Hello everyone, my name is Diego Gutierrez, and while I’ve loved Pokémon for more than half my life now, I also love to write, so after getting my first job and earning enough money to participate in a hobby I never could as a child, it was only natural that after my first big competition these two passions would merge into an article.
I bought my first packs of cards when I was 12 (Base Set, unfortunately none 1st Edition), and then since my parents decided it was either buying cards or paying for education (I still think it was a bad choice) I couldn’t really get any better at that age with such a limited card pool.
Fast-forward 12 years and soon after getting my first job, my friends and I while reminiscing our childhood remembered we still had our old cards, got them out, and after my deck got beat senseless I decided this couldn’t happen and got back into the game.
That was 6 months ago. Since then I’ve won my local weekly tournament several times and I even made a trip to a Battle Roads last month were finished in the middle of the pack due to using Big Basics once Plasma had already started to reign over the format.
I decided that if I wanted to get any better than the poor 2-3 record I got at Battle Roads, I had to adjust my deck to win as many matches as possible with the limited amount of money I had. I couldn’t get any Tropical Beaches, a fourth Catcher, or even start considering Deoxys and Thundurus. It’s not so much that I don’t make enough money, but I had a tendency to destroy valuable items such as cars and kitchens these past few months and had to pay for my crimes.
My decklist looked as follows and I must say that it wasn’t that bad. I was pretty proud of myself. I came up with some of the choices here before reading them in articles and since they matched what others wrote I thought I had done a good job of making a competitive list.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 34
Energy – 13
I arrived at the location with my two friends and four other people from my city and realized this was by far the biggest tournament I had ever seen. The two Battle Roads I had attended previously had about 30 people each, while Nationals had a participation of over 200 trainers.
We all wished each other luck while we all parted to the tables we were assigned. I sat down and saw one of the guys from my city setting next to me and his opponent was wearing some sort of cosplay outfit (either that or he just dressed funny). My opponent arrived and so my tournament began.
Cobalion-EX/Mewtwo EXRound 1 vs. Garbodor/
While he shuffled he mistakenly showed the bottom card of his deck to me and I see a Trubbish. I am relieved partly because I know not to spend time setting up my Trubbishes and instead go for the big guns as soon as my turn starts.
While my opponent finishes shuffling I look at my friend’s adjacent match. He got to face a theme deck piloted by the cosplay aficionado (lucky him). His Plasma deck was the reason I ran Cobalion in my Garbodor deck, since I had played him a couple of days before Nationals and noticed that if I ran only Landorus I was going to get pummeled by Plasma decks, which in turn made me ran Special Energy in order to make Cobalion or Landorus function on turn 1.
My opponent starts and to my surprise I see two Cobalions and a Mewtwo. My deck was only running four basic Energies, so I was not happy at all with this draw. Somehow I manage to charge a Landorus and am lucky enough to have his Cobalion sleep for two turns, and surprisingly I manage two win the match after two Land’s Judgements and Knocking Out a Mewtwo with my own with a DCE and a Laser.
People at my Nationals decided to get creative with their Plasma decks after news from the rest of the other Nationals around the world. This one variant ran Cobalion-EX rather than Keldeo-EX. My Garbodor took one turn longer than I wanted to set up and my opponent took advtange, using his Lugia EX to Knock Out my Mewtwo for 3 Prizes.
I managed to remove all his Energies in play while the match was 6-1 in his favor and I could see in his face that I had won due to lack of Energies and Lasers (all four were in his discard pile).
However, it seems it took me a lot of time to reach this point in the match and during my turn while I’m preparing to KO a Lugia, the judge comes and tells us I have one turn left after this one is over. Without any way to Knock Out anything else on my last turn, my opponent smiles and confesses that I would have won the match if it hadn’t been for the time-out.
Round 3 vs. Plasma without Deoxys
This time around I think my opponent had a tight wallet (he didn’t have any dice) and rather than trying to be creative, his deck comprised of Thundurus EX, Kyurem PLF, and Mewtwo EX. I wouldn’t have been too worried if my starting hand hadn’t been a single Trubbish, three Energies, a Catcher, a Switch, and an Ultra Ball.
Fortunately I got to start. I drew a Skyla and managed to improve my positioning, although to be honest I felt I was out of luck when I realized during a search that my Scramble Switch, second Mewtwo, and most Energies were in the Prizes.
We are 5-1 in Prizes in his favor when the judge arrives to announce time. It was his turn so I only got two more turns to tie or I would lose the game and probably my place in the competition. During my turn I manage to kill a Lugia. On his turn all he has to do is send a non-EX (he had two in game) and pass; he wins since I don’t have a Catcher left.
But he sends a out Mewtwo with 90 damage, and he tries to cheat either on purpose or by accidentally by using the damage counter dice on Mewtwo for the coin flip for his Hypnotoxic Laser and not putting it back. Either way, his Mewtwo manages to do a whooping 150 damage after Laser to my Landorus, but one of the Prize I had obtained from the Lugia KO was my Scramble Switch. Landorus doesn’t wake up but I get him out of the Active Spot and switch an Energy to my undamaged Cobalion that already had two Energies. Cobalion deals 100 and KOs Mewtwo to tie the game in the last turn of the time cut.
It’s now sudden death, and my first sudden death ever… I look at my deck and notice I only have one card left. My opponent doesn’t have a Catcher to kill off Landorus, and instead of sending out Cobalion, his only EX I couldn’t kill with Land’s Judgement and win the game since I wouldn’t be able to draw after my next attack, he sends Thundurus.
I retreat Cobalion and send out Landorus with three Energies for my most exciting win ever. My opponent confessed after the game he made those poor choices since he assumed I had a fourth Catcher in my deck.
Round 4 vs. Girl with Ninetales/Amoonguss
I look at the name of my next opponent and notice it’s a girl (my first female opponent ever). Since this was a 95% male competition I was pretty surprised and eager to meet my opponent, especially since one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen was one of the girl players at Nationals. It wasn’t her but a really nice girl with one of the cooler rogue decks out there in my opinion.
I really like the ability of this deck of having extra Catchers and dealing an impressive 150 damage with one Energy and one Laser. However, with Garbotoxin protecting my Cobalion and Landorus killing a Vulpix and a half each turn, it ended up quickly and I had a chance to discuss deck strategies with her.
Round 5 vs. Plasma Snorlax
The game started up heated, since I was now in the higher tier of the competition my opponents were better each round, this guy, who shared his name with me was no exception. A proper Plasma deck that ran Snorlax instead of Kyurem, it would have worked out perfectly if I didn’t have Mewtwo with Double Colorless to kill the charged or almost charged Snorlaxes.
I end up getting a second DCE, a Laser, and a Catcher from a Juniper and KO a Deoxys for the win.
Round 6 vs. Blastoise/Keldeo
We both give out our strategies due to a double lack of Basic Pokémon in our opening hands. I reveal a Garbodor and he reveals Water Energy and a Rare Candy. We break the ice commenting that at least the surprise factor was gone, and we start the race to see who sets up first.
I get a bad hand, no Trubbish and nothing to look for him directly, I have to rely on Juniper, and I don’t get a Trubbish, although I do get Mewtwo with DCE which against Keldeo at least is able to do some damage. He gets a turn 2 Blastoise and three Water Energies on Keldeo which hits for 110. Mewtwo hits back for 100, and I get a Trubbish, a Garbodor, and another Mewtwo/DCE in my second turn.
Keldeo kills my Mewtwo, but my second Mewtwo enters, I attach the DCE and also get the Garbotoxin up in time as I remove all the Energies he had in play in one turn. Checkmate.
Round 7 vs. Standard Plasma
After half the number of my first 6 games had been Plasma, and I get a view of the first table (out of a hundred), next to the only three guys that were 6-0 and the rest of the best 5-1. I felt as if I had already passed to Top 32 and boy… have I ever been more mistaken in my life?
I had been training the whole week for this scenario and the practice had paid off; I knew I would give away Prizes early game and would have to play quick to remove all my opponent’s Energies by late game and avoid a time-out like in round 2. My opponent KOs one of my Landorus with Kyurem, though it already had 100 damage so next turn Lando KO’d Kyurem and dealt damage to Thundurus, damage I planned to collect on in two turns. However, the two turns didn’t come as he left me with 5 Prizes and he was down to one.
He counts his discard pile and looks worried, my tell that I’m almost done with his Energies, his only remaining Energy in play is a Plasma Energy on a Deoxys. I need a Catcher to kill off his Deoxys with my Mewtwo, and I have two options to do so; use N and go for 5 cards while leaving him in 1, or use Juniper for 2 extra cards and try to completely remove all his Energies from play this turn.
My only mistake of the whole day was the one that cost me the Top 32 entry. Focused on the fact that I only needed a Catcher to win, I had about 16 cards left in my deck and that I was sure I had one Catcher left, I opted to use Juniper, not considering the option that the Catcher could not be there, and that if he had one Energy left in his hand a Catcher would win him the game.
In perhaps the only time in the whole tournament where I can actually feel the lack of 4th Catcher, I don’t draw the it and since I did not use N, he reveals his own Catcher and Energy as soon as I call my attack.
People at the first table tell me that even if I lost I have nothing to worry about since one of my losses was against one of the few 6-1 players and the other person that beat me had a good amount of wins as well. So I start making preparations, and people start telling me they’ll see me in the Top 32. I felt good, as this was my first major tournament after all.
It turns out losing in the second round dragged me down a lot, and combined with the record of the people that I beat, I ended up ranked 38th. No one from my city made Top 32, although the only one that ranked above me finished 33rd.
It was pretty disappointing, especially knowing I had lost one game due to time running out, but to be honest, this defeat only gets me more determined to come back next year and kick some Pokémon trainer’s behinds.
One of the guys that beat me ended up in top 8, and from those Top 8, 6 deck were Plasma and 2 were Blastoise/Keleo. The semis were Plasma vs. Plasma and Blastoise vs. Blastoise and in the last match Plasma ended up taking the 1st place. Overall it was an interesting tournament with a good amount of participation and I can’t wait to come back next year.