Pokemon Organized Play Updates – April 2019

Pokemon Organized Play released a flood of information and changes this week. Judges should make their way to the Rules and Resources page ( https://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/about/tournaments-rules-and-resources/ ) and read through all the files they have there, but just to give you a heads up and some guidance on what to look for as far as changes, here what’s up!

First off, let’s mention that the Standard Format rotation is going to happen earlier than usual! It will happen right before the World Championships this year, so Worlds will be in a different format than the rest of the tournament season. The sets rotated are not a surprise. They are the four first Sun & Moon sets along with Shining Legends. But the timing sure is a surprise.
Players are excited and anxious about this change because there were a number of cards that people didn’t like in the format, but the rotation means that a lot of staples are also going away.
Check here for more details: https://www.pokemon.com/us/pokemon-news/2020-season-pokemon-tcg-format-rotation/
Also worth noting is that there are no changes planned to the Banned Card list.

Almost all of the Rules documents have had changes of some sort.
We will summarize them here for you in italics and also point out their significance. Some of these changes are minor, but some of them are pretty major and have big impacts on how things are done!

General Event Rules

Section 7 –  Player Responsibilities: Players are not allowed to be under the influence of alcohol or other recreational drugs at events.
This is not so much a change as it is codifying what has already been enforced in the past. Pokemon is a family oriented game, and they take that seriously. Breaking this rule can and will result in expulsion from the event.
Section 7.4.1 – Appeals to the Head Judge: This section adds the information that players can and should raise issues and resolutions that they are unsatisfied with via the Customer Service Portal.
Again, this is not a change as much as putting in writing what players should have already been doing.
Section 11.1 – Match Outcome – Conceding a Match: Quoting from the document, “A concession here refers to any arrangement whereby one player offers to record the result of the match as a win for their opponent, or requests that the opponent do the same for them.”
This is a little difficult to parse. It seems to be referring to what has been called “Gentlemen’s Agreements” (See next Section below) in which case it is just outlining how things should have already been handled, but is just making it clear for judges that weren’t in the know about this. And that’s a good thing.
Section 11.2 – Informal Agreements –
Players may decide to concede or intentionally draw for any reason. However, Pokémon Organized Play does not recognize and will not enforce any informal agreements made between players regarding the outcome of a match prior to the signing of the match slip.
OK, so this section sets out the description in the rules of what has previously been called “Gentlemen’s Agreements”. This is a really good thing to get laid out in the rules documents to have players treated correctly across all events. One thing to watch out for here, though.
Where is says “for any reason”…. It can’t be random! Section 11.3 still exists and still forbids the use of ANY random means to decide a match.
Section 14 Penalties:A DQ in Single Elimination will apply Game Losses to most recent Match. Either the current Match or if between Matches to the previous Match.
TO THE PREVIOUS MATCH!!! This is a HUGE change and I haven’t seen anyone talking about it. If a player is DQ’d between rounds in Top Cut, their opponent from the previous round MOVES UP to the next round!!

TCG Rules & Formats

Only changes are to update sets listed to include those published since the last update.

VG Rules & Formats

Only changes are to update legal items for Pokemon to hold. Now includes all items that are legally available.

Equality, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity Policy

This actually came out in March, but I wanted to make sure players and Judges were aware of it. Please go to the site and read it. A summary won’t be sufficient. But here it is: Respect each other. And not the “Respect my Authority” kind of respect. Respect everyone’s Humanity.

Tournament Sanctioning Regulations

Section 4 –  Minimum Number of Players: The Minimum number of players needed to report for a sanctioned tournament is now 4.
The Minimum number of players needed is now 4!
The Minimum number of players needed is now 4!
The Minimum number of players needed is now 4!
The Minimum number of players needed is now 4!
Look, this is about as major a change as I have ever seen in how Pokemon runs tournaments. This is a HUGE change and should pretty much eliminate some local stores problems with getting League Challenges run in order to qualify for League Cups. Spread the word to those who have not seen or heard about these changes. This right here is a MAJOR CHANGE!
Note: You need to upgrade to TOM 1.53.0 or higher to take advantage of this new change!

Tournament Operation Procedures

Sections 3.1.4 and 3.3.6 –  Determining Final Placement: Dropping does not remove a player from the standings.
This is new and while it doesn’t have much impact on the winner of the event, it is a change that helps give a better tournament experience to those players that either didn’t do as well, or that have to leave the event early for personal reasons. In short, players can drop, either from Swiss or Single Elimination, and preserve what they were able to accomplish in the event. A player can drop near the end and not forfeit prizes. Or drop in Top Cut and not lose that Top Cup standing. It’s a nice change.
Here’s another application: You have 3 JRs playing in a Challenge in the same POD with 18 MRs. Those JRs would have had to play all 5 rounds in order to finish the tournament and get their prizing. Now, all 3 JRs can drop after Round 3 and preserve their standings and still get their Championship Points for the event. They are not forced to play 2 more Rounds against Masters. Pretty cool!

Section –  Determining Tiebreakers: Pokemon has replaced the final, 5th tiebreaker. It had been Standing of Last Opponent. It is now “Random”.
Tiebreakers for standings, not Tiebreaker games.
OK, this seems like a major change, and in a way, it is. It is what allows OP to change the minimum number of players from 8 to 4 because it eliminates perfect ties that exist in small PODs. Honestly, if players were ties all the way down to this point through the other tiebreakers, then it really is random to decide which one is “better” than the other ones tied to this point.
And getting a minimum number of players of 4 is a pretty good trade off here.

Penalty Guidelines

No changes!

OK, so that’s in.
In summary:
Update TOM to 1.53.0
4 Players are the new minimum!
DQ in Top Cut promotes the previous Opponent if done between Matches!
Dropping keeps you in the standings – great for JRs mixed into large MRs PODs!

Have fun out there!