Listen in kiddies and I’ll tell you the story of how I became ranked number 7 in the whole wide world:
So, last season went OK. I finally won a tournament (admittedly a 5 person Battle Road, but still…) and I managed to top-cut Nationals and register tournament victories over 3 Worlds competitors, including the newly-crowned National Champion. Unfortunately, speed Donphan was dead so I needed a new deck.
I tested a LOT of decks when the rotation was announced, but very few of them were any good. LostGar really wasn’t for me. BlastGatr had too many holes. And, while Reshiboar was awesome, I really hate mirror matches. Then I found what is currently called “Stage 1 Rush.”
I developed this as a deck with rules rather than synergy. Every Pokémon had to be a Basic or Stage 1, attack for a single energy attachment, and only require Fighting as basic energy. I ended up running a deck with a 2-2 Donphan Prime, 2-2 Yanmega Prime, 2-2 Cinccino BLW, and 2-2 Zoroark BLW, along with Bouffalant BLW 91, Tyrogue HS and Cleffa HS.
pokebeach.comFor months this deck was AMAZING! It took over 30 games before I saw a loss and this was against some very good players with some very good decks. Then Pooka went and got 2nd at US Nats with a similar deck (minus Cinccino) and the secret was out. Then the world caught up and it didn’t matter, but I still wanted to test this deck in tournaments so when Battle Roads came around I stayed with it. So, I’m going to give a quick report and then look at whether this deck is still viable.
Some of you may remember how amazingly detailed my tournament reports were last year. I no longer take notes while I play (for pretty obvious reasons to be honest!) so they’re shorter now, which is probably a good thing.
Round 1: Ben (Mew Box) (Final Record: 3-1)
Ben is a guy I know very well and play at league every Tuesday. Unfortunately, I had never played against his Mew Box list as I had played against his Yanmega / Jumpluff (pre-Catcher) and his Victini-abusing Mew Box list (which obviously is not yet tournament legal). As always we had a very fun game and it was nice to play a friend. In theory, this should have been a fairly easy matchup for me.
I lost the flip and at the start of this game. I immediately got a Donphan up and running as a priority while ignoring the fact that Mew Box runs Yanmega, meaning a 3HKO while I was damaging my own bench! I got a good start and with 3 F Energy on Donphan I was able to 2HKO a Yanmega and pick off a couple Mews, first with Donphan and then (after he died) with Yanmega.
Ben, on the other hand, had quickly Lost-Zoned a Jumpluff on T1 and was using “Mass Attack” to get a revenge KO on my Yanmega and well as combining this with Yanmega’s “Sonic Boom” for a 2HKO on Donphan.
pokebeach.comAfter the KO on my Yanmega I promoted a Cinccino. Due to a rather lengthy energy drought, it was stuck active for 3 turns, during which Ben was able to snipe another prize. Seeing the prizes tied at 3-3 and noticing the 2 babies on my bench, as well as his Vileplume lock in full swing and 2 Yanmegas on his bench; I decided to scoop to save time, knowing he had 2 easy baby kills and my set-up was not strong enough.
This game I knew we were tight on time and so I played fast. Ben, to his credit, also played very fast as well ensuring that we got a proper game and not playing for time as many others may in the circumstances.
In Game 2 I went off like a rocket, going first and playing pretty recklessly. Using Junipers early I set up really quite well, but was hampered by starting with lone Bouffalant. I couldn’t draw into either of my Switches, despite playing as fast and recklessly as I could, and he was stuck for (I believe) 4 turns.
After this Ben was set-up enough that he was able to exchange prizes with me turn after turn. It didn’t help that I wasted a Catcher early bringing up an Oddish that I could not KO and he immediately retreated.
I was able in this game to take the 4 Prizes needed for the game to count, but my reckless and excessively fast play, coupled with my Bouffalant being stuck for 4 turns, led to my deck burning out at the end. I eventually lost by a single prize.
I could argue that the Bouffalant being stuck active was bad luck and had that not happened then I would have won Game 2, but what really killed me here was my poor play in Game 1. I could have possibly won Game 2 playing more conservatively (like a cross between how I actually approached games 1 and 2), but the long loss in Game 1 forced my hand. Annoying! Not Bouffalant’s fault, but mine.
What I should have done:
pokebeach.comDonphan was not the best play, despite its ability to 1HKO a Mew and survive a “Mass Attack” when we both had full benches. The reason is that he can only 3HKO a Yanmega Prime (unless you get 3 energy on him) and he’s almost impossible to get out of the active under Trainer lock. Yanmega and Cinccino are both able to 1HKO a Mew easily and can be moved from the active. Both can also easily 2HKO a Yanmega. Mew Box needs at least a wasted turn to ”See Off” a Jumpluff and is slowed down a little more while setting up Vileplume.
I should have gone off very aggressively with Cinccino and Yanmega and only used Donphan and Zoroark if and when they were needed. This would probably have allowed me to take the first prize and win the prize race (trading 1HKOs on Mews and 2HKOs on Yanmegas).
In Game 2 I went off far more aggressively. Were it not for the Bouffalant being stuck active and the fact that I was rushing too much (and hence not playing to the best of my ability), I am sure I would have been able to win.
This is not to take anything away from Ben. He’s a fantastic player who has had a lot of success with lesser-played decks. It’s just annoying to lose a match that should have been winnable, especially when the loss is due to my own poor playing.
Round 2: Chris (Blastgatr) (Final Record: 1-3)
Chris is a lovely guy that has started to come to this league in the last month and has gotten pretty darn good pretty darn fast. He’s playing Blastgatr. While I have beaten this exact deck the past 2 weeks, it is also a deck that can cause real problems when it gets set up nicely. So, I’m not taking anything for granted.
pokebeach.comI lost the opening flip again in this game, but I got a T2 Cinccino to his fairly slow start and used this to take 3 early prizes. He had been benching extra basics though, so despite being able to pick prizes with a Catcher or two he was able to get both a Blastoise and Feraligatr up and running.
I used Zoroark at this point to get a cheap prize on a benched Relicanth CL by copying his “Hydro Launcher” and got my last 2 Prizes by 2HKOing a Feraligatr with Cinccino and then doing the same to a Blastoise. This was made slightly easier by him sniping a benched Donphan over 2 turns (the only Pokémon on my field he could not 1HKO).
As I won the first game I’m again going second here. He starts lone Relicanth and I get a few good basics going on T1. On his second turn he benches a Squirtle but is unable to evolve it or find any more basics. So, after killing his Relicanth on T2, I win T3 by taking his Squirtle downtown!
I am fully aware at this point that with a 4 round Battle Road a round 1 loss puts me out of reach of top 2 (and hence Championship Points), but I figure if I can win the next two (and get lucky with resistance) I can maybe scrape into 3rd and win a couple packs and a shiny piece of cardboard.
Round 3: Byron (TyReshiBoar) (Final Record: 2-2)
Byron is a regular at our league and somebody I play on a weekly basis. I have never lost to him, partly due to his insistence on running an Emboar deck with both Typhlosion and Emboar (making it woefully inconsistent). Luckily, after this Battle Road, a couple of others and I convinced him to switch just to Reshiboar and he is now winning a lot more. I should point out though that he went 2-2 at this tournament (his best result to date), so he must have been doing something right!
pokebeach.comThis game was unfortunately pretty uneventful. I once again go second (see a pattern emerging?) but I get a T2 Cinccino and his inconsistency leads to him being unable to find a Reshiram or an evolution. After 3 straight KOs he’s out of Pokémon.
He goes first and begins to set his bench up slowly, but I am again able to get a T2 Cinccino and take 3 early prizes. At this point he gets a Reshiram up, but I am prepared for this and use Zoroark to copy his “Blue Flare” and 1HKO with the help of Mr. PlusPower. He responds with another Reshiram and, unable to find a PlusPower or Junk Arm, I am left to 2HKO Reshiram, copying first his “Outrage” and then Blue Flare.
At this point he makes a very big deal about the “awesome move” he is about to pull off and gloats excessively while he gets a fully-powered Reshiram and a benched Typhlosion (which he doesn’t use) to 1HKO my Zoroark. Luckily, I have a benched Zorua with Zoroark and Double Colourless in my hand. I then Juniper for a PlusPower and get the revenge KO and the game.
Round 4: Laura (Reshiboar w/ Lanturn) (Final Record: 2-2)
I had to be careful here because Laura is my girlfriend’s younger sister, who is competing in her first tournament as a master. She is also currently 2-1 and I know that whoever wins this has a very good shot at third so I decide to be a bit mean and not go easy. Luckily, my girlfriend later forgave me.
pokebeach.comI actually win the flip this time! I go first and get a T2 Donphan with Catcher to take out an early Tepig and I spend the next few turns using Earthquake and evolving up Cinccino, Yanmega and Donphan to avoid any KOs. At one point I needed to Communicate for a Yanmega just to save my benched Yanma from being KO’d from Earthquake damage.
She is able to get Emboars and Lanturns and Reshirams out but her deck never fires exactly as she needs it to. She runs a very consistent deck, but was let down here as she was missing the last piece of the puzzle (i.e. Pokémon, but no energy).
I KO a benched Cleffa through Earthquake and she manages a 2HKO on Donphan with Reshiram, but Zoroark comes in and takes the 6th prize for the win. At the end of this game I counted and found I had a total of 250 damage on my bench!
This game I’m afraid was considerably shorter and less exciting. She goes first but cannot get an early evolution, gifting me the T2 KO on her Tepig. From here all she had were 2 Reshirams and I am able to use Switch to bring out my Zoroark. With a PlusPower one turn, and a Junk Arm the next; I am able to get the 1HKOs on the Reshirams for the game.
In the end I managed 3rd place, which netted me a lovely new promo card. But, alas, does not leave me with any Championship Points. We had 13 Masters and the notable decks were: Gothitelle, Reshiboar, Cinccino/Zoroark, Feraligatr/Samurott, Magnezone/Crobat and Mew Box. Interestingly, although there were only 13 Masters, it did include 4 of the top 20 UK masters from last season. This was including my good friend Tommy Roberts, who took his Emboar/Yanmega deck to victory.
So, this leaves the obvious question: Is this deck still viable? To be honest, I’m leaning pretty heavily toward no. I love this deck and have played it for months now, but it’s really going downhill fast. It can still take Reshiboar (though it takes practice to get to that point). It owns Reshiphlosion. Zekrom and MegaJudge are both pretty winnable matchups (provided you get set up, which is a big variable!). So, it still seems good.
Then you run into Vileplume decks, most of which are bad matchups, as well as Gothitelle, which is terrible (almost an auto-loss). Magneboar is also making a comeback (mark my words), and is another risky matchup.
I like the change from Elo to Championship Points, but it does kinda require constant top-cuts to succeed and I don’t think this deck will give you that. Looking at the field for this BR, it was potentially mine for the taking.
The lone Gothitelle deck would have destroyed me, but I stood a very good chance against the winning deck. I should have beaten the Mew Box, the Zoroark/Cinccino was a very winnable matchup, and the other two more roguish decks I have already played against and beaten before.
This is all irrelevant, however. In the end I lost to Mew Box and won 3 games against opponents who are (i) very new, (ii) not very good, or (iii) just jumped up from seniors (as in, this was their first tournament in Masters). When this deck fires on all cylinders it almost can’t lose, but too often it fails at doing this.
chrisinplymouthSo, to conclude: Stage 1s is a good deck that will almost always leave you with a positive rating and will win a few tournaments. I doubt it will lead you to glorious victories left, right, and centre though. Sorry.
Now, as for me being number 7 in the world… That was true! For some glorious reason, here in the UK we had our first Battle Road (the one I have been writing about) on Friday, a day before everyone else. Unfortunately, there was a European tournament from BEFORE Worlds that counted toward rankings as well (else, I would have been 3rd).
But, with only those 2 tournaments counting, I was officially number 7 in the world. Pretty sweet! Hopefully a picture has been included in this article. Maybe a teensy bit misleading but I needed a hook.
P.S. As a final note, I’ve started a Twitter account for random Pokémon TCG musings. It’s “thewossy”. Please follow it. It will be a nice way to get the big Pokémon news (I’ll try to put the important news on there when it breaks), but mainly I would like the thoughts of other people about my ramblings. Go on, you know you want to…