Hello Underground subscribers, and welcome to the triple feature! If you’ve been subscribed to Underground for the past few months, you might have noticed that I’ve written articles on the three decks I’ve played with at Cities so far. Considering everything from those articles has been written pre-Cities, now is the perfect time for me to relay how these decks have grown or altered for the new tournament season.
Unfortunately, I’ll warn you now, my City Championships performance hasn’t been that outstanding. What I’m hoping is that you can take a lesson from any mistake that I’ve made, as well as take something out from my successes. Hopefully, if things continue to improve for me, the lists and analysis that I leave will be more valuable to you than it is now.
Without any further ado, let’s go to it!
CC #1: Deerfield, IL November 27th
Masters Count: 40+
Before the first week of Cities, I had a pretty good grasp that week 1 would be an equal split across the “big five”—Luxchomp, Dialgachomp, Gyarados, Machamp, and Vilegar—and I called that correctly. I tested each of these decks against each other, as well as my personal favorite deck, Sablock. Machamp struggled way too much against Gyarados and Vilegar, and even SP lists that ran a counter seemed to run through it.
Vilegar had decent matchups across the board, but I ruled it out because of its poor chances against time, especially in best 2/3. I ruled out Dialgachomp as an option because I simply hadn’t mastered the deck enough to play out my matchups well, and I found myself losing to normally closer matchups like Luxchomp and Gyarados.
In the end, I narrowed my picks to Luxchomp, Gyarados, and Sablock (what do you know, my deck choices!). With Luxchomp, I was too worried about taking an auto-loss to Machamp (I hadn’t found a good counter yet, that would come next week). I was also worried because my last outing with Luxchomp led me to go 2-3. My list was clunky and overteched when I tried it, and I knew I could make a much better one, but Luxchomp definitely wasn’t my top choice.
With Sablock (or Chenlock, or ChenAzizCurryWittz Lock or whatever you want to call it : P) I found myself having the usual advantage of experience—Sablock is my favorite deck, and its strategy clicks with me very well. I knew that I would have to play the Blaziken FB LV.X for an edge against Dialgachomp, as well as the Luring Flame option against Vilegar.
In my testing, though, I found myself having too much trouble fitting everything I wanted to even all of my matchups. While you can always just nuke your opponent’s hand and win that way, I found it to be too unreliable of a strategy versus your bad matchups like Machamp. Also, to my despair, I couldn’t win the Gyarados matchup. I beat Gyarados a couple of times last year through disruption and sniping, but with no disruption (Giratina “Let Loose”) and less sniping (no Honchcrow G), I just couldn’t keep up once they got gyarados out.
I found that using luring flame against regice was the only out, and they had warp energy for that. I decided that I could include my donk techs (unown Dark and the special dark) in order to have a chance to beat my bad matchups on the first turn, but in the end, I just couldn’t trust the reliability of my favorite deck.
My testing with Gyarados led to the most positive matchups. I loved Junk Arm, I loved Seeker healing, and I loved Rescue Energy recovery. The deck feels faster than ever now, and even has the ability to donk. I found it to have close to even matchups against everything except Vilegar, a matchup that I continually improved over time by teching against it.
I learned that recovery through “Honey” Combee from Stormfront is needed—if they can Knock you Out without a Rescue Energy, you can’t recover through trainer lock whatsoever. So in went Combee. I also had a hard time setting up against a double Spiritomb start, so I decided to opt for the 1-1 Dialga G LV.X tech.
My final tech was by far my favorite, and that was a single copy of Mesprit LA, taken from a suggestion I read from John Kettler on the Underground Forums. It was great against the mirror, as well as against Luxchomp, and I highly recommend it.
“God, so much text!” I hear you say. “Where’s the list and the report?” you plead. Alright alright, here it is:
Pokémon – 22
Trainers – 32
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 6
Only a few small cuts to the consistency I had in my Gyarados article, but the techs I added became invaluable. So, without further ado, let’s get to the report!
Game 1: vs. Zach Wittenkeller (Machamp)
Me and Zach seem to always get paired up with each other no matter what, and our games are always extremely close. Despite the inherent advantage that Gyarados has over Machamp, he came prepared and made the game much closer than I ever expected. He was able to get a knockout on Sableye after I Impersonated to set up, but the next turn I’m able to deal 130 damage with Expert Belt, Crobat drops, and a LOT of drawing through Uxies, Super Scoop Ups, and Junk Arm abuse.
By the time I get the fully loaded Gyarados out with Rescue Energy, I thought I had the game in the bag. Then, I see his surprise tech—a TS2 Devolutor.
With it, he’s able to start continually 2-shotting me, while carefully combining Machamp Prime’s switch out ability as well as Seeker to keep him from losing the TM as well. By devolving me, not only is he able to grab 2 Prizes for cheap, but he’s also able to circumvent my power of Rescue Energy, keeping my Magikarp in the discard pile.
Forced to think on my feet, I have to heal my Gyarados after every one of his attacks to prevent Devolutor again. This proves to be the correct play, and it keeps gyarados alive enough turns for me to keep my prize lead as long as I can. Props to zach for the creative tech, though!
Game 2: vs. Ryan (Machamp)
Ryan is a great guy—he just started getting competitive at the end of last year, and he’s also the only person in a room that I can ever find taller than me, standing at a massive 6 foot 6. Ryan is running your standard Machamp list with 2 Prime, 2 SF, and no Gyarados counters, so it’s a really easy matchup for me. To cripple him further, I drop Mesprit on turn 1 and drop it again for FIVE consecutive turns with Seeker, Super Scoop Up, VS Seeker for Seeker, and Junk Arm for VS Seeker for Seeker.
I’m only able to get 2 ‘Karp in the discard along with an attached Expert Belt, but hitting for 80 is easily enough damage to take all 6 Prizes—he couldn’t set anything up for the entire game.
Game 3: vs. Antonio (Kingdra)
My opening hand is: Magikarp, Poké Turn, Mesprit, Dialga G, Dialga G LV.X, Expert Belt, and a Warp Energy. Yuck. I start the Dialga to stall, drop the Mesprit to “Psychic Bind,” and pass. He, on the other hand, received a hand from the gods, including double Poké Drawer, Horsea+Rare Candy+Kingdra+Water, as well as Pokémon Collector.
He’s able to start hitting turn 1 with Kingdra right away. I whiff drawing Supporters or search cards of any kind for 2 more turns, and on my third turn I end up promoting my Magikarp to try and use “Sea Spray” to grab even one more card, but flip tails. When I finally do get my first Gyarados in play around turn 4 or 5, I’m 3 Prizes down, but take 2 by 1HKOing an Expert Belted Kingdra.
I start believing I can mount a comeback, as long as I can keep healing and denying cheap prizes on my bench. On my next turn, I’m given a ton of Super Scoops Ups and Junk Arms to start my healing streak. The only problem? I flip FIVE straight tails on SSU flips, giving him the almost definite victory.
Some games just leave you with a dead hand, and there’s nothing you can do about it!
Game 4: vs. Gyarados Mirror
This game is very uneventful, as the Gyarados mirror can be. I’m able to get a key first prize by quadruple Flash Biting a Nincada that he was forced to start with (I guess Shedinja was his tech to give Vilegar trouble). After I take this prize, I set up a Gyarados and take another. I also drop a Mesprit hoping that Psychic Bind will prevent him from setting up, but he uses Junk Arm and Volkner’s to get Gyarados out just fine.
From here on out, it becomes an exchange of Gyarados attacks and healing. He takes a prize every turn I take one, and he heals every turn I’m able to heal. He’s able to mix things up by playing a Warp Point to cut my prize lead by one, and I fear that if he gets a Junk Arm he’ll be able to take another. Warp Point was a card that I really wanted to fit in my list, but didn’t know what to cut for it.
In the end, I take the last prize as time as called, with him having 1 left. The mirror is usually up to whichever player can take consistent prizes, and the small extra prize that I took was just enough to stay ahead.
Game 5: vs. Jeremy (Luxchomp)
Jeremy is a loyal member of Jimmy Ballard’s shop, and he’s also a great player. With the exception of James Flint (who I haven’t seen this CCs season so far), he’s the only player in Illinois I haven’t beaten before, and I intended to reverse the curse here.
I set up extremely quickly, getting a turn 1 Gyarados that can swing for 110 with Expert Belt. Because I KO’d his Luxray GL that was active and he had no additional ones benched, I know I’m safe for at least 1 turn of a return knockout. When he does set another Luxray down, I drop a Mesprit to Psychic Bind, which would prevent him from taking a knockout for an additional turn, allowing me to either heal or take more prizes with Gyarados.
Unfortunately for him, he’s whiffing Energy drops each turn, and I’m able to take my first 4 Prizes without him taking one.
He’s finally able to Power Spray my Mesprit for one turn to give him the time to take a single knockout with 70 Trash Bolt+20 Expert Belt+30 weakness+3 Flash Bites for a KO. I’m not sure if he didn’t run Lucario GL or if it was prized, but you really lose any competitive edge versus Gyarados without it.
Top 8 cut is announced and I’m in at 5th place. I end up pairing against Rob Downs, pioneer of one of the least fun decks to play against of all time: Uxie Donk.
Game 1: I go first (something you never want against Uxie Donk) with an active Dialga G, a benched Smeargle, and I drop an Uxie LA for extra safe measure. I think to myself “phew, I’ll avoid the donk, drop the Mesprit, and take over. Now that Mr. Mime MT is out of the format, this will be very winnable for me.” The problem with this line of thought is that I was assuming I’d have a second turn.
Rob Downs’ Uxie Donk received a huge boost from Triumphant in the names of Seeker and Junk Arm. Junk Arm allows him to abuse his multiple Trainer cards in any way he wants, and it lets him drop an unbelievable amount of damage through Poké Blower +, Flash Bites, Poké Turns, Expert Belt, and PlusPowers (although to be honest I don’t even know if he used PlusPower).
He’s able to thin about half of his deck before killing my benched Smeargle with 7 Flash Bite drops and taking a prize. Then, he uses CYCLONE ENERGY on my active Diala G, forcing it to the bench. Then he plays Seeker, forcing me to pick up my 100 HP Psychic-resistant wall to my hand. From here, dealing with my +20 Psychic-weak Uxie LA is just an Expert Belt and a Flash Bite away from the discard.
Game 2 starts and I choose to go 2nd. I lead with Unown Q and fear the donk, but he starts a lone Unown R and passes. I look at my hand and think I have what it takes to donk, but I also question whether or not it’d be smarter to donk and move to Game 3 (where he’s guaranteed to go 2nd and win unless I have the Mesprit in hand) or if it’d be better to play the game out to 6 Prizes and hope that I could win on time, forcing Game 3 to go to a coin flip.
I consider Rob’s playing speed—rob’s first turn can take 15 minutes or more alone, and I’m starting to consider if I could even win on time at all (he can take 3 Prizes at least the first turn he has Poké-Powers).
In the end, I decide to go for the donk. It might not have been my best approach, but I decided that even if I did take a lead and time was winding down, he could just scoop at any time to guarantee himself the chance to go 2nd. I Belt Unown Q, attach Rescue Energy, and draw Crobat G as my last card from an Uxie LA “setup” to take the game.
Game 3 goes as I expected. I start 2 Sableyes and get absolutely crushed in one turn.
What’s frustrating about playing Rob’s Uxie Donk is that the games are almost entirely non-interactive, and they leave things down to a coin flip. Had I gone second in the first game, I could have Collector’d for the Mesprit and set up, establishing a huge lead early on. Then I could have scooped the second game as soon as he took off to choose to go 2nd for Game 3, repeating my strategy for Game 1.
In the end, we played out 6 total turns, one for each player, for 3 games. He took the risk of running an auto-loss against Vilegar, but missed all of them except for one in swiss, so I guess his risk paid off.
Rob’s luck ran out in Top 4 though when he faced a Vilegar or Dialga G (can’t remember which one), so his deck wasn’t flawless. It’s just a total shame I had to run into it. Winner of the day was Alex Brosseau with Dialgachomp beating Steve Balla’s Vilegar.
All in all, it was a decent run for me. None of my losses were due to misplays, and I was moderately happy with the result. I just hope I never get paired with Rob Downs ever again.
I’m not able to make Sunday, but I find out that a 15 year old Lucas Selig beat Steve Balla’s Vilegar with a Gyarados deck without Dialga in it. This not only surprised me (I felt I couldn’t make the Vilegar match positive without Dialga), but it made me expect a floor full of Gyarados for the next week.
CC #2: Des Plaines, IL December 4
Deck: Luxchomp + ERL
Players: About 30
I decide that next week is the week to test Luxchomp again. After hearing of Fulop’s successful endeavors with the deck, I decide to ask him for advice. I get suggestions in the form of almost his entire Trainer line, and also the suggestion to try out an Entei & Raikou LEGEND tech. I assemble the deck around his advice and start mass testing on Redshark and Apprentice.
I win all of my games out of 15 or so and feel extremely confident in my list and my abilities. Most of the players that I played dropped their jaws after seeing Entei Raikou drop—players just aren’t mentally prepared for that card as an option in decks anymore, and you can snag some games you’d otherwise have lost with it.
As they say, perfect practice makes perfect, and practice over the week was going perfect. When I finally played some live games versus my buddy Carver, things went just as well. I lost one game to his Vilegar with a handful of Trainers, but the rest were won by early Vileplume knockouts or a surprise ERL drop. I also tested very positively against his Dialgachomp, and felt extremely confident in my list.
When I ride down to my place to stay Friday night, we’re hit with a blizzard that we weren’t expecting until the next day. A normally 2 ½ hour drive turns into a 5 hour one, and we don’t get to bed until 3 in the morning. I’m a huge advocate of sleep before a tournament, so I’m definitely crankier than usual in the morning. I decide to stick with the list as tested with no sudden changes, and here’s what I had:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 29
Energy – 11
The 3-1 Uxie LV.X, Lucario GL, 2 Premier Ball, 2 Junk Arm combo is the perfect way to combat Machamp without sacrificing consistency. I highly prefer it over the Toxitank strategy because the extra Uxie and Premier Ball are helpful in your other matchups as well. The Junk Arms are amazing all-purpose cards, and as Fulop instructed, 2 seems to be the perfect number.
I felt confident in my list, and came in with high hopes when I saw a smaller crowd of 30 this time.
Round 1 vs. Machamp
I go first to his Machop start, and use my Call Energy to grab an Uxie and a Lucario. He raises his eyebrows at the called Uxie, but it turned out to be a perfect play, enabling a turn 2 Uxie LV.X KO on Machamp immediately after he gets his turn 1 “Take Out.” We exchange Machamp SF and Uxie LV.X prizes until I am able to hit him with a Power Spray, and for the next few prizes I’m able to Knock Out his remaining Machops with Luxray and Garchomp to seal the game.
The 3-1 Uxie pulled through, and I felt like I had board control the entire game despite a stream of Machamps.
Round 2 vs. Dan w/ Vilegar
Dan is one of the newest players in our area, having just started competitive play with battle roads this season. He was also one of the players I drove down with. After wrecking Carver’s Vilegar multiple times, I felt pretty confident with this matchup. That is, until I saw my opening hand. Luxray GL, FIVE TRAINERS, and AARON’S COLLECTION.
To make things worse, he mulligans and I draw another Trainer! I haven’t had such a dead hand since years ago when I got my infamous Gastly+6 P Energy start. My next topdecks include a Lightning, a Double Colorless, Luxray GL LV.X, and a Smeargle.
When I get the Luxray LV.X I try to get a knockout, but the prize is another trainer. I bench Smeargle and try and “Portrait” but he has nothing I can use (there was a Twins, but I was up in prizes). He proceeds to use the Twins to get a Vileplume and Gengar set up (his start was slow, too) and the next turn he uses Seeker to pick up smeargle and Poltergeists me for over 100 extra damage and the win.
I was very frustrated with my loss because I didn’t think the matchup was normally that bad, and I had beat the deck plenty of games earlier. Sometimes the cards are just dealt to you funny, and I learned to deal with it.
Round 3 vs. Gyarados w/ Blissey Prime Tech
I felt very positive about my Gyarados matchup from testing, and I came in ready for a good game. I jumped to an early lead with Luxray KOs on Gyarados, but after one of his turns of healing I am unable to respond with a knockout and hit him for 120. He tries to heal with Blissey Prime, which I Power Spray, and he KOs my Luxray GL LV.X. Try as I might, I can’t find a way to deal the measly 30 damage I need to get a double prize on the Gyarados, which frustrates me.
I look at his board and see 3 Pokémon that can get Knocked Out with a Entei & Raikou LEGEND “Thunder Fall,” and a 4th if I can Flash Bite his Regice. The only problem is that I can’t find my Azelf or my Bronzing G. Bronzong G is needed to make the Entei/Raikou drop a “surprise” because it’s the only way to get 2 Energy on ERL right away.
I decide to drop the ERL early and pass, throwing up a garbage Pokémon for him to KO. This puts him with 3 Prizes left, and me with 4. As I expected, he’s able to Poké Turn his Crobat in fear of Entei/Raikou, giving me only 3 possible prizes. To make things worse, I whiff on the Poké Turn for Crobat, so now I really look stupid with Entei Raikou in play.
I Thunder fAll to take 2 Prizes, putting me up 2-3, but inevitably sacrifice my Entei Raikou for 2 Prizes, putting him up at 2-1. He’s also able to Super Scoop Up his Blissey and heal the Regice, denying my opportunity to bright look Blissey Prime with 80 damage on it for the KO along with a Flash Bite on Regice.
I have 1 Luxray GL basic down, and I know I’m going to need a miracle to pull this one off. All 3-of my Lightning energy are in the discard pile, as well as my only Luxray GL LV.X. I’ve used my Aaron’s Collection, so the only way I can even get the L Energy is by drawing into my only copy of VS Seeker. I have a Crobat G and an Uxie LA that I kept in my hand to prevent them from becoming Thunder Fall fodder, so I have a start that at least makes a comeback possible.
I draw into nothing, but my hand is small and I’m able to Flash Bite and then setup for 4-5 cards. Within those cards I hit the one I 100% needed, the VS Seeker, as well as a Pokémon Communication. I VS Seeker for Aaron’s Collection to retrieve Luxray LV.X and the L Energy and put both on Luxray GL. I then Communication for Uxie LA (my second, I haven’t played any all game yet) and do my second Set Up for 3.
With these three cards I hit gold: a Junk Arm, a Poké Turn, and my third Uxie. I Poké Turn + Flash Bite for my 2nd damage counter and only need one more. I debate whether I need to Junk Arm for Energy Gain or Poké Turn, and decide for Poké Turn because I was twice as likely to draw into the Energy Gain with my last cards.
So with my hand size cut down considerably, I’m able to use my third “Set Up” in the turn for five cards from a thin deck, looking for an Energy Gain. I hit it on the second card, and am able to Flash Impact for the last 120 damage that I needed, and my last 2 Prizes.
That was by far the greatest longshot comeback I’ve ever made in a game, and I’m sweating bullets. The early Entei/Raikou drop might not have been the smartest, but it was the only way for me to take prizes for the time being, and as stupid of a play as it was, it enabled me to win the game.
On the downside, everyone crowded around watching my game (which ended on time when my miraculous comeback turn began) was now aware of my Entei/Raikou tech, which ruins the surprise advantage. Either way, I’m happy with my deck’s ability to come back out of bad situations, and for the second time now the 3 Uxie play was deemed a good one.
Game 4 vs. Ryan Alperstein “Bullados” w/ BLG
Ryan is my ride to tournaments, and he’s usually a judge or an organizer. He rarely plays, so I feel like I have an inherent advantage versus him. Combined with my extensive testing of the mirror, and I feel really good about this one.
Even my starting hand doesn’t seem too bad. I have a Collector, a couple of Garchomp, and an Energy; not the worst start. He goes first with Luxray GL and a DCE and Bites, and I set up a Smeargle UD (which is normally excellent vs. the mirror) and I attatch to the benched Garchomp.
On his turn, he Bright Looks me, and Flash Bites + Trash Bolts to Knock Out my Garchomp C—total bummer. From here I try to use Smeargle’s Power but am denied by a Power Spray. I later learned that he ran 4, and he used all 4 throughout our game to deny me my comeback. I have to pass another turn and give up another prize before finally taking one of my own, and it takes a while before I am able to come back to the 2 Prize gap to tie things up.
Unfortunately, time is called in a way where he is able to take the final prize on time to win. Frustrated, I play the game out anyway to make sure I didn’t get robbed by time, and sure enough still would have lost by 1 Prize in the exchange.
I was frustrated to lose to a worse player, but the SP mirror has enough variance to make players with less skill hold a steady lead as long as they can stay up in the Prize trade. To make me feel better, Ryan would end up beating two-time World Champion Jason Klaczynski 6-0 due to bad draws, so it made me feel better to know that even the best aren’t invincible.
Game 5 vs. Clinton Chan w/ Luxchomp
I start this game frustrated and tired, upset that I’m going to miss top cut after such positive testing. He starts lone Crobat G to my Luxray GL and I’m going second. I have Crobat and Poké Turn, so all I need to hit off an Uxie drop is an Energy Gain, an Energy Exchanger, or a Double Colorless Energy.
I get none of these things, but I do get a Cyrus, so I hit for 60 and start up a Cyrus chain. Here is where I started to get careless and exhausted in the tournament, but so was Chan, so we ended up playing a pretty sub par match of Pokémon. I misplay for a prize, but then he does too to even things out. In the end, it becomes a prize exchange game that leads to him staying 1 Prize ahead at the end of time.
I end up frustrated with my poor performance—this is my second tournament under .500 in 2 years, and both are with Luxchomp. Didn’t I write the Bible on this thing? I go back through my list of losses with the deck, and I learn a key fact—5-of my 6 losses with Luxchomp have been in the mirror. While in testing, things went great, I realized how easily things can go the other way around.
I also learned that Fulop went 3-2 for the day missing his cut, which made me feel like my findings are at least somewhat accurate. I’ve also had a problem with overteching my Luxchomp, and while this time I only ran a 2 card tech, I could have easily turned the Entei & Raikou LEGEND into 2 consistency boosting cards that would have helped me a bit more.
In the end, I think Luxchomp just isn’t the deck for me. It’s an amazing deck, but I can’t seem to win the mirror when I want to, and I’ve had overall terrible luck with the deck this season.
Steve Balla ended up winning undefeated with his Vilegar list against a Sablock player. He used his Mewtwo Level X to win at least one game, and I realized that I probably would have lost against him as well with no counter.
We get back, and I spend most of my time the rest of the day at the drawing board working with my two other pet decks, Gyarados and Sablock. I do most of my testing vs. Vilegar, and I expect a huge increase in Vilegar because of Steve’s success. I test decently with Gyarados, but am only able to win a few times without the Dialga. With the Dialga things were testing just fine, and I could have stopped there and called the deck good.
Instead, I kept thinking about Sablock and the different ways I could change it to feel comfortable with it in the metagame. I wanted a tech that could help me beat Vilegar, Gyarados, and Machamp. That tech was the same one I’d been trying to fit for a while—Honchcrow SV.
Of all the lists that I’ve changed, Sablock had the most surgery for sure. I considered many things, including ways to bump my Energy count to 12, the Honchcrow, a Toxicroak G Promo, a Bronzong, even a 3rd Bebe’s Search to use vs. Vilegar. I look through my cards and decide that the 2nd Crobat isn’t needed because I can usually get the donks on 60 or 70 HP Pokémon with Sableye without even needing the second Crobat.
I also decide to cut the Premier Ball for space, but in turn decide to drop my VS Seeker for a 2nd Aaron’s Collection so that I have stable recovery with my 3-1 Garchomp line vs. Vilegar. In my ChenAzizCurryWittz Lock article, I talk about how I never really needed both Judge, and I decided that cutting the one shouldn’t hurt me too much.
In order to accompany for the Honchcrow’s Darkness requirement, as well as a Psychic for Toxicroak G, I decided to cut all of my Warp Energies to make room for more Basic Darks. After all these changes, I jump to testing.
I still love the ability to “Luring Flame” Regice, Bronzong, and Vileplume, and decide that if possible, I’d like a 3rd Fire in my deck. I decide that the Toxicroak G Promo isn’t needed because I’ve remained undefeated vs. Luxchomp without ever having to use it in a game, so that got swapped for the Bronzong G and the third Fire.
Of all the changes that I’ve made, BronzOng G is the one that is never coming back out—”Galactic Switch” is too important in SP decks, especially against the mirror.
I was heavily debating whether Unown Dark is even needed anymore with the higher Darkness count, but I decide to keep it anyway for the possible donk factor vs. bad matchups, as well as a way to search Energy because I wasn’t able to fit the 12th.
In the end, my list turned out a little different, with a bit less disruption for a little more offensive capabilities. Here’s what I got:
ChenAzizWittzCurry Lock 2.0:
Pokémon – 23
3 Garchomp C
Trainers – 26
Energy – 11
I go to bed around 2:00 (man do I ever learn?) and await my next tournament.
CC #3: Orland Park, IL December 5
Deck: Sablock+Blaziken+Honchcrow SV
Players: mid 30s (we learned that we were just ONE person away from top 8 cut)
Round 1 vs. Jason “Ness” K. (Two-time World Champ) w/ Gyarados
After such a bad day the day before, you can imagine how I felt going up against Jason. I hadn’t played him in nearly two years, and I know how tough of an opponent he can be. He’s been playing at every single City Championship possible with Gyarados, so I know what to expect… at least, I thought I did!
I start with Ambipom G and Garchomp C benched to his active Ditto and benched Magikarp. I go first and attach a Double Colorless energy, hitting his Ditto for 60. On his turn, he plays a Sage’s Training—a card I hadn’t really tried since my pre-Triumphant Gyarados list. He takes his 2 cards, discards 3, and passes.
I draw into a Cyrus, and I know I’m just short of taking the donk. I use my Cyrus to grab an SP Radar and an Energy while analyzing my deck to figure out what my prizes are. I take a little longer than I should have figuring everything out, but I’m trying to maximize my chances to win turn 2 so I don’t want to mess up. I SP Radar for Chatot G, which not only lets me give him bad topdecks to slow him down a little, but it also gives me a Pokémon that I can retreat to in order to knockout his Ditto (retreating gives Ditto Chatot G’s 60 HP).
pokemon-paradijs.comFrom my prizes I pull an Azelf, which I play right away because I know I have a prized Uxie. It’s too bad I didn’t pull the prized Poké Turn, because it’s all I need to win the game (Poké Turning Chatot lets me KO Magikarp with “Smack Attack” for the game). I pull the Uxie and “Set Up” for 5 cards, hoping for a Poké Turn. I whiff on it, and end up passing (I kept Chatot G in play in order to use my Power Sprays).
Jason asks me very politely to speed my rate of play up, and I agree that it’s only fair considering how long I took for a miss on a donk. On his turn he’s able to play another Sage’s Training from hand to get his way into a Junk Arm and a Gyarados set up. He doesn’t have much else, and is only hitting for 60, but he’s able to get back into the game.
Because he isn’t hitting very heavy, I’m able to grab prizes for a turn or two with Garchomp C LV.X snipes and Poké Turns, and he’s denied any prizes because he’s only hitting for 60 (and eventually 80 with an Expert Belt). During a turn when I had no Poké Turn, I decide to hit him for 60 with Uxie LV.X, allowing me to use Trade Off to start drawing again (my hand went dead really quickly, at this point I was stuck with 2 Aaron’s Collection).
He can’t KO me because he’s only hitting for 80, and I Psychic Restore to the bottom, giving him 80 damage and putting him one Dragon Rush away from a knockout. He topdecks a Warp Point, which not only allows him to move Gyarados to the bench for a heal with Seeker, but it also allows him to take prizes again off my bench that can’t withstand 80 damage.
My memory gets a little fuzzy near the end, but what happens is he’s up 1 Prize and I need a single Energy to tie it and grab a Double Colorless that was prized (two were prized) to almost guarantee the win after things were tied. I whiff on the draw and he gets the win on time.
He affirms to me that I probably would have won on time which makes me feel better, and I wish him luck in the rest of the tournament.
In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have given Uxie LV.X the Double Colorless Energy, but Jason’s hand was so bad that I didn’t expect him to have any way of healing. If I had saved the Double for Garchomp C LV.X and not been impatient, I could have drawn that tieing prize while still cutting him off from knockouts with my 110 HP.
In the end, his request for me to speed up actually helped me more than it hurt me—we each only took 3-4 Prizes when time was called. Whoops! Me being tired again was probably a factor to my slow playing.
Round 2 vs. Rose w/ Gengar/Dusknoir/Donphan
When I saw an old woman played against me I thought two things. 1—easy win. 2—bad resistance. So I gear up for a quick win and start with Ambipom G again. I attatch to a Garchomp C on the bench and pass. She gets a turn 1 Donphan, Gengar SF, and Dusknoir “Dark Hide” Promo out in one turn and I start to realize this could go south very quickly. She 1-shots Ambipom and I start to worry. On my turn, I’m able to “Dragon Rush” Donphan for 60, take the 60 damage Earthquake, and then deal another 60 for my first KO.
On her turn, she promotes Gengar, levels up to the X and Poltergeists me for 150 (I had 5 supporters in hand, no trainers : /). I have to start allowing her to take a larger lead to set up my plan. She keeps using Dark Hide Dusknoir’s Power to take away my Pokémon saved in hand, so I need an attacker I can drop right away.
I use my Bebe’s Search with a topdecked Honchkrow SV to get the Murkrow and drop the set down. I attach a Special Darkness and pass, and she takes her third prize to my one taken. On my turn, I bring up Honchkrow, attach DCE and “Riot” for over 200 damage after weakness. She hits tails on the Fainting Spell and pushes up Uxies for the next few turns.
I begin to take prize after prize with Honchcrow while Darkness Restoring Uxies. She eventually tries to set up a Belted Donphan to wall me. She hits me for 80 damage after resistance, but I’m able to one shot her by attaching another Special Darkness and dealing 30 + 50 for my bench + 40 for her bench + 20 for Special Darks + 20 for two Crobat G drops for a total of 160 damage – 20 damage from her body for the knockout.
Honchcrow ends up letting me get a quick KO on Gengars that I normally would struggle with or try to ignore, and this game makes me glad he’s in my deck.
Game 3 vs. Structure Deck
I get paired up vs. a structure deck that is 1-1 : /. I’m worried that his resistance is too bad for me to end up top cutting, but I remain a good sport and play the game out anyway. It takes me 2 to 3 turns to ko all of his basics with Garchomp C LV.X, and I try to point him to my show Prof-It! To get in the right direction for competitive play. A lame win, but a win nonetheless.
Game 4 vs. Gyarados
The player I was paired up with was a big Prof-It! Fan, and this was his first year of competitive play. That didn’t stop him from being a strong player or from having a really strong decklist, though. We both start Sableye, and he uses his Sableye to set up, while I use my Sableye to Judge his setup away. He uses his turn to Sableye for a second Collector, and I use my turn to setup Garchomps and Blaziken and use my Sableye to get Power Spray from a Cyrus.
I Power Spray his Regice and his hand has no Junk Arm or way to discard Magikarps, so he passes. I use my turn to use Blaziken FB’s “Luring Flame” to pull up his Regice. He uses his Warp Energy to retreat, but his Regi Move is met with another Power Spray. On my turn, I Dragon Rush his Regice for a prize and hope that he’s stuck for a while from recovering.
He uses his turn to play Combee SF and restore the Regice, this time successfully dropping the Magikarps out of his hand. He ends up short of much else, though, and is forced to use Impersonate with Sableye to get a Gyarados in hand.
I use my turn to Luring Flame his Regice once more, but this time he doesn’t have any Warp Energy and is forced to leave Regice active. He gets about 75% or higher heads on his burn flips, and Regice stays active for the rest of the game. I use Garchomp C LV.X for most of my prizes from here, and then use Honchcrow’s “Darkness Restore” to fill his bench with Magikarps before taking the game with a couple Riots.
In the end, disruption ended up winning me the game by a much larger margin than I expected.
Game 5 vs. Jeremy w/ Luxchomp
Jeremy is the only player I’ve had to play twice over my 3 Cities so far, and he was ready for revenge. Unfortunately for him, he starts with a 0 search card hand. I start Sableye and decide that because he has 6 cards in his hand, and because my own hand is poor, that going the Collector route is the way to go. On his turn, he starts Uxie, benches a Misdreavus, and SP Radars for a Luxray GL and passes.
I use his time of weakness to grab a Chatot G and start disruption while setting up Garchomp C LV.X. The Chatot G gives him 2 turns of bad draws before I have to use Chatot G again, and I take a prize on his Uxie. He uses his turn with Misdreavus’ 0 Energy attack to put me to sleep. I flip tails on sleep, and am forced to wait a turn with Garchomp because I didn’t have Bronzing G out to Poké Turn into a clean Garchomp C LV.X + Dragon Rush (I didn’t hit any DCE until the last 2 turns of the game).
Over the next 4 turns, he hits half of them to put me to sleep with Misdreavus, but it’s enough time for him to draw his way into a Supporter. I decide that Knocking Out his benched Luxray and Ambipom G are higher priorities, and I believe I made the right choice, because by the time he evolved to mismagius he could only hit me for 40 damage.
I’m able to take a 3 Prize lead, and when time is called, he had no chance of coming back. Near the end of the game I was hitting my Double Colorless Energy, so I had the game under control pretty well.
Much better outing than the day before! Unfortunately, because we were ONE person short of top 8, I miss cut at 6th place. I’m happy with how the day went though, losing only one game to time that I would have won otherwise, and at least my rating isn’t a joke anymore.
If I were to make any more changes to Sablock right now, it’d be considering whether the Unown Dark is appropriate. He makes a great donk when I start Smeargle, but I didn’t start Smeargle once in any of my games. I’ll have to test things out more, but if he goes, he’ll become a 12th energy.
The other thing I don’t love is that I have no utility Trainers outside of the SP engine (like Energy Exchanger or Premier Ball). I guess I wanted to keep a lower Trainer count to prevent tough Vilegar games, but with Vilegar missing Top 4 entirely, I should be able to fit some Trainers in again. Dialgachomp ended up winning for the day, and if Dialgachomp gets bigger in our area, I’ll be sure to stick with my current deck.
All in all, I learned a couple of valuable lessons. I need to play a little faster and observe time more—almost all of my games in the second weekend went to time, even if at the very end. I also need to take my own advice and get proper sleep—it’s such underrated advice! I also learned that sometimes you just have a deck that you play best with, and for me it seems to be Sablock. I’m 10-1 with the deck right now, and while I haven’t played any more than two tournaments with it this season, my experience from last season has definitely carried over.
I’ll definitely be taking a look at Gyarados, too, but for now my Luxchomp days are definitely over.
Thanks for reading my article and checking out my updated decklists! I hope you learned something along the way! Have a great day, and good luck at Cities!
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