Hey there SixPrizes! I know I haven’t written an article in a long while, but I finally have something to write about. After the 2nd weekend of States when I had a great run with Blastoise and made T8, I was pretty much done for a while. Before the 3rd weekend of States, I came down with a brutal cold and was basically bedridden forcing me to miss that weekend. I was sitting in a position that I didn’t consider too bad at the time at 190 CP.
I was pretty pumped for Spring Regionals and heading down to Georgia… but when the date grew close I saw that Junior Prom was the same weekend. I had to choose and I decided that I would like to go to Prom and I had a pretty great time so no regrets there. My only regret is that because of school I stopped coming to league and testing with decks.
The only deck I had built was Blastoise and when I found out I could go to the last weekend of Battle Roads I started to netdeck. I basically grabbed a Lugia/Kyurem/Keldeo/Deoxys deck and thought that I would do well with that. I took it to league all proxied out the Friday before the Battle Roads and I lost almost every single game that I played with it to the “secret deck” at the time.
Gothitelle/Accelgor was what Jimmy Pendarvis was playing at league and for the longest time he’s helped me out with my decks and I’ve been very grateful for that. He beat me enough times to make me want to play the deck. I borrowed the entire deck from another friend Bryan Zamora as I didn’t have many cards of my own and we had 6 rounds. Unfortunately I went 3-3 with the deck because I got donked by a Deoxys twice.
Right then and there I decided that I would not play that deck ever ever again. Michael Pramawat went 6-0 with Blastoise at that Battle Roads and that proved to me that my favorite deck was still alive. I talked with Pram and basically looked over his list and made a few changes that suited my play style more. I decided at that moment that I was going to play Blastoise no matter what for Nationals.
I was set on Stoise till the end and we got into the car for Nationals and on the way there we basically slept the entire way there. Once we got to the convention center I headed straight to the open gaming room and met up with some good friends. As I playtested my Blastoise I started worrying about the mirror and how I would lose the Black Kyurem war, so I almost put in a baby Black Kyurem but decided against it.
I showed my deck to Jon Bristow and he suggested that I play 3 Superior Energy Retrievals instead of 4 and play one regular one. I wanna give him a huge shoutout because that really saved me a few games that I really needed it.
I finalized my list, sleeved up my deck, and hit the sack for the night around 2:30 AM cause I was still nervous. Here’s what my list looked like:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
What you’ll immediately see and probably give me some criticism for is the 3 Skyla. So I’ll take a second to explain a few of the choices that I made.
The reason I chose to play 4 Catcher while most Blastoise decks play 3 is that I like the options it offers. I specifically threw it in for Plasma decks and others who play non-EX attackers. If possible I’d like to avoid the 7th Prize so I usually catcher around the Absol or Kyrurem and take the 6 Prizes off of 3 Black Ballistas on all Pokémon-EX.
I chose to play Mr. Mime because I was really worried about Darkrai. To be completely honest, the 30 damage on my Blastoise or even worse my Black Kyurem was very scary when you’re staring down an Absol with a Dark Claw and a Virbank and a Laser. But I didn’t consider the possibilities that it offered with Kyurem’s Frost Spear. It was extremely useful in stopping that bench damage.
Without further ado, onto the tournament report…
I was awoken at around 3 AM because a certain someone in my room had set the thermostat to 52 degrees in our room and I was on the ground shirtless with a very thin blanket and couldn’t stop shivering. I basically said I’m getting out of this room and set the thermostat up to 72 and walked out.
I went down to the gym and lifted for a bit and came back and took a hot shower and then woke up Bryan Zamora and we headed over to Steak ‘n Shake to grab some Breakfast. That’s where I saw my buddies from Philly; Stephan Deshazo trying to be all clever and hiding himself behind the menu, Isaiah, Ishaan, and Sydney. We joined them for breakfast and we all headed down to the convention center to get our deck lists written and prepare ourselves for the tournament.
When I got to the hall, I grabbed my deck list and met up with Ryan Sablehaus, Dan and Dave Richards, Spencer Whitehurst, JR Madison, Cat Peters, Bobby Malec, Dean Nezam, and some other people (sorry if I forgot you guys). I saw them setting up their cool Plasma decks with Life Dew and I showed them my list. Granted I got heavy criticism from everybody, I got a couple of people telling me to stick to my gut and that’s exactly what I did.
Everyone gathers for the player’s meeting and I’ve never told anyone before but I’m extremely superstitious during an event. A couple of my crazy rituals are…
- I have to listen to one song between every round of swiss which I deem my “pump up jam.” (As for this particular event I chose “House Party” by Meek Mill.)
- If I lose a round of Swiss I change my shirt immediately, so I was carrying two spare shirts around with me all day in my bag.
- This is probably the weirdest one of them all. Between every round of Swiss I hug a lucky person or persons to make sure I have luck on my side. They’re kind of like my version of lady luck. (For this Nationals I had Ryan and Kyle Sablehaus and occasionally Rachel Baumbach.)
During the player’s meeting I was ridiculously nervous and second guessing everything that I had done so far. I basically made Mike Canaves and Kyle keep telling me that we’d all be just fine and that we all got this and loitered in their area for a while. I eventually got to my seat and talked to Rachel (who stole my hat, but it’s ok cause I love her), for a bit to calm my nerves and I look down at my phone to see that my buddy Isaiah M tweeted at me with a picture. I open it up and see that it’s me vs. him Round 1.
Right off the bat I’m up against a person I know. I knew I was in for a long day and I get ready. My good buddy Justin Sanchez walks over and we trade decks to look through what we’re playing and I saw RayEels. Now a guy like me who believed that deck was dead was surprised and scared about this deck resurfacing.
Round 1 vs. Isaiah Middleton (Plasma)
This game was pretty black and white because we both had pretty slow starts. The only big difference was that I was able to get out a T3 Blastoise and he was unable to get much. He pretty much only put down non-EX attackers for a while until he dropped 3 Deoxys and at that point I knew I only needed 3 attacks to win the game. I basically got off 3 Black Ballistas and ended the game.
Isaiah has the calmest face I’ve ever seen in my life and for the first time ever I don’t think I was able to read an opponent by his face. I made a friend off of this game and although Isaiah didn’t do well he’s still awesome.
Round 2 vs. Bohdan (Plasma Garbodor)
Right off the bat I know I’ve heard this guy’s name before and I couldn’t remember where. I was talking to Dave and Dan and they told me he plays Garbodor but they didn’t tell me with what. I was immediately nervous because I had no tech for Garbodor in my deck at all. I was apprehensive about this matchup, but I was still confident going in.
Right off the bat he opens an Energy Press Cobalion and I start worrying. He doesn’t get much T1, but gets a Kyurem, attaches to it, and passes. I get out 2 Squirtle and decide that I should bench a 3rd and get out Beach and use it. He doesn’t have much, but gets out a Trubbish and Beaches because he whiffed the Energy attachment.
I get out a Blastoise and get 3 Energy on a Keldeo, but whiff the 4th to KO his Kyurem. He drops a Scramble Switch into Cobalion gets out a Garbodor, puts a PLASMA BADGE, that’s right a Plasma Badge, and Colress Machines and attaches, and uses Energy Press. So I’m sitting here trying to get the 4th Energy and attack, or a catcher and a keldeo.
I Juniper and hope to get it and completely whiff so I get a Keldeo and switch out twice and do damage to the active Cobalion. He hits my active for another 80 and that’s a giant relief for me. I manage to hit the Catcher to take out the Garbodor but don’t get the Energy to power up another Keldeo.
After that point everything kinda became a blur, but all I remember is that I charged up a Black Ballista manually and got rid of his 2nd and only Garbodor and was trying to get the Energy to end it that turn. I whiffed the 4th Energy so I looked through his discard and realized he had already used up 3 Catcher so I simply retreated into my Mime because I had 150 already on the Black Kyurem and only needed 1 Prize to win the game.
I had Superior Energy Retrieval and a Candy in hand so he simply killed the Mime and I just got the 4 Energy back to get the KO and win. That was probably the greatest game that I’ve ever played in my life. Bohdan was the nicest guy I’ve ever met and I give him great props for building a deck this creative and fun! Great meeting you buddy.
So at this point I head over to the mall and grab my usual Chinese food and sit down with the rest of the Florida and South Carolina people and joined up with the dudes who were fortunate enough to have 2 byes like Harrison Leven, Mike Canaves, Ryan Sablehaus, and some others.
We had a jovial lunch and Jose Marrero and Spencer Whitehurst and especially Grafton Roll and we all headed back to start Round 3. I see my online pairings and oh boy, here is another great friend who I didn’t want to play so early in the tournament.
Game 3 vs. Jimmy O’Brien (Gothitelle/Accelgor)
I was hoping for a good game with a friend, but in the end it didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. While I was glad, it didn’t feel like a real win because his deck never even got set up and I rolled him because I went first and got a T2 Blastoise. Jimmy’s still a great friend and I was happy to hear that he made cut later in the day. You’re a great buddy Jimmy!
Clay Peters (Garbodor/Landorus)Round 4 vs.
I’m usually a very fun player and love to make chit chat with my opponents and try to make jokes where I can, and no matter how bad I’m being beat I won’t hold a grudge against you. This kid was a newer player to the game, but he was very disrespectful to me. He was being condescending and disrespectful, asking me for advice on what his next plays should be, which I found to be a bit arrogant and disrespectful to me as a player.
Basically he got out a T2 Garbodor going first and I was forced to start killing his Garbodors, I had a huge turn where I exploded with Blastoise and killed a Landorus and got 3 Energy on my Keldeo. At this point we were 2-2 in Prize count and the board looked like this. He has an active Garbodor with a Float Stone, a benched Landorus and a benched Tornadus EX with no Energy on his field. I have 2 Blastoise and a Squirtle and a Keldeo with 3 energy.
He catchers up the Blastoise and I’m sitting here holding my head because I have the Catcher in hand for game. He retreats into the Tornadus and Blow Throughs for 60. Now I get really nervous because all he has to do to win the game is to use Hammerhead two turns in a row to KO my Squirtle and win the game. I luckily had Skyla to grab the Heavy Ball and make sure I had an out with Rare Candy Blastoise to block the KO and limit his options as he was out of Catcher.
He surprisingly attached to the active Tornadus and just take the KO on my Blastoise and I showed him the catcher for the game. This was a nightmare matchup that I simply wanted to avoid, but I managed to pull it off.
Round 5 vs. Adam Jones (Plasma)
This guy was a really nice guy, and I enjoyed playing against him. Now this game was very, very close and really fast. I got a T2 Blastoise and whiffed the Secret Sword, but he managed to get a T2 Freeze Burn and get rid of my Keldeo that was active. I retaliated with a Catcher-kill on Deoxys and he put a ton of damage on my active. I decided to set up a benched Black Kyurem and KO a benched Deoxys again. He takes the KO on the active and has an N to 2.
Now here’s where I’m eternally grateful to Jon Bristow for the Energy Retrieval. I drew into a Water Energy, an Energy Retrieval, and a Skyla. I had 3 Catcher in the discard and my opponent thought I was out of Catcher but I was able to Skyla for the last Catcher in my deck and get the last 2 Prizes on his Deoxys.
It was a close game and super fast paced, and Adam is a really good player! Great meeting you buddy.
At this point we get random deck checked and me and Dan were talking about our decks and I think he was one of the only few people that gave me praise for having the guts to only play 3 Skyla. I met up with Jewell and Matt and talked to them for a bit and kind of started pacing back and forth because I was nervous.
I found Henry and Summer and talked to them and then continued pacing. Spencer at this point was 5-0 as well so we were pretty psyched. I went and found Kyle and Ryan again and got my good luck hugs and sat back down for Round 6.
Now I knew exactly what my Round 6 opponent was playing because my good friend Tommy Brown (a Senior from my area), and his dad, Dan Brown, told me that he played her Round 3 and lost to her and she was playing Blastoise. I was pretty pumped for the first mirror match of the day and sat down to go.
Round 6 vs. Nicholena Moon (Blastoise/Keldeo/Black Kyurem)
This match went pretty much exactly as one expects the mirror. I went first and got double Squirtle out and just passed even though I had Computer Search, Candy, double Water, and Juniper in hand. She got out almost an identical set up and passed.
I went ahead and got out a Stoise and got a T2 Black Ballista on her Black Kyurem. She retaliated with her own KO. I managed to get another one and she did the same. I got N’d to two and drew into a Water and a Lightning, and drew into the Energy Retrieval again to win the game. That was a pretty fast paced mirror and a close one! I was nervous the entire time and great game Nicholena! I made a great friend and good luck with future tournaments!
At this point I was pretty pumped cause I was almost guaranteed cut! I walked around talked to a few people like Pram, Pooka, and Mike Lesky. They were all in pretty solid positions too, but I was hoping at this point that my boys would do well! I found Henry again and he was doing pretty good too! I found some of the Seniors from my area like Robby, Ishaan, Orrin, Henry, Alex Smetana and found out they were all doing pretty well in their division.
I met Angel for the first time and that guy is pretty chill and we talked for a bit. I go talk to my buddies from Florida, people like my home boy Twitch (Santiago), Bobby, Harrison, and Mike and they were all surprised that I was 6-0, but happy for me so we got ready and I checked my pairings to see that I was up against Sander Rosen. I walked over to Jon and my boy Gino and they tell me that Sander is playing the mirror and I’m pretty excited because I felt like I had the mirror down.
Round 7 vs. Sander Rosen (Mirror)
He goes first and gets a T2 Stoise but nothing else past that. He puts down a baby Black Kyurem and I’m worried immediately. He doesn’t have another Squirtle down so I get 5 Energy on a Keldeo and take out his Blastoise. I catcher up a Squirtle every single turn until after I Knocked Out all 4 he scooped up his cards, congratulating me on being the 7-0 for the day. I wished him luck and was relieved that I was done for the day and was exhausted.
That night we partied really hard and had lots of fun. I give huge shoutouts to Zach Fisher, Gio, Robby Gill, Mike Newman, Summer, Canaves, and some other people for making Friday night pretty enjoyable. Then we moved back from Buffalo Wild Wings to play Resistance at the convention center. That’s when I met the quirky but fun loving Eric Gansman who’s my really good friend now. I hung out with Ray Cipoletti, Brad Curcio, and some other people that night.
I don’t remember much from that night but I know we headed back to Ryan’s room (thanks so much for letting me stay with you), had some fun with BT, Kyle, Bobby, Spencer, Casey, and Ryan and we all went to bed pretty early.
The next day we woke up and were pumped and ready to go! I had some great friends from back home cheering me on and friends there cheering me on too, like Aaron Wang, LJ Wenger (PAPA SWELLJ), Dylan Dreyer, Sam Estes, Keelan Day, Jordan Parrish, Westin Lee, Aaron Sanyer, Peter Kirchman, Matt Rockwell, Tyler Morris, Gavin, and Eli Moses. I wanna thank everyone for the support that they gave me heading into Day 2.
Another huge shoutout to Matthew Moss, Westin Lee, and whoever else drafted me on their fantasy teams! I loved Matt cause he was really supportive and he was happier than I was every time I won a game. Love ya buddy.
Round 8 vs. Matthew Chin (Blastoise)
I find out I’m up against the mirror again and this game goes much like the other ones. I go first and manage to win the game with 3 Black Ballistas (including one on T2).
At this point I was ecstatic and I could not believe where I was. I had friends like Justin and the Orgel brothers congratulating me, all my friends from the East Coast, and people I’ve never met before either. I wanted to be the undefeated player at all costs; I wanted to have that accomplishment on my resumé and I knew that I would have to face a dear friend for that title.
I knew what my buddy was playing and it was still super scary. The most crucial turn came when I was N’d to 3 and drew into Beach and 2 Superior Energy Retrievals. I had 100 everywhere on my board so dropping 4 Energy while Frozen City was down would totally kill me.
Thankfully I was able to take control of the game with that turn. I was able to KO the Kyurem and he got me with Thundurus. He N’d me to 2 and I drew into the regular Energy Retrieval and a Water for the game on his Active. Great game Johnny and good luck at Worlds buddy!
I was super pumped at this point and never felt better. The feelings running through my head were amazing! I was on top of the freaking world. Unfortunately my thunder died down pretty quickly when I was up against another great player and friend, Aaron Curry.
Top 128 vs. Aaron Curry (Gothitelle/Accelgor)
Unfortunately he goes first Game 1 and gets out a T2 Gothitelle and I’m completely locked out. I tried to get the 4th Energy for my Keldeo to kill his Goth at one point, but I had 4 Water Energy prized and that was pretty depressing, but that’s how this match-up goes and I was determined to make a comeback.
Game 2 went entirely in my favor because I had the T2 Blastoise and got 4 Energy down on a Keldeo in the Active spot and 2 on the benched one. When I managed to KO his Shelmets and he was unable to get anything set up, he scooped to save himself time for Game 3.
Game 3 was a pretty one sided game as I opened Mime for the first time all tournament and didn’t get the Keldeo out T1. I missed the energy drop and had to pass. Aaron gets the T2 Gothitelle and begins the lock. I try my best to counter his Accelgor but he never whiffs the lock and I manage to see only one Keldeo all game to lose it.
That was a pretty depressing way to get Knocked Out of top cut, but I still had a great day.
The rest of the evening I spent cheering on my friends and I went out partying again with mostly the same people. I was heading to dinner with a couple of friends, including Brit, and then got hopelessly lost when half the group went to Buffalo Wild Wings and the other half went to Palamino’s. I essentially had a great Nationals and when Ryan made into T4 we celebrated even harder and played lots of games of Resistance.
We went back to the hotel room and got some good sleep and the next morning we all went on to cheer Ryan on! Unfortunately he lost in the Finals to Edmund’s Gothitelle. I had a great Nationals and I hope to make my way to Worlds, but I’m gonna miss all of you guys until next year.
Also shout out to everyone in Ryan’s box during the Finals; I still remember the epic moment we all chanted “Duskull pass” and almost got kicked out. This one’s for Kyle and Spencer, I’ll never forget about “the Royal Thickness,” and because she’s amazing, Rachel love ya. Thanks to my amazing friends back home who had no idea what Pokémon is, but cheered me on regardless.
Another giant shout out to Summer Plesko for forgetting Rayquaza was a Dragon type to lose the game; best laugh I got all tourney. I wanna say thank you to Kaitlin Young for being there and making me feel better after I lost my T128 match. Everyone that I spent time with I’d like to also thank for making this weekend one of the best weekends of my life.
- Going 9-0 Swiss
- Meeting Dan and bonding with him
- Team Prison
- Ryan Letting me crash in his room
- Kaitlin for being the best person ever
- Love ya always Rachel
- Jewell and Summer for being amazing
- Partying with some great people
- Ryan making the Finals
- “Duskull pass”
- Losing to Goth
- Henry and McClure leaving so soon
- Not hanging out with everybody (sorry for whoever I couldn’t hang out with)
- Not going to see you guys for a long time
- “Duskull pass”