When it was announced that 500 Championship Points was the requirement for a Worlds invite this season, I gave myself a simple ultimatum. If I finished Top 8 or better at Autumn Regionals, I would try to earn my invitation. If not, it wasn’t worth it. I was in my final semester of school, and I needed to focus on that instead of traveling all over the place for tournaments. Long story short, I finished in the Top 16, and my decision was made not to play much this season. I still attended the big tournaments like Regionals and States, but I hardly went to any City Championships and League Challenges.
The Wisconsin Regional Championship is different, though; it’s a special tournament. Since it’s in my home state, I always want to defend my home turf. It’s a silly notion, but it’s a good motivator. Over the past four years, I’ve finished 1st, 1st, 2nd, and Top 16 at the event, so I wanted to be prepared for this as well as I could.
I playtested for Regionals more than I have for anything in a long time. If you can think of a deck, odds are I used it. Between Bad Deck Monday streams and regular practice, I had just about every base covered. I had played games against Jason Klaczysnki, Yoshi Tate, and, of course, random people on Pokémon TCG Online; this gave me a view of everything from standard decks to wacky rogue decks. The only problem with this is that I was playing too many decks! I couldn’t decide on what to use.
In the weeks leading up to Regionals, I was convinced that I wanted to use something with Raichu. Yveltal EX is extremely powerful, and Raichu is a great non-EX attacker to keep it in check. At first, I really loved the Ninetales/Raichu deck that Yoshi Tate used to win the Minnesota State Championship. Not only was it powerful, but it also had a lot of options. The deck was genuinely fun to play, and it didn’t seem to have any bad matchups. However, I started to notice that the deck was prone to some bad starts, and quite often it was vulnerable to a late game N. On top of that, it wasn’t great for the 50 minute Swiss rounds. As much as I loved the deck, I couldn’t play it.
Still focused on Raichu, I looked for other combinations. Instead of Ninetales, I moved on to a Flareon deck similar to the one I used at the beginning of the season. The idea is fairly simple; try to counter as many decks as possible. Initially it began as a “simple” Flareon/Raichu/Garbodor/Terrakion deck, but then I figured it would struggle with Emboar decks. So then I added Suicune to slow the game down against that matchup while also providing an answer to Delphox. Garbodor seemed to be dead weight, so I opted to cut it for other attackers. I ended up experimenting with over a dozen different Pokémon. Some of the notable ones were Gyarados (Legendary Treasures), Lucario (Plasma Storm), and Kyurem (Dragon Vault); feel free to look those up. Unfortunately, the deck suffered from many of the same problems as the Ninetales/Raichu deck, and it was compounded by the fact that it didn’t have any Catcher effect to close out games like Ninetales had. As much as I wanted to use it, I knew I had to scrap this idea as well.
For a brief period, I also looked into playing a Round deck. While it may sound strange, Round is a powerful deck that is able to OHKO Pokémon-EX quite easily. In addition, it completes games quickly, which is big in 50 minutes. To deal with Virizion/Genesect and its newfound ability to Emerald Slash for 70 with Muscle Band (140 against Seismitoad), I added in Victini EX, changed all the Basic Energy to Fire, and made Victory Piece my Ace Spec. Even with all of that, I had a losing record against Virizion/Genesect! All of my creative ideas were being shot down.
As the tournament got closer, I had narrowed down my choices to about four decks. First was a Lugia-focused Plasma deck. After some testing with Jason, we came up with a list that I was very confident in. Plasma is great because it can take all six prizes in a few turns with Lugia EX’s Plasma Gale.
But everyone else knew that already, and Enhanced Hammer was becoming more popular as a result. Since the deck got hurt so badly by Hammers, I didn’t want to play it. Another option was Blastoise or Emboar, but neither one of those is the style I like to play. Although they are extremely powerful, something about the “Rain Dance” decks makes me uncomfortable. I had anticipated Trevenant decks getting played a little more, too, which is a horrendous matchup for any Stage 2 deck.
That left me with two options. The first was a very simple Virizion/Genesect/Roserade deck that Ryan Sabelhaus had used during State Championships. In my opinion this was the best deck in the format. Not only is it extremely consistent, but also it has the options to do both of the extremely powerful things in the game – Catcher and OHKO (Red Signal and G Booster). With all the space the deck has, it also has room for Enhanced Hammer, which is crucial to slow down Plasma decks. Besides Emboar, it really doesn’t have any bad matchups; it’s just a solid deck. Ultimately, I decided not to use the deck because it felt very reliant on going first. I wanted a deck that was strong playing either first or second, and anyone who has used Virizion/Genesect can tell you the difference between playing first and second. Plus, if you want me to be honest, I didn’t own the cards for the deck.
Last but not least, I considered decks centered around Yveltal EX. Clearly it is one of the best cards in the game, and it can beat anything with raw strength alone. Even decks that try to counter it fail a lot of the time! About a month ago Chris Fulop had introduced me to a version that focused on heavy amounts of regular Yveltal and Bouffalant to use lots of non-EX attackers. Though it ended up being a very effective concept, my main concern with that strategy was losing to decks that run Virizion EX. Since you normally can’t get a one-hit KO without using Hypnotoxic Laser, Verdant Wind was a big problem. Plus, Blastoise and Emboar decks could run you over with a quick start sometimes. Plasma didn’t seem like a great matchup either when Thundurus EX can Raiden Knuckle an Yveltal for a KO, and then Lugia can KO a Bouffalant for two prizes. Therefore, I decided that Garbodor was necessary. I ended up running this list.
|Pokémon – 12||Trainers – 37||Energy – 11|
|3 Yveltal EX||4 Professor Juniper||7 Darkness Energy|
|2 Trubbish||4 N||4 Double Colorless Energy|
|2 Garbodor||2 Colress|
|1 Darkrai EX||2 Bicycle|
|1 Bouffalant||1 Random Receiver|
|1 Yveltal||1 Dowsing Machine|
|1 Absol||4 Ultra Ball|
|1 Sableye||4 Hypnotoxic Laser|
|3 Virbank City Gym|
|3 Dark Patch|
|3 Float Stone|
|3 Muscle Band|
|1 Enhanced Hammer|
|1 Professor’s Letter|
Basically I took Fulop’s idea of using a lot of non-EX attackers but jammed in Garbodor, too. Without a doubt, Garbotoxin is extremely powerful, and my priority was to abuse it as much as possible. Even though people have been playing multiple Tool Scrapper to counter Garbodor, if they use their turn of Abilities and don’t KO an EX, Garbotoxin eventually takes control. For example, Blastoise decks can use a turn of Deluge to power up a Keldeo EX to KO Absol or Bouffalant, but next turn I can respond with another Tool and an Yveltal EX. When it comes down to it, they don’t have enough turns of Abilities to win. With so many one prize attackers, my opponent has to work that much harder to win. Ideally I would attack with three single prize attackers and two Yveltal EX to force my opponent to take “seven” prizes.
Each of the attackers has a situation where it thrives. Bouffalant’s Gold Breaker can score OHKOs on 170 HP Pokémon-EX with the use of Muscle Band, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Virbank City Gym. Alternatively, Absol’s Mind Jack is very good against non-EX attackers such as Raichu and Plasma Kyurem, and it can do the same amount of damage as Boufflant if the opponent has a full bench. Regular Yveltal doesn’t do much damage, but its high HP can pose a problem to a deck like Virizion/Genesect that can’t quite do 130 damage in one hit (without the use of G Booster, which is welcomed). Also, it works very well to set up Bouffalant for KOs. Sableye is a card that I felt got much worse with the release of Muscle Band, but it always has the opportunity to recover key cards. Even though Darkrai EX is mostly outclassed by Yveltal EX, it finds ways to be useful in a lot of games. Whether it’s providing free retreat early on or finishing off a damaged Pokémon that retreated, it’s the most successful card of the past two or three seasons for a reason. For every other situation, Yveltal EX is pretty darn good.
For the Trainers, I have a lot of strange numbers that may seem unusual. First of all, I hated the “standard” draw engine of Juniper, N, and Random Receiver. Without a focus on Sableye, that approach feels outdated. Instead, I opted to run Colress, which was the best option in my eyes. Skyla simply doesn’t do enough in this deck, so Bicycle replaces it. I still decided to keep a Random Receiver because three Colress felt like too many, and it’s an extra potential way to find a crucial N late in the game to disrupt your opponent. Plus, Sableye can always Junk Hunt for it in bad situations. Overall, I feel like the draw engine was a little inconsistent; however, it always felt that way no matter how many draw cards I played. Therefore, I decided to skimp a little on draw cards in favor of more attacking options. The deck itself was going to be clunky regardless, so I may as well try to counteract that by giving myself more options.
With the inclusion of regular Yveltal, three Dark Patch gets the job done. Since Hypnotoxic Laser isn’t nearly as powerful without Virbank City Gym in play, I knew I needed to play three of those. Laser + Virbank on the first turn is so powerful, and lots of decks are playing two or three counter Stadiums. Hypnotoxic Laser is what makes this deck so strong, so you need to make sure it’s doing as much damage as possible.
Before the tournament, I struggled to decide between Pokémon Catcher and Enhanced Hammer for my last spot. While a Catcher will win you the game every once in a while, Enhanced Hammer seemed more powerful to me, especially considering how many decks relied on Special Energy (including mine). I do wish I had Catcher in the deck, but Enhanced Hammer saved me plenty of times to make it worthwhile. Finally, a Switch is pretty standard, but Escape Rope may have been better considering that I had no way to switch my opponent’s Active without Catcher.
Hopefully that gives you some insight into my decisions for the deck. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed just how important every card in a decklist really is. One or two cards can be the difference between making Top 8 and just missing, so I want to be sure I can explain why every card in my deck deserves a spot. I realize that I explained quite a bit about the process leading up to my deck choice, but I want to emphasize the importance of being properly prepared for an event. No matter how experienced you are, you can never prepare enough.
On Friday night I drove to Madison with my friend Abe, and we met up with our other roommates, Squeaky and Tuan. After grabbing some food and playing a few games, I was set on my deck and my list. When I got to the venue the next morning, I saw plenty of familiar faces and got to catch up with my friends. By far the best part of events is being able to hang out with people you don’t get to see very often. If my friends stopped playing, I don’t think I would bother going to events. Pokémon is fun, but the community is what makes the game worthwhile.
After I turn in my list, I wait for the tournament to start. Registration closes, and we get the dreadful news – only about 190 players in Masters. Instead of two days of Swiss, we’re stuck with eight rounds and a Top 8. As a side note, something really needs to be done about this tournament structure. If there are 226 players, there are eight Swiss rounds. But if there are 227 players, there are 14 Swiss rounds? I’d like to see a more gradual increase in rounds. Also, eight rounds is not enough to determine a Top 8 cut for this many players. Before the tournament even begins, I know that I probably need 19 points to have a chance at Top 8, which means a 6-1-1 record; that’s a lot of pressure.
Pairings go up, and here we go!
Round 1 – Blastoise (Greg Mattson)
Game One: My opponent was a nice guy from Minnesota. He said he got into the game because of his son, which I always enjoy hearing. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I know better than to underestimate someone. When he flipped over a Squirtle, I felt comfortable knowing this is probably one of my best matchups. While he got a fairly slow start, I focused on getting Garbodor into play immediately. I was able to take a quick KO on a Keldeo EX, but I had a slow down a little after a Tool Scrapper + Black Ballista got a KO. I got another Tool onto Garbodor, and I was able to get a slow KO over two turns with Laser and Yveltal’s Oblivion Wing. After that, I had a ton of Energy in play, and my opponent couldn’t prevent me from taking my last prizes.
Game Two: My opponent got a much quicker Blastoise this game, but I got Garbodor out before he could do too much damage. A timely Pokémon Catcher had me scared, but I was able to get a second Garbodor out to shut off Deluge once again.
A Float Stone caught me off guard and allowed my opponent to retreat one turn for a KO, but eventually he got overwhelmed by Garbotoxin and the swarm of non-EX Pokémon he was forced to KO. He tried for a last ditch Tool Scrapper along with a Suicune to attempt to block Yveltal EX from attacking, but one last Float Stone put Garbotoxin back online and allowed me to take my final prizes.
Round 2 – Blastoise (Caleb G.)
Caleb is a relatively new player in the Wisconsin area, but he’s done very well. I remembered that he beat Jason Klaczynski’s Yveltal/Garbodor deck in the Top 4 of Wisconsin States using an Emboar deck, so I was in for a tough match. I assumed he would be using the same deck. I suppose I was almost right.
Game One: Caleb flipped over a Black Kyurem EX to my Trubbish, so I knew what I was going up against immediately. On his first turn, he was able to get Squirtle and a Tropical Beach into play, and he drew quite a few cards. On my turn, I played an Ultra Ball to search for my second Trubbish, but it was prized. Priority number one was getting Trubbish to safety on the bench in case of a turn two Blastoise. After playing an N, I didn’t draw a Float Stone, Double Colorless Energy, or a Darkness Energy + Darkrai EX to get my little trash bag out of the Active spot, so I had to pass. Then I got some bad news. My opponent got a turn two Blastoise, and my Trubbish was taken down by a Keldeo EX with three Energy. About three minutes into the game, I concede knowing I’m at an extreme disadvantage.
Game Two: Going first is nice. In this game I was able to get a quick Garbodor with a Float Stone before he got an opportunity to Deluge. It’s a good thing I did because he got another Blastoise out on the second turn! After some nerve wracking Tool Scrappers and Catcher flips, I managed to stabilize and establish the Garbotoxin lock. Eventually I had too many attackers powered up, and he conceded to move on to a third game.
Game Three: Another game, another turn two Blastoise for my opponent. Man, this is getting frustrating! Fortunately this time he was an Energy short of using Secret Sword, and he had to settle for using Tropical Beach. I was able to get Garbodor into play quickly, but he responded immediately with a Tool Scrapper and KO. I tried to conserve all of my Tools so that I would have one every time he played a Scrapper to discard one, even if I had to attach a Muscle Band to Garbodor to regain Garbotoxin. After he took a KO on my Yveltal EX, I was able to play an N and put my opponent at three cards. I couldn’t KO his Black Kyurem EX, but the next turn I got to retreat to Sableye and Junk Hunt as Poison got the final damage. With two prizes left, my opponent was forced to promote a Blastoise. He missed a turn of attacking, so I was able to Laser the Blastoise and put a new Virbank City Gym in play, and I got to Junk Hunt a second time.
Tool Scrapper allowed my opponent to Deluge onto the Blastoise while also getting four Energy onto the benched Black Kyurem EX, and a Hydro Pump took down Sableye. I played an N to put him down to two cards, and then Absol’s Fearsome Shadow took the KO. His hand revealed two useless cards – a Squirtle and a Black Kyurem. If he drew a Catcher and flipped Heads, he could KO my Yveltal EX on the bench to win. But he drew another worthless card and had no choice but to Black Ballista the Absol. With a Dark Patch and Double Colorless Energy, Yveltal EX was able to Evil Ball for the final KO. Great games!
Round 3 – Landorus/Mewtwo/Garbodor/Outrage (Trenton Phillippi)
On the Bubble asked if I wanted to be streamed this round, and of course I said yes. I think streaming is extremely important for the growth of the Pokémon TCG. I understand the downsides to being put on display, but I hope more players understand why it needs to happen. I’ll gladly volunteer to be on stream every time.
Game One: Before the match, my opponent said he was a big fan of my videos, which I always appreciate hearing. He won the flip, but he let me go first, so I figured this was a pretty aggressive deck. When he turned over a Mewtwo EX and a Kyurem EX (Outrage), I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My hand wasn’t particularly great, but I was able to get an Energy on my Yveltal EX. He responded quickly with a DCE and Laser for an X-Ball on my Yveltal for a total of 70 damage. Fortunately I had an Enhanced Hammer to remove it right away, and I was able to Evil Ball for 80 with Muscle Band and a Laser of my own. He wasn’t drawing very well, and he struggled to take down the first Yveltal EX. I saw a Landorus EX, a Reshiram, and a few other Pokémon, but not much was going his way. Since I didn’t have to use Garbodor in this matchup, I was able to use Darkrai to retreat my Poisoned Yveltal to the bench, and eventually I overwhelmed him with a barrage of Y Cyclone and Evil Ball.
Game Two: The second game was much of the same. My opponent wasn’t drawing anything, and Yveltal EX was mowing down his Pokémon left and right. He just wasn’t able to mount any offense, and I seemed to have a Laser any time I needed a KO. A heavily damaged Kyurem EX retreated to the bench, but a Night Spear from Darkrai got me my final four prizes in one big attack.
Round 4 – Blastoise (Christopher Schemanske)
My match for this round was streamed by Bullados, which you can find here.
Game One: I’m going second with a Sableye against a Squirtle, so I’m up against another Blastoise deck. Right away I get two Trubbish onto the field, but Garbodor is nowhere to be found. However, I notice my opponent is having a slow start, so I decide to be aggressive with Yveltal EX. It’s a little risky, and normally I don’t like leading off with an EX without Garbotoxin activated, but it’s better than sitting around and doing nothing in this situation. After taking down a Squirtle, he gets Blastoise and Catchers out one of the Trubbish. Keldeo EX uses Secret Sword to KO it, which allows me to promote Trubbish, Dark Patch to Yveltal EX, put a Float Stone on Trubbish for free retreat, and attach a fourth Energy to Evil Ball for the KO (7 total Energy + Muscle Band = 180 damage).
However, I’m still unable to get Garbodor out! Thankfully he can’t respond with a Black Ballista this turn, so he decides to Tool Scrapper the Float Stone and Muscle Band, Rush In with a Keldeo, and use Tropical Beach. Finally I find Garbodor, but now there’s no Tool. I have a decision to make at this point. I can commit all of my Energy to the Active Yveltal EX to go down to one prize, but this would leave me vulnerable to an N + Black Ballista. I would be ahead by four prizes if I do this, though, and a ton of cards will allow me to draw out of a bad hand since I have a Sableye in play. I decide to take the KO and go down to one prize.
As predicted, he is able to use Black Ballista to KO the Yveltal EX, but there is no N to go with it. This allows me to get a crucial turn where I play a Juniper, hoping to get a Darkness Energy to use Sableye’s Junk Hunt. I’m unable to draw one, but I do draw a Laser and a Virbank, and I’m able to attach a DCE to Bouffalant after a Bicycle for two cards. I’ve managed to thin out most of my dead cards at this point with Ultra Ball, meaning my deck is basically nothing but Supporters, Energy, and Tools for Garbodor. I get a Muscle Band onto Garbodor to shut off Abilities again and pass. He gets Heads on a Catcher, and he chooses to target down Yveltal EX. I think he was running out of Energy, so he knew he had to target down an EX when he could. After a Dowsing Machine for Tool Scrapper and an N, my Yveltal got hit for 200. All I needed was an Energy to use Gold Breaker for the win thanks to the Poison + Virbank damage that accumulated already, and my two cards were DCE and a Darkness Energy.
Game Two: For as exciting as the first game was, this one was a dud. My opponent went first, got a Squirtle on the bench, and passed after attaching to Black Kyurem EX. I opened with Bouffalant along with Trubbish and Yveltal EX on the bench, and I decided to take the risk and attach my DCE to the Active. If he got a turn two Black Ballista, I would be in some trouble, but it seemed unlikely given the fact that he passed with a three card hand. I had an N and a Juniper in hand, but I didn’t want to play either. N gives him a fresh hand, and Juniper forces me to discard my Garbodor, so I pass. He attaches and passes, and I draw into an Energy, Laser, and Virbank with my Juniper, but no Tool for Garbodor. He decides to Catcher out Garbodor and Slash for 60, but this means the Poison + Virbank gets a KO. After playing a bunch of Ultra Balls to improve my odds, I just need to draw Float Stone, Switch, or a Darkness Energy (Darkrai in play already) to get Garbodor out of the Active and Gold Breaker his Squirtle to win. A Juniper gets me the Float Stone I need, and that’s that. We’re both happy that the match ended quickly so we could go grab something to eat. There wasn’t a lunch break for this event, so I needed to take this opportunity to eat!
Round 5 – Virizion/Genesect/Raichu (Jack Dockendorf)
Jack is a solid player in the Midwest who recently won the Illinois State Championship with a Virizion/Genesect deck. I assumed he would be playing the same deck, but I was in for a nasty surprise.
Game One: I’m going second, so this is already an uphill battle. The matchup against Virizion/Genesect largely depends on who goes first because it can come down to how many times they get to use Emerald Slash. I see a Pikachu, which is even more bad news. Normally Virizion/Genesect doesn’t have any non-EX attackers, and one that can OHKO my Yveltal EX definitely puts me at a disadvantage. Then I see even worse news. He plays Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym! A first turn Laser/Virbank definitely catches me off guard, and I’m under a ton of pressure to start. An Emerald Slash for 70 puts my Yveltal EX at 160 damage and Poison, meaning I have to give up a KO if I want to attack. My Pokémon on the bench are Trubbish and Darkrai, and sacrificing Trubbish isn’t an option in this matchup. Retreating to Darkrai doesn’t do anything either because a Megalo Cannon would pick off the Yveltal EX. I decide to Evil Ball and promote Darkrai, and he responds with a Colress Machine, attachment to Genesect, and G Booster for 200.
It’s the third turn, and he’s already taken four prizes. What just happened? I try to play a little longer to find out more information on his deck, but I lose a quick 6-0 game.
Game Two: Boy, going first sure is a world of difference. This time I’m able to get the Laser/Virbank before a Grass Energy comes into play to activate Verdant Wind, so I get a nice free 30 damage. Things are looking great as I get an Evil Ball on the second turn to hit Virizion EX for 80 damage, softening it up for a KO next turn. Then he puts me to sleep with a Hypnotoxic Laser, and I don’t wake up. Oh boy. Now he gets a second turn to Emerald Slash, and it’s almost like I’m going second again.
Fortunately I’m able to get Garbodor out this game, which allows me to use Hypnotoxic Laser. I use my non-EX attackers as best as I can, and I’m able to score a few huge KOs with Bouffalant and Absol. Raichu comes out at some point, but it seems like my opponent simply doesn’t play enough Pokémon to use it effectively. Normally his bench was two or three Pokémon, meaning Circle Circuit doesn’t do much. I’m able to stick him with a bad hand after an N, and somehow I recover from the abysmal start.
Game Three: I feel fortunate to have taken a game against such a bad matchup, and I’d like to at least get a tie out of this now. Virizion/Genesect can take prizes very quickly, though, so it may not happen. Thankfully he misses a first turn Laser in this game, which makes it a little more “fair” for me. Since he goes first, he gets to use Emerald Slash twice before Yveltal EX can get a KO, which means two Genesect EX are powered up. We fight back and forth, but it’s clear that I’m a little behind. After an N puts both of us at 3 cards, he takes a KO on my Yveltal EX with a fresh Genesect that has a Muscle Band attached. There is a Genesect on the bench with 140 damage, and I have a Darkrai with one Energy waiting. I’ll need to Night Spear this turn to have a chance.
Off my three cards I see an Energy and a Juniper, so this could be a good turn. I promote Garbodor with Float Stone, and I draw a Bicycle for the turn! I draw basically the perfect cards to give me a shot. Energy and Dark Patch gets Darkrai powered up, and then a Muscle Band goes with it. Then I play the Dowsing Machine for N to put my opponent at one card, and off those three cards I managed to draw a Laser (which puts him to sleep) and Enhanced Hammer to discard his Plasma Energy. A Night Spear takes a KO on the benched Genesect, and all of a sudden his Active has 140 on it with Poison damage. Plus, he stays Asleep! Jack and I both kind of marvel at how ridiculous that turn was. He’s ready to just concede, but then he draws his card for the turn… Juniper.
He plays a Switch to get out of the Poison, and then he gets a fresh hand of seven cards. All sorts of things can get me here, but they all involve a Tool Scrapper. Assuming he draws Scrapper, a Plasma Energy gets a game winning Red Signal, or a G Booster and Energy gets the game winning attack. However, since he did play the Switch, he would have to also draw a way to get Virizion EX out of the Active spot. He doesn’t draw any of it, but he has one last resort – Hypnotoxic Laser. He flips… Tails. Darkrai gets to Night Spear and pick off the Genesect EX on the bench. Somehow I overcome perhaps my worst matchup.
Round 6 – Turbo Lugia (Sean Foisy)
Sean has been playing for over 10 years, but somehow we’ve managed to not play against each other in that time. He has quite a few accomplishments, including a Top 8 at last year’s US Nationals. Also, I saw him Plasma Gale a Black Kyurem EX for a KO on his first turn when I was sitting next to him last round, so that’s something. Yet again I’m on the stream, so On the Bubble should have this match posted at some point.
Game One: I don’t particularly enjoy playing against Plasma decks since they can get KOs so easily against everything in my deck. The only thing that slows them down is Garbodor, and then it comes down to how many Tool Scrapper they play. In this game none of that really mattered. Both of us got fairly slow starts, but he was able to strike first with a Catcher onto Trubbish. Absol took it down with Mind Jack, and I struggled to do anything the entire game. Without Garbodor, his attacks are too powerful, and I’m unable to prevent Lugia EX from rampaging through my Pokémon. I give myself a small chance with an N to 1 at the end, but he draws an Energy to Plasma Gale for the win.
Game Two: My start is a little better this game, and his is absolutely horrendous. However, even just a Thundurus EX with Muscle Band is good against Yveltal EX, so he’s able to stick around in the game. Fortunately for me, Garbodor comes out and puts a halt to his damage output. The game drags on for a few turns, but Yveltal EX is very good at capitalizing on poor starts.
Game Three: I get off to another slow start, but Sean is able to get a couple fast KOs with Absol’s Mind Jack. After a Catcher takes out my Trubbish, I’m all but certain that I’ve lost the game. I still fight on, but it’s looking very grim. Evil Ball gets a KO on the Absol, but I’m met immediately with a Thundurus EX followed by a Lugia EX for a three prize KO. Now he’s down to one prize, and I don’t even have Garbodor in play. I have managed to get a Trubbish in play, though. I do the only thing I can do; N and pray.
Off my five cards, I’m faced with an interesting dilemma. My hand is Juniper, Juniper, Ultra Ball, Darkness Energy, and Float Stone. I have no Energy in play, so I would like to attach to one of my Yveltal EX to start mounting some offense. I also want Garbodor in play because all it takes is an Energy for a game winning Plasma Gale. But I would need to discard my Energy to get it (need to keep Float Stone to activate Garbotoxin), or I would have to discard both Juniper and hope to topdeck another Supporter next turn. Since I have a Switch and more Float Stone left in the deck, I opt to get Garbodor in play with the Float Stone and pass, leaving myself with just a Juniper. It’s a long road ahead, but this gives me the best chance to win.
My opponent draws nothing and has to pass. From my Juniper, I draw basically a perfect hand, getting a Dark Patch, Double Colorless, and a Switch to attack that turn. He gets a Prism Energy and attacks my Yveltal EX, and I’m fortunate to draw into my Enhanced Hammer to discard it. At this point I realize that between all the Roller Skates, Bicycles, and Catchers, he probably doesn’t even play Tool Scrapper. If that’s the case, Thundurus won’t be able to KO my Sableye, and I’ll get a free turn of Junk Hunt. I get back an Enhanced Hammer and Dowsing Machine, and he plays an N to put me at 5 cards and him at 1. Raiden Knuckle gets a DCE back to Lugia, but I draw my Enhanced Hammer again to discard it. An Yveltal EX with no damage gets four Energy, a Muscle Band, and a Laser to KO the Thundurus EX. I go down to three prizes, and it’s not looking so bad anymore.
Sean continues to draw worthless cards, which gives me the turns I need to attack and come back. I take another KO and go down to one prize, but I’m still paranoid because a Deoxys EX + Muscle Band can take down the Yveltal EX with Helix Force for 170. He doesn’t draw the cards for it, so I go for a big Juniper to end the game. I have plenty of DCE, Lasers, and whatnot to get the final damage, but somehow I miss all of them. To prevent the Helix Force play, I use Y Cyclone to move an Energy to the benched Yveltal EX. Sean shows a hand full of unplayable cards, and I win another match that I was sure I was going to lose.
With two rounds to go, I’m the only undefeated player. Normally at this stage I would be able to intentionally draw twice to guarantee a spot in the Top 8. But since everyone else has a loss or a tie, they can’t afford to ID. So, I’m still not safe! I’m nervous that I’ll go from 6-0 to 6-2 and miss, but we’ll see.
Round 7 – Virizion/Genesect/Roserade (Ben Potter)
Well, here we go. I was very familiar with the list Ben was using since it was essentially the same as the one I had been playtesting with. I had to try to play around Enhanced Hammer and hope for the best. My strategy for this round was different than the others, though. I knew that a tie would all but guarantee me a spot in Top 8, so I was playing “not to lose” rather than to win.
Game One: Ben gets to go first, which, as I described before, is a major advantage in this matchup. My hand was horrendous, and I wasn’t able to get much of anything going. He gets the T2 Emerald Slash, and I get the T2 draw and pass. Still, I wanted to make this game take as long as possible. Even though I knew I was going to lose badly, I don’t want there to be time for a third game. A tie is the same as a win for me at this point. One by one my Pokémon get picked off, but I manage to burn up at least 20 minutes in a 6-0 loss.
Game Two: Now that I get to go first, the game is a lot different. Garbodor comes into play, and I’m able to get a quick KO on Virizion EX. Bouffalant is set up on the bench, and I have my prizes laid out for me basically. I have a Colress for eight, and a Virbank City Gym, Double Colorless, or a Dark Patch + Energy all get me a KO on Genesect. I draw my cards, and somehow I miss all of them! I have to settle for an Oblivion Wing for 30. Next turn I have another opportunity to do the same thing, but this time I’m drawing nine cards with Colress. Once again, I miss! I come to find that my third Virbank and Dowsing Machine are prized, so I only have one left in the deck. I’m forced to use Gold Breaker for 140 on Genesect, 30 short of the KO. He retreats to Virizion EX to finish off the already damaged Bouffalant, and I’m left with a predicament. Now Ben is at two prizes, and the Genesect on the bench has a G Booster attached. If I charge forward with Yveltal EX, I can lose easily. Instead, I decide to N him to two cards and Junk Hunt for two Dark Patch.
My plan from here is to power up a Darkrai to Night Spear the Genesect for a KO. I’ll most likely get Virbank or Dowsing out of the prizes, and I should be able to get a 140 damage Night Spear (Muscle Band + Laser + Virbank) to finish off his other Genesect that already has 30 damage on it. I figure I’ll get two turns to Junk Hunt, but he hits a Muscle Band off the N to KO with Emerald Slash. I don’t have an Energy in hand, so I’ll need to topdeck my third Dark Patch, DCE, Dark, or Professor’s Letter to attack with Darkrai this turn. I draw… Virbank. Oh, the irony. I’m forced to use both Dark Patch to power up Yveltal EX and KO the Virizion, and he has the Shadow Triad for Energy to use G Booster for the game. If I had gotten Darkrai out that turn, he wouldn’t have had the resources to pull off a KO, and I had the win with the Dowsing Machine out of my prizes. It was a pretty disappointing loss after all of those missed opportunities, but that’s the game sometimes.
Between rounds I talk with Dustin Zimmerman and some others about how many people are 6-1 or 6-0-1 right now. Apparently there are two 6-0-1 players and several 6-1 players, so an intentional draw would not be safe. Dustin and I agreed that we would ID if we got paired, though, since we were confident in our tiebreakers. I look at the online pairings, and my opponent is…
Round 8 – Virizion/Genesect/Raichu (Dustin Zimmerman)
We shake hands, sign the slip, and turn it in. We both relax knowing we made Top 8. I celebrate by playing some old format games with Jacob Willinger, and I get an epic win over his Regigigas deck with Gyarados as I topdeck a Warp Point for my last prize. (Sorry, Jacob.) Our group heads out to dinner, and then I call it an early night to get some rest for the next day. I’m exhausted!
Here were the standings after Swiss.
There were three Virizion/Genesect decks, three Yveltal/Garbodor decks, one Plasma deck, and one… Zoroark deck? Go figure, I get paired up with Kevin Baxter’s Zoroark deck. My roommate Tuan tells me that he played against Kevin in the first round, so he tells me a little bit about the deck. He tells me to watch out for Escape Rope, but otherwise it seems like a pretty straightforward deck. I figure it’s probably a 50/50 matchup, and Absol certainly will be good against it.
I get there the next morning ready to go, but a minor power outage causes a major delay. I decide to prepare for my match by playing more old format games. Jason and I play some Base-Fossil games, and my mighty Lickitung/Magmar/Moltres deck that was made out of spare cards eventually decks him out. I think I broke the format 15 years later. Eventually we’re all ready to go, and it’s time to start the Top 8!
Once again, my match was streamed by On the Bubble, so you should be able to watch it at some point. Like I said earlier, I felt like this would be about 50/50 depending on whether or not he could score a big OHKO with Zoroark + Band/Bangle + Laser.
Game One: I go first with a Bouffalant against an Yveltal, and my hand is basically dead. I play down Laser/Virbank in hopes of getting a quick KO on the second turn. However, that’s met with a Laser of his own along with an Escape Rope into Zorua, and he uses Ascension to evolve. I draw a Trubbish, which at least gives me another turn to draw something. Brutal Bash takes down Bouffalant, and I draw a worthless card. Just like that, I’m down a game.
Game Two: I look at my opening hand, and this just doesn’t seem to be my day. I have absolutely nothing to work with. Fortunately he plays an N to bail me out, but he’s putting pressure on very quickly. I draw a Colress for five cards, which gets me almost nothing. After a few quick KOs, I’m left with a Darkrai in play and just a Laser in hand. After such a great weekend, I’m about to be eliminated from the tournament in 10 minutes. I need to topdeck this turn or else I’m going to lose. I draw… Juniper! We have life!
In this game, my non-EX attackers truly shined. Yveltal was able to get a KO on a Sableye with Muscle Band + Laser, and he was unable to respond with a Brutal Bash KO since there was a Silver Bangle on Zoroark already. Without a Laser, he could do only 120 damage, meaning Yveltal would survive. Instead, he went for a Junk Hunt, and I responded with an N and another Laser for a KO. Now my bench was loaded with lots of Energy, and the momentum swings back into my favor. Yveltal goes down, but Absol comes in for a Mind Jack. At this point, I have a massive Yveltal EX waiting on my bench, and he can’t do anything about it. He sees the writing on the wall and concedes.
Game Three: Now that I’ve seen his deck, I feel like I may be a slight favorite in the matchup. Absol is a big difference maker, and even Garbodor can mess with him since he relies on Dark Cloak to retreat so often. We both open Sableye, and he passes after getting a few Pokémon into play. I play a Juniper that discards two Dark Patch and some other useful things, so I really need to Junk Hunt them back. Unfortunately, I don’t find a Darkness Energy or Professor’s Letter. However, I can burn a lot of cards in my hand in order to Bicycle for two cards. In doing so, I would have to use my Dowsing Machine, but I would just get that back with Junk Hunt if I drew the Energy. Since I’m going second and down a lot of resources, I decide to go for it. I draw my two cards, and I whiff completely, so now I’m down two Dark Patch AND a Dowsing Machine. Whoops. My opponent recognizes what I’ve lost and charges ahead with Brutal Bash to KO the Sableye.
From here the game is back and forth. I begin to realize that I may not even need Dark Patch that badly in this matchup since Y Cyclone can conserve Energy while getting a KO on Zoroark. A crucial turn comes up where he promotes a Zoroark with a Silver Bangle and needs to draw a Hypnotoxic Laser to KO my Yveltal EX. Somehow he fails to draw one, and my Yveltal EX survives with 20 HP. As the game progresses, I’m ahead on prizes, but I know it’s going to come down to an N to 1 at some point. I discarded so many Supporters early on that I was going to be vulnerable, but I tried to give myself the best odds by playing down any useless cards I could. I play down just about every Ultra Ball in my deck, and all that’s left is a Bicycle, a few Energy, a Dark Patch, a Hypnotoxic Laser, and a Virbank. I take a KO with Yveltal EX to go down to one prize and await the inevitable N.
Fortunately for me he was at four prizes still, so I would have a turn to promote a non-EX if I drew poorly off the N. As predicted, I go down to one card, and he draws his four. He tries to set up a three prize Night Spear KO with Darkrai, but he misses an Escape Rope to do it, so he has to settle for a Y Cyclone KO. Since Garbodor is shutting off Dark Cloak, he’s forced to keep the DCE on the Active and move the Dark to Darkrai. This is huge because that’s one less Energy I need to KO him with Evil Ball. I look down at my one card to see the best possible card – Bicycle. I promote the Garbodor with Float Stone and draw a Hypnotoxic Laser, which I play immediately. Bicycle draws four of the five remaining cards in my deck, so I cannot miss the KO. Double Colorless Energy gets me an Evil Ball for 160, and the Poison finishes it off. I still can’t believe I won this match. Great games, Kevin! Props for using such an unorthodox deck in a major event.
I find out that Ben won his match, so I’m playing him in the Top 4. Once again, I feel like I have a 50/50 matchup, but I really hope to go first this time.
Yet again, my match was streamed by On the Bubble.
Game One: I go second, which is a bad way to start things off. Fortunately Ben has one of the worst starts possible. He plays a Sycamore and discards Tool Scrapper, Enhanced Hammer, and Potion! Now I don’t have to worry about Tool Scrapper, which is huge. On top of that, he misses an Energy attachment! Basically he forfeited his first turn advantage and also discarded a bunch of resources. As a result, I’m able to jump ahead with a KO on his first Virizion EX. I’m getting a lot of Energy into play as well, so I’ve established a clear advantage.
Unfortunately, I keep missing a few key cards that would let me take control of the game, and it leaves a window of opportunity for him. After he goes down to four prizes, I have a decision to make. I can take a KO with my Yveltal EX that already has 70 damage on it, or I can use the one with no damage on it. Even though I would walk into a Megalo Cannon KO with the already damaged one, it would work to my benefit. Genesect EX would have three Energy on it, and my Yveltal EX on the bench with three Energy could get an easy Evil Ball KO with any number of cards. On the other hand, if I attack with the fresh one, a G Booster would discard both Energy, making it difficult for me to get a KO. Looking back, forcing him to have the G Booster probably was the way to go, but the only way I would get burned by this play is if he drew his last Enhanced Hammer and gave me a dead hand with an N. I took the KO with the damaged Yveltal EX to go down to two prizes.
He plays an N, and then he draws his last Enhanced Hammer to discard the DCE from my Yveltal EX. I draw a Random Receiver, and I should have plenty of Juniper and Colress left to draw into. I flip over my cards… and find an N, the only Supporter I don’t want. My two cards from the N are Dark Patch and Virbank City Gym, which don’t help right now. I sacrifice an Absol to buy a turn, but I don’t draw anything that allows me to KO his Genesect. I attack with Evil Ball, but it’s not nearly enough. On the following turn he has the G Booster to take his last prize, and I’m frustrated that I lost a game that I had control over. Sometimes it just happens, though.
Game Two: I get to go first, giving me an inherent advantage. Throughout the course of this game, I’m able to remain aggressive while keeping Garbotoxin active. When I’m able to pull off Laser + Virbank against Virizion/Genesect, normally I’m winning. The match goes back and forth, but I have a clear lead once again. Near the end, he doesn’t have any Energy left in play, so he’s forced to stall by retreating to different Pokémon. At one point, he goes for a Squeeze with Roserade, which fails to Paralyze my Yveltal EX. I’m not sure how much that would have impacted the game, but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out. Eventually I get enough Energy onto an Yveltal EX to Evil Ball for the final KO.
Game Three: I’m going second, but I’m confident that I can win. Well, until I see my hand, that is. Opening with a Darkrai, I have a hand full of Energy, Bicycle, and other cards I can’t play. Ben opens with a Virizion EX and an Energy, and I’m really hoping he plays an N to bail me out. Unfortunately, he plays a Skyla, and I know I need to topdeck something quickly. Since I have Bicycle and Dowsing Machine in hand, any Supporter or playable Item card will help me draw more cards. I draw for the turn, and it’s another Float Stone. Uh oh. I attach to Darkrai and pass. Ben gets a Genesect EX and a Roselia down, and he uses Emerald Slash to charge up Genesect. Here’s the moment of truth. I need to topdeck some way to get another Pokémon. If I don’t, Genesect will wipe out Darkrai, and I’m out of the tournament. I draw…
Another Float Stone. I attach and pass, and Ben has the G Booster to win. Thanks, Darkrai. 😛
Eliminated (3rd place)
After a weekend of nerve wracking games with Laser flips, topdecks, and N to one, my day ends with a routine bench out on the third turn. Obviously I wish I drew a better hand, but that’s Pokémon sometimes. Ben played well, and he went on to win the tournament against Dustin Zimmerman. Congrats, Ben!
Even though I didn’t win, I was pretty happy with how I played over the course of the weekend. I’m sure I made a few mistakes here and there, but I constantly battled out of difficult spots and put myself in a position to win as often as possible. At the end of the day, that’s all you can ask for. In any card game, there are elements you can’t control; you just have to worry about the ones you can.
As for my deck choice, I was pretty happy with that, too. Yveltal/Garbodor is a deck that has no terrible matchups, and Garbodor and Yveltal EX are two of the strongest cards in the game. Even against decks running heavy lines of cards like Raichu to counter Yveltal EX, I never felt like I couldn’t win. I don’t think my list was perfect, but it was one I was comfortable playing, and I knew how to approach just about every matchup with it. I love having tons of different attackers in a deck, so this fit me perfectly. If one or two things went differently against Ben, I easily could have been in the Finals, and anything can happen from there. It just wasn’t my day to win!
From here, I’m not sure what’s ahead for me. I just sent in my audition to be a commentator for US Nationals and Worlds, and ideally that would be my next step. I’ve been doing commentary for almost three years now, and it’s my goal to be one of the voices for the game. Words can’t express how badly I want to be a part of the commentary team at the major events. But if I don’t get picked, I’ll have to do well at US Nationals to have a shot at an invitation to Worlds. I do feel like my full-time career as a player is winding down, but I’ll still give it a shot. My odds of getting a Worlds invite are low since I’m sitting around 245 Championship Points, but anything can happen.
Whatever happens, I do want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s given me support so far. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to watch one of my videos, read an article, or leave a comment; The Top Cut is nothing without an audience, and we have a great one. Hopefully you enjoyed the report, and I’ll continue to produce content as much as I can. Thanks for reading!