Fulop’s Korner: Ohio States Report and Musings

Alright, here we go. The for Week 1 of States 2011. Let me preface that I have historically poor luck at States. I have bombed out of my States than any other event, and I have also never won a States. I can win Nationals and make the finals of Worlds, but States has always eluded me.

Now, that doesn’t mean I haven’t done well at them. I wound up taking 2nd at 4 separate State Championships since the events inception. A lot of it is simple variance, but others have been poor metagame reads in the past. States is always challenging because the City Championship season leaves in its wake a very well defined metagame.

So with the new set being released each year, players are stuck not just looking for the “best deck” but they are looking at what they feel is the best deck to run into the hypothetical field they expect to emerge from the prior metagame infused with the new collection of cards.

This means you have enough prior data that you can’t ignore it when trying to make deck choices, but there is also little to no hard evidence suggesting exactly how players will react to the new sets release. This is a little puzzle, but can lead to some grossly incorrect judgment calls as well.

In 2004, I ran a Blaziken deck, where I made top 8 before losing to a mirror match in standard fashion, where one deck would simply fire off better, and faster. I was on the losing end of this one. My build was fine, but a bit weak in the mirror, but I could have fixed that with better preparation.

At this point, I was very close to getting out of the game due to the looming release of the VS System TCG, which I had the full intent of switching to upon arrival.

sportslogos.netIn 2005, I ran a Metagross Registeel Bellossom deck that had tested well for me, and went 3-3 with some of the worst starts I had ever gotten. I bounced back and won the league tournament the next week with the same deck, X-0.

Now it may only be a league tournament, but in 2005, the average quality of a player was not even close to what it is today, and we had almost all of the “major” threat players at that league weekly, so it still consoled me to know that, while I wouldn’t repeat the deck choice, it wasn’t as terrible as my 3-3 record would suggest.

In 2006, I attended a great number of State Championships. I wound up losing in top 16 to Chuck’s Rock Lock with my Machamp Milotic deck. I lost in the finals to Jason K’s Medicham EX deck with my Metagross Salamence deck. I lost in the finals of another States to an LBS mirror, which would be my lone mirror match loss that entire season, despite running the deck for every event there on out.

In 2007, I wound up straying from my tried and true Metanite deck to use Speed Spready, and I pulled off an impressive 3-3 again. I was the only player out of 4 who used the deck who did not go on to win their respective event. I would go on to win U.S. Nationals with the same deck, which may lead some to assume that I either had a lot of bad luck at States, or I grew more comfortable with the deck.

While I do believe I had bad luck at States, the choice to use it at Nationals was a last minute audible away from Infernape, and by the end of the finals, I still felt like I had no idea what I was doing with the deck. Luckily, for whatever experience I lacked with the deck, my opponents knew how to play against it even less, so I guess it worked out favorably.

In 2008, I wound up taking 2nd with my Gallade deck in the mirror match against Drew Holton in the finals. He beat me in swiss, and again in the finals, although I feel like I was slightly on tilt after dropping game 1 and played too aggressively in the second game to compensate, and it may have cost me an otherwise winnable game.

I had intended to go to States in Michigan as well, but we got hit with a blizzard so bad that our state actually decreed it ILLEGAL to be on the roads.

In 2009, I used for the first week of States, playing in Indiana, where I started off with a round 1 loss to Kyle L from Indiana, one of his breakout performances, as he’s now one of the best players in the state. I proceeded to lose to him again in top 4 after winning out, where a number of flips (Super Scoop Up and Fainting Spell) went against me.

Game 2 was decided on a Fainting Spell flip, which would have potentially sent me to a game 3 sudden death, where Kingdra was extremely favored. My decision to run 0 Unown G really cost me this matchup, but up until that point there was little reason to include it.

The second week, I switched over to Palkia Dialga for Ohio, where I wound up playing against a turbo Machamp deck in the top 4, where I promptly got obliterated due to my decision to run only 1 Unown G, which, apparently, wasn’t even close to good enough to beat a full-blown Machamp deck.

In 2010, I used Jumpluff for both Indiana and Ohio States, where I lost in the finals to a mirror match in Indiana to Dustin Zimmerman, and I 5-0 dropped Ohio States in order to secure my invite to Worlds that year due to a successful run during Cities.

That takes us up to date, and I apologize for boring you with my very streak States history. States brings with it more pressure than any other event simply because I am unsure of how to approach the metagame puzzle each year. None the less, lets focus more on the present over old war stories.

I had used LuxChomp for the entirety of Cities. This is the first year where I stuck with one deck for the whole Cities season, but I really felt it was the best deck. By the end of the season, I had settled on a build that I felt really gave me favorable odds against the entire metagame.

It’s been posted here before, but for simplicity’s sake, let me include it for reference anyway:

Pokémon – 20

3 Garchomp C
1 Garchomp C LV.X
2 Luxray GL
1 Luxray GL LV.X
1 Dialga G
1 Dialga G LV.X
1 Chatot MD
3 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
1 Unown Q MD
1 Azelf LA
1 Bronzong G
1 Dragonite FB
1 Crobat G
1 Lucario GL

Trainers – 28

4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy
4 Pokémon Collector
2 Bebe’s Search
1 Aaron’s Collection
1 Twins
2 SP Radar
2 Premier Ball
4 Poké Turn
3 Energy Gain
3 Power Spray
1 Junk Arm
1 Expert Belt

Energy – 12

4 Call
4 Double Colorless
2 Lightning
1 Psychic
1 Metal [Basic]

Dialga-G-Platinum-PL-7pokemon-paradijs.comThis list had favorable SP matchups, a favorable Gyarados matchup, a favorable Vilegar matchup, and a rare for SP favorable Machamp matchup. The Dialga also left it adaptable to various rogue strategies which really made me pretty happy about the deck.

Now, flash forward a bit, and the post-Cities aftermath left us with some interesting innovations amongst top playtesters. By the time I was wrapping up Cities, the GA Marathon was concluding, and brought with it a lot of changes that hadn’t hit the local scene, but could not be ignored due to online coverage.

We also saw the influential results of major European events which were the first to include Call of Legends cards.
Call of Legends clearly was a dud of a set, and we’ve discussed LostGar and its subpar nature into the ground by this point, but the set offered very little in terms of innovation.

Palkia Lucario was a good deck, but had some kinks to be worked out, and since I was struggling with it, and knew it wasn’t going to be wildly played regardless, I left it on the backburner for a later date to focus on more solvable problems as States began to rapidly approach.

Normally a stagnant metagame would be great for predicting where I needed to go with my decks, but this format was complex prior to the release of CoL, and numerous new tactics were unveiled, and the new challenge stemmed from deciding how wide-spread most of them would be.

Would the Magnezone Regirock deck that did well in Europe catch on? Would the Regigigas deck Chuck used in GA be a popular choice? At the very least, would players try to use the Psychic Bind and Let Loose lock in other decks? Gyarados in particular really underwent massive changes, becoming far faster and aggressive than the prior Cities stock list.

The new list really made me wonder if the inclusion of Expert Belt alone would be enough to secure that matchup. If it wasn’t, I’d have to re-think the Belt entirely, and try to figure out how to beat faster, better lists. At the same time, I kept wondering if I was merely overreacting, and shouldn’t expect such decks at the actual event.

pokemon-paradijs.com

These sorts of questions popped up for almost every archetype, regarding what builds I should be expecting.

Going into States, after failing with attempts at any sort of innovation home-brew, and deciding on LuxChomp, I had the following issues to really contend with:

– How big would LostGar be, and how could I beat it if it was relevent: Despite stealing a few “timed games” in testing with Deafen when they didn’t think to play Lost World down early when they had it, instinctively “saving it”, Dialga without counter stadiums simply wasn’t enough to allow me to beat LostGar without “stealing” games by start quality gaps, or their slow play allowing me to win on time.

This left me concerned despite not expecting the deck to be popular, or very successful. The awkward success of it in Europe made me concerned even though I felt that was a fluke. It still could have gathered enough bandwagoners to be an issue.

– Would Magnezone be an issue?: I could still beat it, but I really felt that I might be in a bit of trouble if I didn’t have Toxicroak G, which I currently did not. Toxicroak would shore up this matchup rather nicely, and would also help me with the next concern…

– Regigigas Lock: I had a terrible time in testing against this deck, and general consensus was that it beat LuxChomp pretty soundly. I didn’t feel it was that lopsided, especially with my inclusion of Chatot, and Expert Belt, but Toxicroak G, especially with that Belt, would really help turn this into a closer game, if not one that was favorable.

We saw one Regigigas player during Cities, but he opted out of favor of it, and I had no idea if a deck that really only had exposure in GA would make its way back for Cities, but top players had taken notice to it, so I was still paranoid.

– Could I beat the turbo Gyarados builds?:I hadn’t tested against them as they had never been a concern. Yet Jeremy Borchardt swore by the fact his build had an extremely good SP game, and I respect his game enough to believe his claim.

This left me concerned, but I really wasn’t sure what I could do to improve my game if he was correct there, so I wrote this question off quickly as “irrelevant ” because my best bet was to just assume I wouldn’t play vs good players with such a deck, as tweaking the deck would require too big of an overhaul to try and deal with it.

– Would players use Machamp?: Normally it’s safe to write off Machamp as a non-factor. Yet I live in Ohio, home of the shameless “I’ll bring Machamp to any event regardless of how awful it looks for the projected metagame” brigade.

You can rest assured that you will see an unrealistic number of turbo Machamp builds at every Ohio event, no matter how often it loses. Vilegar was gaining a huge head of steam near the end of Cities, and the new deck that was hyped was LostGar, both bad matchups for .

We still saw a good amount of Gyarados, also an atrocious matchup. But hey, lets run it out there anyway and hope to just play SP or donk people. Now, I sound bitter, but I’m actually 13-1 against the deck using LuxChomp this season alone, it just bugs me when people blindly run inferior decks at events in spite of obvious indicators that it’s not the right call.

This would really be the deciding factor on whether I felt I needed the 3rd Uxie or not in my deck. It was great for speed and consistency anyway, but I was feeling cramped on space, so shaving it off became a real option as I was in full panic mode.

Anyway, I had this build thrown together the week prior to States, as I wanted a dark type attacker in the deck. It wound up taking my LostGar match from being a bad matchup to making it nearly a 70-30 matchup in my favor, and the card also helped me against Vilegar, so the extra insurance was certainly nice for two of my worst matchups.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe “real” dark tech choices are Absol G LV.X, Honchkrow SV, and Weavile G.

Absol was an SP Pokémon, and had a built-in discard effect, but beyond that, really wasn’t that much of an all-star. It required a Crobat G to successful do a lot of the heavy lifting where needed, and it had a Power and was a Level X, making its worth vs Vilegar questionable.

Honchkrow SV was potent, and did the most damage of any of the Pokémon. Not being a Level X protected it slightly, but it’s Power was awkwardly a handicap against Vilegar. Seeker made tricks of benching random Pokémon less valuable, and it wasn’t an SP Pokémon, so it’s harder to get out than the other options.

It did add to your Machamp game, and also helped provide a second out to Mewtwo LV.X beyond Dialga. It was the “best” of the cards, in terms of raw power, but definitely hard to get out. It would help score kills in SP mirrors too, and with a Belt, would be a HUGE problem for any DialgaChomp or Sablelock list.

Weavile was interesting. Its attack required a lot of planning, or aggressive Crobat-ing, but that issue was lessened by Expert Belt, if you got to it. It also was a basic, therefore being easy to find, and taking up less space.

To make things better, it was a great opener, not only having free retreat, but also a built-in SP “Call for Family” which helped consistency out drastically. It would make cutting a Call Energy or Collector debatable, even though I was hesitant.

I would up liking the most, and had the following list built up:

Pokémon – 23

3 Garchomp C
1 Garchomp C LV.X
2 Luxray GL
1 Luxray GL LV.X
1 Dialga G
1 Dialga G LV.X
1 Chatot MD
3 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
1 Unown Q MD
1 Azelf LA
1 Bronzong G
1 Dragonite FB
1 Crobat G
1 Lucario GL
1 Murkrow SV
1 Honchkrow SV

Trainers – 26

4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy
4 Pokémon Collector
2 Bebe’s Search
1 Aaron’s Collection
1 Twins
2 SP Radar
2 Premier Ball
4 Poké Turn
3 Energy Gain
2 Power Spray
1 Expert Belt

Energy – 12

4 Call
4 Double Colorless
2 Lightning
1 Darkness [Basic]
1 Metal [Basic]

I cut the Junk Arm and Power Spray from my prior list, and added a Dark Energy in place of the Psychic from before. I felt that I still had a good game plan against most of the archetypes out there, regardless of having less of a Spray presence.

pokemon-paradijs.comI wanted 2 to make sure I could successfully lock a player out of a game if I caught them early, and could stop key, game winning plays, but I felt that 3 pushed more toward me having an active disruption plan, instead of a defensive one more often than not, a concession I was ok with.

I wasn’t dead set on trying to force stolen games when I could be cutting cards to add hard counters to problem matchups. Both approaches are perfectly legitimate, but I liked my approach when I was pressed with matchups I really couldn’t beat otherwise. Spray also became less valuable against trainer denial decks, which concerned me, so the less clutter I had, the better.

In the week leading to States, I talked to Jeremy Borchardt, Sebastian Crema, Kyle Suchevich, and Martin Moreno regarding deck choices, and I knew Jeremy was going to be running Gyarados despite its iffy Vilegar matchup, and the other three had settled on a DialgaChomp list.

I played against Sebastian using it on Apprentice, and while I had the game narrowly, I felt that the build gave DialgaChomp a solid game against LuxChomp, which it previously lacked. I still feel it is a slight underdog there, but it brought it close enough to 50-50 that I feel surprise, coupled with play skill takes Dialga from ill-advised to a fine metagame call.

I played against my girlfriend Emily a few games on Thursday with Dialga, debating the switch. I had played SP a ton, and even used my fair share of DialgaChomp, so I felt I would be fine playing it if I switched. Luckily, Emily decided to ravage me with Gyarados, bringing to my attention that I simply would have no business winning that matchup on time if they even try to prevent you from doing so.

They would always pull ahead on prizes, and the only real shot they had would be to use Deafen to lock you out, but even if that works, they are in catch up mode by multiple prizes, and have no real “answer” to stalling for time with Crobat G (a 3 hit) and Uxie using Psychic Restore to loop around kills.

Coupled with Seekers, it becomes very difficult to actually win on time. I actually found myself simply running out of Poké Turns near the end regardless, and just losing the war of attrition, even if I did get a fully tanked Dialga out. This was demoralizing, but a good wake up call advising me against the deck.

pokemon-paradijs.comI didn’t like the lists Machamp game at all, either, so I was turned away from the last minute change, which worked very much for the better. The deck is still good, but I expected a number of Machamp and Gyarados decks, and less Gengar, so it really wasn’t the right call for the Ohio metagame.

Anyway, I stroll down to Ohio with “Misplay” Mike O’Donnell, and meet Emily down there, whom I borrow a set of sleeves, and a deck box, off of respectively. I arrive and make some last minute changes as I’m not happy with the deck I’d brought with me.

I just felt the double 1-1 lines could be better allocated, and wanted to at least get the Junk Arm back, as I initially overlooked how important it was in justifying only 3 Energy Gain for SP mirror. It also gave me a 3rd Spray if need be. This meant cutting the Honchkrow for Weavile.

This additional allowed me to cut a Collector, in my mind, for another Supporter, such as Copycat or Looker’s Investigation. I wanted the disruption for mirror, and as an attempt to disrupt a set up Gyarados deck midgame. I also liked how it hedged my bets vs LostGar and VileGar because it let me “empty my hand” effectively to get rid of Pokémon or Trainers.

I make an interesting switch at the last minute as well. Poké Turn had been performing worse and worse, and I wanted to try and cut one for a Seeker as Poké Turn #4. This was useful for a number of reasons. It let me help “fix” my Weavile G if I had to clog my bench with an Uxie.

It let me re-use Uxie, or Azelf. It gave me odd quick wins by benching players, or at the very least, breaking up an early game Power Spray. It let me do funky plays against Steelix or Mewtwo LV.X, where I ignore the “problem” Pokémon, and widdle them down to only 1 benched Pokémon, which I then Bright Look active, and Seeker the “problem” back to hand.

pokemon-paradijs.comThis helped me with one of my other big decisions which I’ll address in a moment. The main reason I did this though was to help against Vilegar. It lets me reset my LV.X cards while trainer locked. This was huge and would take close games and make them wins.

With a soft counter to Mewtwo, I began to look into cutting Dialga G LV.X. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I wanted to try and fit in Toxicroak G and a Psychic Energy.

I wound up cutting it and the Metal Energy for a Toxicroak G, a Psychic Energy, and a 2nd Luxray GL LV.X which I managed to borrow after having sold my second one away.

The Weavile, Lookers, Seeker, and 2nd were my concessions to cutting Dialga in an attempt to pull that matchup back up in spite of it.

Here was my final list, which, upon registering, I was still unsold on, but felt good about it:

Pokémon – 21

3 Garchomp C
1 Garchomp C LV.X
2 Luxray GL
2 Luxray GL LV.X
1 Weavile G
1 Toxicroak G DP41
1 Chatot MD
3 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
1 Unown Q MD
1 Azelf LA
1 Bronzong G
1 Dragonite FB
1 Crobat G
1 Lucario GL

Trainers – 27

4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy
3 Pokémon Collector
1 Looker’s Investigation
2 Bebe’s Search
1 Aaron’s Collection
1 Twins
1 Seeker
2 SP Radar
2 Premier Ball
3 Poké Turn
3 Energy Gain
2 Power Spray
1 Junk Arm
1 Expert Belt

Energy – 12

4 Call
4 Double Colorless
2 Lightning
1 Psychic
1 Darkness [Basic]

I won’t go deep into details on the list as I’ve written far too many articles on it already, and I addressed the major changes above, so I’d rather just get to the report. Mike wound up using the same list as me, and Emily used the Gyarados deck she’d been working on for a while.

We wound up with 101 Masters, and less than 50 total Juniors and Seniors, as attendence for the younger divisions continues to drop off in the midwest.

Round 1 vs John Bard (Scizor Prime)

pokegym.netI had seen John using this deck during Cities, but wasn’t sure he’d stick with it, but kept it in mind when starting. He has a love of Scizor, using it any time it appears to be a viable option. I had tested Scizor prior to States but wasn’t pleased with how it performed for me.

Unfortunate, I got to experience the bane of my tournament existence: I have a lone Unown Q, with a hand full of great cards otherwise. We roll off and I am going 2nd, which allows me to play Cyrus for a Collector, and an SP Radar, but I am very easy to first turn kill.

He had played down 2 Pokémon, which is a bit of a relief as it reduces the chances he opened with an Uxie or Azelf. Most of the non SP “kill” conditions only start active if it was the only Pokémon in hand. The worst part is waiting for the pre-tournament introductory speech which drags on and on and on that just kills the “will I see my turn” nerves.

To top it off, I knew even if I do get an SP Radar, I have two choices. Either get Weavile G and Call for Family, or risk a Seeker kill anyway.

We finally start, and he opens with two Scythers. That is demoralizing, as if he was holding an Uxie, he could bench it, and retreat for it. I quickly ask him if he has it, and he says no, and attaches to Scyther.

I draw, whiff a basic, and SP Radar, where my decision is made easy by Weavile G being prized. I end up grabbing Luxray, and attach to it. Had Weavile been an option, it is still a rough call. If I get Weavile, I can’t make a relevent energy attachment, which sets me back a lot.

Having played as Scizor, I know that if I let them stay unmolested too long to build up energy, that I am in a bad spot. Yet rather than have that debate in head, my prizes made it simple. I retreat Q for Luxray, not wanting to get blown out by Seeker, as it required him to hit a 2nd Metal, Scizor Prime, Expert Belt, and a Crobat G without a supporter so he could play Seeker.

He wound up not getting the Belt, and makes a mistake by leaving Scizor on the bench. Even though he didn’t have a kill, getting the damage in matters here. Especially since I’m likely to hit Scizor anyway with Bright Look the following turn. I wasn’t going to complain, although we did discuss it after the game.

I Collector, and gust up Scizor and smack it after playing down an Expert Belt. He attaches an energy to the benched Scizor, and I go out of my way to try and get Dragon Rush ready as killing a Scyther with a metal is huge when it leaves his only Scizor doing 70 (90 if he hits a Belt) meaning if he wants to kill Garchomp, he has to devote a Belt AND an energy attachment, meaning my Luxray gets to kill it and leave him energy-less where I simply clean up the exchanges easily.

pokemon-paradijs.com

Unfortunately, I whiff on the Garchomp kill, and have to take out the active.

He gets a second Scizor up, and I hit it lightly at first, and then end up calling over a judge to clarify the interaction on Dragon Rush and Red Armor. During testing, we had played it where Dragon Rush discarding a Double Colorless would be able to deal damage to Scizor since the energy discard is part of the cost of attacking.

Think back to Base Set Charmeleon and all the examples in rule books and Professor Tests using Flamethrower. Well, it turns out that the order the attack is processed is actually rather weird, where you announce the attack, then choose the energy to discard. THEN you deal damage. THEN you discard them.

Separating announcing which energy to discard from the actual discard was a bit out of left field (albeit generally irrelevant) and made me play my turn slightly off, but it allowed me to still get the kill by Expert Belt and multiple Crobats using Trash Bolt.

(It was awkward in that the Garchomp C I promoted had to retreat off a DCE since the SP Radar I had needed to go for Crobat G, and the Trash Bolt discard was a 2nd DCE.)

I get the kill, and the game deteriorates after that, as his field is crippled and I am up a ton of prizes and time gets called while my Power Sprays stop him from re-establishing his hand to try and get back in it. While not a primary motivation for running it, Expert Belt is HUGE in matchups like this, where a Pokémon gets tanked and swings hard.

The extra 20 HP keeps you out of kill range (decks aiming to beat SP often build to deal 110, example: Gyarados). They also expect the deck to cap at a base 60 or 80 damage output, which the Belt changes up. It’s a card players don’t expect, and it certainly helps out a ton here.

1-0

pokemon-paradijs.comSo I managed to escape the near Unown Q disaster, and find out that Emily had been paired against a kid from our league using Magnezone Vileplume, a disaster matchup for her. Oh, and she won.

Mike lost his first round, but the major competition I was fearing came from Drew Holton, Andrew Mondak, and Joey Gannon, all running SP decks. At this point we were able to gauge the decks from the event.

There were a TON of Machamp decks! Anywhere from 12-15 in total! We also had a bunch of Magnezone Regirock decks, and a ton of Gyarados. This made me extremely grateful that I didn’t play DialgaChomp for the day.

Pairings go up, and I’m paired against my friend Alex, also using LuxChomp. I know most of the players at this event, but I really wanted Alex to go far so us being paired this early was a huge blow.

Round 2 vs Alex Schact (LuxChomp)

Well, I get my opening hand, going first, and I know the game is already over. I will spare you the details, but he opens with something average, but by the end of my turn, going first, I have:

Luxray GL with a Call Energy active

Garchomp C x2, Bronzong G, and Uxie with an Unown Q benched.

My hand consisted of: Cyrus’s Conspiracy, Pokémon Collector, Premier Ball, Power Spray, Expert Belt, Double Colorless Energy, Luxray GL LV.X.

I spray his Uxie turn one after not falling for the Azelf bait, and his hand never really recovers from that. I get going effectively flawless and steamroll the game off of a huge start difference. That was the kind of hand a player dreams of, and while playing SP a ton, I very rarely get that.

2-0

Mike pulled off his 2nd win, and Emily advances to 2-0 after beating another Gyarados deck. Only it was using a different Gyarados. Hey, a wins a win! Drew and Mondak were 2-0, and I believe Joey took a loss this round.

Round 3 vs Adam Grine (Gyarados)

pokemon-paradijs.comI open with two Garchomp C and a few DCE but no draw power and no real business so to say. I end up topdecking Chatot “The Savior,” and go down a few prizes, but end up activating Twins to get Expert Belt.

The worst part about my start is that Garchomp C LV.X was prized, so after my first kill with a Belted Luxray, I end up having to leave it benched until I could get Azelf out to heal it. I snipe around Gyarados to bait out an Expert Belt.

(This is a play people undervalue. If you just keep trying to exchange Luxrays, you run out. You need to use Garchomp to force the Belt so you get maximum prize yield out of every exposed Luxray. It’s the best way to “win back” prizes you are down. It’s less crucial when you Belt your own Luxray, but it’s crucial if you don’t have a Belt, or don’t run it.)

Anyway, he can’t kill my Luxray and I keep it healed as I go ahead on prizes. I try to find a way to go ahead with using anything but Luxray so I don’t have to risk the 2 prizes if he has a Black Belt or multiple Crobat uses.

(I had a Spray in hand, but I’m paranoid ) but end up having to run the Luxray out there. He actually runs Black Belt, but couldn’t get to it, and I win. Had he killed Luxray, it would have put me behind a prize, but I was turn 3, so I could have tied it up.

It would have put him in a spot where, if he could kill me back, I lose, but it never came down to it. This matchup would get even better with Drifblim FB, as a side note.

3-0

Emily took a loss this round, losing to Spencer Brown’s Vilegar deck, when both players had bad starts, but he recovered and shored up the game. Mike also went to 2-1, and Alex suffered a dumb loss at the hands of a Turtwig GL deck, with Snowpoint Temples, Expert Belt, and tons of Plus Powers/Bucks Trainings, which made it near impossible for him to eat through the Turtwigs.

To make it worse he wasn’t sure what he was playing against, which left him in a hole when he finally realized what he needed to do. He went to drop, but we convinced him to stay in.

This was the last round before Lunch Break, and we wound up making a run to Wendy’s, where the crew prepared arguably the best Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers I’d ever tasted. We make it back with about 15 minutes until round 4, as I wonder how long I can last before I get paired vs Drew or Mondak, both 3-0 still. Pairings go up, and I dodge another bullet.

Round 4 vs Richy Kastl (Magnezone Regirock)

I knew what he was using from word of mouth, and I really hadn’t tested against this deck at all. I’d done a ton of testing with Magnezone and know the matchup usually favors me. Only issue is, this deck aims to having a much higher damage output.

I know that my big play is to try and time multiple Spray for a turn where I get to strand his Magnezone prime, so he can’t get a kill on me. Toxicroak G should prove useful, but I guess they run a few Sunnyshore Gyms to offset the weakness, but they also run BTS, so it makes it difficult for them to reliably get it out immediately.

I’m also well known for having not run Toxicroak during Cities, so I was hoping that would make grabbing Sunnyshore less of a priority.

I open with Luxray, and have access to a turn 2 Luxray GL LV.X. He opens , and gets Magneton. He also has Azelf benched, which puts me in an interesting spot. I want to kill the Magneton really badly, and am either an SP Radar or Energy Gain away from doing it.

I get to use Set Up for 5 to try and snag one. I can either gust Magneton, with a retreat cost, that I can also hit for 60 if I need to, and potentially kill with Luxray if things go awkwardly, or get greedy and gust Azelf, and strand it and try to Dragon Rush past it, really messing his game up badly.

I end up gusting up Magneton, Set Up, and whiff on either, so my Cyrus doesn’t net me the Dragon Rush or Luxray kill. I end up bashing it for 60 and getting a Spray.

pokegym.netHe tries to draw up to 6 after playing the Prime and I spray it. I snipe a second Magnet on the bench, and use my second Spray. He eventually manages to set up as I kill Magnezone prime, but his board is in shambles and I am up on prizes. He played down a Sunnyshore early, so he would have to break it to play BTS, which was great for me.

I win this one comfortably due to my fast start. I’m not sure how the matchup generally plays out, but I’m somewhat glad I didn’t have to find out yet.

4-0

Emily won her game, and continued on to 3-1! Alex lost a close game to SP mirror against Kim Allen, a very good player who also started off 1-2 somehow. Alex was catching really cold luck, but decided to play it out, citing that he better be able to win in the 1-3 bracket.

Round 5 vs David Brown (Machamp)

David beat me in top 4 of States in 2009 when he went on to knock Drew out of the finals to win his first States title. Up to this point, he’d beat 2 SP decks, donked someone, and beaten Magnezone.

This is when I am really glad I ran my anti Machamp package, and we set up. I have a solid start, but will be a couple turns until I get an Uxie going. I manage to bench a few awkward cards to give myself Spray for the first turn, and he starts with a Machop.

He starts to go off, Rare Candying to Machamp right off the bat. He is forced to play a lone Poké Drawer +, which, of course, hits a 2nd Poké Drawer +. He goes to use Set Up, and I spray it. He passes the turn without an Energy.

My start is slow as Cyrus grabs me a Collector and the 2nd Spray, and I lock him out of Uxie. He fails to hit a Fighting energy and my field builds up with energy. He finally clips one, but by that point I have my field set up, and I get a kill with Uxie LV.X.

pokemon-paradijs.com

After missing his energy on the first turn, and failing to apply any early pressure, the game was out of reach once I started to set up, but his inability to really get going due to Power Spray secured it.

5-0

Emily lost this round, putting her at 3-2. If she won out she’d be in top cut, but all I really wanted to see was her end with a winning record at States in her first big event. Drew got paired vs Mondak, in a LuxChomp vs DialgaChomp game.

Drew was ahead when I left to go catch some fresh air outside, but it turns out Mondak spiked a Judge that Drew failed to draw out of, losing it in a narrow game on turns.

Myself, Nick Baker, Mondak, and Tad Wheeler were all 5-0 at this point, and I’d have felt good playing anyone but Mondak, who, of course, I get paired against.

Round 6 vs Andrew Mondak (DialgaChomp)

I forget exactly how this one started off, but I know I end up catching his Uxie with a Power Spray that I somewhat telegraphed by benching something kind of awkward in order to get Spray access. He gets an Uxie with Collector but I spray it, and it cuts him off.

His hand isn’t awful, but it is certainly slow because of this, and my average hand begins to set up and take control of the game. I’m able to monopolize the Garchomp game, and really not let go of my superior start.

He comments on how he regretted not getting Smeargle with his Collector in case Uxie got sprayed, but I didn’t have a great hand to Smeargle, and it still slows his game down.

This is why I don’t like Smeargle. It forces you to stick something with a retreat cost active. Best case scenario you get a Q on it,but that takes away the Q play for Uxie X, a better card, which is a key resource you want in mirror matches.

pokegym.netSmeargle is clearly a fine card, but its a bit risky, and sets you back in pressure, which is why I like Chatot more. The Dialga list players had been using ran 2-2 Garchomp C LV.X, which means if I get ahead on the initial Garchomp kills, it becomes extremely difficult for them to get back in the game.

That is one of the big reasons I like 3-1 Garchomp. If 2-2 gets the first kill, and set up faster, it isn’t so bad, but when it starts off behind, it’s so hard to really come back.

I’m a bit fuzzy on the game because my focus started to wander after he fell behind as I’d played enough SP to know how to close a game after a certain point, but I remember whiffing on a Dragon Rush the one turn, forcing me to retreat Garchomp C LV.X to the bench (which is fine by me) but managed to continue to push ahead on prizes with Luxray GL LV.X.

It got Toxicroaked as intended, which let me stick it active, so I could snipe the benched Garchomp C afterward. Uxie X eventually killed Toxicroak after I sprayed Leap Away, forcing him to either burn a turn or retreat it, which he did neither of.

After a certain point he scoops as I had a commanding lead. SP games have a couple turn window early on where if one player pulls ahead, the other has to put up enough resistance or just fall too far out of it. He wasn’t able to do that this game.

6-0

At this point I’m feeling really good about the day. Worst case scenario I go 6-1 and drop and probably gain 25ish points on the day. If I 7-0 I am left with the choice to play cut or drop and likely sit around 1870 and be a safe bet for Worlds.

To make things better, Emily was 4-2 and was guaranteed a winning record! Mike was 4-2 as well. Alex had rallied to a 3-3 record as well. Drew narrowly beat his 4th Machamp matchup of the day to be 5-1 and a lock for cut effectively.

Tad Wheeler had beaten Nick’s LuxChomp deck, and I soon found out I wish I had seen what I was playing against since it was sitting next to me. It was merely a Gyarados deck I assumed, so I thought I’d be safe! I was a bit wrong.

Round 7 vs Tad Wheeler (Gyarados)

pokemon-paradijs.com

I open with a Garchomp C, and I have the chance to do a turn one Set Up. I do, but realize I had gotten a bit greedy. His turn results in him getting a Sableye and playing a Giratina. This results in a Cyrus’s Initiative that cripples my hand with a 2/2 flip.

He spends the next few turns using Chatot G to seal my draws, while resetting Chatot while grabbing trainers. I draw pass for a few turns until he is forced to let me have a Call Energy which gives me a shuffle effect. I eventually get Chatot out, as he’s unable to get his game being aggressive against me.

I think he misplayed his approach this game, as he tried so hard to maintain a hard lock on me that he never really pressed the advantage. Theres a certain point where I think he should just gamble and get a Gyarados out and take some prizes. If he gets up by a couple it’s so hard for LuxChomp to come back.

Instead, Call gets me Chatot, and I eventually set up. He gets a kill finally with Gyarados on Chatot, but that lets me Twins, and I get back in it after going down 2 prizes. I start killing Gyarados, and the game gets called on time very close to the end.

I am turn 3 again, and I get to kill his Gyarados with Luxray, again, wanting to use Garchomp but being unable to. I didn’t put him on running Black Belt due to the huge disruption package he ran as it cramps his space but it was an out he had.

I also knew he had a pretty big hand, and he likely had Junk Arms and Super Scoop Ups, so I kept a Spray up for Crobat G. He uses SSU and hits it, Flash Biting me. He then uses a 2nd SSU and fails. He Junk Arms for another and hits it on… Uxie?

That came off as super fishy to me, and I actually spray the Uxie. It was a really tough call, because either he has another SSU, or Poké Turn and is trying to bait out a Turn. He hadn’t played an Expert Belt yet, so I figured the odds he needed to hit SOMETHING was higher than him having another Crobat use.

(I also could have gotten a return kill the next turn with Garchomp C, tying the game on 3, but giving him the ball in his court for the first chance to kill to win.)

pokemon-paradijs.comIt was a good call, as he has to Giratina again. He draws 4, and looks it over, and scoops. Apparently he ran 2 Black Belt, and he whiffed on them. I think that’s why the Spray on Uxie was better.

He could have had a number of outs, and if he does have the kill on me, if I keep him with a small hand, by denying Set Up, it greatly reduces the odds he could have killed Garchomp the next turn.

7-0

I had written this game off as lost the second I got hardlocked by Chatot but somehow I managed to get back in the game. I’m still not sure how I pulled it off. Emily unfortunately lost a very close game to LuxChomp in the last round, and Mike lost his game. Alex kept the dream alive and finished with a winning record at 4-3.

My tiebreakers were actually pretty insane headed in.

John Bard finished 5-2
Alex finished 4-3
Adam Grine finished 5-2
Richie finished… idk, 4-3 or 5-2
David Brown finished 4-3
Mondak finished 6-1
Tad finished 6-1

None of my opponents did worse than 4-3, which is really rare for such a large event. Unfortunately, Ohio is full of a lot of lower rated players, so at 7-0 I wasn’t expecting to gain many points.

Winning States would be nice, but getting into Worlds is my primary goal, and I was torn between dropping and staying in. I liked the field. There were very few matchups I didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to deal with Gyaradoslock, but it was 6-1 and would likely be avoided until at least top 4.

I made the panic decision to stay in.

I get paired against Joey Gannon’s Sablelock with Blaziken in top 16.

Top 16 vs Joey Gannon (Sablelock)

pokemon-paradijs.comGame one, he opens with Sableye. My opening hand is average, but I think I accidentally flashed a Cyrus. His hand was somewhat weak he admits, and ends up Impersonating a Judge. Needless to say, he Judges me into the nuts and I go off.

This game lasts maybe 20 minutes before he winds up scooping it to conserve time. I wind up in “Garchomp Control” and that’s too much to overcome. This matchup is weird. If I set up, I’m a fairly heavy favorite, especially with Chatot. It grows tougher if he locks me aggressively early and I fall too much behind. Even then, it isn’t out of reach for a come back.

Game two, my hand is pretty weak. He ends up playing Cyrus’s Initiative and goes 0/2. He gets Sableye, and uses his second one, and clips me for 2, making me hand rather weak. His game isn’t that strong either, as his initial set up went to disrupting me. (One of my major issues with Sablelock.)

He takes over as I whiff on getting much, but I stay in the game as he’s drawing pretty cold. Long story short, I manage to take a few prizes, and get down to 4 to his 3, as his board is weak. He has 2 SP Pokémon in play, and I have yet to see any DCE.

I Collector to get Uxie, with a 3 card hand. My last 4 prizes consisted of Uxie, Uxie, Azelf, and Bronzong G. So instead, I just sit there stranded and do very little. I’m able to stay in the game, and finally, with about 20 cards left, catch my first DCE after it isn’t important anymore.

I had used so many resources it didn’t matter. I manage to tie the game at 1 prize a piece as times called, but I have to put him on whiffing an abundance of cards to win. He doesn’t have any of them, but he does get to Set Up, and grabs a Premier Ball to shore up game 2, taking us to sudden death.

Now, I made a mistake here. I was strung along by Joey’s poor draws and still vulnerable game state chasing a pipe dream of winning game 2. Normally this isn’t that big of an issue, but I know that he runs Sableye and that gives him an edge in sudden death.

pokemon-paradijs.comIt also makes it so I don’t have the choice of who goes first if he doesn’t open Sableye. It defaults to a flip. I should have scooped before time was called, allowing me to go to game 3 and save the “3 turns” for that, opposed to just letting “first kill win.”

Instead, I open with a fairly junky hand, and he opens Sableye. He goes first, and grabs Cyrus’s Initiative. He hits 2/2 and gets rid of two irrelevant cards because my hand didn’t really have any business in it anyway. I had Luxray with a Call Energy, and grabbed an Uxie, as I had a Premier Ball.

(I had no Lightning for Luxray, of course.)

He whiffs on a turn 2 kill, and I actually get a chance to draw for the turn, plus use Trade Off to find a DCE or access to a DCE. Of course, I whiff, and I get killed by a Blaziken the next turn with help from Crobat G’s Flash Bite.

7-1

So the journey ends, but if I had to lose to someone, I certainly don’t mind losing to Joey, who I’m pretty sure we previously antagonized between rounds in the lobby as I think he just wanted to play his DS. Instead we kept forcing random absurd conversation on him. Probably karma.

I still regret not scooping game 2, but the rest was just the course of the game. I ran well during swiss, so I certainly can’t complain about my top 16 results.

Like I said, I’m more interested in rating than necessarily going deep into a tournament. If I had lost that 1 game in swiss, it caps me at going 6-1, because I drop after swiss not wanting the 2nd crippling loss. So I took it at a better time.

Joey went on to lose in top 4 against a turbo Machamp deck, for which he ran no outs to. Mondak got beat in top 16 by LuxChomp with Blaziken in it, and Drew went on to lose to the same deck in top 4 with some bad draws. The turbo Machamp deck went on to take down the event, after having his path be 4 SP decks with no Machamp answers.

pokemon-paradijs.com

Overall, I really liked my deck choice. I felt most of my gut calls were fantastic. The Machamp plan, Toxicroak, and less focus on Vilegar hate (Dialga) all proved to be great calls. There was very little Vilegar and only one of the decks did well, and it lost in top cut to Gyarados (Tad’s).

The 2-2 Luxray was nice, but I’m not sure if it was needed. I definitely liked the Seeker, and it also proved, again, that 3 Poké Turn is definitely enough.

The one major change I’d make would be to get the 4th Collector back in. My initial choice would be to cut the Looker’s back for it, because I never used Looker’s, but the theory behind that card is strong, and it’s more consistency, so maybe I can find another cut.

Consistency is what wins events, and I felt I didn’t have Collector when I needed it nearly enough.

Toxicroak G is still optional, but I was glad I had him. Weavile G was solid, but I didn’t play against any Gengar. I think hes fine, but we’ll see. I would like Honchkrow, who single-handedly won Drew probably 4 games as it was his answer to Machamp. It makes me want to add it just to be safe.

I could cut an Uxie for the 2nd spot for the Honchy line, especially since the Seeker is a poor man’s “3rd Uxie ” in a crunch. I’m far from sold on that change but it could work.

I am definitely happy with Chatot again. The biggest issues I had on the day were dead draws, or Cyrus Init + Giratina trickery, and Chatot is fantastic vs that. It really rounds the deck out great, and is another great opener.

(Less of those Q starts please!)

I would be more than willing to suggest people use this list for the second week, or at least some build of LuxChomp. It played great for me, and I am reassured that LuxChomp is still the best deck in the format by a large margin.

machampventroproduction.deviantart.comAll in all, it seems as if Ohio was the only event plagued by the “Machamp Menace” so most players can safely ignore it. It seems though, outside of a few States, that Gengar, both kinds, seemed to underperform. Having talked to a lot of players, the decks didn’t show up in large numbers at all.

It did win 3 states, but SP managed to take in 10, of the ones reported so far on the PokéGym. While Vilegar is still a valid deck, I think it is still a clear distant 2nd to SP decks in terms of what must be answered.

It really seems like the same decks from Cities did well again. Michael Pramawat took down a States with Steelix, and Oregon was taken down by Scizor, so those are some interesting outliers.

My biggest issue with decks like that are that they can be rather matchup dependent.

A well prepared SP deck can just derail them, so it comes with a lot of speculation as to what you’ll face. I don’t think there really were any huge surprises or “must see” decks to come from these events, which is a bit saddening but to be expected. Players are really just further evolving their favorite decks from Cities and running with them.

This isn’t bad, but also leads to one good speculation: Don’t expect a shift from week 1 to week 2. The same players will likely stick to the same decks. Nothing really changed, so unless a player was really underwhelmed by their decks performance or they make a tilt switch, most of the decks should stay the same.

pokemon-paradijs.comI’ll very likely play LuxChomp again. I haven’t given up on Dialga still, and would like to get some more games in with it.

Michigan was taken down by LuxChomp, but apparently had a ton of Vilegar. If this mixes with the Ohio Metagame for Indiana, I feel like I need to be a bit more prepared for Vilegar, but shouldn’t be too worried. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of deck turn out we get.

I’ll try and have up a few deck lists of stuff I saw, or experiment with in the upcoming week, but I figured I’d get the report up for everyone early before States Week 2 Saturday.

I’ll likely chime in on the forums with some updates or lists as they come in, but no promises as this week may be a bit hectic for me.

Hopefully everyone had a good time at States and had some success, and I wish everyone the best of luck in Week 2! Happy testing!


…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

After 90 days, we open each Underground (UG) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.

Underground Members: Thanks for making this article possible!

Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.


Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

You are logged out. Register. Log in.