WikipediaHi SixPrizes, my name is Stephen Botha and I am a 21 year old player from Pretoria, South Africa. I have been playing competitively for just over a year now since Noble Victories was released in SA. My best results include some fifth and fourth place finishes at Pre-Releases and League tournaments, a 16th at Spring Battle Roads last year and 11th with a 3-2 drop at Pretoria Cities with Ho-Oh in January.
I love re-telling and sharing exciting turns or matches with my friends and other players, so please bear with me while I give an overview of my deck choice and then move onto my tournament run.
I had wanted to play Darkrai/Hammers for quite a while, but did not have the cards (mainly Darkrai) to do so, plus Ho-Oh had a lot going for it at the time, hence my choice for Cities. In the weeks leading up to Regionals, I was able to acquire Lasers, Virbanks and Darkrai, and began my testing. I was even able to get my hands on a Keldeo, so I would not have to rely solely on Switch and Escape Rope to get out of Status Conditions.
Here is the list I settled on and dubbed ‘Darkrai + Toys’:
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 42
Energy – 10
Pokemon ParadijsI look back at the list and I wonder a bit what was going on when I put it all together, but I really enjoyed the flexibility of the list, so I went with my gut feeling. I felt I had enough outs against Garbodor and Hypnotoxic Laser tails as well as a range of cards to deal with whatever came my way.
I specifically chose 4 Dark Patch over 4 Lasers because I believed the Energy acceleration to be one of Darkrai’s strongest points and not necessarily the Lasering, which everyone was either prepared for or using themselves.
I also had to split the Lasers we had with my bro so that we had 3 each. (He played Garbodor/Landorus/Mewtwo with Lasers.) I stuck with Hammers in the deck because getting rid of Energy is always good and against decks that have no Energy acceleration or rely on Special Energies it is just so clutch.
Side note, I vaguely considered playing Durant/Klinklang the day before Regionals, when I saw a truck on the highway with ‘Rogue Steel’ on the back. How about no? We threw the deck together and let my friend play it. He normally just comes along for the fun of it, and he ended the day 3-3.
Enough about my card choices and deck ideas though and onto the tournament! Our usual play area was taken over by a charity fund, so we had to settle for a small, but adequate stage overlooking a pristine lawn. Has anyone gone to a nerdy card game tournament and gone home with a sunburn? There’s a first time for everything!
We had 43 Masters so six rounds of Swiss and a top cut of eight. The tournament also had 15 Seniors and seven Juniors making it one of the biggest competitive events in South Africa so far, even though it seems tiny compared to some of the stuff hosted in the United States.
Great, my first game is against my buddy who I’ve been testing and playing against for the last two weeks. He is not too serious about the game, but we both know that whoever sets up first wins, because ‘Magic Room’ is just so good against Darkrai’s Lasers and Dark Patch or any other Items in fact.
I go first with Sableye against his Kirlia. I have Virbank and Laser in hand along with Juniper. I play my hand down and Juniper hoping for Dark Claw, but draw my single Eviolite instead. I do get enough Energy into play to threaten a T2 Night Spear while on his turn he gets nearly nothing. I Hammer any Energy he attaches to Sigilyph and take all my Prizes quickly even though he does get one Gothitelle online.
I had never won my first game in a tournament so I was quite pleased with overcoming that small personal hurdle.
Round 2 vs. Dean Perdigao w/ Plasmaklang
I start Sableye to his Cobalion NVI and I know I have to get rid of his Klinks ASAP. I unfortunately whiff the Catcher and he promptly gets Plasmaklang in play, but is left with zero cards in hand. I Catcher Klinklang and Laser + Dark Clawed Confuse Ray to start getting damage on it. He just draw passes until there is 120 on the active Klinklang before using a Max Potion.
I go through the motions again while he draw passes until the Klinklang is finally KO’d and my Darkrai can come into play.
I am able to spread enough damage around to KO a Cobalion EX and Cobalion NVI in one turn leaving him with only a Cobalion NVI. He uses Energy Press for 80. I Night Spear. He then uses Iron Breaker, but I just retreat and take the game with another Darkrai. Whew. That could have been ugly.
Round 3 vs. Frenette van der Walt w/ Garbodor/Terrakion EX/Landorus/Mewtwo/Terrakion NVI
I knew she was playing some sort of Big Basics, but when she mulliganed I got to see Garbodor and Tools so I knew what I was in for. Unfortunately after she played a N and I used three of my own N, I was stuck with a Sableye active, a clean Darkrai on the bench and a hand consisting of two Catchers, two Lasers, a Tool Scrapper and a Dark Patch.
I did manage to poison her active Mewtwo up to 140 damage before she used Gold Potion and a Switch to promote a Landorus. I Catchered and poisoned her Terrakion EX, Tool Scrapped her Garbodor and Junk Hunted.
I just repeated Tool Scrapper and Junk Hunt while draw passing until her Terrakion EX was KO’d by poison and she had to promote Landorus going into my turn. I poisoned Landorus and flipped heads for sleep, so decided I might as well go for it.
I got another Energy onto Darkrai, retreated Sableye and energy switched to Darkrai and Night Speared with 30 onto Mewtwo. She flipped tails for Landorus to wake up and I KO’d it and brought the Mewtwo up to 90 damage.
By this time she had two DCE’s and a Fighting Energy on Mewtwo, so she only needed one more energy to get rid of my Darkrai and clear my board of energy, but attached to her benched Terrakion EX instead. When I pointed out that it was not a KO, she cancelled her attack and switched out to a normal Terrakion to stall, but I had the Catcher in hand to KO the Mewtwo in my turn anyway.
I was 3-0 at the lunch break and stoked at how the day was going. I was sure it would get harder the higher one got up the tables, but how much harder I would have to see. After some good ol’ Wimpy burgers we joked and chatted until the next round was put up.
Pokemon ParadijsAt Cities he played Garbodor/Durant and I had earlier heard him explain to someone what “Victory Piece” did, so as we shuffled up I expected some sort of crazy, rogue to come bursting out. And it almost did. I started Darkrai to his Vulpix and had a hand of absolutely nothing, but he played a N, which he later regretted, and I was able to get going.
I got Sableye and energy onto a Darkrai as well as poisoning his Vulpix and putting a Virbank out. He allowed his Vulpix to be KO’d by poison going into my next turn after using Singe on my Sableye. I then KO’d his Victini EX in one go with Laser and Night Spear and just took prizes uninterrupted from there on out.
It was unfortunate that the game ended quite quickly, but I was glad he never got too many status condition shenanigans going.
Round 5 vs. Clinton Matos: Big Basics – Landorus EX/Mewtwo EX/Reshiram EX
Clinton is a friend from Johannesburg and quite a smart player, so I knew his Big Basics deck could hit hard and was built around consistency. He starts Mewtwo to my Sableye, plays Computer Search for a DCE and then proceeds to play down a Laser and a Juniper. Snap, here comes the donk.
He missed the Stadium though and I top-deck a Juniper. Salvation? I use it and draw no other Pokémon, Computer Search or Ultra Balls and the game ends there. Lame. He feels bad about how the game turned out, but I didn’t blame him. You don’t play a card game with so much luck required and not lose out sometimes.
Nothing like being benched T2 to bring you back to earth as well.
Round 6 vs. Brian Murdoch w/ Big Basics – Landorus EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX/Lugia EX/Terrakion NVI
As we get ready for our matches my mate, Gavin Jones, who was also playing Darkrai/Lasers, ends up sitting next to me and my opponent says, “I wish I could have played against Gavin. It would have be an auto-win for me.” At that moment I got a bit scared and knew this was going to be a bumpy ride.
Not sure who started, but I get out a Sableye and Darkrai with nothing else happening. Seeing that I had a bad hand, he opted to Juniper away three DCE and one Plasma Energy and I knew Lugia was going to struggle to make an appearance. It took him a whole bunch of turns to actually get Energy on the field and eventually he used a Tornadus with a DCE and Plasma Energy to put 100 on my Darkrai.
His Tornadus got KO’d by poison going into my turn which allowed me to OHKO the Terrakion he promoted. He gets a revenge KO I believe and I’m up 3 prizes to his 4.
I misplay by attaching and double Energy Switching to my damaged Darkrai instead of to a clean one, and my Darkrai just got KO’d in his next turn. I Junk Hunt somewhere midgame to get some resources back, but I do force him to have to take the seventh prize by doing so. I manage to get 110 on a Terrakion when I thought I had the game sealed with a Dark Claw attached, and then he uses Escape Rope to promote a clean Landorus to wall while I have a clean Sableye stuck out active.
I Catcher up the Terrakion and all I need is an Energy, Switch, Escape Rope or a Hyponotoxic Laser for the KO, so I play Skyla just to see I’ve used all of them, except for one last Energy. I hadn’t used my Computer Search though, so I grab it and get the Energy to retreat to Darkrai for the game.
Side note, just after the match, I mentioned that I was actually really lucky and that I thought I would have to resort to Hammer spam just to pull through. My opponent then said matter-of-factly, “That wouldn’t have worked.” Oh okay.
I was so stoked and so amazed about pulling off that last win and that I had made top cut, but I was a bit bummed to hear that my bro and my friends, Stephan and Gavin, all dropped at 4-2.
The last eight decks that made cut consisted of: two Garbodor decks (one with Laserbank), 3 Big Basics, one Plasmaklang, one Darkrai/Lasers + Hammers and one Terrakion/Sigilpyh + other stuff.
Pokemon ParadijsI struggled to get anything going and by the time she had two fully loaded Terrakion EX it didn’t even matter, so the first game was hers.
I started a bit slow again, but when she got three energy onto Landorus she catchered my Darkrai and went for Land’s Judgment with the discard. That was a bad play in my opinion and gave me ample opportunity to Laser and Hammer any energy she did get out until I had Darkrai powered up to sweep.
This game is a bit fuzzy, but I do remember her struggling to get energy out due to EX’s getting KO’d and in two turns I got rid of all her energy with an Enhanced Hammer and double Crushing Hammer heads, so had Darkrai Night Spear unhindered for the game.
Man, that was close and even though I was a bit tired I was even more excited to make into the top four! The top four consisted of: Darkrai + Toys (me), Big Basics (Clinton Matos), Big Basics (Brian Murdoch) and Garbodor/Mewtwo/Landorus/LaserBank (Jason Williams) and they all wanted to be paired up against me! Talk about hostility!
Top 4 vs. Brian Murdoch Brian Murdoch w/ Big Basics – Landorus EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX/Lugia EX/Terrakion NVI
He started Mewtwo to my two Sableye and proceeded to poison (no stadium) and hit Sableye for 40 with X-Ball. I Skyla for an Enhanced Hammer to try and slow him down, but I don’t get enough of a response in my following turns. He takes out all three my Sableye and goes down to 2 prizes because he even got to use Lugia’s Plasma Gale.
I was nearly able to mount a bit of a comeback, but my Max Potion was prized so I couldn’t get the 140 off my Eviolited Darkrai before Hammerhead and Catcher came knocking.
Pokemon ParadijsThis time I was able to go really, really agro with my Hammers to eventually leave him with a Lugia active with a Fighting Energy and a Mewtwo, Tornadus, Landorus and Terrakion on the bench with no energy. Hammertime – too legit to quit.
After spreading damage around he prepares for me KO’ing his Tornadus by attaching to his Terrakion which I quickly Catcher and OHKO thanks to Dark Claw + Poison and put the 30 on his other Terrakion. I made this choice because I knew he didn’t play any healing cards and the Terrakion was the biggest threat at that point.
My next turn I KO his Tornadus and accept the Retaliate from his second Terrakion, but I have an extremely strong hand and another Darkrai ready to come out swinging which I use to KO the Terrakion and then his damaged Mewtwo for the game.
Game 3 – Sudden Death
As we are shuffling up time is called and we are going down to sudden death. Even though I judge rather regularly and am familiar with all the rules, I was really not ready for this kind of pressure and excitement. He starts Terrakion to my Darkrai and poisons my active. I play two Junipers in two turns, getting myself a Keldeo active to break out of his constant poison attempts along with two energy on my Darkrai and 60 on his Terrakion thanks to my own Lasers.
We come to the point where he Scramble Switches a Landorus active with a Fighting and a Plasma Energy attached threatening a Land’s Judgment next turn. He then Catchers my Darkrai, plays a Hypnotoxic Laser to poison and put it to sleep and uses Hammerhead to bring it up to 120 damage. As I flip for sleep I can actually hear Pooka commentating in my head, “Here’s a big flip and oh no, he flips tails!”
I had two energy on my Darkrai, another energy in my hand and a Catcher to bring up his damaged Terrakion again, but I have nothing on my Keldeo and I need my Darkrai awake. I draw… Energy Switch!
I Rush In with Keldeo, attach, retreat and energy switch to Darkrai and Catcher Terrakion for game. That was one of the most insane Pokémon matches I’ve ever had!
Finals vs. Clinton Matos w/ Big Basics – Mewtwo EX/Landorus EX
My memory is a bit fuzzy as what happened specifically as everything blurred together, but I remember not getting donked, having a good set up and even attacking with Keldeo to put quite a lot of pressure on him. I do recall that at one time he played a Skyla, looked through his deck and apologized that he might take a while, so I just closed my eyes for a few seconds. I had expected to go play some TCG and be home by four o’ clock, not to still be playing around eight!
Like I said it was a bit blurry, but I was able to take the first game and the second started very much the same. I had Keldeo to get out of poison and sleep and even to attack, hammers to get rid of his energy and a solid energy acceleration of my own.
Pokemon ParadijsSomewhere along the line I Ultra Ball away a Skyla and a N to get a Darkrai so that I can Juniper for a fresh hand. I didn’t call my play very clearly and he thought I actually used the N and proceeded to shuffle his hand into his deck!
The judges discussed the situation and ruled that I would be awarded a multi-prize penalty for his misplay while he gets a single prize penalty for me not announcing my play accordingly. I chose to take two prizes while he took his one. We both felt bad, but we were all tired and glad that we could still continue instead of just ending the game there.
Towards the end of Game 2 he benched a Keldeo to Rush In and break the poison-sleep cycles which I did not entirely understand as a Big Basics deck would rather just make use of Escape Rope and Switch. I then targeted the Keldeo for my last two prizes as it had the magical 170 HP and he had used his Max Potions on his Landorus. Eventually it was just Catcher, Hypnotoxic Laser and Night Spear for the win.
I had won the Johannesburg Regionals! Darkrai FTW! I drew what I needed, flipped heads for Crushing Hammer more times than seems fair, and even if I fell behind the power of Dark Patch and Night Spear was more than enough to pull me through. In the end I forgot to make any of the planned jokes or puns, but I was blown away and humbled by the whole experience and enjoyed it thoroughly.
I’d just like to encourage every player, whether you are blessed with great results or constantly just dropping short of cut, play the deck you want and enjoy those small moments of madness and laughter that come up in the game at tournaments, leagues, or testing. Thanks for reading!
Peace out and be blessed,