The first State Championships for any relatively new player to the TCG is always an exciting experience full of anticipation, and this was no exception for me. I’d dished out a vast amount of money for the opportunity to hopefully put on a good showing at the tournament, keep my rating up, represent the Southerners in a Northern event and most importantly to have fun.
Unfortunately, preparation for the event was not ideal, as it is a rather hectic period of the year for me what with visiting university after university. Time dedicated to play-testing was scarce, which doesn’t help when you’re entering states with a deck you’ve never brought to a tournament before.
Having stayed up all night in order to not miss my very early morning train, I set off and unashamedly started solitaire testing on the train there to try and keep as fresh as possible. What was my deck you ask? Well here’s the deck-list that I’d been working on for the past couple of weeks to hopefully give me a good shot of top-cutting at states.
|Pokémon – 19||Trainers – 29||Energy – 12|
All in all, a fairly standard deck-list with nothing particularly outlandish. The Twins/Expert Belt was mainly for the Gyarados matchup, but also helped in the SP mirror in tight situations. Seeker is like your 5th Poké-turn, your 3rd Uxie ‘Set up’, your 2nd Azelf ‘Time Walk’, and is just in general very versatile. I’m not the type to be withdrawn about giving out a deck-list because it changes every tournament I go to in order to give myself a better chance against the metagame, and generally think net-decking a deck is pretty useless anyway.
The tournament saw itself attracting talent from all over the country, including notable names such as Karl Blake, Nick Fotheringham, Freddy K to name just a few. I definitely felt rather minuscule in terms of talent when compared to these people but was confident enough in my deck to put in a good showing at this tournament
While setting up, we get talking and I find out he’s only been playing for a little over a month, which is a bit of a relief for me as I really wanted to get off to a good start. We flip and he starts with active Smeargle to my Weavile g. I call for a Roserade Gl and Luxray l, still unsure as to what he was playing. He then ‘Portraits’ for a Machop, Donphan and Uxie so I know what he’s playing and am a little bit fearful. However, I get the Roserade lock on him then snipe his benched Machoke so he has no real way coming back into the game.
R2 – Ben S-Armstead – Luxchomp
Ben, fresh from a 5-3 showing at the ECC was definitely someone I had to be wary about when playing. However, this match turned into somewhat of a joke. He couldn’t get Supporters and I couldn’t get Energy so it was a battle of who could top-deck first essentially and I got that Cyrus to put a slightly disappointing game to bed.
R3 – George Boon – Gyarados
Remember I mentioned about how little play-testing I’d done prior to this event? Well most of that came from Skype/IRL battling with George, a good friend from a different competitive gaming community so I had a good idea of how to approach the matchup. However, I get a horrible Bronzong Start, and he comes within a second Magikarp in the discard to getting the donk. Having overextended massively in order to get the donk, I just set up safely after that and took prize after prize while he struggled to recover after his initial burst of speed.
This was a very tight match throughout, having to go aggro Dragonite the first few turns thanks to some horrible prizes. I was always behind slightly on prizes though, which I didn’t mind as I was just biding my time to use Twins and sneak back ahead in the last few turns.
However, he only goes and uses Judge straight after I use twins to banish any chance of me coming back into the match so very well played on his part. I’ll admit Judge is a card I’ve never even considered before in Luxchomp but watching Freddy use it over the course of the day opened it up as another good option for Luxchomp to me.
R5 – Ryan Tur – Luxchomp
Apparently, there were to be 3 players on 4-1 in the top cut, with one just missing out so I was fully determined to take this match for my chance at top cutting in the biggest even in the UK so far this year. Ryan tells me his Luxchomp list is 100% teched out against the mirror.
However, this ironically turns out to be his downfall. After a good opening start from Ryan (2 Garchomp c and a DCE), he Premier Balls to find his LV.X prized. From there, it’s downhill from him, with me power-spraying Bright-Looks in order to keep control. I keep two power spray in my hand at all times as his only out seems to be using Collector for 2 Uxie. I finish the game by using Seeker and knocking out his active Luxray LV.X for the win.
So after what seems like an age, the top cut is announced and I’m delighted to see I’ve made it, far outstripping any expectations I had entering this event! Guaranteeing myself a medal was great, as that’s the prize I always look forward to the most when entering any TCG tournament. An interesting side-note; I believe 3 of the top 4 in the top cut had actually been playing the game for less than a year, which is a great testament to how the game is growing and expanding, and the other had been playing for at least a decade, showing it’s general longevity.
T4 – Charles Barton – Luxchomp
Match 1 – This was an opponent I had to respect when facing, as a multiple City Championship winner and the only person to have made it 5-0 at this event in the Swiss rounds. The first game goes very tight, with a prize trade almost every turn using Dragonite f and Garchomp c LV.X. However, his resources come through late game and he manages to continue his momentum throughout the match which I just couldn’t replicate and always seeming on the back foot.
Match 2 – Another really close match went to time + 3 with us both on 2 prizes, so the first to take a prize would win at this point. I’d beensetting up a Garchomp on the bench in case this happened and I Dragon Rushed for that last prize to take it to sudden death.
Match 3 – Sudden Death, I make a horrible mistake by not realising it’s a 1 prize game and putting Unown Q active. Fortunately, he flips over a Smeargle and goes first so I’m very relieved. In my turn, I Bebe’s for a Roserade Gl, retreat and start poison binding, putting him on a very important timer. He desperately tries to tack on damage to me using Crobat drops and then using ‘Tail Rap’. However, I just poke-turn it back up and keep the Poison bind going. He doesn’t have the resources to knock me out so concedes.
T2 – Faisal ‘Freddy’ K – Luxchomp
Match 1 – Any result for me at this point would be great for me, and am definitely excited to be playing in my first major grand final at an event. However, this match goes very badly for me, I make crucial misplays early on in the game which cost me the game. On reflection, I didn’t have much of a chance thanks to Garchomp c LV.X, 2 Uxie, Bronzong and Azelf being prized but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Match 2 – He starts Ambipom and passes. I have an active Dragonite so decide to go for the donk no matter what and not care about the consequences. I ditch my hand by attaching E-Gain to Dragonite, use a couple of Poké-turns unnecessarily, junk arm them back and use them again and then Uxie Set ups for a big new hand. I draw the DCE and get the donk.
Match 3 – A close match that in reality, Freddy always had control over. It was a standard Dragonite/Garchomp war in the end but Freddy makes crucial misplays throughout to cost him. His first mistake was thinking an earthquake would knock out my Garchomp c LV.X, allowing me to return the KO easily.
His second (more crucial) mistake came on the second turn of +3. He had a benched Garchomp X with two energies. Thinking it was fully powered up; he attached a Gain to Ambipom and promoted Garchomp to Dragon Rush for the win. I knock it out next turn and the Judge calls for a 1 prize sudden death to decide the tournament.
Match 4 – I’ll be honest, I get an absolute god hand from this. Garchomp c, Premier Ball, Double Colorless Energy, Energy Gain, Pokéturn. I couldn’t have asked for much better and I get the Turn 2 Dragon Rush for the win.
What can I take from this tournament on the current metagame?
LostGar – This deck saw little to no play in the Masters division at Manchester. I saw one in Seniors and that was about it. It still seems to me like a very risky move in the current metagame with people conspiring to tech against it. However, due to the incredibly low turnout during the first week of states, it could be a safe play in week 2, at least in the UK.
LuxChomp – Still incredibly huge. Being able to thrive off a small skeleton build with plenty of rooms for techs to adjust to any particular metagame is too powerful at the moment. Even hard counters to the deck are starting to have a harder time against it.
Gyarados – Saw a huge drop in popularity it seems. There was only one player in Masters playing Gyarados which is disappointing as I still feel it has a definite place in the current metagame. I think the fact that Luxchomps are starting to tech things like Twins and Expert Belt are hurting this deck more than other threats such as Lostgar and Vilegar.
VileGar – Still seemingly very viable, although not particularly successful, it did see a fair bit of play. It’s versatility in being able to interchange into a Lostgar deck if necessary gives it a bit more of an unpredictable factor as opponents would not know whether to ditch Pokémon or Trainers.
Rogues/Anything not Tier 1 – The odd one can become successful (there was a Jumpluff/Yanmega Prime deck that reached top cut at Manchester), but I’d be surprised to see many take states though. These kinds of decks inherently have the same problem. They either thrive under a SP metagame while struggling against everything else, or can compete with everything but SP.
So my first States, and my first States win, I’m definitely hoping to build on this in the coming states too. I’m also really looking forward to how this will affect my Premier rating, as getting an invite to worlds is probably my biggest aim for my first year in the Pokémon TCG (despite having no intentions of actually attending it!). Thanks a lot for reading, if anybody would like any further info about my deck or my states in general, hit me up with a PM on SixPrizes, I’m under the username Tamoo on there (I should be fairly easy to find, just look under the staff section).