Nationals was awesome!
I wasn’t too sure if I’d be able to make it until only a week or two before the event, but I am really glad I went. I met a lot of cool people and had a great time.
Thanks to everyone who said hi to me; it was so nice to put a face to a name and get to know a little bit about all the people I’ve conversed with the past year through the site. It was just too cool to meet all of you…thanks so much for introducing yourselves. :)
pokemon-paradijs.comAnyway, my voyage began on Wednesday night when I was dropped off at Ian’s house where we would depart early in the morning along with Josh (quaziko) toward the Philadelphia airport. Ian and Josh were testing some SP / Sablelock build; I already knew I’d use nearly the identical Gyarados list I used at Regionals.
I had played maybe two games between then and Regionals, but Gyarados is pretty simple to use so I thought I’d just play a few practice games Thursday night and I’d be good.
Thursday morning we left for the airport and by 2:30 in the afternoon our plane had touched down in Indy. We took a shuttle to our hotel, the Homewood Suites Hilton, and were pretty stoked when we opened the door to our room…it was huge! I forget how much it was per night, but whatever it was, it was worth it.
The hotel apparently used to be a warehouse in the early 1900’s, so it has really high ceilings (like twice as high as normal) and was just really spacious. I highly recommend the Homewood Suites to anyone if Nationals ends up being in Indy again next year. It’s also easily within walking distance of the convention center.
Josh, Ian, and I find ourselves in the line for pre-registration around 3:30 and it is HUGE! There seemed like there were several hundred people in the line already and pre-registration didn’t even officially start until 4:00. The staff seemed totally prepared for the swarm of people though and we were registered for the tournament by 4:30. Big props to the Pokémon people for making that go so smoothly.
We headed back toward our hotel and then wandered around for over an hour looking for a grocery store…the Kroger’s listed on Google maps must have vanished. We eventually found a Marsh’s and by that time our friend Jason Chen (creator of Chenlock) who was our fourth roomate called and said his plane had landed.
We again went back to our hotel and I met Jason for the first time in like 6 years…he had been on hiatus from the game for a while but is finally back. It was awesome to catch up and hang with him for the weekend; he’s a really cool dude.
My 3 roomates spend the evening playtesting. I played maybe 3 or 4 games that night just to get any misplays out of my system. This is the list I ended up going with:
4 Felicity’s Drawing
My only change from Regionals was that I used 4 Poké Turn instead of 2 Poké Turn and 2 PlusPower. I preferred the Poké Turns so I could better manage my bench space and it can be tight in Gyarados, especially when you are put into situations where you need to drop Combee. PlusPower were originally in there to get around Power Sprays.
I considered taking Regice out since I never used it at Regionals (1 out of 13 games), but since I hadn’t tested and because Josh told me he used it in like half the games he had practiced with it, I decided to keep it.
I still think this deck is extremely solid (especially this list) and would recommend it to anyone going to Worlds.
Ed from Team Omar suggested I try a donk list with Special Darks, but I never had a chance to try it out. I don’t think it would have done as well as this list though…Cyclones were so money all day.
Here’s how Friday went…
Gengar SF / Metagross SVRound 1 vs
I got a Sableye start which is always good, but when my opponent flipped over a Gastly I was a little worried. I wasn’t sure if he was using Cursegar, which could have potentially been a terrible matchup if he played double Mime, but by his second turn he has a Metagross and Gengar SF in play, so it was obvious as to what I was up against.
The game was extremely close as I was going to be 1HKOing his Gengars if I had 3 Karps in the discard. I really had to think carefully and try to get in situations where I could avoid Fainting Spell. I may have misplayed as I forgot that I could do 80 with a Belt and 2 Karps in the discard, then drop 1 Crobat G to for the knockout the following turn.
Instead I did 60 and then dropped 3 Crobats for a KO, but the thing is I had such a huge hand the entire game, he probably would have 1HKO’d me with Poltergeist for 2 Prizes instead of just 1.
I had to very carefully manage my bench to avoid giving him easy prizes with Shadow Room. I Scoop Up’d and Poké Turned any Crobats the turn I played them so they couldn’t be sniped. I left Sableyes on the bench without issue as they could not be sniped for a 1HKO as my opponent didn’t play Crobat G. I would try to let the Sableye get hit once then go for Scoop Ups on them which was an effective tactic.
My opponent was 1 for 1 on Fainting Spell, but I was ahead almost all of the game. The last turn of the game I had 1 Prize left and my opponent had two. He could have 1HKO’d my Gyarados with a Poltergeist, but announced Shadow Room instead. This gave me the clear victory as the next turn I could 1HKO his Gengar and whether or not he got heads on Fainting Spell, I would have won outright.
If he has done Poltergeist instead, it would have come down to a flip for Sudden Death. I don’t think my odds of victory in Sudden Death would have been great, so I seemingly dodged a bullet there.
I should also note that I was fortunate my opponent didn’t play Miasma Valley, as it would have been a lot more difficult for me to recover Gyarados’. I would have had to use Combee each time to get a Magikarp back instead of Rescue if I could not counter his Stadium, as the Magikarp would be KO’d if I were to bench it with Miasma Valley and Metagross in play.
I get my second Sableye start in two games which gives me a huge edge, but I am against another Gengar SF variant which is difficult to play against.
My opponent doesn’t get a great start so I get a lead and never let it vanquish. One crucial move of the game occurred when I hit his Gengar SF for 90 and plan to Flash Bite twice the following turn for the KO, but my opponent levels up into Gengar LV.X, giving him 30 extra HP. Luckily I am able to get off 5 Flash Bites the following turn for the KO then KO something else for a 2 Prize swing.
I seal the game when I drop about 7 trainers from my hand to prevent my opponent from getting a Knock Out the following turn with Poltergeist. If he has gotten a KO there, it would have come down to a flip like last game could have for sudden death.
It was again another game where I really had to think about my moves and plan carefully. I think these two games really got me into shape for the rest of the tournament, as they were easily 2-of my hardest games I played all day.
Round 3 vs Luxchomp
Not much to say about this one…I go first and start with a lone Crobat. He goes second with a Luxray and Cyrus in hand. He drops 2 Crobats and Bites for the 1HKO.
Round 4 vs SP Deck
I get revenge…I start with a Sableye, Felicity, and Gyarados in hand. I topdeck a Broken Time-Space and Collector for 3 Magikarp. My opponent has a lone Baltoy, attaches an Energy to it and passes. I Felicity away 2 Karp, BTS into Gyarados, retreat, and Tail Revenge for the win. :)
I had played against Tom at Nationals a few years ago and had met up with him at the hotel (he was staying a floor or two above us), so it was somewhat of a bummer to have to play against a friend this early on in the tournament; he is a really nice guy.
I get my fourth Sableye start of the day, topdeck Felicity, drop a Crobat from my hand and do 10 to his active Machop (to prevent him from possibly donking me) and Impersonate for a Collector which nets me 3 Magikarp.
Tom gets a very nice first turn, playing an Azelf, 2 Uxies, and Rare Candying into Machamp to 1HKO my Sableye. I don’t recall exactly what happened the following turn, whether I got another Sableye in play or if I did Broken Time-Space to get a Gyarados in play doing 60. My notes say I did 60 twice in a row with Gyarados to KO his Machamp and I took over from there.
Tom played pretty well and managed to get a couple Jumpluff out, but I severely limited my bench thanks to the plethora of Poké Turns I was playing so the Jumpluffs really didn’t do that much damage to me. I think I only had a Gyarados and 1 benched Pokémon in play most of the game. Gyarados overpowered him for the win.
Round 6 vs Blazechomp
I can’t remember if I started with Sableye this game, but my opponent didn’t get his desired setup and my notes say I did 90 on turn 2…not bad. ;)
I think I made a few small misplays, but my opponent did as well by leaving an exposed Unown Q on the bench which he had opened with, so I dropped 3 Crobats to KO it, then got another KO via Tail Revenge the same turn. I was ahead the whole game and won fairly convincingly.
Round 7 vs Mirror Match
pokemon-paradijs.comI played the mirror match a few times at States and Regionals, so I knew it would mostly come down to whoever got the better start. It also helps me a ton that I have Cyclones as I could pretty much get a KO every turn as long as I had one in hand. If my opponent didn’t play many Warp Points or Cyclones they would be at a big disadvantage.
My opponent opens with 2 Sableye and I start with a Solrock and Collector in hand. I grab 2 Magikarp and a Sableye and get going, though a turn slower than my opponent. Cyclones were huge though as they allowed me to get ahead while my opponent seemed to be getting somewhat weak draws.
I also get Lunatone and Solrock in play very early, which gives me a stable draw and exactly what I need the entire game.
There was one crucial turn where my opponent had just hit my Expert Belted Gyarados for 90 and he had a clean Gyarados active. I had a Scoop Up in hand which I played and got heads, but I chose not to Scoop Up my damaged Gyarados.
Instead, since I also had a Poké Turn in hand, I chose to Scoop Up a benched Crobat so I could do 2 Flash Bites and 1HKO his active Gyarados. He only had 4 cards in hand, so I thought there was a decent chance my opponent would not be able to respond with a Gyarados the following turn, and I was right. This was a big swing and I won the game by 3 Prizes I think.
That concluded day 1-of Nationals and I felt really good about my position. My only loss was a donk; any game I got set up I won.
I was told most 6-3’s would make the cut, but I knew I wanted to come out on Saturday and try my best to win my next two games to keep the momentum going.
Round 8 vs Luxchomp
My opponent starts with some Pokémon SP, a Call Energy, and Cyrus. I think I eventually draw into a Sableye or Collector and eventually get going, but I am down 4-0 before I draw my first prize. I start to make a comeback and my opponent, thinking I use Reversal, becomes very worried I will KO his Garchomp on the bench and miraculously win the game.
Much to his delight, I actually don’t play Reversal and he wins the game.
Round 9 vs Gliscor / Spiritomb
This was an extremely close game because I had no idea how to play against his deck. He got a very good setup with a turn 1 or 2 Alakazam MT tech in play which some somewhat of a hindrance. I played a Cyclone turn 1 to push away his Spiritomb which I think probably had a long term effect on the game, and it cost him an energy drop to retreat and get it back active.
I only had 2 Karps in the discard early as that was all I really needed, but I had such an awkward hand. I had to Impersonate 1 or 2 turns more than I wanted to just because I wasn’t drawing into things I needed.
I was forced to play a Cyclone to retreat something at one point and then realized I couldn’t 1HKO his Azelf which he promoted active. I could only do 60 to it, and with Alakazam in play I had to find a spot where I could drop 2 Crobats in 1 turn to KO it, but also limit my bench space as I knew I would need to Combee later.
I think I played the matchup pretty well and get up 5-2 in prizes, but my opponent starts to comeback as I used up a lot of resources and am unable to Rescue my Magikarps with Spiritomb active every turn.
My opponent plays 3 Judges once I got down to 1 Prize I think which made it difficult to draw into what I needed, but I am able to get Lunatone and Solrock in play which are clutch. My opponent misplays by cancelling my Lunatone’s Power instead of Sunshine Fate, which allows me to rearrange my top 3 cards and put a Gyarados on top of my deck.
The following turn after my opponent tied the game up, 1 Prize left each, I rip the Gyarados and drop Combee for the game.
Top 128 vs Tyranitar SF
I played vs one of these kinds of decks at Regionals and knew it wouldn’t be easy because Tyranitar can actually 1HKO Gyarados without too much trouble and it’s difficult for me to 1HKO them.
Game 1: We both get Sableye starts, but my opponent won the toss. He gets a super fast set up, as he did all 3 games, with was seemed like at least 2 Claydols, an Uxie, and Tyranitar turn 2 every game.
I luckily also get a great start and have control, but I misplay. I damage hit Belted Tyranitar which I think he is going to Warp Point or Poké Healer, but he cannot. He instead just 1HKOs me and I am able to get another Gyarados in play, but the only energy I have in hand is Cyclone.
I am forced to Cyclone away his Tyranitar to retreat and KO something dumb. He responds with a 1HKO and again I have to play a Cyclone to retreat, as I had no way to search out my Unown Q. By this time he gets his Poké Healers and my chance to KO that huge T-tar is gone.
I had the opportunity to attach a Cyclone to my benched Pokémon the initial turn I damaged that Belted T-tar, but wasn’t thinking ahead. That easily cost me the game.
Game 2: We again both open with Sableye, but this time I get to go first. I get a nice setup as I did last game, though I have to Impersonate a couple turns more than I usually do, just to make sure I have enough resources in hand.
What I try to do in this matchup is get the initial KO, then 1HKO his first Tyranitar with Crobats and Expert Belt, then take over from there. He needed to put 2 Double Colorless on his Tyranitars to have chances to 1HKO, so if I could take out the first one in one hit, he would only really have one more threat left.
The 1HKO is important too just because he could always Poké Healer.
I do just as planned, 1HKOing an undamaged Belted T-tar and my Cyclones nab me easy prizes.
…I also hit 4 Super Scoop Up which helped a little, though I don’t think I needed all of them.
Game 3: My opponent has another seemingly perfect setup, Sableye start and all, while I open with Solrock I think. Yuck.
I really didn’t want my misplay in Game 1 to cost me the match, though it really looked like that was what was about to happen.
I do have a Felicity in hand, but am forced to discard 2 good cards (Expert Belt and another Felicity) just to have a chance to draw into something.
In those 4 cards, I rip a Sableye and am in business! I retreat the Solrock for Sableye, Impersonate, and get going. I play pretty much flawlessly this game and do what I did in Game 2, 1HKOing his first Tyranitar. He can’t KO me back for another turn or two, which allows me to get ahead by a few prizes.
I hit 2 more Scoop Up heads which helped a lot to get 1HKOs. I know there is about 10 mintues left in the round (thanks to my watch) and I want to stall for the win, but I play too fast to be able to do that. I have to win outright.
My opponent starts to come back, but I get down to 1 Prize. On his last turn he has a Tyranitar active, but a bench that all has 90 HP or less. He does 3 Cosmic Powers and I worry he will draw into evolutions for his Larvitar. He gets the Pupitar, but can’t find the Tyranitar.
He Grinds for a KO, then I drop a Cyclone for the win. Phew!
I definitely got lucky to hit all those Scoop Ups, but my opponent got God starts every game (at least that’s what it seemed like to me). He was only 6-3 going into the cut, so I really don’t think his deck that that good of a start every game.
I put my misplay in Game 1 behind me and kept focus for games 2 and 3, and even when it looked bad early that third game, I just did the best moves I had available each turn and came out on top.
Top 64 vs Luxchomp
Game 1: I feel fine with my Luxchomp matchup, but I quickly learn my opponent is playing Lucario GL, Expert Belt, and Department Store Girl, which are pretty much 3 direct Gyarados techs. To the best of my knowledge, most people aren’t playing those cards anymore, and probably rightly so.
Even then, I know I can still win with a good setup. Unfortunately, my opponent opens with a Call and gets a Cyrus chain going by turn 2. I have a Magikarp prized, but my opponent Sprays my Azelf turn 1, then I miss 2 Scoop Ups directly afterward. The hurt a lot as I didn’t draw my Magikarp until my fourth prize.
Not having the Magikarp cause me to overextend by playing Expert Belts and Crobats when I would rather not, and I end up losing because of that. If I got that Magikarp out of the discard turn 1, I think I could have probably won the game.
Game 2: I don’t get a great start and my opponent again has a solid start for an SP deck. I play well and try to get myself into a winning situation, but I am 10 short of 1HKOing his Expert Belted Luxray once he Power Sprays my Crobat. I had just played my Cynthia’s Feelings and hoped to draw into multiple Crobats, turns, and Scoop Ups, but drew only 2-of what I needed, the one of which got Sprayed.
I was bummed to be Knocked Out, especially when it looked like I had a real decent shot at going far. There were a ton of Sablelock decks left and I knew I could beat them. Lunatone and Solrock give me a very good chance in that matchup.
In any case, I was happy with how I played and a bunch of my friends did really well. Ian went 6-3 and made top 64. Jason returned after a 6 year hiatus going 8-1 and making top 32. Josh was noob and went 5-4.
This was one of my favorite Nationals I ever went to. Indianapolis was a great location and there were just so many cool people at the tournament. The Pokémon community is simply awesome.
Oh and thanks to everyone who took a shirt off my hands…I was really happy to give them away. :)