Hey Hey Hey, What’s the Play?!

The Frontrunners for Fall Regionals
vancouver pokemon animefilb.de
Miss you, Vancouver.

Hello SixPrizes Underground readers, it has been far too long since my last article. I wrote before the World Championships and let me tell you: Vancouver was a crazy time. So much happened, but I don’t have time to tell you all my stories, nor is that what you’re here for.

I was lucky enough to be able to room with SixPrizes’ own Adam Capriola, Azul Griego, and Anthony Smith, which was an enjoyable experience as well as an adventurous one. Adam managed to capture a lot of the stupid stuff we did over the weekend and compile videos of the shenanigans YouTube. If anyone cares to watch them they are pretty funny (and very dumb).

Although I didn’t do so well at the tournament itself (I made Top 64), I still had an amazing time and can’t wait for next year, especially since I can drive to Washington DC!

For those of you who are interested in what I played, here is my deck…

Ray’s Eels

Pokémon – 15

4 Tynamo DEX 45
4 Eelektrik NVI

3 Rayquaza-EX DRX
2 Keldeo-EX
1 Raikou-EX
1 Rayquaza DRV

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Colress


4 Ultra Ball
4 Level Ball
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Float Stone
2 Super Rod
1 Max Potion
1 Energy Search

1 Dowsing Machine


3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 12

8 L

4 R

RayEels was definitely a high risk, high reward play and I knew this going into the tournament. In testing it had good matchups against everything excluding the Plasma matchup which was shaky. I was expecting to face a ton of Gothitelle, Blastoise, Darkrai, and Plasma. I was able to consistently beat three of those with this list and thought it gave me a strong chance to win.

My decision almost paid off as I went into the final round at 5-2 only losing to a mirror match and Plasma. My last matchup was against former Senior World Champion Chase Maloney playing Darkrai with Ghetsis. I had tested this matchup and it wasn’t bad, so I felt fairly confident going into the game.

Unfortunately my deck stopped working; I opened with no Supporters and proceeded to draw poorly until I lost. It was a rough way to end the tournament, but I gave it my best shot. I didn’t regret my deck decision whatsoever.

The Lull

starting linepokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com
Still waiting to start the season!

I don’t know about you, but to me the void in between Worlds and Regionals seems like a lifetime! Words can’t express how much I miss Battle Roads and the chance to test out fun ideas while also getting a glimpse into the new format.

I know we have League Challenges now, but we still don’t know much about them nor do I think any will take place before the first set of Regionals. Luckily the Klaczynski Open helped remedy the long drought of Premier Events by showing us a glimpse into the new format.

Everyone mentions the Klaczynski Open in regard to the metagame for Regionals, and it is really all we have to go off of. The Klaczynski Open has provided a base for the American metagame and I expect the results of our Regionals to mirror those of the Klaczynski Open in some way. After the first weekend of Regionals I believe the metagame will shift slightly to adapt to those results, and continue to adjust in the subsequent weeks, which means you will need to keep an eye on the Regional outcomes and adapt.

Today I will also be going over what I believe to be “the plays” for Regionals, or in other words, the decks which give you the best chance to win. Then I want to touch a little bit on how to approach local League Challenges, whenever they may be.

Table of Contents

“The Plays”


Domo arigato Mr. Rayboto.

This deck is currently what I like to call “in the hot seat.” Personally I believe that Darkrai/Garbodor would have probably been the best play for the first Regionals had the Klaczynski Open never happened.

However, it did, meaning this deck is no longer under the radar. It’s quite the opposite actually, and people seem to understand the power of the deck. This could spell doom for it because people will be prepared to combat Garbotoxin at Regionals with two copies of Tool Scrapper.

What were once favorable matchups, such as Blastoise, have now become much closer to 50/50’s or worse thanks to their inclusion of dual Scrappers. Darkrai/Garbodor could turn into Gothitelle/Accelgor 2.0 in the sense that it won a big tournament and then all of a sudden nobody played it.

Why people chose not to play Gothitelle going into Worlds was because players feared all the solid techs people started playing going into Worlds with to help deal with an otherwise bad matchup. If we see this mindset come into effect again, the resulting scenarios will be interesting.

Some players could take the mindgames a step further and just not tech for Darkrai/Garbodor at all because they expect the Worlds theory to take place (and nobody plays the deck). I don’t recommend leaving out your techs for DarkGarb because it still has the ability to win, even without Garbotoxin activated.

Darkrai/Garbodor will still see play. With Gothitelle/Accelgor, paralysis lock was your win condition, and if countered it was nearly impossible for the deck to win. With DarkGarb if you can Night Spear early enough you can still win any matchup.

Playing against decks with Special Energy, mainly Plasma, could earn you easy wins as well thanks to your ability to be able to spam Junk Hunt for Enhanced Hammer. Of course matchups like Blastoise will be nearly impossible if you can’t Ability lock them, but even in that situation a fast Night Spear and some bad luck on their side could seal a game for you.

I think Blastoise is probably the only matchup you will absolutely need to stick a Garbodor to win the matchup out of all the big decks, excluding Toolbox if that sees play.

Now that I have rambled on enough about Darkrai/Garbodor let’s take a look at my current list. Right now I think this is the best way to play the deck and it has been doing well in my testing against all the popular decks in the format.

Pokémon – 11

3 Sableye DEX
3 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Trubbish DRX
2 Garbodor DRX
1 Absol PLF

Trainers – 40

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Skyla
1 Colress
2 Random Receiver


4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Float Stone

1 Switch
3 Dark Patch
3 Ultra Ball
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Dark Claw
1 Energy Search

1 Super Rod

1 Computer Search


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 9

9 D

The list seems similar to other lists that are going around, however I actually do prefer Skyla over cards like Bianca, even with Random Receiver in the deck. To me it feels like Skyla is always getting me exactly what I want when I need it, leaving luck of the draw out of the equation.

I have always been a huge fan of turn one Skyla for Computer Search then being able to Junk Hunt it back. This can lead to potentially explosive starts where you go aggressive with Darkrai and take control of the game early.

My Approach

Most people seem to sit back and Junk Hunt with this deck, but I find myself having a much more aggressive play style. Even without Energy Switch in the format, if you can Skyla for Computer Search while starting Sableye, turn two Night Spear becomes feasible.

When I play this deck it feels like Garbodor is more of a deterrent for my opponent synergizing well with Darkrai than a central focus encouraging you to Junk Hunt forever behind the blanket of board control.

Even though I do play more aggressive in certain matchups, the smart move at times is actually to just Junk Hunt over and over. I find myself doing this against Plasma where I can get them into a constant lock of Catchers mixed with Enhanced Hammers to rid their field of Energy and strip them of resources. Sometimes Junk Hunting is the correct play.

If you can Night Spear to KO a Pokémon, demolishing the Energy on board, that could be a better option as it progresses you toward winning while also providing the same benefit the Enhanced Hammers (removing Energy from play). The best play is always circumstantial and each situation needs to be handled differently.

Many of Darkrai/Garbodor’s matchups are tight which means there is little to no room for in-game mistakes. You can improve your matchups against tough decks like Genesect simply by playtesting a lot against them to establish perfect play.

How to Steal a Game

I want to give you an example of something so small that occurred during my playtesting that made it possible for DarkGarb to prevail against Genesect.

ray playtcg darkrai vs genesect
The board. Three N and twenty-ish cards left in deck.

Player A is the player whose vantage point we are spectating. Currently it is his turn; he has already drawn and attached an Energy for the turn. Player A knows he needs to get Garbodor into play to win this game along with some fancy Laser tricks. However he has no N and his opponent’s hand size is quite large, which means his opponent probably has the Catcher to end the game if Trubbish is benched, especially since 2-3 Pokémon Catcher are left, not to mention a Plasma Energy attached from hand could even act as a pseudo-Catcher.

Does Player A take the risk and bench Trubbish in hopes of getting Garbodor out sooner? It seems so impossible to win, however DarkGarb still manages to pull it off in the end. Here’s how…

Player A decides not to bench the Trubbish nor play the Juniper because he still needs Garbodor in play and Junipering takes away that option due to discarding his only two Trubbish. In this situation you have to bank on hitting the N, and once you do, then play down the Trubbish. Player A Night Spears after retreating Darkrai, putting 110 on to the Virizion and 30 on to a benched Genesect.

On the following turn Player B (the Genesect player) retreats Virizion and Megalo Cannons for 100 damage and puts 20 onto the benched Darkrai.

Now here is the turning point of the game. Player A topdecks an N, giving him an out to winning. Backed by the N it is now safe to play down both Trubbish, attach Float Stone to one, play Virbank, retreat to the other Darkrai, Max Potion the one with 100 damage, and then N.

Off of the N Player A hits Catcher, Juniper, Garbodor, and Dark Claw. He proceeds to attach Dark Claw and Night Spear Virizion for the knockout, bringing the damage up to 60 on the benched Genesect. Player A takes 2 Prizes.

Player B whiffs everything and brings up the damaged Genesect and Megalo Cannons for 100, putting 20 on the benched Darkrai which just got Max Potioned.

Player A evolves to Garbodor, Catchers up the clean Genesect with no damage, and Junipers hoping to hit Laser. He hits a Laser and plays it. Night Spear hits the clean Genesect for 110 damage and puts 30 on the benched Virizion. Between turns Genesect stays asleep and goes up to 140 damage thanks to Virbank City Gym.

Player B is now in a position where he loses if he draws nothing and Player A hits a Laser or Catcher. Player B does in fact draw nothing of use again and is forced to pass. Genesect is Knocked Out between turns, leaving Player A with only 2 Prizes remaining. Player B promotes Virizion so he doesn’t immediately lose, but unfortunately Player A does have Laser and Night Spears for game.

I provided that example just to show how well DarkGarb can come from behind. Even though some situations may seem unwinnable, with logical thinking and favorable draws the deck can overcome almost anything.

I won’t talk about how to tech against DarkGarb because Zach Bivens recently devoted a whole article to Darkrai/Garbodor and talked about teching. I do want to emphasize though, that if Darkrai/Garbodor continues to do well after the first wave of Regionals, you should strongly consider teching even harder for the deck. That’s what we call metagaming, and staying on top of the metagame will be crucial during Regionals.


blastoise opening themepokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com
Viable since its inception.

I see Blastoise as a deck that will mirror Eelektrik’s past, meaning it will be a viable deck in just about every single format since its release. The only difference with Blastoise is that it’s actually been competing to be one of the best decks in every format, especially this one.

Blastoise hasn’t gained much with the release of Plasma Blast, and to be honest its lists haven’t even changed much since Worlds besides the amount of Tool Scrapper necessary these days. Even though it doesn’t pick up anything, it still seems to me to be one of the strongest decks at the moment.

With my testing Blastoise seems to have a 50/50 or better against the whole field. Even with the advent of Genesect it seems that Blastoise is still going strong. In theory strong Grass attackers should direct counters to a deck that is mostly weak to Grass right? Nope. Even with the weakness I still find Blastoise against Genesect to be around a 50/50 matchup.

How this is even possible is thanks to Black Kyurem EX. The ability to 1-shot everything for just four Energy is still absurdly strong. Blastoise versus Genesect tends to go is like this: Genesect tries to come out of the gates strong with the ability to target down Blastoise quickly and try to take a lead.

What Blastoise does to counteract this is to Black Ballista the Genesect with the most Energy to try and slow them down. Genesect’s form of Energy acceleration is through attacking with Virizion’s Emerald Slash, which doesn’t do much damage.

After the Genesect player attacks with Emerald Slash the Blastoise deck can just Catcher the Pokémon with the Energy from Emerald Slash went to and Black Ballista it. This will sever the Energy flow and stop any momentum that Genesect has going for it.

Sometimes the matchup can be as simple as Genesect being able to just Knock Out all the Blastoise and winning by cutting off their Energy acceleration. The problem occurs when the Blastoise player responds with another Blastoise and is able to Knock Out the Genesect leaving the only Energy in play left on Virizion.

Obviously Blastoise won’t get everything every game and some games Genesect will roll over it, but if both decks get optimal starts the matchup seems to be 50/50. It all comes down to the luck of the draw and whether the Blastoise player whiffs on what they need.

Each of Blastoise’s other matchups against the tier one decks like against Darkrai and Plasma remain basically the same as last format, except now Darkrai/Garbodor is seeing more play meaning you can now longer scrape by with only a single Tool Scrapper.

Plasma also gained Silver Bangle, increasing its damage output a bit making the matchup a little bit harder for Blastoise, but the strategy you use to go about winning the stays the same. I typically target down the most threatening attacker with Energy and then go for a couple EX knockouts to win the game. Of course the matchup won’t always play out like this, but that’s how it seems to go most of games.

Here is my current Blastoise list that I’m in love with…

Pokémon – 12

4 Squirtle BCR

3 Blastoise BCR

3 Keldeo-EX

2 Black Kyurem-EX PLS

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper

4 Skyla

3 N

2 Colress


4 Rare Candy

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

3 Ultra Ball

1 Heavy Ball

1 Level Ball

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Tool Scrapper

1 Dowsing Machine


3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 13

10 W

3 L

Nothing seems to be out of the ordinary here and in fact it looks similar to my Nationals list. I still opt to play four Superior Energy Retrieval instead of messing around with Energy Retrieval because I find it to be the superior option. Two Tool Scrapper should be a must in any Blastoise list right now.

Has since been withdrawn from the deck.

Around the time of Worlds Wartortle became standard in Blastoise, but now with Item lock less relevant I feel it’s safe to cut him. If you expect Zebstrika NXD to be prevalent however, I would definitely play Wartortle again. Zebstrika feels like a deck people only play for fun though, so I wouldn’t expect much of it, if any, at Regionals.

I don’t play any fancy techs like Suicune PLB because I don’t think they are too good. It seems like every deck has an out to a copy or two of Suicune, so it’s not worth the space. I would rather increase consistency or play more of my main attackers than mess around with Suicune. In the past a card like Suicune could have been a good replacement for Sigilyph DRX when people played that in Blastoise, but this is a vastly different format.

The only deck that doesn’t really have a strong answer to Suicune would probably be some type of Genesect variant whose only non-EX attacker is Drifblim. Even then, the matchup isn’t bad enough to the point where I’d feel the need to tech for it. Plus they have access to multiple gust effects thanks to Genesect’s Ability Red Signal anyway.

Perhaps if the metagame shifts and popular decks go back to exclusively EX attackers Suicune could be a good tech, but for now I will keep mine in my binder.

The only interesting tech I have been strongly considering adding to my deck is Jirachi-EX. I really like the logic Jay gave behind playing this card. If your opponent goes after Jirachi, they aren’t going after your attacker. If you don’t need to use Jirachi’s Ability to get you out of a tight spot, discard it. The Ability on Jirachi is so good and I pray that one day PCL will reprint the same Ability on a Basic non-Pokémon-EX in order to make it more playable and add consistency to our format.

Currently I am playing Dowsing Machine, but Computer Search is just as good and I believe the choice of ACE SPEC to be personal preference. Dowsing is better late game whereas Computer Search helps you more early game. I’m not fully on board with Dowsing Machine though and constantly switch back and forth with Computer Search.

If the first Regionals were tomorrow and I had to pick a deck to play I would 100% play Blastoise. I personally think it’s the strongest deck in this metagame, but that could change by the time Regionals actually does roll around if some type of new tech or deck is revealed and it significantly impacts the Blastoise matchup or makes another deck a better option.

The chances of that seem to be highly unlikely though, so don’t be surprised if you play against me at Regionals and I flip over my Ninja Squirtles!

teenage mutant ninja squirtles
I really wish we could alter the artwork on our cards. I’d totally turn my Squirtles into the Ninja Squirtles.

Finally, the last reason I love Blastoise is because of its immunity to strategies people are trying to implement to counter the current metagame, mainly hating on Special Energy cards. Prime examples of this are the use of Enhanced Hammer, Drifblim PLB, and Drifblim DRX. Thanks to Blastoise’s need for only basic Energy, players teching against Special Energy will find themselves with a plethora of cards that are completely useless against Stoise.

Overall I think Blastoise is a hard deck to counter and that there is no true opposition to it at the moment. The only reason why it’s not strictly the best deck in the format is itself. Blastoise isn’t exactly the most consistent deck in the format and I believe the games you do lose will be in part due to not setting up. You can only bolster consistency so much and sometimes you will just have those games where things don’t go your way, but that’s what happens in Pokémon.


kyurem plasma freeze plf 31pokemon-paradijs.com
Such a strong card.

Team Plasma decks seem to be in quite a precarious position in our metagame right now. It had an incredibly weak showing at the Klaczynski Open due to the fact that Drifblim and Enhanced Hammer both seemed to be quite popular.

With such a poor performance I can’t help but wonder if people will ignore Plasma for Regionals. I personally feel you shouldn’t dismiss Plasma and keep your techs for the matchup because it’s still a strong deck.

Conjointly, the new tins that just came out feature the staples of any Plasma deck for an affordable price. Why would this affect how much Plasma is in the field though?

Well, the answer to this is simple: Plasma is now one the least expensive decks in the format. Many Pokémon trainers can’t afford cards such as Tropical Beach but still want to play a tier one deck that can win Regionals. Well, Plasma has now joined DarkGarb as one of those decks.

Previously, around Nationals, the price of building a Plasma deck was very high because it was new and hyped. Players that couldn’t get their hands on Deoxys-EX and Thundurus EX due to their heavy price tag can now play the Team Plasma deck they’ve waited months to try.

I predict we will be seeing more Team Plasma decks since they are now fairly inexpensive to build, and you should not take them lightly. A deck that can deal 180 damage on turn two coupled with a strong support engine is good.

Like I mentioned, the Klaczynski Open provided us a sampling of the new format, but it may not have given us an accurate representation of Plasma in the new format. The Klaczynski Open had 70 minute Swiss rounds, whereas Regionals will only have 50 minute Swiss rounds. Plasma is a deck that can thrive under time constraints due to its speed, so those 20 extra minutes could have been a disadvantage to the deck.

Time is going to be a huge factor come Regionals and something to keep in mind while playtesting.

Here is my current Plasma list…

Pokémon – 13

4 Deoxys-EX PLF
3 Thundurus-EX PLF
3 Kyurem PLF
1 Absol PLF
1 Landorus BW79/Landorus-EX
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Colress
3 Bicycle


4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Colress Machine
3 Silver Bangle
3 Float Stone

1 Switch

3 Ultra Ball
1 Team Plasma Ball
2 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search

Energy – 12

4 Prism
4 Blend WLFM
4 Plasma

– I focus more on getting Raiden Knuckle on turn one and attaching Energy from the discard to Kyurem than other builds. The 3 Ultra Ball help with that, which is a card I seem to be finding in low numbers in Plasma these days, but you need it in order to get Energy in the discard. Getting the Energy attachment onto Kyurem turn one is crucial if you want to Blizzard Burn on turn two.

– The Keldeo-EX with Float Stone combo ensures that you can chain Blizzard Burns without needing a second Kyurem set up. Blizzard Burning with a Bangle attached is extremely strong against EXs, which is why I try to make it the focal point of my strategy when I build Plasma.

Gotta go fast!

Bicycle is a throwback to the days of US Nationals 2013 when Ryan Sablehaus showed us just how strong it was in Plasma. I am still on board with that idea and it seems to work for me. Bicycle does all the same things for Plasma that it did before; it adds more speed to your deck as well as gives you the potential for more explosive turns.

With my high Ultra Ball count and Computer Search as discarding outlets I can often manage to get a low hand size and utilize Bicycle to its full potential.

Tool Scrapper is a card that I really don’t like to play two of, but I think you have to. Silver Mirror will still destroy this deck if you can’t get rid of it. I don’t think many decks will be playing Mirror, but I don’t want to risk not having an answer to it.

Also being able to Scrapper a Tool off Garbodor or get rid of a G Booster on Genesect could come in handy. If Tool Scrapper proves to be a dead card in a matchup then you can always use it as Ultra Ball fodder.

– The Landorus Promo logic was already talked about in Jay Hornung’s recent article. I liked his logic that it could 1HKO a Darkrai EX with matching hand sizes, a Bangle, and one Deoxys in play.

The only reason I would play Landorus-EX over the Promo is as another out to dealing with Silver Mirror or if Zebstrika gains popularity.

The Final Word on Plasma

Plasma is consistent, hits hard, and strikes fast. All of these factor in to make this a tier one deck and strong competitor going into Regionals. Hopefully with its poor performance at the Klaczynski Open some of the hate for Plasma dies down. Plasma will always struggle against decks with multiple Enhanced Hammer and/or heavy Drifblim lines.

I wish there was some type of tech or silver bullet to dealing with the hate being thrown Plasma’s way, but there isn’t any available right now. I think that people will need to pack less hate though to avoid having too many dead cards against tougher matchups like Blastoise. If that happens Plasma could shine through and do well.


I won’t talk too much about Genesect because Dylan Bryan just did an excellent job explaining the deck and I recommend reading his latest article. I will say that I do believe that Genesect will be a factor in the metagame at Regionals, but just how good of a showing it will have is to be determined.

The big four decks – Darkrai/Garbodor, Blastoise, Plasma, and Genesect – all have close matchups against each other and good matchups against everything else. Therefore it is likely 1 of these 4 decks will win each Regional, depending on which benefits from a little luck.

This statement is of course nullified if someone manages to break the format, finding a new deck that can defeat each of the four big decks, but that outcome doesn’t seem too promising at the moment.

“League Challenges”

feature match pokemon league
Coming soon! (I think.)

I’m not really sure what to make of these yet, but the way I interpret them is as our replacement for Battle Roads. League Challenges will be localized tournaments which award the same CP as BRs. We all saw how important Battle Roads were to getting a Worlds invite last year and League Challenges will be equally significant; 90 potential Points is a lot.

I recommend approaching League Challenges the same way you would Battle Roads. One approach is to tech hard against your local metagame and the best players that will be at the event.

An extreme example of how you could metagame against local players would be playing Zebstrika in a field of Plasma. If your local League Challenge has only 12 participants and 10 of them are playing Plasma, you could make the decision to play Zebstrika.

At any other event Zebstrika would be a bad deck choice because it loses to so much, however what it doesn’t lose to is Plasma, which would be your only adversary at that event.


Pokémon – 13

4 Blitzle BCR
4 Zebstrika NXD
4 Ditto BCR
1 Mr. Mime PLF

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
3 Colress


4 Level Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Enhanced Hammer
4 Silver Mirror
3 Hypnotoxic Laser
1 Super Rod
1 Energy Search
1 Dowsing Machine

Energy – 10

10 L

This Zebstrika list is actually Adam Capriola’s which he gave me to share when we were discussing the subject of League Challenges. This deck destroys Plasma but loses to any other deck. If I knew most players at my League Challenge were on the Plasma trains, which could happen thanks to the tins, I would totally give this a try.

Extreme metagame calls can win you tournaments, but I only like to try them at smaller tournaments, like League Challenges, since there isn’t too much on the line. I would never make such a dubious deck choice when I seriously want to win. League Challenges are the time for risky decisions, fun decks, and more casual play.


ghetsis scarypokescans.tumblr.com
I will be dressed up for Halloween.

I’m excited for Regionals and this format in general, so I can’t wait until October. I will be attending Philadelphia Regionals as of now and that’s it. I can’t afford to go multiple Regionals nor do I have the time since college just started for me and I have to pay for my own tuition.

I really want to see how the Top 8 cuts and best-of-three Swiss rounds work out, and if they truly further Pokémon as a legitimate game. Players will have to adapt to playing faster and the metagame could shift due to only having 50 minutes to complete matches.

I’m hopeful for the new season and the only qualm I have is the potential for someone to attend nine Regionals. It seems to me that if you have the money you’re going to have a better chance at a Worlds invite than a player who can’t afford to travel so much. Of course this comes from the biased opinion of someone who can’t make it to more than one Fall Regional, so take what I say regarding that with a grain of salt. More tournaments being available to players probably isn’t a bad thing for the game.

I hope you enjoyed my article and that my insight on the new format helps you at whatever Regionals you attend. If you’re in Philly be sure to say hi to me! I’m always down to discuss Pokémon and I love meeting new people.

Good luck at Regionals and have a good day,

Raymond Cipoletti

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