I’m back! I apologize for this article being submitted so long after Worlds. Getting very little sleep the entire week of Worlds along with catching a very nasty cold while there put me out of commission for a while. Nevertheless I’m back and have a lot to write about, so let’s get down to it.
Worlds 2011: The Experience
Let me open this portion of the article by saying that it’s largely going to be based around things that are not the Pokémon TCG. I’m going to talk a lot about meeting different people, travel, the experience of physically being at Worlds, and the like. If that’s not something you’re into please skip down to the next bolded portion, as that will be my (albeit brief) grinder report with a decklist and the like.
As most of you know, this was my first Worlds ever. I only started playing in 2009 and wasn’t competitive enough to justify attending Worlds. I was supposed to attend last year, but the price of Hawaii combined with some personal financial issues got in the way of that.
My fiancé and I finally made the commitment to be strict enough about saving money to be able to go, and I have to say it was an absolute blast. It’s everything that I’ve always been told it was and more.
As an aside, I’d like to mention that none of this I’m going to be writing about would’ve ever been possible if not for Melanie Cohen (David’s mother) who generously allowed my fiancé (Ashley) and I to stay in her room at the Hilton Bayfront for absolutely free, and even provided us with a bed (David chose to sleep on the floor instead of with his Mother or as I had insisted, me).
She also played host to our good friend Ryan Merryfield after a few too many drinks at the hotel bar, and one of my closest friends (whom Melanie has never even met) Daniel Norton after he had some financial issues of his own. To say that I’m appreciative of what she’s done would be perhaps the biggest understatement ever uttered. I absolutely love her.
My Worlds trip began on Monday night at 3AM when, after a long night of chillin’ with my local non-Pokémon friends, we headed to the airport to catch our 7AM flight. This was my first time flying and although I was a little nervous upon take-off, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
kossyWhat I didn’t enjoy, however, was the tediousness of checking bags, security, and airports in general. I’ve only ever flown four times (we had connecting flights both to and from SD) and I’ve had more than my fill of airports. From here on out it’s direct flights only (I guarantee I’ll forget about this proclamation on my next trip. Cheap etc.).
The flight from SEA to LAX was only around 2 hours, which was just about enough time for me to listen to the hottest rap record of the year, WATCH THE THRONE, twice. I don’t think we have an abundance of hip hop heads on SixPrizes, but if you are one of the few and you haven’t checked that album out yet, you’re missing out.
It’s certainly not as good as DARK FANTASY (Kanye’s last album), but still very good and much better than any of Jay’s recent work.
Tuesday was kind of a blur for me. In fact, as you’ll see through the rest of this article, a lot of the Worlds week was a blur for me. Of the 7 nights I stayed I probably accumulated just as many hours sleep, and as I said, part way through the trip I developed a cold, which didn’t help things. Days are blending together, a lot of hours are lost in the depths of my memory, etc., etc. but please bear with me.
One thing that specifically sticks out from Tuesday was meeting SixPrizes Underground writer Tom Hall, who was an incredibly nice guy. He introduced himself to me right away and wasn’t awkward or rude about it at all (which, as I found out, is quite the rarity in the Pokémon community, apparently), complimented my articles, played a quick match and had a few drinks with me. Incredibly nice guy.
pokebeach.comSpeaking of incredibly nice people, Matt Dunford was the MVP of Worlds. He took infinite players to and from the airport, out to restaurants, to different hotels, just everywhere. What makes this even more incredible to me is that previous to Worlds, Dunford and I had never met.
Facebook tells me he and I have been friends since August of 2009, at which point we bonded over Pokémon and comic books, but we’d never actually met face to face until two weeks ago. That kind of generosity would be an incredible feat for someone to do for their very good friends, not to mention two people he had never even met. Huge, huge ups to Uncle Dunfy.
Wednesday was important to me as it was the first time I had ever met one of my best friends in the world, Dan Norton. I’m not sure how many of you know of Dan, but he is a founding member of Team B-Side, the founder of the Ultimate Pokémon Card Collectors Club (the UPCCC), a Pokégym moderator, a big-name collector and an amazing friend.
Needless to say, meeting him was awesome, and honestly was a pretty big part of the reason I decided to come to Worlds in the first place. I met a lot of interesting people (and a lot of awful people) over the week in San Diego, but meeting Dan was on a whole other level. You could call it the greatest bromance of all-time (next to Troy and Abed, of course). Just sayin’.
The next few days blur together, but here are a few key moments I specifically remember:
– Meeting Ann-Marie Thompson, another fairly long-time friend/teammate who I had never gotten the chance to meet in-person before. She is amazing.
– Meeting Kevin Chao, another long-time Facebook friend who turned out to be quite the guy.
– Jak Armstead aka Baby Mario, the newest addition to B-Side, with the same story as Kevin/AMT.
– Meeting most of the SixPrizes Underground staff, including Jay Hornung (who was an incredibly nice, personable guy, who I can’t say enough great things about), Chris Fulop, J-Wittz, John Kettler, and Mikey Fouchet (who was ridiculously generous in letting Team B-Side/Team X-Files test in his lavish suite throughout Wednesday and Thursday). All great people.
– There are a lot of others too…Martin Moreno, Albert Lee, Jason Windham, Scott Pratte, Baby Mario’s older brother (whose first named eludes me), Louis Thompson, Jason Klacynzki, Kevin Kobayashi, Anthony Caspanello, Andrew Murray and the Utah crew, Sami and Yacine Sekkoum, Colin Peterik, Charlene Clements, Emily Engle, Jimmy O’Brien, Michael Wijaya, Jacob Lesage, and probably countless others I’m forgetting.
If I left you out I apologize greatly, and will defer to my sleep and sickness excuses from before. In the end, I met tons of great people, the high majority of which were very nice and welcoming to me. There were quite a few people who I didn’t get to talk to over the week, but I guess that’s what Nats and Worlds 2012 are for. :D
Probably the most shocking thing about the entire experience was the number of people who came up to me and asked for pictures/autographs as fans. I know that people read my articles, the majority of whom like them, but it’s still a bit surreal seeing people come up to me and ask for an autograph when there are literally hundreds of better/more famous players in the building at any given moment.
Thank you to each and everyone of you that came up to me, seeing the appreciation of my work and people telling me that I’ve helped them in some way or another is why I keep writing. You guys are the best. I also noticed a few people who would look at me, or hear my name, look at me, and then just keep on walking.
I can’t be sure if these people were fans and too shy to say anything, or if they were just the opposite and think I am the scum of the earth, OR if they were just staring at my ridiculously good looks (the obvious answer), but regardless: If any of you ever see me at an event, please feel free to come up and say hi.
I may look stressed, tired, or like I’m in the hurry, but I’m always up for a handshake or some good conversation with my readers. Nothing to fear at all.
Thursday night was full of shenanigans, but I’ll focus on the two that everyone probably cares about the most: learning of Ross’ deck and helping with testing/building/etc of David’s winning deck. To do either is going to take a little bit of backstory though. Never fear, after these stories are told I’ll get to the real competitive discussion of the article, aka what all of you actually care about.
pokebeach.comI’ll start with learning of Ross’ deck…for those of you who don’t know Tyler Ninomura, you’re missing out. He’s one of the very best players this game has ever seen (2nd @ Nats in SRs, 3× Regional Champion in MAs, the list goes on). However, in addition to that he is one of the best rogue deck builders I’ve ever witnessed.
You may remember that he was one of the main founders of the Flygon Lock deck that had numerous impressive showings at Worlds 2009. As with every rogue deck builder though, the highs are not without the lows. You see, Tyler and I are apart of a Facebook group that basically amounts to random discussion that sometimes is Pokémon related, as well as being apart of Team B-Side.
So needless to say, I see all of the rogue decks before they hit the shelves, so to speak. Almost every day Tyler copies and pastes some sort of zany rogue deck into the group chat and, if no one berates him enough about it, he’ll then copy and paste it to B-Side, at which point the entire team will see it and tell him how awful it is, leading him to passionately refute us until a few days later when he pops in with “errr nvm this is awful” which prompts Isaiah to lock the thread. Thug life.
So when he comes down to open gaming at 2AM on Friday night to show us the “Team X-Files secret deck” I immediately laugh and throw the decklist at him. Then he mentions that it’s not his deck, it’s Ross’ deck. At which point I un-crumple the decklist, take a look at it, and think “Wow, this is insane, and I can tell by how many 1-of copies it has, Tyler definitely had some part in it.”
I can’t remember what I told Tyler exactly, but I believe it was something along the lines of “it seems decent, but I’d have to actually play it. Definitely interesting.” In retrospect, had I not been dead tired I probably would’ve taken a closer look and asked if I could play the deck in a few pick-up games for fun, but I was so exhausted I probably wouldn’t have gained anything anyway.
Needless to say, whatever I thought of the deck was completely wrong as it lead Ross to his strongest Worlds finish since 2005. Bravo, XF.
Onto David’s deck…I’ll be the first to say that I didn’t really have much help in building it. Obviously we had a thread about it on B-Side where we all shared opinions and whatnot, and I’m sure I tested a bit with him, but I wasn’t a big fan of MagneBoar and ultimately advised against playing it.
pokebeach.comI believe it was Matt Chin who convinced David to play the deck and helped him with the list the most, although don’t quote me on that. Again, I was pretty wrong about that as well, eh? This is why Chris Fulop and David Cohen are better players than I could ever dream of being. Amelia Bottemiller and Kevin Chao also played Cohen’s exact list as far as I know, but they both scrubbed so no props for them.
I’d also like to point out that, although I am very into the concept of a team in Pokémon and do feel that it was in part a team effort for David to win Worlds, he did it himself and anything that any of the team might’ve said in the vein of “Team B-Side wins worlds!” was only meant as a celebration of our friendship and success and not meant to take anything away from David whatsoever.
In the end, David chose the list and played his heart out and is the one who deserves all the glory. As I said on B-Side in the celebration thread “David is King. B-S4L.”
I’m already 2,000 words in so I’m going to skip directly to my short grinder report and get into the real meat of the tournament. Hopefully you enjoyed reading this kind of “report” and if not, the rest of this article takes a pretty different lean, so you should be able to find something here that you like.
Last Chance Qualifier Report
Upon arriving in San Diego I had decided that there were only four decks you could play in this format.
I didn’t like MagneBoar after a poor showing at Nationals, even with the Twin-based engine. Being ignorant about the deck was probably my biggest retreat of Worlds 2011.
I was high on MegaZorD for a long time, but after arriving in San Diego the deck completely crapped out on me. I decided fairly early on that it simply wasn’t good enough, and put it on the shelf.
ReshiPhlosion was the play in my mind. However, I felt it had certainly vulnerabilities and straight-up un-winnable matchups, so after much debating I decided on the only other deck…
pokebeach.comI don’t think it’s entirely relevant to post a decklist as the format has changed, but if enough people request it, it shall be done. I played a 2-1-2 Kingdra w/ 2 Waters, and unfortunately didn’t play Jirachi. At first I was a very hard anti-Jirachi supporter, and then I tested it more extensively in San Diego and found that it was pretty good, and then had a bad two-days of testing with it and decided that I wasn’t going to play it.
In the end, I realize that it was the correct choice and that playing it was strictly a mistake, but hindsight is 20/20 and all that.
Round 1: BYE
I, along with the rest of my crew besides Daniel Norton, was thankful enough to get a bye in the first round of the LCQ. I spent the next hour wandering around, listening to WATCH THE THRONE, and birding Daniel’s game, which he eventually lost (so mediocre).
Round 2: Yanmega/Vileplume/Roserade
Game 1: My opponent flips over a Yanma and an Oddish and I know that I’m playing a real deck. I get a slow start to his turn 2 Vileplume, and can never recover. He plays very tightly and definitely knows that he’s doing, through my futile attempts to mount a comeback. He takes his last prize, while I still had 2 on board and we shuffle up for Game 2.
Going into Game 2 I’m thinking I’m in a decent position. I get to go first, by playing the game until the end I was able to see all of his techs/the majority of his list, and I feel pretty confident that I can turn things around, at least for this game.
Game 2: I opt to go first and open with this spicy grip…
Okay, so it’s an awful start, but luckily I can channel the powers of David Cohen and topdeck like a God, right? I put my finger to the sky, picture the Star of David, peel the top card of my deck aaaaaaaand….
It’s a Magnezone.
Before I get into discussing the next series of events, let me say this: My opponent was a nice guy and a good player. I can’t fault him at all, and I lost fair and square. The sour grapes you’re about to read have everything to do with the format and the design of this game as a whole, and absolutely nothing with him.
He flips his coin for his Sleep, and it comes up….
So, with 6 unplayable cards in hand, one Reversal, and one energy, I play the Reversal hoping that, if I can land the coin flip, I can at least pray to Arceus that my opponent doesn’t have the energy to retreat…
Okay, so not what I expected, but still, the dream isn’t dead yet, you see Horsea has an attack called Fin Smack, and if I get 2/2 heads on it, I can KO the Tyrogue and hope that my opponent doesn’t have a way to swing for twenty. I attach, Fin Smack, and…
Yes! Now I have a very marginal chance of winning. C’mon, Daddy needs a new pair of shoesssss
Aaaand the dream is dead. My opponent draws, turns his Tyrogue sideways and shakes my hand.
Definitely a disappointing way to go out, but I can’t even complain. I opened with a slow hand and simply got out-played Game 1, and had some luck issues in Game 2. It happens, and I’m sure that there are much worse stories than mine.
sortingbyteams.wordpress.comAt the end of the day, I had the opportunity to play against a skilled, well-mannered opponent, I played the right deck and made the right decisions, and that’s all I could’ve asked for.
The rest of the Grinder was largely uneventful. Ashley lost in round 3, Amelia lost in round 3, Trevor lost in round 2, and, after some sweating, Ryan and Zane were both unseated in round 5. There was definitely some bitterness and disappointment, but at the end of the day we did our best, and still had another 4-days of vacation in beautiful San Diego, so who are we to complain.
Plus, there were multiple teammates and friends already qualified for the main event, so now it was time to re-focus our efforts onto them (turns out it worked!).
The only B-Side member to qualify via LCQ was Derrick Nelsen, who, at 8 years old is the youngest member of the team, and with a career of 6 months, was also the least tenured of any of us. He played the team’s version of ReshiPhlosion with a few twists of his own and ended up not dropping a single game all day.
With three years left in the division, I can say without a doubt that he’s the future of Juniors in the Northwest and beyond. Swag.
A lot of celebrating and a LOT of drinks later, it was time for the world championship…
Worlds 2011 Day One
I had a rather unfortunate personal issue involving a friend’s health that I would rather not discuss here, which led to me being away from the hotel for pretty much the entire duration of the tournament. I came back that evening to learn that David was the only B-Side who topped, and that Ross had slid in at 16th seed. Colter, a Junior player from Oregon was the first seed in Juniors, as well.
The only experience I was actually there for was seeing David get paired up against Yamato first round, and subsequently win. Among our group of friends we have a joke about taunting David with anything related to Kyogre Kid (who beat David in the finals of Worlds 2009).
Over the weekend we texted him pictures of Kyogre Kid, pictures of us with Kyogre Kid, pictures of Kyogre hats, Kyogre cards, everything. What else are friends for? We even went as far as to try and track down a Kyogre hat for Ross to wear during the finals, but alas we were unsuccessful.
Anyway, after David defeated Yamato, we now have another in-joke that it’s Kyogre Kid who is sending Yamato pictures of David, in the same taunting way we do to David. None of us are actually friends with either Yamato or Takuto so we can’t actually say whether this happens or not, but in our minds it does.
The only memory I have of after the main event was watching David play Munchkin with Jayson Harry until the wee hours of the morning. That’s right. While most top 16 competitors are testing their matchups for the following day or at the very least trying to prepare mentally by getting a good nights sleep, your 2011 World Champion plays Munchkin. Swag.
Worlds 2011 Day Two
I kicked it a little too hard Saturday night and ended up sleeping in fairly late, only waking up to a text that said “David is in the top 8.” Feeling like a bad friend, I quickly showered and got dressed in time to bird the rest of his top cut games.
Short of actually being a top 8 competitor, I can’t say that there’s any better feeling than watching one of your friends do well. It was certainly stress inducing watching Ross and David play for huge prizes, but it was a level of excitement and bonding that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before in Pokémon. Such a great feeling.
I’m not gonna lie, we were all pretty excited. We saw the top 8 brackets and realized that David and Ross wouldn’t play each other until the finals, and if that happened we would probably all explode out of sheer joy. Watching that match become a reality was so surreal I can’t even put it into words.
I do have to make an apology to David’s top 4 opponent for accidentally letting out a single clap when he missed a Reversal flip that would’ve won him the game. It was uber disrespectful to do and something that will never happen again, I just got caught up in the excitement, I swear.
I didn’t get a chance to watch a lot of Ross’ games as most of my focus was on David, but from the little I did watch I can honestly say that all of David and Ross’ games were very well played, on both ends. I didn’t feel like there was too much luck on either side, and (besides the Sami issue in the top 16) all of the games seemed to go very smoothly the entire way through. Bravo to all who played.
Soon enough it was David vs. Ross in the finals, and we were all ecstatic. There were about a dozen XF and B-Side members and affiliates taking up the left front row of the crowd giggling like school girls about an all Washington, all incredibly-skilled players final.
At the time of writing this Pokémon hasn’t released any official footage from the event, so let me be the first to describe the games. I’m not going to go into painful detail, but I can give an overall gist…
Game 1 is a super legitimate game that David ended up winning due to getting a Magnezone up quickly. I wasn’t sure how Ross’ deck performed so unfortunately I couldn’t analyze the game while it was happening as well as I would’ve liked, but luckily Tyler Ninomura and Spencer Nalle of XF were right next to me to describe the action. When David got the early Magnezone they both seemed to be pretty worried, and as it turns out, David took the game.
David 1 – 0 Ross
Game 2 was another completely legitimate game that, as far as I can remember, Ross took a hold of early and never let go. In the crowd we were discussing how David probably should’ve scooped minutes earlier to save time for Game 3, but we aren’t playing the game and we aren’t under the kind of pressure he was at the time, so who are we to say. Ross takes the game.
David 1 – 1 Ross
As they’re shuffling time is called, which leads to a very audible “ahh!” and “sigh” throughout the crowd. They eventually get all set-up, flip their coin, and…
Heads, David goes first.
pokebeach.comDavid opens Magnemite, Cleffa, and Reshiram to Ross’ Phanpy (and perhaps something else, I can’t quite remember). David attaches, and then uses Professor Oak’s New Theory to shuffle away a god-awful hand into one that, among other things, gave him access to turn 2 Magnezone, but no energy.
He debates whether or not to Magnetic Switch to Cleffa (Fulop and I both agreed that doing so would’ve been the correct course of action, but again, we’re not in that seat, etc.), but ultimately decides to pass the turn.
I was so stressed about David potentially hitting that energy for game that I admit I can’t remember what Ross’ turn was like. In the end I know that he didn’t advance anything too much, and ended up passing without an attachment.
David draws, whiffs the energy, but is able to Rare Candy into Magnezone, do some other things, and eventually Magnetic Draw for 4. He hits the energy on his third card, attaches, and Lost Burns for the game, the match, and the World Championship.
All of us freak out, jump up and down, hug each other, etc. while we let sink in that our friend and teammate just won Worlds, and another one of our friends who has proven himself as one of the best players of all time solidifies that title even further. An incredibly emotional moment.
As Ross is walking off stage I congratulate him with a handshake, and he tells me that if he would’ve gone first he had turn 2 Donphan and would’ve had the game. So it goes, I thought. So it goes.
The night was capped off with deck naming (let’s gooo MagneBolt!), incredible mexican food, XF vs. B-Side pack wars, and TCG vs. VGC World Champions playing each other in the open gaming room. Quite an incredible time indeed.
Next week I’ll write an Emerging Powers set review, and will also discuss the details of next season (2 Regionals? Pro Points?) assuming that they’ve been released by then.
The week after, The Face of Modified series will return in which I’ll go over the Battle Road format, and what you should play.
If you stuck around for this long, I applaud you. You are the reason I do this.