This is a L0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0ONG report. Get your popcorn ready! Origins 2008 Report Wednesday I go to summer classes as normal. Chairman Kaga calls me, and I grab a quick lunch and wait in my apartment with all my stuff for the weekend. My standard suitcase of Pokemon cards, my stuffed duffel bag filled with clothes and NOTHING else, my three boxes of cards containing Energies and Trainers, my inflatable bed to use in the hotel room when my roommates get there, and my computer bag which I take everywhere with me. Big thanks to Kaga for driving over an hour out of his way to pick me up. We set off around 2pm, getting some gas just outside Urbana ($3.97 is a RIP for the area). Right around Indianapolis, we get stuck in a parking lot on the I-70. Lots of joking about the new Colts stadium, and how it looks like a giant central train station, comparing it to the old RCA Dome. We get to the I-71, and see that there’s a LOT of scrap metal in the middle of the road, and that there are at least two flatbeds hauling the stuff away. Traffic is stopped while they move onto the I-71 South, and we get going after an hour in Indy. More joking about the car, speculation about what exactly happened. I personally think that somebody went on a drunken joyride and smashed the median, but that’s just me. We get to Columbus, and I insist that we head directly over the Convention Center so that we can get our badges early and so that I can meet&greet the PUI guys. By the time I figure out exactly what’s going on in that building, it’s after 9:30. We hit the TCG floor, and none of the PUI guys are there. I think Snore gave me my shirt at that point, but it might have been the next day. Play a couple of games with my alpha Professor deck, and then head out to my hotel room. Kaga stays in another room, and I probably should’ve gone with him, would’ve been cheaper for everybody, IMO. That night, I try to sleep, but there was some kind of insano storm going on outside, and the hotel staff toss us out of our rooms and into the basement because the tornado sirens start blaring. It’s about 1am when I finally get some sleep, setting my alarm for 6am. Thursday Wake up, realize that my hotel doesn’t have the free continental breakfast, and I doubt any of them in the area had them. No worries, I pay for my breakfast, then head to the Con with my suitcase of cards. PUI is there, and they hand out the Staff shirts on the spot. Now, I’m in a bit of a bind, as I’ve filled a duffel with my Prof shirts, and now they’re giving me new ones and I can’t wear my old ones. Plus, Kaga’s car was full before we left. Oh well, take the blows, I say. PUI releases half of us for the morning, and I take no time to wade over to the GG guys to sell of my cards. I think it was Silvestro there ahead of me, and he gives them an entire suitcase of RHs, I think it was something like 7400 total. Kinda makes my ~150 look worthless, doesn’t it? Still, walk away with $70, enough for a night of hotels, and I’m happy as I get some random jank out of my binders. Lunch time, at the worst Subway I’ve ever been to. Still, it’s better than a lot of the other crap that they had in that little food court. That pizza looked NASTY. Around this time, and I don’t remember exactly when, I pull my secret present for Bacon Breath. Kaga’s following me around with a camera all day, waiting for the moment of the presentation. Around 11:00, after I sell my stuff off to GG, I go up and talk to Mike. He notices right away that I’m holding something behind my back. I immediately drop to one knee, bow my head, and present him with three pounds of frozen, thick cut BACON. Kaga has the PERFECT reaction shot, and I just hope it’s posted up here somewhere. Come back in the afternoon, Judge the second half of the Modified going on at the time. Something like 100+ people playing on Thursday already. Somebody comes up and announces that there’s less than 100 spots left for Masters, and only about 50 left in each of the Juniors and Seniors. I know this is bull. There’s no way that 206 spots can be filled just a day into the convention in the younger age groups. Once the Modified finishes, I run a single 8-man before they turn in the area for the night. I would’ve run more, but they wouldn’t have let me. Judges meeting for Nationals, a couple of surprises in there that I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about, and then we break for the night. Back in the hotel at midnight, and I make some minor adjustments to my Professor deck, putting in the 13th Fighting Energy, the 2nd Wager, and the 2 Windstorms. After a couple of 5 turn draws with the deck, I’m asleep before my head hits the pillow. Friday Professor Cup day! I show up with my suitcase in tow, and play a couple of games with dld4a and Ice’Cold before registration starts. I’ll post up the entire contents of the deck I used for the day, because I think it’s seriously funny “Gravy” v 1.1 Pokemon (19): 4 Solrock GE 3 Lunatone GE 3 Donphan SW 3 Phanpy HP 75 3 Breloom SW 3 Shroomish SW Trainers (21): 2 Windstorm 2 Warp Point 3 Roseanne 2 Stevens 2 Wager 2 Night Maintenance 4 Celio 4 Visit Energy (20): 4 Call 2 Scramble 1 Cyclone 13 Fighting Yes, only 18 unique cards in this deck. That’s low. It’s also the only way I know how to make decks, especially in an initial build. Coming in, I thought that my best start would be Rock active, Luna benched, Rosey, and start powering. I played a couple of games, and I noticed just how DEVASTATING a Turn 2 Donphan really is to the gamestate. I change my ideal start to Phanpy, Call Energy, and some way to get a Donphan. Every game I get this start, I win, no doubt in my mind. Before you ask, here is the biography behind this deck. When I heard about the Prof Cup format, I knew that I would be using LunaRock because I can only win using Energy Acceleration tactics. My next step was to find the Fighting Pokemon with the highest HP. The choice came down to HairyMama and the Roller. Mama was discarded immediately, as there was nothing with more than 100 HP in the entire format, and Roller was my choice. I spoke to Ice’Cold a couple of times on the Gym, and he mentioned Breloom as being ideal for the cup. I looked at it, and he was spot on. 100HP, fighting attack costs, healing, and stupid attack power. I test, and realize that I don’t have enough Fighting Energy. I can’t drop my Calls, cuz those win games. Scramble is a STAPLE in this format, and Cyclone is game changing, especially against other Donphans. So, I start taking out nondraw Trainers. Ice also showed me the day before how weak my deck was to a Cess lock, and I tossed in the Windstorms to give me 5 ways to break a Cess lock. Before the tournament, Mike announces slightly different rules for the Top Cut. It’s still best 2/3, but it’s only 45 minutes, and the second game will count even if it isn’t finished. If the games are tied after that point, we move to Sudden Death. I’m kool with this ruling, cuz I don’t think I’ll do better than .500 all day. I even tell dld4a after he whips me a new one beforehand that I’ll be HAPPY with a .500 record off this. He laughs, and we head off for first round pairings. Round 1 vs. dld4a (Donphan) We sit down, and the Minis start handing out swag. I think they’re just handing out the packs to be placed in the middle and the match slips. Then, I see these giant boxes come out, and they start handing out these big, flat, black things. It takes me thirty seconds to realize that PUI GAVE US PROFESSOR PLAYMATS!!! I’m as happy as a pig in mud at that point, and nothing could bring me down from there. Dave and I are old buddies from Chicago, and we always seem to play each other in tourneys. At the very least, I always end up playing at least 3 Chicago guys in any tournament where there are other Chicago guys. I’m kool with that, I know he’s gonna whip me like he did earlier. He didn’t. The only thing that I remember about this match is that I won the Wager early, got two attackers set up, and he couldn’t recover after his first Roller was KO’d. Win, 1-0 Round 2 vs. Metro (Delta) He never got a hand size of more than 4, and was always just one card behind. It wasn’t an easy win, but my energy acceleration plus damage was simply too much for him at that point. Win, 2-0 Round 3 vs. Greg S. (Donphan) He misses 4 of his first 8 energy drops, which is a big NONO in a Donphan deck. Heck, in ANY deck in this format. I get 6 energy down in the first 4 turns, and he’s always one card behind the entire game. Win, 3-0 Round 4 vs. ??? (Raichu/Flaafy) Electric deck means turbo Donphan, and I just rip through him. He still takes 4 prizes because he goes with Raichu and Scramble for 100 and the OHKO on my Brelooms, which I stupidly decide to set up when I see the Shroomish on my first turn. Still, any win is a good win. Win, 4-0 We take a lunch break, and I start joking with Spookees about “How does the worst player in Chicago manage to end up 4-0 in this tournament?” We have a few good laughs about it, and I head down for a Subway fix. Still not good, but still better than anything else floating around there. I come back, and the standings are up. I’m in 16th place overall or something like that, and I’m amazed. Round 5 vs. ??? I remember nothing about this game. Win, 5-0 Round 6 vs. ??? I remember nothing about this game. Win, 6-0 Round 7 vs. Jose E. I don’t remember anything about this game, but Aaron C. at table 1 started getting on my case about talking too much. Now, dude. This is a fun tournament! I’m having my fun, let me have my fun! Jose is laughing along with me, and we’re just enjoying the game as it comes. Win, 7-0 Round 8 vs. Aaron C. (Donphan/Lunarock/Chatot) Basically, this is a mirror. This is also the first match where I’m not loose, and it shows in my play. I probably misplay at least 4 times, and he gets a better setup than I do. He rolls through me, though I don’t think he KO’d any of my attackers (and I never got any of his). Loss, 7-1 I’m in the top cut. I’ve achieved my goal of getting that 2nd DS that I needed to start save state manipulations for my Diamond/Pearl games. But, there are still more games to be played, and I’m not gonna let it stop just there, am I? Keep it rolling, into the Top 16. Top 16 vs. Greg S. (Donphan) (same guy from round 3) I roll the first game, getting the setup quickly and popping his sacs fast before we start trading KOs. In this format, if you get 2 prizes up and don’t do anything stupid, you’re going to win every time. He scoops when I have one prize left and he realizes that I can KO anything he’s got. Second game was the same thing in reverse, and I’m rushing a little bit so that we can get the third game started before time. I know that my deck has a setup advantage over his because I overloaded LunaRock for the quick acceleration setup, so I concede the second game when I know I can’t come back. Third game is just more speed on my part, and he can’t stop me from taking 2 or 3 quick prizes before time is called. Good games, man, good games! Win, 9-2 Top 8 vs. Randy M. I have absolutely no idea what happened here, I’m zoning at this point. I do know that I took both games, though. Win, 11-2 Top 4 vs. Brent S. (Gorebyss/Chatot) We both know that this game will come down to coin flips. I don’t even bother setting up a Donphan, using him for Gravity Change multiple times while setting up Brelooms. First game, we both get pretty quick setups, and I start building damage with Solrock. My Breloom come quickly, and I know that pretty much anything is a OHKO from Breloom no matter what. I hit the first Chatot, and he hits me back with his only Gorebyss at the time, dropping Confusion on me. Now, I start setting up another Breloom, but I know that I need 2 more turns to set it up completely, and that means I NEED a heads on my Confusion flip. I get it, and he pretty much scoops from there. Game 2 was S-L-O-W. Neither of us got much of a setup. He Mulliganed twice, and I had to start with a Phanpy I think. I don’t see a Shroomish or a Rosey for the first 6 turns, though I have the Breloom in my hand. Finally, I hit the Celio and get my first Shroomish going. Then, more Celios. Never saw a Rosey all game. Still, Mushroom Hat took care of everything for me, and I pop him again, though I’m only 1 for 2 on coin flips this game. Win, 13-2 At this point, we know that Aaron has already won, beating a Breloom deck. I *KNOW* that I’m not going to win this game, and I start playing loose against him, talking up a storm with anybody willing to answer me back. Finals vs. Aaron C (Donphan/Lunarock/Chatot) Before the games begin, the Baconator says that the Ipods are the 4 gig variety. Then, he brings them out and says, “Whoops, they’re really 8 gigs”. LOL, Mike! He pulls one of them out (I think it was the 1st place), and shows it off. The back is engraved with “Professor Cup 2008 – North America 1st Place”, and I’m nearly wetting myself. Initially, I was gonna sell the thing, as I’ve already got a 30 gig Creative MP3 player filled, but now I’m not ever TOUCHING that thing! Even if I get second! First game, I get such an Uber start. Solrock active, Lunatone and Shroomish benched, two Fighting in my hand and a Rosey, AND I go 2nd. Rosey for another Shroomish and a Fighting, Change, and Charge a Shroomish. Two Brelooms are down in play nearly fully powered by turn 3, and Aaron pretty much concedes at this point. Second game, and he’s RUSHING like a madman. Now, when my opponent starts to rush, I start to play a little bit slower. Not intentionally. I’m just trying to keep up with what my opponent is doing, and it takes me a minute to work all of it out, especially since I’ve never played for this long in a single tournament in my entire LIFE. I take an early 2 prize lead hitting a Rock and a Luna, and he comes storming back with a flurry of Donphan switches. It takes SKILL to come back from 2 prizes down, and he managed it. Great game here, man! Third game, and we get very similar starts. We each take prizes off sacrifices. It’s tied at three prizes in the middle of the game, and I make my first and only real mistake of the entire tournament. I drop a Rosey, and put my hand on the bottom of the deck, and then facepalm myself. I haven’t shuffled yet, but nobody remembers how many cards I had in my hand. I KNOW for a FACT that I had at least 4 in there. Bacon Breath tells me to take back the 4 cards from the bottom, and he offers Aaron a prize penalty. 5 minutes later (time didn’t matter at this point, we were in overtime), and he decides not to take it because he’s afraid of a Scramble, I thought. Apparently, he had asked me about my energy attachment that turn, though I don't remember it at all. We both knew that, barring topdecking, he has the game won, and he declines the Prize Penalty so that he can win legitimately. Great SOTG here. I take two Energy from my Rosey, and finish my turn by healing my Shroom. He sends up a damaged Roller, and switches me out. We both notice that every Pokemon on his bench is within range of my Donphan’s attack except for his newly Active Donphan, AND every Pokemon that I have is within KO range of HIS Donphan if he hits a single PlusPower or Strength Charm, which I know he has. I start playing out my hand, and then use a Steven’s Advice. He looks at me and tells me to just flip the cards. He had 5 Pokemon on the bench, and I have 2 Warps left in the deck. It comes on the 4th card. What he didn’t seem to notice was that, even if I didn’t hit it there, I still had 2 more cards that I could’ve gotten using Gravity Change. He throws down his cards and extends his hand. Immediately, I start tearing my deck apart to show everybody what won, and that seemed to make Aaron sick to his stomach, seeing that he lost to something built so simply. I’m smiling, laughing like a hyena; I can’t believe I actually won a tourney with more than 40 players in it. I’m also seeing double at this point, and I decline the interview, not knowing I won’t get a second chance to do that. Kicking myself for that. After the tournament, I pack up all my stuff and go meet Cory G. down in the food court to get something, ANYTHING to eat at 10pm. Cory gives me the news that he and his friends found another apartment after some annoying financial screwiness, so I’m in for the entire hotel cost. I barely understand what he’s saying, and I’m about 100% certain I’m not making it back to the hotel that night anyway. Bulbasnore comes up to me and asks what happened in the finals. I tell him, and he whips out his phone and starts snapping pictures of everything he can get his hands on. He then pulls me over to the remnants of the Pokegym Staff meeting for a little meet&greet. Everybody congratulates me, but I don’t hear it. “How does the worst player in Chicago win the biggest Professor Cup ever?” These guys take it in stride. It’s now about 11, and I know I can’t make it back to my hotel AND be back Judging the next morning. Chrisbo offers me his empty bed in the Hilton, which I HASTILY accept, dragging all of my winnings with me the entire way. Saturday Up at the crack of 6, in the hall by 7. Lovely randomness coming from PUI as we scramble to get people in their right spots for registration. It didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would, considering we had almost 1000 players in this thing. I think we opened registration around 8, and we were pretty much finished by 10 or 10:15. Lawman pulls me over with the rest of the Juniors Judge staff, and we talk for a few minutes about the tournament, then we get the Juniors started around 11. Nothing interesting happening in the first couple of rounds, then we break for Lunch. The pizza roxxorz mine soxxorz. Start up again at 2, and these kids are HYPED. I mean forgetting Prizes hyped. I mean standing on their folding chairs hyped. We had to tell a fair number of players to either sit down or stand on the floor, but NOT on the folding chairs. After round 4, I make the *STUPID* comment that things were going nicely. The staff, being incredibly superstitious, had me hitting the wooden table and Keith’s nearly-bald head. Round 5 was a little bit more crazy than the rounds before it, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Round 7, though, had me and the ENTIRE staff groaning for over an hour. One of those was pretty much my call completely, and I probably screwed up the call on that completely. I’m feeling pretty down, but Pokemom and the rest of the Juniors staff pick me right up, and round 8 is a total blast, even with one of the players calling us over every 3 minutes for random junk. We finish at around 11, and I’m staggering over to the bus that’ll take me back to my hotel. I need to empty the place out before 11 the next morning, or I’m stuck with a huge bill that I don’t want to pay. Sunday Up at the crack of 6, checked out by 7. Kaga brings his car over, and I load everything I have with me in there. I’m in the hall by 7:30, helping with the Finals setup and worrying over every minute detail. I’ve gotta remember to learn my place, as these guys are on top of everything. Top 32, I take care of two matches, not much I can say about them. One of the losers breaks down completely, and it takes him over five minutes to pull himself together so that he can sign the slip and turn it in. No real problems in the Top 16 either. Lawman comes over and tells me to go over and start running 8-man tourneys. I start the first one, giving prizes to everybody who signs up, and the 2nd one all except 2 get prizes. I got a rare thrill off the third 8-man tourney. Two PTOs (Jose E and Rocketman), 4 kids of PTOs (Cook, Lynch, and two Eguilas), and Johnny Blaze. There is no event that I can EVER think of where I’m judging that caliber of people within the game. Pictures are being taken everywhere, with everybody’s camera. My batteries run out (STUPID), so I take Titangirl’s camera and just start snapping pics of anything and everything. I never actually got to go into the dealer room, and that’s probably for the best, I think. I’m just roaming around snapping pics of anything that moves and most things that were still. Comes down to the end, and I’ve got Titangirl’s camera still on me, snapping pics of all the winners in front of the Nationals poster. Afterwards, we get our swag, and I’m getting desperate to get my stuff out of my possession, as Sunday Night is coming along, and I don’t want the crazies anywhere NEAR my stuff with alcohol floating around. Kaga takes a cab with my stuff back to his hotel, and I run back to help with clean up. Shouldn’t’ve bothered, they’ve got a whole staff of paid people breaking down the area, and I’m stuck sitting there just talking about what might happen in the next year. Props: Lawman – Awesome working with you, and finally meeting you. Sry again for everything I’ll probably say over the next year. Pokemom – Same thing. I know we’ll butt heads at some point next year. Be sure that I’m not attacking you, I just disagree with what you’re saying. Juniors Staff – You guys are awesome! I’d LOVE to work another tourney with this exact staff again. Mike and Dave – You’re both nuts in a good way. Sry about those two things, and I’m hoping I can still come back either for Worlds or Nats next year. Spookees – Don’t worry, I live in a college down. I’ve heard worse. LunaRock – Forget Donphan and Breloom. These two were what won me the Prof Cup. Coin flips – I lose if I don’t get you. Pokemama and Meganium45 – Thx for letting me Judge for you guys, and thus allowing me to make it to Nats. No slops that I can think of that won’t get me in trouble. Thx again, and I hope to see you guys next year!