The new system has brought even the best players out to these smaller tournaments to try and get a head start on the points and in this article, I’m going to be talking about a rather special event which is happening in just a week’s time and is exclusive to Europe, The Prague Cup.
Now, The Prague Cup shouldn’t be confused with the European Challenge Cup, which is scheduled for the earlier part of 2012 (I think) which makes both of them different tournaments. However, the layout and expected attendance for these events is probably about the same so I guess it doesn’t matter too much if the two are mixed up.
As you may have guessed, the tournament is taking place in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic on the 4th, 5th and 6th of November. The 4th is simply a pre-registration day with the 5th being the Swiss rounds and the 6th being the Top Cut (it’s probably going to be a Top 16).
You’re also probably wondering why on earth I’m writing about this tournament in the first place and that’s because I’m lucky enough to be going! This tournament is one of a kind and with the advantage it can bring you in the season with a good performance, it’s just too good to pass up. I’m going to be travelling there with Tommy Roberts, Tamao Cameron and George Boon all of whom you may know from around and about SixPrizes, be it article writers or in the forums.
The tournament is set to be an incredible time, not only because it’s in a different country, but because of the eventful weekend of Pokémon that is in store for those who attend, not forgetting that we’ll also be representing our country when competing which is pretty sweet.
So, enough of the introduction and more onto what The Prague Cup actually is for those of you in the US who may not have even heard about it until now.
What is The Prague Cup?
pokegym.netThis Cup is a Europeans-only tournament, making it a one of a kind event, and to make things even more enticing, it carries not only a 32K-Value in terms of ELO, but the Regionals/States Championship Points structure as well! That means that there are going to be a ton of points up for grabs and, referring to the attendance of the ECC last year, the tournament should be getting Kicker Points all the way down to 64th place which is incredible!
Of course, everybody is going to be aiming for the top prize of 10 Championship Points which is bound to give anyone a massive boost to their season total pretty early on in the year, even better when you add up all those ELO points which could come into effect by the end of the season too.
Not only is the tournament offering an abundance of points, but there are some great other prizes up for grabs which fall as follows (these are for Masters):
Top 16 – 4 Boosters of the newest Black and White set, Noble Victories
Top 8 – 9 Boosters
Top 4 – 18 Boosters plus ‘Unique’ Trophy and Prague Cup Shirt
2nd Place – Booster Box (36 Packs) of Noble Victories plus Trophy and Shirt
1st Place – 250 Euros Travel Award plus 18 Boosters, Winner’s Trophy and Shirt
I think you’ll agree that these are looking pretty nice, with prizes stretching all the way down to 16th place, not including the Kicker Points. What I really like about this is the re-introduction of a form of trophy rather than the medals put into place by Play Pokémon last season.
I don’t know about you, but something about a trophy just seems to be a lot more grand than a medal and I feel that the Masters would appreciate a trophy much more since it can be displayed with ease and just carries that sense of achievement a lot more than a medal.
Either way, we’ve had our thoughts thrown around about the medals before and I just think it’s great to have trophies up for grabs instead, even if they haven’t been confirmed as official Pokémon-related ones.
That’s right, this event goes all out with the types of play available and even if you don’t do too well on the day, there are going to be things going on all across the weekend to get involved in. The most familiar of which will be a set of pre-releases for Noble Victories, which I believe will be some of the first in the whole of Europe!
These small events will take place exactly the same way as traditional pre-releases do where you are given 6 packs to make a deck and play with it against your fellow players. You can even get together 8 of your friends to have your own mini pre-release tournament if you wish.
The most interesting of the side events available is the ‘Team Modified Half-Deck Battle’ which is set to be a completely new and exciting variation on how we play the game at the moment. The way they are running it at the event is that you get into teams of 3 and play with just the one 30 card deck each.
From here, you play out the tournament as normal with each of you playing your own separate games, but the twist is that you can call your team mates over from their games for a 30 second ‘time out’ to discuss the state of your current game and what you should do next.
I think this is going to be a really interesting way to play the game and I will definitely give this a go when I’m out there (if I’m not in the Top Cut of course!). Having the opportunity to collaborate with your fellow teammates and discuss, for a short time, what the best course of action is to take could open up your eyes to some possible plays that you may not have thought of yourself and could lead to some really close games with three heads working together instead of one.
Even on top of all that, there is going to be league play throughout the weekend where you can sign up and play against whoever you like to get prizes that leagues traditionally give out. This will be nice on the Friday to meet some of the players from all over Europe as well as get some last minute testing in, just like the open gaming room at Worlds.
So with all that variation, this is looking to be somewhat of a mini Worlds event with the variety of what you can do along with the strength of the competition during the weekend. The players that are going are going to be committed if they are travelling to the event, so I have no doubt that this event is going to be tough, but what am I expecting to appear? Let’s have a quick breakdown of the top 3 decks I’m bracing myself for over that weekend.
Decks to Watch Out For
I’m going to be honest, I have myself two main concerns leading up to the tournament in terms of matchups, one being Reshiram/Typhlosion and the other being anything with a Trainer lock aspect, particularly Gothitelle/Reuniclus. Because of this, my main bulk of testing has been against these two decks in particular.
So what I’m going to attempt for the rest of this article is to go over some straight to the point ways of attempting to take down those decks that are going to give you trouble either at The Prague Cup if you’re going, or just general information for Regionals in the coming weeks.
The Big Three – Reshiram/Typhlosion
pokebeach.comReshiram/Typhlosion is our best performer from the Autumn Battle Roads section of the season, overtaking ZPST in the latter stages of the competition, so this is definitely going to have a decent showing wherever you go. This deck is doing so well right now because builds of it are getting increasingly consistent and is probably one of the most consistent out there.
Players have been swapping out Ninetales for a lot more draw Supporters in their lists which gives them more outs when being Judged and there are a lot of powerful draw Supporters focusing on discarding out there at the moment.
Here is the stock list that I’ve been testing against recently:
Pokémon – 15
4 Cyndaquil HS
Trainers – 33
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 12
I would consider this list pretty standard apart from the lack of Ninetales. I don’t really feel that Ninetales brings much to the table when playing this deck apart from another Catcher target. Yes, it does give you those extra 3 cards per turn, but I feel that the strength of the Supporters out there that focus on discarding are too good to be ignored.
Besides that fact, this should prepare you for most games against Reshiram/Typhlosion aside from any absurd techs players decide to include. So what are we looking at doing when up against this deck? Let’s have a look..
Option #1: Let’s Get Aggressive
pokebeach.comThis deck is extremely consistent so taking out the source of the deck is going to be your first port of call. If you have been given a Catcher or two, then start using it to drag up those Cyndaquils and put some form of damage on them straight away, even if you can’t get the KO. This will keep those 140HP Typhlosions in range of KOs later in the game since they can be tricky to deal with when their HP is still at max.
If you can get an attacker going fast, then take advantage of this and take as many Typhlosions out of the late game picture as possible. Of course, this will only be able to be done when given the resources to do so, but make sure you do take advantage of this when the situation arises.
Option #2: Keeping Track of Energy
When this deck gets set up, you’re going to need to have some way of keeping up with their rapid energy acceleration and huge attacks. One way you can do this which will influence your in-game choices is to keep track of their energy both on the field and in the discard pile.
Most Reshiram/Typhlosion lists are going to have no more than 12 energy in total so keep checking their discard pile in relation to the amount of Typhlosions they have on the field to adapt your strategy to how many energy they will be able to attach the following turn.
This could be something as simple as Catchering up a fresh Reshiram or Typhlosion to manipulate where they have to attach their energy, for example, either from their discard pile to the active to retreat because they don’t have any in hand which, in turn, wastes their ‘Afterburner’ usage for the turn.
Things like this will make them miss out on prize taking chances and give you the chance to start adding damage to their side of the field with your attackers. Just something to bear in mind all the time when playing against this deck.
These are pretty much the main two ways to get a guaranteed heads up on the game when faced with this deck sitting opposite you. Obviously, these two strategies are assuming that both decks get the setup they need for the game and aren’t really deck specific either. Other things like inflicting Status Conditions onto Typhlosion to limit its power is also a good way to go, but that is more specific to decks such as MewLock. Either way, these two strategies should be solid starting points to start picking this deck apart during a game.
The Big Three – Zekrom/Tornadus (ZPST)
pokebeach.comThis deck was taking the world by storm by the mid-stages of Battle Roads and with good reason. I didn’t mention it in the introduction as one of my ‘most tested matchups’, but this deck is one of the most popular out there at the moment so I thought I’d cover it.
Zekrom has gained a new partner in crime in the form of Tornadus with its insanely fast attacking speed, hitting for 80 damage as soon as the first turn. I have a personal pet hate for the deck, which could be due to the fact that I have a horrible record against it so far, but it must be recognised as a ‘good’ deck simply because of its performance in the competitive scene. So feelings aside, here is the stock list I’ve been testing against.
Pokémon – 12
4 Tornadus EP
Trainers – 33
4 Professor Juniper
Energy – 15
This list was pretty much taken from all of the lists I have played against so far and put all into one list, but still keeping it as consistent as possible. 4 Tornadus is the staple for now and is usually in higher numbers than Zekrom simply because it is easier to set up the turn 1 or 2 damage and gets those KOs as soon as possible.
You want to be fishing through your deck fast and the turn 1 Collector with a Dual Ball heads is pretty much your ideal setup, hence the heavy PokéGear count and maxed out of pretty much everything to get what you need in the first couple of turns. I’ve really tested against this deck a lot because of my tough time against it so far and here are a couple of ways to assure you stay in the game.
Option #1: Take the game past the Mid Stages
pokebeach.comSomething I have noticed when playing against Zekrom every time is that as soon as the mid-game hits, they are struggling. Even when they have complete control over the game and you have nothing more to give, you can see that the deck is slowly starting to crumble since they have nothing much else to give past the initial stages of the game.
If you are 3 or 4 Prizes down in the game and just a few of your Basics have been KO’d, stay positive and attempt a comeback as soon as you see them missing energy drops or not using Supporters. This will be the time to get your set up going as soon as possible to take advantage of the self damage from ‘Bolt Strike’ and start picking off Pachirisu/Shaymin for those free prizes.
Either way, make sure you have some form of attacker left in your deck because these aggressive builds run out fast. You just need to recognise when this is and take your chance to use that Rare Candy into an attacker and KO an energy hungry Zekrom to tip the tide of the game.
Option #2: Keeping Track of Their Resources
In particular, I’m talking about Junk Arm and Catcher, possibly Defender as well. Junk Arm and Catcher are the life of the deck and when they are struggling to keep up, they may need to grab back those PokéGear to stay in the game. These are the kind of things you should start to notice since that means that it’s another Pokémon Catcherthey can’t surprise you with.
Keep track of their discard pile every turn, especially with what they discard with Junk Arm, since this can help you to determine the chance of them springing another Catcher on you, possibly ruining a comeback. Some of the time, the chance of them having a Junk Arm/Catcher can’t be helped, but at least you will be able to make the best decision based on some quick statistical decisions during the game.
Just as a quick note, never forget about the possibility of a Defender drop when setting up a KO. Don’t just assume that you will be able to take a KO the next turn either based on your damage output or their self damage because it could all go wrong when Defender is added to the equation.
I have done this a few times before and it can deny you that prize you need to keep up so make sure you it doesn’t catch you off guard at least.
Option #3: Keep as much Energy off the Field as Possible
Each of this deck’s main attackers require 3 energy to attack be it 3 Lightning or a Double Colourless with another energy, so when a KO occurs, their field changes a lot. What you can do to make things worse for the opponent is to aim for the attackers with the most energy attached.
If you are in a position to make the KO on one of your opponent’s Pokémon, make use of the Catchers you run and target the ones with the vital energy attached. There are times when Tornadus has two Double Colourless attached, making it a key target for you and getting rid of Zekroms with 3 Lightning attached can make their late game even worse than it already is too.
This one kind of ties in with the first point since the amount of energy you get rid of in the early/mid-game will affect how much of a chance you have of making a comeback when it comes to the later parts of the game. Also keep in mind how many of their Shaymin they have used to move energy around when running low and check their discard pile to see if any have slipped in there via Junk Arm or Juniper earlier on. Either way, keeping their energy as light as possible will have them scrambling during the later parts of the game.
So I wouldn’t say that these steps are ‘fool proof’, but they will give you the best of chances against the deck in question. However, sometimes this matchup just comes down to what they are given in the early game to determine the outcome on your end, but follow these steps when given the chance to make sure that you at least go down swinging.
The Big Three – Gothitelle/Reuniclus
Gothitelle wasn’t performing very well at all when it came down to the first half of Battle Roads competition, but it has sprung right back up into the third most winning deck after competition concluded. Featuring a fierce one-sided lock which forbids you from taking prizes if hitting for 120 damage or lower in a single attack, this deck can set up even when things are looking good for you. This is the stock list that I have been testing against so far.
Pokémon – 21
4 Gothita EP
Trainers – 28
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 11
So this list is probably a little bit different to what you’ve seen before since there’s no Blissey Prime or Zekrom/Reshiram in there, but a sneaky Serperior line instead. This has been a variant that I’ve seen slipping its way into tournaments around the UK and US while performing well at the same time. The emphasis is not solely on using cards like Seeker and Max Potion to heal damage, but using Serperior’s ‘Royal Heal’ to heal off damage that you spread to the bench.
For example, when you take a 60 damage attack to an active Gothitelle, you can use Reuniclus to move a single damage counter to each of your Pokémon and Royal Heal will get rid of all the damage in between turns, leaving your field as fresh as it can be.
It does sound a lot to set up, but this deck is designed to set up from behind and with the amount of Twins it runs, searching out those parts of Stage 2s isn’t too big of a deal. Let’s move onto ways of tackling this matchup.
Option #1: If You Aren’t Seeing Double
The deck’s ideal setup is going for double Gothita and double Solosis on the bench at any one time, making it pretty much impossible for you to disrupt their setup. What you will need to take a note of is if your opponent’s field only has a single of either Gothita or Solosis on the bench moving into your turn.
If this is the case, then you need to jump on to that opportunity as soon as possible so that you can take a prize safely enough to avoid a complete explosion of setup on your opponent’s next turn.
You still must always be aware of how your opponent will be able to react on the following turn, which I will get to next, but when the opportunity arises of a KO on a single copy of a key Pokémon, I would usually take it.
Option #2: Playing the Waiting Game
This matchup is probably one of the trickiest for most decks that don’t include Mew because there is always a chance to take an early prize against this deck, but the question is do you always take it? The answer to this is definitely going to depend upon the gamestate, where an almost clear yes would be a situation such as the one above, but a debatable one would be when your opponent does have the 2-of each Gothita and Solosis in play.
In most cases, you would want to take quick prizes in any game, but the deck you are playing against is designed to fall behind, so are you giving it too much of an advantage? If you take that prize, you do get ahead in the prize race, but you could be setting off a Twins chain on your opponent’s behalf to get them the setup they need.
Making the right decision is always going to be tricky and depends completely on what your opponent has in their hand, something which you can’t know. Your best bet is to take a very close look at the state of your opponent’s field and whether they can get a Gothitelle or Reuniclus out because one or the other are completely different scenarios.
If you have a good response to either Gothitelle or the Trainer Lock aspect, then go for the prize, but if your hand is looking weak, wait out the turn and see if your opponent has a response.
It can be tough for Gothitelle players to get going without using Twins so maybe setting up your own field to prepare for the lock would be a better way to go about it. The choice is unfortunately up to you, but testing against this deck will give you the statistics you need to make the correct choice for the majority of the time.
Option #3: Pay Attention to Time
As mentioned in the introduction, Gothitelle wasn’t playing too well in the initial stages of the Battle Roads season and that’s because it has a lot of time issues when faced with the current 30+3 time format. You should always be wearing a watch with a stopwatch function when attending a large tournament since time is going to be a factor in a lot of games, so keeping track of it should be second nature for any Pokémon player.
Mark A. HicksWhen playing against Gothitelle, the deck can actually make some miraculous comebacks even when being 3, 4 or even 5 Prizes down to squeeze out a win since when the lock is set up, it’s pretty much good game from there. The only bad thing about this for your opponent is that going down 5 Prizes and then achieving the ideal setup is going to take a good chunk of time which they probably won’t have, especially if they are still sitting at 6 Prizes.
If you’re seeing the game go this way from the mid-point then do everything in your power to keep the game going for as long as possible, but within reason.
No this doesn’t mean checking your discard pile and then your opponent’s discard pile and then taking the full 2 minutes for each action every turn because that is incredibly unsportsmanlike and could earn you some penalties on the way. Acceptable means of playing to time will be thinking your decisions twice over, shuffling efficiently whenever doing a deck search and playing cards like Pokémon Collector even when you don’t need too.
All of these methods will keep your game going for the full amount of time and even if you do eventually fall into the lock, your opponent won’t be able to take the prizes they need to win when time is called.
This turns out to be one of the best strategies when playing against Gothitelle, even if they set up the lock quickly since for their attack to actually start taking prizes takes a rather long time.
pokebeach.comThis matchup is so tricky to analyse because it all comes down to whether they get the initial Pokémon Collector to hit what they need to get the lock quickly so I’ve done my best to help start the thought process you should be going through when analysing the early gamestate. Just make sure you keep an eye on what your opponent passes their first few turns with on their bench and react accordingly to whether you want to take that first prize or not.
Overall, Gothitelle is a tough deck to play against and a poor setup on their part should be jumped on straight away to keep yourself in the game. Gothitelle can get set up when on the verge of a loss to pull out the win and that is where the time game will come in as mentioned above.
Either way, the decisions are tough to make, but get some testing against this matchup because it is tough to tackle and pretty much plays out differently depending on which deck you are playing.
So those are ‘The Big Three’ decks that I’m certainly looking out for both at The Prague Cup and upcoming Regionals/States a few weeks afterward. I hope these tips and tricks will help you out in your testing since these rules should be applicable to around 85% of your games when presented with those matchups.
pokemandan.onehitko.comSo that is pretty much all I have for you in this article. Some of you may feel that some of the advice given here is a little bit ‘back to basics’, but that is essentially what this format is all about. Keep your decklists simple and consistent along with your approach to the matchups you’ve been given on the day and you should be set for a fairly decent performance.
I also hope that I’ve shed some light on The Prague Cup for players from outside Europe and for those of you attending, I look forward to seeing you there for an insane weekend of Pokémon. The competition is bound to be fierce and I am going to be taking my camera along to get as much footage of the event I can for my YouTube channel which will be updated as soon as I return.
Thank you for reading this article and I hope you learned from it. Let me know in the comments below what you think and ask any questions you may have and I’ll see you around.
P.S: Don’t forget to visit my new site over at www.pokemandan.co.uk! I have completely updated the Testing Zone with new decks including Gothitelle and Mew Box and I am starting to get some decent articles up there from other players from around the World too. Thanks again for reading!
BEST ARTICLE YET DAN KEEP THEM COMING!
Thank you :)
Good luck at the Prague cup man, also thanks for the Gothitelle list been looking for a decent list with Serperior in for a while. I hope one of you lot win btw you guys are all awesome :)
Thank alot dude.. The Brits are doing it this year ;)
Yeah, think yourself lucky i can’t make it ;)
Nice writeup about something us Yanks wouldn’t normally know about. However, if I were to go back to Prague, I’m not sure I’d spend my days indoors playing cards. Maybe I could spare half a day. :) Good luck, Dan!
Thanks, Ed! Aha there’s always going to be time for sightseeing among ‘other’ things :)
Great article Dan. Lot’s of helpful info. Good luck!
SEL is a great tech in TyRam as in it makes the mirror and donphan matchups a whole lot easier.
Ahhh yeah. I did think of this but I haven’t tested this out at all to be honest. Nevertheless, definitely needs testing if the mirror becomes too much of a crapshoot.
Great article Dan!!
Rick de Wijn
The ECC is scheduled for the 18th and 19th of febuary, just to let you know.
I’m not going, I think it isn’t worth the long drive/ flight.
I thought it was sometime around then but I wasn’t 100%. Thanks for the info and yeah it can be pretty pricey.
Great article;) I know a few people headed down to the tournament, and am really jelaous of them:( But I hope you all have a good time, whether you win or lose ;)
Thanks, I hope to meet them there :)
A European-only tournament? I’m jealous :P Good luck!
And thanks for posting that Shelmet, it looks awesome!
It is not for European only. Last year we had an excellent Canadian player among us.
“This Cup is a Europeans-only tournament, making it a one of a kind event”
Then I would have the author correct that statement.
Jealous – would love to go and just miss out on Top Cut and points and get in a rage against Ross/Gothi! Same old same old.
There should be a Magby or Bellsprout in there for trainer lock matchup (ZPST)
I’ve only really started testing with Magby/Bellsprout and couldn’t give a solid opinion on it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and I’m not sure how brave I am to try it yet :P
So, would this be the equivilant of the autumn regionals in the states for Europe?
:O Wow! That’s epic! Awesome that you’re going as well with some of the top players.
And nice analysis on the ‘Big Three’. The Goth/Reuni waiting game is so annoying because you don’t know when to take the prize and if you should or not. I tend to Judge then take a prize, hoping they draw into no Twins.
Good Luck Dan! Thanks for the look into Euro Pokemon, I appreciate it.
On a side note. Next year they should have this in The Hague, Netherlands. So they could call it “The The Hague Cup.” That would be cool.