Alphabet Soup

Virginia Regionals From A to Z

After my last tournament report from Philadelphia Regionals, I’ve decided to try something a little different. The Philly report became a sprawling mashup of plays and highlights, and while I liked it, it was exhausting to say the least. Given that, I want to tell the story of Virginia Regionals in an unconventional way.

What follows is the story of VA Regionals in 26 parts, each represented by a different letter in the alphabet. I tried to tell this story in individual pieces, with each piece providing some advice or an observation, or just telling a funny thing that happened on our journey.

With that said, let’s get to it. Here’s the story of Virginia Regionals from A to Z!

Table of Contents

Accidents Happen

ash pikachu winter
Murphy’s law was at work last weekend.

When I was young, I used to have a trampoline, one of those really big ones with blue protective padding lining its circumference. We played games on it during lazy summers when the skies were always Carolina blue and aspirations were endless but distant. As I got older, the padding started to fade and crack, and the trampoline itself began to deteriorate.

One winter, we had a great snowstorm. The whole world seemed a blanket of white, including the trampoline, which drooped greatly from snow collecting on it. In an effort to fix an accumulating problem, I climbed atop the trampoline with intentions to shovel some of the snow off. I had already shoveled a clean circle around the trampoline’s center, creating an odd bullseye for any bird passing by.

As I stood on the padding and leaned over continue my effort, I briefly lost my balance, setting a snow boot on the trampoline itself. I inevitably slipped, sliding to the center of the trampoline. Just before crashing into the large mound of snow in the center, I heard a chorus of metallic snaps and felt my body descend in space. I knew very well what happened: my added weight to the snow had broken the trampoline.

This metaphor seems to match the experience of many who went to Virginia Regionals. Slowly, little by little, this tournament posed challenges to players I had never seen before. Most players felt utterly exhausted by the end of day one, a few dropped from feeling sick, and almost everyone agreed that there’s room for improvement.

A multitude of factors made this one of the toughest tournaments I’ve ever played in. Best two of three, nine rounds on day one without a lunch break, a venue that got extremely hot at one point, repairings for virtually every round, a format that requires (in my opinion) more skill… little pieces that snapped a few metal springs for every player’s trampoline.

For the players who attended, it’s important to remember that the staff worked just as hard as you did. I agree that there’s much room for improvement, but there were also a lot of things that were not in the staff’s control. The decision to skip a lunch break was not a good idea, but each round has gained an additional 20 minutes with the new tournament structure. With nine rounds in the first day, that’s three hours of added time right there.

As far as the the difficulties the new tournament structure presents, just understand that the Pokémon TCG has turned into an endurance sport. If you have never spent an entire day playing the Pokémon TCG, go ahead and prepare now. Even if you have played in tournaments this intense before, prepare still.

When I made it to the finals at Nationals, I was mentally fatigued, but I kept myself hydrated, ate plenty of snacks, and exercised each morning. I feel that these healthy habits attributed greatly to my attendance at the final table.

Bad Starts

I wandered into familiar territory once more at the beginning of my tournament run this past weekend, losing my first two rounds of Swiss. For those who don’t know, I seem to have bad luck when it comes to playing the first round of any large tournament. I’ve lost the first round in the last five Regional Championships I’ve participated in, with two of those leading to a second round loss. I must be doing something right, though, because I’ve landed in the top cut in four of those tournaments (I’m counting the second day Top 32 here for this season’s Regionals).

There’s a lot I can say about making a comeback in your tournament run, but I’ll keep it brief by offering you a (hopefully) new perspective on the matter: when you’re forced into making a comeback, emotions are your enemy. I have seen many players fall hard to their feelings, letting disappointment and frustration take the front seat to what otherwise might be a successful performance.

When I consider the rounds I will be playing in a tournament, I try to think about it as coldly as possible, recognizing a first round loss as simply a loss. If a lose a round, I can attribute it to a number of factors and move on; if my opponent outplayed me, then that’s the way it is. But if I lose my first round, now things get shaky and I will start telling myself how unfortunate I am to lose the first round. Just remember, it doesn’t matter which rounds you win or lose, what matters is the number of points you get in the end. If you can see things this way, you’ll be a better player for it.

But what if you cannot just shake off the frustration and move on?

If you have a hard time accepting a first and/or second round loss, do yourself a favor and take a walk. Collect yourself, recoup, do some jumping jacks — whatever it takes to smooth out the edginess you feel. Afterward, talk to someone about your misfortune, but make sure beforehand that you talk to someone who will encourage you rather than discourage you. Lastly, consider doing some power poses (the link takes you to a video of someone explaining how your body language shapes who you are). It might sound like a foolish idea, but people psych themselves up all the time for sports, performances, whatever!

Candace Hyatt

jeanette fisher
It’s great to see women doing well at tournaments!

I want to mention Candace Hyatt not just because she’s on my team, but because she was the only girl to make it to the Top 32. Women who play the Pokémon TCG still fall into the minority, but more and more are playing and proving they can hang with the best of them. Hyatt is one of those, doing well enough to make it to the second day. On that second day, unfortunately, she was feeling exhausted and slightly sick, so she dropped from the tournament.

Hyatt decided to play Darkrai EX/Garbodor DRX, which apparently wasn’t a bad choice since it was the deck that won the whole event. Unfortunately, Candace played against another girl in the 7th or 8th round of Swiss, which I’m assuming she won. Had she been paired up against someone else, we might have seen two women in the Top 32.

It makes me happy anytime I see women performing well at Pokémon tournaments. The Pokémon TCG community itself is quite diverse except in this one area. I might play against older individuals, or those with a different ethnicity, or even those with varying degrees of social skills, but it’s not often that I play against women.

For a community that prides itself in being open to anyone, I think this is an area we can work on. In the time I’ve been playing, I’ve heard players vent about “losing to a girl.” Attitudes like this do absolutely nothing to welcome this demographic. To further complicate the issue, I’ve talked to many girls with stories about opponents who were rude, dismissive, or otherwise offensive. My wife doesn’t currently play the Pokémon TCG, with this being one of her reasons.

The more we can do to encourage and support the women who play the Pokémon TCG, the better. So once more, my hat’s off to Candace for performing so well in an extremely difficult tournament. Way to represent!

Darkrai EX/Garbodor DRX

sableye anime close up
Sableye gives more flip opportunities.

Darkrai EX wins yet another large tournament, defying odds and surprising many players. My personal pick for “best deck” of this tournament was Rayquaza EX/Emboar LTR, and though it accounted for an eighth of the Top 32, it didn’t nab the top spot.

Darkrai EX/Garbodor DRX is a deck that seems at odds with itself, with Abilities that don’t even work well together. Players who pilot this deck treat the Ability ‘Dark Cloak’ as an aside, letting it provide benefit early-game but allowing ‘Garbotoxin’ to take precedence as soon as possible.

I want to bring this deck up to remark on why it continues to win tournaments. If Darkrai EX/Garbodor DRX was effective before the rule changes in November, it has come through largely unscathed. Even though Pokémon Catcher now requires a flip, Sableye DEX ensures that some of those flips come up heads. More importantly, the release of Legendary Treasures provided this deck with added ammunition in the form of Crushing Hammer and Energy Switch reprints, both of which Sableye can abuse.

Simply put, this deck just won’t die, and its continued winning record stems from a powerful combination of cards that will not leave the format any time soon. Our next set will introduce Yveltal EX to the mix, lending even more credence to the idea that Darkrai EX and Sableye DEX are some of the best cards this game has even seen.

Electrode PLF

Recently, somebody pieced together the Top 32 decks at Virginia Regionals. The breakdown for the types of decks looks like this:

As nice as this list is, it doesn’t quite account for the number of Electrode PLF that showed up in many player’s decks. It’s noted I played Electrode PLF in my Tool Drop list, but there were other decks that played it too.

Electrode PLF has shown up in many decks following the rule changes in November. Specifically, it fits nicely into both Emboar LTR and Blastoise LTR decks, providing some much needed insurance against a late-game N. Since both decks are known to discard lots of cards, they can make use of Electrode PLF nearly every turn. Additionally, Electrode PLF is a reasonable replacement for Tropical Beach, the Stadium card that remains elusive for many players.

For the other decks listed (outside of my Tool Drop and possibly the Gothitelle LTR/Gardevoir NXD/Mewtwo EX deck), I doubt Electrode PLF was used. Virizion-EX/Genesect EX decks used Roserade DRX 15 if they used anything at all, while most of the other decks relied solely on heavy Supporter counts.

Five Hundred and Sixty
That’s a lot of damage.

…is the amount of damage I did to one of my opponent’s Trubbish during a game. With twelve Pokémon Tools on my side of the field and two on my opponents, I did 280 damage multiplied by two for Weakness.

One of the things I like about the ‘Tool Drop’ attack is that in factoring damage dealt, an Eviolite (or the upcoming Hard Charm) is essentially a dead card. The twenty damage reduced is made up for by the fact that your opponent has the Pokémon Tool in play to begin with. Remember, ‘Tool Drop’ counts ALL Pokémon Tool cards in play, not just your own!

I didn’t want to embarrass my opponent when I attacked, but he laughed and wanted to know how much damage I was doing. After that, I counted it up and announced it proudly. For a small sliver of time, I knew what it was like to be a Yu-Gi-Oh player.

The experience also got me to think about what a Tool Drop mirror match must look like. Of course, you only have to have two Pokémon Tools on the field in order to KO the opponent’s Trubbish, but it benefits you to drop as many Tools as you can so that you can avoid drawing dead after a late-game N. If both players have 10 Pokémon Tools in play, that’s already 800 damage being done! Vileplume BCR tech, anyone?

Giratina EX

This is the deck I played against in my fifth round. It utilized Virizion-EX and Altaria DRX to set up attacks from Giratina EX that, well, just weren’t that good. Granted, ‘Shred’ is decent at cutting through Pokémon with the Safeguard Ability (Sigilyph LTR, Suicune PLB), but there are other options available for dealing with this.

My takeaway from this is simple: do not let personal interests invade an opportunity for you to do well. If Probopass is your favorite Pokémon, great! You can collect every card it’s printed on, buy yourself a shirt with Probopass on it, or even dress up like the beloved mustache magnet for Halloween. What you shouldn’t do, however, is play a card simply because you like the Pokémon.

My Tool Drop deck, for instance, utilizes some of my favorite Pokémon in the game. Trubbish is both a bag of trash and an underdog, so it makes sense for me to like it. Sigilyph guards ancient worlds or something awesome like that. Electrode is one of my favorite original 151. So on and so on. I don’t, however, play these cards because I like the Pokémon. Rather, they fit in the deck and make strategic sense.

I could be wrong, but I have a feeling my opponent let his admiration for Giratina EX override what he knew about the deck. This is perfectly fine, of course, but it’s good to know that some cards just can’t perform as well as you want them to. No matter how much I like Regigigas, I can’t make a decent deck with it to save my life.

Hypnotoxic Laser

minkus hypnotoxic laser
It’ll have its ups and downs in play.

This card was not seen a whole lot at the tournament, which is a minor relief for me. I’m not crazy about the card nor its hard counter (Virizion-EX), so seeing it diminish a little in number felt the same as when Mewtwo EX started seeing less play — as though the game has opened up a little.

Moving forward, I expect this card to play out the same way Mewtwo EX has, seeing ups and downs in play. When people start playing less Virizion-EX/Genesect EX, we can expect to see an increase in Hypnotoxic Laser. Just keep this in mind as we continue through this season, and don’t ditch all your “switch” cards just yet!


For many, this past weekend was one step closer to winning a World Championship invitation. I’m not going to look at Championship Point ratings right now (mostly because I doubt their validity until weeks after an event), but I do want to encourage anyone who’s getting close to that invitation. Keep up the good work, and best of luck!


Players seem divided on using Jirachi-EX, a card that has one of the best Abilities in the game yet an abhorring amount of HP at 90. My brother and I discussed this card at length before the tournament and decided not to run it at all, recognizing the potential for opponents to win a game by landing an easy knockout on a card that gives up 2 Prize cards.

If I were to play Jirachi-EX, I would almost surely play it with Scoop Up Cyclone to minimize the danger of having Jirachi-EX Knocked Out. With the addition of the Cassius Supporter from XY, Jirachi-EX gets an added reason for playability. Still, the card does pose a real risk in any tournament setting, such that it remains an afterthought to deckbuilding.

Kevin Nance

Oh dear, my poor brother! Kevin has won four Regional Championships and placed second at another one, and his chances of winning this tournament seemed promising — until, that is, he started to get sick. Late in the day Saturday, Kevin complained that he felt light-headed and nearly passed out in one of his rounds. Though he drank a lot of water and ate something as soon as possible, he slept poorly that night and woke up on Sunday feeling even worse.

Having performed so well on Saturday, Kevin had afforded himself three matches that he could lose. He slept during this time, trying desperately to recuperate, but it just wasn’t enough. After making Top 8, Kevin determined that he couldn’t continue playing and conceded to his opponent. We left the tournament shortly afterward and Kevin stayed in bed for a solid day to fully recover.

I’m extremely proud of my brother, as he defied my expectations and nearly won yet another Regional Championship. Though I joke around about him putting together Rayquaza EX/Emboar LTR on the day of the tournament and running hot with it, I think there’s an important lesson here that might be overlooked. See, Kevin has been playing just as long as I have, and in the Pokémon TCG many ideas get recycled, including Stage 2 decks that accelerate Energy in order to power up heavy-hitters.

The truth is, Kevin felt comfortable playing RayBoar. It’s not much different from Lugia ex/Blastoise ex/Steelix ex (LBS), a deck Kevin ran many years ago. If it worked for you the first time, there’s little argument for not trying it a second time. For veterans of the game, don’t be afraid to employ a deck or idea that reminds you of something that found you success in the past. Draw on the experience you have with the game, especially if you don’t have much time to test or prepare!

Last Minute Decisions

I panicked!

If you were to pore over my articles since I started writing for SixPrizes, I predict you’d find advice suggesting that players not make last-minute decisions without prior testing. As strong as that advice might be, I didn’t follow it. Instead, as though some wicked seed of worry had finally split open and made itself known, I panicked and felt like I had to do something different. Let me explain.

Going into this tournament, I tested with various decks I expected to see and wanted to try out. But just like any new wardrobe of clothes can’t compare to one’s favorite hoodie, I went back to the deck that pleases me the most: Tool Drop. The thought of doing 200+ damage with a little trash bag is so absurd it’s lovable, and the combination of Psychic and Lightning Pokémon has always seemed to lead to good things for me (yes, I play Electrode PLF in my deck in place of Masquerain PLB).

Still, as I tested with Tool Drop, I grew apprehensive about the matchup against “Yeti” decks (Lugia EX/Thundurus EX/Snorlax PLS). The Ability on Snorlax PLS was frustrating to deal with, and I wanted a solution that wouldn’t cut into my consistency at all. I also began to worry about decks that could trade Prize cards with me well, namely Blastoise BCR and Emboar LTR decks. With a host of non-EX attackers, these decks could potentially keep up the pace enough to win. The seed of doubt had now grown, with roots firmly planted in my mind.

I took action by deciding on one of two changes: either I would tech in a single Genesect EX or I would find the room for two Switch. The Genesect EX made sense, as I already played Plasma Energy in my deck and sorely missed Pokémon Catcher. The two Switch would be harder to fit in, and the idea just didn’t seem that fun (I really liked the idea of adding a giant bug to a trash bag deck, haha). My mind hung between these two options, and with no time left I addressed the issue with my teammates.

The response I got was mixed. Untested, Genesect EX sounded “good in theory,” and when I hopped into the car to leave for Virginia, a tiny Red Genesect pin I found affixed to the back of a seat seemed to affirm my idea. The issue is, I still had no testing behind the decision. And while the “good in theory” approach can work out sometimes, often it leads to disaster.

As I played Genesect EX through the tournament, I quickly realized how bad a tech it was. Occupying a full Energy attachment, it deviated from the core requirement of getting Energy on Trubbish as soon and consistent as possible. Moreover, when I actually used Genesect EX, it was in situations where I was clearly going to win the game anyway. Even against “Yeti” decks the tech was not that great, since pushing Snorlax PLS to the bench didn’t remove the issue, it just delayed it.

If I could go back and do it over again, I would replace the Genesect EX and one other card with two Switch, securing a positive matchup against Yeti decks and curtailing my fear of Hypnotoxic Laser.

Mike Diaz

the natural
He’s a natural.

I got the opportunity to play this guy both in the last round of Saturday and the first round Sunday, and I was very impressed. His style of play is much like my brother’s, choosing decks that offer him great control if played correctly and always staying one step ahead mentally as the game progresses.

Mike was playing Snorlax PLS/Thundurus EX/Lugia EX with some interesting techs and choices on Trainer cards (I won’t reveal them here out of respect), which was a bad matchup for my deck. As our games progressed, I kept trying to find holes in Diaz’s strategy so I could come out the victor. This just didn’t happen though. When I thought I had found one way to win, Diaz had already setup a counter to that train of thought.

I’m mentioning this because Mike Diaz represents to me a “natural,” someone who understands the game instinctually. He’s probably a player who can pick up nearly any deck and do well with it, and it’s this type of player that I fear the most. They make the difficult look easy and always seem to be one level ahead. Nonetheless, it’s players like these who challenge others to become that much better.

Great games Mike!

New Rules

There was some confusion over the mulligan rules during the VA Regionals, so here are the correct procedure rules for your reference:

If both players have no Basic Pokémon in their opening hands:

Both players reveal their hands, then just start over as normal.

If only one player has no Basic Pokémon in his or her opening hand:

  • That player announces that he or she has a mulligan, then waits until the other player has placed his or her Active Pokémon, Benched Pokémon, and Prize cards.
  • Then, the player with no Basic Pokémon reveals his or her hand, then shuffles it back into his or her deck. The player does this until he or she gets an opening hand with a Basic Pokémon, then proceeds as normal.
  • Then, the player who did not have to start over may draw a card for each additional time his or her opponent took a mulligan. For example, if both players took 2 mulligans, and then Player A took 3 additional mulligans, Player B may draw up to 3 cards. If any of those cards are Basic Pokémon, they may be put onto the Bench.
  • Then, reveal all Pokémon, and begin the game.

Mind the rules everyone. I was doing this incorrectly for awhile, but now know exactly what to do.


Try not to give anything away.

If you start with a bad hand or find yourself in an unfavorable position, try not to be so obvious about it! There were many times during the tournament where I heard players talking about how bad their opening hands were. In doing so, they gave their opponent information that would make it even harder for them to win.

When I played Mike Diaz, I found myself acting like I was trying to get a fourth Plasma Energy out of my deck. Even though I didn’t run a fourth Plasma Energy, I wanted Mike to concede with the belief that the fourth Plasma Energy would win me the game. In short, I was bluffing.

Had I simply exclaimed that there was no way for me to win, then I would have actually given up my only chance of winning. In the end, Mike decked me and I revealed that I had no fourth Plasma Energy, but it was at least worth a shot.

Penguins and Ghosts

Amidst the influx of Virizion-EX/Genesect EX decks and their natural Rayquaza EX/Emboar LTR counters, something got phased out, deemed unworthy and unfit for big tournament play. That something was Empoleon DEX/Dusknoir BCR decks, which practically vanished from the field. Like an old seafaring ghost story, this one contains equal bits mystery and truth.

What happened to this popular City Championship deck? Not a single EmpoNoir deck made the Top 32 at VA Regionals, suggesting a swift departure for the Stage 2 deck that captivated the attention of many just after the rule changes were implemented in November. Personally, I think this deck sunk in popularity after meeting resistance against both Blastoise BCR and Emboar LTR decks. Since both decks normally run L Energy, a natural tech was Zekrom PLF to crush Empoleon DEX.

Additionally, opponents generally get better against EmpoNoir the more they play against it. After the stretch of City Championships leading up to VA Regionals, I have a feeling most players saw their matchups against EmpoNoir improving, mostly because they had developed successful strategies against it (i.e. resisting the urge to bench more Pokémon than you need, taking out Dusknoir BCR as soon as possible, etc.).

The lesson here? If you see your matchups improve against certain decks, don’t be surprised if others are seeing the same thing happen too. The shift might have nothing to do with decklists and counters, but everything to do with players just understanding the matchup better.

On our way back from VA Regionals, we listened to the Grammar Girl podcast, which can be found at Yes, I’m a grammar nerd. It helps my writing! Maybe you’ll find something that will help as you write your tournament report. Just be sure to avoid dangling participles!

Roserade DRX 15
Helps sniff out G Booster.

Virginia Regionals featured a flood (an overgrowth?) of Grass decks, namely Virizion-EX/Genesect EX. This deck is a powerhouse, and its success can be attributed to continued effectiveness despite the errata to Pokémon Catcher — that is, Genesect EX’s Ability is a legitimate replacement for Pokémon Catcher. It also features built-in protection from status conditions, true 1HKO potential thanks to the ACE SPEC G Booster, and an attacker that is essentially an enormous robot bug with a cannon on its back.

While the swarms of “VirGen” decks could be anticipated, they brought with them a floral surprise in the form of Roserade DRX 15. In dendritic fashion, the idea seemed to branch out at some point during City Championships, spreading to what seemed like half the VirGen decks by VA Regionals. I found this interesting for a couple of reasons: 1. It corroborated my belief that decks would start having 4-5 open spots for what I termed “creative leverage” (this was in my last article), and 2. Roserade DRX 15 is a support Pokémon!

First off, my prediction. As I said in my last article, the game is soon going to be more about the individual cards players use in their decks than the decks themselves. Looking forward to an XY-era deck — Aromatisse XY/Xerneas EX — there’s the question on how to run it. Aromatisse XY has an Ability that lets a player move Y Energy around on their Pokémon as they please. Xerneas-EX seems like the perfect fit for this, right? Well, why not run Aromatisse XY in a Plasma deck? Prism Energy and Rainbow Energy can both satisfy the Y Energy requirement, so it’s definitely a consideration.

The point I’m trying to make is that players would do well to abandon the age-old notion of archetypes, of “perfect lists,” of ideas that are set in stone. The variations I saw in VirGen decks were numerous. Some decks used Roserade DRX 15, others used that space for Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. Some versions played Bouffalant DRX, others featured Mewtwo EX.

The second thing I liked? Roserade DRX 15 (and Electrode PLF) represent a slight return to “setup Pokémon,” Pokémon whose Abilities are more important than their attacks, Abilities that let a player set a deck up. The last card that truly fit this role was Claydol GE.

One final thought: the reason Roserade DRX 15 is a natural fit for VirGen decks is not because of its type, but because of its ability to search the deck for one single card… yes, that would be G Booster. Having additional ways to a G Booster than Skyla just makes sense, especially since there are many opportunities during games for a 200 damage attack to completely shut down an opponent’s tempo.

Spirit Of The Game

I saw a lot of players living up to this at the tournament, and so I want to take a second to remind players that others around you are paying attention to your behavior and how you handle yourself during games. During the rounds I played Sunday, my brother was off somewhere sleeping and/or throwing up his guts. I realized that I was really tense during every game, so I apologized to my opponents for seeming upset.

For me (and many others), Pokémon tournaments offer me a chance to bridge connections with people I wouldn’t otherwise meet. It’s one of the things that makes the game so appealing.


caught ash misty
Ties can be annoying, but at least you have the opportunity to come back.

Ties are still a nuisance in the game, and I was reminded of this fact this past weekend. While I don’t have a lot to say here in the way of ties, I do want to remind players of what we’ve gained with this new shift in the game: best two out of three. The reason we have ties is because of this new change in tournament structure, and even though ties can be a nuisance, it is still a sweet thing to lose the first game, yet still have a way to win in the end.

This occurred to me a few times during the tournament, where I lost game one but won games two and three for winning points. In some of those cases, my opponent failed to set their deck up properly, which showed some gaps in consistency that weren’t there in the first game. In the past, I got disgruntled at opponents who seemed to have the best of luck while I had the worst of it. Since the change to best two out of three, I have succeeded in making top cut at every tournament.

In short, ties are a nuisance, but losing to an opponent who magically got everything they needed (or just drawing completely dead) is even worse.

Under My Chair

During the seventh round I nearly passed out from the heat of the venue and from getting very little lunch. As such, Katy, my brother’s girlfriend, delivered me some food as we were setting up for the round and sneakily placed it underneath my chair. She then texted me, telling me to look under my chair. I did and found a bag of food from Burger King with an accompanying cup of Sprite!

To the people sitting around me during that round, they didn’t see Katy deliver the food, so it looked to them like I magically made food appear. Nothing much to learn here, but it was pretty funny when I started pulling food out of thin air.

Virizion-EX/Genesect EX

This was the most represented deck at VA Regionals, and I expect it to continue to show up at tournaments for awhile. In fact, if I were going to any more Winter Regionals and didn’t have Tool Drop to play, I would probably go with Rayquaza EX/Emboar LTR. I love the positive matchup it provides against Virizion-EX/Genesect EX, and it’s still strong against many decks in the game.

VirGen decks have also survived the Pokémon Catcher errata, mainly due to Genesect EX’s Ability ‘Red Signal,’ which has the same effect as a Pokémon Catcher. I would personally only play VirGen if I could find a reasonable tech to balance the RayBoar matchup.


I want to give a quick shout out to my wife Paige. Without her, I would probably never make it to a Pokémon tournament (or, if I did, as was the case with Philadelphia Regionals, I would show up without sleep, food, etc.). Between her and my brother’s girlfriend, practically everything was planned out and ready to go; all I had to do was play. Also, she supports me in whatever I do, and for that I am truly grateful.

It’s not every person who will go to a Pokémon tournament with you to not play and look after your daughter for you. Love you dear!

X Ball

mewtwo x
Not this tournament!

For the first tournament since the release of Next Destinies (that was February 8th, 2012, for reference), I never heard the words “X Ball” during any of my matches. One of my opponents played a Mewtwo EX down on his Bench, but never attacked with it. What gives?

While Virizion-EX/Mewtwo EX appeared prominently at Fall Regionals, it suffered a great deal during City Championships. As Snorlax PLS and Empoleon DEX decks became popular, Mewtwo EX stepped back into the shadows. Snorlax PLS can function well without any Energy on it at all, while Empoleon DEX gets by with just one Energy card attached. Both of these facts make Mewtwo EX less effective.

Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if Mewtwo EX sprang to life in a future tournament series, fueled once more by attacks that require a lot of Energy to work (I’m looking at you, Delphox XY).

Your Own Food

When it comes to big tournaments like States/Provinces/Territories, Regionals, Nationals, and Worlds, consider taking your own food with you or visiting a grocery store. Both Denny’s and Applebee’s, the two restaurants within driving distance of the venue, managed to make many players sick during the second day of the tournament. One friend of mine had pancakes served raw to him – I don’t even know how that’s possible!

If you have to eat fast food or at a restaurant, be mindful of what you eat. Never eat eggs before a tournament either, the one food more notorious than anything else for causing upset stomachs.

Zebstrika NXD

Yes, it actually happened — I played against a Zebstrika NXD deck in Round 6 of the tournament… and I won. The deck featured Zebstrika NXD, Victini-EX, Garbodor LTR, and Mewtwo EX. My opponent got to a great start in game one, getting a second turn ‘Disconnect’ before I could do much about it. My plan was simple: I was going to bring Garbodor LTR up using Genesect EX and hope that my opponent couldn’t use ‘Disconnect’ for a turn. Sadly, this didn’t happen and I accepted a loss in game one.

In game two, however, I managed to get a decent setup while my opponent missed Disconnect on his second turn. The game quickly went to me, and my opponent scooped to go to game three since his deck had a huge advantage.

Game three was wild, giving me a single turn to get five Pokémon Tools in play. I managed to do so and KO’d the opponent’s Zebstrika NXD. After that, he couldn’t set much else up and I quickly won.

The concept behind this deck is neat and very reminiscent of the Dragonite PLF/Garbodor LTR deck piloted by Dylan Bryan. Creating a lock on Item cards for the opponent can sometimes mean an easy victory. Stage 2 decks that run X-0-X lines fall prey to this, as do Plasma decks that can’t get around Silver Mirror. In my testing with this deck from long ago, I didn’t like the matchup against Darkrai EX. With a relatively scarce number of Darkrai EX decks at VA Regionals, though, this wasn’t a bad choice.


ash ketchum
Proud and excited for Georgia in the spring!

I hope you enjoyed this article, even in its irregular form. I had a great time this past weekend even with my brother getting as sick as he did. My wife and I originally had no plans on going, but when my brother contacted me, he desperately wanted to make the tournament, and so we made it happen.

Placing 14th overall, I’m proud of myself, especially since I was the only Tool Drop player in Top 32 (or the whole tournament, it seemed). I’m also proud of Kevin who yet again showed his skill. It’s not everyday you can skip three rounds and take a nap, then still make it into the Top 8.

Going forward, we have plans to make Georgia Regionals. I will probably play Tool Drop, and hopefully Kevin won’t melt into a puddle of sickness. If you’re there, do say hey! I always like connecting with readers. And don’t forget to “Like” this article if indeed you liked it. Thanks!

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