California Regional Championship Results

In a change of pace, Autumn Regional Championships this season are split up into three weekends. The first of those would be the one held in Pleasanton, CA. Since it’s the first Regional Championship (and first premier event of the season), it sets the bar for a lot of things. Not only is it a testing ground for the new format, but it was the first event to implement the new 50 minute + 3 turns best-of-three Swiss rounds. Thanks to the stream from On the Bubble, all eyes were on this tournament.

Unfortunately, less than 227 players participated in Masters, meaning there would not be two days of Swiss. Under the new system, that means there would be less rounds than the previous seasons. Instead of eight rounds and a Top 32, now there would be eight rounds and a Top 8. Clearly this is a downgrade, losing two whole rounds! Perhaps this was an oversight in the system, but it made for a brutal tournament. Let’s take a look at the Top 8 after the Swiss rounds.


Photo taken from On the Bubble’s Facebook page.

Just by a quick glance, one thing should stand out to you – lots of ties. Look at how many players on that list have ties on their records! One of the players in the Top 8 has three of them, and one poor soul finished the event with a 1-0-7 record. Lots of players were apprehensive about the new system, and this is why. An initial estimate shows that approximately 20% of all matches finished in a tie, which is an absurdly high number. One in five matches ended in a draw! From what we’ve seen so far, the system just doesn’t work properly. 50 minutes isn’t enough time, and players are under lots of stress to play as quickly as possible. It will be interesting to see if TPCi adjusts it as the season progresses.

As for the decks that performed well, there was a lot of speculation on what would and wouldn’t survive through the 50 minute time limits. As is the norm for California, we saw a strange mix of decks over the weekend. In some ways it felt like Pleasanton was the Twilight Zone. For some reason, there was a big resurgence in Landorus/Mewtwo/Garbodor, a deck we really haven’t seen since State Championships from last season. On top of that, we had a throwback to the old Big Basics deck (Landorus/Tornadus/Bouffalant), this time featuring Virizion EX as well. Otherwise, the decks seemed fairly standard with a mix of Darkrai, Plasma, Blastoise, and Virizion/Genesect. Here’s the list of the Top 8 players and their decks.

1) Israel Sosa (Darkrai/Sableye)
2) Anthony Ramos (Plasma)
3) Kian Amini (Virizion/Genesect/Drifblim)
4) Dallan Fell (Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus/Garbodor)
5) Ravyn Pollock (Virizion/Genesect)
6) Jason Martinez (Blastoise)
7) Stefan Tabaco (Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus/Garbodor)
8) Luis Belmontez (Darkrai/Garbodor)

Just about every top tier deck was represented in the Top 8. Perhaps the only surprises were the Big Basic/Garbodor decks and the straight Darkrai deck coming in as the first seed. As the tournament progressed, the Top 4 ended up being Plasma, Blastoise, Darkrai, and Virizion/Genesect, which is pretty much a microcosm of what most would consider Tier 1 at the moment. However, this Darkrai deck did not feature Garbodor, so it seems that straight Darkrai is alive and well.

The star of the event.

We saw a lot of garbage.

In the Finals, it was a matchup between the “undefeated” players Israel Sosa (7-0-1) and Jason Martinez (5-0-3). To the surprise of many, Israel’s straight Darkrai was running through the competition. However, the deck historically has a poor matchup against Blastoise with Black Kyurem EX, so everyone expected his run to come to an end. As Jason took the first game, the trend seemed to continue. But then Israel came roaring back in the second game with a tech Frozen City, and we were all tied up heading into the final game of the tournament!

For most of the third game, it seemed like Jason was going to win. Israel couldn’t find a Dark Patch in the opening turns, and he was forced to Junk Hunt with Sableye repeatedly as Keldeo EX kept chopping them down with Secret Sword. But during all of this, Israel was doing something subtle that would turn the tide of the game. Each turn he put a new Virbank City Gym into play, forcing Jason to counter it or else take massive damage from Hypnotoxic Laser’s Poison. Eventually Jason was down to three prizes, and he got hit with a big N from Israel.

Night Spear took down the Keldeo EX, leaving Jason with just a Black Kyurem EX (40 damage) and a Blastoise. Although he was able to draw the Energy necessary to use Black Ballista, a new Darkrai came up with a Dark Claw, and Jason got hit with another N to 1 this time! Israel missed the Hypnotoxic Laser to get the KO, but now he had an opportunity to KO both Blastoise and Black Kyurem EX on the following turn with a Pokémon Catcher. Jason drew nothing but an N off his two cards, putting himself at one card, which was a Black Kyurem EX. With a Catcher on the Blastoise, Israel took down both the big Shellfish and the Black Kyurem, going down to one prize and taking away the Energy acceleration. Just like that, straight Darkrai won the first Regional Championship of the season in an exciting series! Congratulations to Israel!

Darkrai never dies.

Darkrai never dies.

What did we learn from this tournament? Well, the general consensus from most of the players at the event was that ties are no fun, and neither is 50 minutes. As for the metagame, it’s pretty much wide open at this point! Right now there are tons of viable decks, and it will be interesting to see how the other Regional Championships play out. Good luck to everyone attending one in the next few weeks!

10 responses to “California Regional Championship Results”

  1. Skylaismybitch

    I think with the current first turn rules, ties are a good thing, if the first turn gets more balanced as it should, ties will become less important

    1. Teriyakion

      First turn rules won’t make your games faster.

      1. terrakionisabum

        of course not but loosing a game because you went second sucks, going first has 100% advantage. Right now you can try and play for a draw which is better than loosing

        1. F0NTAINE

          Were you reading the same article as me? The player who reached the finals and lost got 6th place because of 3 ties. That’s absolutely ridiculous. How do you make the finals and place 6th?

          1. Andreas

            He got 6th in SWISS not in the overall tournament dude -.-
            At least thats how i would read it, correct me if i am wrong.
            Ties still have no effect on your positioning as soon as you got into top Cut

          2. Scott

            They told us (my son and my friend who both had ties) that a win was worth 3 points and a tie was worth 1 point, so ties did have an effect on your positioning in the event.

  2. C-Dub

    Okay well the ties are extremely dumb. I don’t see why matches can’t be adjusted to 60 minutes instead of 50. It would make a lot more sense. The new rules SHOULD slow the game down a little bit. Not a lot, just a little bit as certain decks are able to set up and not be ran over by aggressive decks doing insane damage turn 1 and 2 after going first.

    I’m not surprised to see Landorus back being a force. DarkGarb is going to be a a deck to deal with in the near future and a big basics Landorus or Garbodor deck is its worst enemy. Kyurem and Blastoise decks will keep it in line though.

    Other big basics decks should see increase play with Blastoise being cut down by garbodor decks from time to time.

    2 Genesect/Virizion decks in the top 8…i’m not surprised. This deck is tier 1in case some people are still trying to deny that it is. It can compete with all decks and has a ton of room to play with.

  3. jack

    thats so awesome of israel to run frozen city.
    i presume he runs plasma badge

    1. Mekkah

      He does not. He literally just ran a single Frozen City and just let his Darkrai take the pain. Obviously he doesn’t put it down vs anything except Blastoise, maybe Virizion/Genesect.

  4. Deathbydragon

    I would actually recommend playing slowly, as 3 games is pretty much impossible, you only want to play one to avoid a tie. Let’s say the first game takes 35 min (pretty reasonable if both players are doing well) and you win, all you have to do is not get donked in the second game and you pretty much won. Taking long, thought out turns will not only help you to not make mistakes, but you might only have to win one game.