The cold rain pattered my windshield as I started the car early in the morning. I turned on the heat, but only cold air blew in my face. Huh, so this is why people warm up their cars in the morning, I thought. Enduring the cold, I started the half-hour drive to Blue Bell where I’d be playing in a Pokémon tournament that day. Considering the weather, being in a warm little shop for a while didn’t seem like a bad idea.
I stopped at a local WaWa to pick up some breakfast. Rather than think healthy, I grabbed a sausage, egg and cheese bagel and a medium coffee, along with a Powerade and two Cliff bars for later. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I would have some quick energy now and some lasting energy throughout the day. I plugged the IPod up to the radio and headed back out over the slippery roads. The sooner I got there, the sooner this long day could begin.
I arrived to the shop in one piece, finding a place in the small parking lot. The glowing sign shone through the blue-gray light, inviting me inside. I still hadn’t completed my list, and the tournament was supposed to start in ten minutes. This meant I had plenty of time, for as usual it was to start much later.
Inside I got the rest of my cards together to complete my deck. I was going to play a pretty standard SP deck, focusing on Luxray and Blaziken. My tech lines were a 1/1 Infernape, as in most matchups, it was just as useful as 1/1 Garchomp, which I didn’t have and couldn’t get my hands on. I was also going to play a 1/1 Mewtwo tech, but instead decided to play 1/1 Dialga. Other than those guys there was nothing remarkable about my list, except I knew it was about consistent and reliable as it could get. (You guys can figure out the trainer lines for yourself.) I handed in my list, my deck was frisked, and I waited for the first round to start.
I took my seat across from a guy whom I’d never seen before, which was pretty rare considering how long I’ve been playing and how many tournaments I’ve gone to over the past few years. His glasses were held snug to his face, which smiled smugly as he shuffled his deck. I really didn’t know what to expect. Either he was some good player outside of the area, or some guy who needed a reality check. As it turns out, it was the latter.
He mulliganed once and I saw in his seven cards a Horsea among other things. “Ah, Kingdra,” I remarked. I knew my Luxrays with the help of Lucario should be able to sweep him easily, and was confident with my good starting hand, which was the pattern for the day. However, apart from the kid complaining, “All I had in my hand were three Kingdras and a Seadra,” I had no reason to believe his deck contained Kingdras at all. In a swift first few turns I wiped out his basics, power sprayed an Uxie or two, and won easily. He wanted to play a game “for fun” afterward, which I obliged considering how easily I’d won. Unfortunately for him, the outcome was quite the same, and the kid playing the Horsea deck got up and walked away in a huff.
I had plenty of time until the next round, and decided to get some fresh air and take a step outside. My stomach had felt a bit uneasy since the beginning of the tournament, which I mistakenly took for nerves. “How could I possibly be nervous?” I laughed out loud, trying to calm myself. Sure I was competitive, but it was only a City’s! I drank some Powerade and ate some of the granola bar, knowing I’d need some brain food even if my stomach didn’t want any part of it. In this case, though, my stomach knew what it was talking about.
As the second round started, I really was feeling ill. I joked that the escape route to the trash can was only a short sprint away, and that I might be doing a bit more pointing and less talking in my obvious moves. He seemed like a nice kid, and he had a pretty cool looking afro. He also mulliganed and I saw some fighting energies, which I assumed meant Machamp. Luckily, I was wrong.
His Rhyperior LV.X deck got a slow start, and my quick one ate him up. By KO’ing Baltoy, Stantler, and other easy targets, I got to a quick 5 Prize lead. He managed to prevent the goose egg by KO’ing my Blaziken with his lonely Rhyperior LV.X, then I dragged something else up with Luxray for the win. All the while my mind was just as focused on not throwing up as playing, and I was grateful for another easy win.
At this point I was considering going home due to how down I felt. I was at one of those “If you’re going to throw up then throw up already!” moments, and wasn’t sure if it was smart to risk retching in the game store. After a lot of thought, I prayed that I might have the mental strength to keep going, and went into Round 3 feeling no better.
Man, you gotta love how SP can just dominate any game with a quick start. My opponent sympathized with my state of mind, and I don’t think I said much the whole game. He was playing a Tyranitar deck, but before he could get going I got rid of a Claydol along with two Larvitars with help of Crobats, (stupid lightning resistance). In any case I had won my third game, all without really having a competitive game that made me think much. Thank God, because it was pretty hard to focus.
A poor young man has his head hung over a small toilet, his hair covering most of his face. In the dim light he wants the turmoil to leave, but alas, he is waiting for nothing. He asks the head judge for some Advil, who graciously gives him some Tylenol. It wasn’t advanced medicine for pain, but it’ll work.
Ah, I knew my next opponent pretty well. He was a yapper, but a nice guy overall. He was playing Gliscor with Spiritomb, which I knew I might play that day. My goal was to get Infernape out and keep gusting the Tomb away. Later on my friend told me that a 2/1 Dialga line was a much easier way to win, swapping the Dialga back and forth with Pokéturns. I was only playing a 1/1 Dialga line, which I later realized was fairly useless in most cases. In fact, I never used it all day.
Game-wise, it was close considering he knew the match-up well, and I was just trying to figure out a strategy as I went along. We both had decent starts, and the lone Bebe’s search I had turned out to be helpful against the Tomb as expected. There were a few things that contributed to my loss:
- My Infernape was prized, and once the game got going, I was focused on other things. The Ape is most helpful early.
- I am pretty sure I made 2 crucial misplays. These were plays which I thought a good while about, but they were definitely the wrong choices.
- He got all 4 Super Scoop up heads.
He sealed the deal getting Expert Belt late, which I didn’t expect. I guess it would’ve been even worse if he had gotten it earlier. (He was playing 2, and one was prized). I was feeling a little better, and with my low expectations for the tournament considering my preparation, 3-1 didn’t seem too shabby. My opponent decided to drop, (he got some points and his ride dropped earlier), so I wouldn’t have to play him again if I made top cut.
I knew this match would be tough. I knew my opponent well, but his lip and nose rings didn’t intimidate me. He was also playing SP, but it was more of a Palkia Lock with Luxray and tech Blaziken line. I had a fairly weak start, the weakest of the day by far, and I was feeling a bit loopy, along with being unsure of what to do. I was taking a bit too long doing some simple moves, but I didn’t want to make a mistake, which I was probably doing anyway.
Early into the game I made a startling discovery. When I took Mewtwo out, I also took all psychic energies out, thinking they were unneeded. Now that I was playing against SP, I finally thought, Hey, I should get a Toxicroak G ready. But wait! Toxicroak G takes PSYCHIC ENERGY! Somehow, it took me until the fifth round to realize I had been playing with a dead card all along. Lucky for me, it didn’t matter. My opponent started strong but didn’t hit a Cyrus until at least 15 or so turns in. What looked initially like a loss turned out to be a dominating win, and I earned top spot at 4-1.
In top cut, I was playing against Tyranitar, while my friend, who was playing a similar list to mine, played against the guy I just beat in the last round. I had already beaten Tyranitar, so this should be easy, right?
In the first game, I realized how debilitating not having Toxicroak G was, (er, not having a psychic energy was). T-tar is 1-shot by the Croak, and I didn’t have that option to rely on. I almost won turn one, but fell short. He eventually got into the game somehow and got a few T-tars with mad energies on them. I don’t think I was managing my PokéPowers well, and getting Dialga to the bench would be too much of a hassle. (Hey, 3 dead cards!) I folded after about a half hour had already gone by.
By rule, I had to get at least 4 Prizes if time ran out for the second game to count as a win. Strategy-wise, I went after his only T-Tar with energy, 2-shotting it with Luxray. I went on to do 70+70 to the other T-tar’s, minimalizing my own Powers so he couldn’t attach energies quickly. He realized it was a lost cause and folded.
A minute into the last game, time was called. Of course, SP loves sudden death. I dragged up a Claydol with Blaziken, then KO’d it the following turn. Hurray for the lack of Unown G’s.
At this point, I realized that any deck report or story that I’d write would be extremely long. Ignoring this, I went into the last match against my buddy with virtually the same deck, except he had Garchomp instead of Infernape and a workable Toxicroak. I decided to play the role of the upset.
Game 1 was close, but again I got lucky that he didn’t draw into a Cyrus for a very long time. Knowing he had little chance to turn the tide, he folded to bring it to Game 2.
Oh man did I make some stupid misplays in Game 2. My sickness had largely been replaced with exhaustion, but it didn’t drastically disturb my focus. His Toxicroak was a threat all game, and he utilized his Garchomp well. I probably had a chance to win, but didn’t. Usually I would get to choose whether to go first or second the last game, but since time was called before we were set up, it came down to a coin flip. I won, and got to go first. Hence, I had a great chance to win.
Even a Power Spray couldn’t stop me. I made him waste the spray on a Crobat on his bench, then KO’d his active Blaziken with Luxray + Crobat + Pokéturn. I won. I WON!
Pokémon is game that takes a lot of skill, but a lot of luck comes into play too. Not only is there luck in coin flips and how good your hand is at the beginning of the game, but what decks you happen to play throughout a tournament. With a 57 card proven deck, some luck, a bit of skill, and an uneasy stomach, I won the first City Championship I played in this year. And beat my friend in the finals in the process. Sweeeeet, sweet, sweet victory, yeah!…