I Wanna Be the Very Best – Plays of the Top Players from US Nats ’13

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Champions have been crowned… so let’s talk about what went down!

US Nationals are now over turning many dreams into reality as well as leaving behind unforgettable memories. A very last minute opportunity arose which allowed me to attend Nationals this year. I had a blast playing in all of the events and spending time with such great friends.

In this post Nationals article I will be dissecting and analyzing the deck choices of many top players that attended the event, among this list of established players I will be including both of the Masters Finalist deck lists.

Table of Contents

No Blastoise in Our Top 8

To begin I would like talk about one of the more shocking aspects of this year’s US National Championship. Heading into the event was widely considered to be one of the top two decks however it was unable to claim even a single spot in the Top 8.

I have several theories as to why this happened.

  1. Blastoise is naturally inconsistent compared to decks like Plasma and Darkrai. Decks that do not have the necessity of setting up a Stage 2 Support Pokémon for 19 or more games straight are clearly a favorite to achieve a proper set up every single game leading into Top 8.
  2. There was a much higher percentage of Klinklang and decks than many players predicted.
  3. In my opinion Plasma decks have a slight advantage over Blastoise, especially when Life Dew is added into the mix.
  4. The Donk Factor: Over the weekend I saw countless lone Squirtles Knocked Out without the Blastoise player getting a single turn to play.

Ross Cawthon – Garchomp/Altaria

Pokémon – 19

4 Gible DRX 87

3 Gabite DRX 89

4 Garchomp DRX 90

3 Swablu DRX 104

3 Altaria DRX

2 Emolga DRX

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Skyla

2 Colress

 

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Rare Candy

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Level Ball

2 Switch

1 Super Rod

1 Life Dew

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

6 Fighting

4 Blend WLFM

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What dew you know… I’m back!

Above we have a standard updated Garchomp list taking advantage of Life Dew in an attempt to even the playing field with the faster decks that are out there.

Ross’s decision to enter the tournament with Garchomp/Altaria is the most shocking deck choice among “Top Name Players” in my opinion. Garchomp/Altaria has long been known for being an over hyped deck that has never actually accomplished anything major outside of Japan.

The first instance when I realized that Ross was piloting his Garchomp deck this weekend certainly got me thinking. At first I felt that there must be some new redeeming quality for the deck that only Ross’ brilliant Poké-mind stumbled upon. After all Ross is known for performing extraordinarily well with a deck that may not be piloted by even a single other player in the same event. So this leaves us with one question; was Garchomp/Altaria a strong deck choice for US Nationals?

After the tournament Ross admitted that Garchomp may not have been the best deck choice that he could have made but he piloted it primarily because he wanted to test the deck in a tournament setting and simply just to play a deck that could make top cut with his two byes. Without the two byes that Ross earned from winning Regionals earlier this season he may not have made it into the top cut this year.

Ross Cawthon finished with a 6-3 record in the Swiss rounds of US Nationals before eventually losing in the Top 64 to a Plasma deck.

Jason Klaczynski – Darkrai EX/Garbodor

Pokémon – 12

3 Trubbish PLS 65

2 Garbodor DRX

3 Sableye DEX

2 Darknessrai-EX

2 Absol PLF

Trainers – 39

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Skyla

1 Colress

2 Random Receiver

1 Bicycle

 

4 Float Stone

1 Dark Claw

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Crushing Hammer

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Dark Patch

2 Enhanced Hammer

2 Switch

1 Super Rod

1 Energy Search

Energy – 9

9 Darkness

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It’s all about denial.

Jason’s deck aims to keep as much Energy off of its opponent’s field as possible. This is achieved several ways. Garbodor’s Garbotoxin Ability takes away Blastoise decks’ biggest advantage, Energy acceleration.

Jason was able to discard countless Energies this past weekend through the combined use of Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, and Sableye’s Junk Hunt. This combination makes it very difficult for any Plasma deck to take six Prizes against Jason’s deck.

Perhaps the least desirable quality about a Darkrai EX/Garbodor deck is that when you face another Darkrai EX deck that does not feature Garbodor you will be in for a very tough game. It does help to remove your opponent’s Dark Cloak Ability while retaining your retreating capabilities through the use of Float Stone and Switch. It is also nice to Hammer away energies. All of this does come with a price however, your deck becomes clunkier and less aggressive than traditional Darkrai decks.

Unfortunately for Mr. Klaczynski, Darkrai EX/Garbodor also has a glaring weakness to Gothitelle/Accelgor decks provided they do not prize their Tool Scrapper. Due to this weakness Jason narrowly missed top cut this year.

Jason Klaczynski finished the Swiss rounds with a 6-3 record of US Nationals but was unable to make into the top cut this year. The 2012-2013 season is only the second in which Jason has not qualified for the World Championships, the first was in 2010-2011. In 2010-2011 Jason was only a single win away from earning his Invite Via the Last Chance Qualifier in San Diego. Hopefully this year Jason will be able to make it all the way through the grinder.

Jimmy Ballard – Zoroark BLW/Absol/Espeon PLS/Leafeon PLS/Flareon PLS

Pokémon – 19

4 Zorua DEX 69

4 Zoroark BLW

4 Eevee PLF 90

2 Espeon PLF

2 Leafeon PLF

1 Flareon PLF

2 Absol PLF

 

Trainers – 29

3 Professor Juniper

3 N

2 Colress

2 Skyla

1 Ghetsis

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Level Ball

2 Pokémon Communication

1 Colress Machine

1 Escape Rope

1 Energy Search

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

4 Blend GRPD

3 Double Colorless

3 Plasma

1 Psychic

1 Darkness

 

For those of you who may not know, Jimmy Ballard lost to Jason Klaczynski in the finals of the 2006 World Championships. His deck earned him a 2nd place Worlds finish along with all of the perks that come with it. Nowadays Jimmy devotes most of his Pokémon time to his card shop Top Cut Central that is quickly gaining popularity. This does not mean that he is always found sitting out of tournaments however.

Last year Jimmy made it fairly deep into the US Nationals top cut with a unique deck that he came up with and this year he came back with yet another one of his creations that performs surprisingly well against a few of the top decks.

4-4 Zoroark BLW

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Kyurem’s greatest predator.

’s Foul Play attack allows this deck to copy Black Ballista to achieve 1HKOs on opposing Black Kyurem EXs. Combine that with the pressure that Leafon PLF pours on Keldeo-EXs and you have a pretty good shot at taking down Blastoise players. Foul Play + Hypnotoxic Laser also does a great job of dismantling a Plasma player’s Kyurems.

Zoroark’s Nasty Plot attack should not be overlooked. In a desperate time or perhaps even when you feel like the time is right, Nasty Plot can search through your deck for any one card you may be missing at the moment.

2 Absol PLF

Absol is an all-around solid attacker that will see use no matter what matchup this deck faces.

2 Espeon PLF

Espeon PLF is unique in that its Shadow Ball attack applies Weakness to your opponent’s Pokémon. This is very important as it allows Espeon to 1HKO Gothitas without needing a Pokémon Catcher. As nice as this exclusive luxury is, I do not feel like it is enough to win very many games against Gothitelle/Accelgor.

2 Leafeon PLF

This beauty of this card comes from the surprise factor. An unsuspecting Blastoise player will often have multiple Keldeo-EXs all with Water Energies attached. All it takes for Leafeon to 1HKO a Keldeo-EX is four Energies on their field and a Hypnotoxic Laser.

Unfortunately any Blastoise player with prior knowledge of this deck can prevent this from happening by keeping only three Energies at a time on a single Keldeo-EX while not placing any more on their field. This by no means ensures their victory however as a three Energy Keldeo-EX is 10 damage short of a knockout thanks to Leafeon’s Resistance.

Low Supporter Count

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How low can you go?

I cannot say that I agree with Jimmy’s decision to cut way back on his Supporter counts. Even with the opportunity to get back into the game through Zoroark and Espeon’s attacks I do not feel safe at all playing a deck with only 11 Supporters, one of them being the unreliable Ghetsis.

The biggest issue that I have with this deck is that while it has a decent matchup with the two most popular decks, it struggles greatly against Darkrai, Gothitelle/Accelgor, and /Eelektrik.

Jimmy Ballard took his beloved Eevees to a 6-3 finish in the Swiss rounds of US Nationals but was unable to make it into the top cut this year.

Kyle Sucevich – Plasma

Pokémon – 11

4 Deoxys-EX

3 Kyurem PLF

3 Thundurus-EX PLF

1 Absol PLF

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Skyla

2 Colress

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Colress Machine

3 Switch

2 Float Stone

2 Ultra Ball

1 Team Plasma Ball

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 13

4 Plasma

4 Prism

4 Blend WLFM

1 Lightning

This is the exact list that Pooka piloted all the way to a Top 16 finish this year before losing to David Richard who was playing what I would consider the superior version of this deck. Pooka then changed out a Thundurus EX for a Keldeo-EX and a Switch for a Float Stone (which can be seen here) before securing his Worlds invite in the Last Chance for Championship Points tournament.

3 Thundurus EX

Thundurus EX is a very good attacker early in the game so upping our chance of starting with him is very welcomed, but I do not feel like there is space to correctly add in the 3rd copy.

1 Tool Scrapper

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Became a good play, but for unexpected reasons.

I did not agree with Pooka’s reasoning behind including this card in the deck which was “Players rely to much on Float Stone.” Virtually every deck that has Float Stone also plays a few copies of Switch. Even if a deck plays solely three Float Stones it usually only needs that one or two turns of having the Float Stone meaning that Tool Scrapper has a minuscule impact in that regard.

Tool Scrapper did turn out to be very valuable for Kyle for an entirely different reason: Life Dew. So many great players saw the potential in Life Dew this weekend. Life Dew carried numerous players deep into the top cut so Pooka’s ability to remove the Tool worked out well for him.

1 Computer Search

Recently a majority of Plasma players had become comfortable with their choice of ACE SPEC between either Dowsing Machine or Scramble Switch. After US Nationals these choices have largely been shaken up.

I agree with Kyle’s choice to forgo Dowsing Machine/Scramble Switch for Computer Search as this is a very aggressive deck and Computer Search facilitates that aggression from the very first turn of the game as well as granting the ability to search for a Special Energy or Pokémon.

1 Lightning Energy

Having even one basic Lightning Energy can make a difference against a Garbodor deck filled with Hammers. A Thundurus EX with a basic Lightning Energy attached will force the Garbodor player to Junk Hunt for Crushing Hammers instead of Enhanced Hammers for at least one turn so that they can discard the Energy.

Kyle Sucevich finished the Swiss rounds of US Nationals with a 7-2 record before eventually losing to David Richard’s Plasma deck in the Top 16. Kyle was then able to make it into the Top 16 of the Last chance for Championship Points tournament securing his Invitation to the World Championships this year in Vancouver. Congratulations Kyle!

Ryan Sabelhaus – Plasma w/ Life Dew

Pokémon – 11

4 Deoxys-EX

3 Kyurem PLF

2 Thundurus-EX PLF

2 Absol PLF

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Colress

3 Bicycle

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Colress Machine

3 Float Stone

2 Switch

2 Team Plasma Ball

1 Ultra Ball

1 Life Dew

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 13

4 Plasma

4 Prism

3 Blend WLFM

2 Blend GRPD

This is the list that many in my area considered to be the best deck choice for the 2013 US National Championships. For the 2nd year in a row I played with the same 60 cards as the 2nd place finisher. This year however I did not also have a great Nationals run myself. After just a few rounds and a very painful loss to a Pokédad that had 30+ Pokémon in his deck I knew it was time to call it a day and drop out to support my friends.

Instead of complaining about the format, the first turn advantage, or anything else I chose to be as humble as I possibly could about my loss. I realize that no one performs well in every tournament that they compete in. Also it was only my 3rd Nationals so there are certainly more deserving players to go all the way such as Edmund and my good friend Ryan.

Other than myself and Ryan Sabelhaus there were so many fantastic players piloting this list at US Nationals. This list of players includes: Kyle Sabelhaus, Dan Richard, Dave Richard, Curran Hill, Robert Shipp, Ashon Haswell, and I’m sure there are a few others that I forgot to mention.

2 Absol PLF

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A 2nd Absol is absolutely the right play.

After playing so games with this deck it became very clear that Absol was the most valuable attacker in every mirror match. Because of this adding a 2nd Absol into the list seemed almost too obvious.

Absol proves its worth in virtually every other matchup as well by providing a Pokémon capable of putting out tons of damage for just two energies instead of the three that Kyurem requires.

If I play this deck again in this format I will always make sure I have deck space for the second Absol; it is far too valuable to play without.

3 Bicycle

Initial testing of Plasma decks showed me just how much I despised having to include copies of Skyla and Bianca. Skyla is a good Supporter for decks like Blastoise that often only need one more Item such as a Rare Candy, Ultra Ball, or Superior Energy Retrieval to complete their turn. This is not the case however for Plasma from my experiences. Skyla rarely seemed to get the job done for me so in the end I had to trade in her pretty face for a few shiny new Bikes!

Bianca has always been a very weak Supporter card so anytime that you can get away with not playing any copies of her in your deck I suggest you do so.

Bicycle instantly earned its spot in the deck allowing plays to happen that would have otherwise been impossible due to the one Supporter per turn rule. Bicycle also provides huge results whenever drawn off an N your opponent played, often giving you four new cards while allowing you to play a Supporter in the same turn.

1 Life Dew

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Called it!

In my last article I tried to convince readers that Life Dew was the correct ACE SPEC to include in Plasma decks because of the monumental difference it can make in games that your opponent does not have access to Tool Scrapper.

Life Dew is not something that your opponents have the luxury of avoiding with any card except for Tool Scrapper (or usually Gothitelle). As long as you attach Life Dew to either a Kyurem or Absol then your opponent will be forced to either Knock Out your Life Dew’d Pokémon or allow you to have a fully powered up attacker for the rest of the game.

Now that Life Dew has taken US Nationals by storm is it still the correct ACE SPEC for Plasma or will Tool Scrapper become more common for the World Championships? Although I have not had much time to think about that question yet I am sure that Tool Scrapper will at least see a slight rise in popularity at Worlds, especially in Blastoise decks. That is a tough question to answer as of right now.

2 Blend GRPD

Including 2 of the “other” Blend Energy in this deck probably comes as a surprise to most readers. With the heavier focus on attacking with Absol this deck needs more than just the 4 standard Prism Energies to work efficiently every game.

Having access to these extra Blends also greatly helps during the times that we need to attack with Deoxys-EX.

If you were to decide to play Plasma for Worlds I would absolutely suggest that you stick with this proven list. The main changes that I would consider are: adding more Ultra Balls, adding the 4th Bicycle, and adding the 4th Colress Machine. If you are not playing Life Dew or Tool Scrapper then you will be at a disadvantage against any Plasma player that is playing their own Life Dew.

Edmund Kuras – Gothitelle/Accelgor

Pokémon – 19

4 Gothita EPO 43

1 Gothorita BCR

3 Gothitelle EPO 47

3 Shelmet NVI

3 Accelgor DEX

3 Mew-EX

1 Duskull BCR

1 Dusknoir BCR

 

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

2 Colress

 

4 Rare Candy

3 Float Stone

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Ultra Ball

2 Pokémon Communication

2 Level Ball

1 Super Rod

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search

 

3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

Disclaimer: I cannot say that I have Edmund’s list 100% correct. I watched all three games on the big screen at US Nationals as I was cheering for Ryan so I recreated the Gothitelle list that I saw throughout those games. I would be willing to bet that the list above is at least within 2-3 cards of Edmund’s exact Nationals winning list.

1-0-1 Dusknoir

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You’ve got to hand it to Dusknoir… it wins games!

A 1-0-1 line of Dusknoir works fine along side Super Rod so that they can be recovered whenever they make it into the discard pile. I actually personally prefer at least a 2-0-1 line to help with prize issues as well as when your only Duskull gets taken out early in a game but 1-0-1 can get the job done just as well.

1 Computer Search

Computer Search was not to much of a surprise as it provides more consistency throughout every stage of a game than Dowsing Machine can. Unlike Dowsing Machine, Computer Search can be used to search your deck turn one for a Supporter, Tropical Beach, or even a Pokémon. Computer Search also has one major advantage over Dowsing Machine; the ability to search the deck for a Double Colorless Energy.

Contrary to many players I actually prefer Computer Search over Dowsing Machine or Scramble Switch in most of my decks for the advantages listed above. This is especially true when concerning Stage 2 decks.

3 Pokémon Catcher

I agree with Edmund’s decision to include a 3rd copy of Pokémon Catcher since he chose Computer Search over Dowsing Machine. The heavy Catcher count aids the deck in a big way when paired against any decks featuring multiple Keldeo-EXs. If we do not deal with benched Keldeo-EXs in a timely manner then the game will not go well for Gothitelle/Accelgor.

1 Super Rod

Super Rod is generally considered to be a must have in this deck. While I do not agree that it must always be included I do feel like it has to be in the deck if you choose to go with a 1-0-1 Dusknoir line.

7 Pokémon Search Cards

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I’m a fan of LB in here.

To be completely honest this is the part of the deck that I am not sure if I got right or not. I do know that Edmund played at least one copy each of Ultra Ball, Level Ball, and Pokémon Communication. If I remember correctly Sam Liggett (who lost in the Top 4 to Edmund) said he included 3 Communication in his list. This is not something that I have been comfortable with myself.

During my extensive testing with Gothitelle/Accelgor I have ran into far to many situations where I needed to play a Pokémon Communication that was in my hand but was prevented from doing so because I did not have any Pokémon that I could shuffle back into my deck. Having an extra copy of Ultra Ball also helps with thinning the deck out so that we will never miss out on a turn of Deck and Cover.

I prefer playing the deck with no less than two Level Balls to ensure that I am able to get multiples of all my Basics in play on my first and second turns. Level Ball is also the simplest way of searching the deck for Accelgor and Gothorita.

3 Tropical Beach

If you are playing this deck at the World Championships then you should make sure to obtain three Beaches; they are all to crucial for this deck’s success.

NO MUSHARNA!!

Just as I explained to you all back in June, playing this deck with Musharna is not the correct approach in my honest opinion. I was glad to see that both of the players that made it into the Top 4 at US Nationals with Gothitelle/Accelgor agreed with my theory.

I still feel as though Musharna is not worth the deck space, bench space, or the addition of another 60 Hit Point Pokémon that is weak to Psychic.

I could see a 1-1 line being successful but then you are almost forced to spend time and resources to search out both Munna and Musharna as it will become increasingly more difficult to naturally draw into both pieces.

Musharna seems to be a “win more” card that I never found myself saying “I wouldn’t have won that game if I did not spend time getting Musharna on my bench.”

No Town Map

Town Map is another card thought to be a staple by the masses that I said I wouldn’t waste my time on.

I say this primarily due to the fact that my personal list plays a thicker Dusknoir line. The value of Town Map skyrockets while only playing a 1-0-1 Dusknoir.

Conclusion

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Will a rogue emerge??? We’ll see…

We have witnessed several exciting surprises this year but in the end a well known but somewhat underrated deck brought home the title of US National Champion for Edmund Kuras.

Now that US Nationals are over we have a very clear picture of what decks to expect in Vancouver. There were not any new rogue decks that claimed success at last year’s World Championships but will there be any this year? Only time will tell. With nearly twice as many players qualified this year I would not be surprised to see something innovative make its way into the Top 4.

In just one short month I hope to see every one of you in Vancouver. Good luck to all of you attending, above all else travel safely and have the time of your life regardless of your tournament results.


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