There’s Always a First: An Outdoor Nationals Report

Hello once again SixPrizes and the Pokémon community at large. I’m bringing you this article to commemorate a big event in South African Pokémon history – our first official National Championship! This is my report of the two day tournament.

We had 86 players altogether from all across the country. It was the biggest tournament ever in South Africa and both the organizers and players pulled out all the stops for this one!

south africa nationals
Our outdoor tournament venue!


I expected quite a few TDK and PlasmaKlang decks along with the always popular Landorus and Hypnotoxic Lasers. I decided against running Darkrai like I did at Regionals and rather opted for Garbodor. The only problem was choosing the right attackers.

I tested both Landorus and Cobalion-EX and was really happy with the way they performed against Plasma as well as Darkrai, Bouffalant, and other DCE-powered Big Basics. I was going to put Stunkfisk DRX in, but at the last minute chose Terrakion BCR instead.

Looking back I’m not entirely satisfied with all of my choices, but here’s the list I used:

Pokémon – 10

1 Trubbish NVI

1 Trubbish DRX

1 Trubbish PLS 65

1 Garbodor DRX

1 Garbodor PLF

2 Landorus-EX

2 Cobalion-EX

1 Terrakion BCR

Trainers – 40

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Skyla

2 Colress


4 Float Stone

1 Rescue Scarf


4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Ultra Ball

2 Heavy Ball

2 Switch

2 Max Potion

1 Energy Search

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

6 F

4 M

Card Choices

The flying Terrakion just makes sense now.
The flying Terrakion just makes sense now.

Originally I had thought of including Stunfisk DRX so that I could use Rumble in conjunction with Garbotoxin to lock up Darkrai, Keldeo, and even Gothitelle if the chance presented itself. At the last minute I decided to put Terrakion in instead, for no real reason other than that I could have both secret rare Garbodor and Terrakion in one deck. (Haters gonna hate.)

I believe that Terrakion is honestly best either combined with Energy Switch or Scramble Switch, neither of which I ran that day. In retrospect, that was at least one bad call I made with the deck.

I felt that Dowsing Machine was a safer option for ACE SPEC in case I needed a Virbank, Tool, or Supporter in a pinch. Most of the time the deck ran quite well, but there were times when I wished I had another Rescue Scarf or Garbodor, or even another attacker like Cobalion NVI. I wasn’t entirely sure what else to cut from the deck though, so in the end actually just hoped that my pile of trash would do the job.

I ran three different Trubbish just because I could.

The Tournament

After registration and breakfast at Wimpy, we got down to the tournament itself! My brother was playing Gothitelle/Accelgor and my friends Stephan, Gavin, Kayla, and Clinton played Darkrai, WeeEggs, Cincinno/Mew/Benchtini + Aspertia Gym, and TDK respectively.

The time had come for all the hype and talk to end and the playing to start! We had 12 Juniors and 21 Seniors with their respective rounds as well as 53 Masters with 6 rounds of Swiss.

Le Venue. Again.
Le venue. Again.

Round 1: Bye

I had a Round 1 bye because I won Regionals, so I sat to the side and played a warm-up game against my friend Robert, who won Regionals in Seniors and also had a bye. I beat his Plasma deck for my first win of the day.

Throwin' it down everywhere we go.
Throwin’ it down everywhere we go.


Round 2: Kaila Sadien w/ Big Basics (Mewtwo EX/Tornadus-EX DEX/Landorus-EX/Bouffalant DRX/Keldeo-EX)

Kaila was the Regionals representative from Cape Town and she also had a Round 1 bye. Additionally, she was easily one of the prettiest Pokémon players I have ever seen. Ever.

Now I’m not sure if I can blame her looks for my lack of concentration, but I made a few bad plays which swung the match in her favor. I drew much better in the beginning of the game, but after she Max Potion’d about 100 damage from both a Mewtwo and Keldeo, she nullified my early pressure and started picking up momentum.

My misplays included not using a Max Potion on a poisoned Cobalion-EX with 90 damage before playing a N. On the same turn I also benched my Terrakion with an Energy when I knew the aforementioned Cobalion would be KO’d via poison and thus not activate Retaliate. My opponent played it out better than I did and deserved the win.


Round 3: Tyre w/ Blastoise BCR/Keldeo-EX/Kyurem PLF

I started Trubbish and Landorus to her Emolga and Keldeo and knew I needed “Garbotoxin” in play ASAP. I drew nothing though, and she was able to evolve a Squirtle to Wartotle to Blastoise and power up her Keldeo. She even used a Tool Scrapper to get rid of my Rescue Scarf.

She then played a Skyla, and I cringed because the only thing I had going for me was a benched Landorus with two Energy. She took a Float Stone instead, attached it to her Keldeo and KO’d my Trubbish. I stared a bit and realized that this was my chance.

I promoted Landorus, evolved another Trubbish to Garbodor, and played N or Juniper. I got a Tool onto Garbodor and was able to pull off the entire Virbank + Laser + Land’s Judgement combo to remove all here Energy from play and lock her up.

From there I used Hammerhead + Laser to eventually KO another Keldeo going into my turn and then repeated Land’s Judgement on a Keldeo I had put the bench damage on. It was a bit of a scare, but I was glad I was able to pull through.


We had a lunch break of burgers and trolling around for an hour until the next round started. Time off is always good in my opinion, just to clear your head.

Round 4: Poké-Mom w/ Darkrai EX/Sableye DEX/Absol PLF/Keldeo-EX

ash's mom
A concerned Poké-mom.

The lady was nice and polite enough, but after an announcement by the TO about the Seniors and Juniors just before our round, she seemed far more concerned about how they were doing than about our game.

I was able to dish out some damage with Landorus + Lasers and even got a Garbodor with a Tool set up, but we got to a point where neither of us were drawing or doing anything meaningful. Her Max Potion was prized so she couldn’t heal her Darkrai while I kept flipping tails for sleep from her Lasers.

I was able to take Prizes off a Darkrai and Absol with Hammerhead while she started manually attaching to her two Keldeo to hit my Landorus for Weakness. The Keldeo could only hit my Cobalion for 50, so I was able to spare a few turns building up my bench.

In the meantime I planned out a Keldeo and Absol as my last Prizes, so directed damage to them. I KO’d the Keldeo with my Landorus, which in turn went down to another Keldeo, but I was able to finish the game with a Catcher and Steel Bullet to KO the Absol.


Round 5: Sven w/ Mewtwo EX/Landorus-EX/Bouffalant DRX/Garbodor DRX

He got a mulligan and I got to see a Garbodor along with a DCE, so I knew I was facing a more standard Big Basics + Trash deck.

We both got good starts but I was able to take an early Prize as well as get damage on his bench with my Landorus. My opponent made a few odd choices during the game though. At one point he used a Catcher to bring up a clean Cobalion-EX instead of KOing my active Landorus. Another time he used Skyla to first take a Max Potion which would have prevented me taking Prizes off an EX, but instead he took a different Supporter or something which didn’t make a difference.

I eventually went down to the dreaded 1 Prize card due to having KO’d a Bouffalant and two EX’s – and of course he N’d me. I had a Landorus active with 150 damage and 1 Metal attached as well as a Cobalion on the bench with a Fighting and Metal attached. He evolved his last remaining Pokémon, a Trubbish, to Garbodor to prevent me KOing it in one hit. I drew useless Catchers and stuff and passed a couple turns while he benched and started building up a Tornadus on his bench, but couldn’t seem to get a Switch.

Eventually he Laser’d my Landorus for a KO giving me a chance to wrap up the game. I topdecked a Juniper and drew into the second Metal to allow my Cobalion to use Steel Bullet to KO Garbodor for the game.


I asked Kaila, my Round 2 opponent, if she had beaten the Klinklang deck from her previous round. Even though she had been ahead by 4 Prizes, she ran out of non-EX attackers and lost. I commented that if anyone would beat Klinklang it would be me, you know, because obviously Garbodor “automatically” beats Ability decks.

Me and my big mouth…

Round 6: Mohammed w/ PlasmaKlang

Looks like popcorn. Or is that just me?
Looks like popcorn. Or is that just me?

I had seen he was playing Klinklang and for him to be at the top tables it meant he had to be doing well. He went first and was able to get a Keldeo, two Klinks, and a Cobalion NVI into play. I started with a Landorus and put out some damage while grabbing a Trubbish.

While searching my deck I saw that I had prized a Tool or two along with my second Garbodor. Oh snap. He proceeded to get a T2 PlasmaKlang along with KOing my Trubbish once he got enough Energy into play.

I targeted his Keldeo as it kept messing up my Laser + Virbank shenanigans and it was the only Pokémon my Landorus could hit away at. After taking those 2 Prizes, I was able to get a Garbodor online which he then simply Catchered up and KO’d. I was behind with 4 Prizes to his three. I was on the ropes and it wasn’t going well for me.

I checked his discard pile and saw he had used 3 Max Potions, 4 Catchers, a Tool Scrapper, and his Dowsing Machine. With a small glimmer of hope, I benched a Trubbish, used Super Rod to grab my only Garbodor back and hoped he didn’t have another Tool Scrapper.

He was obviously out of resources, and so I was able to evolve to Garbodor, attach a Float Stone and start attacking. We both go down to 1 Prize and I draw my last Catcher from my Prizes by KOing a damaged Cobalion NVI with Steel Bullet.

Like a true gentleman, my opponent N’s us both down to one. I am fortunate enough to topdeck a Juniper and just need my Catcher back to KO his benched Cobalion-EX with 90 damage on it. I get it from my seven cards and Steel Bullet once again for the win.

This was the best and closest game I played all day.


I was able to make cut in the 5th seed and would be back for another day of Pokémon. My companions unfortunately didn’t quite make it, with my friend Clinton and his TDK just missing out with a 4-2 finish.

Day 2

We did deck checks and chatted a bit while waiting for the Top 8 round to begin. The Masters Top 8 consisted of 1 Big Basics, 2 TDK, 1 Blastoise, 1 RayEels and my Trash + Friends along with two rogue ideas: Garchomp and Terrakion-EX/Landorus-EX/Deoxys-EX.

All top cut matches would be best-of-three with a time limit of 60 minutes.

Top 8: Hamir w/ Blastoise BCR/Keldeo-EX

Game 1
Should be a piece of cake, right?

When I first heard that I was paired against the Blastoise deck, I felt confident knowing that I could shut down both “Deluge” and “Rush In.” I was able to do this by getting out 3 Trubbish really quickly, followed by a Garbodor with a Rescue Scarf.

My opponent was able to get three Energies onto a Keldeo so he Catcher’d and KO’d the Garbodor. I was able to immediately evolve to Garbodor again, attach a Float Stone, and KO his damaged Keldeo with Retaliate. Terrakion and Landorus aided by Lasers were more than capable of sweeping his field and I won quite easily.


Game 2

I had feeling that this game would be a bit more difficult and it definitely was. My opponent got a T2 Blastoise along with quite a bit of Energy onto a Keldeo and Mewtwo. I also struggled to get the right combinations of cards. When Garbotoxin was in effect, I didn’t have the Laser to flip for sleep or the Catcher to try and stall.

Then when Garbodor was KO’d, Catcher and Laser were useless. My Cobalions couldn’t put out enough damage to keep his Keldeo at bay and Landorus just got crushed in the process.


Game 3

I start Landorus to his Keldeo and Mewtwo and put 30 to each. He benches Squirtle and passes. I Skyla for Catcher, bring up Squirtle, poison and KO it and put another 30 to Keldeo. His next turn he Max Potions his Mewtwo and gets out two Squirtles so I don’t even bother going that route again. I bench Terrakion and attach an Energy to it, threatening a Retaliate in case my Landorus goes down. I also Skyla for a Juniper so that I can get a new hand next turn.

As I’m declaring my attack, time is called and I’m turn 0. I put 30 onto his healed Mewtwo and another 30 onto Keldeo, bringing it up to 90 damage. My opponent once again gets a Blastoise into play the turn right after he benches a Squirtle, and proceeds to attach to Keldeo and then pass.

I’m turn 2 now and ahead by 1 Prize, but he only has to KO my Landorus to take the lead and win on time. I hope to draw a Laser and Catcher off my Juniper to KO another Squirtle with my Terrakion and buy me a few more turns, but whiff the Laser. There’s nothing I can do but pass and watch my opponent Rush In, catcher Landorus, and Secret Sword for game.

Turns out I prized two Lasers.


Thoughts on Losing

I was pretty disappointed to lose on time like that. Even without a Garbodor in play, my Terrakion and Landorus seemed capable of netting me a few Prizes and the game. I also built my deck in expectation of all the Plasma decks, but they ended up dodging me! As my friend Kayla says, “C’est la vie.”

I do believe I made a few choices in the construction of my deck which in the end let me down, but Top 8 is something I’m proud of and I can only improve. A few losses help keep one humble I suppose?


Not sure if congratulating - or mocking.
Not sure if congratulating – or mocking.

In the Top 4 round Blastoise lost to RayEels while the Terrakion-EX/Deoxys lost to TDK. The TDK then went on beat RayEels in the finals. Congrats to fanaticit for going all the way with a deck he put a lot of planning and practice into. He definitely deserved the win for all the time, money, and effort he put into preparing for Nationals. (You can read his report here.)

Unfortunately none of the winners received travel awards, so we’re still seeing if anybody will be going to Worlds.

For all the South African players who may read this, thank you for travelling from wherever to participate in a event of such caliber and making it such a success. I hope to see you all again next year! We had a good showing and great performance by players from all across the country as well as good judging and organizing on the behalf of the staff.

Thanks also to all my Poké-pals, cyndaquil and Collin Coyle Brinkmeyer, for your encouragement. And to my friends that were there – Gavin, Clinton, Robert, Miguel, and Stephan – you helped make the event even better.

Keep it real and kind regards,


Reader Interactions

14 replies

  1. Bella Brown

    Great article Steve!
    My username on Disqus is Peppi, after one of my guinea pigs XD
    Lol congrats on going all the way to Top 8!

  2. Simon Narode

    Great article, and congratulations on top 8!
    It’s really neat to see how tournaments are held across the world. I especially enjoyed the pictures you added into the article.

    • Stephen Botha  → Simon

      Thanks! And yeah, I like it when other people put photo’s of tournaments and standings in their articles, so thought it would add a nice touch :)

  3. Dom

    Cincinno/Mew/Benchtini + Aspertia Gym
    Can you tell me a little more about this?

    • Stephen Botha  → Dom

      The main idea is to get a Cincinno set up with Giant Cape and Aspertia Gym and then use Echoed Voice over and over, most of the time avoiding KO’s through the extra hp and the ‘Smooth Coat’ ability.
      Benchtini is in to deal with Cobalion EX, one the deck’s biggest weaknesses. I believe there was also a Static Shock Emolga in to buy some time to evolve and set up Cincinno’s.
      The whole deck is pretty much just a team of cute Pokemon (hence the Mew) but it really is fun and can prove quite a challenge to beat.

      • Clint Matos  → Stephen

        I built that deck :D

        My girlfriend Kayla wanted to play, but would only play a deck with cute Pokemon and no EXes, so it was up to me to build a competent deck :l
        So that’s what I built, I’ll make a post about it if anyone else would like to know about it :)

  4. Rebecca

    The finals was just like UK Nationals, except TDK lost and Rayeels won.

  5. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    Thanks for the great article and pictures.

    I hope your organised play continues to grow and that you get that paid invite soon.

  6. Clint Matos

    Nice article Stephen :D

    I’m glad we kept the title in Gauteng, one of us will take it next year ;)

    Anyway, thanks for all the mentions, having your friends at Nationals really makes it more fun.

    Can I ask why you ditched Darkrai for this when you were so good with it?

    • Clint Matos  → Clint

      Oh, and can I use: “Like a true gentleman, my opponent N‘s us both down to one.” as my signature? :D

    • Stephen Botha  → Clint

      I expected a lot of Landorus, Lasers and Garbodor and didn’t think I could dodge them all again like I did at Regionals. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the deck as a whole, plus Stephan wanted to play it ;D..

  7. Empoleon1107

    Congrats! My Garbodor deck is eerily similar to yours, except I run Absol instead of Terrakion.

  8. Gavin Jones

    Hey Stevov! Great article and again I’m super proud that you made Top 8!
    Just a darn shame that WeeEggs didn’t run as smoothly as I claimed it would :’)
    oh well, Weavile and Exeggcute were never meant to be…
    Keep the articles coming, I know it’ll help Pokémon grow in SA.

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