(This is a continuation of Part 1.)
Tournament #4: Huntley, IL — 61 Masters
Finally back into tournament swing after my break for tournament #3, I decided to (once again) take my card-for-card build of Zone/Eel from my last tournament into the fray. At this point, my only losses had been to Durant. Because this is a matchup that I already see as pretty poor for me, I felt like keeping my same successful build vs. the rest of the field intact. Here’s a recap of what I had together from before:
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 27
Energy – 14
A very simple, solid, and so-far successful list at 10 wins, 4 losses, I felt as confident coming into this event as I did any other.
At the start of the tournament, I met with some friends who were there the day before, and heard the pleasant news that a higher count of Fire decks happened to push Durant out of the top 4 that day. This left me crossing my fingers that Durant would be kept out of ALL future top cut appearances, but even hearing that less would turn up was good news.
Having hit 3 in a row to drop from my 4-0 record to 5-2 and miss top cut by one spot in my last effort hurt, even with the collection of 2 kicker points. With the same deck and same list in place, I geared up for another marathon tournament!
Rounds 1 and 2
pokemon-paradijs.comUnfortunately, I can’t remember these games at all. Having played 20 games of Pokémon over the past 3 days, I’m really struggling at the back end of my tournament run to figure out who I played! There is a very strong chance that each of these games were vs. Eel/Lanturn and Eel/Zekrom lists, I just can’t remember the details enough to go in-depth.
I remember the Eel/Zekrom being a close game, where I fell behind early to their heavier Catcher count, but I bounced back with N dropping their hand down to 2 cards before rolling my last few prizes out with Magnezone.
The Lanturn/Eel player (who I’m 90% sure was named Nik) just had a terrible start. He didn’t take a single prize the entire game, and if I recall correctly I think I was able to deck him out late game by playing an N to bring his 1 card hand up to 6, leaving him out of cards to draw. I know most of the time this strategy will never work because the late game will likely not have your opponent with a high prize count, but it was cool to see N have yet another (if obscure) use. 2-0.
Ugh, not again! After ending my last tournament on a high note against Durant by beating Jason out, I decide to just hope for the best.
This game I decide to do my ideal setup, which has me leading with Tynamo’s Thunder Wave for a few turns as I build a benched Zekrom (sometimes with Eel if I have access to at least a Switch or two). I luck out and hit 4 out of 5 attempts on Thunder Wave, saving me a whopping 16 milled cards from my deck. I also start this game with an N in hand, giving me access to more cards back into the deck late game once I’ve taken 4+ prizes.
There isn’t too much to say about this game, other than the time I got from those Thunder Wave flips allowed me to take 6 Prizes in 6 turns with Zekrom pretty comfortably without coming close to being milled. I emerge with an unbelievable 2-game winning streak against Durant, and move to 3-0.
pokemon-paradijs.comOver the next few tournaments I would play a LOT of Zekrom/Tornadus/Eel, so a few of the games would start to blend together. This game, however, sits pretty vividly in my mind because I did something I hadn’t really done up until this point — misplay.
I started up faster than him and secured a prize lead. I took my first 4 Prizes with Magnezone on his attackers, and he took his first 2 Prizes by Catchering and eliminating Eels. With my third Eel prized, I was actually in a pretty bad spot, but felt I had a chance securing the game if I could take low-Energy cost prizes. One such opportunity arose when he was forced to promote a Tynamo and hit me with a Thunder Wave. I’m Paralyzed, but feel confident because I have a Junk Arm for a Switch in my hand.
On my turn, I start overthinking things and get on a completely different line of thought as I try and picture the late game and turns beyond this one. This is normally a good practice, but for some reason it threw me far off the right mindset for the turn, which would be to Junk Arm for Switch and take the guaranteed easy 1-Energy Lost Burn prize on Tynamo.
For some reason I use that Junk Arm to grab Communication instead to turn a benched Magneton into a second Magnezone. Maybe it was that he had only taken 2 Prizes, maybe I was just tired, or maybe I was just simply overconfident — but immediately I recognized my mistake and was pretty frustrated. Off my 2 Magnetic Draws I do not hit the Switch, and I end up losing my easy prize while also falling a turn behind.
This misplay allows the game to collapse, giving him the 2nd Eel he needs to power up Zekrom and double PlusPower/Bolt Strike my Zone to cut his 2 Prize deficit to 1. With no third Eel in my deck I’d end up having to attach manually for prizes, considerably slower than my opponent’s double Eel.
Time’s called when we’re tied 2-2, and my only option for closing the game out this late was keeping a sleeping Cleffa while I build the next Zone manually. Unfortuately, just like my final loss on time at Worlds last year, Cleffa wakes up and offers my opponent the easy prize. 3-1
I was frustrated to make such a dumb mistake to let my opponent back into the game, but it happens and at least I can say I learned from the mistake and recognized not to make the same one again.
pokemon-paradijs.comRound 5 pairs me against my friend Jordan, who is playing a version of Kyurem that most people have tended to ignore in favor of the Electrode variant. Already I can see the flaws with his deck on paper (getting two Stage 2s out and a handful of Water seems inconsistent), but I know better than to chalk a game up to a win before it’s even been played out. (I’ll get back to this later!)
Jordan starts slow, giving me 2-3 early prizes with Magnezone and Catcher. He eventually gets the full Vileplume/Gatr/Kyurem set up and spreads a few turns before losing the Kyurem as well. In a last ditch attempt, he uses his V-Create Victini (the one that does 100 for 2) to fry my Zone, actually leaving me in a weird spot for a few turns. I’m low on Energy, and drop to 0 Energy after Lost Burning two Energy to take care of Victini.
He uses his Feraligatr to attack for a prize or two, and after I attach my 2nd Energy on a benched Magnezone he offers his hand to concede. Knowing that I didn’t have the Energy in my hand, and being friends with Jordan, I tell him that I don’t have the guaranteed win in hand and that he should play it out.
As a competitor, I know taking the win whenever it is offered is the “correct play,” but Jordan being one of my friends from early on in the game really took off my competitive edge here. If he was able to get Energy on Kyurem and retreat to it, he’d have the potential to take multiple spread prizes before I even found a way to get Magnezone active.
Unfortunately I do find the Energy within 2 turns, but I thought it was worth it to give him the greatest fighting chance he had in a game that was suddenly getting a lot closer. I close this one out to reach 4-1.
pokemon-paradijs.comLike I’ve said before, having a larger attendance for City Championships at a marathon is actually a bad thing when it comes down to points, and being just 3 people shy of top 16 kicker points meant that the winner would leave with a top cut, and the loser would likely miss.
Luckily, all this stress is severely diminished for the fact that Yehoshua Tate (aka Yoshi) is likely one of the funniest and friendly players that exist in the game. I’ve mentioned him a few times before in the past as one of the founders of Sablock, but beyond that he’s one of my favorite players to play in the entire scope of this game. He’s playing another unusual concoction — Yanmega/Chandelure/Dodrio.
The aim of his deck is to stack the 30 damage applied with Chandelure’s Ability with the ability to do 70 damage with Yanmega Prime — all for 0 energy. He does give up any access to the advantages of the Trainer lock build, but the added speed seems like it keeps this build of chandelure as at least semi-competitive.
Unfortunately, this was my first game of the tournament where the whole build just crapped out. I’m forced to use his Tropical Beach multiple turns to set up (I desperately wanted to drop Cleffa, but didn’t want to give him the free prize), and I’m back 2 Prizes by the middle of the game. I finally get the breathing room I need to get Eelektriks in play before he snipes me out once I apply Magnezone Prime pressure, and things get pretty close as I get closer and closer to thinning my deck.
Time is called when it’s tied 2-2 in prizes, with him taking a prize on turn 1 of time. On my turn, I devise the only plan that made sense to me — Magnetic Draw for as many cards as I can get a Magnezone, a Catcher, and a Switch (all these cards were in my very thin deck). I needed a second Magnezone because my deck was out of Energy, but I could attach two Energy to it on the bench as a Magnemite with Dynamotor.
The goal is to catcher Dodrio, Lost Burn it for a one-Energy KO due to Weakness, and hopefully prevent him from taking a single prize. I do everything I can to burn my hand down and Magnetic Draw until I have one card left in the deck.
That one card? Magnezone. I hit all the other pieces, so I’m forced to Catcher up Dodrio and attempt to KO it with an evolved Magneton instead, needing to hit 2 out of 3 flips for the KO on Weakness. I only get 1 heads and lose the game there because I’m down on prizes, but Yoshi shows me that he had 3 Switches in hand had I KO’d his Dodrio anyway, which would have given him the perfect 90 damage he’d have needed to KO my Eelektrik on his turn for game had it not gone to time.
I shake Yoshi’s hand and wish him luck in the top cut, and decide to check the final pairings to see if I even come close to grinding in as the lone 4-2:
Unfortunately, I don’t have the complete standings for which decks arrived in the top 8, but I do know the following:
Kyle Epperson: Eel/Zekrom/Tornadus
Jeffrey Hanna: Eel/Zekrom/Tornadus
Evan Baker: Donphan/Dragons
Austin Reed: Eel/Zekrom/Tornadus
Luke Selig: Reshiphlosion
Yehoshua Tate: Chandeulure/Yanmega
pokemon-paradijs.comFinals ended up Kyle Epperson beating out Yoshi to take day 4!
It’s not by a mere 1% like it was the last tournament, but finishing things up at 11th is still pretty close when trying to fit into a top 8 out of 61 people. Unfortunately, with an attendance of 61, I leave today without a single point.
To look at things from kind of a bleak perspective, this system makes it where you essentially get nothing for a day where you miss top cut by bubbling (or missing top cut in general). At least when you’d bubble under the old system, you could say “well, at least I move up in rating a little”. Now you can’t even say that — getting 0 points makes the day feel like a complete defeat — making your day essentially wasted if you’re looking at it from a competition-only perspective.
Thankfully, I wasn’t in competition-only mode today, and I wasn’t completely down at missing out. Playing in a format with new decks has gradually warmed me back up to playing the game, and by the end of the marathon I was in a fantastic mood toward playing and testing Pokémon again like I did when I was in my peak form. Just commenting on the system in general, though, it is a shame that you could go what was previously a decent record for points (5-2 and 4-2), but still end up with nothing.
On the bright side, Jimmy Ballard runs the fastest events in Pokémon history, and I’m headed home by 2:30 by the end of 6 rounds of Swiss. Even WITH his incredibly well-paced events I felt too tired to do 3 days in a row at the front end of the marathon, so I can’t imagine how exhausting it would be if marathons were run as late as 10:00 and farther every single day. With plenty of time for the rest of my day, I’m able to relax and get plenty of sleep for the next day.
Tournament #5: Oswego, IL — 57 Masters
Unfortunately, because I invested all my extra time into hanging out and enjoying myself, I wasn’t able to test any of the changes I wanted to implement into my deck. I knew that at the least I was considering getting the super rod back in to prevent myself from running out of eels or energy, but instead I decide to be boring and take the same decklist once again. Renae also joined me today with Durant, and I crossed my fingers I wouldn’t be seeing her in swiss : P.
Round 1 vs. Tommy M. w/ “CoKE”
pokemon-paradijs.comI’m just going to out and say it — CaKE is a horrible name for Electrode + friends. Trying to say that the “A” in “CaKE” comes from CobAllion is a horrible, horrible stretch. Seeing as the C and O in Coballion are actually next to each other, “CoKE” makes 10 times more sense. It still isn’t a great name, but at least it doesn’t make me cringe.
My own pointless ramblings aside, this game was actually one of the shortest I’ve ever played. Tommy starts with a horrible hand by drawing and passing, while I attach with a great hand, preparing to KO his lone Coballion with a Magnezone the next turn. He ends up finding his way into Collector, which at least gives him a fighting chance.
I KO Coballion, he sends up his Terakion. He evolves to Electrode and explodes . . . hitting 0 Energy on Energymite. He gives me what is essentially a free prize in exchange for milling his own deck, and on my turn I get the KO on his Terakion for game. 1-0.
After winning the last Illinois marathon event, this deck surged in popularity. Despite denouncing is as the “inferior version” when compared to Lanturn and Zone-based variants in my Eels article, I actually think this deck is contending for the strongest variant with its current builds. Here’s something similar to what I was seeing:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 31
Energy – 13
I’ve seen all kinds of techs and differences to the deck, including Lost Remover, Super Rod, and Tyrogue, but this should function as a nice base list to work off of. What I’ve learned is that the deck still sets up really quickly without the full Pachirisu/Shaymin line, and instead opts for consistent prizes throughout the game. The card that makes this deck one of the best Eel variants instead of one of the worst is Eviolite.
pokemon-paradijs.comEviolite makes Zekrom almost always a 3 energy Lost Burn for Magnezone, even after hitting themselves for 20 damage on a Bolt Strike. Eviolite on Tornadus also gives the deck serious game vs. the Donphan builds out there, something that the Zone/Eel variant can’t say at all.
Anyway, this game ends up very similar to every game I play in this matchup. He takes an early lead and ends up with a 1 Prize remaining to my 3. I’m able to play N and bring him down to 1 card for 3 straight turns, while I’m able to take my final prizes with Magnezone for the win. 2-0.
Round 3 vs. Zekrom/Eel/Tornadus
Very similar deck and build, along with a very similar game. This game went almost exactly the same as the last, except that his prize lead was not as big, and most of my late game N’s were for 2 cards instead of 1. 3-0.
Adam Vernola was once a serious competitive player, but was often placed at the butt end of jokes by the best players in the game as being the “essence of mediocrity”:
All jokes aside, Adam’s a smart guy that still likes to compete when he can with any interesting concoction that he can find outside of the established metagame. I met with him in my second tournament with his Eel/Zone/Vileplume variant, and it looks like today he decided to step up his Eel/Zone strangeness by adding 2 Kyurem and multiple W Energy to the build.
Before the game, I’m sitting next to Jay, who explains to me that there’s no reason Vernola’s build should be able to do anything special against the mirror. We talk about how theoretically his deck would be more inconsistent with all the W Energy and Kyurem. Adam arrives one minute late to the round for (according to Jason Klaczynski) being the worst driver ever, meaning that he cannot win the game if it goes to time. Unfortunately, it comes nowhere close to a full 30-minute game.
Turn 1 he starts 30 HP Tynamo, attaches water to Kyurem, and benches a lot of Basics. My hand is looking decent, with a turn 2 Magnezone ready. His turn, he goes off like I’ve never seen — getting 2 Eels, a Magnezone, and a Water + L Energy on Kyurem for the turn 2 GLACIATE. On my turn, I get the Zone, but proceed to whiff getting an Eel or an Energy in the discard pile off Magnetic Draw and Sage’s Training.
He proceeds to glaciate for a few more turns and decimates my board before I have a chance. I can’t top such a hot setup, and I end up 3-1.
Jay laughs at me for losing after the conversation we just had, but he’d get his chance to lose in the next round : P.
pokemon-paradijs.comI had no right winning this game. My start was horrible, with me Supporterless for 3-4 turns. All I could rely on was trying to Paralyze his mini ice cream cone early on with Tynamo, of which I hit 1 heads out of 4. He sets up everything he needs minus the Victini by turn 3, and I’m forced to give up prizes on Tynamos and extra Magnemites as I try and build SOMETHING.
I finally respond with a Zekrom to KO his big cone that was damaged by Tynamo, giving me my first prize. He brings up a brand new Big Cone, and hits double tails on his attack. With no Victini in play he gets no re-flip, and I use my newfound luck to his his 130 HP cone for 120 damage.
He takes his 4th prize on my Zekrom, while I use Magnemite’s Thundershock to deal the last 10 damage I need to take my 2nd. He promotes Cleffa, and things look pretty bad for me with another Vanilluxe sitting on the bench.
Then, the miracle happens. He Eeks, looking for an Energy. And then Oak’s his next turn. And then Eeks again. After missing Energy for 2 straight turns, I’m given the extra time I need to finally find my first Magnezone off of Sage’s Training, and I start cleaning up for prizes.
By the time he finds an Energy to attack with Vanilluxe again, I only have 1 Prize left to his 2, and another built Zone on the bench who Lost Burns for 150 to seal the game. 4-1.
Round 6 vs. Alejandro Luna w/ Reshiphlosion
I had never met Alejandro before, and that was because he was an old player just getting back into the game off of a hiatus in 2005/2006. This is exactly around where I started to play less, which immediately had me identifying with him. Alejandro, like many of the great faces here in the midwest, was one of the most fun and respectable players I’ve played in my entire career of Pokémon, and I hope he continues to play throughout the season.
His build of Reshiphlosion was interesting in that it ran a medium count of Rocky Helmet for the Magnezone matchup — forcing Magnezone to put itself in 120 damage for Blue Flare unless it had a Catcher. I’d seen him get into some really favorable spots with the card across the day, so I knew I’d have to play carefully.
Unfortunately, he got “one of those starts” where he had no Supporter other than Collector, and no Energy to attach to find his way into Cleffa. I had an amazing start with an eel and Zone by turn 2, and I took the first 4 or 5 Prizes unanswered. I wish I could say more about the matchup, but things ended shortly after that, moving me back into a top cut position at 5-1.
Top 8 for today was as follows:
1st: Adam Vernola w/ Magnezone/Eelektrik/Kyurem
2nd: Andrew Temen w/ Durant
3rd: Jay Hornung w/ Magnezone/Eelektrik
4th: Josh Wittenkeller w/ Magnezone/Eelektrik/Zekrom
5th: Vincent Blasko w/ Zekrom/Tornadus/Eelektrik
6th: Adam Bigott w/ Magnezone/Eelektrik/Thundurus/Zekrom
7th: Austin Reed w/ Magnezone/Eelektrik/Thundurus
8th: Jeffrey Hanna w/ Zekrom/Tornadus/Eelektrik
pokemon-paradijs.comJay and I both made it in with very similar lists, hoping to do 6PUG proud in the Chicago marathon. I get paired up with Vince Blasko — who has infamously been able to beat me in the most absurd ways. Most talked about in Missouri Regionals was when I knocked my own Bronzong G out on accident to lose the game for myself, and recently was this Battle Roads season when he donked me with a Samurott. Today, Vince is playing a solid Zekrom/Eel/Tornadus list, built for consistency.
He starts fast, but after his third prize he runs out of Energy/draw and doesn’t take another one past that. I take over with Zone for the win in Game 1.
We start at even speeds, and at one point I’m confident that I have the win in the long run until I see that I have a prized Energy as my last prize, and zero left in the deck. I’m forced to attach Energies ONLY using a single Eel’s Dynamotor in the late game, and the inconvenience of having to attach solely to the bench does me in by giving him the time he needs to catch up.
Having a single copy of Super Rod in my deck this game would have given me the win, and I instantly regret not changing a single card in my list moving into this day.
pokemon-paradijs.comI start fairly slow, he starts fairly fast. Time is called as he takes his 3rd prize on a Tynamo, and I have no way to take a prize on my turn. This game, I had 2 Prized Tynamo, which left me pretty uncompetitive when he was able to Catcher every single turn for a KO on an Eel once he got set up. I wish Vince good luck in the top 4, and leave out of the top 8 with 3 more Championship Points.
The top 4 ended up being Vince vs. Temen’s Durant, and Jay vs. Hanna’s Zekrom/Tornadus/Eel. I didn’t stay to hear about how Jay’s game went, but the finals ended up with Hanna’s Zekrom/Tornadus/Eel beating out Temen’s Durant to take the 5th Chicago marathon.
The top cut had 1 Durant, and 7 Eel-based decks. Seeing the Durant make its way to top 2 out of that field got me thinking about how it might be a good play for the next tournament, where everyone would potentially be playing A) an Eel-Based deck (bad Durant matchup) or B) an anti-Eel Donphan-based deck (bad Durant matchup). Seeing as today was New Year’s Eve, with an official one-day break in the marathon on the 1st, I decided to sleep on the concept.
In the meantime, Jay sent me his Magnezone list to compare some of the changes he made to fit some of the cards I wanted in. Here’s what Jay ended up with for the past few tournaments (normally I’d let Jay explain his own changes by the time his article came in, but with his next slot at the 19th of January, we’ll probably be talking about States stuff by then):
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 28
Energy – 15
In Jay’s words:
Jay’s list accompanies all of the changes that I wanted to make to the deck, with the exception of the 15th Energy, which I haven’t 100% NEEDED yet. The cuts that he has to make to make room for everything include a 4th Tynamo, a 2nd Zekrom, and the 4th Junk Arm.
The argument is that with the Super Rod you can recover any attacker/Eel that you really need back in the deck. Jay’s other argument is that you rarely if ever need the 2nd Zekrom because you lead with Zone more than half your games, usually using Zekrom mid to late game to conserve energy whenever you can.
At the very least I’d personally drop the 15th energy for the 4th Junk Arm, but the other two swaps seem to make sense to me. Originally I saw 9 Basics and instinctively wanted to say that it was unsafe, but with straight ZPST seriously diminishing (at least in my area), getting donked isn’t as big of a threat as it used to be.
Yet, despite Jay’s great advice, I was kind of tired of playing the same deck for every single event, and wanted to try one new deck for the heck of it. I went back to that same idea that Durant would likely be a good play in the metagame, and decided to throw a list together based on what Renae had worked with, as well as what I’d seen Jason playing throughout every tournament so far in the Chicago marathon:
Mini Durant Article! Woo!
pokemon-paradijs.comI decided that simply going through the motions and giving a tournament report wasn’t really enough in either this 2-part article to be giving you guys everything you want out of Underground, so I decided to give a short analysis of the modern-day Durant build, along with its matchups and playstyle.
I’ve heard plenty of talk when it comes to Durant. It’s not too hard of a deck to explain — all one has to do is read its first attack, “Devour,” and you already have a basic idea of what the deck does. The goal is to get 4 Durants in play and discard cards from your opponent’s deck until they deck out. Because of this one-attack strategy, many players feel like the deck is extremely simple and as “noob” as a deck can come because of how it can enable a less-skilled player to beat a better one against their will.
While I do agree that Durant does represent a deck that can give a less-skilled player wins, I still don’t agree that the deck is really “simple” to play. The entire deck is all about management of resources — both yours and your opponents. It involves plotting out multiple turns in advance, making maximum usage of your Twins and Junk Arms, and keeping a constant calculation on your opponent’s amount of cards remaining in their deck.
One skill that I feel is extremely beneficial for the deck for those of you who want to play it at an upper level is being able to count the amount of cards left in your opponent’s deck. They start with 60, drop 6 for prizes, then 7 more for their hand, and also will draw a card on their first turn. That puts them at 46 cards to start, and counting from there in your head is a great skill to have.
I’ve found that this is true because many players that play against Durant don’t want to count their own deck constantly. Being forced into a matter of time when you’ll run out of cards can be unnerving at times, and many players will just try to ignore that count until it’s late in the game.
By preventing yourself from physically picking up their deck and counting each card out, you call less attention to your opponent checking this same number out. It might seem like a silly mind game, but the less your opponent knows about their deck size, the more Supporters they’ll be prone to play.
Here is the list I ended up using for the tournament, and a good starting point if you’re interested in the deck:
Pokémon – 5
Trainers – 45
4 Pokégear 3.0
Energy – 10
pokemon-paradijs.comThe concept of the deck is straightforward — it’s just the management of resources that can be difficult. Rotom and Alph lithograph are for retrieving crucial prizes (prized Durants especially), Catchers/Lost Removers/Crushing Hammers are for disrupting your opponent to buy you extra turns in the game, and the heavy supporter count is for grabbing all of those other cards.
The Twins is a difficult card to use because of how selective you can be — grabbing any 2 cards from your deck can be a matter of winning or losing the game. Choosing between your correct forms of disruption, recovery, or even just getting an Energy are all tough decisions. Typically, it’s all about doing what you can to prevent your opponent from attacking on their next turn — which usually means a combination of Catcher or Energy removal cards.
The N works threefold. First, it will always get you 6 new cards, functioning as a PONT. Secondly, it works as a way to increase your opponent’s draw early-game if they have a low hand, forcing them farther into the deck. Late game, it can force your opponent into a difficult spot, despite increasing their deck size.
For example, your opponent has 1 Prize card left. They have a Zekrom fully loaded and ready to take the win, and an Eelektrik with 2 Energy attached on the bench. A late game N, while putting more cards in your opponents deck, can potentially win you the game here. If you can Catcher the Eel and remove at least one Energy on it, forcing them to 1 card in topdeck mode can be enough to give you a chance of winning.
I’ve seen many lists ignore N because “it puts cards back in their deck,” but it can actually be a really strong play.
The Rainbow Energy was originally there for giving your Rotom an attack option against a Zekrom that had Bolt Striked twice, but people seem to be aware of this option now and don’t often fall into it like they did when the deck first emerged. In retrospect, I’d probably turn one (or even both) of your Rainbow Energy into Basic Metals instead.
pokemon-paradijs.comI decided to keep 2 Dual Ball as sort of a “just in case” way of making sure you can retrieve extra Durant early in the game if you happen to whiff on Collector. They could easily become the draw/utility card of Victory Medal instead — I haven’t decided what I like better yet.
I’ve seen plenty of different techs that could potentially find their way into the deck, but here are the few I’ve seen actually work:
Seems like it’d be awful, but Jason did win a Florida Marathon tournament with it so I can’t completely discredit it. I guess the idea is that by charging a Coballion with the M Energy you already run you can lock your opponent out by actually taking prizes and tanking. I dislike its 2 Retreat Cost and slow startup speed, but the option is there.
Gives you the chance to do what N does in the early game, but in the late game instead. Dropping Spiritomb can end up being the equivalent of an additional Devour during your turn if your opponent has been forced to play their hand low enough. My only gripe is that with such a low basic count, risking starting with him can leave you a full turn behind instead of helping you.
Gives you a way to recover Ants if you ever start losing them to trainer lock (they block your Revive/Super Rod with Vileplume). It also functions as a way to increase your deck size by a little vs. the mirror (although Super Rod will likely shuffle the same amount of cards back in without wasting your Supporter).
pokemon-paradijs.comAllows you to take surprise prizes with either the Rotom or even Durant’s 2 Energy attack. I’ve rarely seen it work in action, but vs. players who put up one attacker the entire game, it could give you an opportunity to bench them out when they least expect it.
Gives you a shot to get around Paralysis flips, as well as random threats like an opponent’s Coballion.
Other than that, I can’t really recommend much more. The deck has been heavily tested by Jason Klaczynski, and I trust his judgment when it comes to most of the decisions that made his list the way it is.
For matchups, I’m going to explain more about what the opponent can do to you vs. what you should do vs. them. I could continually explain vs. every deck to “deny them Energy and Catcher up Pokémon with high retreat etc.”, but I’m sure you know that much already. Instead, here’s a list of your matchups based on their threat level to you.
Vs. Eel/Zone: Low
Their best bet to beat you is loading up a Zekrom, trying to Paralyze you early with a Tynamo, and getting an Eel to replenish Energy along with switch. Getting all this off without them playing their draw Supporters is impossible — which already makes you the favorite. Zekrom’s likely 3+ turn setup gives you plenty of time to mill them out more often than they’ll take 6 Prizes.
Vs. Donphan: Low
pokemon-paradijs.comDonphan on its own can’t take prizes on your ants until it has multiple PlusPowers or 3 F Energy. Combined with Special Metals and Eviolite you can even prevent that in the turns where they don’t hit a Catcher.
Vs. Six Corners: Low
They play a lot like the Eel/Zone matchup, but even harder for them because they have zero Energy acceleration. They also run a heavy count of DCE/Rainbow, giving you plenty of easy targets to toss with Lost Remover. Beyond that, they don’t even hit that heavy with most of their attackers, leaving them without 1HKOs on your Eviolite/Special Metal’d ants. This is a really hard matchup to lose for a Durant player with a semi-decent hand.
Vs. Zekrom/Tornadus/Eel: Low-Medium
Plays exactly like the Magnezone matchup, but they have less of a chance of getting their hand clogged by useless Magnezone pieces. They also run a few disruptive cards themselves with a higher Catcher count and the possibility of Lost Remover to slow you down. Despite those facts though, it’s still the same favorable scenario that getting an Eel/Zekrom out gives you, and still a favorable matchup.
Vs. CoKE: Medium
Unlike Six Corners, this deck has the chance to go off with Electrode and attack turn 2. Only in this scenario, they can get a fairly big advange early in and stop you before you even get a chance to mill (blowing up Electrode, while milling them 7 cards, prevents you from using your Twins, too). However, if Electrode takes more than 3 turns to blow up, the matchup can be about as easy as Six Corners.
Vs. Durant Mirror: ?
I put a ? here because this matchup has so much variance that you can’t control — including who starts Rotom, who goes first, and who has a better hand in general. With Twins, Super Rod, and Revive as instantly useless cards in your hand, most games go straight up to topdecks. Builds with a higher Energy count and the Super Rod might have a small advantage, but there’s so much variance that I doubt even the best player could make a list that beats the mirror a considerable amount of time.
Vs. Reshiphlosion: Medium-High
pokemon-paradijs.comThey have a Fire attacker. They’ll KO you fairly easily if they get set up, it’s just a matter of how soon they do get set up and hit the Rare Candy into Typhlosion. I’ve seen Durant beat this deck enough times to know that it isn’t an auto-loss for you, but it definitely isn’t favorable, either.
Vs. ZPST: High
While so few people still run this deck, it’s a great option against Durant. Because you only run 5 Basics, you’re already putting yourself at Donk potential 50% of the time, which is pretty bad. Beyond that, being able to set up by turn 1 and Shaymin Energy around is still enough to give them at least a close game even when you do go first.
Vs. Trainer Lock: High
If your opponent gets a Vileplume out, it’s only a matter of time before you lose by running out of Ants. While Vileplume-Based decks definitely take a longer time to take prizes, they only need to take 4 Prizes total because your Durants can’t come back into the game via Revive/Super Rod.
Running Flower Shop Lady can give you a fighting chance, but running such a trainer-heavy deck can really destroy you once the Plume (or Gothitelle if anyone really still runs that) hits the field. Your best bet is to mill fast, mill early, and hope you hit all of their options to get Vileplume out as quickly as possible.
With all that out, let’s look at how I did with the deck!
Day 6: Des Plaines, IL—55 Masters
I walk around the room and see all I wanted to see — lots of Eels and Donphan. Could my metagame play pay off?
Round 1 vs. Six Corners
pokemon-paradijs.comThis matchup is so easy that even by missing an energy for the first 2-3 turns, I won pretty considerably. My opponent tried the strategy where you lead with Virizion NVI and hit for 40, then 80 for the rest of the game, but it just isn’t enough. Every turn I removed all of Virizion’s Energy with Lost Remover + Crushing Hammer, it resets them 3 turns (attach, attach, attack for 40, attack for 80).
On top of that, the Eviolite prevented a KO when he finaly could stack damage up to 80, and I won extremely comfortably. 1-0.
Thankfully Luna wasn’t bringing his Reshiphlosion from the day before. This game I prize a Durant, but still start milling quickly out of the gate. He’s forced to try and Paralyze me but misses his opportunity, and then remains stuck with an active Zekrom after I catcher it and clear his field of Energy with multiple Hammers. I hit my Alph Lithograph early in off a Juniper and use it (along with taking notes to remember where my 6 Prizes are for the rest of the game!) to get me Durant and a few more Energy removal cards from my prizes.
He’s able to play multiple Communication to buy him some time at the end, but I still finish milling him when he has 2 Prizes left. 2-0.
Same story as my game vs. Luna, but this time I prize TWO ants! I still hit him hard early in with multiple removals with Crushing Hammer/Lost Remover, and I’m lucky enough to hit both of my hand from the prizes back into the deck by turn 4. The game turns into a close one where he was just 1 turn away from winning, but in the end I still take the win despite my slow start. 3-0.
Donphan Prime/DragonsRound 4 vs. Jeremy w/
pokemon-paradijs.comSo far it looks like all I’m doing is hitting favorable matchups, just like I planned. I start fast this game with no delays, and he learns really quickly that Donphan not being able to take prizes every turn is a huge issue vs. a deck where you have a limited amount of time. I finish milling him in less than 15 minutes and move to 4-0.
So far things look great with favorable matchups all the way down, but this game I’m stuck with a horrible hand that keeps me too far out of the game. I don’t think I attach an Energy to Durant until turn 4 or 5, I prize an ant, and I also flip 1 for 5 on crushing hammer flips. All that combined and he still has around 12 cards left in his deck when he takes his 6th prize. 4-1
Round 6 vs. Durant
This mirror match goes wrong in every possible way. I go second. I start Rotom. I go 1/6 on Crushing Hammer flips. I didn’t have a chance. 4-2.
Luckily, despite going 4-2 again today, I have amazing resistance at 63% and make my way into the top 8 with Durant!
Here’s how the top 8 looked today:
Adam Keibler – Kyurem/Coballion/Landorus/Electrode
Brandon Phillips – Zekrom/Tornadus/Eelektrik
Mike Lesky – Magnezone Prime/Eelektrik
Josh Wittenkeller (J-Wittz) – Durant
Carlos Pero – Sunflora/Vileplume/Ursaring/Zoroark/Jirachi/Madness
Stephen Matz – Magnezone Prime/Eelektrik
Austin Reed – Six Corners
David Vidal – Durant
Unfortunately, despite hitting plenty of favorable matchups across the day, I end up hitting the same variable Durant mirror match. I can’t really complain because I was playing the deck for fun, but I’m hoping to get better luck than my final Swiss round.
pokemon-paradijs.comI go first, don’t start Rotom, get 4 ants, mill. He does the same. My hand is awful beyond that, and his hand is decent. He keeps Catchering ants without energy, but I have one for 3 Durants across the game. When he catchers the 4th, however, I’m stuck with no Energy and am forced to PONT. Whiff on Energy. Next turn I N, whiff on Energy. And slowly the entire lead I had established disappears. Turns out I had only 1 Energy left in the deck, and 3 Prized. Rats!
I go first again, and I have a hand with zero Supporters. I start Durant, draw into a Durant, and mill for 2. His turn he starts 2 Durants and gets double heads on Dual ball to mill for 4. This continues for a while, and by the time I finally get my 4 Durant out to match his 4, he’s milled far too deep in the deck for me to have a chance. I lose out in top 8, and grab 3 more points.
In the end, I don’t feel horrible about my play for the day, but Mike Lesky winning with Zone/Eel shows that I probably wouldn’t have done poorly had I stuck with the deck I’d played every other event. I just wanted a change of pace and to have a little fun, and I think I had just that. Grabbing a few points by the end of things definitely didn’t hurt, either!
Here is how the Marathon ended up, win-wise:
pokemon-paradijs.comAltogether, I feel like our metagame went heavily in the way of the Eel, and either knowing how to play an Eel-based deck, or how to counter it became really important across each of the days. Our metagame saw a decent inclusion of each of the major decks played right now, with the only deck under-represented being any Ross-based build. Zekrom/Eel led in top cut appearances, followed by Eel/Zone, followed by Durant.
Altogether, the marathon was an interesting experience. It’s definitely taxing on the mind to play in 6 straight tournament events, but it was a lot of fun to be so involved with the game day after day. As a lot of you know, I’ve been really busy and definitely fell off the competitive wagon for a while, but after the marathon I am definitely right back on. While I might not be able to compete for Worlds on a regular yearly basis, I’m definitely going to give it my best shot this year for another chance.
While it definitely isn’t optimal to attend heavily populated events for your shot at the most Championship Points, I still felt like I did a good job with what I was offered. I was able to grab points from all but one tournament I went to, and I still went 4-2 on the one tournament I whiffed. With a total of 12 points gained from the marathon alone, I’ll be sitting at 15 points total at around 130th in North America. While the numbers for how many people qualify for Worlds are still a mystery, I speculate that we’ll need to be in the top 40 to get in.
At 130th it might seem like I have no chance, but I’m actually way better off than last year, when I sat at around 200th after Cities were over. There are still 2 more City Championships at the least that I’ll be attending (and possibly 3), so I still have a chance to make a push forward from there as well. Beyond that, It’ll be down to Regionals, 3 Weekends of States, Battle Roads, and Nationals for me to keep working my way back into the competitive picture.
Because I’ll be working really hard with this next format, expect some of my best stuff ever soon! Late January marks the release of another exciting set, and I’ll be spending all of February testing hard for March states. In the meantime, good luck finishing Cities out, and I’ll talk with you guys soon!
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