Battle of Wittz: Nationals, Worlds, and Bears, oh my!

Hey everybody, and welcome to the newest segment of Battle of Wittz. In this article, I’ll take you guys through my deck-selection process coming into Nationals, my experience overall, and my thoughts on the most important decks to test for Worlds.

Let’s start with my journey toward finding “the right deck for me” a few weeks before the tournament:

The “Secret Deck”

pokegym.netA few weeks back in my last article, I talked about my number one favorite rogue deck, Vileplume variants:

“I can’t get into detail of the cards used in the deck because the player requested I keep things a secret, but all I can say is trainer lock is a LEGIT way to start messing your opponent up. While he included a lot of different interesting cards and techs in his build to tackle the meta, I want to talk about Vileplume as a whole, as well as share my own personal experiments with it at the moment.”

Now, I’ll be perfectly honest. At this point, I only kept the contents of the deck secret out of respect for my local Pokédad Carlos Pero, a.k.a. LosJackal here on Underground (pretty cool that at least 3 out of the top 4 Juniors all have parents representing here!).

By the time I had written the article, we had only tested his Vileplume experiment for around a week, and while my Magneboar getting continuously whooped was a wakeup call, I kept trying to attribute things in my head to luck. I couldn’t get myself to admit Ursaring/Roserade as a good partner to Trainer lock, and decided to go my own route with Jumpluff, which you guys would end up seeing in the last article.

The engine (Vileplume/Sunkern/Yanmega) remained unchanged, but I felt convinced that I needed to improve on his “inferior” build.

Give it a week or so and his deck was still performing 50-50 or better against pretty much every deck I threw at him, while my Jumpluff deck was only performing well in games where it wasn’t getting donked by Tyrogue. Carlos ran a very limited amount of Pokémon that could be donked, and eventually I began to realize that he knew what he was doing and probably tested a lot more than I had before coming to this conclusion.

This is a lesson that I had to learn easier ways than most others, but I highly recommend it. For every awful idea that you hear from whom you perceive a “scrub”, a few of those could actually be good. I know that it’s hard (and humbling) to admit that somebody with a 1600-ish rating could have valuable and important insight, but sometimes it’s really worth it to take a listen.

I didn’t expect to see the amazing results that Carlos’ deck saw in the beginning, and that same kind of story can also be told for the guy that went 9-0 in Swiss with Reshiram/Typhlosion. Looking at it from the other side of the table, I know how it feels to be told that your “good idea” sucks even though you really think it’s good.

pokegym.netI remember when I was first playing competitively with Regigigas that Regice sounded like a lot better way to discard from your hand than Lunatone (discarded 2 instead of 1). I know eventually Regice became the staple in that deck for a long time to come, but I had to deal with a lot of flak online before people would even listen to me, probably just because I was a “noob”.

Back to the story at hand, I ended up continuously working with Carlos with the deck, constantly looking at new tricks and assets of trainer lock. One suck idea was Spinarak, whose “Spider Web” attack could lock a Cleffa in place for an entire game under Trainer lock, eventually giving you the game by taking a single prize when time is called.

It worked for a few games as a neat and unexpected tech, but I slowly ended up deciding that you don’t really need “two Tyrogues” in a deck. Eventually I even questioned Tyrogue’s usefulness, but we’ll get to that later.

Come time for Canada’s nationals, I immediately started testing Horsemega, Yanmega/Magnezone, and even Yanmega-less Zekrom (which really wasn’t anywhere close to National Champion level in my testing). But the deck I worked with the most for myself was Mew/Muk/Vileplume/Yanmega/etc.

These results were important to test because 1) Pokémon players love hype and will jump to hyped decks right after they see the light, and 2) this tournament was the first concrete results we’ve ever had in a HGSS-On format. Seeing that a Trainer lock concept could work only fueled my fire for working with it, and I went back to hardcore testing in the last week before the tournament.

The deck is pretty well outlined in Kettler’s article, and my list was nearly identical to his (I used the free slots for Rare Candies and one extra draw Supporter). “Sludge Drag” seemed too good under Trainer lock on big Pokémon, and dealing the quick damage with Yanmega and Jumpluff seemed like a winning strategy.

“Bearhug” — The Junior National-Winning deck

pokemon-paradijs.comBecause this is around the last time I dedicated myself to Trainer lock, I want to take some time to explain the concept behind Carlos’ deck, and how the dynamic between the four main Pokémon work. The deck uses Ursaring, Vileplume, Roserade, and Yanmega as attackers, and complete with search from Sunflora the deck has 5 evolution lines — yikes!

However, things start to play out pretty nicely when everything works together, and the deck allows you the time you need to set up, or even fall behind before you come back into the game. Not only did Carlos’ son Xander take it to Worlds, but much lesser known is that Carlos himself took the deck to a top 32 showing for Masters!

Carlos and Xander are both very new to the Pokémon TCG (this is their second season, and I believe their first full season), and seeing both of them accomplish so much with a rogue concept is a pretty big deal, in my opinion.

Like other writers in the past have mentioned, keeping a deck secret can be a world-winning strategy, and Carlos would still like to keep anything he can about the deck a secret before Worlds. We’ve agreed that dispelling the deck’s core strategy is alright to share with Underground viewers, though, and I’d be happy to share with you guys how the deck works.

The deck’s main strategy is to get trainer lock online as quickly as possible, hit quickly with Yanmega, and hit hard with Ursaring. Now, when I say “as quickly as possible”, you might be thinking the slow build up to Vileplume. However, the often-overlooked strategy is that of Teddiursa from Call of Legends:

Teddiursa CL / Ursaring Prime

pokegym.netTeddiursa’s only attack, Fake Tears, initiates Trainer lock and a -30 damage defender on the flip of a coin. While it definitely is a luck-based lock, even if you hit one heads within the first two turns of the game, you should have had the time to work your way up to a Vileplume, securing Trainer lock for the game.

Teddiursa’s flip attack is interesting in that it is the only way to lock Trainers out on the first turn of the game, and it allows you to set up several evolutions behind you (particularly Sunflora) behind you. Often, the deck will start Teddi just for Fake Tears until he dies/retreats, and the Ursaring doesn’t hit the field until later.

Ursaring provides the role of big attacker. Because you don’t play the self-damaging Teddiursa in the deck, you have to feed Ursaring Rainbow Energy to feed his Poké-Body, but because Ursaring is often your mid-late game attacker, you’ll have the time to fetch them from your deck.

Ursaring can hit for between 30 and 120 damage depending on your Rainbow Energy, and a heavy Double Colorless line in the deck allows for you to get Ursaring charged in a realistic amount of time. At 2 energy he can 1HKO RDL in return pretty easily, too.

He’s definitely bad against Donphan though. Luckily, the deck has a few options to deal with him which I’ll address soon.

Yanmega Prime

Long before the surge of Yanmega decks from Canada, many players realized that Yanmega was one of the strongest cards in the format. The very first deck I tested in HGSS-On was Donphan/Yanmega, I hyped it a fair amount in my early May “Break on Through” article, and Carlos had it working with his deck for a long time.

pokegym.netNeedless to say, the card is amazing, and at 13 out of the top 16 decks in Masters using it, it’s found its place at pretty undeniably the strongest Pokémon in the format. Read this list of pros and tell me if it sounds familiar: sets up extremely quickly, hits heavy for how fast it can set up, can snipe the bench, has free retreat, has 110 HP. . . any guesses?

That’s right, Yanmega Prime is the new Luxray/Garchomp of this format. However, not requiring any specific energy or engine to run, Yanmega fits in nearly everything and will probably see even MORE play in the future with Pokémon catcher.

Is it perfect? No, but it’s the most well-rounded and splashable Pokémon in the format, and it’s going to be everywhere for a long time. (Also one of the most expensive! $40 is probably the CHEAPEST you’ll find this card for anywhere, and Troll and Toad had it as high as $75 on site — yikes!)

Beyond the obvious hype though, the card actually fits better in this deck than most, for two reasons. The first is that with Sunflora, you can easily search out the stage 1 or its basic to have a steady stream of fast attackers, and the second is that you actually run the energy required to get Yanmega online even when your hand doesn’t match.

The deck runs three kinds of energy: Rainbow, DCE, and Grass, and between the three getting 2-3 energy on a Yanmega isn’t that difficult. It isn’t a mastermind strategy, but having the option just makes him that more versatile in the deck.

Roserade UL

pokegym.netThis one is another one that might make you scratch your head — why Roserade? I speak from experience when I say that it’s probably the most annoying card in the deck. You know how Muk UD’s sludge drag poisoning and confusing something from the bench is a great combo under trainer lock?

Well, Roserade’s power does just that — to the active. When you attach a Rainbow to him, you get the ability of both a Grass and Psychic energy — confusing and poisoning your opponent’s defending Pokémon. This is great against heavier attackers, especially under Trainer lock.

Pokémon like Donphan, Magnezone, and even medium-sized retreaters like Reshiram hate being confused. It forces you to either put all of your attacks up to a coin flip, or to retreat your huge active Pokémon and set you back all the turns it took to set up. Under Trainer lock you lose your option to play Switch, making everything even more frustrating.

Attaching to Roserade might seem like it would slow you down, but because your heaviest and most-used attacker is Yanmega, you don’t really mind putting your energy elsewhere. Using Roserade and Yanmega in conjunction almost feels like using two attack in one turn, and it’s a really dirty strategy against players who don’t expect it.

The last two cards in the deck’s main line-up (Vileplume and Sunflora) are pretty self-explanatory (also, I already gave a fairly in-depth look at both of them last article for those of you guys who missed out on it). Vileplume Trainer locks, and Sunflora searches everything in your deck but Ursaring.

One thing to note is that Sunflora makes getting a Yanmega online after a Judge/Copycat easy — meaning that you can still match your opponent’s hand after evolving. One final thing about the deck’s draw — it just uses a heavy count of Supporter draw, with max Copycat/Judge, and a mix of other draw Supporters that are commonly used in any deck without the luxury of Magnezone.

One last thing I’d like to address is the learning curve and skill level of the deck. When I first tried piloting myself, I found it being a headache balancing 5 evolutions and determining what was needed for what matchup. The first thing that came to mind was “and he plans on giving this to a JUNIOR???”.

pokemon-paradijs.comI even tried to give Carlos hints that Vileplume/Jumpluff would probably be an easier, more consistent, and more simple concept for a Junior to tackle. However, Xander seemed to take to the deck pretty quickly, and after putting testing into the deck every single day he was extremely prepared.

I’d also like to take a moment to note something I brought up in my last article about Juniors — know your child’s limits. I’m not trying to knock on other children that I don’t even know, but I do believe that Xander is a very gifted and intelligent child for his age.

While I’m not saying “Your kid is too dumb to play Ursaring and friends!”, I would definitely suggest testing the deck with your child heavily before coming to the conclusion that “because this deck won Junior Nationals it must be the best for my kid”. Even I was turned off by the headache of options the deck had, and only recently have I started to get the hang of my ideal order of operations with it.

Beyond Juniors, the deck is still potent, though. Carlos’ run into the top 32 (losing by a prize to Evan Baker in Game 3) shows that the concept can definitely thrive on both the factors of surprise and sheer options. While I apologize again for not being able to release a decklist for you guys, my hope is that my analysis will be enough to lead you guys in the right direction for the deck.

I’ve got to respect Carlos’ request to keep the lines under wraps for now—secrecy led his son to a National championship, and it’s only fair to imagine that keeping things as secret as possible for them will lead to more success. You have all the tools to make the deck in front of you, and I’m sure that once you test the deck, figuring out ideal lines for you shouldn’t be that difficult. Their story is great, and I’m glad to have been a part of its success.

An AMEWsing Combination

So beyond Carlos and Xander’s testing and eventual success, I had found myself really attached to the Mew Box deck. The only thing that I didn’t like was the Vileplume! Despite being the central focus of my deck for a long time, I found it really frustrating trying to get Oddish-Candy-Vileplume without having the aid of Sunflora in my deck to search the pieces out.

The prevalence of Yanmega also made the 40 HP Oddish easy snipe bait for any turn that I couldn’t get the plume out, and starting with Oddish pretty much denied me any chance to use Mew’s See Off. So, with just 3-4 days before the event, I went back to the lab one final time to see if there was anything I could try to do with the deck before it was too late.

I ended up digging back to my even older article, the one about disruption in HGSS-On. I had been testing with Weavile UD for a long time, and after seeing that 2 variants running it made their way into the top 16 of Canada’s Nationals, I decided that it would be a perfect way to swap out the Vileplumes.

With the free retreat Sneasel, the deck would also have a very heavy count of great free-retreat non-donkable starters in Mew, Yanma, and Sneasel. I tested a few games to positive results, and ended up with this:

Pokémon – 24

4 Sneasel UD
3 Weavile UD
4 Yanma TM
3 Yanmega Prime
4 Mew Prime
2 Muk UD
2 Jumpluff HS
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Cleffa HS*

Trainers – 24

4 Copycat
3 Judge
3 Sage’s Training
3 Professor Juniper
2 Seeker
1 Flower Shop Lady
4 Pokémon Collector

4 Pokémon Communication

Energy – 12

4 Rainbow
5 P
3 G

The deck, which I could never think of a cool enough “code name” for, had a lot of assets. My favorite was the 12 free retreating basics, which was really strong in my opinion for getting that turn 1 “See Off” with Mew as often as possible.

The deck also had a heavy Supporter count, making it very Trainer lock resistant. Mew (Jumpluff) and Yanmega were fast attackers, and Weavile provided solid enough disruption to keep any deck down a turn or two while you set up.

The reason the * is there next to the Cleffa is because I really wanted to make it a Manaphy had I played this deck at Nationals. Even through you run 14 basics and only 2 babies, running Cleffa at all had really began to worry me coming into Nationals, and I didn’t want to lose any games to a solo Cleffa Tyrogue donk.

My brother decided one Cleffa would be fine, and while luck definitely played a part in it, it cost him his chance to make top cut. He went 5-1 the first day, including one perfect resistance awarded bye for beating me to win States, and that one loss was a Tyrogue donk.

He ended up losing his next 3 games to miss top cut while only needing one win the next day — 2 more of those losses being Tyrogue donks. I can’t imagine how frustrating that would have been, and I can’t believe it happened 3 times while running 14 basics, but it ultimately lost him his chance at top cut.

I on the other hand, came into Nationals this year with no idea what deck I wanted to take to the tournament. I had it narrowed to 3 choices — my Mew deck, Magneboar, and Yanmega/Magnezone. Magneboar had the advantage of being my most tested and practiced deck, but I could not get it to beat ANYTHING coming into the last week of testing.

My build was tight as ever, I had it fully reverse holo’d, and I knew it the best, but I couldn’t rely on a deck that I wasn’t winning with. I wrote a pretty detailed post of my experience in FlareStarfire’s thread about scrapping a deck a day before Nationals, and I recommend you read it to get the full picture of how my faith in Magneboar collapsed.

Yanmega/Magnezone, on the other hand, was another deck that I was blessed with getting very early testing for. First was through my cousin Garret, who is in his first year of Masters this year. While he’s definitely young, he understanding of the game and winning concepts is higher than average, and I’ve learned to not underestimate him.

During the Unleashed prerelease, he traded garbage to get 4 Steelix primes, and we all laughed at him when he claimed it’d be a good deck. Lo and behold, it became a pretty nice surprise deck at the end of last season, and Garret was able to walk away with a handful of small tournament wins because of it.

pokegym.netAbout a week after the HGSS format rotation was announced, we tested Magneboar vs Zonemega. I was tearing through every deck that I came across with my cousins, but actually left the day going 1-4 against Garret’s deck.

Once again, being the stubborn player that I am attributed it to luck because “there’s no way a mere 15-year old can beat my superior mind and Chris Fulop powered build”. Once again, I’ll reiterate my point from earlier — great ideas CAN come from unexpected places. From now on I’ll strive to open my mind a little more when I hear strange and new concepts — and I highly recommend you do, too!

Another early look I got at Zonemega was through our own Mikey Fouchet. Mikey had the deck in his testing arsenal, and it performed a nice 50-50 against my Magneboar. Once again, I think we all suffered MAGNEBOAR IS BDIF tunnel-vision when Mikey posted a solid Zonemega list in one of his last articles, and let the concept blow over our heads.

Luckily, I got another early look at the deck, and was able to eventually convince myself to build a copy of my own. Mikey will have an in-depth look at the list and its variants next week, so stay tuned for that!

In the end, after about a week of piloting Zonemega, I decided the day before Nationals to take the deck. On-site for the event, I found my Mew deck losing to WAY too many random noobs with Zekrom, and eventually I conceded the deck idea for the consistent and proven-by-Canada-to-be-successful play. Here’s what I ended up with:


Pokémon – 20

4 Yanma TM
4 Yanmega Prime
4 Magnemite TM
1 Magneton TM
3 Magnezone Prime
1 Manaphy UL
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Cleffa HS
1 Pachirisu CL

Trainers – 29

4 Pokémon Collector
3 Judge
3 Sage’s Training
3 Copycat

4 Rare Candy
3 Pokémon Reversal
4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Communication
1 Switch

Energy – 11

8 L
3 Rescue

The build, which is fairly simple, ran pretty well for me in testing. Much of the standard clockwork of the deck will be looked at by Mikey tomorrow, but here’s some of the justification for my stranger choices:

1 Pachirisu. I took Kettler’s (and by extension, Crema’s) advice to try the single Pachi, and I liked it. It provided an extra basic to the deck’s low 11 count, and found it to be pretty helpful in charging ‘Zone mid-late game. You don’t need to move any energy to ‘Zone itself — you just attach the two from hand, but by playing down Pachi and using “Self-Generation”, you can get your Magnezone 1-2 extra energy, and in turn take at least one extra prize as long as he stays alive.

I also took a few games by being able to attack with Pachi on turn one due to an energy-heavy hand, which was a nice bonus.

1 Manaphy. This was done near last minute due to my paranoia of Cleffa donks. It tested fairly well, but I still wanted to keep one Cleffa in for emergencies. Manaphy worked great as a starter, but sometimes you start Magnemite with nothing in hand and want a new hand ASAP.

Unfortunately, you can’t attach to both Magnemite AND Manaphy in the same turn, so he kind of stinks in this regard. The 1-1 split seemed to function well for me, providing nice starts with a lower donk percentage.

3/8 energy count. This is kind of weird to look at, but it’s not as bad as it looks. The Rescues are AMAZING on Yanmega in either the Yanmega mirror or any game where you’re fighting for speed — they allow you to bounce ‘Megas back to hand and provide a steady stream of cheap attackers. 8 Lightning might seem really low for a deck that runs Pachi, but I never found it to bother me much.

Once you get 2-3 Magnezones online you can safely draw through a lot of your deck at once, usually letting you hit those 2 Lightning and means to grab Pachi pretty easily. I could see a 2-9 split working as well, but I actually really liked my energy line and would recommend trying Rescue Energy if you haven’t in the deck already.

4-4 Yanmega, 4-1-3 Magnezone. This was more of a brain-fart by me near the end of the day putting my list together, but the ideal line is 4-3 mega and 4-1-4 zone. The Recues bouncing Megas back makes the uneven line fine — you bounce a Mega back and evolve a lone Yanma on the bench your next turn.

4-1-4 allows for you to hit a consistent Magnezone quickly and more often than in a lesser line, and it’s the line I recommend the most in this kind of deck.

The Tournament Begins

After a talk I had with Jay Hornung the night before, we determine that I can pretty safely afford one loss and have my invite locked. We also determined that I could afford an extra loss for every 3 consecutive wins that I scored. Eager to grab my three in a row, I entered the tournament on decent sleep, only to find myself paired up against a local!

Game 1 Vs. Ivan C. W/ Magnezone/Kingdra/Krookodile

pokegym.netI start this game a nervous wreck — LONE CLEFFA. To make matters worse, I had to wait out a good 20+ minutes because of the 50+ masters dropping before round 1 fiasco. I’m left sitting in the hands of a coin flip to determine if I even get to play a second game this tournament.

Luckily, I hit the flip after all the anticipation, Collector for ‘Mite and Yanmas, and am ready to go off. He Collectors himself on his turn, only to find that his Tyrogue was prized — I can’t imagine what a relief that’d be had he gone first! He sets up and I’m confused to find Kingdra, Magnezone, and the little Krok all on his field at once.

I guess his plan was to use Kingdra to add damage and deal heavy with Krookoroll, while also using Krookodile’s first attack to lock out one-attack decks. Unfortunately for him, Yanmega has resistance, as well as the ability to free retreat around the attack lock.

I hit three Reversals three turns in a row to get some very fast prizes (I end up missing my next 3 flips, so still rolled 50-50 overall), but I think I had the game even if I flipped all tails. I win 6 Prizes to 1 that he grabbed on a Cleffa, and happily move on to a second game.


Game 2 Vs. Garret M (My cousin) W/ Zonemega

Are you kidding me? Not only do I get another local in Game 2, but it’s my testing partner! We’re playing the exact same deck, so it’s bound to be interesting. He wins the flip, but unfortunately has very little to work with in his hand, and passes pretty quickly without a Supporter.

I had nothing to work with either until topdecking Copycat, and I’m able to get a new hand along with Manaphy and an energy to Deep Sea Swirl for refresh. I’m able to take an early lead with the first Magnezone and ‘Megas, but eventually he hits his own ‘Zone to catch back up.

He takes the risk of bringing up his ‘Zone and Lost Burning 3 energy to KO mine, and all of a sudden I’m at a disadvantage with no draw. I’m forced to 2 shot his ‘Zone with ‘Megas while he catches up, but it’s here where the Rescue Energies shine and my Yanmega swarm outlasts his own attackers.

Late game, he misses 2 crucial Reversal flips to give him a much closer game, and I’m able to finish the game with a Magnezone powered by Pachi for the last 2 Prizes.


Game 3 Vs. Alex Frezza W/ Zonemega
Please don’t hurt me!

Well, instead of getting another local, I get another mirror match. Alex is a great player, a cool guy and is the creator of Con Le’s National-winning Sablock list (he also took it to top 16 that year). The game starts with my LONE CLEFFA again and him going first. I get ready to shake his hand, but he gives me a funny look and says “I don’t run Tyrogue : P”.

I’m relieved to play an actual game, but I still know how huge going first in this matchup is. He gets setup, and on my turn I try my best to get setup. I have Candy/Zone in hand, and decide to Collector for 2 Yanmas, Mite, and remain active with no Eeeeeeek.

I know that this telegraphed to Alex that my hand was good, but I didn’t really have a choice in the matter — playing from a turn behind meant I had to get that ‘Zone out asap. On his turn he gets the full setup — ‘Zone and 2 ‘Megas, and he hits 1 out of 2 Reversals to bring up my ‘Mite and Lost Burn it for a single energy.

Being set far back, I do all I can to setup while he takes the next 4 Prizes. During this time, we talk casually because the game seems pretty much decided, and I learn a lot of things about his list:

I’m sure this kind of list will make it’s way into Mikey’s article, but I thought I’d share while I had the info fresh in my head. Frezza aimed for maximum consistency in his list, which I respect and understand completely in this kind of format.

The game took a weird turn where I hit a Reversal on his empty Magnezone and he can’t hit an energy to retreat for a while. I try my best to snipe around and pray he whiffs everything as long as possible, but eventually the game ends 6 Prizes taken to 4 — not a bad attempt at a comeback!

clipartmojo.comI end up 2-1, and decide to make the smart play and drop to ensure my rating doesn’t go under what’s safe. Alex ended up taking top 8 at the event, so props to him for the solid run and list! I was able to get an interview with him, Con, Gino, and Jay all at once, and they were all extremely funny and cool guys.

I was kind of bummed to end my tournament experience prematurely, but this format is so hard to risk anything on. Flips are huge, going first is huge, and all in all I didn’t want to risk my next game on it. I played each game assuming that I’d gain 7 points per win and lose 25 points per loss, and with that average it’s hard to risk anything.

For example, looking back at my rating, I gained a whopping FOUR points for beating Ivan in round 1. That’s less than I averaged at Cities! That means that had he won that game, I would have lost 32 points—ouch!

While I respect that Pokémon works for a fair system to run the game, I don’t think that a modified ELO is the best way to do it. ELO-based systems are played to assume that out of a certain number of games, the higher-skilled player will win a certain percentage of games.

In chess, this is a fair system because both players play with equal boards and equal games, every single time. Card games are more complex than that, and offer a heavier amount of luck and random factors. The way the rating system works now, it assumes I’d beat someone like Ivan something like 9 times out of 10. With this format, I couldn’t depend on those odds against anybody, really.

The high risk you take playing as your rating increases is rough, and it makes it very justifiable for top players to drop before finishing the full season. I’m no genius when it comes to a perfect gaming system, but what’s wrong with a system that only rewards points instead of subtracting them?

With only having the change to go higher each game, dropping would be an absolute dumb thing to do. Another good option is one that Fulop or Kettler posted on the ‘Gym a while back—something called “pro points”, which would award a certain amount of points toward an invite per amount of tournaments won, with different placing being worth different amounts of points based on the event.
Check out Josh’s awesome Nationals coverage on

Once again, playing the full tournament is encouraged. All in all, I just regret not being able to play Nationals out this year, but I don’t regret securing my spot into Worlds.

On the bright side, I spent my last 2 1/2 days of the tournament chilling, meeting with fans, and observing games. I got a fantastic reception from the community this year, and I signed more autographs than I ever thought I would in my lifetime. The positive reaction from fans of both my articles and my show was really heartwarming, and I without a doubt believe I’m playing in the best community of any card game that exists.

I also got an overwhelming amount of people who said something along the lines of “this is my first competitive season and I couldn’t have done it without you”. That alone is probably the best thing I could ever hear. I think we have an amazing card game, and getting as many players in to the competitive game is one of my biggest aspirations.

For all of you UG-ers out there, it was great to meet you! I hope to see plenty more of you at Worlds, or at Nationals next year.

The Aftermath: What’s “The Play” for Worlds?

Because this upcoming World Championships will be my first (since the “Tropical Mega Battle long ago when I was still a youngling), I’m taking my testing for Worlds very seriously. It’s a format with a lot of luck and variance, and I’m mainly looking to test to reduce that factor as much as I can. Here are my observations based on everything I’ve seen from our first two tournaments:

– Run less babies, more basics. Running a risk of being donked is just too high now with Tyrogue rampant and the coin flip essentially sealing your fate. While we all started testing HGSS-On with 4 Cleffa decks, that era is long gone. My personal recommendation is to run a MAXimum of 2 babies in a deck, if even that many.

My jurisdiction might seem harsh, but it’s just too easy to lose to a donk when every player has Tyrogue ready. I started 2 games with lone Cleffa, and I was running 12 basics with just 2 babies. My brother got donked 3 times with lone Cleffa, and his deck ran FOURTEEN basics with 2 babies.

I don’t know what Jason K. ran, but he got donked 3 times as well. Come in prepared for even bad odds to take your games away before you even have to play them.

– Yanmega decks don’t really need Tyrogue. When a baby is asleep in front of you, you can just snipe around it, and if your opponent starts a baby, that’s a guaranteed easy prize for you with Yanmega later in the game.

Not to mention, going first already puts you at a pretty great advantage already. Stack all these things together, and I think you’re better off replacing Tyrogue for a different basic. Your Tyrogue runs risk of being Tyrogue’d himself!

– Make sure you can deal with Yanmega one way or another. If you can’t beat Yanmega, don’t play that deck. It’s huge — REALLY huge in our format right now. Whether your way of dealing is something like using Ruins of Alph with Donphan, having Magnezone to hit for weakness, or using Kingdra + your own Yanmega to snipe out Yanmas, you’ll have to have an option to deal with the extremely fast attacker and sniper.

Like I said earlier, Pokémon players love hype, and placing 13/16 of the top Masters decks is serious hype.

– Speaking of placings, keep in mind that the metagame is going to be defined by what has placed so far. Europe and other areas of the world outside of the US will only have North America’s results to determine what decks are the best to play.

Check out Jason (Mew Jadester) from Australia’s great compilation of these results. He got a great collection of lists last year, and this year is no exception. The deck to most prepare for, in my opinion, are:

1. ZoneMega

The deck has the advantage of what are in my opinion the three strongest advantages you can have in the game: 1) Magnezone Draw 2) Ability to abuse reversal and 3) Yanmega Prime. Combining all that good together makes for a very strong, teachable, and proven-winning deck.

2. Stage 1 Variants (Yanmega/Donphan in particular)

These lists are easy to run, play very consistently due to not needing rare candy or very heavy lines, and having the room to run heavy supporter lines. I highly recommend Zone/Mega as your base to deal evenly with ZoneMega, and teching to your comfort from there.

3. Reshiram + Emboar/Typhlosion

pokegym.netThis deck was by far underrated and overlooked, but it had a solid run in the US by many unknown players, and it was also swarming Mexico’s nationals. One great account is the 9-0 run report on SixPrize’s main page, and I highly recommend you read that and test the deck out.

Along with being a solid and consistent play, it’s also very inexpensive to run vs. anything with Zone or Yanmega in it. I haven’t decided if Typhlosion or Emboar is “the play” with reshiram yet, but both variants ran well into the top cut for Nationals, and I highly recommend you test it before blowing it off any longer (like me : P).

4. Zekrom

While I just don’t understand how this deck won both Canada AND Mexico’s nationals, that fact alone is going to make it a popular choice for many foreigners. Once again, the deck is very inexpensive, has winning credentials, and doesn’t need too much work to grab some easy wins.

I never dismissed the deck entirely like many other top players have, but I also haven’t considered playing it myself in a long time. Test up, and make sure you can consistently beat it!

5. Horsemega (Yanmega/Kingdra)

Along with it’s 2nd place finish at Canada’s Nationals, it saw a heavy amount of usage throughout the US and Mexico throughout the tournaments. Sniping for quick prizes and devolving for more with Jirachi are strategies I recommend you prepare for if you haven’t faced them already.

6. Trainer Lock

Make sure you have an answer for Vileplume, whether it’s sniping or having a heavy Supporter draw line. If your deck folds to having its Candies, Junk Arms, and Communications shut down, you should rethink your build or look for better ways to deal with Allergy Flower.

7. Magneboar

pokegym.netWhat was once all of our frontrunners for the deck to beat now seems to struggle against the faster decks in extended tournament play. Quick damage, sniping, and reversal all seem to punish Magneboar, but that doesn’t stop it from being the monster it has always been once it sets up.

Luckily, if you follow UG and have been reading our posts, you should be most prepared for this matchup and the several decklists published for it already. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your testing fresh — keep practicing and make sure you have the matchup down first.

These 7 decks should make up at least 80-90% of the known playing field at worlds. With just a month to go, and only 4 ½ sets to work with, we’re slowly discovering all of the known combinations to build decks with. Testing frequently against these 7 concepts should be your first priority when it comes to preparing for Worlds, and knowing each matchup inside-out should give you a good foot above everybody else.

If you aren’t going to Worlds this year, I highly recommend beginning to test by pretending that all Reversal flips are heads now. Catcher is guaranteed for the next set, and being prepared for its dynamic is a must. Like many others, I’m happy to have it in the format because of its elimination of Reversal’s coin flip, but it’s still going to be brutal.

I’m pretty sure the speed decks are going to have a field day with it, but test everything and see how your results end up. Since most of us are stuck testing for this format and Worlds, getting the first testing on catcher could actually give you the upper hand over us for the beginning of next season!=

Want a specific concept, type of testing, or analysis from me? I’d be happy to work on whatever you guys would like for future articles. I’m not writing these for myself — they’re for you! Let me know what you want the most and I’d be happy to answer to it.

In the meantime, good luck in your battle of wits!


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