Adam’s Nationals 2011 Tournament Report

At first I wasn’t totally sure if I’d be making to Nationals this year. Money is sorta tight, all the hotels downtown were booked, and none of my close friends from home were sure if they could make it because of school and work. It wasn’t really until about 3 weeks ago that I gave my brahs the ultimatum, and we finally bit the bullet to reserve our hotel and flights.

Nationals is so incredibly fun every year, I guess in the end it was a no-brainer that we’d end up going. It’s honestly probably the highlight of the year for me. I love getting away for a few days and submersing myself into the tournament atmosphere. It’s truly a 1-of-a-kind experience and I highly recommend anyone reading this to go if you haven’t been yet! I guarantee you’ll have a blast and make a ton of new friends for life.

Anyway, we booked our hotel for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at the Sleep Inn on Rockview Road near the Indy airport. I really wanted to stay at the Homewood Suites downtown which is where we stayed last year, but the place was booked. Homewood Suites was super nice and next year I’m going to do every in my power to book a room there… staying near the airport sucked.

I guess there was a big fraternity gathering going on the same time as Pokémon, so literally every hotel downtown was filled. It was pretty insane that not even one room was open though.

Prior to the tournament, I didn’t really do any playtesting. My plan was to show up and see if anyone would lend me a spare deck to use… I don’t have any cards at the moment, I’ve been too busy to play seriously, and I didn’t really care how I performed in the tournament anyway. I was mainly going to Nationals to hang out with my homies; playing tournament itself was almost an afterthought.

pokebeach.comSince I hadn’t practiced at all this year besides playing at Delaware States, I knew I needed to play a noob deck if I wanted to do well. (And who doesn’t want to do well?) Anything that was quick, consistent, and relied on 1 attack would be perfect. I put out a request on Facebook and Twitter to see if anyone could hook me up with Volbeat/Illumise, and luckily my boy Eli M. saw my S.O.S. and said he would help me out.

I honestly wasn’t exactly sure what deck Eli was going to give me, but I was happy to play anything. I also got in contact with my friend Jeremiah from PA just incase Eli fell through (I had never met Eli prior to this Nationals). Jeremiah (who couldn’t go to Nats) gave my other friend Jon K. (who was going) his Machamp/Reuniclus deck to let me borrow.

So by Tuesday night, I was pretty sure I’d have some kind of decent noob deck ready for me to use on Friday. Wednesday I spent most of the day answering last minute SixPrizes e-mails and getting any final articles scheduled since I didn’t plan to bring my MacBook along with me for the trip. (I spend way too much time sitting in front of this screen working on 6P and I needed a break.)

Wednesday night I packed and somehow fit everything into my good old navy L.L. Bean backpack that I’ve had since middle school. I tried to travel as light as possible… all I brought were 3 changes of clothes, toothbrush, floss, deodorant, camera, wallet, pen, paper, water bottle, some food, and the 7 remaining
Unown Pleasures t-shirts that I had lying around.

I then headed over to my friend Ian’s house to sleep over since we needed to head out real early in the morning for our flight. We planned to wake up around 5 AM since our flight was scheduled for a 7:30 AM departure from PHL.

I got to Ian’s house around 9 PM and he had to write an essay for his summer classes and still pack, so I brought my DVDs and we decided to put Pulp Fiction on while he got his stuff done. I forgot how long that movie is… it wasn’t over until after midnight. Ian had never seen it before and thought the tomato joke was really funny.

I end up going to bed around 1 AM, which is when Ian only began to start packing his stuff. We wake up around 5 AM, I eat like 7 or 8 organic dates I had bought at Whole Foods the day before, then head out of the door by 5:30 AM to pick up our friend Josh (aka quaziko, Jamal Hall, Jeremiah, Jacques Cousteau, Joshua Christ, Joshua Cornelius, etc…).

Josh walks out of his house with a paisley luggage bag… we laughed and said it must have been his grandma’s.

We get to the airport and split up since Josh was on a different flight than me and Ian. Ian gets detained by security for trying to smuggle a whole tube of toothpaste onto the plane. I watch (and laugh) from afar as the security dude goes through all of Ian’s stuff, opening up his boxes of Pokémon cards and everything. The guy must have thought 21 year old Ian was such a dweeb.

They finally let Ian go, and we get to our terminal. Here are some pictures of us waiting for the plane:

We transfer planes in Chicago, then finally land in Indy around noon. Our hotel was supposed to come with a complimentary shuttle from the airport, but we call and apparently they cancelled that service literally last week. Ian complains since we had booked the hotel 3 weeks ago when they still had the shuttle, and eventually they cave in and send a van from a nearby hotel to pick us up.

We get to the hotel and it’s kind of crappy… they got rid of microwaves and fridges that were supposed to be in the rooms, and they no longer offered access to the gym/pool at the neighboring hotel. We were told new management took over last week and got rid of all that stuff.

Needless to say, we won’t stay at the Sleep Inn next year if we can help it. It cost too much and wasn’t that great. They had a continental breakfast and free wireless internet which were convenient, but most hotels offer those amenities anyway.

I take a nap during the afternoon while we wait for Josh’s flight to come in. Josh finally arrives and we head over to the convention center around 5 PM to preregister for the tournament. I meet up with Eli who came through big time and hooked me up with a deck.

I was originally thinking of playing ZPS (Zekrom/Pachirisu/Shaymin) because apparently Volbeat/Illumise is TOO noob, so Eli built ZPS for me and I tried it out against his DonChamp deck. The DonChamp deck dominated the 3 or 4 games we played, and his ZPS list seemed sorta clunky, so Eli suggested I just go with DonChamp.

He said he’d tested it a few weeks before settling upon a different deck for Nationals, so he knew his DonChamp was tight. I trusted him, and this is what his list looked like:

Pokémon – 20

4 Phanpy CL
4 Donphan [Prime] HS
3 Machop TM
2 Machoke TM
3 Machamp [Prime] TM
2 Cleffa HS/CL
1 Tyrogue HS/CL
1 Bouffalant BLW #91

Trainers – 28

3 Pokémon Collector
3 Pokémon Communication
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Professor Juniper
2 Seeker
4 Junk Arm
3 Rare Candy
3 PlusPower
2 Pokémon Reversal
2 Switch

Energy – 12

9 F
3 Double Colorless

I thought it looked pretty good on paper and went with his exact list without any changes. Huge props again to Eli for hooking me up… thanks so much dude!

Eli also graciously let Josh borrow 2 Magnezone Primes. Josh was desperate and vowed to name his first-born child Magnezone if he were to win Nats with Eli’s ‘Zones.

Anyway, with a deck in hand, I think we then go to Panera Bread for dinner and head back to the hotel to playtest a few games before calling it a night. One thing we didn’t realize is that the cab was going to cost about $20 each way, going to and from downtown. Basically it cost an extra $40 a day to stay at a hotel near the airport… I’m definitely not doing that again.

I play 3 games vs Ian who was using Magnezone/Emboar. I go 2-1 (I think), then we hit the hay around 11 PM.

Jason Chen was also staying in our room, but foolishly he booked his flight with Priceline. William Shatner and Big Deal screwed him over so his flight didn’t get in until after 1 AM. It must have been around 2 AM that Jason arrived and woke us all up.

We go back to bed then wake up around 6 AM, get dressed, I eat a breakfast of plain bagels and OJ, then we get a cab and arrive at the convention center by 8 AM. Jason still needed to register for the tournament, so he gets in line and Ian scrambles for cards last minute since he doesn’t have his deck ready to play. (Somebody was supposed to let Ian borrow a deck, but we couldn’t find them in time.)

Everyone in our group is set by the time we have the player meeting. They announce that there are over 1,500 players in the tournament which made it the largest US Nationals ever! It’s always good to see the game still growing even after all these years.

Pairings finally get posted, and the tournament begins…

Round 1 vs Kevin from Austin, TX (Zekrom, Ampharos Prime, Lanturn Prime, Pachirisu, Shaymin)
Earthquake all day baby

I’m kind of nervous since I haven’t played very much this format, but here’s my basic strategy I tried to keep in mind as I played throughout the day:

  1. Win the coin flip.
  2. Get a turn 2 Donphan.

Kevin is a Pokédad and he tells me before our match that his son in Juniors took some of his cards for his deck, so I wasn’t expecting his best stuff.

I don’t remember exactly what happened during the match, but I think I start with a lone basic, so I am kind of worried Kevin might donk me somehow. Luckily I win the flip (strategy is working so far!) and Kevin opens with 2 Zekroms. My hand isn’t great, but neither is his, so once I get a Donphan out, it’s pretty much over.

I am able to get out an army of Donphans on the bench, and end up taking all 6-of my prizes while Kevin draws only 1 or 2.


I’m feeling pretty good at this point, even though all I did was dismantle an innocent Lightning deck. Anything to get your confident going, right?

Round 2 vs Joe H. (Kindgra Prime, Yanmega Prime)

This match was epic. I started with a lone Cleffa. Joe wins the coin flip. He plays either a Collector or Communication to search out his Tyrogue for the donk… and it’s prized!



Joe grabs the Tyrogue and gets the first turn win. We play a fun game afterward and Joe kicks my butt again. I quickly realize that Kingdra/Yanmega is not a good matchup (foreshadowing), so I add a third clause to my strategy for the day:

3. Avoid Kindgra/Yanmega


Round 3 vs Corbin (Mew Prime, Gengar Prime, Mime Jr., Slowking, Mr. Mime)
Poor 60 HP Mews...

I talk to Corbin a little before the match and he says he is a relatively new player to the game. This was his first Nationals and he came up with a small crew of players from his league, which is really cool! It’s awesome how many new players are getting into the game.

The round begins, and I win the coin flip. I start Phanpy, attach energy, and pass. Corbin opens with a Mew and does “See Off” for a Gengar Prime.

On turn 2, I get 2 Donphans in play and “Earthquake” for the remainder of the game. I was able to discard Pokémon from my hand with Junk Arm, and he was only able to get like 2-of my Pokémon in the Lost Zone.

I got pretty lucky to have such a good start and I take the game fairly comfortably. There was one dicey spot where I only have the 2 Donphans in play and Corbin is able to Seeker one back to my hand and Hurl into Darkness my Donphan Prime, but I quickly get more Pokémon into play and win no-sweat.


Round 4 vs Some Dude (Mew Prime, Jumpluff, Donphan Prime, Zoroark)

This match starts off somewhat awkwardly… I sit down and my opponent explains that he is starting a new Pokémon TCG website, and would like to keep some notes so he can write a detailed tournament report.

I tell him that’s cool and he asks if I would share what deck I’m playing so he can write it down. Normally I probably wouldn’t tell what deck I’m using before the match, but I don’t really care since I’m playing for fun, and I tell him I’m using DonChamp.

I ask him more about why he’s starting the website, and he tells me he hates sites like Pokégym and SixPrizes. That surprises me, and at this point I’m guessing the dude has no idea who he was talking to.

So I play into it a little and say “Really?! You don’t like SixPrizes?” He responds by saying “Yeah they’re a bunch of [explicatives].” I smile and laugh with him a little bit, then say “Well, I guess you didn’t realize I’m the guy who runs SixPrizes!”

The guy pretty much made this face and possibly pooped his pants. I was even wearing a SixPrizes t-shirt… I guess he didn’t notice!

Let this be a lesson for anyone reading… be nice to everyone and be aware of your surroundings! You never know who’s going to hear what you say. I’m sure the kid is a nice person and has good intentions, but you gotta be careful with what you say (especially in public).

Anyway, the match starts, I win the flip, and play as aggro as possible. I know he starts out with Cleffa, and I think I started either Phanpy or Machop. I Collector for a Tyrogue and a couple Phanpys, then retreat with a DCE to promote Tyrogue and take an immediate prize.

Next turn I have a Donphan in play and just start doing Earthquake for the remainder of the game and win pretty easily. My opponent gets pretty bad draws and my fast start is too much to overcome.

I wish him the best of luck with his new website and head outside to chill by myself until my next match.


Round 5 vs Cody (Yanmega Prime, Magnezone Prime)

I win the coin flip and start Phanpy to his Cleffa and Magnemite I think. I have turn 2 Donphan in hand, along with a Seeker, so I’m hoping that he draws no other basics and flips heads on Eeeeeeek so I can get the turn 2 win.

Cody doesn’t bench anything, Eeeeeeeks, and rolls… tails. Not good. I’m a noob. The longer the match goes, the better chance I mess up and lose.

On my second turn I set up as much as possible, then pass. Cody has to Eeeeeeek for a 2nd time, and again he gets tails. No!!!

I can’t remember, but I think he still might have only had 2 basics out at that point. Donk chance #2 is quashed. My hand is pretty weak aside from my 1 Donphan which is active, so I’m worried that if he gets anything out, I’m a goner.

pokebeach.comBy turn 4 he gets his Magnezone Prime in play along with 4 energy. He decides to try and KO my Donphan since he could sense my weak hand, but he only discards 3 energy. He forgot Donphan was resistant to Lightning, so total he only hits me for 110, and I have 10 HP left.

That ends up being a pretty big misplay on his part, since his setup wasn’t great either, and Magnezone was really the only real key component he had on the field. Even though my hand is weak, I do have a PlusPower at my disposal, so I am able to take out his Magnezone the next turn with Earthquake and even up the field.

I think he is then able to get a Yanmega out and KOs my Donphan. All I’ve really got out at this point is a Bouffalant, which is able to take out his Yanmega in 2 shots. We both struggle to get Pokémon out and it’s a pretty intense game.

Near the end, I have 1 Prize left while he has 2. He has a Pachirisu on the bench which I’m hoping to Reversal and KO for the win.

He tries to foil my strategy by Reversaling my benched Phanpy for a kill. He misses 2 flips, and settles for KOing my active. I have 2 Reversals in hand, and hit the very first one to drag up his Pachirisu. I drop as many cards as I strategically can from my hand then PONT, hoping to draw into either a Donphan or possibly a Rare Candy + Machamp.

I hit a Communication + Pokémon and retrieve a Donphan for the win.


At this point I feel like one lucky dog after surviving off topdecks most of the game, then having the flips go my way at the end. I played the game as best as I could and had just enough luck to take it in the end.

I felt sorta bad for Cody, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Big props for wearing the Rush t-shirt on Saturday by the way!

Round 6 vs Chance (Magnezone Prime, Emboar)

My hot streak of luck continues as my opponent mulligans 6 times, wins the flip, but is unable to search out his Tyrogue to KO my lone Cleffa. Ouch!

I go off like crazy on my first and second turns. On turn one I Collector for Machop, Phanpy, and Tyrogue. I retreated my Cleffa and Mischievous Punch his Cleffa for my first prize.

Chance doesn’t get much off his Eeeeeeek, so taking out his Cleffa really hurt. It was a little risky since I didn’t want 2 babies on my bench taking Earthquake damage, but I thought I should go for it.

Turn 2 I have Donphan out doing Earthquake, then turn 3 I have Machamp out and do 150 with Champ Buster (via PlusPowers) to 1HKO his Emboar. I steamroll and only give up like 1 or 2 Prizes.


That concluded day 1. I was feeling pretty stressed out since I didn’t expect to have that good of a record, and I would inevitably take things a little more seriously from then on out. I was still playing for fun, but at the same time I didn’t want to mess up a chance to make top cut. Once you make top cut, anything can happen.

Ian, Jason Chen, Josh, Anthony D, David H, and I then went to P.F. Chang’s (P.F. Chen’s) for dinner. It was super crowded though, and the wait was going to be about an hour, so David ditched us to watch Transformers 3 with his mom. We waited outside along with a big group of Lafonte peeps (Jason K, Matt Moss, Alex B, etc…).

Alex or Jason was reading the SixPrizes Underground information page on their iPhone and got to a part where it says “Why Alex Brousseau is Underachieving”. They were kind of blow away and thought that I’d written something specifically about Alex, but it’s just line that get customized automatically for each person. Tricky, eh?

We eventually got seated after about 45 minutes and feasted on food; we were all starving. I ordered this appetizer:

I forget what it was called. Jason Chen took pictures of our food every time we went out to eat. He claims that his “friend” has a food blog. For my meal I got vegetable lo mein and spicy string beans (I’m vegan). When we got our separate bills, Ian somehow ended up getting a free meal:

We assumed our waitress liked him, so we wrote “Call Me!” and left one of our friend’s phone numbers on the bill as a prank. Fingers crossed she called the friend!

After that, we took another $20 cab back to our hotel and chilled for the rest of the evening. Saturday morning we headed back to the convention center to finish out the swiss rounds and hopefully make top cut.

Round 7 vs Michael Weldon aka Rokman (Magnezone Prime, Emboar, Reshiram)

I am kind of bummed to play Rokman since he’s a really cool dude and we’d chatted and hung out a little bit on Thursday and Friday… I mean it was really cool playing against him since we’d never played before, but I didn’t want to see either of us lose.

I win the coin flip yet again, and have pretty flawless draws my first few turns. One huge thing that helped me was that I happened to run into both of my Switches very early in the game.
I don't care if you're a baby Pokémon!! I will still pwn you!

I am able to first Switch my sleeping Cleffa into Donphan and go up 1-0. The next turn Switch my Donphan into Machoke to KO his sleeping Cleffa (Knuckle Down gets through Sweet Sleeping Face).

Those two plays get me up 2-0 on prizes and really put the pressure on Rokman to find something to stop my newly evolved Machamp Prime. I do make a dumb misplay at one point, but I have such good board positioning, it doesn’t really matter.

What happened was I had my Machamp out vs his undamaged Reshiram. I was doing 120 with Champ Buster, and I had a PlusPower in hand. I was planning to drop the PlusPower and get the 1HKO, but I then topdecked Seeker and thought it would be a pro move to Seeker and heal my damaged Machoke.

So I did that… then realized I’d just taken Reshiram out of 1HKO range. D’oh!

In the end it didn’t really matter though since Rokman had to burn a ton of resources early on to stay in the game, and I won pretty comfortably. Sorry man! When you’re hot, you’re hot.


I’m feeling pretty comfortable right now because I think 6 wins is enough to make cut. I’m honestly fine with the outcome of my last two games… I’m just playing for fun, right?

Round 8 vs Ashon (Magnezone Prime, Emboar)

I win the flip and open with Phanpy to Ashon’s lone Cleffa. I know I gotta go for the donk when I have the chance, so I drop DCE on Phanpy, play a Bouffalant to the bench to burn a card, play PONT, hit Communication and a Pokémon, fetch out my Tyrogue, retreat and Mischievous Punch for the KO.


This is one of the sickest runs of luck I’ve ever had. The last 6 games in a row all went pretty much perfectly, and I’m now guaranteed to be in the top cut. Huzzah!

I had a similar run a few years ago when I played Banette ex (which is resistant to Fighting) and I ran into like 5 or 6 Mario decks (Machamp DP and Lucario DP which are Fighting type and both weak to Psychic) and went like 7-1 or 8-1 in swiss.

Onto the last round…

Round 9 vs I Forget (Yanmega Prime, Donphan Prime, Zoroark)

pokebeach.comI was pretty stoked for this match because I was sitting all the way at table 2, which is pretty good considering there was a total of like 200 something tables to begin with.

Sitting next at table 1 to me happened to be a hahn, or more formally known as Andy. It was a pleasure to meet you dude and I’ll get your tournament report posted right after I finish typing this one!

Congrats again on going 9-0 at your first Nats, that was incredible. I know some people gave you flack for your earlier articles on ReshiPhlosion, but I think you proved the skeptics wrong!

Anyway, my match was pretty boring. I finally got normal luck for once, and my opponent was able to set up a few Yanmegas and swarm me for the win. My notes say “Yanmega killed me.”

His deck was really awesome and I felt like if I had been testing and was serious about winning, his deck looked like something I would have played.

I did pull off one cool move where I burned my whole hand and played like 4 PlusPowers in one turn with the help of Junk Arm to KO a Yanmega. If you’re going down, go down with style.


I’m very stressed and nervous at this point because I once you’re in the top cut, anything can happen. I haven’t been playing at all, but with DonChamp it seems like it doesn’t really matter what deck you’re playing against, you just hope to get lucky and take control with a quick Donphan.

I didn’t realize I was supposed to hand my deck in to be deck checked, so there end up being 63 people ahead of me in line. I couldn’t leave for lunch until I handed my deck in, so I was stuck there for a while. Ian, Josh, and Jason Chen all had to wait for me.

I ended up being the only one from our group that made top cut despite being the biggest greenhorn in this format. I think that shows how much luck there is at the moment.

Anyway, we go to Qdoba for lunch for the third day in a row and I get a veggie bowl with double rice, fresh salsa, corn, guacamole, and lettuce. We chill out there for a while, then I’ve got to head back for my first round of single elimination.

Top 128 vs Anthony Eason (Zekrom, Pachirisu, Shaymin)

I’ve seen Anthony around, but I don’t think we’ve ever played against or talked to each other before. We chat about Magic a little be before the match and he explains a little bit about the game to me which was cool.

Game 1:

pokebeach.comI win the flip and start with a Machop. I remember having a pretty decent starting hand, possibly with a Collector which I would have grabbed 3 Phanpys with.

Anthony started Zekrom and I chose to attack with Machop, getting heads on Steady Punch to do 40 damage because of weakness. Anthony draws for his turn, and almost immediately we have some controversy. Here’s my side of the story:

Anthony plays down a Pachirisu and Lightning together at the exact same time. He doesn’t say “Power”, “Self-Generation”, or point at the power. I wait a few seconds for him to say or do something, and he doesn’t, so I interpret this to be a misplay in the same vein as a few years back when Flariados players would sometimes forget to announce Flareon ex’s Poké-Power.

At this point, I’m considering that move to be an energy attachment for his turn and am going to call a judge if he tries to attach another energy. We’re in the top cut of Nationals, so you’ve got to be a little on edge and watch for stuff like that. Later in his turn he tries to attach a 2nd energy, so I waive down a judge.

Anthony adamantly claims he first played down Pachirisu, said “Power,” then attached an energy. I think maybe in his head he was thinking “Power” and unfortunately didn’t announce it, but he definitely played the two card down together at the exact same time.

Later in the game, there were similar situations where he did moves like drop Shaymin, start to move energies, and I’d kinda be like “umm” or move my hand in the air and he’d then announce the power. I don’t like being that uptight about it, but I’m a pretty methodical player and I feel every move should be communicated extremely clearly, especially in the top cut of Nationals.

Here is a picture of me explaining the situation (courtesy of Ed from OneHitKO, thanks for taking the pic man!):

The judge’s ruling was that it was a “he said, she said” situation and they decided to give us both cautions/warnings and rule in Anthony’s favor. They said I could appeal to the head judge, but I just said forget it since I felt they probably would have made the same ruling and it wasn’t huge.

The winning argument (I think) was that the room was too loud and I didn’t hear him say the power. Even hypothetically if he did say it and I didn’t hear, what about the argument that my opponent didn’t communicate clearly enough? Or that they shouldn’t play the two cards down at the exact same time? I don’t think it’s my job to ask if my opponent wants to use an optional power, but whatever, it’s water under the bridge at this point.

Anyway, Anthony if you’re reading this I’m sorry about the situation, I’m just tight with the way I play. You’re a cool dude and I hope we get to play again in the future.

Continuing with the game, his Zekrom Outraged my Machop for a KO, but then I got a few Donphans out and won pretty easily. I was expecting him to scoop at some point, but he played it out until the end (I think). I guess he wanted the opportunity for a Game 3 sudden-death donk (if it were to come to that).


Game 2:

pokebeach.comI go 2nd this time and only have 1 basic I think. Anthony has a pretty good starting hand, but only hits 1 out of 4 Dual Ball flips I think, and is 1 card short of the donk.

My hand is sorta weak, but I’m able to stave him off long enough to set up. Anthony had an energy-less Zekrom on the bench, and he’d just dropped a bunch of resources trying to power up his 1st Zekrom, so I went for a Reversal to bide some time. I nailed the flip.

That was pretty big since that Zekrom got stuck out there, and I was eventually able to topdeck a PONT which nabbed me a couple Donphans and it was pretty much over at that point. Anthony didn’t really draw into much, and it’s really difficult for him to take out my Donphans.


I’m really happy I was able to pull the match out in 2 games. I was in a bad spot Game 2, but I just made the best plays I could make to stay in the game, and I got lucky enough to pull it out.

I wait around for a while since our games finished rather quickly, and when top 64 pairings are posted, I see I’m up against Dylan L who had 2 byes and I thought I remembered hearing him doing real well at Worlds as a Senior (turns out he was World champ in 2008!). I knew I was going to be in for a tense match.

Top 64 vs Dylan L (Yanmega Prime, Kingdra Prime, Blissey Prime, Jirachi)

Game 1:

pokebeach.comDylan wins the flip and starts with a Chansey. I’m kind of confused at this point and don’t know what he’s playing until he plays a Collector and pulls a couple Yanmas and a Horsea. I got crushed by this very deck in swiss, so I knew I’d have to get super lucky to win.

My start is somewhat average compared to the Yanmega swarm Dylan set out on me. The resistance was brutal and I didn’t really have much of a chance, especially with him using a Blissey tech. He could free retreat his Yanmegas back and forth, drop Blissey to heal them, and they’d be nearly impossible for me to KO.

Dylan never even needed to drop Blissey, and I got steamrolled pretty quickly.


Game 2:

More of the same. I needed him to get atrocious hands for me to win, and it just didn’t happen. I wished Dylan the best of luck, and I later found out he made top 4. Great job dude!


My luck finally ran dry, but I had a blast and it was awesome making it that far in the biggest tournament ever. I was kinda bummed that I didn’t get any prizes for top 64, but whatever. I came to have fun and I did way better than I expected to!

My rating went up from 1601.89 to 1712.19 which is pretty cool. I apologize if I killed anyone’s rating!

Here are some tips for anyone in a similar position as I was playing in a future Nationals or (any tournament):

If you haven’t been playing much during the season, use a really simple deck. I consider a simple deck to be one that relies almost solely on 1, maybe 2 attacks.

pokebeach.comI’ve had pretty good success at past Nationals playing really simple decks with 1 good attack. I went 7-1 or 8-1 and made top 16 in 2007 with Banette ex. I used 1 attack pretty much the entire time.

Last year I went 7-2 and made top 64 with Gyarados which did Tail Revenge all game, and this year I also went 7-2 and made top 64 doing Earthquake almost the entire game.

Playing a fast, consistent, 1-trick-pony of a deck definitely limits your ability to outplay people, and you’ll be a little reliant on luck in terms of playing favorable matchups, but you’ll make way less misplays than you would with a more complicated deck.

I feel like misplays are what determine games more often than extremely good plays. It’s more difficult to misplay with a noobie deck, so it’s important to know your capabilities and choose your deck accordingly.

After I got Knocked Out, I hung out with Jason Chen, Josh, Ian, and Anthony in the convention center hall. We were planning to do another late night draft like we did last year, so we looked around at Collector’s Cache and Troll & Toad for a booster box.

Jason Chen is a master haggler, but even he couldn’t get either of the vendors to negotiate their prices. Apparently none of the people working had the power to lower prices, so it was pointless trying to reason with them but Jason persisted and it was pretty amusing.

We eventually caved in and bought an Arceus booster box for $85. Arceus is a great set to draft by the way, just since the set is kinda small so you have a decent chance of putting together a legit deck.

With the box in hand, we went out for dinner at Buca di Beppo (an Italian resaurant). It was pretty cool since the entrance actually walked you through the kitchen and then to the seating area. It felt like we were mob bosses coming through the back door.

Once seated, the waitress asked us if we were there for any special occasion, and I told her it was Jason Chen’s birthday. I wasn’t really his birthday, but he went along with it and we got the whole restaurant to sing for him:

After that we had our draft in the hotel lobby of Anthony’s hotel. I had no idea what I was doing my first few packs, but I realized Sandy Cloak Wormadam is really good since Burmy can evolve first turn. I went for as many Sandy Clock Wormadam as I could get and played an all Fighting deck that looked something like this:

Pokémon – 18

5 Burmy Sandy Cloak
3 Wormadam Sandy Cloak
3 Geodude
1 Graveler
1 Golem
2 Makuhita
1 Nosepass
1 Croagunk
1 Ratatta

Trainers – 2

2 Expert Belt

Energy – 20

20 F

I would have gone straight for all the Burmys and Wormadams from the get-go if we were to redo the draft, but my deck turned out decent. I basically just tried to rush and take quick prizes.

Round 1 vs Jason Chen (Gengar, Psychic Pokémon, Tech Arceus)
Who pulls this in draft??

Jason somehow ended up with a 5-3-3-1 Gengar line. Ian postulated that he pulled cards from his binder to make his deck, but I think we were all noob drafters.

Game 1:

Jason started with a lone colorless Arceus and I went first with a Makuhita. Jason couldn’t draw any basics and I benched him turn 3.

Game 2:

Jason got Gengar LV.X out this game so I had no shot. Cheater!

Game 3:

I think Jason got Gengar out again this game, and I lost.


Round 2 vs ???

My memory is blurry beyond this point. Sorry! Jason ended up winning the draft with a 4-1 record. I think I finished 3-2.

After the draft we took a cab back to our hotel and Ian hardcore danced around our small room. He nearly broke our TV and set off the fire sprinkler, but luckily everything was cool.

On Sunday we all slept in and just hung out at the convention center during the afternoon. Jason K tried to get us to join his Japanese Base Set draft, which I would have done, but I had to leave to catch my flight. Sorry man, maybe next year!

We got one last picture of our group before Josh, Ian, and I left:


1. It was great seeing everyone and thank you to everyone who introduced themselves to me!

I’m not great with names, but here are a few people I got to meet for the first time:

Michael W. (Rokman)
Chase (sixshooter) and his crew
Carlos P. (losjackal) and Xander
Ian S.
Eli M. (blooper)
The Purple Pro
Anthony D.
David H.
Austin M.
Andy H.
Garrett W.
Perry G.
Jimmy M.
Ed M. (from
Mr. 619
Nui W.
David R.
Andrew A.
Joe G.
Jay H.
All my opponents

That’s all I remember at the moment, sorry if I forgot to mention you! I’ll add more as I remember, and if you let me know in the comments and I’ll add you to the list too.

2. Congrats to everyone who did really well!

In particular I was really happy for FlareStarfire who was having a lot of trouble with his deck before the tournament, but made some last minute adjustments and ended up going 8-1 in swiss and made it to the top 64. That was incredible dude!

I was also really happy for Sydney M. who placed 2nd in Juniors. I know it means a lot for her to be able to play in Worlds this year and it’s really special that she made it all the way to the finals.

Congrats to Xander who got 1st in Juniors with a really unique deck! (I’m sure someone will write an article about it in the coming weeks.)

Great job by Jimmy M. who placed 2nd in Seniors! Jimmy was featured on our radio show a few months back… I had no idea he was that good!

And great job to everyone else out there… Pooka, Chad H., Christian O., Team Warp Point guys, everyone else… way to be!

3. Check out Top Cut for interviews!

The Top Cut guys did a really great job with interviewing players which you can check out on their YouTube channel.


I had a blast, I hope to see everyone again next year, and a big thank you to everyone involved for making it such a great event!

See you at Worlds! (maybe!)


P.S. I’ll get everyone’s tournament reports posted ASAP! This report took me almost a full day to write, but the next 2 or 3 days I’ll dedicate to getting all your submissions up on the site as quickly as I can.

Reader Interactions

77 replies

  1. Anonymous

    Yeah, awesome job Adam!

    It was awesome getting to meet you. Thanks for the shout out!

  2. rax

    Thanks for the report, congrats on top 64, and I know this is a little silly but it is awesome to hear that you are vegan! Sounds like you had better luck finding food around the event than me — I mostly packed in trail mix. I might have to try PF Chang’s next time…

    • Adam Capriola  → rax

      You’re vegan too? Awesome!

      Yeah there weren’t a lot of food options. Qdoba you could get a veggie option, at Subway I just got bread with a bunch of veggies, at Panera you could get a sandwich with veggies too (just ask for no cheese).I’m honestly not 100% if PF Chang’s was vegan since I don’t know what was in their sauce they cook with, but you just gotta do the best you can when you’re on vacation. Usually when I’m at home all I eat is a ton of organic fruit, veggies when I can afford them, and pasta. High carb low fat stuff. I try to avoid gluten too.

      • rax  → Adam

        Yeah, I’m vegan and also allergic to nightshades (tomato, potato, eggplant, pepper, hot pepper, goji berries, other obscure hippie things) and so I basically just don’t eat at restaurants most of the time, even when I’m at home. :) I usually bring a lot of dried fruit, fresh bread, and such with me; I was commuting from home this trip (I live like 80 minutes from Nationals) and for some reason it didn’t occur to me that I should plan food more carefully until Saturday.  Ooooops!

        I’d been on a low-gluten kick for a while but I recently started making my own seitan again and it’s just too delicious…

  3. Anonymous

    Solid article–definitely one of the funniest and most entertaining I’ve ever read. Congrats on the solid run on absolute minimal practice! Maybe we can get you legitimately testing for next season to see how well you’d really run : P

    • Adam Capriola  → Anonymous

      Hah thanks Josh, I’m glad it came out ok. It took forever to write!

      Yeah maybe I’ll start playing again… we’ll see. I gotta get my other projects going first then maybe I’ll have time. I’m bummed we didn’t get to chill much but that’s how it goes sometimes… next year we gotta stay at the same hotel to fix that. You should join in on our draft next time!

      • Anonymous  → Adam

        Yeah it’s a shame we didn’t get to, I just couldn’t find you past day 2 anywhere! Jason invited me to the draft but it was going the same time as the mutant I already bought my 6 packs for. I know how busy you get, but I bet if you put even a few days to a week of testing before an event that you’d know enough to play your way through things pretty well. You’re pretty much forced to read through our articles as you edit them so I’m sure that’ll cover the rest of your testing through osmosis : P

  4. Austin Mitchell

    When I saw that Volbeat I thought “There’s no way he did that good in the tournament with Illumise/Volbeat.” lol. And thanks for the shout out! :D

    • Adam Capriola  → Austin

      Lol I wish I made top 64 with Illumise/Volbeat, that would have been epic! Great meeting you Austin and hopefully I’ll see you again next year!

  5. Martin Garcia

    When i saw the tweets and you playing i was like “uh? it ought adam wasnt playing at nats this year, since when is he on indy with a deck?” lol

    If you could get so far with literally no testing, I see the magic is still intact then.
    Good job out there, and hope you can play a bit more this season!

    • Adam Capriola  → Martin

      Yo Martin! Hah yeah I wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing, but if since I was going to be traveling all the way out to Indy, I was going to play. Otherwise I guess I would have tried to get coverage of the event, but since the guys were already going to be doing that, I wanted to play!

      I got super lucky… maybe that is my magic. haha :P

  6. Ethan M.

    Aww, you didn’t remember me :(

    Nice job making top 64! I missed cut, but still had a great time. Too bad I didn’t get to talk to you much. It gets hard to find people sometimes and on Thursday I thought it’d be best to let you test a bit.


  7. Karol Nowak

    Awesome job Adam! Congrats on taking top 64 in this year’s nationals! You did quite a good job playing that Donchamp, and your list for the deck also looks pretty interesting too.  Too bad I couldn’t get a 6P shirt from you for once, but oh well.  In case you are wondering, I was the guy in glasses wearing the white Zekrom shirt, but we already met last year, so I think you know how I look like already.

    Well, if you are going, good luck in grinders!

    • Adam Capriola  → Karol

      Thanks Karol! It was great seeing you again and sorry I didn’t have any shirts left over, I only ordered a few extra outside the preorders. I’ll try to get you one next time!

      Also how did you end up doing in the tournament again? I know I asked you there, but I’m blanking right now.

      Hopefully I’ll see you again at Worlds if you go!

      • Karol Nowak  → Adam

        I ended up 5-4 in the main tournament, getting 140th place.  I was running Magneboar in case you are wondering.  3 of those losses really just came down to luck though.  They included a Spooky Whirlpool from a Lostgar matchup, and then the other two losses had to with me getting bad draws and bad hands (one of which was due to a Judge). Only one of those losses was really a good loss because it was really well-played game compared to the other losses. I did get some nice victories though, which included beating the mirror and beating Isaiah R (he took top 8 in seniors in Nats 2010).

      • Karol Nowak  → Cody

        Well, my bad on that, but Eli got 9th!!!??? Awesome! The last time I checked, he even has a worlds invite via rankings thanks to his performance in nationals. Good luck representing the Midwest, Eli!

  8. Dan W

    Just what I wanted! When I saw you make top cut with DonChamp I was excited.
    Amazing job on top 64! And this is definitely one of the best, if not, the best tournament report I’ve ever seen.
    Great job man! DonChamp FTW!

    • Adam Capriola  → Dan

      Thanks Nintendan! I tried to make it entertaining… I left some stuff out about the late night draft but I think I covered most of my trip. ;)

      And ya DonChamp is da bomb!

  9. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    Congrats on doing so great with a ‘noob deck’.

    If you had played something good, you could have won the whole thing ;)

    • Eduardo Cisneros  → Jak

      i used a similar deck, good job Adam  !  , baby_mario the last post (pokemon-nationals-2011-live-updates)  was removed i dont know if the mexico’s national report was usefull for you, greetings!

      • Adam Capriola  → Eduardo

        Hi Eduardo and thanks! I removed the live updates post since the event was over and I didn’t think it would be too useful anymore. Here is a reposting of your report though:

        Sure, i was bad luck  this nat but after the weekend got better.
        I used donchamp with zekrom, but a bad shuffle deck or i dunno what happens,
         i got 4/3 and i didn´t pass to the top 32.Wherever, i saw many magneboar, and turbo zekrom too.This year  i couldnt trade well, cause the police in the event didnt let, i thougth wft!, the game is trading card isnt it? and the deck lists were made, so there wasnt reason  for this rule.The last year was in queretaro and all was ok.The sunday the top players had played and i cheered up  one friend, then he passed to the top 16 so a turbo zekrom  won vs my friend. This winner won the nat, well my friend said me that.After my friend left the tops, another friend, many tops players and me had played a small tournament in a local store. I won this one, i had played vs magneboar, manibuzz kindra, zourak honchkrow, and a variant of turbo zekrom. Thats all folks, excuse me if i had wrong english grammar.If any had a question is oks for me! 

    • Adam Capriola  → Jak

      Thanks baby_mario! If I played a good deck I probably would have misplayed with it… darn you catch 22’s!

  10. Derek Coontz

    Neat article Adam! It was cool to see you again, glad to see you did so well.

    • Adam Capriola  → Derek

      Thanks Derek! It was cool seeing you too and congrats on going 5-4 with BlastZel, that was really awesome man! See you around next season. :)

  11. Ed Mandy

    Adam, you had a great run.  I 100% agree about your deck choice assessment.  I’ve said pretty much the same thing in the past when discussing decks with my team or whatever.  It was great to finally meet you in person, and I really appreciate the shirt.  I felt like I had to wear my Team Omar shirt at the event, but I wore 6P to work the next day, and I’m rocking it at the top of the site at the moment.  Thanks again and congrats on doing well.  It was fun to follow your progress as I’d pass by and get it.  Mine progress sure wasn’t anything entertaining.  :)

    Oh, and if you want some pics of your Pachirisu situation:

    • Adam Capriola  → Ed

      Ed!!! Dude it was so great to meet you after we’d been chatting online the past couple years, you better be at Nats again next year too!

      Thanks for rocking the 6P shirt and thanks for snapping the pics too, I’m gonna throw one of them into the report if that’s cool. :)

      • Ed Mandy  → Adam

        Definitely toss one in there if you like!  Yeah, and next time I’ll try not to make the same mistakes.  It’s a bit funny to think that I still could have made top cut if I’d have won my final round.  I feel like I was so far from where I should have been, yet I was still in it until the last match.  That BYE is amazing!

  12. Ed Mandy

    Adam, you had a great run.  I 100% agree about your deck choice assessment.  I’ve said pretty much the same thing in the past when discussing decks with my team or whatever.  It was great to finally meet you in person, and I really appreciate the shirt.  I felt like I had to wear my Team Omar shirt at the event, but I wore 6P to work the next day, and I’m rocking it at the top of the site at the moment.  Thanks again and congrats on doing well.  It was fun to follow your progress as I’d pass by and get it.  Mine progress sure wasn’t anything entertaining.  :)

    Oh, and if you want some pics of your Pachirisu situation:

  13. Ian Asplund

    So, I actually met both Josh (sat by mean on the plane) and Ian (sat by me before players meeting, eventually realizing he was in the wrong pod :P ), so I got to me some of your inner circle, Adam. Pretty cool guys, wish I’d have said hi to you too!

    • Adam Capriola  → Ian

      Hey Ian! Josh told me he sat near you on the plane and Ian told me he met you too. I didn’t know he sat in the wrong pod, hahah. I’m bummed I missed you but hopefully we’ll get to talk next year!

  14. jconti

    Dear Adam,

    I was thrilled you did so well. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy and it was nice that you were playing a very similar deck to my own (old man noob, as I like to call myslef, played 3 Cleffas instead of a 2/1 mix and circulators instead of reversals which contributed to the difference). I’m curious, are you going to modify that deck when the new set comes out (Pokemon Catcher FTW) or start over from scratch with a new deck?

    By the way, you may want to check out my post on “what do you do for a living” thread–I think you would get a kick out of it.

    Best of luck for another successful year running six prizes and I hope you realized that your round 4 appointment has no taste in good websites!


    • Adam Capriola  → jconti

      Dear John,

      Thanks man, I was happy to represent all the old man noob players out there, haha. I have no idea what I’m going to do when Catcher comes out, it was someone else’s list I was using. My guess is that there might be other decks that better abuse Catcher, so I don’t know if I’d continue with it.

      Just checked out your post on the thread, thanks for sharing that! The first thing I learned when I went to Pokemon league many years back was the Pokemon faint and never die. :)

      Thanks again and I’ll see you around next year!


  15. eli moses

    Hey Adam way to represent with my Donchamp I should have put a reshiram rech in there but I didn’t if you need a deck for worlds cus im going :) great job.

    • Adam Capriola  → eli

      Yo Eli! Way to be man, congrats again on the top 16 performance. I’ll let you know if I end up going to Worlds, it’s like 50/50 right now. Thanks again for letting me borrow the deck!

    • Adam Capriola  → nui

      ahhh sorry Nui I’ll add you! I knew I was missing a few obvious people. It was great to meet you man and maybe I’ll see you at Worlds!

  16. Joshua Pikka

    Great Job Adam!! It was nice to finally meet you.  Too bad you didn’t get a chance to add a Ruins of Alph into your deck, it really helped me against all the Yanmegas. 

    • Adam Capriola  → Joshua

      Thanks pikkdogs! It was awesome to meet you man, you’re a really cool guy!

      I didn’t know about Ruins of Alph, but oh well… maybe next time I’ll throw it in? haha

  17. pokejav

    Adam, awesome showing! Your article was FUNNY as hell… and I learned a lot reading it. Keep up the great work.

    BTW, we are super proud in Miami for Justin Sanchez. Miami rocked @ Nationals!!! Daniel A. made top 8 in Seniors (Larry A. is a proud pa), and Juan P. made top cut too in Juniors (Roberto A. is another proud pa). Way to go South Florida!

    • Adam Capriola  → pokejav

      Hey Javier! Thanks man, I really appreciate it!

      Yeah it looks like South Florida really did well, congrats to you guys. :)

  18. abudoggie

    Adam, congrats on a great run!  It was great seeing you, Ian and Josh. 
    Thanks for the shoutout to Sydney.  She was really comforted seeing her
    PA regulars and she really appreciated your encouragement and support.

    As you note, her finals opponent Xander (our new Junior national champ),
    played a very unique deck that locked her down in game 2 and game 3
    with Vileplume and judges (stuck behind a long-term sleepy Cleffa didn’t
    help ither…lol).  We had our hopes up when she dominated game 1
    though.  What makes it great is Xander is not only a great competitor
    but is also a nice kid.  Anyone who got to watch the finals could see
    they really had fun.

    I think one of Syd’s biggest shoutouts would be to Chris Fulop by
    getting the new format race going with MagneBoar.  Indeed that sparked
    her interest in the new format and she hopped on that wagon until she
    figured out how to beat it.  She faced four of them during her run.  She
    also faced many Yanmega/”something” decks but there were two that were
    clearly unique in design.  The Mew deck that beat her in round 8 of
    swiss and Xander’s deck.

    I’m most proud that Syd really took charge of her own deck selection and
    build (my contribution was to sleeve her deck).  She is surrounded by a lot of smart players that often
    contribute ideas better suited for masters than a young junior and she
    is secure enough to know the difference.  For this event, she really drove the bus which is amazing for an 8-year old little girl.  I will say that Michael
    Pramawat wandered by our practice area the night before the event and
    after observing her play offered some advice regarding one of her
    pokemon lines that she appreciated. Kyle Morris, Ben and Geoff Sauk,
    Ryan Vergel, Bolt and AJ all spent time playtesting with her over the
    course of the event and she is very appreciative of their time and

    Syd has a really great group of friends and I know I would leave someone
    out if I tried to thank everyone who made her week special.  But as I
    said, seeing you and all of the people from PA/DE/NJ/NY area was a real
    source of strength.  See you all in San Diego.

    • Adam Capriola  → abudoggie

      Hey Doug!! It was great to see you and Sydney too! Congrats again to Sydney for the impressive performance, it was awesome to see her do so well and have fun at the same time. She’s a very bright girl and we’re all really proud of her. :)

      Hopefully I’ll see you both in San Diego!

  19. Alex Hedge

    Great job!

    I’d put less pictures in though because they are hard to load.

      • Adam Capriola  → CarlosPero

        Good catch man, I’ll get the fixed as soon as I can. I didn’t have a quick way to resize besides CSS and I kinda was rushing to get this posted.

        Thanks for commenting and congrats again to Xander!! :)

    • Adam Capriola  → Alex

      Thanks! I’ll fix the pictures, they’re the wrong size right now like Carlos mentioned.

  20. Garrett Williamson

    Ya man, great job in the tourney. The whole trip was AMAZING, except for The JW being a horrid hotel lol It was awesome meeting you, I didn’t think you’d recognize me haha

    • Adam Capriola  → Garrett

      Thanks man, and was the JW that bad?? Anything downtown has gotta be ok. It was great meeting you and you were actually pretty easy to spot out, haha. Hows the foot btw?

      • Garrett Williamson  → Adam

        Haha my foot is ok. Its just a little sore. As far as the jw goes there was no phone in the room and vallet lost my friends car lol Ya, no one that I was meeting for the first time expected me to be so tall haha. Can’t wait til next year. I’m hoping to go to worlds too but idk yet.

  21. wisconsinsquad

    Great job Adam! Nice meeting you at Nats! I just resubmitted my article just so you know.

  22. Anthony Smith

    Its hard to believe that just a year ago I was reading a similar report by Jason Chen detailing you nationals antics.

    Everything you do here and amongst the poke tcg is commendable and admirable and I know what it’s like to just want to be there for the community and the atmosphere. I’ve been into competitive gaming for a long time and sometimes you wonder why you keep turning up and when you do, you remind yourself.

    Congratulations to you on your performance and thanks for the report, I really enjoyed it :)

    • Adam Capriola  → Anthony

      Thanks Anthony, I really appreciate it. It was an incredible weekend and I really wanted to share my experience, like you said, to help remind people why we play this fun game. :)

  23. bendingspoons1

    way to post shitty pics of me plaid. BTW you never told them you cheated against me!!!!!!!! Wormadam and Expert Belt in your pocket is not the SixPrizes way FA****. Also that was MYYYYYYYYYYYYY Gengar El Vee Ecks that Chenlock stole from me!!! That was rightfully mine, you, Chen, and Joshuachrist are cheaters and more importantly KNOUBS!!!!! That’s right I said it. Kay, En, OH, You, Bee. KNOUB!!!! I’m joining HeyTrainer.

  24. Tamao Cameron

    Wow, so many comments already there’s almost no point commenting lol.

    Great read adam, genuinely had me laughing at points and it was great being able to track your progress on the day too, good stuff :)

  25. Adam Bigott

    “And somehow fit everything into my good old navy L.L. Bean backpack”
    Anyone else get confused by that? It took me a solid 30 seconds to get past that

  26. Kyle Warden

    Adam, I’m not included xD I talked to around 4 times, I just never announced who I was but I mostly hung around with Mr. 619

  27. Emily

    It was quite nice to finally meet you, even if it involved having horrible subway sandwiches with no cucumbers. :(

    • Adam Capriola  → Emily

      Hahah yeah, those sandwiches are nothing without the cucumbers. It was great to finally meet you too!

  28. Jair Ramirez

    Oh word, you’re vegan too, that’s cool. I’m guessing you sold that last small shirt huh.

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