While I’m online reading articles the one thing I think a lot of them miss is credibility. In my opinion an article should address 3 main questions. Who are you? Why should I care about what you’re saying? What makes you a credible source? These questions are important since they really set the tone for your article and directly affect how your article is received. So a little about me, my name is Jay Hornung, I’m a senior at Iowa State University, majoring in Criminal Justice. I’ve been playing competitively since 2004, I have 7 Worlds Invites, 2nd place Nationals finish and a 3rd place Worlds finish, along with many other accomplishments at lower level tournaments. I don’t mention my record to brag but rather to try and convince you, the reader that I am a credible source. More Than Just Cards A very common misconception is that this game is all about the cards, while the truth is a lot of the things that will make you a better player have nothing to do with the cards or even Pokémon in general. The topic I am going to discuss today is Respect, sadly something I feel a portion of the Pokémon Community could use a refresher course on. I’m a very active Martial Artist; I study three very different styles of Martial Arts (Judo, Hapkido, and Tae Kwon Doe). I still remember when I first started; I had never done anything even close to it before. So one of the things that amazed me the most was the level of respect that was present. And it wasn’t just the white belts showing respect to the upper belts but it was mutual respect. At the end of class we all line up according to our belt rank, with Grandmaster Pak standing at the front of the room and the Black belts lined up in front of us to the side. The highest ranking belt still in our normal lines has us all bow to the flags both an American and a Korean flag to show respect to our countries. Than they have us bow to Grandmaster Pak and he bows to us we all say thank you sir, we bow to show respect to our Master. Next they have us bow to the Black belts as they bow to us we do this to show respect for our instructors. Next we each take turns going through the lines we bow to each other and thank each other for coming. It does not matter what rank we are, all men are called sir while all women are called ma’am. All too often in this games it seem like more experienced players seem to shun the new players referring to them at “noobs.” The term usually refers to bad players or beginners, followed by comments such as “easy win” ironically though I rarely see this attitude from top players, the exact opposite in fact players such as Ross Cawthon, John Kettler, Ian Brander, etc. are some of the nicest and respectful players you’ll find in this game. For me personally, I have always believed the second you think you’re a better player than someone is the second you put yourself at a disadvantage. For those of you who watch boxing or MMA, the phrase “a punchers chance” is probably something you’re familiar with. It means that all a fighter needs is to land one good shot to end the fight and I’ve seen it time and time again. A fighter will dominate a majority of the fight but in the last round or 2 get a little cocky and drop his hands a bit and one good punch and it’s over. The same holds true for Pokémon, while I do believe in going into a match with a confident attitude understand there is a difference between cocky and confident. The second round of Worlds 2006 I was playing LBS (Lugia Ex, Blastoise EX, Steelix Ex) against Kevin Nance, the game went really smoothly for me getting a quick Steelix Ex and I was just sniping his Pokémon off. There was less than 5 minutes left in the round and I was up 3-6 on prizes. I knew I had this game in the bag, I was cocky and he punished me for it. Time was called on his turn, he dropped Rayquaza Star and than a Mewtwo delta to move all the energy to it. He ended up taking 4 prizes that turn and winning the match. This game showed me two things, first Kevin was down the whole game yet he remained calm and kept trying to get me to fall into his trap. Second had I not been so cocky perhaps I would have seen something was up, he played very differently the last few turns of the game and I should have seen it coming. Not just luck I see this one all the time on the message boards, “I had the game in the bag and then my opponent just top decked card X and won” “The only reason I lost is because my opponent got lucky you should have seen their (insert excuse here)” I always smile when I see this in tournament reports because this is what really separates the average players from the good players. People don’t want to admit their own mistakes often because they believe good players don’t misplay or if they misplayed it makes them feel like a bad player or look like one to their friends. Believe me good players misplay, the difference between good players and average ones is the ability to realize when they misplay and learn from it. The old adage you learn more from defeat than you do in victory is very true not only in life but in Pokemon as well. If you can’t own up and learn from your misplays than you’ve learned nothing from your loss. A couple weeks ago I was playing in a Battle Roads using Luxchomp while my opponent was using Dialgachomp with 4 Power Sprays, at this point we were 3-0 and this was the last round of swiss. My opening hand was average but playable. However my opponent opened really well going second he had an active Dialga G and he played a Cyrus for another Cyrus, Power Spray and an energy before dropping a call under Dialga G and grabbing two more SP Pokémon. This was a very strong opening play for my opponent and it made me play from behind the whole game because I could never get a Uxie off. It was back a fourth for a while but in the middle of the game he was able to break the game open and take the win. I was disappointed in myself because I lost and I knew in part it was due to my opponent’s good opening hand. I had two ways I could handle this loss, I could chalk it up to simply how lucky my opponent got I mean after all I Top 4ed a World Championship my opponent had never even won a State Championship. For those of you who know me in real life know that I’m not this cocky. I was just trying to point out how I see a lot of players take loses. The other way I could handle this is to try and learn from it. Did I make any mistakes? Is there anywhere I could have played differently and perhaps got a different outcome? I fully admit a flaw of mine is that I over analyze my losses, however I see this as a much better way of handling them than to simply brush them off as my opponent got “lucky.” Looking back I realized there was a key point where I brought up my Uxie X to kill his Toxicroak G. The next turn he could do nothing but bring up a Crobat G and pass. Now I couldn’t use Zen Blade this turn and my set up wasn’t to great so I used Psychic Restore, at the time my thinking was this would force my opponent to make a play. He could not simply pass his turn otherwise I would get a KO with another Zen Blade. However on his next turn my opponent dropped a Uxie, and then an Expert Belt followed by a Poketurn on his Crobat G to get the last ten damage to knock out my Uxie X. I knew he played Uxie, I knew he played Expert Belt and Poketurn. The bottom line, I made a bad play, maybe I would only would get punished for it 1 in 10 times but what little reward I got was not worth the huge risk I took. Not to mention I already had the energy on the Uxie to retreat it. I also analyzed a few other things and took some knowledge I didn’t have before hand into top cut. Where once again my opponent got the Dialga, Call Energy, Cyrus opening but I still walked away with a 2-0 victory. Trying to learn from your losses won’t always guarantee victory but it certainly will help. Players and Judges Last March I competed in a Judo tournament. At the end of the tournament they had all of the competitors line up on one side of the room and then they had all the referees line up on the other side. Then they said “Competitors bow and thank your referees, if it was not for them there could not have been a tournament” and then they said “Referees bow and thank your competitors for if it was not for them there could not have been a tournament.” This really reminded me of how there seems to be a lack of respect between players and judges. On the boards there is a lot of comment on how judges should respect players and not act like they're better, they get great prize support for volunteering their time, for a job that’s not that tough. A lot of the attitudes just show not only a lack of respect but also a lack of understanding of how difficult their jobs can be. Personally I’ve only judged a few Battle Roads and while they went pretty smoothly they did open my eyes to how difficult judging larger level events such as States, Regionals, Nationals and Worlds would be. If I make a bad call as a player the only person I hurt is myself. However if a judge makes a bad call he has to have the knowledge that he might have cost a player thousands of dollars in prizes. There can be just as much pressure on judges as there is on players. I really encourage everybody to take a tournament off and volunteer as a judge, not only does POP offer you amazing compensation but it also gives you an insight into the other sides of tournaments. Now as a player I have had quite a bit of interactions with judges, a majority of it positive. I can sit here and give you a very long list of what I think are the best judges in the game, sadly however I can also give you a list what I think are some of the worst. I’ve been in tournaments where I’ve seen judges take what power they have and let it go to their head. The most common problem I see with some of these judges is a superiority complex. While the time does come for judges to be direct, that is no reason to be rude or snooty to the players if everybody (players and judges) would just drop the attitude sometimes I think some of these events would go much smoother. The last comment I would like to make is judges are a lot like umpires, if they make a bad/controversial call there going to take some heat for it but sadly all too often I see judges try displace blame or in some cases even put it back on the player with comments like “well if you didn’t agree you could have appealed it.” From me personally judges get a lot more respect if they own up to their mistakes. About 4 years ago I was playing in a tournament for a different card game, my opponent made an illegal play. A rather common but obvious misplay with a card, we called a judge over and then the head judge who both ruled in the favor of my opponent. I was ticked because I knew they were both wrong about 15 minutes later the head judge comes back over and says we looked it up and you were right, but sadly it’s too late in the game for us do anything about it, however I would like to apologize and tell you we won’t rule this card wrong again. I was ticked because it ended up costing me the game, however I respected him for haveing the guts to come over and tell me that. I went home slightly less bitter because of that judge's actions. The Judge's name was John Danker and to this day I still remember it. I would also like to share one other short story; in 2008: I was playing in the Top 4 of a Regionals. I was playing Plox (Gardevoir/Gallade) against my opponents Ho-Oh/Togekiss deck. The first game lasted less than 10 minutes. He hit an early Togekiss dropped 5 or 6 energy under a Ho-Oh and flipped heads when I killed it with Gallade. As we were sitting in Game 2 I was in firm control, I had an early Psychic Lock and needed to keep it up the whole game. My opponent took a prize and I promoted by Cresselia, did some other things turning my turn (playing supporters, Cosmic, Etc.) I level up the Cresselia and laid an energy to retreat only to have my opponent tell me I had already played an energy. We both looked at the table judge that was there to watch our game only to realize that he had been spacing off and not watching it. We got the head judge involved, Troy Lesky and we each pleaded our case. He took the time listened to both sides of our story and than made a ruling. He ruled against me and said he thought it was the only way to be fair since it was a he said she said situation. This was a major ruling on the game with $1000 worth of Scholarship on the line. I looked him right in the eyes and said respectfully sir I disagree with your ruling but you are the head judge and I will respect your ruling. In the end I wound up winning that game, however although he ruled against me and I disagreed with it, I respected him as a Judge because he taken the time and listened to my side of the story and he heard me out, this is what made all the difference. Had he been rude to me, or been short with me I would have taken the same ruling in a very different way. He also personally sat down and watched the rest of the match to make sure there were no more mistakes. I have many other stories like that at tournaments Troy has run. He treats his players with respect and gets it from them as well. I know he has judged at Worlds in the past, and I certainly hope he gets to in the future as well. I’m not certain how exactly POP chooses their judges but if anyone at POP wants it I would gladly right him a letter of recommendation. How to properly end a game The thing you have to remember is at the end of a game there is a winner and a loser. There is also a huge difference between tournament games and fun games. When it’s a group of guys and girls just kicking back hangout having some fun, by all means let the trash talking, joking, good times just fly. As long as it’s done in good fun and everybody is taking their lickings I really don’t see any problem with it, there fun games and nobody really cares about them the point is to have a good time. Tournaments on the other hand are very different, there is a lot more pressure on games and tensions run high even among friends. While it feels that much better to be a winner it also feels that much worse to be a loser. Comments such as “you tried really hard” “that was close” and in a lot of the cases “good game” just adds more salt to the wound. Since a lot of the time the loser probably won’t feel like it was a good game for them and even if the game was close there just that much more of a sting to it. It was round 4 of Nationals last year and I was playing Kingdra/Machamp against what I found out was a Uxie Donk deck; we were both 2-1 so this was a huge match. My opening hand was amazing a Horsea start, Candy, Kingdra Prime, Bebe’s Search, BTS, Claydol. But of course I win the die roll sadly pass my first turn knowing what will happen and watch as my opponent takes several minutes to even realize he has the donk. Worse than that afterwards my opponent goes “yea, sorry, I really hate winning like that” I wanted to hit him, of course he wanted to win like that, that’s what his deck does. And the absolute worse things to say are team mottos “Warp Point, Good Game,” “You just got Sabledonked,” “You just, insert equally annoying phrase here” these are just a few of the things I’ve heard, seriously not only is it poor sportsmanship you just sound like an idiot. Same thing if you lose a game, have a little class, I understand your upset, I have had games where I took a lose hard and said absolutely nothing at all signed the match slip and walked off. Was it rude? Maybe but I think it’s far better than say something you’re going to regret later. Phrases such as “you just got lucky” or “must be nice” really doesn’t do anything to help the situation. One last point to make, the handshake, if they offer it, just shake the hand, you look like a horrible sport if you just leaving them hanging. I’ve said a lot on my opinion on what not to do after a game as for how to end a game. For me personally, I don’t always know how my opponent is going to act win or lose so I completely try and avoid talking about the game. Right after the game is not the time to point out my opponents misplays or point out really good plays they did, it seems to put them on an inferior level. Instead I like just to wish my opponent good luck in there next rounds. Maybe a round or two later when tempers kind of cool off you can come back and talk about the game but right after the game usually isn’t the best time. I’m not Perfect I’m far from it; while I always try and do my best to act respectfully I slip up time to time. I fully admit I play devils advocate to often on the message boards and don’t always keep my opinion to myself when I should, I’m trying to get better at that. Something that everybody needs to remember is when you are at a tournament you represent yourself, players, judges, store owners, they all talk and it’s far easier to leave an impression than most people realize. The question is do you want them to talk about how you were the person who kept swearing all day or do you want them talk because you were the one who stuck around afterwards and helped clean up. When you are at a tournament everything you say and do represents you this becomes even more important if you’re on a team because at this point you’re representing your team. This isn’t just in Pokémon but in real life as well, it doesn’t matter if I’m standing on the mat in my uniform or if I standing in line at Target, I represent ISU Martial Arts. Those of you out for high school and college sports like it or not you represent your team on and off the field. The team can get a bad reputation based solely on your action. Something we should all keep in mind when we hang out with our buddies on the weekend. It’s just a game I understand there are a lot of prizes on the line at larger level events; I’m also a very competitive person so I also understand how the competitive aspect sometimes can get the better of us. However in the end we have to realize it’s just a game. I can guarantee you, that cute girl in your biology class could care less that you went undefeated at Battle Roads last year. I can also promise you that listing Pokémon Master on your resume won’t make you any more hirable. I’m not saying don’t be proud of your accomplishments rather don’t let it go to your head and forget about the larger picture.