I just got done with my first Regional Championship of the season, playing at the massive Fort Wayne, IN Regional Championship with 357 Masters Division players. The tournament was a lot to take in and an insane amount of Pokémon was played in a single weekend – definitely much more than I have ever played before.
Headed into Regional Championships, the decks I was testing mainly were Virizion/Genesect, Blastoise, Landorus/Bouffalant, Plasma/Lugia, and Straight Darkrai.
I eliminated Plasma pretty early as I felt the hate was too strong, and I didn’t like Darkrai because it has been around forever and it seems like everyone should know how to beat it by now. Landorus was good, but I didn’t like its bad matchup to Plasma.
That left me with Blastoise and Virizion/Genesect as my main two deck considerations, and I was heavily leaning toward Blastoise for awhile. I was testing the Plasma Badge variant of Virizion at first, which seemed close to being a really good deck, but not quite there.
A little over a month ago, my friend Tyler told me about a Virizion deck he was testing out with Lunatone PLS and Ether. I put this version of the deck together and did most of my testing with it, and it was indeed scary good and very consistent thanks to Premonition stacking your topdecks and double Energy acceleration between Emerald Slash and Ether. However, the deck still had a bad matchup against Plasma, and it seemed to do fine, even when you whiffed the Emerald Slash on turn one and just got it off on turn 2, so I started looking at how I could improve the Plasma matchup.
Here is the list I ended up playing:
Pokémon – 10
3 Genesect EX
Trainers – 36
Energy – 14
I decided to play 4 Virizion-EX because it was the optimal starter. My favorite start for the deck was to start lone Virizion-EX, attach a Grass, drop Virbank City Gym, and Hypnotoxic Laser my opponent and sit there while they can’t Laser my Virizion back.
With 4 Virizion-EX, I felt that I would get one on turn one with an Energy attachment in almost all of my games, and really just getting that attachment to a Virizion-EX is the most important thing for the deck. With 3 Switch and 1 Float Stone, even if I didn’t start with it, I felt confident in getting it Active on turn 2.
I went with 4 Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym because it made for some sick math for the deck. A combination of an Emerald Slash and Megalo Cannon with one Hypnotoxic Laser played with Virbank City Gym in play equaled 180, a knockout on any EX. Alternatively, Emerald Slash, with my opponent not retreating his Pokémon on their turn allowed me to Emerald Slash twice for a knockout on an EX as well.
I ended up playing 3 Ghetsis, which isn’t something I would ever do. But one thing I noticed with this deck is it didn’t need much of a hand to get rolling, all it needed is a Virizion-EX and some Pokémon for it to Emerald Slash to and it would be fine, so I felt adding some disruption to the deck would be a good move.
G Booster was my ACE SPEC as 200 damage is a game changer. The 3 Double Colorless Energy allowed me to power up a Mewtwo EX in one turn when needed, as well as use the DCE for the discard on G Booster allowing me to more easily stream it a few turns in a row.
Overall, I was very happy with how the deck was testing. I thought I might be crazy, but this is kind of how I thought my matchups played out:
- Anything Darkrai – Highly Favorable
- Blastoise – Favorable
- Plasma – About even, a little in my favor.
- Big Basics – Even
With even or better matchups against the big decks, I felt that Virizion was the play for this weekend. I was confident that against any of those decks I would do no worse than a tie in any of the matchups against those decks.
As we had 357 players, that meant that we would have 9 rounds of Swiss on day one, and then cut to Top 32. Then on the second day, the Top 32 would play 5 more rounds of Swiss before cutting to a Top 8.
Here is how my tournament went:
R1 – Courtney Temen – Darkrai EX/Garbodor – WLW (WIN) 1-0
R2 – Ian Asplund – Virizion-EX/Mewtwo EX – L (LOSS) 1-1
R3 – Sammy McCracken – Darkrai EX – WW (WIN) 2-1
R4 – Ean Teague – Blastoise – LWW (WIN) 3-1
R5 – Kevin Baxter – Virizion-EX/Genesect EX/Deoxys-EX – LW (TIE) 3-1-1
R6 – Kaitlin Young – Plasma – LWW (WIN) 4-1-1
R7 – Jack Iler – Plasma – WW (WIN) 5-1-1
R8 – Tobias Nelson – Big Basics/Garbodor – WW (WIN) 6-1-1
R9 – Colin Moll – Big Basics/Garbodor – ID (TIE) 6-1-2
Not exactly sure on all of the details of the matches, but I’ll try my best to hit on the highlights of each. When you play that many games it is really hard to remember much in too much detail.
Round 1 – Darkrai EX/Garbodor
In Game 1, I went first and just got a normal setup, getting a turn 2 Emerald Slash and setting up multiple Genesect EX, using a stream of Megalo Cannons with Lasers for a standard win.
In Game 2, I kind of dead-drew and never really got much of a setup. I was never able to N her into a bad hand and loss to a bunch of Night Spears.
In Game 3, she starts Trubbish to my Virizion-EX. I Ultra Ball for a Mewtwo EX, and then play a Professor Juniper. I get the DCE but whiff the Switch or Float Stone. On turn 2 she plays some stuff and Junk Hunts. I then play Ghetsis, and put her entire hand back into her deck, and get to draw 7 cards as well. She did get a Supporter fairly soon after, but I had too much of an advantage in board position and I think I 6-0 her.
Virizion-EX/Mewtwo EXRound 2 –
I was hoping to avoid anything that can be in someway constituted as a Virizion mirror match. I didn’t test against the matchup at all because I didn’t think most people would play the deck, so I wouldn’t see much of it, but was playing against it early on.
I lose Game 1 in a game that I think came down to a Mewtwo war, and I just couldn’t draw out of N as well as he could.
In Game 2, I have an amazingly strong board position, get down to 1 Prize, have his last Mewtwo EX up to 160 damage after some late game N’s. I can’t get a final knockout before time is called, so despite taking 5 Prizes and being just a turn or two away from a win, I get a loss for this round.
Cobalion-EX techRound 3 – Darkrai EX with
In Game 1, I get a normal good setup, Emerald Slashing bunch of Darkrai EX, and then just using Megalo Cannon with Hypnotoxic Lasers for a quick win.
In Game 2, she didn’t get much of a draw. She did have a Bicycle, but no way to play down her hand to use it. On turn 2 or 3 I Knocked Out her Mr. Mime. Then the next turn, after she got nothing, I dropped G Booster, and Knocked Out her Cobalion-EX for a very quick win.
Round 4 – Blastoise
In Game 1, I started Mewtwo EX and Ghetsis’d him early and saw he didn’t really have much in hand to do anything. So I just attach to my Mewtwo EX and start using X Ball against him turn after turn. After getting like 3-4 Energy on my Mewtwo EX I start attaching to my benched Virizion-EX to give me some stability if Mewtwo EX gets Knocked Out. I think Mewtwo EX takes 4 Prizes for me.
He eventually draws out of it and Black Ballista’s my Mewtwo EX. I then Emerald Slash Black Kyurem, and set up a Genesect EX, which he is able to Catcher for the knockout. I Emerald Slash again to set up a new Genesect EX and N him, but he is able to get the Superior Energy Retrieval off of a Supporter and Black Ballista my Virizion-EX for game.
In the second game, I take a more cautious approach going first and just setup a bunch of Genesect EX and use those with G Booster to trade evenly for the win.
In the third game, I Ghetsis everything good out of his hand and he is just stuck with a single Energy I believe. I setup two Genesect EX with Emerald Slash, and then just go through his field with Megalo Cannon as he draws nothing.
Virizion-EX/Genesect EX/Deoxys-EXRound 5 –
This was a very interesting version of the deck, and the Deoxys were used in a similar way to my Hypnotoxic Lasers in allowing the deck to hit better damage numbers.
In Game 1, we both get setup and trade attackers and he ends up coming out on top. I’m a little hazy on the details of Game 2, but I believe I got a much better setup and was able to get the win.
At this point I was pretty much committed to the fact that we would tie. Not too unexpected when two good players face off in a mirror match of sorts. However, he doesn’t get such a good setup, while I do, so I’m able to start taking prizes pretty fast with Emerald Slash, Megalo Cannon, and G Booster.
He was able to scrap my G Booster, and had a lot of damage on a variety of different things. All I needed was a Pokémon Catcher to get the win, but couldn’t draw it after time was called and we ended in a draw.
Round 6 – Plasma
This was probably the best series I had all weekend. Her Plasma deck was extremely well built which made for a very tight game.
In Game 1 she was able to just setup too many Kyurem, and was able to get the win. I didn’t like the look of the matchup too much so I played Game 1 out until the end to play for a tie, because I wasn’t confident I could beat her deck twice. In Game 2, I get my good setup with early Emerald Slashes and am able to get the win in another close game. She scoops at some point during the game after my board is too well setup.
Game 3 is where things get really interesting. I don’t draw too well throughout the game, but I do have Virizion-EXs with Grass, so I work on taking knockouts on her Kyurems with those using Emerald Slash to setup a second Virizion-EX for myself, while using Max Potion at some point to prevent damage.
I am almost certain that I’m going to lose this game until I get a favorable N or something and knockout most of her Energy on her field. I manage to work the game down to 2-2 Prizes apiece. On my turn, I check her discard and see that all of her switching mechanisms are in the discard, and Catcher up her Deoxys-EX hoping to get it stuck and just Megalo Cannon her twice for the win. I put her Deoxys-EX up to 120 damage.
She is forced to Dowsing Machine away the other two cards in her hand to retreat into her Thundurus EX and Raiden Knuckle. I get a Skyla, and use it to get G Booster to knockout her Thundurus EX, but G Booster is Prizes. After seeing that it’s prized, I start contemplating how I can best position myself so that she can’t take her final 2 Prizes and have the game end in a tie. Retreating to Mr. Mime seems like my best option, as I felt a Catcher would be unlikely off of a 1-card draw. Then it hits, me, I just Megalo Cannon’d her Deoxys-EX. I can just grab a Pokémon Catcher and bring that back up for game.
I’m a little disappointed that it took searching through my deck for a bit on the Skyla looking over all of my options of what I could do, but glad that eventually the simple play of using a Pokémon Catcher came to me during the search.
Round 7 – Plasma
In Game 1, I got a pretty comfortable setup with Emerald Slash setting up multiple Genesect EX and just played out my strategy as usual for the win.
In Game 2, he gets a good lead, getting down to maybe 2 Prizes, but I manage to stream G Booster for like 2 or 3 turns to make the unlikely comeback and steal the game.
Round 8 – Big Basics/Garbodor
In Game 1, I started with a normal setup, got some Genesect EX going, and started taking knockout with my Grass Pokémon. Eventually the game comes down to him using a Mewtwo EX to evening the Prizes. He had no idea I played Mewtwo EX because nothing showed it at that point in the game, and I just drop a Mewtwo EX, DCE, and Laser his Mewtwo EX to X Ball for the game.
Round 9 – Big Basics/Garbodor
We look at the standings and realize that 20 points will guarantee that both Colin and I move on to the Top 32, so we agree to an intentional draw and go to IHOP for dinner! I think we were both tired of playing Pokémon for the day, so it was nice to just be finishing up our late dinner when other players were just finishing up the final round.
Day Two – Top 32
Because we had so many players at this tournament, the tournament would cut down to just 32 players and play five more rounds of Swiss. Records from the previous day would carry over, but everyone had a chance who made cut. Even if you come in at the lowest record, if you win all five matches this day, you’ll make it into the Top 8 cut.
I didn’t really like the time constraints of these extra Swiss rounds just because I had a 6 hour drive ahead of me and we wouldn’t be getting done with the Swiss until around 2 at the earliest, and then if you make it into Top 8, that would have meant an even later arrival home.
Overall though, I did like the second day of Swiss. It was a lot of high level players, and there was a lot of competitive energy in the room of a bunch of players who have already accomplished a lot in this tournament fighting it out to see who can make that next jump into the Top 8 cut.
Unfortunately, my second day didn’t go quite as well as the first. This was mostly just because of playing a bulk of my games against a matchup I really didn’t want to play against. Here is how my day 2 played out.
R10 – Austin Hinkle – Virizion-EX/Mewtwo EX – LWL (LOSS) 6-2-2
R11 – Ian Asplund – Virizion-EX/Mewtwo EX – LL (LOSS) 6-3-2
R12 – Scott Lawler – Darkrai EX – WL or LW (TIE) 6-3-3
R13 – Ty Wheeler – Darkrai EX/Garbodor – WW (WIN) 7-3-3
R14 – Nathan Heider – Virizion-EX/Genesect EX – LL (LOSS) 7-4-3
Virizion-EX/Mewtwo EXRounds 10 and 11 –
In these two rounds I played against Virizion-EX/Mewtwo EX which was the deck I didn’t want to play against.
In the Round 10, we trade EX’s but he is able to gain an edge with Bouffalant. In Game 2, I Hypnotoxic Laser his Kecleon PLF and Ghetsis, and the Kecleon just dies to poison after turn 2. In Game 3, I don’t think I draw particularly well and lose the EX trade and lose.
Apparently in Game 3, on turn one if I decided to Ghetsis my opponent I would have had a very easy win on my hands. Instead I decided to N him, as I felt that gave me the better probability of a turn one Energy attachment. Not sure if that was a true misplay or not because there was no way to know that my opponent wouldn’t have had anything to work with if I had used Ghetsis.
In Round 11, I generally setup okay early in the games, but he drew out of N’s much better than I did which allowed him to win.
Round 12 – Darkrai EX
I think he did win Game 1, but I’m not really sure what the order was that we won our games. In one of the games he just got a really deadly setup, he had a really good engine allowing him to easily set up multiple Darkrai EX.
In the other game, he didn’t get quite as good of a setup and I’m able to Megalo Cannon and G Booster for the win.
In the third game, it was very close and could have went either way. At some point in the game, when I’m down to just 2 Prizes, count my Energy, and account for nine. I drop G Booster attach a DCE to Genesect, and N before doing an Emerald Slash. Basically the way it would work out, if both of my Grass are in deck, I have G Booster next turn for the win. One is in my Prizes though, so I only get one on my Genesect.
After time is called and he Night Spears me on Turn 0 I have a decision to make. I have a Virizion-EX at 110 damage now and my Genesect EX is at 60 damage. I Tool Scrapper the Dark Claw off his Darkrai EX. I have a few different plays I can make. I can retreat to Genesect EX, hope I get the Super Rod and then play a Supporter to try to get the Energy and G Booster for the win or play my Max Potion on Virizion-EX to force him to have the Pokémon Catcher, which I don’t think he had one left as he didn’t just bring up my Genesect that turn to take the game.
After only seeing one Dark Claw in his discard, I just Max Potion my Virizion-EX and go for the draw. He indeed did have the Dark Claw in hand, but no Catcher, so he just can Night Spear my Virizion-EX. I then have nothing to do with no Switches left in my deck, and we end in a tie.
Virizion-EX/Genesect EX/Lugia EXRound 14 –
He was playing a version of Genesect that used Colress Machine for further Energy acceleration on his Genesect EX.
In Game 2, I set up way better than him and get a lot of damage on his field. The game ends up in a weird game state where we’re both hurting for Energy. He goes down to 1 Prize left after Knocking Out one of my EXs with Lugia EX. I have G Booster on my Genesect EX with a Grass and DCE, but don’t have any more G Energy in my deck to Emerald Slash into play.
I have a Mewtwo EX on my field and he Catchers it up and just starts Emerald Slashing it. I get a Switch and am able to get Mewtwo out of the Active Spot to Virizion-EX, just trying to get to my Super Rod at some point. My Mewtwo gets locked active with another Catcher, and he is able to Emerald Slash it for game.
So in the end, my tournament finishes with a 7-4-3 record, or 24 points, which was good enough for 24th place and 30 Championship Points.
Why I Didn’t Do Better
24th place is certainly good, but once you get to that second day of Swiss with a good record it will always be disappointing to not proceed even further in the tournament.
I can zero in my tournament failings to a lack of preparedness in dealing with the Virizion-EX/Mewtwo EX deck.
The biggest reason I lost to these decks was because they had Bouffalant and I didn’t. If I had played Bouffalant in my list I am confident that I would have turned a lot of these Virizion matches into wins as having Gold Breaker, X Ball, AND G Booster at your disposal as weapons is definitely stronger than just the first two, and most of my games against the deck were still very close but just largely loss because of not having an attack with a non-EX that hit for 120… which Bouffalant would have provided.
The silly thing is I had Bouffalant in my list up until a few days ago when it got the axe. In general, we were finding Bouffalant to be pretty useless in almost every matchup, and naturally the one matchup that Bouffalant was really good in was the one matchup we didn’t test against.
I was a bit disappointed when the Utah players who did well with the deck put their list online, as that gave everyone a good Virizion deck to build the basis of their decks off of. Still, even with the lists being put up, I didn’t think that many players would just switch to the deck on such short notice, but I was definitely wrong on this as it seemed to be one of the most heavily played decks in the tournament and was for sure the most played deck among the Top 32 players.
Not really much to say further than that. In the future I’ll have to take into account more that a lot of players will move to a new deck on short notice, test it more, and make sue I have all cards necessary for beating another strong deck.
I was a little bit skeptical about the new tournament format headed in, but overall it turned out a lot better than I expected.
I really loved the best-of-three format. It definitely brings more skill into the game, as one game of bad draws doesn’t ruin your tournament. I had a few games that I lost the first game, but was able to either win or tie the series. It definitely is a lot better to be able to lose a game where your draw poorly, and still win a match.
I took advantage of this fact in building my deck. 3 Ghetsis isn’t exactly the most consistent Supporter out there, as you sometimes Ghetsis for nothing or just one card, but with best-of-three, I could afford a turn of dead-drawing when in the other two games I would probably not draw poorly. This allowed me to add a lot of disruption to my deck that really punished some of my opponents.
Most importantly, now that these first really big tournaments are out of the way we start to have an idea of what needs to be accomplished to make it into the second day of Swiss. In this particular tournament, 18 points ended up being the bubble, and this seems to set a precedent of what the bubble will be around in most of these tournaments.
I think if you have 19 points you will be safe for making it into the second day of Swiss in most of the Regional Championships with large attendances moving forward. That equates to winning six games, and at least tying one more match, which I don’t think is terribly difficult to do. Moving forward I feel good about playing in States and higher events, as I think as long as I make a good deck choice and play to my ability, the 19 point figure is a very attainable number.
29 points ended up being the number needed to get into the Top 8. I ended day one with 20 points, so that just meant winning three matches and I would get into the Top 8. Things didn’t go quite that well this time around, but in future events I don’t think winning 3-of 5 games there is too unreasonable.
Time is a bit of an issue; I think an extra 10 minutes would really help make for less draws. However, time wasn’t as much of an issue as I thought it would be. One of my draws was intentional, and in the other three, all of those games went to a Game 3 and one player was very close to a win condition, but just didn’t hit that last card they needed for a win.
I think time is only a really big issue when you play a player who takes considerably longer than they should be in making their moves. If you’re playing against a player who plays at a reasonable pace, two games should almost always have time to complete and the third game usually gets fairly developed.
This may change with the rule changes, as knockouts will happen at a slower pace with the Catcher nerf, but we’ll have to see how that truly pans out once we get to that point.
Wow, that was a tiring weekend. In the end, I ended up playing 32 games of Pokémon this weekend, which is far more than have ever played in a single weekend. The closest I have to that previously is 12 games at this past National Championship.
While that is a lot of games of Pokémon, I think playing that much really allows the best players at an event to do well as variance plays less of a factor.
I wish I could have made my way into the Top 8 cut, but my deck was missing one ingredient from getting there and 24th place is still a very good finish.