Hey SixPrizes! Last weekend the Switzerland National Championship was held, the first in the whole world this season!
I am a Masters player and have been active since the 2007-2008 season. This was my 5th attempt at becoming the Swiss Champion. Here is how I fared in previous years:
2007-2008 – Dropped after Round 3.
pokemon-paradijs.comAfter playing Gallade/Gardevoir all the season with some success (two top 4s and one top 8 at SPTs), I played the same deck at Nationals, which turned to be a bad choice as in 3 rounds I lost 3 mirrors matchs. This changed the way I now prepare for the National Championship, and have tried since that day to avoid mirrors as much as possible.
2008-2009 – 2nd
For my second season I had decent results all the year, but I decided to play a secret deck for the National Championship. I played Porygon-Z/Palkia LV.X/Claydol GE which was an unknown deck, but pretty strong. Basically Palkia was a Pokémon Catcher in combination with Switch and Porygon-Z was able to 1-shot anything in your path.
I finished 2nd after losing a very close match to the previous year’s finalist Luca Clavadetscher.
2009-2010 – 5th
This season I was determined to keep up with the good results and tried to finish in the European top 50 by playing in foreign countries (France, Belgium, Netherlands, etc.). That year I again decided to play a secret deck for the National Championship. LuxChomp was the BDIF and as I didn’t want to play mirror, I decided to play a very personalized Gyarados list.
I teched in Luxray GL LV.X to act as Catcher and played Crobat G and Expert Belt to ensure 1HKOs on Pokémon SP. I even added an underrated card – Pokémon Reversal – that would allow me to KO expected Lucario GLs as soon as possible and also act as alternative to Luxray’s Bright Look.
I played a great tournament and defeated Luca Clavadetscher in the 2nd round. I failed to top cut after playing against a low ranked player with a Magikarp start + 3 Prized Magikarps + Azelf Prized. I lost the last Swiss round to the all-powerful Miguel Garcia who ended up top 4ing at Worlds the same year.
We only had a top 4 cut and I had a bad resistance due to my unfortunate loss. My brother played my deck in Seniors and won the Swiss Championship then finished in the top 32 at Worlds.
2010-2011 – 5th
This year the metagame was still dominated by LuxChomp. Due to the fact that the “Best of Three” rule was introduced for the first time at our National Championship during the Swiss rounds, this really influenced my deck choice.
Round 1 I won against my good rival Luca Clavadetscher who was playing Gengar. I won against a variety of decks; LuxChomp, Magnezone, etc… but was unfortunate to be paired 3rd round against the only deck of the tournament that had a good matchup against my deck; my old friend Gyarados! I also lost to Sascha Giger who was a good LuxChomp player this year.
Again, due to my unfortunate game in the 3rd round, I had a bad resistance and failed to top cut.
2011-2012 – Did not play.
I took a break after that tournament and did not play the whole 2011-2012 season. I came back this year with the intention to qualify for Worlds and represent Switzerland for the last time. Next year I will be moving to Malaysia in Southeast Asia (and playing for a new country), so this season was very special for me.
I anticipated very early on that the Swiss National Championship would be played with the BLW–PLS format. I started to train in November with decks based on the Japanese metagame when the English set Plasma Storm wasn’t even out yet.
My preparation was pretty rigorous:
- I built each deck of the Japanese metagame.
- I tested them against each other with my brother’s help.
- I fine tuned the decks and tested a few techs for each deck’s bad matchup.
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.
– Sun Tzu
Very early, around January, I was pretty interested by the place of Garbodor in the metagame, but I knew that Garbodor by itself wasn’t a great deck. I decided to combine two decks together: Landorus/Tornadus/Mewtwo/Lasers and Garbodor.
The first few playtests weren’t that great, and the deck was a little bit clunky because of Garbodor. I opted then to play only 2-2 Garbodor and to concentrate on what is called now in the West “Big Basics.” The number of Trainers dedicated to the lock was reduced, and Garbodor was there only to slow the opponent, not to completely stop them.
Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.
I was pretty confident on my deck, and was certain that this would take my opponents by surprise. But I’d have to slightly change my deck. In March the SPTs were held in the Americas, and a similar kind of deck, Landorus/Garbodor, took a few victories the first week.
As Garbodor was “rediscovered” by the whole world, I had to prepare myself against massive play of Tool Scrapper and to see Big Basics more widely used. I trained against an anti-Garbodor list and adapted my list to make Garbodor a little bit easier to put in play (with 1 Level Ball and 1 Heavy Ball).
This is the final version of my deck:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 37
Energy – 11
3 Different Main Attackers
Landorus-EX, Tornadus EX, and Mewtwo EX are all excellent attackers for the first turn and can donk “small Basics.” I play 3 Landorus-EX because it is a slightly better start usually. With 2 Tornadus EX I can compete with Big Basics by stopping their Landorus-EX and get the edge against the other Landorus-EX/Garbodor variants that play only 1 in their standard lists.
Two Mewtwo EX is the perfect number to survive to Mewtwo EX wars, and it is a very useful attacker against most decks.
A single Bouffalant is great in that deck. Bouffalant is a non-Pokémon-EX and he is very useful to force the opponent into taking 7 Prizes when playing against Big Basics for example.
Against other decks such as Blastoise it is also a great card. When the opponent has a Keldeo with 30 damage from a previous Hammerheard and topdecks a Catcher and has to choose between a fully charged Bouffalant or a Garbodor, he will have tough time no matter his decision. The deck can survive with either one being KO’d. Break the lock or save 2 Prizes? That is the question.
As I said, Garbodor is not the main focus of the deck. It is just a tech to slow down the pace of Keldeo, Darkrai, etc… Of course it can totally break an unprepared opponent’s deck, but if that is the case 2-2 is enough. Only two Trubbish are welcomed; it is too dangerous to play more as it can be donked.
3 Tools = Eviolite
pokemon-paradijs.comI believe that only 3 Tools is quite uncommon on Garbodor decks. I never needed more than 2 to lock to opponent. They usually play 1 Tool Scrapper, so you just need to put one after they removed it. And if you know that they have Dowsing Machine, you can save the 3rd for later.
I also believe that other more “Garbodor useful” tools such as Giant Cape are usually played in that kind of deck, but I preferred to have Eviolites. Eviolites helps the deck to go toe-to-toe with Big Basics and gives the edge against Landorus/Garbodor.
It is also nice to force Darkrai EX to 3HKO an attacker or force 5 Energies on Rayquaza EX to 1HKO a Landorus-EX.
Four Skyla are mandatory to make this deck work. The space is so tight, and it makes Garbodor T2 viable with a single Level Ball and a single Heavy Ball. It is also perfect to complete Virbank + Hypno combo or search Computer Seach for a DCE.
People will often try to Catcher Stall, but with Skyla and 4 Switch, they are just wasting resources. Skyla helps against Big Basics as it allows for compensating mobility by providing more reliable damage (when searching for HTL).
I tested Dowsing Machine and Scramble Switch, but Computer Search is too good as it helps to make a first turn attack more likely to happen. It is so critical to take the control of the game by KOing Squirtles, Deinos, and attacking Big Basics with Tornadus T1 that I would not play anything else.
Two Weeks Before the Tournament
Because my bad matchups were against Klinklang and Big Basics, I posted on my Facebook wall asking for the cards needed for my wife’s deck (who was only there to stop my opponents with Big Basics): Klinklang, Cobalion-EX, etc…
I needed the cards, but also wanted people to think that I was going to play Klinklang.
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
– Sun Tzu
This might actually look stupid, but if people fear Klinklang they will tech against it and I’ll have less chances to run into it after the first few rounds. Also if people planned to play Big Basics, they might fear Klinklang and add a tech card, which would result in a less stable deck.
I also did a tournament simulation. I tried to guess which deck each player would use and entered them in the tournament software. I am quite proud to say that most of my guesses were right. For each match I played for real against my brother. It is funny to notice that I was supposed to arrive in final according to the simulation, but I know that it might be biased as I might play my deck better than others.
It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
– Sun Tzu
During this tournament, I played against 6 National Champions of Switzerland! I really had no easy matches. Remember that Swiss rounds were played Best of Three.
It is my first match and I am a excited and stressed at the same time.
pokemon-paradijs.comHe wins the coin flip. He starts and bench two Squirtle. Then I begin to make pressure with Landorus-EX and try to put the lock in place for the next turn. I N him with the hope that he would not get Blastoise, but turn 2 he gets Blastoise and enough Energy to KO one of my benched Trubbish.
I can attack next turns with Tornadus EX + DCE + Poison and lock him, but then he topdecks Tool Scrapper and charges his Pokémon. Even so, the match was very close.
I start and lock him on the 2nd turn. I was able to put two Garbodor turn two. He gets quickly wiped out by my Tornadus EX and Mewtwo EX.
He starts, but when it is my turn I start a Squirtle massacre. Each turn he gets one KO’d because I have the Catchers and Skylas on hand. I was winning 4 Prizes to 1 when he deceides to N me with the hope of getting 1 L Energy and 4 W Energy in 5 cards.
But he does a terrible mistake and draws 6 cards! We call the judge who gives him a warning, and says that if it happens again he would get Prize penalty. He shuffles his hand again and draws again… 6 cards. After that he decided to give up the match in order to avoid a heavier penalty.
I have to play against this very good player from Bern. I know that he was playing a “fancy deck,” but I did not know what.
He wins the coin flip. He starts with Emolga and benches three Piplup, but a turn later I kill one with Hammerhead and start spreading damage. I take a comfortable lead, but then start to draw bad and he seems to have a chance. Bouffalant with Eviolite will save me the game in the end by KOing some Landorus.
I had only two/three Pokémon on play the whole game, and this avoided Empoleon trouble.
He has real trouble drawing and his lone Supporter played on the first few turns was Colress for 3. I had an Eviolited Bouffalant since the beginning hand which started to be a pain in the butt for his Landorus. The 2nd game was a little bit less difficult because of his bad draws.
Keldeo-EX/Black Kyurem EX)Round 3 – Luca Clavadetscher (Blastoise/
This round I will have to face a difficult match against Luca. He is the National Champion of 2011 and has qualified for Worlds the past 6 years.
pokemon-paradijs.comHe wins the coin flip and starts with Keldeo and two Squirtle. Next turn I have no other choice than to Hammerhead and bench a Trubbish since I would be able to lock him next turn. I play N with the hope to slow him down. He hits Blastoise, Rare Candy, a Skyla that searchs a Catcher, and enough Energy cards to KO my Trubbish. The next turn he gets a Black Kyurem and steamrolls me.
I have not a good start, but so does he. I could lock him once, but he has Catcher on hand and KOs my Garbodor with Keldeo. I could lock him for a second time, but he has Tool Scrapper in hand. We will play until the last Prize, but I had too much trouble topdecking Supporters. I think I only drew 2 Skyla and a Bianca.
Yet another challenging match! Norwin is probably one of the most regular players this season, and he is only 50 Points from the Worlds qualification.
This game might decide right now who reaches the top cut or not…
I finally win the coin flip for the first time of the tournament!
I don’t remember well the game, but I remember that as I already played the same decklist on the 2nd round, it was easier to predict the threats. I won the first hand on a very close match. I had to pull out Garbodor to stop his Dusknoir and the Diving Draws.
I had a great start and took 4 quick Prizes with Bouffalant by KO Landorus. When the time is called I have taken 4 Prizes and he only 1, and I have 2 turns to play and he has only one.
I now have to play the former National Champion of 2005. She is playing Ninetales/Amoonguss, and I am quite surprise to see that deck doing so well.
pokemon-paradijs.comShe wins the coin flip, but has only a single Vulpix that evolves turn 2 into a Ninetales. On my 2nd turn I KO it with Mewtwo for the win.
My hand is very bad; I don’t draw a single Supporter and lose.
I am able to Ability lock turn 2 with Garbodor. This matchup is then an auto-win for me.
Landorus-EX/Tornadus EX/Mewtwo EX/Garbodor DRX)Round 6 – Remo Lehman (
I am almost sure I will make top cut at this point. I am playing against the undefeated Remo Lehman, who is also the National Champion of last year. He plays Landorus/Garbodor, and my deck the edge, in theory. But Remo is 120% a TCG player and he is very skilled in his plays.
He wins the coin flip. The first hand we go toe-to-toe and the match is decided on the first to topdeck a Catcher for the last Prize. He wins this one when we hand only very few cards left in the decks.
I feel more confident because I now know the exact cards he is playing in his deck. I use Hypnotoxic very early in this game and it forced him to switch a bunch of times. He evolved his Trubbish into a Garbodor in order to stop my Bouffalant that his a very dangerous threat in this game. I took also high advantage of my 3 Eviolite.
The time is called and we are 2-2 at the end of the 3 turns. I know he has no Switch left, so I Catcher his Garbodor and Hypnotoxic it until it gives me the victory!
Yes, the 3rd hand will be played on sudden death and I win the coin flip this time.
We both start with Trubbish, but none of us donk. I concentrate my efforts on Tornadus EX and wait for a Catcher to win the game, which happened on turn 4 or something.
I am qualified for the tops and I am so happy to have beat one of the best players of the tournament, if not the best.
pokemon-paradijs.comWe have to start late our match. The reason is that all my cards are Full Art/Holofoil and they are all curved. The judges took near 1 hour to make them as much flat as possible. There was a reverse DCE that was impossible to make flat, so I borrowed one from my bother.
For the first top I have to play against Miguel who top 4’d at Worlds two years ago. He is a very skilled player, probably better than me in terms of playing skill, but I might have made a better deck choice this time.
I respect Miguel, but I cannot afford losing so close to the podium. The match might not be as easy as it looks, because he won against my brother that was playing the same deck as me.
He wins the coin flip. The first hand, I did not have the opportunity to lock him and I got steamrolled by Dragon Burst turn 2 on my Landorus…
I donk his lone Tynamo with Mewtwo DCE.
Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions.
– Sun Tzu
The 3rd and last hand, he does not have T2 Dragon Burst. I am not able to lock him immediately, but I don’t need to because Landorus is making a Tynamo/Eelektrik festival. Without Eelektriks, there is very little he can do against me.
I just realised how good it feel to win against the all time best player of my country !
Remo was the National Champion in Seniors in 2009. I am quite surprise that he defeated Luca the last round with a Plasma deck. I am a little bit worried because I don’t know how to play against his deck.
pokemon-paradijs.comHe wins the coin flip. On the first match, he has a great start with Giratina swarms and KO my Tornadus EX. If I remember well he took 3 or 4 Prizes, and then I KO his charged Pokémon. After that he is unable to charge again an attacker, but I keep playing safe. I have not dropped Mewtwo EX because I feared a Giratina’s comeback.
The second hand was much more trouble for me. For a few turns his only Supporter is a Colress that will allow him to draw 3 cards. He had trouble drawing Energies. Maybe I could win easier this game, but I kept playing very carefully, because I knew that the game was under my control.
Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant DRX/Terrakion NVI)Top 2 – Xavier Delfose (Tornadus EX/
And here we are. Four years later and I am back to the final! I am so happy to be there and I feel that I have my chances to be for the first and last time a National Champion.
Xavier is a good player and plays a deck that might have slightly the edge against mine (he plays Scramble Switch and at least 1 Max Potion), but still I am pretty sure that this match is 50-50 as he is tired.
I win the coin flip (at least I won the most critical ones…). I start very wall and take not less than 5 Prizes on the very first turns! Tornadus EX and Bouffalant are doing a great job. I have Computer Search and Skyla on hand that would secure the victory next turn. But after drawing dead, he topdecks N… I am reduced to one card and he took the next 6 Prizes.
This is a little bit disappointing, especially because I think it was his last one in his deck and he had still a lot of cards in his deck. But there is the power of N.
I have a not so good a hand, but it should be fine. Since the second turn I needed a DCE to take the lead, but I played 3 Juniper, 1 Bianca, and N and I not only did not draw the DCE, but also useless cards and a lot of Supporter. I don’t know why this happened, and I wonder if I should have taken more time to shuffle my deck. At least, this was enough to make me lose the game. It was already 2 AM, and I had 3 hours to drive home.
Four years later I was again a finalist in the Switzerland National Championship. This was probably my last hurrah in my home country, as next year I am moving to Malaysia and will be playing there instead.
It is quite weird, because this year the finalist in Switzerland does not get invite for the Worlds. Instead I earned 200 Championship Points. I am now left with 350 Points, 50 away from qualifying for Worlds. There are still 4 Battle Roads to be played and I still can make it with two victories (2 x 15 CP) and two top 4s (2 x 10 CP).
I thank the staff and everyone else very much for the wonderful tournament. It was a pleasure and I hope that I will secure the Worlds invite so that I can play one last time for Switzerland in Vancouver. I will miss all the friends I made here in Pokémon tournaments.