I literally say that. I don’t think it is an unsupporting insult. I describe losses my kids experience in far harsher terms. In the Utah trip report I say James K. forgot to play Hex so he lost. I don’t think I have ever met the Kowalski parents, but I would say that is a legitimate gameplay error. I am not insulting him either. I know he feels bad about it and I feel bad for him. It is a game. I love that kid. He is a baller.

I am assuming you are Jackson’s mom because I think he is the only person I describe in the entire tournament other than Bodhi annihilating my eldest in Top 8 and the bad prizes my kids had in other losses. Seriously, bad prizes are no insult. As I recollect, I name check him because I think my son likes him and thinks he is cool. Could be wrong - it has been a few months since we saw Jackson.

“My son has played your sons and won.” - That’s fine. Your son is probably better than my kids. We have not won a thing in Pokemon all year.

“I think you would not appreciate that if others said the same about your son.” - If my son is a jerk to you or your child, please let me know. I will ruin his life. If he ultra balls his whole hand away for a Tapu Lele next week and both Tapus are prized, that sucks! I won’t ruin his life. It sounds like he will already be appropriately chagrined.

“If you earned your invite to Worlds, you deserve it.” - I would take it one step further. I believe there are people that deserve their invite and didn’t get it.

Interestingly, I would say that I was shelled earlier by parents saying I am indicting people that travel a lot. This comment contained an implied indictment of how much I travel relative to others. I confess, I envy those that travel more than me even as I do not begrudge them the right and opportunity to travel. I assume others are similar. I travel more than some people and I do not blame them for envying me. I am sure that there are players better than any of us that do not have the ability or opportunity to travel at all. Let me be clear, given the way this thread has gone, I am not suggesting anyone envies me or should. Don’t. It isn’t that great being me. But not being able to travel as much as you want sucks for everyone.

Heck, I suspect if you asked Roan he would say he would have liked even more tournaments. That kid loves to play Pokemon. He has a true heart of gold and is an amazing ambassador for the game. I could not be prouder to have him and his family representing the best spirit of Pokemon. The same is true of William W. A nicer, sweeter kid cannot be found. While I frankly don’t know Regan as well, Steve Retzloff has as big a heart as you could ask for. His personality and natural gregariousness are amazing to someone as anti-social as myself. As ambassadors for Pokemon, we are lucky to have them all. And while I don’t know so many kids that I wish I did, I must say that many other parents that have traveled a bit are super nice and the community is amazing, as I am sure you know. Bodhi’s mom and Benny’s mom, Sebastian M’s dad all spring to mind as people I have spent time with to while away the long hours and found amusing conversation. The quality of the parents that travel a lot makes those self-same parents want to travel more to hang out with such a cool group.

(In the interest of space, I am omitting many seniors parents that I would normally mention: The Ngs, Morisolis, Posts, Hurleys, Donna Stockton, Catrons, Inmans and others come to mind)

To skip to the end, if you find these comments horrifically offensive and derogatory towards children and I am off-base with this, I am sure if one or two of you just send private messages to Adam, Chris, Alex, they will tell me they no longer want my writing. I don’t get paid for this, I do it for fun and because people have historically enjoyed it.

Hopefully you take away from this comment that I take kids playing this kids game extremely seriously. I value my time spent doing Pokemon and meeting kids at these tournaments. I play a lot of Pokemon and I play it mostly with kids under 11. I try very hard to write thoughtfully and considerately about kids and the challenges facing kids in this game. I am sure I step on myself all the time, but as my wife would assure you, it is because I am an idiot and not because I have any ill intention.

I am happy to play Pokemon with you or your kid if you stop by and offer me the challenge!