Last weekend I went to Exeter and it went ok, but once again I missed out on points by the narrowest of margins. It was frustrating to narrowly avoid top 8 and the 5 points that guaranteed by one opponent’s win, especially after being paired-down last round, but I couldn’t really be too upset as 3-2 is hardly a fantastic result. Some people did get the points with 3-2, but that was just luck on their part really.
The worst thing was that Exeter was supposed to be where I could go and get some points more easily. It’s far south and miles away from both London and the Midlands, where the majority of UK players congregate. I thought that might drive attendance down a little and raise my chances of getting points. Turns out the opposite was true. A decent turnout and a LOT of good players ruined that plan!
So it was off to London. I wasn’t feeling so great about my chances there, but then I turned up and saw some of the people who’d made the trip: Sammi Sekkoum (possibly the best player in the world) and his brother Farres, Nicholas Fotheringham (former Worlds player), the Armstead brothers (both of whom have competed at Worlds on more than one occasion), Karl Blake (who’s no stranger to Worlds), Charles Barton (multiple Cities and Battle Road winner), Michael Cornwall (who won the very first HS-NXD tournament in Sheffield the week before the ECC) and so on. Still, I’d had a pleasant train journey down and I always enjoy playing so bring it on!
I decided to take my Regigigas EX/Mewtwo EX deck again because it had seen some rather nice results and, although they were not being replicated on a weekly basis (last week was not amazing) it was a hell of a lot of fun to play. I made some significant changes like adding a second Skyarrow Bridge and a Super Rod, as well as more consistency cards, while cutting some of the lesser-used cards like Lost Remover and Super Scoop Up.
James is a guy I’d never met before, but he was a very nice man with whom I had a very friendly and enjoyable game. A nice way to start a tournament. He was playing Zekeels which is a match-up that can go either way, so I knew I just had to pay attention and hope my start was ok.
I win the flip and start a Mewtwo to his lone Zekrom EX. I’m left with nothing to do but attach a DCE and hit him for 40. On his turn he manages to get an Eviolited Mewtwo with a DCE, meaning he needs only a PlusPower to end the game there and there, as I had been unable to get any more basics. Luckily he whiffs and hits me for 160.
I then needed only one more energy to get the KO myself so I attach a DCE (no Psychic energy for me) and take a two prize lead. This does leave my Mewtwo still on only 10 HP and he is able to get the KO on his turn using Tynamo!
I got the revenge KO on his Tynamo with my second Mewtwo and, unable to return the KO, he Catchers my benched Regigigas. On my turn I use a combination of Jirachi UL and Shaymin UL to power up my Gigas and hit his Zekrom for 60. He then Catchers and hits my Mewtwo for 80 with Outrage before I attach a Psychic to Mewtwo and retreat with Skyarrow Bridge, drop a PlusPower, and use Regigigas to KO his Zekrom.
This left me with only two prizes to grab and he used his Eels to power up his Zekrom EX and hit my Gigas for 150. This allowed to me just attach one more energy and hit him my Raging Hammer for 200 and my last two prizes.
This was a good start, but I knew there were a lot of good players and 4-2 would not guarantee me top cut. I started thinking of resistance and boldly predicted I would finish 4-2 and whiff cut. See, I’m nothing if not optimistic.
pokemon-paradijs.comCharles is a very friendly guy who I’ve played far too many times in the past. I say far too many not because I don’t enjoy playing him, but rather because I never win. Ever. His tournament record against me is 6-0 or something similarly ridiculous. He turned out to be playing Celebi Prime/Mewtwo EX, which is a deck I rather fancy myself against with my deck. Then again, I’ve never beaten him yet…
On T2 I kill this Celebi and he then returns the KO with an Eviolited Mewtwo with 3 energy. At this point I had a Smeargle UD active with a Skyarrow for free retreat, a DCE in hand, and a Dual Ball. One heads and I can grab the Mewtwo to put me ahead again in circumstances where he may have struggled to get the return the KO.
Not only did I hit double tails on the Dual Ball, but I then used Portrait and hit nothing. From here he was able to sweep with Mewtwo as I have no answer and no draw Supporters. Crucially he was able to set up a second Mewtwo on the bench, guaranteeing that I would not be able to use Mewtwo without losing the game.
I did manage to whip my Raging Hammer out for 150 damage, but it was too little too late. Sometimes I really hate Dual Ball.
Well, if nothing else, playing Charles usually helps my resistance. It sucked to lose a match which I am usually comfortable with, and largely because I hit double tails. Still, that’s the risk of flippy cards and Charles did play a very good game.
pokemon-paradijs.comAfter my game with Charles it happened that one of my sleeves was broken and though I usually carry a lot of spares, I had come out with nothing but my deck, dice, and mat and so had none. I bought some new sleeves and then proceeded to remind myself of how annoying new sleeves are as I went to shuffle and promptly dropped my entire deck on the floor. In multiple directions. Several lovely souls helped me grab them and it established a really lovely atmosphere around the tables.
I knew David was playing 6 Corners as he’d played and beaten Michael Cornwall round 1. Michael told me he knew how to play 6C well and didn’t miss an energy drop all game. Brilliant.
I went second in this game seeing him start Terrakion NVI, play Collector, and pass after attaching an energy. I started Tornadus EPO, which was very good and by turn 3 I was able to 2HKO his Terrakion without taking too much damage in the mean time.
I then used Tornadus to 2HKO a Cobalion NVI before I realised that Mewtwo’s Psydrive might be useful here and dropped a PlusPower to OHKO a Terrakion. The whole game I was making sure to attack the energy, knowing that 6 Corners is very beatable if they can’t get too many energy out. It did make me lament taking Lost Remover out of my list when I saw the huge amount of Special Energy being played though.
I then used Mewtwo and X Ball to get the 2HKO on his second Cobalion while limiting him to less than impressive Energy Press damage. As time was running down he benched a Mewtwo and I was able to use Catcher and Shaymin to set up a Psydrive for the KO and the win.
I was back on course now but I knew that I needed to win out to guarantee cut and that would be difficult with the field as it was. Come on resistance!
pokemon-paradijs.comMichael is a friendly bloke I didn’t know until Sheffield Cities, which he won, taking the first tournament with Next Destinies using Zekrom with Mewtwo and Gigas EX. Yep, very similar to the deck I was running today!
He started Tornadus and I won the flip, able to get 3 energy onto Mewtwo T1 to hit him for 60 after using a Juniper and then using Portrait to grab a Copycat. Not a bad turn 1 if you ask me.
On his first turn he put some Basics down, but was unable to get any energy. On my second turn I was able to finish off his Tornadus while all he could do was hit my Jirachi for 30 with his Tyrogue HS. He managed to get a Zoroark evolved, but without a DCE he had to attach a single energy. This allowed me the following turn to Catcher said Zoroark and use Psydrive to OHKO through resistance. X Ball might be pretty bad against Zoroark, but Psydrive most certainly isn’t!
From here I just used Catcher and took easy prizes from unevolved Basics until Michael scooped with me needing one prize to win.
It wasn’t the most satisfying win ever as he clearly had drawn badly all game, but I had to take the win because I wanted to make cut. At one point Michael used Juniper and 5 of his 7 cards drawn were draw cards. Sorry dude. He remained unbeaten for his last 2 games and finished 4-2, unfortunately missing cut on resistance.
pokemon-paradijs.comBen is a guy I’d not met before, but he was a really friendly, lovely guy. He told me he’d been playing for over 10 years, but had always played rogue. And he was playing Donphan! This was my kinda guy!
I lose the flip and for the second game in a row I start lone Jirachi. Luckily he can’t donk me so he just attaches an energy and passes. On my turn I bench a Tornadus and attach an energy.
On his second turn he gets a second energy on his Terrakion, but is unable to evolve his benched Phanpy HS, so he just hits my Jirachi for 30. On my turn I drop a Skyarrow Bridge to retreat Jirachi for my recently benched Mewtwo, attach a Psychic Energy and use Energy Switch to get the second energy onto him from Tornadus. I then Catcher his Phanpy and hit it for 40 with X Ball.
On his turn he is still unable to evolve his Phanpy and so he attaches an Eviolite to Terrakion and passes, giving me an easy kill on his still active Phanpy the following turn. This allows his to then hit my Mewtwo for 90 with Retaliate.
I then started my turn facing an active Terrakion with an Eviolite and a benched Phanpy. This allowed me attach a DCE to Mewtwo, catch the benched Phanpy and play a Seeker to get rid of Terrakion and win the game.
Not the noblest win ever, but it needed to be done. I was beginning to think that I’d yet to win a game today with Seeker. That card is brutal! Ben clearly had difficulty setting up, but as he’d go on to win his last round, finish 4-2, and make top 8, so I didn’t feel too bad!
pokemon-paradijs.comAndy is another guy I didn’t know who I gather, though I could be wrong, used to play and be good but hadn’t played for about 10 years. More importantly, he was currently 5-0. This meant I was paired up and even a loss would likely see me make top 8 due to resistance. Score.
I go second in this game, starting Tornadus, which I am not a fan of due to the fact that he moves energy off of him, when what you really want is to stack basic energy and attack every turns, keeping fingers crossed for not too many Crushing Hammer heads. If Tornadus moves too much energy around you can be stuck in an annoying position of having plenty of energy on the field and not being able to attack.
It seems like Andy has a terrible start, seeing THREE Durants prized. It wasn’t too bad though. He started Rotom, hit an Alph Lithograph by turn 3 and hit 3/3 on his early game Crushing Hammers. I was also unable to pull a Skyarrow Bridge early game. Although he started poorly, everything else went his way and he had 4 Durants out before I was able to get an attack off.
I did eventually get a Skyarrow out, but it was too late. I was forced to bench a Mewtwo AND Juniper to try and get rolling but I whiffed the energy, allowing him to drag up Mewtwo and stall for a turn. I fought back valiantly and still came to within a turn of winning (which I reckon was rather impressive, given the circumstances) but it was all irrelevant as I saw the last card hit the discard pile.
I’m not going to lie, I hate losing to Durant. I actually made some changes to my list for this tournament, adding a second Skyarrow and a Super Rod, specifically for the Durant match-up. Not only that, but prior to this game I had yet to lose to Durant with this deck.
I had gone 3-0 in tournaments against it, beaten a Cities winning list 2-0 and won 2 games online (though as always, I can’t be too sure of the quality of those), so I thought my match-up was good without the new additions. Still, I was sure I’d beat it next time…
pokemon-paradijs.comI lost the flip in this game and had to go second, which can be crucial against Durant. The other disappointment here was starting with Tornadus. The big problem with Tornadus is that, unless you have something else benched, you’re moving energy around. Against Durant the best tactic is just to pile energy onto one attacker and sweep. Moving energy around ruins this. Of course you can just not bench another Pokémon, but Rotom says hello!
This game was both incredibly frustrating and rather uneventful. Knowing that DCE would be Lost Removed very quickly I stuck to basic Psychic (unless dropping a DCE to get a KO that turn). In this game both of my Skyarrow Bridge got discarded very quickly so no free retreating. I missed several energy drops and he hit roughly 70% on Crushing Hammer (as well as having a Lost Remover every time I dropped a DCE), so I was left without enough energy to consistently KO.
As the game wore on I attempted to use Jirachi to get Tornadus rocking the KOs, but a treble tails put paid to that plan. In the end I could not keep enough energy on the field and finished the game with only 4 prizes.
This game was, like the first, rather depressing and rather uneventful. I started Tornadus (again), I was unable to get a Skyarrow (again), and he hit well on Crushing Hammers (again). This game did have the added bonus of both my Jirachi AND Shaymin being prized though and with no energy acceleration and his energy removal I was fighting an uphill battle the whole game.
I should have known the game would go sour when he mulliganed four times and I STILL was unable to start with a basic energy!
pokemon-paradijs.comSo, that was that. Incredibly frustrating as firstly I thought my Durant match-up was pretty good, and secondly because the changes made to my deck (second Skyarrow, adding Super Rod) should really have tilted the match-up more in my favour, but this is what happens.
Durant is one of those decks that can beat ANYTHING when it works. Clearly I played two good Durant players who knew exactly what they were doing and, on this occasion, my deck couldn’t keep up. Still, there’s always next time.
I did however manage to nab 5 points for my efforts, leaving me on 18. Not quite enough, but if I can hit 28 by the end of States then I can realistically end with around 35 which at least gives me a small chance of sneaking into Worlds. Wish me luck!
As for the tournament itself, here’s how it worked out:
Ross Gilbert (Regigigas / Mewtwo) vs. Ollie (Durant)
Sammi Sekkoum (Durant) vs. Farres Sekkoum (Donphan / Yanmega)
Nathan McLewee (Zekeels) vs. Charles Barton (CMT)
Andy Stone (Durant) vs. Ben (Terrakion / Donphan)
Ollie (Durant) vs. Sammi (Durant)
Andy (Durant) vs. Nathan (Zekeels)
Sammi (Durant) vs. Andy (Durant)
So there we have it, clearly it was Durant’s day. Dead? Not a chance! Also, it would have meant that my top 4 AND top 2 would both have been against Durant so maybe I had a lucky escape. Props to Andy Stone for remaining undefeated for the whole tourney and a well-deserved win!
Maybe Heatmor will kill Durant for when the next set comes out?
P.S. He won’t.
P.P.S Follow me on Twitter! @thewossy