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My World — What It Took to Be in Contention for the Top 16 Rankings

Caleb Gedemer Intercontinentals Internationals Regional Regionals Worlds


Hey, welcome to a very special article here on Dead Draw Gaming. I’m Caleb Gedemer, and I’ve been playing all season long to not only secure an invitation to the World Championships, but secondly, after accomplishing that, to put myself in a strong position to potentially vault into the Top Sixteen rankings after the North American Internationals competition. I hope this is an interesting read for anyone that chooses to take the time to look at this piece. Enjoy!




My Ideology

How do I play the game, and why do I even play the Pokemon Trading Card Game? I’ve been enamored with Pokemon as a franchise since I was a young child. I love competition, and I’ve even (perhaps temporarily) given up a potential baseball career for the game. It makes me think creatively, and perform at a high level each and every event, something I know I’m capable of doing. I play with integrity, and always follow the rules. There are no exceptions here, and to anyone that doesn’t follow the same strict adherence, shame on you. I play for the game, more than anything; I want to win. Anyone that knows me knows I’m a fierce competitor, and once I’m in a game, that’s all I’m worried about. I’ll keep playing until I grow tired of it, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.




My Event Planning

When the new season drops, I take a look over all the Regional Championship dates (at least this season, maybe the structure will change again), and decide which ones are economically wise. Anything around the $300.00 mark or so will be something I take a great deal of interest in, including lodging and transportation. All of this is done with my schooling in mind, as I’m a student at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. I give myself a bit of wiggle room to miss class, as balancing all the aspects of my life is very important, however, school is still the priority if you go head to head with it and Pokemon. As for smaller events,

I’m constantly searching the event locator for new events, and I’ll drive to basically anything within a five-hour span of where I’m living, as long as that event is going to pay out relevant Championship Points. For anything bigger than a Regional, I’m planning it out far in advance, and I might make an exception to my dollar limit rule, provided there’s something in it for me.




My Practice Rigor

Basically, whenever I have time to myself with no other obligations, I’m going to be doing something with Pokemon. Be that doing a matchup spreadsheet, playing a game, or writing an article, it’s what I do in my spare time. A lot of players get flack for “playing too much”, but I simply don’t buy into the “good players can do well even without practice” fallacy. If you like the game, then I believe you should be playing as often as possible. If you can’t find time to play outside of events, then maybe you shouldn’t be playing competitively at all. Of course, though, that can vary person to person. Relating to the matchup spreadsheet I just made mention of, I keep a log of matchup percentages some friends and my own personal use to calculate what could hypothetically be “the best play” for a tournament. As I’ve said, I’m very dedicated to doing everything I can to see results in this game. I think it takes a lot to see success, and I’ve always held myself to a golden standard in anything I do, especially Pokemon.




My Events

Below I’m going to have a table with the number of events I’ve played in, as well as the yield in Championship Points that I have from them all thus far.


Event Name

Number Attended

Counted Championship Point Yield

Uncounted Championship Point Yield

International Championship




League Challenge




League Cup




Regional Championship




Special Event




World Championship









As you can see, I have not attended an Internationals this season. I will obviously be going to the upcoming North American one, but if I have a “regret” this season, it would be not going to one yet. The International I’m going to will be my last event of this season, so this data is going to just be missing that upcoming entry.


Almost all of the players in the Top Sixteen rankings right now have at least one finish from International Championships, and that’s been the difference between myself and them in terms of the gap I’m facing in Championship Points right now. I’m glad I was able to nearly qualify for the World Championships from Regional and Special Event finishes alone, as I think those tournaments are more meaningful than League Challenges and Cups. While I may have gone to more League Cups than some players, I did not go to as many Regional Championships as most. I decided not to go to a few that I could have, which I have some minor regrets about.


The biggest bane of my Pokemon existence is losing interest once the season begins, or starting to settle for just getting the invite. I think in coming years it might be a good idea to reserve flights for every Regional Championship ahead of time to “force” myself into playing in them all.




My Goal

My goal this year was simply to qualify for Worlds, as any other year has gone, but towards the end of the season I switched gears to pushing for the Top Sixteen invite. For anyone that’s not familiar, if I finish in the Top Sixteen rankings of my rating zone (Canada and the United States), then I’ll receive a paid trip to Worlds as well as a pass through the first day of play. This harder-to-achieve invitation is very beneficial, and I’ve just barely missed it the past two years. With the way things sit right now, I’ll realistically need to finish extremely well at the North American International Championship (a Top Eight finish or better, most likely). While this isn’t exactly daunting to me, I realize that my odds of that happening aren’t exactly great. Regardless, though, I’m going to get out there and try my best, practicing as much as possible beforehand and improving my chances of going deep.




Thoughts on the Season

I’ve had a lot of fun this year. I’ve gone many places, and had a lot of success. I think I’ve done my best for what I could do, and hopefully the one International Championship I’m attending will pay off for me. My biggest complaint about this year is the ridiculousness of the International Championship travel money distribution. If you do well at Worlds, you’re basically set up for the first two Internationals of the year, and after that, those that do well at the first and second Internationals are set up for the ones thereafter. The season is busted, and something needs to be done about it. I personally think that points earned outside of your ranking zone should not be used towards any type of travel awards. The current system heavily awards those that both have the means, and time to travel out of the country on a semi-frequent basis, and that’s not the way these sorts of things should be handled. I would guess that anyone that has a differing opinion than this is one of the people that’s been getting award after award this season for some of the things I’ve mentioned.


League Cup scheduling has been incredibly rough, and the execution of many of those events has been suboptimal. I’m not sure if Cups should stick around for another year, but I do have to say that I’ve enjoyed the constant grind of playing nearly every weekend. Regional Championship execution this year has been very lackluster as well, and I think more organizers need to start following Jimmy Ballard’s Regionals model to get things running more smoothly and on time. Ballard is able to pull it off every single year without any problem, so I don’t see any reason why anyone else can’t accomplish the same fluidity with some dedication and hard work.


Other than all of that, the slight point increases we saw was kind of silly, but everything else was great.




Thoughts on next Year

Like I mentioned just before, next year I might decide to just book every one of my trips far ahead in advance. This is a way to keep me dedicated to the game, and make sure that I go to all events that are in reasonable travel distance. As far as the season structure goes, I hope to see the company instill some of the changes I mentioned above. The second day of Worlds invite structure right now is very unbalanced, and something needs to be done about it. Hopefully we also see better run events, and events posted way ahead of time to give players time for adequate planning!




It’s all come down to this, and I really hope I can do it. The past two years I’ve been in the Top Sixteen rankings going into Nationals, only to fall out of it at the last minute and miss the advantageous second day invite. Hopefully this year I can switch the script and bounce into the sweet sixteen with a top placing at the North American Internationals. Time will tell, and all I know is I’ve been practicing as much as possible to make sure that I’m doing all I can to increase my odds of success. While you’re here, be sure to check out Dead Draw Gaming’s wide selection of merchandise and singles, all at great prices. Good luck to all of you that are also attending Internationals, and safe travels on your way there!



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