lwrHey Underground! For all who went to State/Provincial/Territorial Championships this weekend, I hope that you all had a great time, and achieved what you wanted. Although I ultimately did not succeed at winning my most recent event, I still had a great time, and was, given my luck, satisfied with my 17th place finish – one off of the top sixteen cut.
Yet, as I’ve implied in countless articles and posts, “luck” is not as certain of a thing as people pretend it to be: my fate at this event was, at its core, caused by my own decisions.
Since the goal is to WIN, and not to merely bubble, this report sets out to not only show you typical “report stuff” (list, analysis, matches, etc); it also seeks to explain the deeper implications of your game, and help elaborate on why you may be performing below your expectations.
Pre-Tournament Preparation, and the Final List
Due to an extensive undergraduate thesis, as well as three mid terms in two days, this was likely the least time I have ever spent play-testing for an event. This lack of testing would manifest itself in subtle ways; but for most intents and purposes, it wasn’t even necessary, since Luxchomp is a strong basis for anyone to work off of.
Plus, we all know well that Call of Legends scarcely phased the metagame sans Lostgar.
Regarding my other choices for this event, short-listers included Lostgar and Dialgachomp. Since I felt like my primary competition would consist of SP variants, the slight edge you lose in the SP mirror with it was undesirable.
Furthermore, it has a fairly weak Gyarados matchup, which can’t be tolerated in a Gyarados-happy metagame like Oklahoma City. As for Lostgar, my decision to not play it was one of experience; that is, I do not yet feel ready to take on timed scenarios with it yet.
While it’s certainly a good deck, and very easy to use in a metagame where nobody knows how to counter it, Lostgar should not be used unless you’re confident in your ability to play QUICKLY!
With those two eliminated, and no interest at all in running Vilegar, I was left with my one tried-and-true this season: Luxchomp.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 28
Energy – 10
Floating spots – 3
pokemon-paradijs.comThe night before the tournament, I had approximately three floating spots I was unsure of. I first started with Honchkrow SV and one Darkness, which is currently the most well-rounded tech against the metagame: it beats Mewtwo, beats Lostgar if a piece of the line isn’t Hurled into Darkness, and does marginally well against the mirror, Gyarados, and Vilegar as well.
Unfortunately, 1-1 Honchkrow with 1 Darkness is a practically difficult thing to setup, and if you can’t set up an attacker, then it might as well be wasted space. So for this event, the ‘Krow had to go.
I then moved back to Dialga g LV.X with one metal, which is most assuredly solid in its own right, but it too would not be that useful against anything other than Vilegar, which is a marginal threat at best in the event’s metagame.
Since I didn’t want to play either Honchkrow or Dialga, and since I didn’t want to play a hard Mewtwo counter at all, I then proceeded to find a new use for those spots. Here were all of the options I considered, and why I ultimately played none of them:
Of all the Lostgar counters, Drapion 4 is the most efficient and effective at what it does: it takes up the least space (one over Honchkrow’s three, or Weavile’s two), and does it unconditionally! However, it is really bad in just about in any game beyond Lostgar and Vilegar, so let’s move on…
It’s heavily underrated, as it does a superb job at what it’s supposed to do, but by this point, I decided not to run a hard counter against Lostgar at all. I figured that there would be few or no competitive builds, so countering it would be a waste.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is the tech that I settled on. A near-literal example of last second inspiration, I chose Mewtwo because…
1) It’s one of the hardest counters to SP out there, which is valuable in an area where Luxchomp is the homogenously-dominating force.
2) It works as a great finisher. Luxchomp’s resources dry out fast in the late game, and so a “free” attacker via Energy Absorption is more than desirable.
3) I know Mewtwo LV.X techs extremely well; that is, I know precisely when to go for it, when to yield in favor of the usual game plan, and when to fix my game in case I walked into a counter.
4) Running Mewtwo encourages me to run more Psychic, which only promotes the utility of Azelf and Crobat g’s attacks.
So, now that I settled on the Mewtwo, let’s see all of the cards that got snubbed as a result:
Everyone knows that this is a powerful card, especially in the mirror, but I wanted an aggressive, and Twins is hardly an aggression-based card. Plus, it gets clunky in the early-mid game, so you have to have a good reason to run it, such as Expert Belt.
A great card that’s helped me out of several situations during the City Championship season, but I felt uninterested in any dead draw at all for this event; I wanted to tighten up my build.
The “icing on the cake” in the mirror, hand disruption is the final coup de grace, both to halt a comeback or to make one yourself. While I definitely love it in SP right now, my later choice (Mewtwo) made it void.
pokegym.netA relatively new idea I’ve been messing around with, as evidenced from an earlier article, but it actually has strong effects on the SP mirror. It’s also decent against Gyarados and Steelix, thanks to its reusability through Junk Arm.
But since I decided against running Twins, I too decided against this. (Also, I don’t own any cards from Call of Legends, and had seven minutes until registration closed, so I was uninterested with hunting down a card that wasn’t rock-solid.)
Other than those spots, everything else was pretty much locked into place. I might reconsider a couple of these 57 cards for next week, such as the 4th Poké Turn, but if I play Luxchomp, then I assure you that the build will be within 90% of this list.
As for my brother, he hadn’t played a game in ages. Because he is one of the biggest fans of “rogue” that I know, we concocted a bizarre Machamp/Drapion variant. After a combination of our ideas, this is the strange, bizarre product that came out…
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 29
Energy – 11
His finish wasn’t too hot, but he made some huge wins against bad matchups, which shows a ton of potential. I’m excited about some sort of deck involving one or both of these two – possibly a Vileplume variant. Either way, we’ll be revisiting things to make the deck rock-solid.
(Fair warning: it is extremely easy to get benched with this deck!)
Now that we’ve gone over my list in detail, as well as briefly touched on my brother’s uber-rogue, let’s get a bit more into the event itself…
art.comOklahoma States, despite not being in Texas, was a very competitive event with several Worlds qualifiers, in addition to top placers at Nats and Worlds (Martin Moreno, Austin Baggs, Kyle St. Charles, et al.). Aside from that, the field was sizable, with 84 Masters, seven rounds, and a cut to the top sixteen.
The breakdown was about what I expected: a fourth or more SP; some Vilegar; very few Lostgar; more than average amounts of Gyarados; and plenty of less common decks (Magnezone, Machamp, Steelix, Tyranitar). It was a balanced metagame with several points to hit, and I felt like I mostly got all of them. However, it’s the event itself that decides these things, and my judgment began with round one…
Round One: Edward K. (Blaziken “Chen” Lock)
I started lone Mewtwo versus his Garchomp c – certainly not a bad start, but it gives me no “read” for what sort of mirror I’m up against. Given this, I decided to make my first turn as well-rounded as possible, getting a decent bench of mirror attackers (Call for Garchomp and Luxray), while also opening up access to the turn two Mewtwo LV.X.
But although my board looked promising, he proceeded to Pokémon Collector (choosing Crobat g, Garchomp c, and Ambipom g), attach to the active ‘Chomp, retreat into his newly-played Sableye, and then Impersonate into one of the worst Judges ever used against me. I drew…
And for the next eight turns, I would not draw a single “out,” instead hitting a variety of useless Pokémon, Energy, and Galactic Inventions… All the while sitting there with a non-leveled Mewtwo. Since he made several suboptimal stall tactics (Swticheroo, Tail Code) in place of actually attacking me, I remained intact with a small glimmer of hope the whole time. However, time was eventually called, 4-6 his favor in prizes.
pokemon-paradijs.comIf I had more time, then I could have actually walled with Mewtwo LV.X – even against his 2-2 Honchkrow. The way he managed his resources gave me just enough windows to achieve a non-regulation win, but unfortunately, we play timed games in Pokémon.
This was a very painful ordeal – much more so than even a first turn knock-out. Nevertheless, a loss is a loss, and you shouldn’t let it upset you. Save neurotic over-analysis until after the event!
Round Two: Shenandoah M. (Toxicroak/Donphan/Gliscor)
Due to Toxicroak dealing 60 and poison to me by the second turn, she was able to apply very early pressure.
Nevertheless, though, this deck had a weak core concept, so once my setup finally stabilized, I never looked back for an instant, using basic strategies to outdo each of her major cards: abuse Uxie and Uxie LV.X against the Croak; Toxic Fang against the Donphan Prime; and of snipe the Gliscors, which I lack the clearest answer to.
There isn’t much to say beyond that.
Dana L. (Garchomp c/Honchkrow SV)Round Three:
Going first, I started with a lone Uxie, plus a 20 damage Psychic Restore. I was then promptly met with a first turn knockout via Dana’s two Flash Bites and 50 damage Claw Swipe.
To get FTKO’d when running sixteen basics and three Call Energy is something unlikely, to say the least, but it happens occasionally. But as I said earlier, just take these losses in stride, and don’t let them get to you.
Round Four: Dylan (Speedgar/Starmie)
I had a powerful start going second, which included a strong bench support setup, a draw into Power Spray, and an early KO on his active Staryu. He never really got out, and I benched him by about turn four or five.
Although he never had a chance to display the inner workings of Speedgar, and I never saw more than ten cards from the deck, here is how I imagine it…
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 28
Energy – 9
pokemon-paradijs.comDon’t underestimate the deck – way back when in 2009, a build very similar to this one actually made top eight at the U.S. Nationals, and was for a short time the only genuinely good Gengar variant.
Although Starmie is obviously not as useful as it was when Unown g and Infernape 4 LV.X were rampant metagame threats, it still has plenty of uses against both Gengar mirrors, as well as Dialga.
Even if Starmie isn’t your thing, the general template is very flexible, and could feature a whole assortment of techs (Mewtwo, Nidoqueen, Blaziken LV.X). All in all, while I wouldn’t recommend playing this deck without serious testing, it could come as a huge surprise, and if you’re bored with the current top tier, then this could be a very fun alternative.
Round Five: Matt F. (Vilegar)
Matt and I are both yesteryear champions of this tournament, so it was interesting to play against him in a make-or-break context like this. His Vilegar was an extremely teched-out build: in addition to a 2-1-1 Stormfront/Prime/LV.X split, he ran, a 1-1 Blissey and 1-1 Blaziken f LV.X.
It essentially looked like a list that was shell-shocked by the Georgia Marathon, which featured all of those techs. In addition, he ran a tech Lost World: a potentially useful contingency plan, but not good enough to justify the space in my opinion.
Anyway, he started fairly strong, getting out a turn two Vileplume with a Haunter. I, on the other hand, started a fairly weak hand to his Spiritomb start, but a top deck into Bebe’s Search opened up the possibility for an eventual Uxie LV.X Zen Blade on that Vileplume.
What really made the difference, however, was Matt whiffing energy attachments for two turns in a row, which made a crucial difference in my planning for Poltergeist (i.e., a lack of a necessity to overextend to avoid it).
From there on out, I kept inching closer and closer to the win. My Mewtwo LV.X actually came in hand later on, as it proved to be a potent attacker when my resources were mostly spent. Eventually time was called, with prizes 2-4 in my favor, with one more to come.
While he was angling for the Lost World gimmick near the end, he would have been at least a turn short of achieving it before I drew my last prize.
Round Six: Jorel K. (Steelix)
Steelix is normally a very difficult matchup, but if you get a fast jump on them, then nothing should stop you. This conformed perfectly to this game, as I did a turn one Claw Swipe on Smeargle for 30, followed up with a prompt turn two snipe on his benched Onix for 90 (Dragon Rush plus Crobat g).
He would later Collector into two Onix to prevent me from depriving his board any longer, but this early edge was too much to handle. He got out a late Steelix, but I won this game 6-0 in prizes.
Round Seven: Jeff H. (Luxchomp)
After a strange day versus an even weirder variety of decks, my event was finally capped off with the mirror match I was so hungry to play all day. Essentially, I got a turn two Mewtwo LV.X, started attacking with it by the fourth turn, and never lost my lead.
The primary “playing” in this game was simply me trying to wipe out any resources for counters, and him trying to bait me into a Seeker against my Mewtwo LV.X. Unfortunately, both were futile efforts, as it turned out his Darkness Energy was for a Weavile g instead of a Honchkrow SV, and I didn’t walk into his bait.
The seven rounds were not in themselves a very lengthy process, nor are their descriptions any more lengthy, but their implications to me were great. My playing at this event was rock-solid; still, it’s unfair to say that I flawlessly missed cut, so let’s examine where I went wrong…
Miscalculation #1: Failure to Play a Consistency Crutch
pokemon-paradijs.comCards that even out your consistency in adverse situations – “consistency crutches” – are a vital element to the highest level of deck. If it isn’t Cleffa from Neo genesis, then it’s Chatot from Majestic Dawn. Regardless, it is useful to have some bare-bones, unconditional way to set your board up.
My round one, while exemplary of a “bad beat,” is also exemplary of what happens when you fail to play a consistency crutch card – in this case, Sableye or Chatot.
Don’t take your deck list lightly; instead, recognize the fact that any minute detail in your list, if done wrong, is a mistake. While I concede that my first round was extraordinarily unlucky, it was ultimately my fault for it happening. So the tweak for next week is one of those aforementioned cards.
Poké Turn, and the “Zeroth Stage of Deckbuilding”Miscalculation #2: Four Versus Three
Certain atypical things, such as two Premier Ball “and” two Junk Arm, are so comfortable, and feel so good with the deck. However, even within my playstyle, there exists that bit of the “Zeroth Stage” concept, previously mentioned in my “Pillars” article.
In this instance, my Zeroth Stage that should have been accounted for is Poké Turn, a card whose 4-of count becomes more of a luxury than a necessity. In all likelihood, I will be going down to three for week two, even if it means a harder time for donks, consecutive Dragon Rushes, or other factors.
While this may not be a “mistake” so much as the first one, it is a miscalculation in card utility, so I think it may be best to change things around for Texas States.
But as hard as you beat yourself up over something, don’t take it too far: sometimes, even if you do things a little bit poorly, you’ll still fall short. No reasonable change in my deck list would have guaranteed the prevention of my third round loss, and I’m sure the same could apply to several of your experiences this past weekend.
Therefore, you should be sure to not reach radical conclusions as a result of one suboptimal showing at an event. (I.e., don’t play 4 Call and 4 Pokémon Collector in an Uxie Donk deck just because you yourself were donked.)
Final Placing, and Event Analysis
As you can guess from the title of the article, I didn’t finish first or second, but instead a nice, cozy…
I bubbled, and my hopes for the win, dashed. Still, I had a great time at the event, and likely averted a rating/ranking loss in the top cut. As you can see below, both first and second seed were non-SP decks utilizing Mewtwo LV.X as a hard counter to me, so I would have been very hard pressed to beat either of them.
Anyway, I’ve told pretty much all there is to tell about my story for this weekend, so now that I’m out of the picture, let’s take a look at the top cut…
6 Luxchomp; 4 Gyarados; 2 Dialgachomp; 1 Vilegar; 1 Lostgar; 1 Yanmega/Umbreon; 1 Magnezone/Regirock
The Luxchomps that did well at this event were vanilla lists. Highlander ran a 1-1 Honchkrow, but Michael “Rokman” Weldon ran a very unusual build. While I do not remember his Pokémon or Trainer lines, he ran an energy lineup of 4 Double Colorless, 3 Lightning, 3 Psychic, and 1 Rescue.
In addition, he had a Mewtwo just like I did, as well as a tech Regice. While his energy choices are interesting, I would not endorse the Regice under almost any circumstance, with the sole exception being if you ran two or more Warp Energy.
Dialgachomp, on the other hand, has evolved drastically since the season started, and could stay very competitive in almost any metagame. Here is my current list for the deck, and one of my “runners-up” for this event:
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 29
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 13
Other than a lack of Looker’s and a lack of Power Spray, this list currently fits my playstyle for Dialgachomp very well. It hasn’t changed for the past two weeks, and I could very easily see myself using this for Texas. Martin’s top sixteen list seemed very similar to this; however, I’m sure that he ran a different Stadium lineup (he likes Snowpoint impacting the SP mirror), and probably significantly different Energy choices.
Either way, he and I come from similar schools of deck building, so I’m pretty sure this isn’t too different from anything that top cut.
Of the four Gyarados, two were a new turbo variant inspired by the California Poké-Drawer build. Austin “Austino Baggs,” the engineer of this variant (“Everdos”), posted his list the day after States on my website, HeyTrainer. Here’s what it looked like…
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 37
3 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 6
Make no mistake about it: the combination of Psychic Energy, Ditto, and Promocroak is an excellent metagame play, as it does a number on both Luxchomp and Vilegar. Likewise, the deck thin angle helps assure the scariest Gyarados matchup situation possible: the first turn 110.
However, there are a couple crucial issues with his list: Mesprit LA is essential for power lock in a variety of matchups, and Unown R is far and away the better choice here, since you’d otherwise run a list with five 30 HP Basic Pokémon out of thirteen total. But given the savvy moves at play here, I’m not surprised that two people took this deck so far.
As for those other decks, I am sure that many of you would love to see a list of the surprising Yanmega/Umbreon deck, or of the Magnezone/Regirock.
Unfortunately, I really have no idea what Yanmega/Umbreon should look like, so I’d rather not give you all a false understanding of it. Magnezone, on the other hand, would be redundant, since discussion of the deck is currently ongoing in Underground’s forum.
With metagame specificities out of the way, I’d like to draw your attention to one last thing: my prediction of the winners! For my March Madness bracket, I chose…
Gyarados (1) over Dialgachomp (16)
Luxchomp (9) over Yanmega/Umbreon (8)
Luxhomp (4) over Luxchomp (13)
Luxchomp (5) over Gyarados (12)
Magnezone (15) over Vilegar (2)
Luxchomp (7) over Lostgar/Palkia (10)
Gyarados (3) over Gyarados (14)
Luxchomp (11) over Dialgachomp (6)*
*I originally had this Dialgachomp taking the whole tournament, but after hearing about a game loss given to him, I chose his Luxchomp opponent instead.
Luxchomp (9) over Gyarados (1)
Luxchomp (5) over Luxchomp (4)
Luxchomp (7) over Magnezone (15)
Luxchomp (11) over Gyarados (3)
Luxchomp (9) over Luxchomp (5)
Luxchomp (11) over Luxchomp (7)
Luxchomp (11) over Luxchomp (9)
Other than a couple incorrect choices on mirror matches, my “bracketology” successfully predicted both the event’s winner, as well as the top four consisting of nothing but Luxchomp. Although our Texas/Oklahoma metagame is diverse, it’s almost always Luxchomp that gets the last laugh, and it is most evident in my predictions above. I hope I do this well with predicting my NCAA bracket!
Sometimes your mistakes, or even mere miscalculations, manifest themselves in surprising ways – ways which we like to call “fate.” Since my will to win wasn’t absolute, I let an opportunity slip by, even if I wasn’t completely aware of it. Regardless, as long as you recognize your miscalculations, then you will improve.
Whoever said “give it your all” wasn’t kidding: ‘because if you don’t, then you might just be swept down the plains.
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
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