Hey There Pokemon Fans
This weeks Blog is a tag team effort between Professor Tom and The Frugal Dutchman himself Christian Kentie. We both had some insights on this topic that we wanted to share. This post is specifically written with aspiring Pokemon Professors in mind. Even if that isn't you take a read anyway, it may help you understand some of the local organizers better and may even inspire you to become a professor yourself or maybe give you an idea you can suggest to your local TO or Professor to take your Pokemon experience to the MAX!!!!
The Pokemon community relies on volunteers to hold tournaments, organize league play and grow the player base. As a Professor in the Pokemon Organized Play, you get some added benefits and bonuses for running leagues and tournaments, such as access to special professor only merchandise and rewards and even rare staff promo cards. Being a professor is the highest rank of a League. There are other ways to help out if your area already has a league.
Teaching new players how to play
It's very intimidating coming to a new league and not knowing how to play. It takes patience and understanding to help our newest players, to teach them how to play, what cards are good, how to look at the match as a whole and not just what is in front of you, and to show them what it means to be a part of your league. You can also help the player work on their deck and even give them some cards that would benefit their play style if you are in a position to do so. A good Pokemon player, wants more people playing in their community, it creates more competition, more people to trade with, and some new friends.
Creating a league
Some areas do not have any League play and for a while, the Buffalo and Niagara areas were lacking in a good place to play and hold tournaments. If we didn't have stores and volunteers step up and take up the mantle, the area wouldn't have the tournaments we have now. A lot of effort was put in to grow the community to what we have now and it will take more to get it even bigger. If you have any questions, most professors will help you.
If you are looking to get involved in Pokemon there are a few different things you might want to look into. First off, if there isn't a place running Pokemon events in your area, have no fear, YOU can be the first. You don't have to own a game store to run these events. A majority of leagues and tournaments are held by store owners(let face it, it's just smart business if your store sells cards)but it's not a requirement. Pokemon.com has a more detailed outline of the requirements and restrictions for where you are able to hold events, as well as what is required for sanctioning your events. You will definitely need to enroll in the professor program to become a Tournament Organizer and then I find that it is wise to go ahead and take the judges test at the same time. If you are only interested in TCG, its not required that you take the VGC judges test also but it might be a good idea to get both out of the way in case you wish to expand your program later.
I know the earliest discouragement for aspiring professors is the cost of running a league or tournament. there is a great misconception in the Pokemon community that players will only come to your event if you are giving away freebies and have really cool prizes. This is false. While its true that everyone enjoys free stuff, and winning prizes can be a great incentive to do really well, you don't have to br't ineak the bank when you are getting started. It's highly likely that if you are not a store owner and looking to start up Pokemon OP events in your area there is either a lack of events in your immediate area and a dense population of interested players or the places holding events are doing something fundamentally wrong(charging too much, or creating a hostile play environment etc.) that has made you say "there must be a better way than this", and if you have had this thought the other players or parents probably have had the same thought so the community of players will likely jump at the chance to join in and maybe even offer their help. While it can cost money to get started, it doesn't have to and there are a few tricks to starting with little to no financial investment on your part.
Prize Support: most current TO's will agree that Pokemon can't be relied on for prize support, especially in the early stages and considering the wide spread popularity of the game and how many leagues must exist, who could blame them really? Now if you want to go out and buy booster boxes, trainer kits, tins and what have you and pay retail prices, just to give away as prizes. first of all feel free to shop around our site www.frugaldutchman.com I'm sure you will find exactly what you are looking for and we will be more than happy to fill those orders. However there are a few better options.
1.Find a sponsor: if your area doesn't already have a Pokemon program and you are trying to be the first, head to your local game shop and ask if they would be interested in sponsoring your events. If they are willing, they will likely put up the prizes to help you start out and may even have a space that you can use to run events(again its good for business if you are going to bring them customers).
2.Start Small: If you can't find a sponsor, that's okay. There is nothing mandating that you are required to give out prizes at all and some places will give out a free pack with entry but don't jump in and spend a ton of money, that's a quick way to get into a financial rough spot for something that is not going to make you any money. a few packs for the winners of a tournament is enough to start, as you build a larger player base you will be able to afford to offer better prizes. just make sure your entry fee reflects the prizes you will be giving away. obviously you don't need to spend every penny of the entry fees on prizes for that event but its poor practice to charge a $25 per player entry fee for a tournament and only give away one pack to the players who place first in their division of the event.
Let me use The Frugal Dutchman Tournaments as an example: a $10 CAD entry fee is charged for each player, that $10 fee entitles you to a free booster pack($5 CAD value)in addition to entry to the tournament. Now because The Frugal Dutchman is a store and carries a variety of Pokemon products, it is easy to adjust the prize scale based on the number of participants. if there are only a few players then top players receive addition packs as well as free entry to your next event if they placed 1st in their division. If, for example, there are 25 players that come out to the event even after paying half of the entry fees to free packs for everyone, that still leaves $125 CAD to be used for a prize pool. and with so many players it takes much more skill to reach the finals in a division and a greater prize is earned. Be sure to do the math and use your resources wisely
Location: A location is one of the more important aspects of running Pokemon events. There are some games that can nomadically be played anywhere including outdoors. Seeing as Pokemon is a CARD game, and some decks can be quite expensive to assemble, it does not lend itself to being played outdoors as one good gust or surprise rain shower can abruptly end your event and potentially drive players to believe you are insane, and possibly more so than you already claim to be.
A good clean quiet indoor space is not only preferred but highly recommended for your events. If yo't lose u have a sponsor your problem may already be solved, but if you are working this out on your own you have a few good options. The golden rule is that your private residence is a BAD IDEA!! As adults we all need to aware that organizing Pokemon events although not exclusive to children, requires a certain amount of interaction with minors and any situation where an adult is inviting children to their house is just not in good taste, you might as well go driving around in a windowless van offering free candy. Public places are best and as long as you can show that you are volunteering your time and all money is going towards either giveaways or to a charitable cause, you can ask the local library, Community Clubs, or even Schools and other public spaces if they would be willing to let you use their space. Seeing as you are offering a community service for no profit these option will likely work for you. If none of these are available the next option is the local churches. Pokemon recommends that churches or other religiously affiliated spaces not be used but if there are no other options available, there really shouldn't be any issue with these spaces as long as it is clear that you are not running a program that is in any way affiliated with the beliefs or teaching of the location you are using. I would suggest that these make their way to the end of your list(even if you are a member of a church or other religious organization)
Keep In Tuned
Make sure that no matter what level of commitment you are bringing to your Pokemon events, don't lose touch with your players and what they hope to accomplish. if players want to just enjoy unstructured open play, don't shove intense tournaments down their throat. If you have collectors who are looking to come to league night just to make trades with other enthusiasts, offer the option of playing, maybe even have a few spare starter decks available but don't force it. Always be asking what you are doing well and what could be better. If you aren't offering the program they want, they will simply stop coming.
Finally, as a Professor, always be ready to teach and give tips and tricks, players of all levels of experience will end up coming to your events, and even the world champs have lessons to learn. As is true with anything, you can never be finished learning, sometimes newcomers might surprise you with a fresh perspective that you overlooked and can be a total game changer!!
Until Next Week
Tom Alguire Christian Kentie
Pokemon Blogger Owner
The Frugal Dutchman The Frugal Dutchman
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