Hello and welcome to my USA Nationals report!
I’ll start by saying I owe props to literally everybody, but in particular I want to thank these people:
1. Chris Fulop, Alex Schacht, and Henry Prior
pokebeach.comBefore Nationals, I was torn between 3 decks: MegaJudge, ZPS, and Magneboar. I was leaning toward ZPS for a while, but then at the last second I chose Magneboar because I knew it was still good, and I could play it nearly perfectly, so props to them for telling me what to play.
2. John Lathem
He literally saved me from doom (more on that later) and let me staff.
Yeah, I found out I was going Wednesday because of this epic site.
4. Matt Nawal
I borrowed five cards for my deck, that I had ZERO way of trading for, thanks.
They were as shocked as I was when I won 7 straight games, and it was cool having their support.
6. Pokémon People
I have to thank these guys for having a great event, it was my first ever Nationals and it was blast, from just horsing around with Adler and Beckett, to really intense games.
Okay, now that I covered my thanking people, I think it is time for a report.
A lot of my friends were switching over to Yanmega decks, and I fell into the lure of the hype of that card, but I just decided I really had no clue what to do with most of them, and ZPS lost to everything if it doesn’t donk, so I was left with one deck.
I played Magneboar, and basically prayed that I would play against decks that I had tested against. I hadn’t been able to play in a week and a half because I was on vacation in Florida, so I had no clue how to play against Yanmega decks.
I did change some cards at the last-minute: I put in Reshiram and Pokémon Reversal, and I also was able to somehow get Promo Tepigs, as well. I then ran around like a madman trying to get an RDL bottom and Reshiram, but in the end this was the list I was comfortable with:
|Pokémon – 20||Trainers – 25||Energy – 15|
So, it was time for round one:
Round One v. Donphan/Zekrom/Bouffalant
pokebeach.comWe both get pretty bad starts, but I go first, and I topdeck Pokémon Collector. With Pokémon Collector, I just get a Tyrogue, Cleffa and a Tepig. I can’t retreat into Cleffa because I started with Reshiram. He goes and does the same, gets a Pokémon Collector and gets his stuff.
I also realized at the end he played 4 Bouffalant, rendering my RDL null until the last 2 Prizes. I end up taking a few prizes with Reshiram and Tyrogue, then I actually get setup and win with Magnezone Prime. I was glad for a relatively easy round one victory.
Round Two v. Machamp Variant (Assuming DonChamp)
I get a great start, a full RDL, Pokémon Collector, and Sage’s Training. Unfortunately, my only basic was Tyrogue. He starts with Machop, I note that it has two retreat, and I think I have this game won, but he attaches a Fighting energy, PlusPower and flips heads.
I was not happy, stupid legend rule. Next round, I guess, and I’m praying for no more donks.
Round Three v. BlastZel
He flips over Squirtle, and I almost jump for joy since this is an easy matchup. I even get the first prize with Tyrogue, but then my Tyrogue stays asleep for 7 turns. He gets a Blastoise setup and just snipes my bench before I get anything. Not a good day, so far.
I was pretty mad, and I was considering dropping with Alex and just staffing. But, I knew all X-2’s would make cut. I had been so close to going X-O out to top cut at States and Regionals, so maybe I could get lucky the rest of the day. I wanted to rip up my RH Tyrogue from CoL and just throw a fit. When asked what my record was, I said 1-0, Tyrogue was 0-2.
So I stayed in, and was going to drop once I got a third loss.
Round Four v. SamuPhan
Another near auto-win, but I get Pokémon Reversaled early on and am a little slow to set up. He takes a two or 3 Prize lead as I get stuff out. During that time I am able to conclude that he plays Bouffalant, which means that RDL probably can’t take 4 Prizes.
However, he gets a big enough lead that I need to use RDL to do that exact thing. I had Bad Boar setup to take my last 2 Prizes regardless, but it would take more energies. Luckily, his Bouffalant is prized and RDL does the job. I was 2-2 and not too upset with myself, I had only lost because of Tyrogue and I could still get into top cut.
Round Five v. ReshiBoar
pokebeach.comHe gets a really bad start, he shows me his hand of 2 Reshiram and 5 fire energy. I got a good start, so he scoops quickly. I wasn’t complaining about that win, although I think even if he got set up with a good start I still had that round won.
Round Six v. Yanmega Variant (State Champion)
I see that this guy got a round one bye, and I get really nervous. He tells me was the State Champion of Maine, but he only gets an okay start. He plays a bunch of Yanmas, while I get turn two Magnezone, with that start I win relatively easily.
Okay, so I was 4-2, and I just needed to X-0 Saturday to get into top cut. It seemed really hard, but I had faith in my deck now. It was an ideal list, and was setting up consistently.
I knew I needed to X-0, and again I get zero hours of sleep.
Round Seven v. Donphan Variant
I am sure I played against a Donphan variant, and I think it was Donphan/Yanmega. I remember I win somewhat easily though. Sorry.
Magnezone Prime tech (Regional Champion)Round Eight v. LostGar with
Okay, so I see a Spiritomb and I know it’s LostGar. He gets a rocky start, and I try to win with Tyrogue shenanigans. At some point he gets a Pokémon Collector and survives. He ends up getting a Magnezone Prime out, scaring my RDL.
Luckily, I am able to force him to get a KO on my Magnezone with his. This move allowed me to win the game with RDL safely. His last move was a desperation move, Mime Jr. and Sleepy Lost, but he wakes up, and RDL wins, taking the last 4 Prizes for me. I find out later that he was the Regional Champion of Florida.
So I’m 6-2 with a good chance to get in; I just need to win one more game. I fell short the same way at IN States and Regionals, but maybe third time would be the charm.
Round Nine v. MegaJudge
I’m playing Tad Wheeler, and we’re actually from the same state, but he doesn’t even know me, which shows the season I was having. We both get okay starts, and we traded prizes; I killed Yanmegas, then he’d KO a baby Pokémon.
Eventually it comes down to me, having a benched RDL, needing to hit two energies, without draw power, before he gets two KOs. He tries Reversals and fails a couple of times forcing him to try to KO my benched Emboar. The topdecks go my way and I win with Ozone Buster. GG.
This meant I was in top cut. I knew I really shouldn’t have got there, but hey, it was cool being the underdog with a deck that was “bad”. I end up coming in 37th in my flight, and Ohio gets a bunch into top cut including Mike, Kim, Stephen, Tom, myself, Tad, Andrew, and that’s all I remember. Sorry if I missed anyone.
So in top 128, I basically just hope for good matchups that I know how to play against, and well, I got my wish.
Top 128 v. DonChamp
We both get good starts, but I couldn’t come back with Reshiram. Usually, I can win with RDL, but his benched Bouffalant prevented me from getting 4 Prizes with it. So, I scoop early and just move onto game two.
I get to go first, and he just starts double Zekrom and doesn’t draw into anything, so I win relatively easily as he scoops quickly.
Again, we both get good starts, and it comes down to him having 3 Prizes left, and I have 2 Prizes left. I have a charged up RDL and his only play is to KO my Magnezone, or try to get me to deck out.
I probably would’ve decked out had he gone that route. I had a Junk Arm in hand, but that would’ve killed my way to get the Retrieval. I could tell he really wasn’t sure of how to play that situation. After failing a Reversal, he opts to KO Magnezone.
The news spread I beat DonChamp after losing game one and was onto top 64. Andrew and I were now trying to figure out if we could get Worlds invites on rankings since mine had gone through the roof. I had beat 3 or more 1800+ people and won 7 straight.
I figured top 16 would give me chance, he was 7-3 and needed top 8, so he just had to get a normal invite, well our plans got foiled…
Top 64 v. KJY (Kingdra/Jirachi/Yanmega – yep Andrew)
TOM is horrible, why would it do this? I really just accepted this as an auto-loss and hoped to get lucky.
I get a great start, but I do make a crucial misplay with 1 Prize left. I dropped a random Lightning on my Magnezone so he could attack, but my active had no energies. I had no Junk Arms for Switch left. He could’ve KO’d it with Sonic Boom and Spray Splash. But, unfortunately he hits Reversal heads to bring up Ability Emboar.
I didn’t have enough energies to retreat or attack because of that misplay and he wins with Jirachi by devolving my two Magnezone Primes in one turn. If he only did one, I had FSL to get energies back and then retreat into Reshiram for game.
In between rounds I see Chris Fulop and I remember him and Alex saying that Reshiram is good against Yanmega decks, and I am sure if they had walked by 20 minutes sooner I would’ve won game one.
So, I literally try a new strategy based on that moment. I go for Turbo ReshiBoar strategy and literally just win with that card. I remember him doing some cool stuff, but I just rolled really, time was called so game three was sudden death.
pokebeach.comMy opening hand is Magnemite and Tyrogue, so I start with ‘Mite and drop Tyrogue on bench, which is a play that will haunt me for a while.
I go first, get a Communication for Magneton, as I have Zone in hand, but no Lightning or Candy, I knew I had turn 3 Magnezone, and that if I got it setup I KO anything in his deck.
He goes and gets Yanmas, and brings up Jirachi, so I have to flip three heads with Magneton to win. I attach, and don’t top deck Candy, I use Tri-Attack, one heads.
He attaches to Jirachi, top decks Communication for Yanmega Prime, then Judges and wins. I was like, wow, Tyrogue lost me three games, luckily, for my sake, I didn’t look at my Judge cards and knew I had misplayed my way out of top 32.
I know I could’ve gone for a Tyrogue and hope to stay but I also knew that if I woke up, or stayed asleep for too long, I still lose. That’s that I guess. I only realize my misplay after the match, and cry a little inside, but Andrew wins in top 32.
I then I do a random side event, only to run into good people and I beat a newbie round one. Then, just lose to Vileplume, strictly because I had no motivation to play real games after that calculating madness that was top 64.
I knew I had to play perfectly to win against KJY, and it almost killed me to know I was so close to doing so, but I guess top 64 wasn’t bad. Now it was time to get some good rest for day three and hope to see Andrew get a Worlds invite.
Luckily, ratings were posted the day I typed this article, and well, I would’ve needed to beat Pooka to get an invite, so it now doesn’t haunt me, which is good. And as a genius fortune cookie once said (I pulled this fortune cookie on Monday) – “A good memory is fine, but the ability to forget is the one true test of greatness.” That makes me feel better.
I end up doing the mutant draft with Zele, Henry, Adler, Beckett, Andrew, and Pokémoms. It turned out to be a blast; I ran a silly poison deck and went 2-2. Afterward me and the Pierces just horsed around for like an hour, and we ripped up a Groudon, LA, and me, a shiny Kyogre, to make a KGL for kicks.
Then, they left and I chat with Henry while he goes to his hotel room. I test a little bit with Mr. Nawal for the Professor Cup and then I make a bad decision.
pokebeach.comMy roommate had kept me up a lot during the first couple days of Nationals, and I had zero sleep. So, I was going to sleep in the convention center. Well… at some point cops and Pokémon people find me, so they interview me and try to convince me of several things (only the cop):
- I’m dumb; the cop literally said blatantly that I was dumb.
- I lied about my whole story.
- That I was a runaway going to Indy, why would I go to this city? I’d rather go to San Diego, come on now.
The cop also got mad when she asked for people who could verify me, and living in Ohio, I believe I named at least 40 people. She got mad and said I couldn’t just name people, and then said I made up all their names.
Finally though, we got a hold of John Lathem and he saves the day. So, that was a fun Nationals story, I sleep in his room for three hours and then onto day three.
The day starts off with Andrew losing to Kyle in the top 16, Kingdra/Yanmega vs. Stage One Rush was a pretty rough draw for him. Then, I watch the Professor cup all day. All my friends, except Mishik, miss the cut at 5-2, so I was sad about that. I ended up getting to staff for John for about 2 hours, and even got Jay Hornung in my 8 man side event, which not going to lie, made staffing it worthwhile. In my staffing packs I got an RH Communication, RH Cinccino and a FA Zekrom. I’d say that’s okay for 8 packs.
I debated playing in eight man events, but I was still mad at myself and my misplay with Tyrogue. I decided not to do them and just walked around most of the day. I was able to watch Adler get an invite, he got top 8, so that made my day. I also tried to watch Masters top cut, mostly top 2, but I couldn’t see anything. Alex, Ryan, Mike and I decided to leave once Alex finished selling some stuff. Now onto the better parts of the article:
Nationals Analysis (only Masters, sorry other divisions)
I’ll start with the top 4 decks:
They all played Yanmega Prime. This card was up and down all weekend, especially with the various prices of the card throughout the weekend. Some people believed Canada was a fluke, but others disagreed, and well, Yanmega proved itself in the end. While it wasn’t necessarily the Yanmega variants that placed well in Canada, Yanmega was there.
The Winning Deck – MegaJudge
pokebeach.comI really wasn’t surprised to see it win, I predicted on Pokégym and Pokébeach that it would win Masters and my reasons were this:
It can one shot anything with Magnezone Prime. By simply just playing Magnezone it has an advantage over other Yanmega decks because it has a non-Supporter draw engine. It can also take a hit or two from other decks, giving the dek more time to set up Yanmegas. Lastly, the deck also can fit in a nice energy accelerator, Pachirisu.
It also is relatively easy to build (from a decklist standpoint, not cost-effective) and has some room for techs like Kingdra, Pachirisu and more consistency cards. It was in my opinion, an excellent metagame call as Yanmega was going to be popular, and this deck has a clear edge in most Yanmega mirrors.
The Runner Up Deck-Stage One Rush
This deck I didn’t expect to do as well before the event, but after watching Frank play his list on Friday night I believed in the deck. It basically just outplays other decks, and it can always get a stage one out turn two.
It essentially turns the game into a prize exchange, or a rock-paper-scissors game. I personally think the deck is a bit inconsistent, but not really all that sure. I do know that it does have a counter for every major card in format, and that’s why it did well.
With the top two decks covered, I will now move onto to the other decks.
Lost Zone Decks: I was surprised to see people playing these. A couple of these decks also got into the top cut. The best variants I saw ran Magnezone Prime as a draw engine, and a counter to RDL. There may still be hope for this set of decks, but they will never be able to live up to the hype.
Reshiboar/ReshiPlosion: Another set of decks that did surprisingly well, they actually outperformed Magneboar too. ReshiPlosion especially did well, again I saw one that was a shenanigans deck. It could just draw into everything with Ninetales and win. Some lists ran RDL and some didn’t, but overall they proved themselves to be tier one decks. ReshiPlosion also had a list that went X-0 in swiss.
Vileplume Decks: I’m going to lump all those variants into one section because they all relied on most decks running a Junk Arm variant of a draw engine to beat their opponents.
The tech ones ran a Mew version with Muk, and other cheap attackers, such as Yanmega to drag up a Pokémon, and then snipe for the win. However, some just ran one attacker and won on their consistency factor.
The main thing was that they could lock down opponents. Especially, if their stage ones were prized, in stage two decks, they really couldn’t do anything.
Kingdra/Yanmega: Reed’s deck that placed second at Canada Nationals also performed well at USA Nationals. The deck got extreme hype, and was probably a little bit overplayed, really. The deck relies on sniping with Yanmega around the board, with help from Kingdra, to win the game with Jirachi, or get cheap prizes on basic Pokémon.
It can also run Vileplume, to get trainer locks on. Bellsprout, a guaranteed form of Pokémon Reversal. Spinarak, which can lock up a Cleffa active and then win the game with Spray Splashes from Kingdra Prime. A very solid deck, and I expect it to do well at Worlds.
DonChamp: Another hyped deck, and another one that really didn’t live up to the hype. It looks like only two or three top cut, and they didn’t go that far either. There was too much Yanmega in the field for them to truly have a chance. Most of these decks didn’t have a stable draw engine either. However, Donphan was used in a lot of stage one decks, and as a main attacker with support from Reshiram and Zekrom. So, Donphan did well at Nationals, only DonChamp underperformed.
ZPS: The deck that won Canada Nationals, and going to be honest, it was a fluke win. ZPS did pretty bad at USA Nationals, even with Yanmega Primes running around like crazy. The deck just couldn’t avoid its bad match ups as well as it could at Canada iI just did poorly, while it had a fair amount in top cut, I don’t recall one going particularly far. The deck also dies out quickly, which is not a path to success.
MagneBoar: I hate to say this, but it did badly at Nationals. Only about five top cut, but I think it was due to people just giving up in the deck. It wasn’t a bad deck choice. You just need to not get behind by more than one or 2 Prizes and try to come back.
It still has got a great draw engine, energy acceleration and game finisher, it just is only the third best deck now. It can actually beat a lot of decks because it can draw its way out of bad starts and Judges.
Unfortunately, people know how to play against it now. I don’t see it doing too well at Worlds because of that factor, but for Nationals it wasn’t a bad play. It is very consistent with a good list, but with Pokémon Catcher coming out, I could see USA Nationals being its last shot at glory.
The last deck I’m going to cover is the surprise of the tournament…
Tyranitar/Serperior: Talk about a deck out of nowhere, similar to ChenLock of last year, it was just an anti metagame deck. It relied on the fact that most decks can’t, okay all decks, can’t do 160 without losing a lot of resources, and most didn’t have a good answer to 20 spread a whole game.
Tyranitar can also take a coupe of hits. I’m sure it gives the player a lot of room to outplay people. The guy running it was clearly a good player, and made a great metagame call.
Well, I really don’t have much more to say, I’m not going to guess on Worlds, but like a great player once said: “My strategy is to go first…”