Greetings, SixPrizes. A little introduction about myself: my name is Aaron Minjoot, I am from Malaysia, currently in my second competitive season, and this would be my first ever article submission for any Pokémon TCG site.
I should say I did intend on writing an article for 6P way back in July last year after Nationals, but due to time constraints I was unable to finish the piece let alone try for a submission. That particular article was based on the one full year or season that I was involved in the game. In time I might come to conclude it, but in the mean time I will concentrate on newer events.
This year, I have made it a point to try my best in writing some informative content on the Pokémon TCG scene here, or just generally some form of subject matter.
Last year’s Worlds brought some limelight to other parts of the globe, with the winner Igor Costa hailing from Portugal as well as having two Singaporeans, Xavier Chua and Clifton Goh, in the Top 16 of the Masters division.
A little geography background for those who aren’t so familiar with it: Malaysia lies just north of Singapore. While there has been much attention on our southern neighbour due to the accomplishments of the two I mentioned as well as a star-studded squad of players that made it to Worlds ’12 and prior, over here in Malaysia the scene is not as vibrant nor filled with world-renowned accomplishments, at least not in recent years.
We do have some very strong players that definitely deserve more recognition than we currently have. The recently concluded South East Asia Regionals was the first event on an international scale that I actually partook in, but that journey did not end well at all for me, results-wise.
While saying that, four Malaysians did make it to the Top 16 of that tournament, and to me that was quite an achievement considering there were just about twenty of us in total in a field of around 100 Masters. Fast forward a few months on, and we come to the Malaysian City Championship, which was held just last Saturday.
Like all Premier Events we have here, representatives from Singapore and occasionally other surrounding countries will make the trip down to take part in the tournament. The organizers themselves come from Singapore, as there haven’t been TOs here for quite some time as far as I know. In this article I will take you on a journey the beginning of my Pokémon TCG timeline for 2013.
The New Year
The format for 2013 is as what it was for the final months of 2012: BLW to BCR. The last tournament I attended last year was the SEA Regionals, at which I went 2-5 with Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus/techs. My list was too techy, and I had too many last minute additions that clearly hurt my chances of making a good splash.
I was definitely gutted going down to Singapore only to come out of it with such a record, but defiantly I planned to do better come the next event: the Malaysian City Championship, on the 12th of January.
It is during the first few days of January that I truly started testing again. I considered a few deck options, namely Rayquaza/Eels, Darkrai/Hydreigon, Mewtwo/Eels, Ho-Oh, and a few others. I tested quite religiously for once, and primarily my testing was done with Team Hunters, a group of outstanding players I was invited to join just a few months ago.
Three members of the team made cut at Singapore, thus I knew the quality of the testing was beyond the average level I had come to be accustomed to at league.
In the end, I decided to play the deck I had been slowly gathering experience with for the entire month of December: Ho-Oh. As many of us do, I had been closely monitoring Pooka’s success with the deck over in the US, as well as watching as many of the recorded games as possible to understand the deck.
There was, however, one stumbling block in my choice: most of the Singaporean players, as well as some locally, were definitely playing Blastoise, the deck which I initially perceived to be the BDIF, have a huge advantage over Ho-Oh, and would be the most common play for the tournament.
Using Rebirth would be suicidal against Blastoise unless it is done for the final prizes, but if I could avoid most of the Water decks (I say Water, not Blastoise, because I knew someone would be playing Empoleon, and that was another scary prospect), I felt I had a good chance to make my first top cut since Nationals 2012.
Usually, I would refrain from sharing lists online; not because I am against those who netdeck: I actually feel newer players require lists to get a starting point for a deck he or she is not accustomed to. I am not ashamed to admit that during my first competitive year, I built most of my decks based on those found in 6P articles, because I would not have known how to build anything without some initial assistance.
While saying that, I feel that players have to take the initiative in order to make a deck ‘theirs.’ I will share this list because I feel like it mirrors many other Ho-Oh lists, but at the same time can be seen as odd by others.
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 37
Energy – 13
The list retained the main backbone of most Ho-Oh decks, as well as the heavy emphasis on Mewtwo EX and Fighting types, instead of the Tornadus EX/Bouffalant/Aspertia route whicih I had considered initially.
We had roughly 60 Masters, a small group of Seniors, and only one Junior. For Masters there was going to be six rounds of Swiss and a Top 8 cut, the standard I presume.
Round 1: Wilson w/ Blastoise/Keldeo
I start with a horrible hand and a Landorus as an opener, but after he sets up partially I topdeck a Juniper and slowly clears his field. He was drawing dead for much of the game, so I escaped a possibly brutal game there.
Round 2: Rinaldo w/ Garchomp/Altaria
He had beaten another Ho-Oh deck Round 1, and I frankly had never thought I’d needed to test for this matchup. As lady luck would have shined upon me, I start Mewtwo EX to his Swablu, go first and DCE for donk.
Not the best way to have a win, but he was a great sport and we played the game out as if he went first instead, and he beat me soundly.
Side note: Garchomp is still one fierce attacker. With so many decks relying on Special Energy, just a few turns of Mach Cut can really be game breaking. I guess Blastoise decks can easily bypass this, though, and therefore limit this dragon’s success.
We had a lunch break after two rounds, with our team getting some McDonald’s. Funny to note that during this month, the Happy Meal which comes with a toy is Pokémon-themed. Some players got their Pikachu toy and kept it with them through the day. Cool coincidence.
Round 3: Isaac w/ Landorus/Mewtwo/Tech
My deck just did not work this game. I might have misplayed in the early stages, but the main problem was because of his Bouffalant, which had an Eviolite on it and made it difficult to use my EX attackers efficiently.
This is the game where I really rued the lack of Tool Scrapper in my deck. My Terrakion was prized if I recall correctly, so I had no easy way to deal with it.
Almost to the end of the game I N’d him to a small hand but he Juniper-ed and played some PlusPower and other Items shenanigans for the win. However, only after did I scoop my cards up did I realize (with the help of a friend who was overlooking the game) that he had 10 damage short of the KO.
I confronted him right after but he said he had the extra Energy Switch to seal the win anyway. We are friends so it did not bother me as much. Still, it is worth noting that I myself miscalculated when I should not have.
Round 4: Jit How w/ Hammertime
This game was littered with misplays by yours truly. At one point I used Computer Search when I didn’t need to for a PlusPower, only to shuffle it back in with N. Next mistake was when I should have Skyla’d for the Max Potion to heal a Mewtwo which could have turned the game back to me.
My Terrakion was prized again so it was horrible trying to get anything going on the field. To make things worse, I started Shaymin EX. Well, at least I used Synthesis on T1, eh?
At 2-2 I knew my chances for cut were all but gone, although a couple of 4-2s will make cut. Nevertheless, I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
A little superstition on my part, but I have the urge to blame the lunch break for my horrible playing the last couple of games. Maybe food isn’t such a positive catalyst for me.
Round 5: Dominic w/ Landorus/Mewtwo/Garbodor
Dom is also from Team Hunters and made Top 4 at the SEA Regionals with the same deck. I lost to him in Round 1-of that tournament, so it was really just our luck that we got paired once again.
It was an even match up until the midgame when I realized he had run out of Ns. I build large hands with Juniper and Cheren, while making sure I made Energy drops each turn. It went all the way to the final prizes and I had the Catcher for game. A close match that I was lucky to pull through.
Round 6: Josiah w/ Blastoise/Keldeo
pokemon-paradijs.comBoth my first and last rounds were against Singaporeans with the same deck. I guess my prediction for the meta was spot on. This game I pulled ahead by a huge margin has he had trouble getting set up. I KO’d two Mewtwos and a non-EX to put me at the dreaded 1-Prize, which he gladly responded with N.
He slowly mounted a comeback and all I had was a Mewtwo and a Sigilyph. Thankfully I could use Tropical Beach and refill my hand back up, and at one point when he could not N me down, I had a hand of Shaymin EX, Energy Switch, Energy Switch. All I needed was a heads on the Rebirth of the one Ho-Oh I had in the discard to win the game.
I flipped tails three turns in a row. I was gobsmacked. Right after that, he got the N he needed (bye bye Shaymin EX) and was one turn away from the last KO he needed. At the fourth Rebirth, I finally got my heads and the final KO.
He revealed he misplayed at his last turn, where if he Deluged the energies onto the wrong Keldeo, otherwise he had the 170 damage he needed for the Mewtwo KO. I caught a lucky break there, but granted I just needed one heads out of three to seal the game, yet I whiffed.
I ended 4-2, whiffing cut by resistance for a 10th place finish. Two of my teammates made cut, Richard reaching Top 4 with Hammertime and Shane finishing second with Rayquaza/Eels in a tensed finale which Isaac won with Landorus/Mewtwo.
Notes on My Decklist Post-Tournament
This was my answer to Keldeo-EX. I felt that after they went down to 4 Prizes, I could get a Shaymin out with an easy kill or either as a sweeper for the final 2 Prizes.
Looking back, I now feel the space could have gone elsewhere, as Shaymin proved to be too situational. I only used Shaymin when I was forced to start with it at Round 4, which ultimately cost me the game and possibly my chance of making cut.
The second one took the spot of my second Terrakion. As I prized my Terrakion in two games, I might sound a little bias in saying I should have switched the card counts, but Landorus did prove to be useful for the early pressure, maybe at the cost of a better ‘response’ attacker like Terrakion.
Quite frankly Terrakion would have come more useful in both my losses while Landorus would not have been useful for both Blastoise matches.
These three usually go hand in hand. The reason I decided not to go with the Aspertia version of the deck was because it just didn’t have as many options as I would like, as a little too much space was spent trying to give Colorless attackers the tankiness.
A single Tornadus EX would have been somewhat beneficial, but the only time I would have needed it was against Landorus, and I handled it quite easily with Mewtwo and Sigilyph.
Bouffalant was a dark horse for the deck. Apart from being the bane of my existence in Round 3, I really think this card should have gotten the nod ahead of Shaymin EX. I admit I completely overlooked it, and somewhat regretted not ranking it higher in my list of attackers.
Other Grass Alternatives
After the tournament I played a few matches with Jit Min and Clifton, against Jit Min’s Ho-Oh deck which quite frankly mirrored mine in more ways than not. His Grass tech was Virizion EPO, and I have heard of some using the NVI version as well.
While these cards are also useful in some instances, I personally feel the deck does not need the Grass tech to deal with the Blastoise matchup. Heavy Mewtwo and Sigilyph really makes the difference here, and as shown in most of Pooka’s games on The Top Cut’s channel, is adequate in handling the matchup if played right.
BulbapediaCheren would look odd in here, but my fellow teammate, Navin Raj, suggested it a few days prior and it worked remarkably well. Ho-Oh is all about options, and those extra three cards really gives you more than you could ask for at times.
I am currently testing a version without Skyla, and it has a little more midgame and late game presence while giving up the possible early pressure. It is up to preference, really. At times while playing Ho-Oh, you’ll want a card to complete a three- or four-card combo, but at times you rather just have more cards to work with to decide on your options.
As such I feel there is a grey area in which Supporter is best suited for Ho-Oh, but after my testing I found my line up to work well enough.
The tri-color Energy line was just my method of increasing the consistency for attachments rather than ensuring a three-Energy Rebirth. It worked, but with the dropping of Shaymin from my list, I could possibly go back to a multi-color line up.
All in all, the deck was fun to build and definitely fun to play. While the format is about to change with the release of Plasma Storm, I just felt a short analysis like this would let players understand a little bit more about Ho-Oh.
It truly is the mystery deck of the era at the moment, and will continue to be as long as the cards which gives it the tricks it wants to pull off remain in the card pool.
Speaking about Plasma Storm, I frankly believe Ho-Oh’s prospects to be quite undefined come the new format. The reasoning for this is due to the deck being one that is designed to counter the meta, and to give itself options to do so. Thus I believe the build of a Ho-Oh deck to be variable and can be easily teched for the format it exists in, if there is a sufficient enough option for Ho-Oh to utilize.
With that, I just want to say a big thank you for those of you who stuck with me through the columns of words of my very first article. I would really much like to continue writing for SixPrizes, as well as any Pokémon TCG related site if I am fortunate to be bestowed that honour.
I do appreciate all feedback, criticism, and suggestions from everyone, so do leave them in the comments section below. Until then, farewell.