Hi SixPrizes! My name is Lex D’Andrea, and I was the winner of the very first Klaczynski Open. I have been playing Pokémon for about five years, and I’m not stopping anytime soon. The K.O. was a wonderful tournament and such a good experience. Everything ran smoothly and the judges were excellent. I really hope it becomes an annual event!
What I Ran
As most readers probably know by now, I ran Darkrai/Garbodor.
Here is my decklist:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 41
Energy – 8
Let’s have a closer look …
If I can’t Night Spear, I want to Junk Hunt as much as possible. I run four of these so that, even if one is prized, I have plenty to use. Usually I spend turns one and two Junk Hunting for disruption cards while I set up a Darkrai.
I really like this Supporter line, except when I Random Receiver into a Skyla, but overall this line is pretty consistent. I usually have one Supporter in hand that I use with the help of Junk Hunt for Dowsing Machine.
This may or may not surprise you. Personally, I was torn between four Laser, three Catcher and four Catcher, three Laser. I am so glad I chose three Catcher. I loved being able to Laser as much as possible and, with Dowsing Machine and Skyla, I can usually have a Catcher when needed.
I wanted the Plasma match covered, and boy this covered it up pretty well! I love being able to Hammer up to 3-4 times per turn (with the help of Dowsing Machine) when facing Plasma. Eventually, if things go well, I end up running my opponent out of Energy and then I win from there. This is another case where having four Sableye comes in handy.
I like being able to indirectly Junk Hunt Energy back into my hand, which is why I run one Energy Search. If I have Energy Search in my hand on turn one, I almost always use it. I have never been in a turn one scenario where I don’t want more Energy in my hand to discard or attach. I think 8 or 9 D Energy is pretty standard in Darkrai/Garbodor.
I like having extra power and less defense against other decks. Since I am already running three Enhanced Hammer, I have all the coverage I need against Plasma. Also, Silver Mirror can only be useful when attached to Sableye, because it has no effect when attached to Darkrai.
What’s more, with Darkrai, you normally want a Float Stone on Garbodor. Otherwise, if it gets Catchered, you need to hit that one Switch, which isn’t very likely. I would rather have a card that can boost damage output than have more protection from Plasma.
I will now walk through each match. Keep in mind, these games were best two out of three. All told, I ended up playing 29 games over two days!
Round 1 vs. Katie Johnson running Blastoise
I get a pretty horrible start. Katie has no Squirtle down on turn 1 or 2. She just attaches and passes. I attach and pass. This goes on for a few more turns until she topdecks an N. Katie plays it and it nets me a good hand. Unfortunately, Katie gets pretty much nothing. Before long, I get going … and steamroll the game.
We both have a good start this time. Katie gets Blastoise up, but I follow up with Garbodor. She plays two Tool Scrapper and a Dowsing but just can’t seem to find them at the right time. I keep attaching more Tools every time they get Scrappered and continue Junk Hunting and Night Spearing. I get pretty far ahead, to the point where she can’t catch up.
Round 2 vs. William Correa running Flareon
William gets a pretty good start with two Eevees on turn 1, plus Signs of Evolution. I get an OK start with a turn 1 Junk Hunt for resources. He takes an early lead, but is eventually slowed down by my Enhanced Hammers discarding his DCEs, and before long I catch up and take the lead. William then benches two Sawk, which was definitely a surprise, but they didn’t impact the game that much. In the end, he couldn’t catch up as his DCEs were all gone.
I start with a bad hand as William goes first, using Skyla for an N. I attach and pass, then he plays the N, since it was the only Supporter in his hand that could net more cards. I get a decent hand off the N. William plays Signs of Evolution again. I draw, play some useful cards and Junk Hunt.
Next, he evolves an Eevee and plays a Colress for three. Off of those, he gets a bad hand and decides to use Vengeance. I play a Supporter and Junk Hunt. William then plays another Colress, benches two Sawk … and it’s Vengeance for the Knock Out! I start Night Spearing and he can’t catch up with his two card hand, the one Eevee, and two Sawk.
Round 3 vs. Nick Robinson running Plasma
I start with Sableye and Darkrai, bench a Trubbish after a Juniper, and play a couple of items. Nick gets a turn 1 Raiden Knuckle. I evolve Trubbish, at which point I start Hammering like crazy every turn for the rest of the game with the help of my four Sableye. Nick eventually has seven colorful Energy in his discard, plus his last one is prized. He scoops.
I get a similar start to the last game and Nick goes first. However, he does not get a turn 1 Raiden Knuckle this time. Nick attaches, plays a Supporter, and passes. I Hammer his lone Energy, play a Supporter and Junk Hunt. At last, he gets a Raiden Knuckle during his next turn.
Once again, I use the same strategy as before and just keep Junk Hunting for those Hammers! Eventually Nick has seven colorful Energy in his discard and plays Skyla. Upon checking his deck, he realizes his last one is prized. Wisely, he doesn’t scoop because he can still win if the game goes to time and he is up on Prizes.
Meanwhile, I Junk Hunt for Super Rod to keep myself from decking on the next turn. I eventually get enough resources to go up on Prizes … and Nick scoops.
Round 4 vs. Hanna Coder running Plasma
I get an insane start with two Energy on the field for turn 1, playing a Supporter and Junk Hunt. I see that Hanna is running Laser Plasma instead of Bangle Plasma. She gets a regular Plasma start with a turn 1 Raiden Knuckle. I start drawing Prizes like mad after my turn 2 Night Spear and go up 1-5 in Prizes … but then I start to slow down.
Hanna takes out my Darkrai, but I have another one waiting. However, it wasn’t enough to seal up the game. She sets up a double Knock Out and handily takes the game! I was caught by surprise with such a comeback, but I knew I had to stay focused.
I get a slower start by switching up my strategy to more Hammering than attacking … and sure enough it works. I eventually slow down Hanna’s whole field. After many of her Energy cards are discarded, I end up winning with Night Spear.
I stick with the same strategy as before … except Hanna’s Lasers are still slowing me down and the Prize count is soon 3-6 in her favor. On the other hand, the Enhanced Hammers were really helpful in slowing her down bit by bit, and eventually there is a turn where she can’t attack.
Before long we go down to 1-2 in her favor, but I Night Spear her active after N’ing her to two. Hanna can’t find a switch to get her damaged Deoxys-EX out of the Active Spot, passes, and I Night Spear for game.
At this point I reached my personal goal of winning four rounds. I was really happy about that, and I moved on to the next round with a positive attitude.
Round 5 vs. Alex Brosseau running Plasma
This game goes as you might expect with me Hammering and Alex Raiden Knuckling. There comes a point where he sends up an Absol and proceeds to Mind Jack, except he had two Blend and one Plasma but no Prism Energy. I point out that he doesn’t have the necessary energy to attack. Alex looks down and is somewhat surprised, but then says he didn’t even have the Prism anyway, and passes. Missing that attack helped me a lot!
I proceed to Night Spear and take down his Absol, putting 30 on his benched Thundurus EX. Eventually, I just Night Spear so many times that his one Thundurus and Kyurem can’t win him the game. All of the Energy he needs is in his discard pile from my early game Hammers.
We both get an OK start, but I don’t get Night Spear until late game. Alex, on the other hand, is drawing multiple Prizes with his Thundurus EX on my Sableyes. I fall too far behind to catch up, even with my Hammers.
We have very little time left at this point, about 15-20 minutes. This time, I try to get Night Spear out as quickly as possible so I can win on time with a lead in Prizes. Before long, time gets called on his turn. I go and Catcher up his Keldeo-EX with 30 on it from a 30 snipe, Laser, and roll heads. I then Junk Hunt and pass.
Alex rolls tails and plays N. He whiffs Switch, Catchers up Garbodor, Scrappers, and passes. The Prize count is now 6-5 in his favor. I draw and it’s turn 3 … and I see his Keldeo has 90 damage on it. I need a Night Spear for the win. My draw: A Professor Juniper.
I had a Random Receiver, an N, and two other useless cards. I decide to first play Random Receiver to thin my deck, then I go for Juniper. I need to get Float Stone and D Energy so I can Night Spear and win on Prizes 4-5. I draw and hit both by the fifth card. I play the Float Stone, retreat, attach … and Night Spear for game!
At this point I was so ecstatic and thrilled that I had managed to go 5-0 for Day 1! I was also a bit nervous but very much looking forward to Day 2. I really enjoyed that last game and hope to play Alex again when I age up into Masters. I went back to the hotel, had something to eat, watched some TV, and went to bed.
Round 6 vs. Henry Prior running VirGen and Friends
I was plenty excited (not to mention nervous) to find myself on stream, with none other than Kyle “Pooka” Sucevich providing commentary! On top of all that, I knew full well who Henry was from reading his well written SixPrizes articles. I was in for a very challenging day.
Henry goes first, attaches, plays a Supporter, then a few other cards, and passes. I draw and have a bad start. All I can do is Junk Hunt for Dowsing Machine and nothing else after my supporter. Henry then uses Emerald Slash and starts powering up. My next turn is the same as before. He then takes a huge lead by Megalo Cannoning after a Catcher on my Trubbish for a double Knock Out!
I play N to put him at four cards, Catcher up a Genesect to try and stall, and Junk Hunt. Henry comes back strong, plays Juniper, finds a way to get the Genesect out of the active, and Megalo Cannons my Sableye, putting 20 on yet another Sableye. I get a Darkrai out and Night Spear. He plays Skyla for G Booster.
I send up Sableye and play N to put him at one. Next, I get two Dark Patch off the N and use them, play Laser (which works because I have a Garbodor out at this point), and Junk Hunt to set up another Night Spear. Henry then topdecks a Juniper, plays it … but whiffs the Energy for game! However, he does get Scrapper which will prevent the Knock Out in between turns from Poison.
I go, set up a Darkrai, and Random Receiver hoping for an N, but get a Juniper instead. Before I play it, though, I attach Float Stone. I proceed with the Juniper, get my Dowsing Machine for a Catcher, and play it on the Virizion with 30. Next, I play two Laser, get tails, then heads! I Night Spear to Knock Out the Genesect on the bench and put the active at 150 including poison.
Henry Skylas for Juniper, retreats, sends up a Drifblim, and passes. At last the end is in sight. I Catcher up the Genesect without damage and play N to get him at one card. Next, I Night Spear and Knock Out the Virizion on the bench. Henry concedes since he doesn’t have anything to get the Genesect out of the Active Spot.
This game was very similar to the last one, except Henry made an important change to his strategy which was so amazing to see in action. He decided that, instead of Emerald Slashing just once during the game, he was going to use it twice after the first Genesect got hit. That way, in case I do have a Catcher, he still has another Genesect in waiting with full HP.
This was a brilliant switch up, such a smart thing to do, as it allowed him to overpower me with multiple attacks from different Genesects. Props to Henry!
I get a very interesting start this time. I play Random Receiver for Colress, attach to Sableye, and play the Colress. I get Laser, play it, roll tails, and Junk Hunt for Random Receiver and Laser. Henry attaches to remove the condition, plays Skyla, gets a Tropical Beach, Catchers, then uses Beach to end his turn.
I play Random Receiver for N and play it, getting six Items. I Energy Search, attach to Darkrai, and retreat it. I Junk Hunt for Random Receiver yet again, with another Energy Search. Henry plays N, but he whiffs energy! He can’t Emerald Slash … which means a free retreat with Float Stone, followed by Beach. I decide to use Tropical Beach instead of Junk Hunting as there was useless stuff in my discard pile.
Henry gets another Genesect with Ultra Ball and plays Colress for eight cards. He gets an Energy, retreats, and uses Emerald Slash. I play Catcher, get two Garbodors out, then play a Juniper. I retreat, use Laser, and roll heads. I attach, Night Spear, and do 30 to the Virizion-EX. Henry then rolls tails, which means he can’t retreat because he only plays Float Stone.
I try to set up a second Darkrai as I Night Spear. I end up Knocking Out the active and put 30 on the benched Genesect. Henry does pull a G Booster on his turn, but I have enough resources by now to finish setting up a Darkrai, so I play my final Laser and Night Spear.
On his next turn, Henry has to hit a G Energy and a Colress Machine for a G Booster Knock Out to stay in it. He plays Juniper, drawing the Grass and the Colress Machine … but he also draws the final Plasma Energy! Oh no. He retreats, hoping I don’t have the resources to get a double Knock Out.
I draw a Dark Claw and play it on my active Darkrai, but I also have a Catcher on the Virzion EX! I Night Spear for the double Knock Out. Wow.
Henry was easily one of the nicest people I met during the Klaczynski Open. I hope to play him again when I age up into Masters!
Round 7 vs. Ross Cawthon running Blastoise
When I learned I’d be playing Ross Cawthon next, I couldn’t believe it. Ross is someone I look up to and idolize so much.
I go first, attach and pass. Ross does the same thing as he benches a Squirtle. I draw Dark Claw and attach it onto my active Darkrai EX, attach a D Energy and pass. He gets a second Squirtle down and Catchers my benched Trubbish. I attach a Float Stone to my active Trubbish, retreat and attach a third D Energy to my Darkrai EX to Night Spear. He benches a Keldeo-EX, rushes in and passes. I Night Spear the Keldeo-EX.
He doesn’t really do anything on his next turn though, and passes. Again, I Night Spear his Keldeo-EX, this time for the Knock Out. Out of my 4 Prizes and all my draws so far, none were Supporter cards, which I found very odd. Ross topdecks an N and plays it, which puts me at two cards in hand. He gets a Tropical Beach from the N and plays it down, and I Night Spear to Knock Out his Squirtle. I suspect he was too far behind at this point to catch up.
Honestly, this game was kind of a blur for me, as it went a bit slower than usual. We both had pretty bad hands though. I guess when it’s Keldeo vs. Darkrai, and Keldeo doesn’t have Blastoise to back it up, Darkrai wins.
This game went a bit differently, except Ross did get Blastoise out. Then again, I had Garbodor out as well. I locked him down, even with a most valiant effort by his side of the field.
At this point, needless to say, I was feeling on the top of the world! I couldn’t believe I went 7-0 but knew I had to remain calm. Hopefully I’d get to play Henry and Ross again. I also found out that three of my other Senior buddies made top cut as well! I was extremely happy for them.
Meanwhile, I thought back on Round 7. I wished those games weren’t so heavily in my favor and that Ross could have had a better setup for a more balanced round. As we know, however, sometimes it really does comes down to the luck of the draw or roll of the dice.
With that, it was on to the top cut!
Top 8 vs. Conner Lavelle running Darkrai
This, in my opinion, was one of my worst matchups, with each of us basically trading Prizes as we went along. I had my back up against the wall the entire time. It seemed like Conner was always up in Prizes, then I immediately had to catch up.
Eventually the Prizes stood at 2-2, with me having just Junk Hunted for Laser and Catcher. Conner Knocks Out my Sableye and I send up Darkrai, Catcher, and Laser on his Keldeo-EX with 110 damage on it. My Laser flip is heads and Virbank is in play. I know that if he rolls tails, he loses since he is unable to retreat the Keldeo.
I pass, hoping for the tails, and he rolls … tails! He can’t get the Keldeo-EX out of the Active Spot, passes, and the Keldeo-EX faints from poison, netting me my last 2 Prizes. This game was very close and Conner played it very well throughout. If just one flip had gone his way, he would’ve won.
Conner gets a very fast start and I simply can’t keep up. He gets multiple Darkrais powered up and they just overpower my field.
This game played out very similarly to the first one, except I find I can more comfortably trade Prizes with Conner this time. This game soon comes down to whether he can Knock Out my active Darkrai. Conner needs a Laser. He draws, but doesn’t get it. Had he done so, he would’ve tied the Game 2-2. Instead, I have Dowsing Machine in my hand for the Catcher, which I proceed to use, bringing out his benched Darkrai with 90 damage on it for the KO.
Conner played a very good round of three! If it wasn’t for those Game 1 flips, I think he probably would’ve won the series.
Top 4 vs. Henry Prior running VirGen and Friends
I go first, play Virbank, then N, attaching Float Stone to my active Darkrai. During his turn, Henry gets busy and sets up his field. I Catcher, Laser the Drifloon, and Juniper. I then Junk Hunt for Laser and Catcher.
The game continues with Henry getting a G Booster on a Darkrai of mine. By now, however, I’ve spread a lot of poison damage with the help of Garbotoxin to keep Virizion-EX’s Ability in check. I also get more crucial cards back thanks to Junk Hunt.
Undaunted, Henry Emerald Slashes to the already damaged Genesect. I Catcher the Genesect and play Dark Patch to my Darkrai and Colress. I then get a D Energy and a Dark Claw, attach both cards to my Darkrai … and I Night Spear for the KO on the active Genesect, plus 30 on the Virizion.
Henry plays Lugia, Colress Machine, fails it, retreats to Drifloon, and passes. I Skyla for Dowsing Machine to get a Catcher. I play it on the Virizion and Knock it Out handily. Henry uses Colress Machine to the Lugia. He then plays N, looks at his new hand, and concedes. He didn’t have the resources left to win. Henry then shows me his remaining 3 Prizes: two Genesect EXs … and his lone Tropical Beach!
This game basically went like the last one and comes down to the final 2 Prizes. I have a Garbodor with no Tool on it, but I make a misplay, Night Spearing without attaching the Tool. Henry plays Genesect, attaches a Plasma Energy to Red Signal my Sableye with 20 damage, and Emerald Slashes for game.
I go first with a decent start but, again, things move along pretty much like the first one. This matchup seems to be similar every time these two decks play. Eventually Henry is up 2-6 and I play N. I Knock Out his Genesect in the active and he can’t Knock Out my Darkrai, so he retreats his Virizion-EX and sends up Drifblim. I Catcher that Virizion-EX and take it down!
To my surprise, he scoops. I explain that I haven’t drawn all my Prizes yet. He notes this, then looks at his field. He decides to scoop anyway. What a round!
Alright! I was about to face Ross in the finals. I knew I’d have to focus extra hard and play at the absolute top of my game. Just making it to the finals was incredible, let alone verse someone of Ross’s caliber.
Finals vs. Ross Cawthon running Blastoise
This round was a best 3 out of 5 with no time limit, and ended up running over three hours. Rather than continuing here, I’d like to recommend these videos from The Top Cut. Thanks to Kyle’s excellent commentary, you’ll be treated to a detailed play by play of what went down during this fun and very intense final.
Playing against Ross, someone who I look up to so much, and in such a major event, in the finals, was pretty awesome! Even with me having a slight advantage, Ross made a stunning comeback by winning two games in a row, forcing that fifth and final game. His analytical mind was so incredible to see in action and up close.
Speaking of game five, it was extremely gracious of him to let me take back that move and let me play those cards in the proper order. The Spirit of the Game is alive and well. I really can’t wait until I’m in Masters as there are so many great players to learn from. I sure hope to play Ross again when I age up.
I had such a great time at the Klaczynski Open! Again, I really hope this becomes an annual event. Jason Klaczynski and staff ran such an amazing and smooth tournament. I will definitely attend the next one to defend my title.
There are so many people I’d like to thank who helped me test or otherwise provided support. The following, in particular, went above and beyond in their generosity:
Team United Nation (Jeremy Gibson, Robby Weidemann, Arjun Khadse, Brian and Justin Tam): These guys are great! They helped me test a lot and are amazing friends all around. I will always be part of Team United Nation and hope they do really well this year.
Ishaan Jagiasi: Ishaan advised me on what to play. In the weeks leading up to the K.O. I was testing such horrible stuff that I thought was good, but Ishaan kept urging me: “Play Darkrai/Garbodor! It’s really good.” He helped me test intensely, beating me multiple times until I knew every matchup. I hope Ishaan has another spectacular year and gets his invite again!
Ian Whiton and Colter Decker: These guys helped me test a lot and have been such terrific friends! They are some of the nicest people I have ever met through this game. Though they live on the west coast, while I’m out here in New Jersey, I will always cherish our friendship.
Sam Chen: Sam recommended I play Dowsing Machine. If I didn’t listen to him, I bet I wouldn’t have won. He is so nice to talk with and an overall great guy!
There were so many other friends who helped too:
Mike and Frank Diaz, Orrin and Nolan Wilson, Aaron Clarke, Devon Roth, Sydney Morisoli, Luke Dueser, Alex and Jonathan Croxton, Alex and Michael Hedge, Jeremiah Williams, Joey Ruettiger, Travis Nunlist, Mike Newman, and Ben Richlin. Last, but certainly not least, thanks to Mom and Dad (Nancy and Joe) for all their love and support.