Hello everyone, my name is Brandon and this is my report for Houston Regionals. I’ve got a lot of things to cover so I’m going to start off by explaining how my testing went. I’ve been focusing on school a lot this year since junior year is fairly important to how the rest of my life may play out, so I haven’t had much time to prepare for Regionals.
A long while ago, at some point in August, my team Mad Pullz had a small tournament to help us prepare, and mainly for fun, for the new format. I decided to play Kyurem/Deoxys and ended up winning the tournament (and a neat trophy) against my cousin in the finals using Blastoise.
It started me off decently, but I soon realized that I wasn’t a big fan of Kyurem/Deoxys, or any form of Plasma for that matter. I really didn’t like any of the top decks, and there wasn’t much to be creative with.
In the two weeks prior to Regionals, I began testing Genesect/Virizion/Balloons with heavy Potions and Eviolites. This deck was my go to play up until the night before Regionals. I felt like it had strong matchups against all of the decks I expected to see at the top tables (Darkrai/Plasma/Blastoise). Without testing it much, I asked all of my friends if I could borrow the cards I needed and settled on it.
When I got to Houston, I had time to enter the League Challenge, so I rushed to one of my friends to borrow everything for the Genesect/Virizion/Balloons deck. The tournament started off a bit later than it should have, so I had planned on dropping as soon as I took a loss. I won my first two matches against a Blastoise and a Darkrai deck, but ended up losing a close game to my friend Jorel using Virizion/Mewtwo/Bouffalant. After that, I did end up dropping so I could figure out what I really wanted to play.
One of my friends, Jimmy Pendarvis, told me of a deck he intended on playing at Philadelphia Regionals, Darkrai EX/Victini-EX/Terrakion-EX. I liked it, but I wasn’t completely convinced. I didn’t like taking a poor Plasma matchup over being able to beat Darkrai and Genesect/Virizion. My cousin and another one of my friends, Poet, ended up playing this deck. My cousin Sean ended up 5-3-1 after day 1, and Poet ended up in the top 32 but didn’t do very well after the last 5 rounds.
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 36
Energy – 14
That is pretty close to the list that Sean and Poet played, but it could be a few cards off. I think it was a decent play for the weekend, but I just didn’t feel comfortable with it. I did like the idea of Victini-EX powering up Terrakion-EX, leading to more Pokémon to get set up and being able to stream attackers.
My friend John Kettler was running a deck using the same concept in the League Challenge the night before, and I remember him doing decently well. It was a Victini-EX/Terrakion-EX/Drifblim deck. I remember seeing the deck a few weeks before, piloted by my friend Jacob Van Wagner. I thought about the deck a bit more, and I realized that it was a very solid play, as long as my meta predictions were correct. I built the deck the night before, and without testing it at all, decided it would be my play for the main event.
This may sound crazy, but it isn’t the first time I’ve done something like this. Two seasons ago, I went to the same Regional, in the same hotel, and used a Mew Prime/Yanmega Prime/Terrakion NVI deck to get first place without testing or playing it beforehand as well. I was confident in my own playing ability that I could pick up the deck throughout the rounds, especially with best-of-three.
So, here is the deck:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
I feel like the only questionable part of the Pokémon lines would be the single Terrakion NVI and the 3/2-2 line of Drifblim. I feel like adding a second Terrakion NVI would have been a smart play, but in the end it wasn’t needed.
The Drifblim line may seem slightly strange, but it’s the same one I’ve used the entire season. I feel like 4 Drifloon is too many, and 3 was the perfect number. I wouldn’t start with it as often, and I would have them when I need them.
I preferred having two of each Drifblim because each one is good and has its own use in different matchups. The DRX Drifblim was nice against Mewtwo/Virizion decks, and was a great late game sweeper against any Plasma decks.
I feel like the Trainer lineup was the best I could possibly make it. I rarely had dead hands, and was able to fit the right amounts of each Trainer and didn’t have to slim down on them. I originally had Colress in the deck, but there were far too many times when I would start with it and end up Colressing for a very small number, or just end up discarding it.
In his place, I added two Random Receiver to help get one of my 3 Supporters. It was nice having these, because I could try to hit a Skyla off of it, and still be able to play it to grab whatever I needed. I preferred Switch over Float Stone, because it could get around Sleep. Drifblim PLB already has free retreat, allowing me to switch around freely a lot of the time.
The Tropical Beach came in handy a few times, mainly in stadium wars. I feel like it wasn’t as needed, but it definitely didn’t hurt. Most of my list is pretty self-explanatory. It was a very simple concept and my list was very consistent. I don’t think I’d change a single card if I could.
Now that my list is out of the way, I’d like to go ahead and start with the tournament itself. Houston Regionals started out with 250 players, meaning we had 9 Swiss best-of-three rounds the first day, cut to the Top 32 and do 5 more best-of-three Swiss rounds, and then cut to a Top 8.
This is a very long, and extremely tiring tournament structure. I’m a fan of it, but I think it could be better. I still think it is a step in the right direction, as long as they change a few of the rules concerning ties.
Round 1 vs. Timothy B. with Blastoise/Keldeo/Suicune
This was definitely the one matchup I didn’t want to see the entire tournament. It’s by all means an auto-loss, and I don’t see it being winnable. The upside to the game, is that my opponent was fairly new. He did have Tropical Beach, but I don’t think he had very many.
In Game 1 I went first and got the turn one Turbo Energize onto a Terrakion-EX, allowing me to start attacking very quickly. I believe he benched a Squirtle and another Keldeo before using a Tropical Beach to end his turn. I’m able to use Pokémon Catcher to bring up his Squirtle and Knock it Out using Pump-up Smash before it became a threat. I continued to do this until he was out of Squirtles and stole a fairly easy Game 1.
Game 2 wasn’t very stellar, with him getting a turn two Blastoise and taking a very quick lead. In the end, he ended up Biking into a Superior Energy Retrieval and a Pokémon Catcher to steal his last Prize before I was able to get mine.
I rush into Game 3, as I had not kept time of the rounds or had any idea of how long we had been playing, and I had a ridiculous start. I was able to Ultra Ball into my Victini-EX, attach a Victory Piece, Switch, and use Turbo Energize onto a Terrakion-EX. The last card in my hand happened to be a Professor Juniper, so I was off to a great start.
He is able to get two Squirtle onto the bench and use Tropical Beach. I decide that I’m better off going for the Keldeo-EX and trying to take 6 Prizes off of 3 Pokémon-EX instead of going after each of his Squirtles. Using Pump-up Smash to set up a second Terrakion, I’m able to build my board to a good spot and start to feel comfortable.
He misses the Blastoise and uses Rush In to bring out a fresh Keldeo-EX. I was able to hit the Pokémon Catcher to knockout his damaged Keldeo-EX and all of the Energy on board. From there it was fairly smooth sailing, using Terrakion-EX to take out 3 Keldeo-EX in a few turns.
I was lucky that he didn’t use Suicune as much as he should have. I only play one copy of Terrakion NVI, so I would’ve had a very hard time dealing with it.
Round 2 vs. Adam J. with Plasma TDKA
I once again start off first and he flips over a Deoxys. I’m able to get out a few Drifloons and I believe use Turbo Energize on turn one. He drops a Kyurem and powers it up and is able to Knock Out my Victini-EX on his first turn. I was completely surprised how quickly he was able to pull that off, but I was able to recover.
I used Driflbim PLB a lot this game to discard all of his Special Energy, as well as using Enhanced Hammer to make it even worse for him. I’m able to take Game 1 fairly easily, even though he does get some fairly lucky draws.
Game 2 isn’t as good for me, starting Drifloon and him getting another turn one Frost Spear. I use this game to see his list more, mainly after realizing that the chances of me coming back aren’t very likely. He was able to pull off a knockout on a manually powered up Terrakion-EX at one point, which is where I realized I had lost the game.
In Game 3 I’m able to get a similar start to game one. I use Terrakion to take out his Thundurus EX and Drifblims to sweep up fairly quickly.
Round 3 vs. Cameron C. with Darkrai
I know Cameron fairly well; he’s a friend of mine and used to play in my area before moving to Chicago. He knew which deck I was playing and knew that he most likely wouldn’t be able to pull off a win.
I get a fairly fast start Game 1, using Victini-EX to power up a Terrakion-EX very early on, most likely turn one or two. He starts Darkrai and is only able to attach and play a Professor Juniper before passing the turn to me. I’m able to take quick knockouts on Darkrais before taking all 6 Prizes to his 0.
In Game 2 he once again starts Darkrai and ends up passing to me. I begin to set up a Terrakion-EX and use his slow start to my advantage. I’m once again able to stream Pump-up Smashes on Darkrai EX and Sableye to take an easy match.
Round 4 vs. Zach B. with Darkrai/Victini/Garbodor
I’d like to start this off by saying that this player was fairly rude. I’m not sure if it was intentional, or if that’s just how he plays. I’m always polite to my opponents, but he wasn’t.
Anyway, he starts the game off going first and has a fairly slow start. He doesn’t have Energy to power up his attackers, and I’m able to set up a Terrakion-EX to start taking down his threats. I’m able to take the first game fairly quickly.
Game 2 he starts off much faster, getting a turn one Intensifying Burn against my Terrakion-EX. This is where I realized how much of a pain Victini-EX is when you don’t play Tool Scrapper or anything that can Knock Out a Victini-EX in one hit. I believe I scoop early on to make sure we had time to play a third game.
Game 3 I don’t get the best of starts, but am able to keep a steady flow. He once again uses Victini-EX to his advantage and is able to get out fast damage. I’m forced to deal with this by using a Rock Tumble followed by a Pump-up Smash to get rid of it. In the last few turns, I’m able to come back from behind a little bit and tie up the Prizes.
In the end, I was able to N him to two and myself to four. I thought I had the game completely locked up, but off the N he was able to draw a Dark Patch, Pokémon Catcher, and Hypnotoxic Laser to take out my benched Victini-EX for the game. I was super salty after this game, but things like that happen.
Round 5 vs. Jonathan C. with Darkrai/Garbodor
I knew this round would be a fairly easy one for me, as Jonathan and I are good friends. I knew he was playing Darkrai/Garbodor because I lent him a few before the tournament started. Originally, he was going to give me a ride down to the tournament, but I found a ride with my other friend a few days prior.
I start off the game very strong by getting a turn one Turbo Energize on my Terrakion-EX. He is able to put my Victini-EX to sleep, but luckily for me I’m able to hit a Switch off Professor Juniper to take the knockout on a Darkrai EX and power up another Terrakion-EX. I take Game 1 quickly and we start up Game 2.
He doesn’t get the best of starts, and I’m able to get the same start as game one. I feel really bad for taking two 6-0 games, but that’s really what my deck was made to do.
N. with Virizion/MewtwoRound 6 vs. Alec
This was one of the matchups that I wasn’t really confident about. I knew that in theory, Victini takes out Virizion, Drifblim takes out Mewtwo EX, and Terrakion takes out the Bouffalants. The main problem was getting the Double Colorless Energy in his discard so I could start the sweep.
In these games I used Terrakion-EX early to kill off his Bouffalants before they became serious threats. He was able to take out my full powered Terrakion-EX at some point, and I remember him getting a good lead on me. I was able to get rid of a few Special Energy and start using Drifblim and a well-timed N to “steal” the win.
In Game 2 he was able to score some fast knockouts on Victini-EX and I wasn’t able to recover.
Game 3 was probably one of the closest games I played throughout the entire tournament. He got a good lead, but I was able to N him down and keep him doing. I played my cards right and was able to take all 6-of my Prizes before he was able to draw a Double Colorless Energy.
Round 7 vs. Jim J. with Plasma TDK
I knew Jim before the tournament from Facebook. I had sold him some cards a few months before. He was a really nice guy, and it was nice to meet you (if you read this). I had no clue what he was playing before the match, so I thought starting with Drifloon wouldn’t be that great. But when he flipped over a Deoxys-EX, I was pretty happy.
I know that my Plasma matchup is great, and this proved to be no different. I learned quickly that he didn’t play any basic Energy. I used both Drifblims to take fast knockouts and quickly take a 2-0 sweep. I felt bad because it wasn’t even a very close series, but he still played well.
Round 8 vs. Len Deuel with Virizion/Mewtwo
I’ve known Len for a really long time and actually let him borrow the Mewtwo EX in his deck. He is an amazing VGC player, and was only playing in the TCG event for fun. He gave me the wins since he planned on dropping after he made Top 32 to play in the VGC. I still feel like I would have won the match because I feel like Virizion/Mewtwo was one of my better matchups. Thanks Len!
Round 9 vs. Justin Aaron with Virizion/Mewtwo
He was a really nice guy from Memphis who came down with his friend Squeaky. They both used similar Virizion/Mewtwo decks and both did very well. Like I’ve said before, I feel like my Virizion/Mewtwo matchup was very good, and so I was confident going into this match.
I got my normal start with a turn one Turbo Energize onto a Terrakion-EX and was able to take a very fast game one. In Game 2, he was able to power up Mewtwos and Bouffalants quickly before I could really set anything up. He was also very smart about playing down his Double Colorless Energy to prevent me from using Drifblim to sweep up his Mewtwo EX.
In Game 3 he opened a lone Virizion-EX to my Victini-EX. I had a Professor Juniper in my hand, so I knew that I had a small chance of hitting the Victory Piece to hit the turn one win. I use an Ultra Ball to grab a Terrakion-EX and bench it before using Professor Juniper. He shuffles my deck for a while to make sure it’s completely randomized. The fifth card happened to be the Victory Piece and I was able to use Intensifying Burn to knockout the Virizion-EX for the match.
After Day 1 I was extremely tired and worn out. Our matches didn’t end until around 1 AM, and we had to be back in the morning around 7:45 AM. I was shocked at how well I had performed for not testing the deck at all, but I also wasn’t completely surprised. I chose the right deck and played it well.
I was the second seed going into Day 2 of Swiss. Eight members of my team, Mad Pullz, made the Top 32 of the tournament, which was amazing. I’m proud to be a part of such a strong team with such great people.
I woke up for Day 2 around 6:30 AM to get ready for the long day. I grabbed one of the Monsters that I brought down with me and went down to the lobby around 7:15. We all stood around for a while and talked about how many match points we thought we would need to make the Top 8. Then pairings went up and everyone realized that points from the previous day did carry over, and we would be paired against the seed that was either in front of us or behind us.
Round 10 vs. Len D. (No Show)
He woke up late unintentionally, as he had planned to show up and drop so that he could get his packs for Top 32. He was still going to give me the win anyway, but I just had to sit there for 10 minutes to earn it. I think it gave me an unfair advantage, but I definitely wouldn’t decline another free win.
Round 11 vs. Squeaky (Josh M.) with Virizion/Mewtwo
This was my round 8 opponent’s teammate, who played the same list. These games went by really quickly as I managed to start with a Victini-EX and a Victory Piece to his Virizion-EX. He was forced to pull up a Mr. Mime and couldn’t do a lot. I was able to power up a Terrakion-EX the following turn and started taking quick prizes.
In Game 2, he started off with a Mewtwo EX and a Double Colorless Energy to my Victini-EX. I was able to Enhanced Hammer away the Energy and use Turbo Energize to set up a Terrakion-EX on the bench. He really couldn’t come back from the Enhanced Hammer and I was able to overrun him with my turn two Pump-up Smash.
Round 12 vs. Mikey P. with Darkrai
I once again had a matchup I felt very strong against. The guy was fairly nice and I had a fun time messing around during the match. I got a very strong start Game 1, being able to Switch into Victini-EX and Turbo Energize a Terrakion-EX on the first turn.
He didn’t have as great of a start, and just ended up using Junk Hunt. I was able to get the Knock Out on a Darkrai EX and powered up another Terrakion-EX. He flipped a lot of tails which really messed up his game plan and made it easier for me to take a quick win.
Game 2 went pretty much the same way, even though he almost had a chance to win. I had two Victini-EX in play for some reason, and one had 90 damage on it from a Night Spear. If it wasn’t for Mr. Mime, he would have been able to use Pokémon Catcher to bring up the fresh Victini-EX and hit the other to take game two.
Luckily for me, I was able to use Pokémon Catcher to knockout his Darkrai EX with Pump-up Smash to take the game and the match.
Round 13 vs. Jeffrey P. with Haxorus/Garchomp
Yes, you read that correctly. There was a Haxorus deck doing well at Houston Regionals, which took everyone by surprise. I had already guaranteed myself cut, so I asked him if he wanted to do an intentional draw. He agreed and we signed the slip so we could go relax.
I was able to take this time to get some lunch and charge my phone. At the same time, I was able to watch Ross Cawthon vs. Kyle Sucevich play on stream at the Ft. Wayne Regionals in the final round.
Round 14 vs. Jose M. with Plasma
Jose is a very nice guy and a well-known player from Florida. I would have felt horrible if I beat him in the last round to make him miss cut, so I just gave him the win. He came a long way to get to that point, so I felt like he deserved it.
After the last of the Swiss rounds, we waited for the final standings to go up. The Top 8 looked something like this:
- Brandon Smiley (Victini-EX/Terrakion-EX/Drifblim)
- Josh Marking (Virizion-EX/Mewtwo EX)
- Jose Marrero (Plasma)
- Adam Jones (Plasma)
- Caleb Cline (Speed Lugia)
- Justin Sanchez (Plasma)
- Calvin Nordberg (Plasma)
- Jim Jones (Plasma)
As you can see, the Top 8 looked extremely in my favor. I felt comfortable playing against any of these matchups, so I was excited to take on the rest of the day.
Top 8 vs. Jim J. with Plasma
This is the same Jim that I played in the seventh round, so I knew that he didn’t play basic Energies and that it would be a fairly easy match. The first game goes heavily in my favor, getting a quick start with Drifloons on board. He has a mediocre start and I end up taking game one quickly using Drifblim DRX’s Shadow Steal to sweep through his attackers.
Game 2 was more in his favor. I opened with Victini-EX and he was able to get a turn one Frost Spear against it. I was able to Turbo Energize and get a Drifloon out, but by that point there wasn’t much I could do. He was able to Knock Out my Terrakion-EX in one hit and I couldn’t recover.
Game 3 goes much more in my favor and I’m able to get a quick lead using Drifblim PLB. I establish a strong board and there is no chance that he can recover from the amount of attackers I’ve set up. I take the match and move on to Top 4.
The Top 4 looked like this:
- Myself vs. Adam J.
- Justin Sanchez vs. Calvin N.
Half of the Top 4 was Mad Pullz team members! I was extremely satisfied knowing that there was a possibility of having a Mad Pullz finals. Other than that, it was 3 Plasma decks against me in the Top 4, which I was fine with. I hadn’t lost a match to a Plasma deck yet and I didn’t plan to either.
Top 4 vs. Adam J. with Plasma
This is my same opponent from Round 2, so I once again knew a decent amount about his list. I knew he didn’t play basic Energies or Hypnotoxic Laser. Game 1 he was able to go first and get a Frost Spear off. My start wasn’t exactly stellar, but I was able to get a decent board going.
Going back into my turn, I was able to discard all the Energy off of his Kyurem besides the Plasma, so it could only use Frost Spear the next turn, which would put him behind since it would get Knocked Out the following turn. The game goes heavily into my favor when I’m able to use Drifblim DRX to get knockouts on his only attackers and do extreme amounts of damage against his Deoxys-EX.
The second game is very unfortunate for me, as he is able to get a turn one knockout on my Victini-EX. Luckily I had a Drifloon benched, but that wasn’t going to be able to help much. I get stuck behind and have a lot of catching up to do.
At one point I’m able to N him to 2 cards and use my lone Drifblim DRX to take out his only attacker and leave him with almost nothing. For a few turns, I thought I was going to make a 6-0 comeback, but luckily for him he was able to draw some decent cards and managed to take a win in Game 2.
Game 3 wasn’t as close the second, but it wasn’t horrible. I started with Victini-EX using Turbo Energize onto a Terrakion-EX and a few Drifloons. I’m able to keep a constant flow of attackers and he isn’t able to keep up with constantly losing his Energy.
I kept a close eye on the other Top 4 match, and saw Justin Sanchez pull out a close win against Calvin. I knew that my finals match would be one of the hardest yet, so I was a bit nervous. Justin is a very well-known player, and I’d soon find out that he is one of the nicest Pokémon players I’ve had the pleasure to meet.
Finals vs. Justin Sanchez with Plasma
In Game 1 I’m able to get a quick Victini-EX to power up my Terrakion-EX. He opened Deoxys-EX and was able to get a Switch to bring out Kyurem. He got the turn one Frost Spear, but I was able to use Pump-up Smash to get some decent damage on it. I was later able to use Drifblims to keep his Kyurem at bay.
At one point I was able to use Drifblim DRX to Knock Out a completely powered up Kyurem and nearly seal up the game. It’s pretty hard for him to come back from losing all the Energy on his field.
In Game 2 he was able to get a turn one knockout on my Victini-EX with Kyurem and a Silver Bangle. I knew from that point that there was hardly any chance that I’d be able to win the game after such a strong start. I played it out just to see what was in his list and I ended up seeing quite a bit of it.
In Game 3, I didn’t have the strongest of starts. On one of his early turns he was forced to discard two Special Energy with Professor Juniper and that allowed my Drifblim DRX to do some heavy damage.
One of the key parts of this match is when he had four Special Energy and one basic Energy in his discard pile. He used Raiden Knuckle to put a Special Energy onto his Kyurem to prevent me from Knocking Out his Thundurus in one hit with Drifblim. I was then able to Skyla for an Enhanced Hammer and wipe his board clean of Energies and no sign of an attacker.
I felt like that really sealed the fate of the game. It came down to me drawing a Random Receiver to hit a Skyla, which allowed me to grab a Pokémon Catcher to knockout a damaged Deoxys on his bench for the match.
Winning this Regionals really proved to myself that I’m not that bad of a player. I had a very hot run in my last year of Seniors two years ago, followed by a very poor first year as a Master. I feel like getting a big win this early in the season really sets some ground for myself to grow over the season to show that I’m definitely not that bad at the game.
It was also such an amazing feeling to use a different deck to win such a large tournament. I’ve always been a fan of lesser played decks, and this felt like one of them to me. It was known around some people, but not played by many. It also got second at Ft. Wayne Regionals which surprised me.
First of all, I’d like to thank Mike and Mia Cook for running yet another great Houston Regionals. They hold some of the best tournaments I’ve ever attended and they never let us down. Second, I’d like to thank Josh and Randy for letting me go down to Houston with them for the weekend and taking care of me.
A huge thank you goes out to my team Mad Pullz for being so supportive and being the best team I could ask for. You guys have helped me stay in this game and I definitely don’t plan on leaving it any time soon. As well as all of the Poké-Families in our community like the Porters, the Banyagas, the Mowerys, the Connor family, and many others: You guys were so supportive and I just felt like I had to take the win for you guys.
A few specific people I’d like to congratulate are my good friends Chance Grantham and Calvin Nordberg for doing so well at this event; definitely two great representations by Mad Pullz. Big shout out to Aaron Wang for being moral support throughout the entire tournament. The final thank you goes to my cousin, who has stuck with me throughout my entire time of playing this game and has gone to nearly every single tournament with me and watched every single one of my top cut matches. You’re a great friend most of the time, and I’m glad we started playing this game together.
Until next time,