Our Limitless 2019 Recap

The last year has been an exciting year for our team with many challenges and highlights.
We went through organisational changes, started our Podcast, launched our Card Database, added a new player and finally reached our Patreon goal to only name some of the events that had happened. Therefore we thought that the last article on our website this year should be a recap article from our team members about what their Pokémon year has looked like. We hope you enjoy the read!

Fabien’s 2019

Hello guys! I’m not used to write articles but i’ll do my best for this 2019 recap!

Dallas Regionals:
This year started pretty well. I was able to play my favorite deck: Zorogarb. It was something new for me since I have never played any US Regionals before this one and the last time I played expanded was like 1 year ago. Fun fact of this tournament was at round 3. I started with 0/2 and I remember that I said to Stéphane something like: ‘’Ok, now I understand how this format works.’’ and I finished day one with 7/2. This tournament was so much fun, I met lots of amazing guys and had a really good times with them. I can’t name them all but I would like to thank Rahul, Xander, Stéphane, Tye, Frank specially for the wine 😉 Alex that lent me 100% of my deck since I couldn’t play with my French baguette cards. This amazing weekend is over, now time to play my 1st OCIC!

Melbourne IC:
I was very excited to play this tournament but also to visit Australia! I wasn’t able to test at all for this tournament since my studies were taking lots of my time. That’s why I took a flight leaving France on Tuesday and arriving in Melbourne on Thursday evening. It was risky and I was close to miss the tournament because I had 2 stops and the 1st flight had 2 hours delay so I missed my 2nd flight. Fortunately I was able to find an other flight but I arrived Thursday-Friday night. So basically I had 0 hours of testing, no deck, 12 hours of jet-lag and 5 hours of sleep. Thanks to the busted Volkroom, Pedro gave me the list and here we go!
Fun fact: 1st round I played on stream backup. I won the toss. We start the game and the 1st move of the day and game was Stellar Wish for 6 cards getting me a double prize loss. Somehow I managed to play Day 2.
I guess this IC is the best one. The local players were super nice and if one day you have a chance to go to Australia don’t hesitate! The only thing I missed was probably a French bakery!

Cannes SPE:
Cannes SPE was quite similar as Melbourne IC for me. One week after Australia I didn’t learn. Me, Hadrien and Killian (2 french players and friends) decided to do Tours-Cannes by car during Friday-Saturday night. We were 3 people for a 12 hour drive. 12 hours in a car with your friend is way better than 12 hours in a plane. Normal people would play Pikazek since I performed with the deck one week before and I didn’t have time to test that much. But actually I decided to be stupid. I tested a Tapu Koko Passimian list during the week and played it and guess what: Hadrien followed me in my madness. Passimian wasn’t that great but it was super fun and the Monkey Gang (me and Hadrien) went into Day 2 after an ID last round of Day 1. We probably played like monkeys but this result is one of the things that make me the proudest. Some months before the event I wasn’t expecting that the 1st day 2 of Hadrien would be with Passimian.
We tried to be crazy again some weeks afterwards at a Cup. I didn’t want to play it but Hadrien wanted. Then I said if you find 8 Passimian we play it. Guess who had 8 Passimian ready to be lent? Thanks Stéphane 🙂

EUIC:
I shared a massive AirBNB with some US players (Sam, Xander, Rahul etc…), Hadrien and some Europeans like Stéphane. I had fun at this tournament. I played Shedinja. I guess the deck wasn’t ready yet and I should have played Pikazek. At least Pedro saved us making Day 2!
The weekend as usual was still nice even with my finish. Hadrien made 129th but someone got DQ on Day 2 so he had 128’s points without playing Day 2 : SKILL.
I discovered and recommend you to try Döner Kebab and ColaMix!
After EUIC, my top 22 spot was secured so I focused on my studies and didn’t play any big tournaments before worlds.

Boot Camp + Worlds:
Worlds Boot Camp was super nice because I only played 1 game of Mario Party with Pedro and I won it. Otherwise, it was super cool to play in real live with great players and friends. I don’t have time to test IRL during the seasons and i’m not a huge fan of PTCGO. I played and tested a lot during this boot camp and of course had lots of fun like asking Alexa to: “Spiele
Musik Spanisch!” (play Spanish music) everyday. This boot camp also allowed me to join Limitless. I knew Pedro, Nico and Jesper well before but this opportunity made me meet new amazing friends. Thank you!

Lets talk about Worlds now.
I felt I could do something this year. I tested so much and after seeing that Mehdi got Day 2 with the deck I was confident in playing it. Unfortunately I completely messed up. The rest of the crew: Tord, Robin (even if he played a different deck), Mehdi, and Pedro performed super well so that tournament wasn’t that disappointing. 2019 Worlds reminded me that to have a healthy competitive Pokemon TCG experience you need to accept that you can throw away a tournament. Even if you test thousands of hours it’s a card game. Testing is super important but sometimes you can do nothing. Sometime you put to much pressure on you because you expect a result but that’s the best way to be super frustrated if you do nothing.

New Season Sheffield/ Cologne/ Nanterre:
The more we played in this format the more I hated it. I tried a lot of deck but I felt everything was inconsistent except Pidgey. I played lots of games on PTCGO before Sheffield Regionals and here we go!
I was expecting nothing. I never played the deck IRL before, and I’m not used to control decks. I guess the thing that helped me a lot was that the deck was still super new and people were still trying to understand how to play it/ play against it. This was the 2nd time I lost in Top 4 in Sheffield but I can’t complain. It was an amazing result.
I continued to play Pidgey in Cologne but I don’t know why the deck just splitted on my face, shit happens. For Nanterre SPE I played Blacephalon. I guess it wasn’t the best call and I should have followed the crew playing Pikazek. At that point I needed to perform at LAIC to keep the stipend for the next OCIC.

LAIC:
At the start I wanted to test everything but it turned into testing ADP all days. I was super hyped that the format will change and I really liked ADP. Thanks to everyone in our testing group we created a good ADP list, I guess not the best but it was fine with those 60 cards before the tournament. I needed a Top 64 to get my stipend and I got it. I was super scared because OCIC is probably the most important IC for me. Even if a lot of people don’t like LAIC it’s always a good moment and memory for me. Local players are always super kind and it’s a good moment to see my family and practice my Portuguese since I was the official translator of the crew.

2019 was amazing inside and outside of the competitive Pokémon circuit for me. I hope 2020 will be even better!
I wish you all to have an amazing 2020 with lots of happiness, tournament results and baguettes!

Feel free to come ask me anything about Pokemon! If you want you can follow me on Twitter (FabienPujol_TCG), I’m not super active but I try to do my best! See you in 2020.

Jesper’s 2019

My 2019 has been a special one indeed. I’ve had terrible amounts of ups and downs as many players have tried so themselves.

I started the year off by attending the OCIC in February, playing a Pikazek variant that I’ve tested for a while before the tournament. The tournament started well, but the deck had points where it simply couldn’t draw well, and I lost a couple of games to due to exactly that. I was at a 5-3 score before the 9 th round and had to win that round to go to 6-3, a top 128 finish which would cement my top 16 placing in the quarterly rankings to secure a stipend for EUIC. I won a game 1 vs Malamar and proceeded to brick games 2 and 3, continuing the heartbreak from 2018 that had just ended before that tournament.

After that my season had been calm, I attended many League Cups, and placed very well in all of them, playing different decks, but preferring to play Zoroark/ Gyarados while that was good enough to play.
I kept whiffing crucial CP for my journey to try and secure top 22 throughout the season at tournaments like the Bristol Regionals where a 5-4 finish almost killed my dreams of making another day 2 appearance at worlds.
We have to skip into the last Regionals of the season, a week before NAIC was to be played. I played the Pikazek variant that was all about going to a Full Blitz as fast as you possibly can, and use Marshadow with Let Loose to give your opponent a sub-optimal hand for you to then Full Blitz again and use Tag Bolt to secure your board position and take a game, very simple strategy. I would say that Jonkoping Regionals was my breakout performance of the year, being that I made top 4 at a Regionals, even though the tournament wasn’t that big with around 105 players in Masters, I was very satisfied and felt like I haven’t lost my way of playing at a higher level.

The 2019-2020 season until now

I didn’t do too well at worlds, piloting the AbilityZard deck, but I started to learn more about myself in the upcoming months until now. I tried the AbilityZard deck again for Sheffield Regionals but ended up doing very poorly, what saved though was a Top 8 at the TCG Cup the day after, where I started to play Pikajudge. I played Pikajudge as my comfort pick for a month or so at every local event and enjoyed the deck a lot. It was something that suited my playstyle, where I wanted to make every decision count. The discarding decisions are very important in a deck that plays Judge where if you drew bad of your turn 1 Judge, you would simply just lose. I like to play either all in decks or decks that are more controlling, I guess. It’s very weird for me, looking at the decks I’ve played before, I’ve played pretty much every sort of strategy over the years and now it would get even crazier.
Since the month of October, I’ve been all about Pidgey control, with that becoming my favorite deck to play. I played it at the Cologne regionals to a top 128 finish and that was where I had the ‘’aha-moment’’ where I figured out so many things, I couldn’t by just testing the deck. Recently I’ve been posting my updated lists on Pidgey after every tournament and I won’t stop doing that until Sword and Shields drops, where I expect Pidgey to die out, with all the new strong Pokémon coming and the 1st turn supporter rule being something really hard to get about in a deck where you play Professor Elm’s.
I’ve made a lot of progress with myself as a player having found a deck which I have tweaked to suit my playing style and that is something I want to share as much as possible with everyone following me on social media.
To end this off, I should not forget to mention the Daytona Regionals where I also played Pidgey control. I made it to a top 16 finish, which is my best finish in this season so far at any event. For me finally to break through into a Day 2 and to hit Top 16 was one of my proudest moments since I hit the Top 4 at OCIC with the Turbo Darkrai deck I played in the 2017 season. I also wanted to let people know that Mallow and Lana is completely insane in Pidgey Control and is a must include for your list if you’re playing Pidgey yourself.

I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year,
See all of you for more Pokémon in 2020!

David’s 2019

Like every year, a lot has happened for Limitless in 2019. Among other things, we split from Cardicuno, bought dedicated stream equipment, finished the multi-language card database and passed our Patreon goal.

I lived in Japan until August 2019, so for the first half of the year I only did remote stuff. Even though I started working on it in 2018 (yes, I can’t believe that it took a whole year either), I spend a lot of time at the beginning of 2019 with getting the data for the database together. At first Robin and I were still figuring out the best way to get the data, the best way to store the data and the best way to continuously update the data. Looking back now, a lot of the time was wasted, since we were trying to figure out how to automatically name the image files, we get from PTCGO. At that time the file names had some kind of system that might have made sense for PTCGO internally but was very impractical for any other use. We were already hosting the English card scans on limitless and I actually named every card by hand. After I was done with the initial bunch, I could use some tricks and bulk renaming tools to rename the files, but I would have never done that by hand for any other language, let alone 5. We were looking into stuff like OCR to get the number and similar methods to get the set. But for some reason, someone at Dire Wolf Digital (that’s the company behind PTCGO, so you know who to curse at when you encounter a bug) decided to completely revamp the file structure in a way that makes it possible to get the set, number and language for any given card image. So, if you are using the database for German, Italian, French, Portuguese, or Spanish cards or print proxies in either of those languages, you have that person who decided to change that to thank. I don’t really understand why they changed it, but I am very happy they did.

I got into web-scraping and gathered a bunch of data for the database. A big challenge was linking every TPCi card to every TPC card, since they use completely different sets and numbers. That was important for changing the language from English to Japanese and vice versa. It was very messy, but I ended up figuring it out and we got the whole data set eventually. It was then just onto Robin to implement everything into the website and make a pretty user interface. I learned a lot about ImageMagick, Windows PowerShell and unity. I also get a lot better at using MS Excel and Google Sheets, creating macros for both and quickly abandoning Excel after constantly getting the: “There isn’t enough memory to complete this action” message. (I guess they didn’t make this program to work with 10,000 rows and 20 times as many formulas. No problem for Google Sheets though.) So, all in all a very interesting and educational experience.

I really wanted to incorporate Korean and Chinese cards into the database as well, but they have different card releases, so unlike the TPCi languages, the same release doesn’t necessarily equate to the same card in all TPC releases. For example this Pikachu is SM Promo 242 in Japanese, but SM Promo 120 in Korean and Chinese (and Thai) cards have completely different sets, so that would take another separate data set, which would be possible in theory, but take a lot of manual labour, which is probably not sustainable. If they make the numbering consistent for all TPC sets in the future, I’d be happy to go through all the old cards by hand, but as it is currently, getting other TPC languages integrated seems out of reach.
Speaking of Korean cards, here is something you might not know about, but is relevant if you are a content creator. The highest quality digital card images there are, are from the Korean official website. They have better quality than the Japanese website and anything you could extract from PTCGO. Simply look up the name of the card in Korean, search for it on their website , click on the card and then edit out the “?w=512” out of the image address and voilà; you have the highest quality image for creating memes, thumbnails or article headers. (Here is an image of Malamar.)

While in Japan, I completely redid the whole stream overlay. That was a lot of fun, I tried to create something simple, which is not too distracting without being boring. A lot of streams have moving overlays or a moving logo nowadays. I personally don’t like them, since I find them distracting and I don’t think they add to the value of the stream. It’s definitely a cool think to create, but I think the viewers would appreciate better audio and video quality more than moving overlays and I spend a lot of time in 2018 to make that 3D logo transition and should be enough for showing off. I tried to balance simplicity, interestingness and high-quality feel. Not sure how well I succeeded, but the team and I like it. The current design is also quite versatile I think, so different parts of it can be used in different contexts and can be adjusted simply. I used only raster graphics for overlays in the past, but I really started liking patterns that repeat themselves. For that I needed to work with vector graphics, which I had done before for making the logo, but now I became very used to it and I have gotten a really good feel when drawing paths (which is really unintuitive at first.)

The whole Open Broadcaster Software set up was redone as well, which was a hassle too. OBS is a really powerful tool and god bless their development team, but for it to do what we need it to do, we need multiple external tools. Like a program for the timer, for the flags/text fields, the card scans, break music and other things. Connor was nice to revamp some of the tools we use and also add some functionality, which is still not fully fledged out, but we will use the new version for Bochum and see how it goes! We have a lot of ideas on how to improve certain aspects of the stream, but it’s always a juggle between the resources we have, so things tend to vary across tournaments. I am still trying to figure out what content to provide during breaks, but it’s not easy. The amount of people we have and the amount of time we can spend (during and before the tournament) are key here.

Another big change for the stream is the new equipment. Connor researched a lot and I am very happy with what we currently have. Especially the audio quality is at the level I always wanted it to be but couldn’t afford until now. Even though most of our troubles are currently created by the audio equipment, I am very happy with the current audio set-up.

2019 was also a year I experimented with a lot with new features, which didn’t really go anywhere.
Mainly the translated proxies and colourless proxies. I really like both features, but I was a little too fast to implement them, since they weren’t prefect at the time. I wrote programs for both that created the images on my PC and then uploaded the image files to the website. The translation tool had its issues, because every set either added something new, which I originally didn’t implement (like Prism Stars, Tag Team Pokémon, Tag Team Supporters.) Sometimes we also changed a little thing in the backend which then just made the program not work anymore. And for some sets there were weird errors that I never figured out where they came from. On top of that, the Pokemon GX were done by hand, which made them look really nice (almost like the real thing), but it was time consuming and delayed the whole process, which was very difficult when my non-limitless workload was already full.

The colourless proxies basically had the same problem. They were also created by a program and then uploaded by me. But getting rid of the unimportant colours while preserving the important ones is no simple task. Especially, since not all artworks use black outlines, thus extracting only the outline is not trivial. Even just extracting the card text from the image isn’t simple, since darkness Pokémon use white text and ability names are red (for example.) Which means that extracting black on all cards would leave out ability names and text on darkness Pokémon. But removing black from darkness Pokémon and inverting white, so it becomes black, doesn’t work since the energy symbols are black on darkness Pokémon, so that way the darkness Pokémon would have no visible energy symbols anymore. A similar problem for the red text on fire Pokémon. As you can imagine, this was a very complicated task, since without a database, the program didn’t know anything about the card, except for the set, number and name. There were a lot of other issues, but I managed to get around most of them. However, the final version had to use 3 different algorithms for each card. One of these would give the right result and the other two would look quite bizarre.

For a human, the right answer would always be obvious, but there is no easy way to make the program know which one is the correct one. My idea was to do it manually and always keep track of the right choice and keep all of them, so I could later use machine learning after I accumulated some training data. But as you can probably guess by now, that didn’t conspire and with moving back to Germany and a lot of personal stuff going on at the time, I didn’t find a lot of free time to work on the project anymore.

Card translations went through the best improvement over the year. I went from typing out every word into an input field by hand to now having an automated translation tool. I used to have a window with the Japanese cards open on one half of my screen and an insertion tool for the English data on the other and then just copy and paste the link to the card image and typing the rest by hand. That was not fun. I don’t want to bore you with the stages in-between, but what I did was to automate as much as I could. Now I just paste the starting and end number of the Japanese cards in a program, that gets all the data from the Japanese Pokemon TCG website, take that output into another program which automatically translates every attack/ability/card name that already has been on another card and automatically translate all effects of attacks/abilities/trainer cards that have been on older cards and simple effects that are similar to older cards. Then I put that data into a Google Sheet file and do the rest.

So, all I need to do is add data, that the Japanese website doesn’t keep track of (like whether a card is an Ultra Beast) and fill out the effects that were too complicated for the translation program. One problem I had in the past, is that the attack names which are completely new are usually quite strange terms that are difficult to translate (or difficult to translate in a way that makes sense as an attack name.) Because of that, I spend a considerable amount of time just translating nonsense attack names, although I knew that the official TPCi translators would probably choose a completely different name. One example is this Gyarados. The attack name in Japanese is daiginjō だいぎんじょう. I would usually put the translation of the term here, but there is no English one. On the Japanese Wikipedia, it says that it’s “a type of sake where the raw materials’ ratio of polished rice gained from a given quantity of brown rice is 50% or less” which is not a feasible attack name and the online dictionary I usually use has this as the translation: “top-quality sake brewed from rice grains milled to 50% of weight or less”, which is just as bad. I initially just put that whole phrase there as a joke, but we have a set character limit for attack names, which I didn’t want to change for something stupid like that, so I had to come up with something else. The point I’m trying to make, is that I spend a lot of time looking for names, that are irrelevant, since the TPCi version will have a different name anyways.

My workaround for that is that I just take the Google Translate output for all the new names, which is a lot faster. If you ever used Google Translate before, you can imagine it not actually returning any useful output, which isn’t really my goal, I just don’t want to spend time on that anymore. Which is kind of sad on the one hand, because I spend significantly less time reading Wikipedia articles about sake but given the nature of Google Translate, it creates a lot of funny phrases on the other hand. One funny example was this Chandelure with the harmless English name Spirit Burner, which was called soul burner (not the Japanese word for soul, but the English one) originally, which made Google Translate make Chandelure look like a Korean hating Pokemon with the Seoul Burner attack it ended up with. This one I saw during review and changed the text accordingly. But there are some examples which I didn’t see during my review. One of them was this Cradily. The attack seems rather easy, “Poison Tentacles” should be somewhat unambiguous right? Well, Japanese has a lot of homophones (words, which are pronounced the same, but have a different meaning, but are spelled differently. Like “too” and “two”) and that would not be a problem, but on the attack names they use a different spelling for every word, which is fine for most people, but a disaster for Google Translate. The Japanese attack name is doku no shokushu, with doku meaning poison and shokushu meaning tentacle (no is a genitive marker), so far so easy. However, this term would usually be spelled like this “毒の触手”, but they spell it like this on the card: “どくのしょくしゅ” which no one would ever do. But with that spelling it could also be interpreted as “独の職種“, which Google Translate did and then correctly translated as occupation of Germany. Which I unfortunately didn’t catch and ended up on the site for some time. But this translation again is kind of funny, since the occupation this is referring to is not the occupation of Germany you might have learned about in history class, but occupation as in “job” or “work”. Long story short, with the new program I can translate much faster than anybody else, while still having some things to laugh at.

Speaking of Japanese, one thing I tried to figure out during 2019, but didn’t manage to be a better way to get results from Japanese tournaments. I am not a big fan of Facebook, but for getting tournament results it truly is a blessing. The TPCi player base is all quite centralized on HeyFonte and Virbank, but the TPC player base is not centralized anywhere. Which means that for Japanese results, I can’t just post the final standings and kindly ask everyone what everyone was playing, I have to manually search for individuals on Twitter, who are not using their real name mind you, and either figure out who they are by myself or ask them. But I do not know how to improve that unfortunately.

Looking onto 2020, there are a lot of things I have planned, a lot of things I want to improve, a lot of features I want to implement and a lot of challenges we must overcome. Most people probably don’t notice it, since we don’t constantly keep people updated about things we are doing behind the scenes, but we are constantly working on improving the site. I’m looking forward to learning new skills, making more experiences and having fun with Pokemon cards next year (even though I never actually play the game.)
Also, we usually don’t tease or announce things before they are ready for release or we have all the information needed for a full announcement, but since I was talking so much about what I did all year and I wanted to include something to look forward to for next year: For what I’m currently doing, I have to do a lot of geometry and calculating triangles with given angles and lengths. Stay tuned for that.
Happy New Year!
David

P.S.: Here is a Pikachu I just drew upon finishing this text:

Pedro’s 2019

Hi guys! I’m Pedro Eugenio Torres from Spain and this is my recap for my 2019 competitive year as a Limitless TCG Pokémon player, enjoy!

IC MELBOURNE

My favourite IC: Great Country, good city, amazing food, nice weather… also the place where I won my 1st IC (2016-2017 season with Volcanion-EX!) After I saw some Japanese tournament results, PikaZek had a good performance, so it was a really solid pick after testing with the busted Volkroom Airbnb crew! Great results overall, where I finished Top32, being my 3rd OCIC in a row having cool placement (1st, 10th & now 22nd.) The deck was really flexible with multiple options. Always having a great time in Australia, amazing people there!

SPE CANNES  

My travel started with my flight being cancelled 5 minutes before taking the plane. The options they gave me were really bad if I wanted to play the tournament on time, so I took the “less bad”. My plan was to go to Barcelona and then drive 6-7 hours with some Spanish friends. I called my mom to go by car together to Malaga Airport, then take another flight to arrive in Barcelona 2-3 hours later than expected, so my friends were waiting for me all that time. We arrived in Cannes at midnight, and it took about 30-40 minutes trying to find our place to sleep, because the address was misspelled in the reservation document… After that crazy travel, I finally played a deck that Edu Luque gave to me the night before. I had done zero testing with it, but he told me it was easy to play so I took it and made top4 in the event, losing against the eventual winner, Gustavo Wada. The deck I played was Zapdos/Jolteon-GX, called “Lukebox” because he had the idea to play a 2-2 Jolteon line, instead of playing the common Zapdos/UltraBeasts.

SPE BOLZANO

Another crazy travel, because I had to take multiple means of transport like train/car/bus/walk to finally arrive in Bolzano. I guess that was the most complicated travel so far, if we don’t count my “SPE Paris experience” (that you can read later in this recap!) Every SPE has some “problems” for me it seems! I felt really good with Zapdos/Jolteon so I picked it again and won the entire event only losing 2 or 3 games in all the swiss rounds + top cut, winning 2-0 most of the matches! Really happy with my plays and my level in this event! 

IC BERLIN

That tournament will be remembered always for the Shedinja creation. Thanks Tord for working together on this. We put a ton of hours to make this possible, also thanks to Limitless & friends who helped us with testing! Playing Shedinja was a lot of fun, definitely in the Top 3 decks I enjoyed the most, because of the surprise factor, and the popularity and hype the deck gained after this IC. Innovation is amazing when it works! I made Day 2, finishing Top 64, with the deck. I’m glad to have played this kind of deck at an IC Tournament. Really good memories, had a lot of fun with friends too!

REGIONAL BRISTOL

Again, I played Zapdos/Jolteon with minor changes from my last list. I hit some bad match-ups in the last rounds but I felt that, I didn’t play really well over the tournament. Sometimes you just try your best but you don’t play as well as at other tournaments, and you need to accept that! I had to win 3 win-and-ins to make Day 2, where I eventually lost and tied (playing but finishing 1-1 on games) my last 2 rounds. At least I got Top 128 and got some CP, that’s always great.

IC COLUMBUS

ZoroChess / ZoroCheckMate creation tournament! Another amazing work with Tord that made us (Limitless & him) play this busted deck at the last IC! I’m really happy to be able to work with Tord for a lot of big tournaments. It is always a pleasure to have a collaboration of the best players in the Pokémon TCG World! He is always the big brain for most of the decks. I just put the extra effort and work hours to try to help as much as I can. I really appreciate it, Tord!

I lost my win-and-in vs a Stall deck due to 2-3 inferior/sub-optimal plays that cost me Game 1, so it was a little sad but I learnt to not make the same misplays in the future. After making Top 8 at the other ICs (Europe, Australia & LATAM), I was really close to making Top 8 at the NAIC one, because at the last NAIC I was 1st place for Round 12 and had 2-3 win-and-IDs to make Top 8, but I ended up losing the last 3 rounds. Now, this year, I got another chance to win the win-and-in but lost once again. I guess I need to continue trying my best to reach this goal in the future! We always need to get up after falling down!

BOOT CAMP & WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!

I need to thank Lydia & Philip for inviting me to the boot camp we made in Germany! I had a great time with the guys, we worked so hard at multiple decks but we focused on ReshiTales (known as AbilityZard as well), that ended up with great results in Day 2! Tord almost won with the deck, but he finished Top 4 so he could finally get his beautiful Pikachu trophy. Well deserved! Thanks to the whole crew that worked so hard, even when this year I was chilling more and playing Fifa 19 all day with Robin! I’ll focus more in the next boot camp! (At Fifa 20 of course, hope Robin will be ready again!)

I finished Top 32 (29th place) with the deck, being one of the only two Masters (alongside Gustavo Wada) that made Top 32 or better at the last 3 Worlds (2017, 2018, 2019). I’m really happy with my consistent results!

REGIONAL SHEFFIELD

I attended a wedding so I couldn’t play this one. The wedding was great!

REGIONAL COLOGNE

After playing so much ReshiTales, I felt that the outplay potential was really low if we whiff Welder, so I changed for a solid deck with multiple and flexible options against every match-up without being “Welder dependent”. That was PikaZek. I played the version focused on Bill’s Analysis, another idea from Edu Luque, called “PikaBills”. A deck that has at least a 50:50 match-up against everything. I felt really well doing Full Blitz T1, T2 and T3 every single game! I Finished Top 4, losing against Mew3/Shedinja, another crazy Tord-deck, where he finally won a Regional!

SPE PARIS

Another SPE that was… crazy for me! My 1st flight had a delay so I couldn’t take the layover. The options they gave me was to take 2 extra flights, staying all the night in Barcelona airport (with no sleep, of course) and arriving in Paris 1 hour before the tournament. Then, I spent like 50€ on an Uber to try to arrive on time to Round 1… I still don’t know how, but I eventually managed to arrive on time for round 1 and play the tournament… to finish Top8 with the deck! Losing against Robin Schulz in a PikaZek mirror where he played better than me! A funny fact is that in Top 8, Miloslav Posledni, Raz Wolpe and me played the exactly same 60 cards, and all 3 of us made Top 8 with the deck!

IC SAO PAULO

Another IC with a new meta-game. I saw Japanese tournament results and ADP was a really good deck there with impressive performances, so it was the deck that I played the most in TCG Online! I had a lot of help at this tournament’s testing from friends, so thanks to all of them! ADP was a really good play. The deck list wasn’t perfect, but I made Top 16, which secured me a Travel Award for the next IC in Australia 2020! We also had a great time in Brazil!

Besides big tournaments like these ones, I played multiple L-Challenges & L-Cups during the year, so it was really unlikely that I could have a “free weekend” without Pokémon TCG. Almost every weekend I compete in a tournament, that’s what a competitive player does, right? My life is amazing, because I do what I love, but sometimes the stress is big due to travels by car/train/bus/plane every few days and competing at a high level weekend after weekend, so it is really important to try to have a good rest every day!

If we count big tournaments this year (SPE, Regionals, IC, Worlds), I made Day 2 in 9/10 of them! I’ll try to stay on a big level in 2020, too!

That performance during 2019 made me win one different big event every year… (+ multiple Pre-Release, L-Challenge, L-Cup Winner): 2015 “unofficial Spanish National Winner”, 2016 “old Regional” Winner, 2017 IC Winner, 2018 Regional Winner, 2019 SPE Winner… I’m only missing 1 event to win… yes… that’s the WORLDS CHAMPIONSHIPS! What will happen in 2020?

Thanks for reading!

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter or Twitch:
Twitter: @Sininchi
Twitch: sininchi18
Also have a look at my results.

Philip’s 2019

For me 2019 was a year of highs and lows. Back at the beginning of the 18/19 season I decided to take a step back from playing. The constant top 16 grind was exhausting, left me feeling like I didn’t give other aspects of life the attention they deserved and ultimately ended up making Pokémon feel far less enjoyable than it used to. I didn’t want Tournaments to be this repetitive, mechanical grind and their quantity to be the most important aspect of them anymore. So my resolution was to not play any Special Events or League tournaments anymore and to either really prepare properly for an event or to not play in it.

Not too long afterwards I managed to win Harrogate Regionals and therefore get my first big win after failing in finals so many times. I can’t really say it was a direct cause of the changes I had made though. Sure, it helped that I approached the event pretty relaxed and it also made it easier to settle on a “memeier” deck that brought some risks with it. But neither did I particularly struggle with nerves before, nor was I ever reluctant to make peculiar deck choices. In the end, the deciding factor was simply luck. Like 2 days before the tournament Tord jokingly suggested playing Zoroark with Gyarados and I realized it perfectly fitted and improved the way the deck I was testing (Zoroark Banette) worked. Additionally, in game 3 of the finals it looked like this tournament would end exactly like so many had before, with me falling so short to winning. However, I somehow drew everything I needed in a lucky streak I could hardly believe myself to defeated Raz and actually win.

Four months later my next tournament was the EUIC. Again I was pretty motivated and boot-camped for about a week with Robin and Nico after already having tested all the PikaZek variants I could think of online. The resulting list felt really convincing and the event went well, somewhat boiling down to the two win and ins I played for top 32 and top 8. Feeling the pressure rising I started to get really invested in my tournament as I sat down for a deciding match, only to feel a sigh of relief seconds later when my opponent flipped over a Wooper. Both times. Of course I had some tense matches but in general many of the decks I faced felt somewhat underpowered and got me a top 8 finish.

Switching to the side of the lows for a while, just two weeks later I managed to get what was probably my worst finish of all time. Due to an unsuccessful drop attempt and a consecutive no-show double game loss I managed to actually go 1-5 drop at Bristol Regionals. In what, from hindsight, seems like a slight case of paranoia, I feared Zapdos decks would add Wobbufet for the Pika match-up and therefore decided to switch to Zapdos Beasts. A deck I had hardly tested at all, which illustrates a classic case of overconfidence. What followed was a hostile meta-game, uncharacteristically frequent errors and a result so bad it was almost funny.

In the meantime I had cast for the first time after a longer while at the Cannes Special Event. I didn’t get to hang out much with my friends but seeing and approaching a tournament from a completely different angle and facing new challenges was very refreshing. Just analyzing a game as a spectator is usually very easy for me but doing so while more or less having to talk constantly and focusing on my co-caster created a difficulty almost higher than playing myself. Needles to say I had a blast despite or maybe due to this and happily decided to cast again the next time I got a chance to, at Jönköping Regionals. 

At the end of the season came two lows in the form of NAIC and Worlds. By now, most aspects of the Pokémon life had moved pretty much to the periphery of my life rather than forming a part of its center. Not willing to accept this I booked a flight to NAIC so spontaneously I had to explain myself at the airport before being allowed into the plane. However I hadn’t prepared for the tournament as I originally planned to skip it and therefore, unsurprisingly ended up performing pretty poorly. 

For Worlds I was convinced to not waste any Money on an event I didn’t feel like playing. But again that wasn’t how it ended up working out. I hosted our annual worlds boot camp and had a blast spending so much time with my friends. But approached the testing way more laid back than I usually did, spending a lot of time on improving in Super Smash Brothers. And on the final day of the boot camp Robin actually booked a flight to Worlds for me, allowing and kind of forcing me to participate. So here I was again, playing in a tournament I hadn’t planned to attend and finishing rather poorly. I technically went 5-1-2, one point short of advancing to day 2, but scooped both ties instead, to allow my opponents to advance. It was disappointing for sure but at the same I had a lot of fun just being there. So I ended my season uncertain whether the lesson was to stick to your own principles, not to play tournaments you didn’t properly prepare for/feel like playing etc. or rather to put up artificial principles in the first place and just enjoy Pokémon where you can.

Moving into the 19/20 season I played nothing but PikaZek, which was already my favorite deck at our Worlds boot camp. I even played a couple locals again because I liked the deck so much. It got me strong starts into both Regionals but some misplays ranging from very subtle to extremely stupid cost me a top 8 spot at both of them. Which leads into the last tournament I played. At the Nanterre Special Event my motivation didn’t just diminish again but evaporated altogether, leading to two scoops against friends and a final score of 5-4. The next day instead of playing I spent a great day with Lydia at Chateau de Versailles.

Concluding there isn’t really a lesson to be learned from this year full of contrasts. I did well when I grinded out a deck I liked, cast where I got the chance to and had to find enjoyable aspects of tournaments that didn’t go well in one way or another. I’ll probably continue just that and guess there isn’t much to do other than accepting it when Pokémon leaves its place at the center of the stage to take a more timid spot at the back of it.

Nico’s 2019

Going into 2019 I wasn’t expecting too much Pokémon-wise. I was in the middle of a less than ideal streak of tournament results after which my goal for the rest of the season basically became qualifying for Worlds 2019 with as little effort as possible and go hard for Worlds itself to try making Day 2 and hopefully performing well at the event itself. After the SPE in Cannes however, I started playing some more PTCGO again, because I felt like the format was actually becoming enjoyable for me and seeing as I lost my win-and-in for Top 8 in Cannes to my own mistake I felt like I should start putting in more effort into the game itself, hopefully not making silly mistakes again, or at least less often. After OCIC I had started testing the Zapdos/Ultra Beasts deck that the Europeans brought to the event, but I really hated the Zebstrika part of the deck, because in my opinion the deck was heavily based around building big hands with Jirachi and always having the right options to put your opponent into difficult situations. So when I decided on my deck for the SPE in Bolzano I decided to take out Zebstrika in favor of adding cards that I felt would help me execute my game-plan much better. It ended up working out incredibly well as I eventually found myself in the Top 4 where I ended up losing to Alessandro again  due to one miss-play (he was also the guy I lost to in Cannes).

I had already decided on going to the Denver Regional Championships some time before getting the Top 4 placement in Bolzano, but with some CP in Cannes and Bolzano I was getting into a pretty good spot for the NAIC stipend rankings. Denver was the first ever Regionals I played outside of Europe and I have to say it was a really cool experience to see how things go in the US. The event was well organized and a great experience overall. Of course taking home some CP and $ made it even sweeter.

EUIC went really bad for me and in hindsight I should definitely have stayed with ZapBeats, but I respected control decks way too much, so I ended up switching to PikaRom, not getting any CP and missing my NAIC stipend by 1 CP.

Next up was Bristol Regionals and naturally I went back to ZapBeasts after my poor EUIC performance and it ended up working incredibly well once more, ending the event with a 2nd place after losing to Alessandro (for the third time this season)  in the finals. 

At the beginning of the year I really wasn’t thinking that I would get back into a spot where I would fight for Top 22, but somehow I managed to get there. It was still far from guaranteed which meant that I would have to do well at some Cups, Jönköping Regionals and possibly NAIC, which in previous seasons has always been my kryptonite. I ended up getting some good Cup finishes and Top 16 CP in Jönköping, putting me into a spot in Top 22 that now was up to me to defend at NAIC from other Europeans that would attend NAIC (much like in 2017 where Stéphane Ivanoff ended up passing me at the very last event of the season). This time however I was able to convert my 2-2 start at NAIC into a Day 2 spot, already guaranteeing my spot in Top 22. Day 2 didn’t go too well, but I was still happy that I was able to beat my curse at NAIC (I dropped both prior ones) and more importantly, actually still making it into Top 22 after a horrible start of the season. On top of that my performance in the last quarter meant I would get a Top 4 Travel Award to LAIC in November, which was the icing on the cake. 

Just like in 2018 our group decided to spend some weeks before Worlds to test and hopefully getting some good results. Worlds itself didn’t go too well for me, but I was really happy to finally see Tord get his well deserved Pikachu Trophy that he has been trying to get for a very long time.

At the beginning of the 2020 season we also added Fabien to the team, after a lot of people were already speculating him joining since he was already part of the pre-worlds boot camp.

My start to this season hasn’t been the best, so I’m really excited to see what 2020 brings.

Robin’s 2019

2019 was an eventful year for me, let’s first look at the playing side of the game. My main goal for the season was honestly to simply enjoy the tournaments I play in. My motivation to play and prepare for events has been an up and down, but I accepted that if I don’t really feel like playing for a while, that’s fine, and there’s no reason to force myself to test.

I think caring less about the results of my tournaments and not putting any pressure on myself has actually helped a lot in making me play better and do less stupid mistakes. Despite putting in less effort than in previous years, my results have been pretty consistent and I was able to secure a top 22 spot early on in the year.

Worlds was a fun experience as always. I felt like we got a good understanding of the format during out bootcamp, but I didn’t have all that much faith in the deck we built, and ended up switching to Mewtwo instead. While I’m not sure how to judge that decision in hindsight, I ended up with a top 32 placing which I’m definitely happy with!

Going into another season, my outlook on the game stayed the same, I liked most of the events I went to, so why not do it again. I didn’t get creative with my deck choices at all, mainly sticking to either AbilityZard or Pikarom, but have been doing better than ever. Winning LAIC was crazy, I wasn’t very motivated going into it, but the deck turned out to be quite good in the meta, I got lucky when I needed to, and somehow it all came together.

Looking at my playing career, I’m happy where I’m at and don’t see me changing much of what I’m doing. I’m planning to go to most Regionals and Internationals unless there’s a good reason not to, if I feel like preparing for them I’ll do so, but I’m also fine just picking a comfort deck the night before. Either way, it’ll probably work out fine, and if not, that’s no reason to not enjoy the experience!

Outside of playing the game, a lot has been going on in Limitless. I spent a lot of the year working on the Card Database that we finally published about a month ago. The early months of the year has been a lot of planning and gathering data. Big shout-out to David for working on this with me, I was used to working on projects mostly alone, and it’s great to see what we managed to achieve here together.

We planned to be ready sometime in the summer, but the implementation, getting all the details right, setting up an automated backend, the card images, getting multilingual card texts, it was all a lot more work than initially anticipated. Eventually, I would be happy if we got it done until the end of the year, and we did it, so that’s nice.

There’s still so much I want to improve about the website, like adding user accounts and a deckbuilder, so everyone can build and share their own lists on here. I’m also planning a major design update for the site, the current one was never meant to stick for so long, but that’s not a small undertaking either. I like what we did with the card pages, but there’s a lot more we could add, like rulings and more detailed market information. I’m confident we’ll never run out of stuff to work on, so look forward to what’s to come in 2020 and beyond!

A completely new project we started this year is the Limitless podcast. Talking about Pokemon and practicing my English speaking at the same time seemed like a good idea, so I joined Connor as his regular co-host. The last two months have been a bit quiet from us for various reasons, but we’ll try to get back into a regular rhythm very soon, and will also be improving on some of the sound issues we’ve had in the past. Thanks a lot to everyone who has been listening to the podcast so far, you can be sure we’ll be back better than ever!

Aside from anything Pokémon related, I’m still going to university and trying to finally finish my Maths degree. It’s not always easy balancing that with both playing competitively and the work I do in Limitless, but I feel like I’m slowly getting better at it.

Overall, 2019 has been great to me in many aspects, which I’m very grateful for, and I hope 2020 will be just as good. I’m excited to continue working with Lydia, David, Connor and the rest of the team, to make Limitless the best it can be. I’m excited for many more tournaments and games to be played. Happy New Year everyone, let’s make this a good one!

Connor’s 2019

It still feels really weird to think of myself as part of the Limitless team, as it feels like only yesterday I was asked by Lydia to join the casting team at the regional in Sheffield, in 2018. And after the amount of the team’s money I helped spend this year, I am hoping they still feel it was the correct decision.

I was initially brought on as a caster, to help cover for David Hochmann, the wizard behind all the graphics on the streams, and also a lot of the production set up. The SPE in Cannes was pretty intense, I had very little sleep after getting a 17 hour coach there (not recommended), but I hope everything worked fine in the end. The event was incredible, the beachside venue was super fun, and both of my co-casters were amazing. Lydia’s enthusiasm (“Thats not the right Charizard!”) always brightens the long days, and casting with Philip for the first time really gave a massive insight into just how the top players see the game. And watching Gustavo Wada dominate that event was a joy to behold.

Since we were short staffed for Cannes, it became apparent that there is so much for the caster in charge of production, which led to very little down time. So, while preparing for the next event at DreamHack, I started working on a little Java GUI to automate a lot of the process. I am still not entirely happy with it, but we have used it for a few events now, and when it works, it does feel like it makes life easier.

Jonkoping SPE was a different kind of event, the level of support we had going in, in terms of equipment and tech support, was honestly unbelievable. We went from producing the stream on a laptop and ancient monitor, to having a dedicated stream PC, lights, audio, and they even managed to grab a 4k camera for us to use. The event itself is a bit of a haze, but I do remember sitting in the hotel with a load of the players afterwards, and it is that social side of the game that really makes me love what I get to do, and that casting with Nick is always a pleasure, the excitement he can convey with his casting is fantastic.

Jonkoping actually marked a turning point for Limitless as a whole, with the split from Cardicuno. Since this gave the owners the ability to invest as they wanted, it was agreed to invest in a dedicated PC and audio set up for future events. Over the weeks following, I took delivery of all the parts to put the machine together, and with the help of my sister’s partner, Josh, set up the audio gear. For any tech nerds like me out there the PC has a Ryzen 7 2700X and a Nvidia 1060, which drops the CP usage from the mid to high 20s to sub 10 %, giving a lot more room for nice production value. And a fun side note, I am the only non-German speaker in the Facebook group.

It was also around this time that the idea for the Limitless TCG podcast started being discussed, as me and Robin both raised the idea with Lydia independently. I listen to a load of other gaming podcasts, and their felt like a gap for a really competitive focus Pokemon TCG podcast. After a rough start, I really feel the podcast is starting to hit its stride, and I am hoping me and Robin can get back to our regular schedule (more on that later). We actually cleared 1000 listens in a month last time we did regular episodes, and the feedback we have had has been really positive, the odd production issue aside. The fact that I get to be involved with making something the community enjoys is great, and somehow, I have managed to find an arrangement to get free coaching from Robin and a guest every week.

The final major event I was involved with this year was the regional in Cologne, where I got the chance to stay with David for a night, and received a really cool tour of the city, including a church with a lot more skulls in it than there should be. And I really want to thank him for being a fantastic host and tour guide, and it was super nice to see him again after he returned from Japan. Seeing Tord take his first regional win was super cool, as he is always such a fun and chill guy to hang out with, and the moment both me and David started working out Cross Divide GX lines is one of my favourite casting memories, as was the “Chip Chip” game with Lydia. 

I actually went to the event halfway through a move back to the UK, which made it more stressful than it really needed to be, but after a few months of getting things sorted out (no internet for a month made the podcast impossible), I am really looking forward to 2020. I am really hoping to take the podcast further and further, and may look into live streaming it, and maybe also some PTCGO gameplay. Having said that, my New Year’s Resolution is to test so much more, to raise my level of casting, and also help with the podcast. Oh, and graduate from my PhD! Happy New Year all!

Lydia’s 2019

For those of you, who do not know me, I am one of the managing partners of Limitless TCG and my job is mainly the Player Coordination and to organize our Live Streams, but I am also responsible for all our social network channels. This is why my recap will not be focused on the actual card game and more about my work for Limitless. 

My Pokémon year started at the Cannes Special Championships, which we were streaming. The tournament was right at the beach and in a tent. You could see palm trees from almost all places inside and the sunsets were very beautiful as well. It almost made it worth having to be there so early in the morning to run the stream.
The casting itself was also lots of fun. I was working together with Connor, who I just generally enjoy working with. Our third caster was Philip, who I was casting with for the first time, but of course we know each other quite well. My favorite game that I have ever commentated over was during that weekend. It was Anthony Cognard playing Charizard (before it was cool!) vs Adam Hawkins with Zapdos/Jirachi. If you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out on our YouTube channel!

At EUIC I was staffing as a TCG Stream Support. Even though it was my third EUIC on this position, it is of course always interesting to see how a “big” stream is working.
One of my personal highlights was to get interviewed by German TV for a Kid’s show called “Toggo TV” that I know from my own childhood. Baris and I were introduced as Pokémon experts and explained the moderators how the TCG works.

Also, as I don’t travel to tournaments outside of Europe, EUIC is the only option for me to meet some of the non-European players. 

In March 2019 some big organizational changes were coming! We decided to part ways with Cardicuno and Robin, David and I took over the management of Limitless. This meant mostly paperwork in the beginning as we needed to set up a company, get a business bank account, resign some contracts, etc. But we got it all done and I am very happy to have taken over more responsibility. 

The tournament at DreamHack was a very special one for me. We got immense support from the TO in regards of the stream, as we could borrow a lot of professional equipment, that we have never used before and honestly this was a giant eye opener for me. It showed me what we could do with the right equipment and even more importantly: It showed me what kind of equipment we actually needed to improve our live streams. The stream itself went super smooth, but as the tournament was hard to reach and at the very end of the season it only had a few players and viewers.

The tournament was actually so hard to reach for me, that the cheapest and most convenient option to get there, was to fly to Stockholm on Wednesday, stay there for two nights and then take a bus to Jönköping, where the tournament was taking place. Well, this is the story of how I got to spend some time sightseeing in Stockholm with Nico.

Since we now had a good idea what equipment we needed to improve our streams and I was now in charge for the live stream coordination myself, I decided to invest into new equipment.
The next weeks Connor and I were compiling shopping lists, trying to find the right shops and ordered equipment. Connor was a massive help during the whole process, and I couldn’t have done it without him, so a big thank you goes to him!!

The Worlds boot camp was obviously the perfect opportunity to test the new equipment, because we had so many great players all at one spot and it would have been a shame to not capture some of their games, but we could also test everything without the pressure of a real tournament with a tight schedule. During the boot camp I’ve also started our Limitless Instagram account, because I felt like it would be the perfect way to capture the atmosphere. You can check back on all the stories in our story highlights on there, if you haven’t seen them yet.

As I did not go to Worlds, I started into the new season with the Sheffield Regional Championship. Sadly, we were unable to find an agreement with the TO in regards of live streaming, so there was no stream from the event. But since I had booked my flights anyways, I decided to make the best out of it and went to the tournament as a spectator. It was very nice to have the time to talk to everybody at the event and not having to work there. I also interviewed some players for our social network channels and tried to cover the tournament as good as I could. Again, in case you want to check back on the event, have a look at our highlight stories on Instagram.

The first tournament at which we were able to use all our new equipment was Cologne Regional Championships. It was the biggest Regionals in Europe so far, and I am very proud on how the stream went and that we were able to capture such a big tournament. David was also finally back from Japan and even though we had been in touch, it was nice see him again in person.
For Fabien it was the first tournament as a Limitless member and it was nice to finally be able to talk about it after having unofficially added him before Worlds already.

The last bigger tournament that Europe had this year was Nanterre Special Championships. Again, we were unable to find an agreement with the TO in regards of live streaming, so I decided to play at the event. As I had not played a nine-round-tournament in ages, I went for a rather easy deck and played Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX. I had some funny games and also some not so funny games, but in the end, I did not finish all nine rounds. Fun fact: Even though I’ve dropped, I still finished at a higher placement then Nico, Fabien and Jesper! hihi~

The last event of the year that I would like to mention were the Cardmarket Series in Prague. The tournament series consists of several League Cups with a great prize pool organized by Cardmarkt. We did not organize the stream, but Limitless was providing the casters.
As Europe has less tournaments than North-America, events like those are a great way to provide some more content about competitive Pokémon TCG and we hope to work on more collaborations like this one in the new year.

Overall 2019 has been a great year for both Limitless and me personally. I can promise you, that we already have some exciting projects planned and I can’t wait to start working on them!

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