As the Christmas season rolls in, so does something that creates epic weekends: City Championships! Today I shall share a holiday tale of how I built a rogue deck; played two tournaments; was sorely disappointed; almost didn’t make it to the event on the second day, and then, in the spirit of the holidays, received some gifts.
I had decided a long time ago that I would be playing Empoleon for City Championships. However, the exact list was always in question. I first started out by pairing Empoleon with Suicune PLB, which helped a lot against Blastoise and Virizion/Genesect. I then decided against that particular build and started testing out a build style that used both Flareon PLF and Leafeon PLF, which helped me defeat both Virizion/Genesect and Blastoise fairly easily.
Three days before the tournament, I cut the Flareons and the Double Colorless Energies I had been running for W Energies, additional Silver Mirror, and a Sawk PLB. After a small amount of testing, I was confident in my build and was ready for Cities.
Albuquerque City Championships – December 7th
Here is the list I played for the first City Championships.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 32
Energy – 8
We had 23 Masters, which meant five rounds of Swiss with a Top 8, as we were able to break the threshold of 21 players for a Top 8. We were also informed of the fact that after 30 minutes and +3, if the game was not finished, it would result in a draw.
Round 1 vs. Noah Wingren w/ Virizion/Mewtwo
He has a slow start, but gets a Virizion-EX out with an Eviolite attached to it. This was incredibly frustrating, as it forced me to 4HKO it with Attack Command. The rest of the game was essentially me winning the Prize trade with Empoleons and Max Potions. He never truly established his field, though, and I took my last 2 Prizes seconds before time was called.
Round 2 vs. Simon de la Cruz w/ Virizion/Genesect
I knew I was in for a game, as Simon is a very good player and he played both Lugia EX and Deoxys-EX in his deck. I went first and opened Duskull. I had nothing going and played N. After I played the N, he informed me that he had a G Energy, a Team Plasma Badge, and a Colress Machine in hand for the donk.
After the N, he somehow whiffed the G Energy for the next three turns, which greatly slowed his setup and essentially cost him the game. I set up fairly quickly after that. I don’t remember much after that, except for the fact that I won in a close finish.
Round 3 vs. Ryan Moseley w/ Speed Lugia
Anyway, I go first again, and to my horror, my opening hand looked something like this. Exeggcute, W Energy, Super Rod, Silver Bangle, W Energy, W Energy, Escape Rope, W Energy. I play down my Exeggcute, we flip our cards over, and he opens with a Thundurus EX.
I draw my card, and there it is, a Level Ball. I use it to grab my Jirachi-EX, and use that to grab an N. I set up well after that opening deckfart. Sawk PLB was huge in this matchup, as I was able to 2HKO his Thundurus EXs with ease. I took the final 2 Prizes by Sinister Handing the damage on his Bench onto his Active Lugia EX and Attack Commanding it for the win.
Round 4 vs. Sarah Porter w/ Empoleon
Coming in, I was well aware that this would essentially be a play-in game for top cut. I knew that speed would be huge in this game. Fortunately for me, I set up quicker than she. She also Prized the Jolteon DEX she was playing, which may have swung the game dramatically. We eventually hit a point where we played Max Potions for somewhere around five consecutive turns.
Round 5 vs. Nikolaas Schaad w/ Plasma
My deck finally gave out on me in this game. I did not see an Energy card the entire game. Long story short, I lost. Hard.
I was still excited after the loss because I had made top cut as the 2nd seed. I also managed to finish with an opponent’s win percentage resistance of 70%. After putting my deck in order, I waited around until the seeding was announced. I sat down, prepared for what I thought would be a winnable series.
Top 8 vs. Francisco Mendoza w/ Virizion/Genesect
In this game, my deck did what it was supposed to do, which is set up the Dusknoir and stream Empoleons. I won this game fairly easily.
This game was incredibly frustrating. I ditched my entire hand on my second turn to get a T2 Empoleon set up with a Silver Mirror attached. The very next turn, he dropped G Booster to essentially end the game right there, as I had nothing else because I had played my entire hand out the turn before. I scooped two turns later.
This game was nearly identical to the previous one. I got Empoleon out T2 with a Silver Mirror attached. He then dropped G Booster for the 1HKO with his Genesect EX. I almost rallied at the end, and had a chance to Knock Out his Genesect EX, which was the only Pokémon he had Energy on at that point, except that I whiffed the W Energy, and proceeded to concede the match.
I was frustrated at the way I lost the last two games. I became even more frustrated when I found out that players who lost in Top 8, despite making top cut, did not receive any Championship Points. I did win four packs, out of which I pulled a Chandelure-EX. I then hurriedly filled out my decklist again so I could participate in the League Challenge.
The final standings from City Championships went like this:
1st: Nikolaas Schaas w/ Plasma
2nd: Francisco Mendoza w/ Virizion/Genesect
3rd: Ryan Moseley w/ Speed Lugia
4th: Kaleb Moore w/ Darkrai/Dusknoir
5th: Tyler Vencill w/ Empoleon
6th: Anson Schweggman w/ Tool Drop
7th: Simon de la Cruz w/ Virizion/Genesect
8th: Melissa Grieve w/ Plasma
Round 1 vs. Brent Hardy w/ Plasma
I started out horrifically, and managed to come back and make it close. I was unable to get my Benched Sawk Active to 2HKO his Thundurus EX, and he eventually Knocked Out my Active Mr. Mime, which he had Catchered up a few turns earlier.
Round 2 vs. Ryan Moseley w/ Speed Lugia
He started off with a Deoxys-EX. I was able to get a Silver Bangled Empoleon set up by T2 with two more Pokémon on the Bench to hit his Deoxys-EX for 70 damage. He attached a Plasma Energy and passed. I then Benched two more Pokémon and used Propagation with the Exeggcute I had in the discard pile. I then Benched it to get the last 10 damage I needed to Knock Out the Deoxys-EX.
Round 3 vs. Anson Schweggman w/ Gardevoir/Mewtwo/Sigilyph
I failed to set up a single attacker while he got rolling early with Mewtwo EX and rolled through my entire field. I failed to take a single Prize.
Round 4 vs. Mike Grieve w/ Empoleon
I got rolling early with a T2 Empoleon, while he took a while to set up, getting a T6 Empoleon. The match nearly resulted in a tie, but I managed to pull it out on the final turn of plus 3 after time had been called.
On a side note, both Mike as well as Melissa’s Empoleon decks (which was what they played for the LC) employed an interesting tech card: Archen PLB/Lileep PLB/Tirtouga PLB. I asked him why he played it. He told me that he used it to prevent decking out.
This is an interesting tactic that I think is definitely worth testing out in Empoleon decks, if not in other decks that may struggle with this issue, such as Darkrai. One of these cards is easily enough teched in and discarded with an Ultra Ball or a Professor Juniper, and can be constantly recycled, such as with Exeggcute PLF.
Round 5 vs. Sarah Porter w/ Empoleon
This game was essentially the same as the one we had played earlier, with me setting up quickly and her setting up slightly slower. She was able to get her Jolteon out this game, but it did not make much of a difference. I won off of her decking out.
I ended up taking 9th place out of 20. My buddy Simon won the whole thing, going 5-0 with his Flareon deck and winning a Scyther DEX with his placing stamped on it. It was essentially a Victory Cup, except worse.
Santa Fe City Championships – December 8th
I got little to no sleep Saturday night and did no more than doze. I woke up the next morning and got ready to go when it started to snow. As I was driving to the rendezvous point with my ride out to Santa Fe, the snow was sticking to the road. However, the weather cleared up quickly and the drive up to Santa Fe was nice and there was no indication on the road that it had snowed.
I changed up my list from the day before to counter the high counts of Plasma/Big Basics style decks and to reduce the amount of space I lost by playing Leafeon from the fact that there had not been a single Blastoise deck the day before.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 33
Energy – 8
As you can see, I dropped the Leafeons and Eevees for a Spiritomb, a Drifloon, a Drifblim, and an Enhanced Hammer. The Spiritomb greatly helps my matchup against Virizion/Genesect, as it prevents G Booster from being put into play. The Enhanced Hammer helps slow down decks that run Special Energy, especially Plasma and Virizion/Genesect. The Drifblim line’s purpose was to provide a low-cost attacker who is highly effective against Plasma.
Round 1 vs. Bucky w/ FluffyChomp
He opened off with a Spiritomb to my Piplup. He then Benched a Gible, which scared me greatly because FluffyChomp is not a good matchup for my Empoleon deck. He was unable to get set up quickly, and was never able to get the second Altaria into play until it was too late.
We were trading 2HKOs with our main attackers, until I Knocked Out his Garchomp and he promoted Rayquaza DRV. This was a huge misplay for him because I was from that point on able to attack into it with Empoleon for 110 damage and then move all of that damage onto his Bench with Dusknoir.
He was eventually able to switch it out, but by then it was too late. I simply Knocked Out most of his Bench by moving damage around with Sinister Hand, and then I KO’d his Garchomp for my final Prize.
Round 2 vs. Simon de la Cruz w/ Darkrai
This was a tight match all the way to the finish. We traded Prizes down to the finish. Time was called, and I was up 1-3 on Prizes. I would have been unable to Knock Out the Absol he had promoted before the game was over, resulting in a tie. Fortunately for me, he misplayed and did not Junk Hunt for a Super Rod on turn one of +3 and decked out. GG, Simon. Looking forward to our next match!
Round 3 vs. Oscar Montes w/ Virizion/Genesect
He started off slowly while I got rolling by T2. He could really not get much going and I won very easily.
Round 4 vs. Jose Holguin w/ Blastoise
Jose normally judges, but had decided to play today. I got set up fairly quickly, while he could not get a L Energy to attach to his Black Kyurem EX to save his life. I Knocked Out a Black Kyurem EX early. He then got two Keldeos on the Bench and started whacking away with them. I was able to Knock Out his first one. He then played two Superior Energy Retrievals in one turn to set up another Keldeo-EX.
On the final turn of the match, he had an undamaged Keldeo-EX and a Blastoise on the Bench with 70 damage on it. On that turn I filled my Bench, got an Empoleon and a Dusknoir set up in one turn, Junipered away my hand, and the final card of my deck of my deck was the Silver Bangle I needed in order to win the game.
Round 5 vs. Melissa Grieve w/ Darkrai/Dusknoir
She got an Absol set up fairly quickly, which she used to KO the Prinplup I had Active. I then returned the knockout with the Sawk I had Benched the turn previous. She got a Darkrai set up after that and 1HKO’d one of my Empoleons with Night Spear + Dark Claw + LaserBank. By that point, though, I had a second Empoleon on the Bench as well as a Dusknoir set up.
She was unable to get her Dusknoir set up because she had to discard it on the first turn of the game. She got another Darkrai EX set up and starts chipping into my Empoleon. I played Max Potion, attached, and then attacked it for somewhere around 100 damage. She attached to another Darkrai, retreated her Active one, and then played two Energy Switches and attacked again with Night Spear.
I Sinister Handed the damage on the Benched one onto the Active Darkrai and Knocked it Out. She then conceded the match as her Max Potion was in her discard pile.
Top 4 vs. Oscar Montes w/ Virizion/Genesect
I won the flip, opted to go first, and to my horror, my opening hand went something like this: Duskull, W Energy, W Energy, W Energy, W Energy, Dusknoir, W Energy. I drew my card for my turn, and to my joy, it was a Jirachi-EX. I Benched it, went for an N, and played it. I was still unable to get anything going. He got going very quickly and sets up his Genesect EX by T3. He then did a Red Signal + Megalo Cannon my only Piplup in play. After that I scooped.
This game I set up easily, while Oscar was unable to get much going. I was able to get two Empoleons out as well as a Dusknoir and a Mr. Mime. At that point, he scooped to conserve time. This was fortunate for me, as I Prized two of my Piplups.
He got going quickly while I struggled to set up. My field was very quickly reduced to a Piplup with a lonely Empoleon in hand. He had a Genesect set up and not much else. At that point, I had an Exeggcute in the discard pile and either a draw supporter or a Rare Candy could save me from losing the game. I drew for my turn, and it was a Drifblim. I scooped right there.
The final standings for Top 4 went like this:
1st: Oscar Montes w/ Virizion/Genesect
2nd: Jose Holguin w/ Blastoise
3rd: Tyler Vencill w/ Empoleon
4th: Jade Herrera w/ Darkrai
While disappointed in not being able to move on in top cut after coming in first and second both days, my disappointment was somewhat curbed by the ten packs and new card sleeves I won. All in all, I felt it was a successful weekend, as I was the only player to make top cut both days. And of course, paying $22 for around $75 of merchandise is a deal that I will always take.
Takeaways from City Championships
1. Empoleon is a Tier 1 deck.
Empoleon is definitely a Tier 1 deck. Going 9-1 in Swiss enforces my belief in that. It is important to tech the deck toward your local meta. If you do that correctly, success will come your way.
2. Plasma is still a threat.
Plasma taking 3 of the top 8 spots on Saturday and 2 of the top 4 shows that it is still a legitimate deck in this format. It has very few weak spots and has good matchups against a lot of top decks in the format.
3. Darkrai/Dusknoir is now a thing.
After Kaleb Moore made Top 4 with it on Saturday and Melissa Grieve nearly made top cut with it on Saturday, I believe that this deck is very good and is definitely worth a shot at League Challenges, City Championships, and maybe even a Regional Championships later on down the road.
City Championships are still fun and well worth your time, even with the $10 entry fee, as Top 16 wins two packs. I would highly suggest attending them, as they are an excellent place for testing out deck ideas and also give you a lot of Championship Points and prizes.