Late, but Not Too Late: Accelgor at the US National Championships

After a month of time to reflect on the exciting goings-on of the United States National Championship, now is the best time to address my own experiences from that event. For those who don’t know, I advanced to the third day of play, placing 10th in a field of over 1,000. Furthermore, I did it with one of the most unusual rogue decks to date: Accelgor/Chandelure/Vileplume/Darkrai.

In today’s article, I’ll be going over both my experience at Nationals, as well as what was surely the sleeper hit of the season’s biggest tournament. Not many people – Worlds invitees included – know much about it, so I’d like to inform you to the best of my ability. We’ll close out with a discussion on what BLW-on holds for this beast of a deck.

What on Earth is This?!

Roger McGoughFor those of you who either don’t know about the deck or haven’t played for long enough, a discussion of Accelgor is warranted.

Basically, the heart of any Accelgor variant is to say the words “Deck and Cover” as many times as appropriate until you’ve won. This is because Deck and Cover is one of the few attacks in the game that grants automatic, unconditional Paralysis, and at the exceptionally low cost of [C][C]. But since Deck and Cover requires you to shuffle Accelgor into the deck every time you use it, there are some issues involved in its consistent, reliable usage – namely, drawing into what you need.

To alleviate that, we use Mew Prime to See Off Accelgor, inevitably copying Deck and Cover via the Lost Link Poké-Body. This makes it so that we only need to get two cards back (Mew and the appropriate Energy) as opposed to three (Accelgor, Shelmet, and the appropriate Energy).

That said, what if your opponent just lets his or her Pokémon get knocked out? Then you’ll be in trouble for sure, right? Well, not quite. Upon successful use of Deck and Cover, the next major card to abuse is Chandelure NVI. Through its Cursed Shadow Ability, you achieve two major advantages.

Burhans Glass
Deck and Cover

First, you can set up active Pokémon for knockouts on your turn without using an attack, thereby giving you a chance to use Deck and Cover again, producing what is a “permanent” paralysis of sorts. Second, in the event that you want to or cannot paralyze the opponent, Chandelure gives you an additional way to leverage prizes while Mew Prime uses Deck and Cover against the opponent.

Thanks to Darkrai EX’s Dark Cloak, a Chandelure with an Energy providing Darkness type will always retreat for free, making the “permanence” of the paralysis all the more absolute.

Finally, the “glue” holding this variant together is Vileplume UD’s Allergy Flower. The most powerful options to beat this deck are Items that threaten to break your lock, such as Switch and Pokémon Catcher, so exiling those Items away for the rest of the game is an undeniable advantage.

If you’d like more information on Accelgor heading up to Worlds, check out some of my past articles on the deck. But for all intents and purposes, you should now understand the concept well enough to dig into an actual list. Included below is the card-for-card build I played in the US Nationals Masters Division …

The List

Pokémon – 25

4 Mew Prime
3 Accelgor DEX
3 Litwick BW27
2 Lampent NVI
2 Chandelure NVI
3 Oddish UD
2 Vileplume UD
2 Darkrai-EX
1 Shaymin UL
1 Smeargle UD
1 Pichu HS
1 Relicanth CL

Trainers – 25

4 Sage’s Training
4 Twins
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Professor Juniper

 

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

4 Double Colorless
4 Rainbow
2 Prism

This is the result of two months of careful revisions and constant tweaking. However, if you haven’t followed my work on the Kingdra variant, you probably have a lot of questions about it. Here is why I settled on the exact list that I did:

Three Accelgor

Pokemon ParadijsIn preparing for Nationals, a constant source of frustration was prizing key cards. Usually, these issues involved the Oddish count, the Vileplume count, and the Accelgor count. In the end, I decided that three Accelgor was the best choice for a couple reasons:

1. Although Item Lock is extremely valuable for this deck to win, it’s not 100% essential; that is, you can improvise until Item lock becomes available. Since Accelgor is the one necessary component of the deck, you must always have access to it when you need it.

2. More Accelgor means a higher probability of having one in hand for Relicanth’s Prehistoric Wisdom. Likewise, more Accelgor means a lower probability of an unsuccessful See Off with Mew Prime.

Three Litwick

In the last two or three days before Nationals, I wanted to run another consistency Basic, but wanted to avoid a second Pichu if at all possible. Remembering the reliability of Promo Litwick’s Call for Family, as well as my comfort with 3-2-2 lines in Accelgor/Vileplume, I went with the higher count.

Going back to the previous topic, why did I run a third Litwick over a fourth Oddish? Again, it goes back to prizing key cards: either I run a huge risk of never having my item lock, or run a huge risk of never having my Chandelure. With Item lock, smart Oddish benching when you have one prized can handle anything short of Kyogre EX; but with Litwicks, Horseas, or any other pre-evolutions of damage manipulators, having one prized and losing another to a KO could mean instant death.

Shaymin

Shaymin serves a couple major uses in Accelgor. Perhaps the most important use is for when you need to correct glitches in your own setup. For example, there are times where you have to drop a Double Colorless Energy from your hand just so it isn’t lost due to using Professor Juniper. At other times, you may want to move Energy off of or to your auxiliary support Pokémon (e.g., from Relicanth to an essential attacker, or from an essential attacker to Darkrai EX to close out a game).

Smeargle

Pokemon ParadijsThe one last second play in my Nationals list. Between Smeargle, Professor Juniper, and Tropical Beach, it’s theoretically possible for Accelgor to draw 21 cards on a single turn.

In hindsight, I should have run this as a fourth Oddish, but it was occasionally useful. Furthermore, I enjoyed the Portrait/Supporter/Beach combo at least twice in the event, granting me a massive advantage in resources.

Relicanth

Put simply, it’s an unwise decision to rely entirely on Mew Prime’s See Off for dumping Accelgors into your Lost Zone. However, running more than one copy would bog down your list unnecessarily.

No Pokémon Collector

Perhaps this is one of the more unusual ideas I went with for the event. Originally, this was done because of my high count on Pokémon Communications and Ultra Balls. However, as time went on, I found Ultra Ball to be increasingly useless. So why did the no Collector call remain?

I felt that the space used for these Pokémon Collectors were also dead weight in the late game. While Collector certainly helps you draw those valuable Mews, it’s hitting both the Mews “and” Double Colorless that forms the backbone of your late game. In more games than one, drawing into the Collector as opposed to a draw led directly to a loss.

15 Draw and Search Supporters

This is the heart of my list, as well as my entire deck theory behind Accelgor. As you can tell from the very first list I posted months ago, the idea is to win by never whiffing on the Accelgor paralysis. Even though Smeargle is far less of a focus now, the principle of “do what you can to avoid whiffs” remains, and my high draw count plays hugely into that.

Furthermore, Twins in the Mew version of Accelgor is unbelievably strong. After falling behind on prizes, it essentially gives you complete access to your entire setup (or if you already have that, several turns of Deck and Cover). Even if the opponent drops an N on you during this period, it still isn’t that big of a deal: off of six cards, you ought to have drawn into what you needed or a draw cards anyways.

Tropical Beach

pokemon-paradijs.comAlthough the above may suggest some overconfidence about my chances against disruption, let me be clear: a bad N scares the living daylights out of me. Heck, a wrong Claw Snag from Weavile UD could be a killer! Because of those two common threats, I invested a couple spaces into Tropical Beach, which is my insurance policy in case of bad hands.

Even when my draw isn’t terrible, and the situation called on me to do something unusual (e.g., retreat into a Chandelure to snipe a benched Pokémon), Beach gives me something productive to do in place of the attack.

Rainbows and Prisms

Rainbows are a near-absolute must in a Mew/Accelgor list utilizing Darkrai EX at the same time: they let you attack with See Off to get Accelgor into the Lost Zone, yet also supply appropriate energy for Darkrai EX’s Dark Cloak. Therefore, running these is indisputable.

But what about the Prisms? In deciding these two spots, I had three choices: no extra Energy at all; Darkness; or Prism. Although having what could have been more space to play draw was an appealing possibility, I recognized through testing that having only four Energy with which to See Off (or eight to Prehistoric Wisdom) was unacceptable.

Additionally, I dismissed the Darkness Energy because its only major purpose in the deck – aside from charging up Darkrai late game – was to fulfill a redundant role that was already covered by Rainbow Energy. Thus, the last two spots were dedicated to Prisms, increasing the odds of an early See Off tremendously.

There is so much more that could be said about this deck – it really is that deep. However, oftentimes the best way to explain is by showing and not telling. Therefore, let’s get into the thick of my tournament report!

Day One

Round One: VS …The Bye

A Word A DayThis prize for winning States isn’t exactly my number one incentive to come to Nationals – that honor would go to the travel stipend. However, a break is a break, so I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

1-0

Round Two: VS Mewtwo/Terrakion/Tornadus

I started with a lone Pichu, but avoided the donk due to going first. As usual, I used the Playground opportunity to dissect my prizes extensively, and what do you know: two Accelgor were prized! Fortunately, the third was floating around in my deck, and was ripe for a See Off.

So immediately the Pichu fell, I promoted a Mew for See Off on the Accelgor (protected by Allergy Flower, of course). After that Pokémon fell, my lock was set in motion, and I think that I drew all six prizes in about five or six turns with no more than one turn of broken lock.

2-0

Round Three: VS Meganium

Once again, I pulled a fast Vileplume; however, it required no deck searching, so when I went to catalog my prizes, I discovered that both Lampents were not in the deck. Therefore, the regular strategy of “setup until you get the perfect lock” had to be abandoned, instead being replaced by a more aggressive Mew Prime swarm. Naturally, my board hurt considerably: between Darkrai and Groudon attacks, as well as two whiffs on the Deck and Cover paralysis, I fell behind by three prizes to six.

Luckily, my first prize drawn was a…Lampent! From there, I fell behind two more prizes, but with Chandelure in play, my lock had finally been perfected, and I drew five prizes in two turns, winning just as time was called.

3-0

Round Four: VS Zeels/Thundurus/Eelektross tech

Pokemon ParadijsDespite several turns of Sage’s Training, I repeatedly whiffed on the cards needed for a Vileplume lock; however, his setup was also slow, so I was able to construct a relatively decent setup, including a See Off. Once he drew first blood with Thundurus’s Disaster Volt, knocking out a Mew, everything began to fall into place: my Twins activated a Vileplume and Chandelure, an attachment of Darkness to the Chandelure, and a previously-DCE’d Mew Prime started locking him up.

I never missed a beat from there, not whiffing on a single Deck and Cover, and so I finished the game without ever giving him a chance to use Eelektross.

4-0

Round Five: VS The Truth

The Truth is a very interesting matchup for Accelgor, in that if both players get their ideal board positions, you can be in for a very long, repetitive game. Generally speaking, it is favorable for The Truth: you get to choose when to break the paralysis lock by virtue of KO’ing your own Pokémon via Damage Swap, tearing apart the opponent with bench damage through cards like Darkrai.

Fortunately, this game did not play out like that at all. My logic is to try and not draw the first prize in a Twins mirror match unless I am confident in my setup. My first two or three turns were fairly vulnerable, but I took the time to use Relicanth’s Prehistoric Wisdom to dump Accelgors and draw into Chandelure line cards. Since my opponent did not attempt to play aggressively either, I kept using Prehistoric Wisdom. During this time, I never once tried to go for Vileplume, instead just charging up a field of Mews and Chandelures.

After my seventh Relicanth attack (yes, meaning a hand with 21 more cards), he finally caved into a KO. From there, I had total control: although he did have access to Damage Swap, my Chandelures meant that nothing on his bench was safe. As a result, his setup fell apart very quickly, and all his big Basics meant nothing in the face of permanent paralysis.

5-0

So how about that? With a 5-0 record going into the second day, I felt pretty good about Accelgor’s chances for the rest of the tournament.

Later that night, I played in the Professor Cup with a Cinccino BLW/Ninetales HS/Emboar BLW 20/Accelgor build. Although I started off with a win, the swarm of Archeops began to take its toll on me, and I was quickly shot down to a 2-2 record. The next evening, I would lose a third game, and drop from the event. It was still a blast, though.

Day Two

Round Six: VS Meganium/Vileplume

My opponent this round was Vincent Blasko, an opponent I actually played at last year’s National! Unlike that event, we were both doing much better, each having gone 5-0 the day before.

Unlike the previous Meganium list I played against, this one utilized Vileplume lock, as well as healing via Seeker. His entire list can be seen here:

In our tournament game, the Vileplume spaces, as well as a lack of threatening early threats like Pokémon Catcher, made it so that I was able to set up relatively unopposed without much early game aggression. Although he had several threatening attackers rear their ugly heads throughout, they weren’t doing much attacking, which is exactly what Accelgor wants in a game. Between rarely missing the Deck and Cover and Chandelure Cursed Shadows, I won this game fairly quickly.

6-0

“I should have played Unown CURE!”

Round Seven: VS Darkrai/Tornadus

Pokemon ParadijsI fell behind four prizes due to a poor setup and rushing Darkrais, but fortunately I did not have to endure the dreaded turn one Night Spear. As a result, I fell behind only four prizes, which gave me just enough wiggle room to build my board (a lost Oddish was knocked out by turn three alongside a Pichu used to setup my board, and a Mew Prime was the fourth knockout for him).

With a complete Chandelure/Vileplume setup, I quickly stormed back into the game, winning just in the nick of time.

7-0

Round Eight: VS Zeels/Terrakion

In this match, I was up against Ben Potter, a successful player out of the Virginia area. Like Vincent, he also had an interview on The Top Cut (although it wasn’t as educational as Vincent’s).

Our actual game was, like so many others, repetition of the Deck and Cover lock. Ben wasn’t able to apply early aggression with Mewtwo EX, so it cost me only one or two prizes before my setup was complete. A couple bad Ns led to a late game scare, but with copious amounts of draw and Tropical Beach, I quickly topdecked my way out of it, winning the game by a three prize difference.

8-0

Round Nine: VS Accelgor mirror

Without any techs against one-another, an Accelgor/Mew mirror actually ends up being a fairly “stupid” matchup, where the first person who blinks (i.e., spends a turn to See Off Accelgor) loses. The idea, then, is to leverage a favorable board position either through Chandelure or Darkrai. I knew that with my Shaymin, it was more than feasible to orchestrate some really cool double knockouts.

Needless to say, our game did not go that way. At the start, I was stuck using Prehistoric Wisdom to grab pieces for my Chandelure line, but I could not find any Rare Candies, Lampents, or Pokémon Communications! Anticipating the Darkrai, I spent my last Lost Zone spot on an Accelgor, knowing full well that I had “blinked” by resorting to the deck’s main strategy too soon. By turn three, he promptly had a Darkrai powered up, and swept my board with little opposition.

8-1

Pokemon ParadijsAs a point of interest, Harrison’s list was far more “typical” than mine; that is, he ran Pokémon Collectors and Ns, as well as no Tropical Beach and much less draw. Maybe this is the one match of the day where Pokémon Collector could have helped, but at the US National Championships, I’m willing to sacrifice some weakness in the mirror if it means overwhelming strength against the field.

After two days of Swiss, I made it into the cut as second seed out of the blue flight, and third overall! This was right around the seed I made it in two years ago at Nationals 2010, but that resulted in an upset loss against a 6-3 Floridian. Once again, I was paired against a 6-3 Floridian: will I fight for another day, or lose in the first round?

Top 128: VS Klinklang/Vileplume

Game One

Unlike many of my past games, this was an exceptionally slow start against what was also a slow deck. He got his Klinklang out on the board relatively quickly, grabbing a dominant position early on through Darkrai. Meanwhile, I had trouble seeing any Twins of my own, as well as getting out a Chandelure, so I continued to fall behind.

Around the fourth turn, I looked at my watch, and had to make a very tough decision: either proceed to play with half a setup and hope I top deck what I need, or scoop. I decide to meet in the middle, and play on for one more turn. At this point, I know that I must either draw into the Chandelure to evolve my Lampent, or face what could be certain defeat in game one. I Junipered, whiffed the Chandelure, and immediately conceded thereafter.

This was a tough decision, especially since from an observer’s standpoint, it looked like I had at least a small chance of winning. While I “did” have that possibility, I knew that it was a much wiser course of action to let my deck do its thing for two games in a row as opposed to salvage one rough game, and hope that time doesn’t devastate me. By giving up when I did, that allowed me much more time to complete game two in its totality, and use the +3 to turn game three into a complete game as well.

Game Two

My deck decided to “wake up” this time, pulling out what was one of the most obscene starts I had all day: turn two Deck and Cover with Chandelure, as well as everything energized via Shaymin. While his Cobalion tech slow down my advance to the prize win, I was able to get this battle done relatively quickly, taking only 18-20 minutes total.

Game Three

Pokemon Paradijs

Whereas in the first two games the setups were one-sided, this third game had both of our decks get what they needed relatively quickly. From as early as turn two, I had to contend with Klinklang’s Shift Gears, while he had to contend with my paralysis lock. But due to some crippling Ns, I suffered many mid-game whiffs of Mew Prime’s Deck and Cover. Add in his clutch Seeker drops, and this was actually a much closer game than the matchup would have suggested.

Luckily, I began to hit into my large draw count, setting myself up for paralysis lock. Eventually I pulled out the win, although not without having sacrificed a total five prizes. Super close series!

9-1

Here’s Mr. Lopez’s (my T128 opponent’s) perspective on the match, as seen on his HeyTrainer report:

“Game 1: I start with a Darkrai and pull off a T3 Night Spear. He struggles with pulling off an early Deck and Cover so he scoops after 18’ish minutes realizing it won’t be worth the time to mount a comeback.

Game 2: This game was pretty close. Once again I start with Darkrai and we’re trading prizes. My 2nd Klang is prized this game so I was unable to pull of an evolution out of paralysis. It ends up being a fairly close game but he ends up not whiffing at the end to take his last prize.

Game 3: Similar to game 2, but I open with an Oddish. He ends up getting a T2 Deck and Cover with his Mew start, but he begins to whiff towards the end. We’re tied at 1-1 but he has the final Deck and Cover for game. I do end up dropping ERL on my bench just to see his reaction.”

Top 64: VS CMT

Game One

He obtained an early lead, but I broke through with my setup. However, a couple of his moves took exceptionally long, so I asked for a pace of play check from the judge.

Game Two

True to his word, my opponent proved his intent to play lively in the best way possible…by knocking out my lone Mew with a Tornadus EX Blow Through without wasting a second. XD

Game Three

Although I fell far behind, my setup was perfected around his fourth prize drawn. Once you’ve set up against a speed deck like CMT without many options, it’s really all on you, the Accelgor player, to not lose. Since the only misplays your opponent can make is promoting Shaymin or Smeargle at the wrong time, Cursed Shadowing those Celebis early is critical. They’re the only cards in the deck that can be promoted with just enough HP to break the permanent paralysis lock, so by getting rid of them early, I set myself up for a certain victory.

10-1

The information in this match may seem lacking, but that’s because not much of anything interesting transpired: either he rushed my setup for prizes, or I locked him. Unless CMT were to run something highly unorthodox like a 1-1 Steelix Prime and Metals, I don’t see there being much room to analyze this match.

Top 32: VS All-in Darkrai

Game One

Pokemon ParadijsTurn one Night spear; four uses of Portrait plus the supporter; a dead Oddish; my other two Oddishes prized. Yup…not winning this one. After double and triple checking to make sure that my Oddishes were in fact prized, I scooped this game.

Game Two

I obtained the lock really quickly, but he broke it thanks to a couple well-timed Ns. Fortunately, Tropical Beach saved me, and I was able to see that this game ended 6-5 in my favor.

Game Three

I obtained the lock really quickly again, but struggled to get out a Chandelure. Fortunately, his N drops did not break my setup as much, so I was able to win six prizes to five just before time was called!

11-1

As intense as this match may have been in the moment, there is little to elaborate on beyond the brief discussion above. I’m glad that I conceded the first game early; otherwise, this would have been a surefire defeat.

Around this time, Kyle and the crew from Top Cut gave me an interview of my own! It can be viewed here:

(TTC must be thrilled to get all these hyperlinks back to their site!) For those uninterested in watching the video, I make three points:

  1. How the basis of my testing was “goldfishing,” or dealing out solitaire hands of the deck;
  2. How I handled the time dilemma (scoop early and often)
  3. How Yoshi Tate’s Top Cut stream ruined Accelgor’s surprise element!

Later, I attended the HeyTrainer.org “formal dinner”: perhaps the only event throughout all of nationals where a large group of people dressed up and looked nice. In fact, it was so classy, many of the guys brought their girlfriends with them!

Regrettably, I couldn’t visit for too long: tiredness was catching up with me, so I promptly rushed back to the hotel room to get some sleep. Upon greeting the world at the early hour of 6:00 AM, I trekked back down to the convention center, and found that I would be playing John Roberts II, using a Klinklang deck with Kyogre EX and no Mewtwo EX.

Day Three

Top 16: VS Klinklang

Game One

Pokemon ParadijsAlthough there was some mutual clunkiness, we both had reasonably respectable hands. But seeing as how he ran Kyogre, I knew that I had to get out three Oddish. I did that, and forced him into triggering Twins with Dual Splash. This let me get out my Vileplume, as well as Chandelure, and get me a couple steps closer to pulling off the permanent paralysis. I then played Professor Oak’s New Theory, paused for a couple seconds, shuffled my hand into my deck, and…

“You’ve already played a Supporter this turn.”

At this point, terror struck: I did in fact just shuffle away what was otherwise going to be a clear, decisive win. Furthermore, I knew that the penalty at this stage was almost certainly a game loss, so rather than wait for deliberation, I conceded right there on the spot. As horrible of a mistake as this was, I did not want it to cost me any further…

Game Two

I knew that in order to make up for what had just happened, I would have to get through this game. Unfortunately, all of my experience in playing behind a game in cut – especially with slow decks – told me that my opponent would not let this go to the third game. For that reason, I flew by this game furiously, executing my paralysis lock as effectively and efficiently as possible. I whiffed heavily in the mid game, and as a result, his Kyogre EX successfully three-shotted my Vileplume (yes, I missed three Deck and Cover attacks). Between this Vileplume and the other being in the discard pile due to a Sage’s Training, I had no Item lock left.

However, all was not lost. I knew that my only shot to win was simply to use Deck and Cover as many times as possible, hoping either for a drawn-out win or a deck-out. It worked! But John’s Max Potions were all at his disposal, meaning that every time he played one, I had to spend that much more time to keep attacking. Be that as it may, my “aggro Mew” strategy continued to work, and I grabbed four clutch prizes off of two Pokémon-EX.

Still, having torn through my original setup left me with a very vulnerable bench, including a Darkrai EX. And since so much time had elapsed in our previous stalemate, the game’s clock stopped right as I had grabbed my third and fourth prizes. This meant that all John had to do was use Pokémon Catcher on my Darkrai EX, bring up his Groudon EX, Shift Gear his energy to the Groudon, and then announce Giant Claw for knockout (my Darkrai had previous Kyogre Dual Splash damage). He did all of the above, but we quickly noticed a significant issue:

John had announced Giant Claw with only two energy.

Per the rules, this meant that his only option for an attack was Tromp. He did just that, and I knew that in order to preserve my one prize lead, all that was necessary was a single use of Deck and Cover. With that, we are on to the third and final game…

Game Three

Pokemon ParadijsSudden death! After the worst misplay of my life, I bounced back and turned it into one desperate last chance. A deck with several little basics such as my own is severely disadvantaged to one with a multitude of big basics. While the best case scenario would be to go first, See Off Accelgor, and not get donked, you’re only going to get what’s handed to you.

What did I have handed to me?

Oddish, Rare Candy, and garbage. To his _Darkrai_ of all things!

Luckily, I did win the opening flip, drew into a Vileplume, and noticed what could have been my only way out of the situation: Rainbow Energy, which could be used for agro Dazzling Pollen. However, attaching the Rainbow prematurely would be too risky, so I instead attached a Prism and used Tackle for 10 (this is better than attempting Find a Friend because it protects me from the worst possible flip combination of Tails/Tails/Heads for 170 damage).

His turn, he attached, dropped a Klink, and passed. I then top decked a Juniper, Rare Candied into Vileplume, attached the Rainbow, and used Professor Juniper for a fresh new hand (at this point in the game, I couldn’t afford to not try hard to get a Tropical Beach on the board, or else an N down into a one card hand due to sudden death would be brutal). His turn was just met with a draw, attach, and pass.

The next turn, I attached a Double Colorless Energy to the Vileplume, benched a Darkrai of my own for insurance, and proceeded to Dazzling Pollen…

“Tails! He’s confused!”

The next turn, John attached a third energy to his Darkrai EX, attempted Night Spear and…tails again! While I lacked the Shaymin to move the energy back and finish him off, going for another Dazzling Pollen made it so that he had no choice but to retreat, which he did. Then, just as I’m about to retreat into Darkrai and Shaymin Celebration Wind, John says,

“You don’t have the right energy on Vileplume.”

Pokemon ParadijsI blinked, looked at my board, and there I saw it: sitting there was a Prism Energy, which I somehow neglected to consider as being anything but Colorless. This meant that my Vileplume’s Dazzling Pollen never had to proper energy in the first place, and as a result, both of my Dazzling Pollens were executed illegally.

The judge assessed the situation, and at first gave me a warning + damage removal due to both of us failing to notice the mistake; however, upon conferring with another judge, he decided that the best course of action was to give me a prize penalty, thereby handing the match win to John Roberts II.

LWL (11-2 record, 10th place finish)

I’ve had over a month to reflect on this match, and that third game still seems unreal to me. How did our table judge, a veteran of the game, not notice that? Furthermore, how did my opponent not notice that until well past the point of no return, even though he also ran the same card?

Most importantly, how did I not notice that? How could I, a player who’s never gotten worse than a prize penalty in eight years of competitive playing, get what was effectively two game losses for play errors?

These questions have been with me ever since. Perhaps the misplays were due to fatigue, lost equilibrium due to the earlier start time, or latent nervousness from so many close matches surging up to get me. Whatever it was, it surfaced at the worst possible moment, and cost me what could have been my best showing at Nationals ever. To say that it’s embarrassing is an understatement, but it without a doubt changed the outcome of the United States National Championship.

However, John was a nice guy, and throughout the entire debacle, kept his politeness. He was no less nervous, for sure, and it was a genuine pleasure to meet him. It was also strangely satisfying to hear how thoroughly he ran through the top cut, claiming the victory in the process. It seems like he recovered from his own mistakes made in our match, and went on to win the event. Congrats!

Still, my loss resulted in a very skewed view of Accelgor; in fact, it resulted in a skewed view of Vileplume’s general viability. The overwhelming assumption now is that Vileplume decks cannot survive in a 60 minute + 3 turn environment, which is simply not the case.

The Rosemary Company

Although my loss stings, I take a lot of pride in what I made Accelgor do…Heck, I take a lot of pride in what happened at Nationals! In a very short period of time, I improvised a highly effective strategy to avoid time losses with what’s arguably one of the slowest decks in the format.

More importantly, my work on a rogue concept I built from scratch contributed to a deck becoming an overnight sensation, much the same way that John Roberts II’s Klinklang list did.

Also, as strange as it sounds, that failure in the top sixteen has made me into a stronger player. Sometimes the best way to face your own inadequacies is for a drastic, perspective-changing event to occur. When such an event happens, you have either two choices: to wallow in regret and feel bad for yourself, or to reconstruct yourself from the ground up. I can safely say that I’ve done the latter, and am feeling like a much more powerful player already. Nowadays, I’m much more willing to take a deep breath when I feel that nervousness come up, and with that, my mind’s that much clearer.

At the ripe age of 23 (24 next week!), I’m still getting better, still honing my skills, and still in a constant state of improvement. A crushing loss may not be the most preferred way to improve, but it is what it is, and I’ll make next season my best. But no matter what got the better of me on Sunday, July 1st, 2012 it will never do so again – and that’s a promise.

Accelgor for the New Format

Even though we lose the power of Vileplume, Accelgor is still a fearsome card in the new Black and White-on format. In my last article, I introduced discussion about an Accelgor/Ninetales variant, looking to diverge the conversation from what is by far the most popular version of the deck. However, as testing has revealed, that “most popular” version may very well be the best way to play it.

That deck, my friends, is Accelgor/Mew EX/Gothitelle.

Pokémon – 20

4 Shelmet NVI
4 Accelgor DEX
4 Gothita EPO 43
1 Gothorita EPO 45
3 Gothitelle EPO 47
2 Darkrai-EX
2 Mew-EX

Trainers – 30

4 Bianca
4 Cheren
4 N
4 Professor Juniper

 

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy
3 Pokémon Catcher
1 Ultra Ball

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

4 Double Colorless
4 Blend GRPD
2 Darkness [Basic]

Bulbapedia… And just like that, Accelgor is born anew! Many of the same principles from my past lists appear in this one, including insane amounts of draw, lots of Pokémon searching, and a major emphasis on Item lock. Unlike past versions of my list, though, this version takes on more of the simplistic style originally embraced in the first few Sunflora builds.

In this version of the deck, you aren’t aiming for a perfect lock; rather, you accept that the lock will be broken constantly. What Gothitelle’s Item lock does is facilitate a relatively clear path to getting ahead against EX decks in the prize war, as well as certainty that Garchomp/Altaria does not switch its way out of a loss.

Comments on the list…

On the Accelgor/Mew EX Distribution

Presently, I believe that a maxed Accelgor line is the best option. In a list that is much more reliant on Mew EX (say, a 3-3 list with four Mew), you run the risk of the Accelgor getting sniped by Raikou EX’s Volt Bolt. Likewise, your early game threats become that much more devastating if they succeed. Finally, Mew EX requires Accelgor to be in play, so running a 4-4 count makes it so that in the late game, you’ll have what you need for Mew’s Versatile to be activated.

On the choice of Pokémon Catcher

Three Pokémon Catcher is a nice, balanced number in a list where use of Items is very limited. That way, you’ll on average enjoy at least one clutch Catcher a game, setting up either a knockout that leads into your turn or luring what could be your biggest threat later on. Personally, my favorite targets tend to be damaged EXs, but there’s also a lot of value to be found in bringing up support cards. At any rate, Catcher is a silver lining for Accelgor in this format.

Could there be a better option? Perhaps, but between Espeon and Garbador, there are two too many lethal threats for Deck and Cover’s own security. Hence, we run the Catchers for easy knockouts on either Espeon or Garbador.

From Six Prizes to None? A Personal Update and Conclusion

Pokemon ParadijsThanks for reading through my Nationals journey. It was definitely a great experience, regardless of how it began or ended. Rarely do you get the opportunity of saying that an event made you better and more competitive, but this is one such chance. I’m eager to both redeem my missteps and continue on with my successes at the 2012 Houston Regional Championship: one of only four in the country for the fall, as well as what could be the most competitive metagame for that entire segment. I’m ready to take on the challenge, and am aiming for no less than a win.

I will be less involved with SixPrizes Underground starting next month. With professional school starting up in less than three weeks, I will have approximately 30-60 hours less time per week to dedicate to all things Pokémon. Although this doesn’t mean that I’m quitting Pokémon or SixPrizes, I will most likely only have time for up to one article a month.

Still, I am happy to continue writing for SixPrizes as long as it’s appropriate. I appreciate everyone’s continued interest in my articles, and all the kind feedback over the past two years. Even though many of my Pokémon projects will take a backseat to newer pursuits, I’ll keep cranking out the best content I can, as well as the best tournament performances.

See you in September, and good luck to our Worlds competitors!

-John


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