Hello, 6P. Professor Redwood here with my third article. Many people are abuzz about Gothitelle taking Nationals, but I’m writing to discuss another important event. This year’s Professor Cup had a little over 100 entrants: the hard working judges and league leaders that make your tournament and league play possible.
This year was the first that I was eligible to participate in the Cup. It’s humbling to play alongside so many dedicated and industrious people, all of whom deserve our thanks and appreciation.
With that said, for those who aren’t familiar with the Professor Cup, here’s what makes it different.
- “Kiddie Pool”
- The Redwood Special
- Tech City: Population Redwood
- Round 1 vs. Dan Brandt with Krokorok.dec
- Round 2 vs. Charmeleon.dec
- Round 3 vs. The Hoothoot Deck
- Round 4 vs. Chansey + Venipede
- Round 5 vs. Shiny Pikachu.dec
- Round 6 vs. The Hoothoot Deck + Togetic
- Round 7 vs. Charmeleon.dec
- Round 8 vs. Shiny Pikachu.dec + Scyther
Each year, the Cup has a specific ruleset/format that is very different from the normal Modified format everyone is used to. This time, the following rules were in effect:
- Any Pokémon you use in your deck must be able to evolve into something else. (E.g. Tepig can be used because it can evolve. Emboar cannot be used because it cannot evolve.)
- Decks contain 30 cards, and games are played in 20 minute rounds to 3 Prizes.
- Only 2 of any card with the same name can be used in a deck.
- Hypnotoxic Laser is banned. (This came after the European Professor Cup had 99% Whirlipede decks, and was the right decision, as this Cup had much more innovation and variety.)
Before talking about some of my games, I’ll discuss the deck I used. I’ve named it the way it is because I didn’t see anyone using the same build.
Pokémon – 6
2 Timburr PLS
Trainers – 16
Energy – 8
Let’s discuss some of the specific cards that made a real difference in the deck.
Timburr has been printed three different times. With so many Timburrs to pick from, why this one? The first reason is that this one has 70 HP. Every 10 is important in this format, and one of the more useful attackers (to be discussed shortly) hits for 60.
Timburr’s first attack, Knock Back, is useful to shift your opponent’s attackers around. There is little space in these decks for a bunch of Switches, Escape Ropes, or Float Stones (I didn’t see anyone using Float Stone), so being able to move your opponent’s Pokémon around is useful. As Fighting hits Lightning (there are no Lightning types in this format that aren’t weak to Fighting), Darkness, and Colorless types for Weakness, statistically, it’s a great type to use.
Same with Timburr, Gurdurr has been printed three different times. So why this one? First reason is the same. This Gurdurr has 90 HP. Second, his first attack, Dynamic Punch, does 40 on tails and 60 + Confusion on heads for [F][C][C]. Double Colorless compatibility is great, as well as a solid secondary effect.
His second attack, Hammer In, does a standard 80 for [F][F][C][C]. 80 is an extremely strong number in this format that few can survive. There are exceptions, of course, but hitting for 80 will put a real dent in anything.
Chansey DEX 80
This isn’t the Continuous Tumble Chansey. This Chansey has Sing for [C] which causes guaranteed sleep, and Double-Edge for [C][C][C] that does 60 and 30 self-damage. Why is this card good? First, Chansey has more HP than any Basic in this format at 100. Second, its first attack can be used to slow down and delay your opponent while you set up. Third, attaching Eviolite to Chansey not only provides damage protection from the opponent, but also reduces your Double-Edge self damage to 10.
The main weakness of these attackers is the heavy retreat cost and the inability to do damage for less than 2 energy (really 3 when talking about the bigger picture). We’ll see how they fare when I start discussing games and opposing decks.
The next topic is a big issue both in this format as well as the normal Modified game.
Thinking about your format and possible cards to tech in is a big task. It becomes an even bigger issue when your format is a dive from the normal game and there’s no clearly defined “Tier 1” decks or similar. It becomes much more of a guessing game. Let’s discuss some of the primary techs in my deck.
N is a tech? Hard to believe, right? The standard thought might be, “N won’t be good as a draw Supporter, I’ll only get three cards. That isn’t enough to accomplish anything with.” It’s true that N will only give three cards at the beginning of a game, but I included it in the deck for a different reason.
In this format, picture going first, putting down 2 Pokémon, attaching an Energy, attaching a tool, then playing N. You didn’t really lose anything, but you just cut your opponent’s hand in half. You already created a solid chance for them to dead draw and get stuck in the water. N is also a key card against a deck I’ll discuss later.
With so many attack costs following the (color) [C][C] format, it’s a safe bet that decks will be playing Double Colorless Energy. Add in the fact that they can only use two, and a well-timed Enhanced Hammer can really shift the game in your favor.
The ACE SPEC that people laughed at was critical in this format. 60 retaliation damage against an attacker who has 100 HP at the most? Extremely powerful. I would credit at least 2 of my wins to this card.
Why is Tool Scrapper important? Read the above card.
Stadium cards. So extremely influential, even in this type of game. There are numerous Stadium cards, so why use Battle City? The primary reason is that your opponent can’t build a strategy around getting 1 extra card per turn. Aspertia can buff their attackers. Virbank lets them use Poison to greater effect. Pokémon Center would help them more because my attackers will basically never retreat, etc. etc. Running a counter Stadium won another 2 games for me.
There are people who sing Switch’s praises and Rope’s curses. Personally, I love Escape Rope, and would never leave home without it. There are so many situations where this card comes in handy, I even use it in my normal Modified Competition deck. Remember the motto, “Never leave home without some rope.”
So now that you have the full explanation of the deck, what it’s designed to do, and how it’s designed to do it, it’s time to talk about some of the games I played and some of the other big decks in this format.
Does that name look familiar? It should. Mr. Brandt is one the TPCi’s head administrators. He makes many decisions that directly impact the game. He’s also a great guy. If you play him and lose, you’ll walk away saying, “That was the most fun I’ve had losing while playing Pokémon.”
This is generally agreed to be the Croc to play. His first attack, Torment, costs [C], does 10 damage, and lets you block an opponent’s attack from being used. When things like Float-Keldeo don’t exist, and it’s difficult to have free retreat, Torment is extremely useful. His second attack, Bite, costs [F][C][C] and does 50, which is a respectable number for this format. Krokorok’s Water weakness is actually an advantage as there aren’t outstanding Water attackers in this format.
Seems odd, right? A Vibrava? Vibrava’s attack cost meshes with Krokorok’s, has an unusual typing that isn’t resisted, and a self-weakness that anybody who would exploit would also be vulnerable to. Vibrava’s main selling point is the Sand Pulse attack. Same cost as Bite, same damage, but with the added effect of putting 1 counter on all opposing bench sitters.
Vibrava’s pre-evolution has the attack Smithereen Smash, which lets you flip to discard an Energy attached to the Defending Pokémon. Not always useful, but in the right circumstances, can really derail your opponent.
Hippo has an F cost attack, Sand Jet, that causes 20 snipe damage to a bench target of your choice. He also has 90 HP, a beyond respectable number for this format.
Boldore’s first attack, Smack Down, does 20, or 60 if the opponent has a Fighting resistance. As fighting resisters wall Krokorok fairly well, Boldore can help mitigate that. His second attack, Power Gem, does 80 for [F][F][C][C], which is again a powerful number.
I started Chansey, and he had Sandile. He got the Croc set up fairly quickly, and I couldn’t get anybody else out. As I said before, even though I lost, it was still a good game, as he is a great guy.
This round was against a female professor whose name I forget. Charmeleon is another very strong option in this format, primarily because of his second attack.
Charmander has 70 HP, a strong starting number. As mentioned before, Chansey was popular and having more than 60 really works to your advantage.
Charmeleon has 90 HP, and his second attack, Raging Claws, has 50 base damage and the “Outrage” effect of adding 10 for every 10 Charmeleon is damaged. That means that Charmeleon could be doing 130 damage, significantly more than he’d ever need to do.
Frozen City gives Charmeleon the ability to damage himself and his opponents without the need to attack or be attacked. Control over the damage that helps you (both on yourself and on your opponent) is very useful.
Having a backup attacker never hurts. Monferno’s first attack forces a switch by the opponent for C, and his second does 50 for FC and discarding an energy.
Essentially a Max Potion on Charmeleon, even if you heal all his damage, he still does 50.
Increasing Charmeleon’s HP capacity increases both his survivability and damage ability.
In this game, I open Chansey again, and sing to stall while I build up a Gurdurr. Eventually, she gets her Charmeleon set up, and knocks out the Chansey. I bring up the Gurdurr and use Dynamic Punch. I hit heads, causing 60 and confusion. The board is in a sensitive position. If she loses the Charmeleon, she only has a Charmander left to send up. If I lose the Gurdurr, I only have a Timburr with nothing on it to send up.
She decides to take the gamble and use Charmeleon’s attack. She hits tails, causing Charmeleon to knock itself out. With the Charmander active, I use Gurdurr’s Hammer In attack to knock it out for game.
This deck is unique and troll enough to get a “The” instead of “.dec”. One of this deck’s primary strengths is its surprise factor. After playing it twice, I have a much better understanding of how to win against it.
The star of the deck. The entire point of the Hoothoot deck is to make your opponent draw their entire deck. For [C], Hoothoot’s attack causes both players to draw 2 cards. This deck operates on the logic that most people would not run N or Colress in this format, which was mostly but not completely true.
Asperita City Gym
This was all over the place. Increasing Hoothoot from 60 to 80 HP makes him much more durable and will keep him on the field much longer.
Since most of your opponents can’t one shot you, heal cards further stall out, giving you better chances of decking your opponent out.
Since the race will be whether you can deck them out or they can take three Prizes, why not tip the scales and make them take four?
Togepi PLS, Togetic PLS
Running only 2 Basics is risky, because if you prize one, you’re essentially screwed. Togetic’s attack makes your opponent draw a card, which fits the Hoothoot strategy.
This is arguably the most important inclusion. Your opponent is going to quickly build very large hand sizes. Hugh makes them throw large amounts of cards away, ensuring they gain no benefit, and can’t N/Colress them back into the deck.
This was the first game I had played against The Hoothoot Deck, and I didn’t completely understand the tactics. I used an N in the early game, thinking that reducing the number of his cards would ultimately benefit me. The two cards I needed, Tool Scrapper and N, were the last two cards at the bottom of my deck, which I had to draw in a Dual Draw, and decked out.
When playing Hoothoot, the most important thing is to have only 1 attacker, preferably the one in your deck that does the most damage, and just swing away. It’s also important to keep all other Pokémon and Tool cards in your hand. If you are Hugh-ed you’ll want to throw those away first, as you won’t need them.
This isn’t really its own deck per se, it was more of a toolbox. From what I could tell, Venipede was a tech, not a main attacker of the deck. If you’re wondering which Venipede it was…
Why this one? Venipede BCR has the Ability Poison Point that automatically inflicts poison on anything that hits it. Combine this with a Virbank on the table and you essentially guarantee 60 in return damage. The weakness of this of course is that if you play against The Hoothoot deck, Venipede is basically dead weight. Hoothoot never “attacks.”
The Chansey he used was the same as the one in my deck.
This game, he starts with a Venipede, and I start with a Timburr. I go first and use N T1, cutting his hand in half. He is N’ed into both Heavy Balls in his deck, and uses them to search out the two Chansey. I build my Timburr into a Gurdurr, catch up a Chansey, and Dynamic Punch it. I hit tails so it wasn’t knocked out. He plays a Switch to bring his Venipede back up, hoping to stall and cause some residual damage.
I use Skyla for the other Catcher to knock out the Chansey. With his hand so low, he struggles to do much. He attaches to the Chansey and leaves the Venipede up. Obviously, it wouldn’t be good to attack the Venipede, but I’ve already used both Catchers. Remember the motto? I use Escape Rope to bring his Chansey up, and Hammer In it for 160. He has no way to stop me from doing the same to his Venipede, and I get my third Prize.
2-2 at the end of the first day. Cup cuts to 16, so the pressure is on. A loss means losing the chance to make cut.
When the Cup format was first announced, the two decks that were talked up in a big way were Venoshock Whirlipede, and Shiny Pikachu/Eels. Laser was banned, which removed Whirlipede, but Pikachu remained.
Pikachu’s second attack does 80 damage for [L][C][C], and requires all Energy be discarded. Expensive, but hard hitting, and recyclable with Eels on the table. It’s fortunate that Eels evolve and are legal in this format.
Most of the cards in this format aren’t meta, but this one is. You all know what he does.
I didn’t even think about this until I sat across from someone playing it. Scyther’s attack, Air Slash, does 60 at the cost of discarding one Energy. It costs [C][C][C], so it causes no problems with Energy compatibility. Although not as good as Pikachu’s attack in terms of damage, it costs less and does enough to knock out a decent number of Basics in this format.
Remember when Darkrai came out and killed off all the free-retreat Tynamos? Well, in a format with nearly no sniping, why not use the 30HP free-retreat Tynamo?
This is another game I went first and slapped down a T1 N. Timburr v. Tynamo (Thunder Wave) didn’t look good for my opponent. He used couple of Level Balls and played Juniper to recover from the N (Juniper is a ballsy card to play in this format, as the decks are so thin) He puts down one of his Pikachu, and attaches to it, but by the time he gets it down, I have Gurdurr set up and Catcher in hand. From that point, I roll with Dynamic Punch and Hammer In.
Having played against Hoothoot yesterday, I formulated a strategy to win. I started Chansey and intentionally kept all of my other Pokémon off the bench. He started Dual Drawing immediately, and I attach an Eviolite to begin Double Edging. He put Aspertia on the table, so I couldn’t 1-shot his Hoothoots.
After Double Edging one, he retreats it, hoping to stall and pick up a healing card. He sends up his second Hoothoot to continue the Dual Drawing. With the damaged Hoothoot on the bench, I Skyla for my Battle City, and set it down, knocking out the first Hoothoot. I then Double Edge the second Hoothoot, which destroys his strategy.
He sends up a Togepi and evolves it, and benches another Togepi. He Recycles, hits heads, puts the Asperita on top of his deck, and uses Battle City to draw it. I am able to catch the Togepi on the bench (who only has 60 HP with Aspertia) and Double-Edge it for the game.
He goes first, and immediately lays down Frozen City. This doesn’t look good. I have no healing cards, and Frozen City only increases his damage output. I have a Chansey standing center, singing to stall while I build up a Gurdurr. I Skyla, looking for my Battle City, but it’s prized. I go with Plan B and get the Rock Guard out, and attach it to Gurdurr.
He eventually takes out the Chansey, and Charmeleon knocks itself out on Gurdurr’s Rock Guard, but takes Gurdurr with him. So, I have 2 Prizes left, he has 1. He sends up his tech Elygem, hoping to buy some time to get the second Charmeleon. He uses Computer Search for a Juniper, sets Double Colorless on the Charmander, and uses Elygem to look through his deck. I bring up Chansey, N him to 1, and sing the Elygem to sleep.
After the N, he can’t do anything and passes. I N him a second time to 1, and Double-Edge the Elygem. His Charmander has 20 on him from 1 attachment under Frozen City, but being N’d twice kept him from getting any outs to the Charmeleon, and I Double Edge the Charmander for game.
Now the pressure’s on. Sitting at 5-2, if I want to cut, I have to pull off one more win.
I get the first turn, opening with a Chansey, but have no Energies in my hand. I put the Rock Guard on Chansey, and use the T1 N to cut my opponent’s hand in half. He opened with free-retreat Tynamo, but I need at least 2 turns to be able to attack. I didn’t get any Energy from the N either, so I didn’t manage to do anything.
On his turn, he plays a Level Ball and says “I can’t believe it.” When you play against someone who uses Eels, you know what that means. Both of his Eels were prized. He uses the Ball to pick out Scyther, attaches a Lightning to it, and can’t do anything else. I pick up one Fighting Energy, but no Supporters or Energies for several turns, in a contest between singing and top decking, both of us are fairly stuck.
He knows he needs a Prize, so after his Tynamo wakes up, he retreats it into the Scyther, and uses Air Slash, taking the 60 damage. He also puts down one Pikachu. I draw into Bianca, which nets a Double Colorless. Being more afraid of the Pikachu, I catch it up, and Double-Edge it, putting Chansey at a total of 90 damage.
He knows he needs a Prize to get in the game, so he has one Tynamo take the sacrifice and explode itself on Rock Guard to knock out Chansey. I have the other Chansey out, with no Energy on it, so I send it up and start singing again until I can get the other Double Colorless. He catchers up a benched Timburr to buy time, but I have Switch and Double Colorless in hand. I bring Chansey back up and Double Edge to finish at 6-2.
Those of you who have stared into the precipice of life or bubble know the feeling when you wait for standings after producing a mid-range record. I’ve never top cut any event so far, so this would be the first if I make it in. The standings come out, and I check the list for my name.
There I am, 17th place. Bubble Champion of the World. It’s disappointing to bubble, but having never cut an event, I’ve also never been close enough to bubble either. So hitting the bubble position was somewhat of an honor.
There is one more deck that was fairly popular, but I never was matched up against. It’s a spinoff of the BDIF in the European Professor Cup.
Whirlipede BLW / BCR
This deck had choices. The BLW version’s first attack is Poison Sting, which does 20 and poisons for PC. It’s second attack costs PCC and does a standard 50. The BCR print has 10 more HP, the same Poison Point ability as the Venipede mentioned above, and the same attack as the BLW’s second. The choice more comes down to preference, with the BLW being more offense oriented, and the BCR being more defensive.
I mentioned this one in the second Charmeleon game. Elygem lets you set up and thin your deck by getting your Basics out quickly. He isn’t a good attacker, so he should be left to the support role.
Ever need an excuse to get out your Gold Helmets? This is a great time. Hitting a Venipede with a Helmet attached and Virbank on the table will essentially guarantee the opponent takes 80 damage without the need for you to attack. Using Rock Guard would nearly be overkill in this situation.
I call this one out because it can very nearly ensure you win the Stadium war. This is especially important against the Hoothoot deck. Of course, the ability to pick up a clutch Catcher or supporter never hurts you either.
The Professor Cup, in my opinion, is an excellent way of TPCi showing its appreciation toward all the judges and League Leaders that promote and maintain the game in their local area. Without the hard work of all these people, Nationals would never have had close to 1,500 players.
Another one of the Cup’s unique features is that instead of having the usual judges (who are by and large playing in the cup) the Cup’s judges are the children of the Professors playing. This gives the kids a chance to “learn the ropes” in preparation for when they are eligible to become Professors themselves.
A great event with great people, I certainly look forward to trying again next year. It’ll likely be 9 months before we get a sense of what the next Cup format will be, but you can bet that after the announcement, the innovation and creativity of all your favorite Professors will be spinning in full gear.