Pokemon ParadijsI had the opportunity to play in the Regional Championship held in Fort Wayne, Indiana over the weekend and it was a really great experience. We ended up with a massive 329 players in the Masters Division, and the tournament was littered with tons of the best players in the game, so whoever was going to be able to survive the nine rounds of Swiss and then survive the Top 32 was going to be left with a very proud tournament memory.
Congratulations to Ross Cawthon for winning the tournament, and also to Henry Prior for making it so close in the finals with an amazing Darkrai build – his deck is really amazing and shows off some really strong deck building.
I traveled to the tournament and roomed with Chad Boatman and his son Dema, Edan Lewis, Tyler Riley, and John Roberts. This was a great group of people to spend the weekend with, and I think we were able to help each other a lot in figuring out the last few card choices for our decks and understanding our matchups.
The deck I decided on playing about a week before the tournament was the Darkrai EX/Sableye/Garbodor deck along with the Hammers. My understanding going into the tournament was that the main meta of the tournament would be Eelektrik variants, Darkrai/Terrakion and Hammertime decks, Hydreigon, maybe some Ho-Oh EX decks, and then anti-meta stuff with Stunfisk and Fighting Pokémon.
Garbodor is naturally strong against most of the above decks as they all rely on Abilities in some way or another, and against the Fighting variants that didn’t depend on Abilities, I could just forgo playing Garbodor and just turn my deck into a Darkrai/Sableye and Hammers deck.
My friend Colin Moll won the last Battle Roads in Missouri with this deck, so I ended up building my deck off of his list, just removing an Energy Search for another Darkness Energy, and taking out a tool for another Dark Patch to speed up the deck a little bit.
Here is the list that I played with in the event:
Pokémon – 11
3 Darkrai EX
Trainers – 38
Energy – 11
11 Darkness – Basic
I will be up front in saying that my tournament result was disappointing, so I am going to try to include more about my mentality after each round to add something a little different to this report from some of my others.
- Round 1 – Versus Zekrom/Eelektrik
- Round 2 – Versus Darkrai/Terrakion
- Round 3 – Versus Rayquaza/Eelektrik
- Round 4 – Versus Darkrai/Terrakion
- Round 5 – Versus Midnight City (Darkrai/Terrakion/Stunfisk/Mewtwo/Ho-Oh?)
- Round 6 – Versus Hydreigon/Darkrai
- Round 7 – Versus Zekrom/Eelektrik
- Round 8 – Versus Stunfisk/Terrakion/Bouffalant/Mewtwo EX
- Round 9 – Rayquaza/Eelektrik
- Revisiting My Deck Choice
Pokemon ParadijsHeading into the first round of the tournament, I am always a bit nervous as this can really make or break your day. Less so in this tournament, as only a minimal amount of 6-3 players would make cut (only two in the end), so you really had to go 7-2 to make top cut in this tournament if you wanted to have a good shot at cut.
Resistance wouldn’t mean much for determining cut in this tournament, as records for the most part decided cut, but in a lot of tournaments this will not be the case, and resistance will be a major deciding factor on bubbling and not bubbling.
I ended up going first in this game, and got a turn 2 Garbodor while she struggled to get much of a setup. Nothing really spectacular happened this game as a result. I just powered up a Darkrai EX to use Night Spear while removing any Energy from her field with my Hammers, and just Night Speared until I took six prizes.
Heading into this round, I felt good getting that first win under my belt, but starting a tournament 1-1 isn’t all that great, so I really needed to push forward and get another win to make for an especially strong start to the day.
In this game I was playing a Darkrai/Terrakion variant, which seemed to be the most played deck of the tournament as it really was a great deck. This matchup really can go either way. In order to win it, you need to lock their Abilities while simultaneously catchering their Terrakions and taking those out. If you can’t do that, you can easily be steamrolled by a single Terrakion. If you do get the lock though, you’re generally in good shape as they won’t be able to retreat Terrakion and most of these decks played no Switch.
In this game I was able to Hammer away Energy early on, as well as establish a fairly early Garbodor lock, and just worked on taking out any Terrakion threats first. From there, I moved on to knocking out the rest of his Pokémon on his Energy depleted field, winning 6-0 on prizes.
Pokemon ParadijsSo far, so good. I am now finding myself at the top tables, and once you’re up there, you don’t want to leave them at a tournament. It really is a good confidence booster being at a high table number, and then looking around and seeing a lot of other great players playing alongside you.
Once again, this game was nothing really special. I established an early Garbodor lock, I think on turn 2, which really shuts off Eelektrik decks well. From there, I move on taking out the Eelektrik first in this matchup, as a single Tool Scrapper followed by a big Dragon Burst can really put you in a crunch. Between removing Energy and locking/taking out his Eelektrik, I was able to gain complete control over the game and just used Night Spear until I won.
At this point in the tournament, I am feeling really, really good. Not only am I sitting at a 3-0 record, but my deck has just been completely dominating every match up until this point, which makes me feel really good about my deck choice. I also am really motivated to try to get onto the Top Cut’s stream, which I know is possible if I can keep on winning some more games. In this game, I believe I was playing against the player that went 9-0 in Swiss.
This game got off to a slow start, with me trapping his Terrakions in place with a Garbotoxin lock, while I slowly worked on setting up my attackers to deal with his Terrakions.
The game basically came down to me being unable to knock out his Terrakion threat. I had a powered up Darkrai EX, which I used to attack into it. On the turn I attacked into it for 70 damage, I had another Darkrai EX getting powered to go too, with two Energy on it. I whiff the Dark Patch off of an N, and am ready for this Darkrai to get knocked out, and then go ahead with my second Darkrai to take control of the game.
After he knocks out my first Darkrai EX, all I need is one more Energy to power up my second Darkrai EX to knock out the Terrakion and have board control over the game. I play a Professor Juniper and fail to hit the necessary Dark Patch or Dark Energy to power up my second Darkrai, and just have to Junk Hunt for my turn. Whiffing this Energy pretty much decided that I was going to lose this game, as he effectively Land Crushes my entire field to win the game.
Pokemon ParadijsI look up at the pairings for this round, and see that I’m playing Brit Pybas, who is the one player I didn’t want to have to play in Swiss. Brit tests a lot with Colin and writes for Colin’s great blog as well, so I knew Brit would know the ins and outs of my deck list (we even discussed the changes I had made to Colin’s list before the game, haha), but more importantly he would have a thorough understanding of how to approach the matchup. In the end, it’s okay playing against someone who pretty much knows your deck list. Yeah, it’s great knowledge to have, but knowing someone’s deck list isn’t going to just allow you to automatically win the game or anything like that.
It sucked having to play a friend in Swiss, especially in a match that would make one of the two of ours paths towards top cut a lot more difficult, but it was still a pleasure to play against Brit and have a game with a more casual vibe to it that any of my previous games.
I am not sure exactly all of what was in Brit’s deck, I know Darkrai/Terrakion/Stunfisk were all in there for sure. The Mewtwo EX and Ho-Oh EX never made an apperance, but I’m pretty sure he was playing the same deck that Henry Prior got second with.
The game started off with me attempting to Garbotoxin lock him in the game and deny him Energy with Crushing Hammers. He was able to setup knock outs on all of my Garbodor lines, so I decided it wasn’t worth it to waste resources pursuing that strategy any longer, and decided to head forward without Garbodor in this game.
Pokemon ParadijsNaturally, taking out the Terrakion was still priority number one, and I was able to effectively do this with my first Darkrai EX, which I felt would put me in a good position as his field was pretty devoid of Energy at the point when I knocked out his second Terrakion, with only one Energy on a Sableye if my memory serves correct. I was also to force the game state into an odd prize exchange for him as well, which could have worked to my advantage.
My only problem? I couldn’t hit into a second Darkrai EX or an Ultra Ball to grab one. I would have strongly preferred to N him down to a four card hand, but all I had in hand was Professor Juniper, so I had to go with that. I drew a Darkrai EX off my prizes and felt good about my chances of winning this game, as I had the double Dark Patch and Energy in hand to setup a second Darkrai EX right away to end the game with.
Unfortunately, he also has the double Dark Patch in hand, as well as the Energy for attachment for turn to setup a Darkrai EX out of nowhere, and uses the Tool Scrapper that he smartly Junk Hunted for the turn before to take scrap the Eviolite on my Darkrai EX to take the double knockout on my Darkrai EX and Sableye to bench me to win the game.
I could have played a Sableye on my bench before playing my Professor Juniper, but I think it was the right decision not to. The probability of me not hitting another Ultra Ball or Darkrai off the Juniper was pretty low, and if I did play down the Sableye, he would have been able to just use a Pokémon Catcher to win the game.
Pokemon ParadijsThis game again wasn’t anything spectacular. I noticed my opponent didn’t play a Supporter on turn one, so I avoided using any of my Ns while getting a slow and deliberate setup. I establish the Garbotoxin lock, remove his Energies with Hammers, and get a Darkrai EX setup and Night Spear through his field for six easy prizes while not absorbing any damage on any of my Pokémon.
For the most part, I was able to lock him for most of the game, but he made good use of Mewtwo EX in knocking out Garbodor pieces and Sableye to pick up easy prizes. He smartly got a Bouffalant DRX setup to end the game with, as this card is pretty solid against Darkrai in general.
The game comes down to a critical juncture in which I setup the game for either me to win the next turn or my opponent to win on his turn. I N him to 2 cards, and feel I should have a good shot at winning the game, as he will need to hit into both an Energy and Pokémon Catcher to win the game.
He gets a Random Receiver in his hand, which nets him a Professor Juniper, and he is able to get everything he needs to catcher up my Darkrai EX with 80 damage and an Eviolite attached to Gold Breaker to win the game.
At this point in the day, I know that I pretty much won’t be making top cut, even though my resistance will end up quite good as everyone I played against was doing somewhat well. When you travel this far for a tournament I don’t see any point in dropping and would rather play it out. If I win my last two matches I could land into some kicker points, but I’m not too worried about those as I would hope to replace the relatively low 10 points with a better result from a future Regional or State Championship.
In this game, I played against Kidd Starck. The name sounded familiar, and that’s because I have watched some of his Battle Roads games on the Top Cut stream. Kidd Starck helps run the Pkmncast podcast. Everyone should check out their website and podcast. In the store on their site, they have some really cool Vanilluxe playmats and Poliwhirl shirts for sale too!
This is actually a very interesting matchup, as his Pokémon can hit mine for weakness very hard, while his deck doesn’t run Energy Acceleration, so I can equally counter his deck with Crushing and Enhanced Hammers. Stunfisk of course throws a little wrench into this strategy as it is a one Energy attacker, but Eviolite can help make Muddy Water a very ineffective attack, and Crushing Hammer can help prevent the dreaded Rumble from ever occuring, and even then it only hits your Darkrai for 60 damage if you have Eviolite attached.
This was probably a very dull game for the most part. It basically came down to me using Junk Hunt and Crushing/Enhanced Hammers for most of the game, while finding points in the game that I could attack into him with little risk, while he used smaller attacks like X Ball or Muddy Water/Rumble when he had the cards in hand.
In this matchup, I worked on dealing with the Terrakions first, while sniping 30 damage onto the Stunfisk to put them into OHKO range.
Pokemon ParadijsAs this is a slow strategy, the game naturally went to time, but the legitimate game was able to play out fully within the turns of time.
He has a Bouffalant that I work on Hammering to prevent it from getting the necessary Energy to attack, and hit it for 70 damage, and I N him before doing this. He has a Professor Juniper in hand though, and needs to hit one Energy out of his ten card deck to win the game with Gold Breaker.
As the game would end either way on the next turn, he was a good sport and gave us a dramatic reveal of each card drawn off of the Juniper. This almost feels like that horrible moment at my first Battle Roads of the season in which I had to Celestial Roar out of my four card deck, while avoiding the Pokémon Catcher (which of course didn’t go my way, as the Catcher was the third card on the Celestial Roar).
One card, good, two cards, good, three cards, good, four cards….good, five cards? Still good. Six cards…still no Energy. Wow, this might actually happen…and the seventh card….Bianca. The next two cards were a DCE and Fighting. I got a little lucky to win this game to say the least.
This was my least fun game of the entire first stretch of the season to say the least. I play a Professor Juniper to start the game and draw into a bunch of junk and just have to sit there for five minutes as my opponent benches me using a combination of Thundurus and Rayquaza EX.
Pokemon ParadijsOverall, I think I definitely made the correct deck choice for this tournament. In eight of my nine games I played Ability based decks, and I was able to get past the one non-Ability deck that I had to play.
This deck did not come without problems of course. The main issue with this deck being consistency issues, as you have to jam so much stuff into the deck to make the concept work. I felt that Trubbish’s Recycle Attack and Sableye’s Junk Hunt would help to alleviate some of these consistency issues and I took a calculated risk that sacrificing something in terms of consistency was well worth it to play a deck that was a strong counter to the meta game.
I also felt the deck didn’t have bad matchups. There is not a deck that I played in the tournament that I felt would be a matchup that I couldn’t have won. There weren’t any decks that were in top cut that have anything more than a 50/50 matchup against my deck, although I would have been a bit scared to go against the Empoleon deck in cut.
In the end though, this is a disappointing tournament for me. I expected to do a lot better and was aiming to go deep into cut, which I obviously did not do.
I could just say I had bad luck in whiffing important stuff at important times, but I don’t think that was the case. I lose my round 4 match because my deck was inconsistent playing only 11 Energy. If I played 13 or 14 Energy, I probably don’t whiff the Energy to get off the second Darkrai. I lost my Round 5 matchup because my deck only plays three Darkrai EX and only four search cards, some of which have to be used to search out pieces for the Garbodor line. When you play so few Pokémon search cards, you are going to whiff that Pokémon from time to time.
Moving forward with deck building and choosing a deck for a tournament like this, I am going to examine more closely whether small inconsistencies like playing a lower Energy count or playing a low search count is worth it.
The one tech card that I really wish I could have found room for in this deck was Tool Scrapper. There were various moments throughout the tournament in which I would have had a Tool Scrapper in hand to keep my opponent’s EXs at 2HKOs instead of 3HKOs due to their Eviolite, and against the Stunfisk deck, for example, it would have helped immensely to be able to Tool Scrap the Exp. Shares off of his Terrakion’s, it definitely would have made that matchup easier to navigate.
Players in my area have really moved away from playing very many Tools, so I think this impacted my decision not to play Tool Scrapper in the deck, even though the card would have been amazing.
Pokemon ParadijsThis was simply a great weekend of playing Pokémon. I had a lot of fun with the group of St. Louis players that I traveled to the tournament with and it was a really great group of people to go to the tournament with.
Our room as a whole actually had a great deal of success in the tournament. John made it into the Top 8 in the Masters Division and Dema got into the Top 4 in Seniors, both very good results.
I also got to put some faces to online usernames. It was nice getting to meet Jacob Willinger, JW Kriewall, Mike Newman, Kevin Baxter, and some others, all were great people.
I want to give a shoutout to JW for going 8-1 with his Empoleon deck. Having seen the list for the deck and hearing him come up with the idea for the deck from the start during Battle Roads, all I can say is that his deck was very special. He was one of the few players that believed in the power of Recycle and it really paid off big for him with multiple Battle Roads wins and a Top 32 finish at Regionals. If there was one player I wouldn’t have wanted to face off against in this tournament, it would be him, his deck was very strong.
Unfortunately he hit some bad luck in top cut, getting the bad Terrakion start in all three games. Given his Basic counts in his list, he had a 9.95% chance of starting Terrakion in any given game, and a 0.09% chance of having it happen in all three games, so that is some definite bad luck.
Moving forward to the next stretch of the season, I’ve decided to make some work changes that will free up my weekends again. I plan on playing in two City Championships every weekend of the tournament series and of course will be attending St. Louis Regionals in January. Fort Wayne seemed like the place to be for Fall Regionals, so let’s bring in a bunch of great players again to make St. Louis Regoinals just as good.
I’ve also begun testing the new format some, and I have to say that I really like what some of the new cards will bring to the format. Cards like Ether and Skyla will definitely give a lot more versatility into what type of decks can be viable and I think the format will be a very fun one.