This past weekend I attended the Pokemon Regional Championship in Baltimore. While I’m personally no stranger to card games or attending events, I only recently started playing the Pokemon TCG, in no small part because of the Gym Leader Challenge format, and this was my first time at a major event for Pokemon. While I wasn’t willing to buy into a standard deck right before Lost Origin was going to change the metagame, Baltimore is a relatively short drive from where I live and my friend who lives just outside the city was willing to let me stay over for the weekend, so another friend and I decided it was the perfect chance to see what a Regional was like and play some GLC events over the weekend. Unfortunately that friend came down with a cold a couple days before the weekend and had to cancel at the last minute. After that I considered just skipping the event myself, as in my experience events like this can be a little bit sad if you don’t have anyone to go with, but thankfully I knew that there were going to be people attending who I knew from playing at my local store, so I decided to take the plunge and attend anyway.
I decided to drive down Friday evening and just go to the event on Saturday and Sunday. Apparently I didn’t miss much as I later overheard someone saying that the Friday GLC event was scheduled too close to the event hall closing and the players only got to play half the event before they had to leave. Saturday’s GLC event started at 2, so I didn’t make my way to the convention center until about 12:45. It turns out this wasn’t the best timing on my part as it was during the main event’s lunch break, so all the nearby restaurants had lines out the door and the people staffing the check-in stations had left to get food. Fortunately I only had to wait a few minutes before someone showed up to check me in and I was still able to get lunch after the lines died down with time to spare before GLC started. I was pleasantly surprised by how many things there were to do in the event hall, even for attendees not in the main event. There was a whole area with rows of TVs and consoles set up where anyone could play video games like Pokemon Stadium, Pokemon Puzzle League, or Pokken Tournament. There was also the featured artist doing signings and the main event stage which had a viewing area where anyone could sit and watch the weekend’s broadcast.
The biggest reason I was there, though, was to play GLC, and some helpful staff members were happy to point me to the side event signups. There was 1 scheduled GLC event each day. They were all $12 to enter for 4 rounds of best of 1 matches with a 30 minute match timer and a prize payout of 1 prize wall ticket for entering with an additional ticket for each win. I know that the card legality rules have been varied across events, but at Baltimore all World Championship and forign versions of cards were allowed. Saturday’s event was pretty small with 12 participants. Everyone was very friendly, and a few of them said they were somewhat new to playing the TCG and GLC, which I find exciting because it implies that our community is still growing. I didn’t take any notes on Saturday but if I remember correctly the top table in round 4 was Grass against Psychic. I personally went 3-1 with Amazing Raikou Lightning after battling through two fighting type decks. Sunday’s GLC event was unsurprisingly much larger after gaining players who were eliminated from the main event and clocked in at a whopping 72 people. I had the uncharacteristic, for me at least, urge to play Dark which I once again piloted to a 3-1 record, losing in round 4 after my turn 1 Tate & Liza drew no energy and no card draw. For anyone curious the matchups at the top tables of Sunday’s round 4 was:
My best guess is that Grass was the most common type, and I saw little to none of Colorless, Metal, Fighting, or Fairy.
The prize wall closed at 6pm so I went over right after my final round. The prize wall had an assortment of plushies, deck boxes, sleeves, posters, pens, booster packs, and other TCG products like tins and Elite Trainer Boxes, but I settled on turning my 8 tickets into a nice binder. Overall I had a great time in Baltimore. Based on other accounts it sounded like the event had its hiccups, but it seems like they all involved the main event. Even with that being the case this time, that does not mean that playing in a main event is a bad idea. I’ve played my fair share of TCG tournaments and they can be fun and rewarding. If any of you are considering attending a Regional I wholeheartedly recommend it, I would just advise you to budget for it, get at least one friend to come along, and be diligent about signing up as soon as you can. I’ve been having a great time playing Pokemon, especially Gym Leader Challenge, so I hope The Pokemon Company and the tournament organizers continue to run fun events, and I hope that you all get the chance to attend.