SP Toolbox FTW in Indy?: Great Lakes Tournament Report (Master’s)

By Nick Kowalski

Just in time for (the completion of) Spring Battle Roads! I should have finished this report much earlier, but things got in the way. Nonetheless, my analysis is still relevant and could provide insight into a lesser-played deck. So, take a break from restless Nationals testing and read my Regionals report.

The mid-April card game rumble has been my shining moment in Pokémon – sort of. Having made the top cut in all three of my previous Regional appearances (4th place in 2005, 2nd place in 2006, Top 16 in 2007), I have come to expect a respectable finish at this event. Whatever the case may be, my siblings have never performed well in the MI/IN/OH battle, hence I am usually my family’s best hope of taking home some cash or hardware. Due to school and extra-curricular conflicts, I could not compete in the past two years’ Regional tournaments; I was eager to get back in my comfort zone, find my winning ways.

pokemon-paradijs.comIn the weeks leading up to Regionals, I had considered playing a few decks, namely SP variants (as usual) and Sablelock. I knew that my SP list needed some retooling, and I liked how the “Florida secret deck” was performing in hypothetical scenarios in my mind and on paper. Unlike States, I did not actually practice against a live opponent in preparation for the tournament.

I felt comfortable with my deck, knowing that it was fully capable of qualifying for elimination rounds and then some. One may recall that I ran a tech-y DialgaChomp at IN and MI States. Considering the success that I had with the deck – a Top 8 finish (IN) and a disappointing-yet-solid 4-3 performance (MI) – it would not have been an outright mistake, I thought, to give the smooth SP combination another try.

With Luxray GL LV.X out of the picture, my options were limited. So, I decided to run an SP deck that featured Garchomp C LV.X as the main attacker with a handful of supporting cast members, such as Dialga G/LV.X, Relicanth, and Infernape 4. As you can tell, this concept deviated from my States’ deck. Don’t get me wrong; I am a big fan of DialgaChomp, and have been since the fall.

The fact that the metal beast-colorless monster tandem can still get it done, a la Pooka’s States and Regionals victories, is certainly telling of its capability in this open format. After a series of self-matches (I shuffled and played out the first few turns with my deck under fixed game conditions, i.e. vs. a turn 2 Machamp, or a quick ‘chomp, or an early Gyarados), I felt safe running SP Toolbox, and that was that.

I knew that I could make top cut, but I wanted to have a chance at going all the way.

Date: Saturday, April 17, 2010
Location: Pokagon State Park, Angola, IN
Overall attendance: 230 (146 in Master’s)
Format: 8 rounds of swiss, cut to Top 32 in Master’s

Round 1: Vs. Tracy Key with LuxChomp

Wow. I was not at all expecting this match up in the opening round. I had not defeated her in a for-ratings points match all year, not counting the win I had in the finals of a CC which did not matter because I lost in sudden death. Unlike States, we did not have the chance to playtest in advance of this tournament. Winning round one is always important, plus I was presented with the challenge of knocking off a top-tier player – a double-edged sword.

If my memory serves me correctly, I started with Ambipom, opposite her Luxray. I went first and called for a Garchomp and something else, perhaps Toxicroak Promo. Her turn was less-than-interesting, accompanied by a tough decision: whether to attach an energy to Luxray and risk it being KO’d by Garchomp or allowing Ambipom to put 60 damage on it by attaching to something else. I ended up hitting it for 60 with Ambipom. At some point, she drew a prize with Luxray LV.X.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe following turn, I sent her Lux to the discard pile via ‘croak’s Poison Revenge attack. After a couple of snipe prizes were taken with Garchomp in the proceeding turns, I had established a solid lead. Tracy clawed her way back into the game, managing to get within reach of 2 Prizes. I found it amusing that a judge actually asked me to play “faster,” even though I was in firm control without the prospect of losing in sight.

Within the time limit, I picked up my sixth Prize card with Relicanth – still one of the best, and currently underplayed, cards in the format – as I used its attack twice-in-a-row on a benched Azelf for the win.

It turned out that Tracy had no intention on remaining in the tournament for too long. After winning her next match, she dropped, presumably to preserve her rating from dipping any lower, which I respect. While being paired against a quality opponent in round one is unlikely, at least in my mind, there is always the slim chance that it will happen. Pokémon is a game of luck – in more ways than one – ain’t it?

Win (1-0)

Round 2: Vs. ? with Magmortar/Rapidash (See MI States Report – Round 7)

I played against this guy in the final round of swiss at MI States – long time, no see. He won the toss and attached a fire energy to Magmar and did 20 damage to my starter. Within three to four turns, I had a strangle hold on the match, with two Garchomp and friends in play. I won this one going away.

Win (2-0)

Round 3: Vs. Collan Baker with CurseGar (I think)

Here, my memory has failed. I may have played against a CurseGar. Either way, the round was not memorable. I won handily in a handful of turns. If I remember correctly, he opened with Gastly. I opted to begin attacking with Dialga, preventing him from playing trainer and stadium cards, which stifled his set up.

Eventually I had a powered-up ‘chomp on my bench and went to town. He was not able to get anything of substance going; I plowed through his Gastly’s, Baltoy’s, etc. Things were looking good after three rounds of play.

Win (3-0)

Round 4: vs. Matt Gillespie with Gyarados = Lost in Top 8

My deck was out sped in this game. He managed to get out an early Gyarados via a Felicity’s Drawing. En route, three Magikarps found themselves a cozy spot in the discard pile. Luxray GL LV.X also made an appearance mid-game, and used Bright Look to pull up a benched foe. Power Spray would have come in handy! I put forth a valiant effort, forcing a tie at 1-1. On the very next turn, however, he used Tail Revenge for the KO of my Crobat (I had nothing in play with more than 90 HP) for his final prize.

Loss (3-1)

Round 5: Vs. Justin Czapek with Gyarados = Finished in 4th Place

pokemon-paradijs.comJustin is running an identical list as my previous opponent. Fortunately for me, he stated in the early stages of the game that he had prized two Magikarps and an Azelf. I surely lucked out, as this meant that the most damage that he could do per turn was 30.

Justin’s poor prizes coupled with my legitimate start meant that I could coast to an easy victory. Garchomp attacked with Earthquake and Dragon Rush for a few prizes, while Dialga did some clean-up work with Second Strike. When he managed to draw a prize, it was neither an Azelf nor a ‘karp – tough luck. Better luck next time!

Side note: I must say that Justin is deserving of a “Most Improved Player” award, at least for the Great Lakes State. He has consistently placed well at this year’s large-scale events: Top 16 at IN States, Top 8 at MI States, and Top 4 at Regionals. Another player who is in the same boat is Jona, another player from MI who has jumped onto the Pokémon scene with his Shuppet donk-esque deck, winning a CC, going undefeated in swiss at MI States, and qualifying for the Top 8 at Regionals. Kudos to both Justin and Jona for their break-out seasons!

Win (4-1)

Round 6: Vs. ? with CurseGar = Lost in Top 32

I got paired down versus a guy with a 3-2 record who would go on to qualify for the Top 32 as the thirty-second seed. He opens with Gastly; I began with something useless, perhaps it was Lucario or Bronzong. He went first, attached a P Energy to Gastly, and announced Trick Gas, followed by “er, I meant Pitch Dark.”

I let it slide, even though he had the necessary tools (i.e. a P Energy) to use Trick Gas. (Words of caution: at Nationals, I promise to uphold a higher standard for my opponents!) Pitch Dark did slow me down in the early stages of the game. But within a few turns, I had a Dialga LV.X in play; it got Warped to the bench – a perfect spot, with the consideration that he had Spiritomb on the field. I took the first two-to-3 Prizes before he caught up.

Then, he ripped through a ‘chomp and co. with a Curse Gengar with three energies attached. The game culminated with him drawing even with me at 1-1. Thankfully I had good ol’ Relicanth to do the dirty work. I used Relicanth three turns in a row on his benched Azelf for my final prize.

Win (5-1)

Round 7: Vs. ?, M. D. with GardyGallade = Lost in Top 32

A blast from the past: GardyGallade! I did not expect to face this deck, but I knew it had potential; the concept is still relevant in today’s format. As it turned out, his list ran 4 Spiritomb AC for early game set-up, 4 Team Galactic’s Wager for hand disruption, and 4 Pokémon Reversal for even more disruption. I was impressed by the rather spontaneous list from the Ohio State sweatshirt-sporting guy.

Meanwhile, things started out well for me. While he was benching Ralts’ and Baltoy’s, I was Knocking them Out at will. However, once he had a Gallade ready-to-go, it spelled trouble for my Garchomp. Once I finished off Gallade, he promoted a Gardevoir (Psychic Lock) to complete the come back. A key Reversal flip undoubtedly helped his cause, as did three timely TGW. Well done on his part!

I might have trailed 3-2 near the end; I had the lead at 2-1 when time was called, though. But since we had a brief two-minute time extension due to a medical issue (my opponent was a medical doctor, after all), we continued. He easily drew a prize shortly thereafter with Gardevoir to tie the game. Since my resources were depleted (my ‘chomps were MIA), I could not KO anything for the win. Instead, he leveled up to Gardevoir LV.X and used Bring Down to Knock Out my damaged Crobat, handing me a second loss for the day.

Loss (5-2)

Round 8: Vs. Evan Baker with Flygon/Machamp

Though it was not a must-win situation, it certainly felt like one. Knowing that at least one of my opponents had dropped and that I was paired down once, my resistance could not have been too high. So actually, it might have been a ‘win-and-you’re-in’ scenario. Fortunately, I did not have to sweat it out after the game.

Not knowing what he was playing, I went second and used Call Energy for a Garchomp and something else. I would find out – the hard way – what he was playing on his second turn, which was one of the craziest turns I have seen in some time. He managed to have a Claydol in play via Broken Time-Space, a Flygon, and a Machamp with an energy attached – no big deal. Great, I thought. It appeared that this one could end early. But it did not.

pokemon-paradijs.comOn my turn, I used Pokémon Collector for Uxie, Unown G, and Lucario. After my Dialga was sent to the discard pile as a result of Machamp’s Take Out attack, I promoted a protected Uxie, leveled up (had it in my opening hand), attached a DCE, benched a Crobat in order to use Flash Bite on Machamp, and announced “Zen Blade for the KO.” Whew, I avoided a scare!

Next, he began fueling a benched Flygon while biding time with a basic decoy. I took the bait and Knocked Out a couple of chumps to take a 2-Prize lead. A couple of turns later, when he sent up his Flygon, he leveled up, and finally KO’d my Uxie LV.X. In response, I went on the offensive with Garchomp LV.X and 1HKO’d his Flygon LV.X. At that point, the game was over. He scooped when it was clear that he could not win.

Win (6-2)

My sixth win meant that I was assured a spot in the Top 32. Seeding would be key, since I, for appropriate reasons, did not want to face a world-class player in the first couple of rounds. That wish was sadly a pipe dream… I entered elimination rounds seeded sixteenth. Of note, at this point, my brother, the lone sibling of mine to qualify for elimination rounds, had been eliminated in the Seniors’ Top 8. Ah well, there’s always Nationals, right?

Top 32: Vs. #17 Quinn Downs with Jumpluff/Luxray

This was one of the quickest top cut matches I have ever played, taking only about fifteen/twenty minutes to complete!

Game 1: He won the toss, opened with a lone Baltoy and used Psychic Balance. I start with Garchomp, Roseanne’s for a Crobat and use a Poké Turn, attach a DCE and attack with Claw Swipe for the win. Yeah, it was cheap, but the high probability of starting with a low-HP Pokémon in decks like ‘pluff is an inherent contract one agrees to when opting to run said deck.

Win (1-0)

Game 2: He wisely chose me to go first. My opening hand is garbage, leaving no choice but to start with Bronzong. On the other hand, he had an awesome start, playing down Broken Time-Space and evolving each of his Baltoy and Hoppip/Skiploom/Jumpluff. On my second turn, I knew it was a losing effort, though I played it out for a few more turns with the objective of seeing the rest of his deck since there was plenty of time left on the clock.

Throughout the game, it seemed as though my opponent was taunting me, acting very cockily, suggesting that I had misplayed and that I should not have ran Infernape 4 in my deck. I laughed off his ‘trash talk’ and allowed him to continue, finding the whole thing amusing.

Loss (1-1)

Game 3: I knew that my best chance at victory was for a similar situation in Game 1 to occur. Obviously, I elect for him to go first, as I likely have the win if he does not bench another Pokémon. I opened with Lucario or something, opposite his Hoppip. He reluctantly passed without benching a Pokémon, meaning that I had a fair shot at ending the match.

I fetched a couple of Crobat and used a Poké Turn for the turn one triumph. It is nice to win on turn one – no attack required! (And FYI, the ‘trash talking,’ which turned into ‘sympathy speak,’ continued until I packed up my deck and walked away.)

Jumpluff is a fantastic deck; however, with its inherent use of low HP Pokés, i.e. Hoppip (4, 30 HP), Baltoy (3, 50 HP), and Unown Q (1, 30 HP), bad starts are bound to happen. I will reiterate: it is the contractual risk one accepts when opting to run decks like ‘pluff and Gyarados (to a lesser extent).

Win (2-1 match; 7-2 overall)

Top 16: Vs. #1 Drew Holton with LuxChomp = Tournament Runner-up

Drew is a world-class player. His resume speaks for himself, having won States (this year in OH), Regionals (defending champion), and finishing second at Nationals (2006). I have only faced him once previously at a City Championship a few years back – I won on turn two with RaiEggs versus Metanite. Yeah, I remembered that lackluster donk.

In the here and now – well actually, the more recent past – if I could do just 10 more damage in Game 1 and have had a DCE in Game 2, I could have won both games within no more than three or four turns.

Game 1: I opened with Garchomp, Drew with Luxray. On his second turn, he leveled up into Luxray LV.X and used Bright Look to bring up Bronzong or something to lock-in the Active Spot. Notably, the Lux was his only Pokémon! This left the door wide open; unfortunately for me, I could not walk right through. If I could have done 10 more damage to Lux on my third turn, it would have been KO’d, and I would have been in great shape.

Instead, I decided to snipe something [a Baltoy] on the bench, knowing that there was a possibility of him drawing into a Poké Turn that would have nullified my damage. From there, Drew cruised to a win, as he was able to Knock Out my energy-less ‘chomp with Ambipom. I scooped when it was proper to do so.

Loss (0-1)

pokemon-paradijs.comGame 2: With Ambipom in my opening hand, but without a DCE, I opt for Drew to go first. He flipped over a lone Unown G and I felt thirsty for a win via the donk. But that was not to be. Drew mumbled something to himself and nearly choose not to attach an energy prior to gesturing that his turn was over.

If he did not attach an energy to Unown G, I would have won on my first turn, given that I had a Cyrus’s Conspiracy in hand. Instead, the game continued for several turns. We traded ‘chomp KOs and he had a Lux ready for when he needed it. Time was called on his turn. I was down by a prize (4-3), signaling the end of the match in Drew’s favor.

Loss (0-2 match; 7-3 overall) = Eliminated

Losing to a player like Drew is not a bad thing, though I would have preferred playing him in a later round. What can I say? 10 more damage in Game 1 and a turn-one DCE in Game 2 would have given me at least one win in the match. Drew would go on to lose in sudden death in the finals versus the mirror.

Note: Please feel free to suggest corrections to my match summaries.

-Playing in Regionals after missing the last two
-Making Top 16 with a tech-happy SP deck
-Winning a Walmart bundle HeartGold Version as a door prize (my sister won the SoulSilver Version)
-Derek for running an NCAA “bracket challenge” (my dad won a box of HGSS for taking first place – Go Duke!)
-Pokagon State Park for being a quaint, little, public sector establishment

-Losing in Top 16 at a big event (again)
-My siblings for striking out at Regionals (again)
-Luxray LV.X for its existence

Thanks for reading my lengthy and tardy Regionals report! I wish you the best of luck at the remaining Spring Battle Roads and at your respective National Championship – especially if it is not in the U. S. (since I would like to win this year). See you in Indianapolis!

~Self promotion: Check out my Twitter page for real time updates during the U. S. National Championship, June 24-27. I will try to post the result of each of my tournament matches LIVE from Indy. So if you are not yet following me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/NKowalski), please amend the situation ASAP!

Reader Interactions

9 replies

  1. Karol Nowak

    Nice report! Even though it is a bit late to post a Regionals report, I still think this report was really great that's for sure. Congrats on making top 16 in Indiana Regionals with an SP Toolbox deck. I still think that a Toolbox deck is a great deck to use.

    Once again, this was an incredibly well-written article! I really did enjoy reading it.

  2. Colin Peterik

    Great report Nick! We played Round 4 in Tucsumeh, MI the other weekend. It was a great game! Anyway, you have an easily read and smooth way of recapping your report, good job! Good luck in Indy, I'll most likely see you there.

  3. Michael Randolph

    That was an excellent report, more than made up for being a bit on the late side.

  4. Jay

    Nice job man, you played well. You handled that top 16 thing perfectly, smileing and nodding will get you far. See you out at Nats.


  5. ofr3ako

    Excellent linguistic skills! Love the comments about luck and the “inherent contract one agrees to when one runs [Jumpluff] said deck.” Lol.

    Good job with Luxchomp.

  6. Sergio Ortiz

    Hey good job man, you lost against Drew he's a clever guy i lost against him at Worlds being 4-2, I guess you are happy with your results, keep going
    Nice Report

  7. Joshua Pikka

    I feel your pain, man I played Tracy in a round one match at BR.

    Unfortunately I misplayed and she was able to eek out the win at the last minute.

    Tracy is nice but she always seems to be telling people to hurry up when she herself takes a lot of time to play. Don't know what thats about.

  8. mewuk85

    great report. sorry commented so late. Great deck ideas always play the deck your most comfortable with.

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