Esa’s Worlds and The Top Cut Invitational Experience

Hello SixPrizes!

So, Worlds are over and the new World Champions have been crowned once again. Even though my results from both the World Championships and The Top Cut Invitational were what I would call horrible, the whole Worlds experience was my best so far. That’s a lot to say since this was my 7th Worlds.

At the moment, I’m still jet-lagging a lot (a 27-hour flight combined with the 13 hour time difference takes time to recover). However, I wanted to get this report up as soon as possible so I can concentrate fully on next season as soon as possible. I’ll be posting this report to my blog, SixPrizes, and Poké since I think it will be an interesting read for everyone.

I hope Adam will come up with good pictures for this report, so it gives you something new from my blog’s article, haha. I also think that this won’t have as many grammar errors as the other two on PokéGym and in my blog since Adam won’t let trash on the front page! Anyway, to the report.

Worlds Preparation and Deck Choice
Credits: The Deck Out!

I had grand plans for testing to Worlds, but due to my summer job (which I’m ever grateful for), I didn’t have as much time to test for Worlds as I wanted. In the end, I did most of my testing during the two Poké-camps, which I introduced in my blog during summer. There has probably never been Worlds I have tested as little as I did this year. However, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t ready for Worlds.

During the whole summer I was debating if I should run Speed Darkrai, Darkrai/Mewtwo, or CMT. In the end, I always felt the most comfortable with CMT. My original CMT was pretty standard, but since I wanted to have a little bit of surprise factor for Worlds, I wanted to have something weird in my deck.

The most discussion I had about Worlds decks was with my Japanese friend Yuki Fujimori, who I had e-mailed for the past year (and was able to put together the Eye on Japan entries thanks to him). He was coming to Worlds this year as well after a 7-year break, so I was very excited to meet him.

Anyway, he introduced me his teammates’ CMT list just two weeks before Worlds, and as soon as I saw it, I was convinced about it. It had everything I wanted from my Worlds deck: surprise factor, consistency and metagame-counterness. In the end, the deck was more of an Terrakion/Mewtwo than CMT and if I had known that Darkrai would be as popular as it was in Worlds, I would’ve probably just played Terrakion/Mewtwo. In the end, after a bit of modification my Worlds list looked like this.

Pokémon – 13

3 Terrakion NVI
3 Mewtwo-EX NXD
3 Smeargle UD

2 Celebi Prime
1 Shaymin UL
1 Tornadus EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
3 Professor Oak’s New Theory

2 N
2 Random Receiver


4 Junk Arm

3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Switch

2 Eviolite
2 Energy Switch
2 Energy Retrieval
2 PlusPower

2 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
1 Dual Ball


2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 12

4 Double Colorless
4 G
4 F

pokemon-paradijs.comAs you can see, the list is pretty unorthodox. The deck was mostly designed to counter Darkrai variants and had bad matchups against Vileplume decks. I decided to take a risk and not care about Vileplume decks because in the end, Vileplume deck didn’t have a chance of winning the tournament since best-of-three matches were only 60 minutes. The deck had at least 50-50 matchups against every Darkrai and Eels variant. Energy Switch gave me the surprise factor I wanted, and in the end it was as good as I thought it would be (since no one expected it).

There were 3 additional cards, I wanted to put in to the deck: a 4th Catcher, a 3rd Eviolite and the “bad” Terrakion (Terrakion EPO). I cut the 4th PONT from the deck to get the 2nd Eviolite in the deck. In the end, I didn’t find space to any of these changes and soon realized that all of these changes may have changed my tournament result a lot.

Anyway, you may also wonder why things like Level Ball and Ultra Ball and not just 4 Dual Balls. The reason for this was pretty simple. In most games I wanted to get cards to discard pile. For example, it would be better if I get F Energy to discard pile in the early game, so I have an access to them at any point of the game with Energy Retrieval or Junk Arm.

Also, Dual Ball is flippy, and when it comes to flipping – well let’s just say that I’m not good at it. In the end, these Ball lines were perfect for me and I used Dual Ball 4 times during the tournament. Result? One heads…

The Top Cut Invitational Preparation and Deck Choice

This year I was honored to get an invitation to The Top Cut Invitational. I acknowledge the fact that I didn’t get the invitation to the tournament only because I won Finnish Nationals 6-times, but thanks to my blog as well. However, even though I would be able to clash with the very best of the game, I didn’t feel like an underdog. I know that I’m a good player and could beat anyone when having a good day.

It was pretty easy to choose my deck for The Top Cut Invitational since if Worlds would’ve been 90 minutes top cut, I would’ve played Accelgor in Worlds. I think Accelgor was the best deck of the format, but since I didn’t have enough time to test it properly, I wouldn’t be able to play it fast enough in the Worlds. However, it was a perfect fit for the Top Cut Invitational. As I hadn’t a lot of time to test my Accelgor, I decided to play a pretty solid, consistent and unsurprising list.

Pokémon – 24

3 Litwick (The wrong one since I didn’t have the CFF Litwick with me, haha.)
2 Lampent NVI
2 Chandelure NVI

3 Oddish UD
2 Vileplume UD

4 Mew Prime

2 Relicanth CL

2 Accelgor DEX
2 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Shaymin UL

Trainers – 25

4 Pokémon Collector

4 Sage’s Training
3 Twins

3 Professor Oak’s New Theory

2 N


4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy
1 Pokémon Catcher (Another option was Ruins of Alph, which – in hindsight – would’ve been better.)

Energy – 11

4 Double Colorless
4 Rainbow
3 D – Basic

The deck ran very well and the only weird thing is the Pokémon Catcher. It’s against Espeon tech. If I had more testing with the deck, I would’ve played Ruins of Alph instead, because Espeon really isn’t such a big problem for the deck if you play the deck correctly.

I playtested the deck on Thursday before Worlds with my Japanese friend, who was new to the concept of Accelgor and he called the deck fantastic. I must really applaud the players who created this deck, because I loved the concept and really thought it was the BDIF. All you needed was a player who knew the deck inside-out and had an APM of 200 and you would have a Worlds winner. However, it seems that there wasn’t such player at Worlds.

The Hawaii Experience

pokemon-paradijs.comI’ve been to every Worlds. Every Worlds, but the two at Hawaii in ’07 and ’10. It’s a pity since these two years had very good formats. Anyway, Hawaii was a whole new experience for me. And what a great experience it was. The island may be expensive, but at the same time it’s immensely beautiful and a perfect place for a nature-lover like me. The Hawaiian tropic is a completely different place compared to Finland, where it’s often cold (especially in the winter). Also, this summer wasn’t as hot as the few past summers in Finland, so I was happy to get away to the tropic.

I arrived to Kona on Saturday evening can easily say that I needed at least 3 days to get back on track thanks to the time difference and jet-lag. This was my first time in Hawaii and it showed. Whenever I had visited San Diego, I didn’t have any trouble with the time difference of 8 hours, but the 13 hour time difference to Finland seemed to be problematic for me.

Probably the funniest thing was that I never completely got hang of the time difference on Hawaii. Even on Monday morning before departuring back to Finland, I woke up at 6 AM (which isn’t normal for me without an alarm clock) and slept the two first flights returning to Finland (which isn’t normal for me either).

The first few days we spent in the Kettunen family’s rental place in Paniolo Greens, but on Wednesday we moved to the Hilton Waikoloa Village. I had heard rumors that the hotel was a mind-blowing place, but it still exceeded all my expectations (appearance-wise). I’ll upload the pictures which I took from Hawaii and from the tournaments to my blog as soon as possible, but I’m pretty sure it will take a few days since I’m still jet-lagging.

What I wasn’t impressed of was the level of service since I happened to meet a few waiters/waitresses/hotel staff that seemed to be bored of what they are doing and weren’t customer-friendly. If I hadn’t gotten a paid trip to Hawaii, I would’ve probably complained to Hilton.

Anyway, all in all, the Hawaii experience in total was mind-blowing and I greatly encourage everyone to visit Hawaii at least once during their life time. I’m not convinced if Hawaii is the best place for a Pokémon tournament, but I’m convinced that it’s a perfect place for a vacation.

The Worlds Experience

volny.czSince this is a tournament report, the main concentration should be on the tournament(s). I already revealed the lists I was using in the tournaments, so all that’s left are the matches and how they went. As said before, the tournaments were a disaster record-wise, but thankfully the games weren’t as disastrous as they first felt like.

So first, my Worlds experience. I hadn’t brought any new sleeves with me to the tournament, but thankfully Yuki brought me a gift from Sapporo’s Pokémon Center, which included the cool Pikachu sleeves that you can see in the game which was recorded by The Top Cut. I decided to unsleeve my deck before the tournament and play with the brand new and super cool Pikachu sleeves. Thanks a lot Yuki!

I didn’t write down the name of my opponents, but I remember where they are from.

Round 1 – Bye

I obviously got this from all the hard work that I’ve put into my blog, haha. To be honest, I got very very lucky by getting this bye. In the end, this bye would’ve guaranteed me the Top 16 place if I had went 5-2, because my tiebreak would be very high thanks to this bye. I also went to bathroom.


Round 2 – Hammertime Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion/Espeon – The Netherlands

I could sense that this guy was pretty nervous. He talked all the time: before the game, while playing his turns and while I was playing my turns. One of the funniest questions he asked was if this were my first Worlds. A player, who has modified my Nationals winning deck, doesn’t even know me. I found this hilarious. Maybe he came with the idea of Hammertime by himself? Who knows!

I had a decent start with Smeargle and a Terrakion in hand. He opens with Sableye and decides to try to confuse my Smeargle – heads. Ok, well I only had Terrakion in my hand, so I benched it, attached to Terrakion and retreated. I also PONT’d but drew a completely crap hand. He was up for a slow start as well, which was fortunate for me since he confused my Smeargle. I had to burn 2 Catchers in the early game to slow his setup a little, which bought me the turns I needed to set-up.

There were two decisive moments in the game. First was when I Junipered, I needed a combination of Switch and F Energy from the deck. So I needed either Switch (2 left in the deck) or Junk Arm (4 left in the deck) and Energy Retrieval (1 left in the deck), F Energy (3 left in the deck) or Junk Arm (4 left in the deck) to get a KO on Darkrai EX. In the end I only drew 2 Junk Arms. It was the worst combination of cards I wanted because I would need Junk Arms in the late game since I had to burn Catchers in the early game.

pokemon-paradijs.comWell I get the KO two turns in a row with the Terrakion and was down to 2 Prizes while my opponent had 3 Prizes left. At this point he decides to use N. All I need is a draw Supporter, Random Receiver, him drawing a Supporter and then me Portraiting, or me drawing a Junk Arm and I have the game. I end up drawing a Junk Arm. I have 1 Random Receiver in discard pile and had already discarded my both Ns with Ultra Ball, so I’ll get a decent hand for sure.

He attacks with Darkrai EX and hits 30 to my benched Tornadus EX. I realize that if he draws everything, I’ll need an Eviolite in the following turns to my Mewtwo EX or Tornadus EX to keep it alive for 2 attacks. So, I draw my card and see an Eviolite. I have the other Eviolite attached to my benched Mewtwo EX and would need this on my attacker in order to win the game if my opponents draws everything.

However, I need to use a Supporter this turn to get a DCE from my deck (of which I had 3 left). I was forced to discard the Eviolite with Junk Arm to get the Supporter and in the end this costed me the game because I had no way of getting the Eviolite back since I had to burn Junk Arms earlier on. In the end, it came down him drawing what he needed and his Tornadus EX dealed just enough damage to 1HKO my every Pokémon in the game.

It was a very close game and it was pretty frustrating to know that if I had drew anything else but the Eviolite from the topdeck, I would’ve gotten the game. Also, if I had drawn a F Energy or Energy Retrieval from the Juniper, I would’ve had an additional Junk Arm to win the game. It’s these little things that decide the games, so all I could do was to head for the game and forget about this game.


Jay Hornung played the second round beside me and gave me his condolences for the game since he watched the game from my point of view. It meant a lot, thanks Jay!

Mark A. Hicks
Lunch? Nooooo!!!!

However, at this point began the lunch break. As you may know, I HATE lunch breaks because they mess with my tournament rhythm. It was also pretty frustrating to play one game (lose it) and then go to lunch break. Of course most players had played 2 games, but for me it was pretty frustrating.

The lunch break was over 2 hours long, so I went back to my room with Miska and we decided to watch Ironman since it came from the channel FX. The time flied when watching Ironman (it’s still such a good movie even though I’ve seen it like 5 times).

Round 3 – CMT – United States

He was a very nice guy even though we didn’t talk a lot. I think he was from California. Anyway, I had the most horrible opening hand of the day with 3 Double Colorless Energy and Juniper. I noticed he ran CMT, so I couldn’t use Juniper and instead started to attach DCEs to my benched Pokémon until I drew a Shaymin to concentrate the DCEs to specific Pokémon, which makes a good use of them.

He gets a T2 Tornadus and starts taking out my Smeargles. After he takes 2 Prizes, I know I’m at a very bad spot since he has 2 Mewtwo EXs benched, both having 1 Energy attached to them. I attach 2 DCEs to my Mewtwo EX, Catcher his Mewtwo EX and N him to 4. I opted not to play Skyarrow Bridge, if he happens to get a crap hand.

Fortunately for me he does get a crappy hand and doesn’t draw into Energy. I was able to Ultra Ball my only Supporter from my hand away so he can’t Portrait into it and he just passes. I Catcher the 2nd Mewtwo and 1HKO it again with my Mewtwo EX, which has 2 DCEs attached to it. In the end, he Ns me to 1, but I only have 7 cards in my deck and all I needed was an Energy to win the game.

In my 7 card deck I had 1 Energy Retrieval, 4 Energy, PONT, and Random Receiver. So, I draw into the Energy and finish his Tornadus with my 2nd Mewtwo EX.


Round 4 – Speed Darkrai – Great Britain

In this game I got a pretty bad hand, but for some reason he ran 4 Ns in his Speed Darkrai. In my testing N was something I didn’t want to play for two reasons:

  1. Speed Darkrai should always have the lead.
  2. You can’t afford your opponent Portraiting your Ns whenever you KO something of theirs.

Well, he pretty much Ns me every single turn, but for some reason I’m not able to hit any Supporters from any of his Ns. I’m pretty sure I played the first 7 turns without a Supporter. This made the game pretty close, but in the end he whiffed on Dark Patches too much, and one Terrakion and one Eviolited Mewtwo EX was enough to take care of his Darkrais.


Round 5 – Darkrai/Mewtwo – Norway

It seems that this happens me in every single World Championships. Just when I’m able to get hang of the tournament flow I either get donked or draw & pass during the whole game. This happened in my 3 previous Worlds. In 2009, I was in 3-0 and draw & passed the whole game, in 2011 I was in 2-0 and draw & passed for 7 turns. And now I got donked.

Worlds are only once a year and in a tournament where it’s only Top 16 and even 5-2 doesn’t guarantee you a place in the top cut, you can’t afford these kinds of horrible games. However, donking is part of the game, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. If I could’ve gone first then it would have probably a great game since my opening hand was more than decent, but this day wasn’t my day.


Round 6 – Mewtwo/Darkrai/Terrakion – Italy

pokemon-paradijs.comI was so irritated about my 5th round loss that I don’t remember too much from this game. The most interesting part of this game was that whenever he N’d, I never drew any Supporters. This once again forced me to use Junk Arms to get Random Receivers three times. Once again I was an Eviolite or a Catcher away from the victory. Just like in the 1st game of the day.

It’s really unbelievable how much the cards I wanted to put in to the deck would’ve helped me during these games. Well, once again it all came down to 1 Prize and he was able to take the prize by using 2 Junk Arms for a Catcher and Dark Patch during his last turn.


After I lost the 6th game I felt like dropping, but in the end I flew 27 hours to Hawaii and dropping now would’ve been counter-productive. Also, in hindsight, all the games I lost were very good games and would’ve gone the other way around if I had a bit better luck or had started the games. However, I must admit that at this point of the tournament I didn’t feel as optimistic as while writing this report.

Round 7 – Mewtwo/Darkrai/Terrakion – Japan

He was a very nice guy, but wasn’t able to speak English a lot. However, he talked a lot by himself during the game (in Japanese of course). Since the game didn’t matter a lot, I wanted to do something I wasn’t able to do during the 6 matches – engage a Mewtwo EX war. Everything went just like Mewtwo wars should. Whenever we KO’d each other’s Mewtwo, we used N. It all came down to when I N’d him to 2 cards.

pokemonworldchampionships.comHe was able to get a Juniper from where he drew what he needed for the counter 1HKO (Mewtwo EX, PlusPower and DCE). He yelled “Yattaaa!” (I don’t know how to write it properly) and was obviously very happy that he won the game. I was happy that he won the game since I wouldn’t have gotten that much kicks for winning the game at that point of the day. The more deserving player won the game.


In the end, I got a negative result from Worlds. It was my second negative result in Worlds ever and first since 2006. However, I don’t feel regret. The deck worked very well and I was only one card away from winning the games multiple times in every single game. I didn’t do any misplays that I would recognize now or then, so I must be happy with my showing even though the record was bad.

This was my 7th Worlds, but as an experience it was the best. The best part was meeting everyone who recognized me and told me that they read my blog. There were even some players that went as far as saying that they wouldn’t be in the Worlds without my blog! It was really heart-warming to hear from players of all age that my blog can make a difference in one’s tournament success.

From Thursday to Sunday I was able to meet each wonderful new person as well as old Poké-friends. Worlds is an unique experience every single year since there are players gathering all over the World and even though it’s a cliché, they all are bonded with one common thing – love for the game.

The Top Cut Invitational Experience

Worlds might have been over. Vancouver was revealed as the place to be in 2013. However, the most exciting part for me personally was yet to come – The Top Cut Invitational of 2012. I was pretty sure that this was the only year I’ll be invited to the tournament, so I wanted to make the most out of it and not finish last.

It was cool to meet The Top Cut staff and chat with Jason as we never had a chance to meet each other before this tournament (I would’ve loved to play against him in 2008 Worlds). As said before, I decided to play Accelgor in the tournament.

The tournament started very late for me and I was very tired when we started the tournament, but I wanted to do well, so I tried to put my concentration back together when we draw the pairings. I chose Audino and faced in the first round who else but…

1. Round Yuta Komatsuda (Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX)

I was fortunate enough to meet Yuta in Worlds 2009 in a very tough Palkia G mirror, which I was able to win. So I was familiar with my opponent and knew that I had the needed skill to win him. I’m pretty sure The Top Cut will upload the videos and once they do, I’ll include a link of them to this report, but for now I’ll just provide you the info that lead decided the game.

My last 2 Prizes were 2 Mew Primes. If I had drawn even one of the Mews from the 4 Prizes I had drawn during the game, I would’ve won the game. But as I always say while talking about the luck in the Pokémon TCG: “A good player also has good luck.” If you have horrible luck, sometimes there is nothing you can do. I’ve experienced horrible luck in a Worlds Top 8 table and in Nationals Finals, so I know my stuff, haha.


I needed to win the next game to keep the dream alive. It was heart-breaking to lose the game against Yuta since if the odds weren’t against me, I would’ve gotten a second win from Yuta, which would have been very cool.

2. Round Jason Klaczynski (Kumis.dec/Entei-EX/Espeon DEX)

thedeckout.comJason also lost his first round against (he played against John Roberts II). Before we started he joked about how John’s Kyogre EX hit 900 to 7-of his Pokémon in the same turn. I was also playing a Plume deck, so I knew how he felt. It was finally great to be able to meet Jason since somehow I have been able to avoid him all these years.

The game was pretty fun and I don’t want to ruin the decisive moments of the game, so I encourage you to watch the game once the videos are uploaded. I’m sure it will be fun to see a game of two Vileplume decks to face each other.


3. Round John Roberts II (Klinklang)

John got pretty lucky when he got paired in the pod, where were the both Vileplume decks of the tournament. There were 5 things I want to point of the game before you are able to watch it.

  1. He started the game.
  2. He got the most perfect start I’ve ever seen Klinklang get.
  3. I had a horrible start.
  4. I used Granite Head.

If that isn’t enough to get you excited about watching the game, I don’t know what is!


Another negative record, but I wasn’t nearly as frustrated about these games as I was about Worlds games. It was pretty funny to see how the bad luck haunted me during the whole weekend in my tournament games.

This tournament also showed how bad luck can affect one’s tournament run. A best example is probably Sami who once again got in to the Top 8 of Worlds (I don’t get how he does it every year!?). He was undefeated until he reached the Top 8. However, in Top 8 he won the first game. Then he lost 2 in row.

And then with the same deck he lost two games in row in The Top Cut Invitational. So, in fact he lost 4 games in a row with a deck, which he first won 10 games in a row with. How can you rationalize that? I think you can’t.

Conclusion and the Future

All in all, the whole trip and tournaments were a blast. The records don’t really matter because I had a lot of fun, met a lot of new and familiar people, and was able to enjoy Hawaii. It was the best Poké-trip for me so far and I can’t wait to see everyone again next year in Vancouver (I’ve already looked up the flights to Vancouver!).

The upcoming season will bring a lot of changes to the format and my personal life, but I’m sure I’ll keep on writing to both – my blog and to UG – for the upcoming season as well. I hope you’ll be able to enjoy my articles this season as you enjoyed them last season! To conclude, the pros and cons of the World Championships.


+ Attending Worlds and The Top Cut Invitational
+ Both decks run very well
+ Team Finland
+ Meeting all the old friends
+ Meeting all the new people
+ Meeting all the readers and fans of my blog (especially Sydney)
+ Taking pictures with people and giving autographs
+ Finally meeting Yuki Fujimori and his teammate
+ Those cool Pikachu sleeves Yuki gave me
+ Being able to update my Facebook and Twitter from Hawaii
+ A second European Masters World Champion
+ Every age group was won by non-U.S. Player (last happened in 2004 when Japanese won every age group)
+ Hawaii is an awesome place to spend time
+ All the 900 pictures I took from Hawaii
+ All the wildlife and nature on Hawaii
+ Everyone who were rooting for me in both tournaments (I’m sorry I couldn’t meet the expectations)
+ I was able to finish the report in a timely manner
+ You for reading my report
+ Food wasn’t as expensive as people were telling me
+ Kettunen for once again loaning cards and letting us stay in their place during the first few days
+ Ironman on a lunch break
+ Rotation
+ Worlds finals wasn’t decided by coin-flip
+ I’m able to watch my games with The Top Cut commentary (can’t wait for seeing all the misplays, haha!)
+ Everyone and everything I forgot to put to pros (I’m sure there are lots of things I don’t remember at the moment – I’m still jet-lagging you know.)


– Donks
– Team Finland’s worst showing since 2005 (only one top16 placement)
– Jet-lag a lot for taking your time to read my report! I know it might have been a confusing and a hard read still I’m jet-lagging and English isn’t my native language, but I hope you coped with the language.

For now, I’ll take a 2-week break from writing about Pokémon. It’s a well-deserved break and even though I’m very excited about the upcoming format, I want to take distance from Pokémon for a moment. I’ll see you everyone in two weeks with brand new format and articles in my blog and in the UG!

Thanks for reading and as always feel free to comment on anything and ask anything. Also, since the new season is going to start, I would like to renew my blog, so if you have suggestions or ideas how I could renew and develop my blog’s content, please let me know in the comments or e-mail me to:

– Esa Juntunen


Reader Interactions

2 replies

  1. Stephen Botha

    Thanks for the article :).. sounded like you had horrible luck during all the tournaments, but that you also learnt a lot and enjoyed what you could.

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