This was my less active Pokémon season. I only played in 5 tournaments total before Worlds (2 BR’s, 1 CC, 1 SC and the National Championships). I earned my invite this year by a trickle down by obtaining 5th place at the Mexico National Championships.
I had low expectations of this years tournament, given how it was my less active season out of the 6 I have played in. I knew I did not practice enough, and I even chose a deck I wasn’t very comfortable with, as it doesn’t come close to matching my preferred playstyle of decks that have potential to 1HKO whatever Active Pokémon the opponent has.
My deck choice for this year was the renowned Palkia Lock deck. My build was fairly standard, and the most consistent it could possibly be in my opinion. Here is the list I used during the tournament:
3 Palkia G PL
1 Palkia G LV.X PL
4 Mesprit LA
3 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X LA
1 Azelf LA
1 Azelf MT
2 Crobat G PL
2 Unown G GE
1 Toxicroak G Promo
1 Bronzong G PL
1 Honchkrow G PL
1 Raichu GL RR
1 Misdreavus SF
1 Mismagius SF
4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy
4 Roseanne’s Research
1 Bebe’s Search
1 Aaron’s Collection
I think this list finds an extremely good balance between consistency and tech cards that allow me to play against mirror matches (Raichu GL) and abuse board control even more by direct quick bench damage (Honchkrow G). The rest of the cards are very standard, and I figured I wouldn’t waste my time with a single Warp Point or Night Maintenance, as they are cards I cannot search directly for when I need them. Mismagius is the obligatory Mewtwo LV.X counter, and a very effective one at that.
So now onto the matches. Pairings are finally posted after a long openening ceremony, and I am feeling good about being there and being able to compete for the 5th time at Worlds.
Round 1 vs Akira Nakatani (JP) – Luxray GL / Infernape 4 (?)
When I saw I was facing a JP player right off the bat, I got a bit nervous. My record against JP players isn’t exactly the best one, standing at 2-3. I was also afraid he would be playing Gengar/Machamp/Mewtwo LV.X as that is apparently what most JP players qualified to Worlds with, but as we set up, all these thoughts would be irrelevant.
He goes first, and opens with a single Unown Q against my Crobat G. He draws, attaches a Fire Energy and does 20 damage. Unfortunately for him, I have a Roseanne’s Research in my hand and simply fetch an Uxie and an energy to call it a game. Akira seemed upset about this, but he shook my hand and and was a good sport about his loss.
1 – 0
Round 2 vs Herve Marcant (FR) – Machamp / Ampharos
Since I finished my Round so early, I walked around to see how my friends were doing. I saw my friend Miguel Lopez (using the same deck as me) was getting badly beaten by a Machamp deck, and so I instantly recognized Herve when I saw him.
I got off to a strong start this game, having a nice early Power Lock on him and drawing a few prizes. Unfortunately for me, he managed to get a Machamp going and started Koing my Pokémon quite easily. There were 2 key turns, which turned the game around for him. The first was where he had a 4 card hand, maybe 5, and played 2 Poké Drawer at once. This did not worry me much as I had an active Pokémon with an Unown G and he had no energy on anything but a Claydol. For those 2 cards, he got a Stark Mountain and something else I forgot. He used Stark Mountain and attached an energy to his active Machamp, and was able to Hurricane Punch me that turn, something I did not expect. Finally after planning accordingly to his Stark Mountain, he was then able to get his only Machamp LV.X under my Power Lock off a Volkner’s Philosophy. This turned the game around completely and I was left energy-less and without any more Unown G’s, and thus I couldn’t recover after those 2 key turns he had, resulting in my first loss.
1 – 1
Round 3 vs Diego Cassiraga (AR-NC) – Palkia Lock
Diego and I had been sharing a room since the Saturday before Worlds. We had tested and planned the list we were using, and so we both knew this would be a very even match, or at least we thought so.
He opened up with a very strong start, against my very bad starting hand containing no Trainers and no Supporters. Four turns went by with him just setting up and dominating me and me drawing dead. I conceded after those four turns, as I knew I would never be able to catch up to him, in terms of energy drops and set up.
1 – 2
[This so far has been my worst start at a Worlds Tournament. I was very disappointed that my last game I couldn’t fight back, but I knew Diego had much more experience with the deck and would probably do better against the stronger opponents he would eventually face. I knew I had to win out to have a chance, and I at least wanted to finish 4-3, as I have never finished a tournament with a negative record, and so I got myself together and sat down to play the 4th Round.]
This Round my deck decided to compensate me for my horrible draws last Round, and it ran perfectly, as one would hope it would run every single game based on the build, strategy and overall consistency of the deck. I grabbed all my prizes fairly easily and never had to stop attacking with Palkia G since Turn 2.
2 – 2
Round 5 vs Yacine Sekkoum (UK) – Luxray GL / Infernape 4
I was now facing yet again another familiar face. I have known Yacine for 6 years now, and I know he’s a very good player. He also had just beat my friend Miguel Lopez as well, so I knew he had a good idea of what my list looked like and what to do against it.
Unfortunately for him, he didn’t start very strong, and I started with an average-strong starting hand. I dominated him early but he was able to make a slow comeback. There was one key turn in the game where he whiffed on a few cards to KO my active Palkia G and leave me in a really tight spot, but I had planned accordingly and was expecting for him to get that KO, it just didn’t happen, and I was able to take my last prizes to win the game.
3 – 2
Round 6 vs Alex Brosseau (US) – Kingdra
When I saw the pairings for this Round, I had mixed feelings about this Round. First of all I did not like facing another good friend, and with our records, probably whoever lost would be left out of the running to make the Top 32 cut. Secondly, I had played Jason K. the day before against just this exact same list, and had beaten him confidently 2-0. Finally despite my winning from the previous day, Alex has been playing this deck all season, and doing extremely well with it, so I knew it would definitely play a lot differently than against Jason.
Once again though, my opponent got a bad opening hand, despite having a Turn 2 Kingdra, he was left without Supporters or any form of draw. I on the other hand started out better than average, but I even made the game longer by several misplays committed during the game. I felt bad for winning against his bad start, as I realized all the misplays I did and figured the result wasn’t very fair.
4 – 2
[At this point I’m feeling both happy and sad. I was able to recover from a 1-2 start to the point where I had a realistic chance of making the Top 32 cut with a 5-2 record, but I was sad as all the misplays I did against Alex, and probably against my previous opponents meant my own skills weren’t up to par and could cost me the cut. I tried to relax and concentrate for the next match, as it was do or die, just like every Worlds I have played in besides 2005.]
Round 7 vs Brian Garcia (US-LCQ) – Flygon
Another unfamiliar face, but I had heard about Brian before. I had no idea what he was using before the Round, and this had me a little worried.
We both started out with average hands, but I was able to keep a Power Lock against him, and this set him back several turns. Once I got ahead, he didn’t have enough turns to recover and I was able to just finish off his last Flygon and the few remaining basics he had left.
5 – 2
I was so happy at this point, as I managed to recover from what looked to be a bad day for me and made the Top Cut, something I hadn’t accomplished since 2005, due to a suspension (2006), tie breakers (2007) or a loss in the final round after a 4-2 record (2008).
I checked the standings to see whom I would be facing and it was none other than Jay Hornung, the eventual 3rd place finisher. I knew from other people and asking around that he was playing Flygon / Machamp, and that it would be the hardest match of the day, but I hoped a Power Lock early would be enough to seal the win.
Pre-game we had a nice chat, as we had battled last year at Worlds, where I was victorious in what was one of my most memorable and favourite matches out of all I have played at Worlds.
Game 1 – We started the game, and I was under control, but unfortunately for me, my Honchkrow AND my Darkness energy were prized, so I was not able to snipe his benched Machop early in the game. While under the Power Lock, he topdecked a Rare Candy he needed to build a Machamp and KO my active Palkia G. If my Honchkrow and Darkness energy had not been prized, or he hadn’t topdecked the Rare Candy I would’ve had a decent chance as I had a strong start, but after my Palkia G was KO’d, I was not able to recover and scooped to save time for Game 2.
Game 2 – I started off worse, and he managed to build both a Nidoqueen and Flygon LV.X under the Power Lock, and I knew I would never recover based on my hand and that I had very few energy on the field, so I conceded and wished Jay luck in Top 16 and onwards.
5 – 3
So my Worlds run ended there, and once again I had mixed feelings. I was very happy to have made it so far with my little practice, but I was sad I couldn’t do much in the matches against Jay to make the games more exciting and end the day at least on a more exciting note. I find it ironic I got 3rd place in 2005 when Worlds was in San Diego, and that the eventual 3rd place of Worlds would eliminate me out of all people, with a deck that can potentially deck out opponent’s (Flygon LV.X).
Oh well with this result, I ended up in 27th place overall, and being he highest Mexican player of the tournament. Some people had doubted the legitimacy of my invite as I received it from a technicality if you will, but I think this result proves I have what it takes to compete at a global level, even when I’m not at my best and that giving me the invite to represent Mexico in the tournament was justified, instead of letting it get lost and gone to the grinder.
I feel my deck choice could have been a bit better, but I could have never predicted so many Flygon / Machamp decks would be played at Worlds, I definitely expected more Luxray GL / Infernape 4 than those. With more practice I could have probably adjusted my list better to the metagame and figured out plays quicker, as I kept getting asked to play faster, but for the record I have only ever finished 3 games on time total in my Pokémon career out of 6 years, so I will never ever stall anyone out.
Well I hope you enjoyed reading this, and expect an article coming soon on the intricacies of the Palkia Lock deck, and how it can possibly be adjusted for the upcoming format with the new Supreme Victors cards.