Bubble Guppies – A Nationals Tale

Hey everyone! It’s Collin back here with a Nationals report and story! How did my Nationals go? Amazing! This article has a lot in store about how Nationals works and what to do, along with of course my amazing journey through Pokémon’s arguably hardest tournament hosted every year!

So, What Did You Play?!

The card version of Nationals.

Two weeks before the tournament I was testing with three decks – Terrabi, Terra Zeels, and Darkrai/Terrakion. I wanted to play a “TERRABULL” deck. I had major success with all three! I saw Jeremy Jallen, a very good player who got sixth at Worlds last year, playing straight Zeels (without Terrakion) and having great success.

I watched him play a few games and he dominated some tier decks, and the best part – he played Pokémon Collector over Dual Ball. People were and are very against the whole “Pokémon Collector” shenanigans and completely wrote it off as a Basic-search card (like me ^_^).

Jeremy went on to win a Battle Roads. So guess what? Collector is suddenly good. A few people really took it into consideration, including myself. But you have to think, it won one Battle Roads and now you’re trying to prove Collector is more consistant than Dual Ball, so you think AGAIN, is it really worth it? After all, Dual Ball has been winning many tournaments. Jeremy belongs to a team in Arizona and they all built lists around Collector. I couldn’t really believe how well it was preforming in their testing – I had to test it.

Desmond Siu, another member of the team helped me with my list. Immediately he took out the Terrakions and F Energy in my Terra Zeels list and worked a lot of things into it which I didn’t think of even playing in a Zeels. I tested this list (the new Straight Zeels with Collector and four Level Ball) and had stellar results.

Pokémon – 15

3 Tynamo DEX 45
3 Eelektrik NVI
2 Zekrom BLW
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Raikou-EX
1 Tornadus EX
2 Smeargle UD
1 Shaymin UL

Trainers – 33

3 Professor Juniper

3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 N
3 Pokémon Collector
4 Level Ball

4 Junk Arm
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Eviolite
2 PlusPower
2 Switch
1 Enhanced Hammer/Lost Remover
1 Super Rod


2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 12

8 L
4 Double Colorless

pokemon-paradijs.comI felt very comfortable with this new list. I did more testing (mostly against the mirror/Terra Zeels/Darkrai) and 8-2 against mirror with Dual Ball and without Max Potion, 8-2 Terra Zeels, and 7-3 against Darkrai/Tornadus, 7-3 against Turbo Darkrai (Darkrai/Smeargle), and I didn’t have a lot of time to test against Darkrai/Terrakion, but I went 0-2 against my good friend Tyler. A LOT of matches were played, but out of testing results my deck looked pretty good and had good matchups across the board (other than Darkrai/Terrakion).

I was still iffy and I wanted to play Darkrai, but when I showed up to the gaming room on Thursday, I saw a crud ton of Terrakion. I was just walking and heard people shouting “Terrakion is the new Yanmega – EHMEHGAWD IT’S SOOOO GOOD blah blah blah.” So yeah, Darkrai was seeming like a risky play and I still needed two more for my deck. Bam – I put playing Darkrai out of my mind.

I kind of already didn’t want to play my Terrabi deck due to my luck just being terrible with it. I talked with Drew, another member of the team, and he was saying:

“Some tournaments, there is just one deck that is ‘THE PLAY’ for a that tournament. I would say Worlds was all about Reshiphlosion despite Ross. I want to say, I think this tournament is about Zeels. It is, in my mind, the safest play, but hey I’m running Vanilluxe!”

So here it is, the morning of the biggest tournament in my life; I decide on the Zeels list above with one change. I took out the Lost Remover for a Max Potion. There were just a few situations where I thought it would really come in handy and it, in my mind, gave me a better Darkrai match up. My dad, who already didn’t want to play or be there whatsoever, played the same deck, but instead of the Max Potion/Lost Remover he put in Revive.

I laughed at this, which looking back, was a mistake. My dad made the Top 128 cut. Without further ado, let’s get to the tournament! (Oh also, I didn’t get notes or names for rounds 1-4, so that was kind of a bummer. I’m also only going to do first names for a reason, so sorry if you don’t ever know who I’m talking about.)

The Tournament

Round 1 VS ??? w/ Lilligant EPO/Vileplume UD

Keep your friends close; Keep your enemies closer. – Terra Zeels

My hand is something like this: Mewtwo, Double Colorless, Double Colorless, Double Colorless, Smeargle, Collector, Shaymin. I start with Smeargle, but something tells me to start with Mewtwo, so I did. I win the coin flip which is a great way to start off the day, and even better when he flips over a lone Oddish UD!

I attach the Double Colorless and well, although I hate donking, I had to take the win. I also felt bad because I think it was one of his first tournaments.


Round 2 VS ??? w/ Terra Zeels

This was a matchup I tested against quite a lot. I really felt like I had the upper hand when I got the Smeargle start along with a benched Tynamo. He got to go first, and started lone Zekrom. He plays Dual Ball and gets two tails (Collector man! Collector!), then uses Junk Arm to discard two L Energy for another Dual Ball. He flips, yet again, a double tails, attaches a Double Colorless Energy and passes.

I draw and feel like I’m in a great spot, although he didn’t play a Supporter so he didn’t have one for my Smeargle to snatch. I use Collector (Oh gosh you should have seen the surprise on his face) and search out a few more Basics to fill my field up a little. What happened next I do not recall, other than I’m at 1 Prize card remaining and he is still at six.

Then not long after – in the blink of an eye, with the span of a few turns of me whiffing the things I needed and getting N’d to death several times – he ties it up. HE TIES IT UP! I had my other Mewtwo prized and most of my attackers were dead – I mean Knocked Out.

I Catcher up a Tynamo and do the only thing I can do, TAIL RAP! I flip, get a heads, then flip again, and get a… tails… He retreats and brings up a Terrakion with a Fighting and L Energy, plays PlusPower, uses Retaliate, and wins the game.


Round 3 VS ??? w/ Terra Zeels

Not agaiN!!

After my saddening loss using Tail Rap with Smeargle, I’m ready to turn things around. I draw another amazing opening hand and start with Smeargle, and go second. My opponent sets up some, but I come out and just bomb his field with a Zekrom and Eviolite. So here I am once again, six to one on the prize count, and my opponent plays N when I have the game in my hand.

Suddenly horrible flashbacks of my last game pop into my head and, well… I lose – again. I’m just sitting there shaking my head as like 10 N’s were played in the span of like three or four turns (with help from Smeargle on both sides). I was really crushed by those comebacks, and hoping I could at least finish the day at 3-2.


Round 4 VS ??? w/ Terra Zeels

I’m sorry to admit this, but I really just do not remember this match at all. I remember I was playing against Terra Zeels and that I won, but the only other thing I could tell you really was that I went second again, and started Smeargle, again. Sorry about that, but I’m pretty sure it was an easy sweep win anyway.


Round 5 VS Alex w/ Turbo Darkrai

As I sat down and laid out my Pokéfriends56 mat (Pokéfriends56 is my YouTube channel that I share with a few friends, check it out!) my opponent immediately asks if I was the guy who played Lugia Legend in a Battle Roads. As I shuffle and set up I reply yes, and I have great conversation with him about the channel, decks, gameplay, and of course, just the tournament itself.

The sick mat I used. Thanks Emily for making it! ^_^

As we start I start with Smeargle again, and he goes first and starts Darkrai. So let’s look… for the whole tournament so far I’ve started with Smeargle in every opening hand. Wow! Anyway, he plays like a crud ton of Items and Supporters to get his deck rolling, but when he Portraits to see my hand, I have no Supporters. He passes and I draw a Collector. I play it and quickly set up and get a great start.

He however is stuck when I strategically Junk Arm my Supporter in hand for a Level Ball. I come out strong with a Mewtwo + 8 Energy and regain my “Unstoppable Force” title. There is not much he can do after drawing dead a few turns, but he finally draws a Random Receiver and gets moving pretty fast. Before I knew it, the Prize count was like 2-6 in my favor when he finally KOs that Mewtwo, bringing it to 2-4.

I still was in a comfortable position and calmed myself down and forced myself not to think about my earlier matches where I lost horribly when I was ahead. I kept calm, regained focus, and won. My Max Potion was prized, which is funny because I put it in for Darkrai mainly and could have really used it on my Mewtwo earlier in the game.


I come to find out that my dad is 5-0 -_- , I’m like “Are you kidding me!” most of my friends were 4-1. I was happy to have reached my goal of 3-2 and ready to go AT LEAST 6-3 and hopefully make top cut.

Day Two

Round 6 VS Kyle w/ Durant

This pretty much nails it

Haha oh boy! Durant! I did little to no testing against this because I honestly didn’t think I would play against Durant. I mean, who would play Durant at Nationals? I guess that’s what my mind set was, but I go second, start with Smeargle again (Okay this is a little ridiculous, Smeargle like every game? I’m not going to complain, but I thought it was a little funny.) and he gets four Durant in play on turn one along with the Energy attachment and Devour.

He discards a few L Energy and a Catcher I think, but I remember drawing into my Tornadus EX and throwing it onto my bench. I attach a Double Colorless Energy, play Collector getting two Tynamo, then I used Portrait for Juniper. I Juniper, getting two Level Balls, a Skyarrow Bridge, and a PlusPower. Oh heck yes. I PlusPower, retreat for free with Skyarrow Bridge, and use Blow Through for the KO. I literally blew his Durant away.

Not long after, I was attaching and using Power Blast until I discarded all my Energy, which I had already Dynamotor’d a lot of times onto my Eelektriks, and then I used Shaymin and moved all the Energy up. He tried to hold on as long as he could, but the truth is, there was nothing he could do to win. I take an easy win here and for once, I was happy I played against Durant.


Round 7 VS Ian w/ Terra Zeels

Oh no another Terra Zeels; hopefully he doesn’t N me to death this game! I sit down and talk to him a little bit and find out he’s a really chill dude. He likes playing, but for the fun of the game, not just to win. I get my usual start (Smeargle AGAIN) and of course go second. He starts Thundurus EPO and plays a Dual Ball. Two tails. Junk Arms, two tails. He plays a Level Ball and gets a Tynamo (a Paralyze Tynamo), attaches, and uses Charge.

I draw, play Collector (I could tell he was TOTALLY jealous. Haha just kidding, we shared a laugh.) I set up, use Portrait (I know he didn’t play a Supporter so I wasn’t expecting one, but it’s still good to check) and he doesn’t have a Supporter. I’m pretty sure he takes the lead and is set up pretty fast.

My only option is to take out his benched Eelektriks and stop his Energy acceleration. Well it turned out that was the correct move, although I like peed my pants when he accidently dropped a F Energy out of his hand from shuffling around with it.

He didn’t get the Terrakion (double tails on Dual Ball, yeah that’s right, play Collector!), but even if he had the Terrakion he would’ve had to get the Shaymin as well since his Eelektriks were down for the count. I am able to take a win just because of the fact that well, I have Eels and he, well, doesn’t (I owe you Raikou ^_^).


Round 8 VS Jacob “Snivy” w/ Darkrai/Tornadus

Yellow shirt!

Okay so I know what you’re expecting. I go second, and start with Smeargle. Nope. I go second, and start with lone Zekrom and like a basket full of Energy. I wasn’t sure what to think when I sat down and this kid is wearing a top hat with Snivys on it. Lolwut??? Yep, a top hat – with Snivys. I saw him around the event a little bit, but I never got to really say hi or anything. I bust out my sick “Pokéfriends56” mat and he immediately asks “Hey wait, are you Collin? The guy who wrote that Lugia article?” and oh my gosh, I put on my cool face, and was like “Yeah, that’s me!” Nailed it.

Anyway, we talk a little bit and finally the match starts. He gets fast aggression and throws Smeargles and Darkrais on the board pretty fast, posing a big threat. Then he does the very questionable play of benching a Tornadus EX, attaching a DCE, retreating with Skyarrow Bridge, and hitting my Zekrom for 60. I guess he had no other option, but still that’s two free prizes if I have a Double Colorless and a PlusPower. I mean, of course with my luck, I didn’t have any of that, but still I was surprised he wasn’t cautious with his Tornadus EXs.

pokemon-paradijs.comI draw into a Level Ball and I’m like “Smeargle, heck ya!” but I remembered he played a Junk Arm to get rid of his Juniper so I thought against it, but if I didn’t get something down fast he would win by donk. So I grabbed the Smeargle, attached an Energy and retreated to my Smeargle. I used Portrait, and to my amazement, he had a Supporter. He was trying to trick me into thinking he didn’t have one by discarding that Juniper. Smart, mind trickish play.

I used the PONT he gave me from the Portrait and drew into another pretty crummy hand. No Supporters. No search Trainers. Another Smeargle. No Switch. :( I did however, draw into Max Potion, but debated on using it because of the Tornadus. “Oh well, maybe if he attacks it again I can still Outrage for a KO,” I thought. I used the Max Potion. I knew then that this game wasn’t going to be in favor right off the bat, I was really basing winning this game off of top decks.

To make a long story short, I don’t really draw into anything, and lose to his fast aggression. I know at this point I have to win my next round to go 6-3 to even dream about making top cut. Ha… it would be funny if I went against someone from Arizona…


Round 9 VS Melissa (My BFF and fellow Arizona player) w/ Zekrom/Eelektrik (The same list as me but with one more Mewtwo instead of a Max Potion)


I was running a little late for this match so I didn’t read my opponent’s name on the pairings. I go to sit down and when my opponent turns her head, my heart sinks to my stomach. I have to go against my BFF – right when it depends on who wins has a chance for top cut. I sat down and we both shared a laugh and shook our heads. What were the odds?!

Oh well, I was running hot for a long time, there has to be a time where I don’t get a Smeargle into play within the first few turns, fall behind, and lose. But no, I go second, and start with Smeargle. Oh. Snap. I have started like this like almost all my games in Swiss. She gets a great start. She gets a turn one Collector, (she gets a Smeargle, and two Tynamos) and lead with Mewtwo.

She knows my weakness is Mewtwos. She goes out strong with Mewtwo, She wills for a Mewtwo war, so I give it all I’ve got. I set up, and take out that Mewtwo. Then she slaps my Mewtwo in the face with a second Mewtwo. I take a big sharp stick and jab that Mewtwo with my second Mewtwo.

She gets her big and bad third Mewtwo and throws it down on the bench. She contemplates for a second. She knows if I have a Super Rod and Collector Combo that I win. She does a Portrait, sees that I only have a Collector and that my Super Rod isn’t in my discard pile for Junk Arm retrieving. I know from seeing Deck earlier on with Level Ball that my Super Rod isn’t Prized, so this game is off of a Top Deck.

She takes the KO on my Mewtwo and I draw for my turn. The room is quiet. I could hear a pin drop. *Imagine hearing a heart beat sound in the backround, drowning out almost all sound* I drew… the… SUPER ROD!!! Sorry Melly.



This time I wish I didn’t have Bubble Coat in play.

NOPE! Of course, I bubbled at 6-3. So I dub this article “Bubble Guppies” after that little kids show – if you haven’t heard of it, it is basically about a bunch of Mermaid people who have bubbles or something. (I don’t really know – I don’t watch it!) But yeah, I felt even worse about beating Melissa, but it was cool to see my friend Tyler make top cut (the guy who runs Pokéfriends56 with me).

He did really good and ended up losing the first round of top cut. He had to play a Darkrai/Terrakion Mirror match and his opponent stalled out for the win. I guess it was still really close, and if Tyler had one more turn he would’ve won, but oh well he did good. My friend Asim bubbled as well at 68th also going 6-3 with a pretty good Darkrai list which I can’t give a lot of information about since I believe he’s going to Worlds. (BTW GOOD LUCK WORLDS COMPETITORS + Asim ^_^)

My dad of course makes cut and rubs it in still to this day. I must say I was really impressed with his performance, even though he lost first round. It was fun seeing him becoming like the “Overnight Celebrity Pokédad Who Went Undefeated The First Day.” His performance was a great confidence booster so hopefully he will want to bring me to more events haha.

My friend Jason Martinez got second in Seniors, basically losing to his auto-loss. Representin’ the West Coast! It was almost destined that Klinklang would win after Crim said it was a terrible deck, so that’s great that fate could arrange for that to happen. Congrats to John Roberts II! It was also pretty cool seeing Zeels without Terrakion and with Max Potion go so far and get second.


Everyone else is doing ‘Slops and Props’ so now it’s my turn!
  • Went 6-3 my first Nationals.
  • Seeing Jason get into the Finals.
  • Seeing Tyler and Curtis make Top 64.
  • Witnessing my dad take my “Unstoppable Force” title.
  • Watching Jeremy Jallen make Top 16 with Straight Zeels.
  • Meeting everyone along with hanging out with them.
  • Making new friends. (Mainly Henry and Jacob from round 8 – you guys are cool dudes!)
  • People walking up to me and asking “Hey, wait are you Collin from Pokéfriends56?!” or “Hey, are you Collin, the guy who writes those articles?!” or even my personal favorite “WHY AREN’T YOU PLAYING LUGIA?!”
  • Meeting Adam from SixPrizes – really chill dude!
  • Talking with The Top Cut and them knowing who I was. :’)
  • Just chillin’ at my first Nats! ^_^


  • Bubbled out of cut.

    Bubble Guppies.

  • Didn’t get footage or video of anything for the channel.
  • The Top Cut didn’t get to record the finals matches.
  • Jason didn’t take home the gold.
  • Tyler didn’t take home the gold.
  • I didn’t take home the gold. XD


Well I would go on and on about Worlds and the prep that goes into it – along with what I believe the Play is for it in my opinion. I’ll try and get another article up about that stuff though, since this article isn’t an Underground article haha. I’ll try and have testplay matches for Worlds, along with more deck breakdowns on my channel so please do check it out! Me and Tyler put a lot of work into that so I hope you guys enjoy it. ^_^

I’m also going to try and continue with my Black and White-on testing since I’m not going to Worlds, and hopefully get an article up about that! But ah, that’s a topic for another day – right now we are focusing on Worlds. Keep testing, keep playing, and keep having fun.

Peace Out!

-Collin Coyle B. (thatbulbasaurkid)

Reader Interactions

20 replies

  1. Micah Smyth

    What is the big fuss about Terrakion. I tested it to play for nats and went 1-6 against Darkrai, zeels and mirror.
    Didn’t play it.

    • collin  → Micah

      Join the club – I think that Terra Zeels is just a turnish slower than consistant zeels. I like both, but when i played against Terra Zeels, or even when I played Terra Zeels, that’s what I noticed. I think a lot of people were shocked that Kevin Nance (runner up in masters) went as far as he did with Zeels without Terrakion. I wasn’t – I think they are both good, but in a tournament as big as Nationals, Consistancy will usually come out on top, usually.

  2. Matheus Aguiar

    WHY DIDN’T YOU PLAY LUGIA LEGEND?! Great article, thanks for the laughs.

    So, what happened with your ‘rival’ from the other time?

    • collin  → Matheus

      Haha thanks! Um well Curtis did well, better than me! He put a lot of testing and time into his lists and he was able to go 7-2 and make the cut! He did really well and although I’m not sure how well he did in top cut, I think he did very well.

  3. Franco L III

    Awwwww… I think I was the guy responsible for Asim bubbling… I dropped when I was 2-5. I had REALLY bad starts and my deck didn’t want to work (it worked in the pods though -_-). At least he made it to Worlds!

    • collin  → Franco

      Haha oh well… he’s a good player, I’m not sure if he had the invite, but I think he’s going anyway. He’s pretty good, I think he can make it through LCQ. I won 4 pods in a row lol…. I know how you feel

  4. theo Seeds

    No Pokegear, 3 Collector?

    Zeels has always been my favorite deck in this format (unless you count Gothitelle), and I have to disagree with that list. The fourth Collector is EXTREMELY important.

    I’m not an Eviolite fan either, but that’s just personal preference. I like Rocky Helmet better.

    I think the Tynamos also need to be all NVI 38, you know, the one that can stall?

    9 Draw Supporters, and no Pokegear? I know Smeargle’s big, but…

    About Nats, good job, and I’m glad people finally had the sense to stop playing Terrakion. All it does is ruin the consistency of the deck. Sorry about bubbling, but I guess it happens.

    • collin  → theo

      At states, that’s how I built my list. If you read my first article, you’ll see that I did quite poorly haha… I’ve been experimenting with Zeels and Thunderdome variants ever since they came out, and I have to say, I like this one (if you don’t include Thunderdome because that deck was like my favorite) the most. I have to tell you, I did NOT agree with this list when Desmond gave me pointers on it, but in testing, it performed great! The Smeargles were great, and I didn’t find myself out of supporters all that much. People did play around Smeargle, but it wasn’t ever TOO harmful. Also, the Spark Tynamos are great early game going against Zekroms/Terrakions. It makes it so that you don’t need a PlusPower late game… I too was a big fan of Rocky Helmet over Eviolite, but it came to it that Eviolite saved my buns quite a few times, whereas Rocky Helmet wouldn’t have. It actually isn’t that bad of a list, try it out haha… But ya bubbling was a bummer, but I was glad to have gone 6-3 so it was fine

  5. bowser

    haha, great title. wow, you tale about Ns was really a bummer. made a lot of sense not trying to play darkrai.

  6. Aaron Minjoot

    Cool report Colin. I have to say, our Nationals Zeels list look VERY similar, almost identical but for 3 to 4 cards. Went onto Top 8 with it at Malaysian Nats, and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one running Collector. ;)
    Will post my report up in the forums when I have the time to finish it, and with enough responses will see if it deserves the front page.

    • collin  → Aaron

      Wow that’s crazy! Yeah my dad and my friend Melissa as well as my cousin Aden all played this list and did okay. I feel had I made top cut I might have done okay, but those N comebacks are what really killed me… But thats great that you got top 8! Definitely post your report and I’ll read it!

  7. B Nizinski

    I see that Snivy kid everywhere. He must live around me because every Battle Roads/League I’ve played I’ve seen him atleast once. I have to say, his Snivy deckbox is pretty sweet.

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