Hello! I’m Daniel Altavilla, a 10-year Pokémon Trading Card Game player and 9-year Organized Play competitor. I’ve had many great times, met incredible people, and played countless engaging games throughout the years, but none can compare to the memories made, the new people I’ve been introduced to, and the intense battles I’ve experienced this year, my third year as a Master.
Florida Regionals this past weekend was an outstanding tournament, one I’ll never forget, especially because I earned one of the biggest accomplishments of my Pokémon career. Due to the lasting impact this tournament will have on me, I decided it was one worth writing a report for, not only to share these great two days but also in order to point out some interesting techs, decks, and players, which each had a huge role in keeping the Regionals, well, a Regionals!
The deck I ran was Blastoise/Keldeo/Black Kyurem, one which hadn’t provided me with the best results in prior tournaments, but that I still had high hopes for, more so in a field of Yeti, Virizion/Genesect, and RayBoar! Here’s my list:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
Here I’ll go into why I chose the deck and this particular list:
Blastoise is an incredible deck. It can get around Hypnotoxic Laser’s dreaded Poison/Sleep combo using Keldeo’s Rush In, it can beat most Tier 1 decks with ease as long as you have a good hand, and let’s face it, whether you’re putting 6-7 Waters on a Keldeo-EX to 1HKO something or you’re using Black Ballista, you’re going to feel great doing it!
This list may seem weird at first, but in my opinion, it’s the best way to play Blastoise. With Electrode, you can take 4-5 Prizes with ease, have to face a killer N, and still be able to recover and finish the game strong.
With 2 Tool Scrappers, you have endless possibilities! So what that your opponent has a Tool on a Garbodor? Tool Scrapper and Deluge away! What’s that? There is a G Booster in play? Tool Scrapper, baby! These 2 cards are Blastoise’s only hope against Darkrai/Garbodor decks, and they helped me out so much at FL Regionals!
3 Black Kyurem-EX and 2 Keldeo-EX may look off, but in many situations, your starting turns involve burning cards in your hand to utilize Tropical Beach to its full extent. Most games, you’ll only need 2 Black Kyurem-EX, because if need be you can take your last 2 Prizes with Keldeo. The 3rd BK is just to reassure that you can play one down early on, discard another, and still have a backup. You can run 3-2 or 2-3, but I prefer 3-2 in such an EX-heavy field.
Two Pokémon Catcher is incredible in Blastoise, and those two cards won me at least half of my games. With Catchers, you can force up the Pokémon that Yeti is building up, and force them to spend 1-2 more turns attaching/Raiden Knuckling to a new Pokémon. You can KO that pesky Genesect with 2 Energies on it after an Emerald Slash, or even slow down that horrifying RayBoar deck by popping their pig for 200! Coin flip on Catcher made it worse? HA!
Lastly, Energy Search isn’t used in every Stoise list, but in lists with 2 Lightning I recommend it, due to the unlikelihood of drawing a Lightning in a 60-card deck.
If I could change anything about this list, I’d add a Max Potion, because often I’ve found myself struggling to keep a Keldeo-EX alive against Darkrai decks or healing that 40 damage from Thundurus so my Active doesn’t get Plasma Galed for 3 Prizes.
Without further ado, let’s get into my games:
Round 1 vs. Cynthia with Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem (TDK)
This match was a weird one for sure, as Game 1 we both started horribly and Cynthia was just a bit quicker to set up. TDK being a tough matchup for Blastoise, I had quite a bunch of hoping to do, but I drew what I needed, got N’d into good stuff, and took two games in a row without too much hassle.
Round 2 vs. Kip with Tool Drop
This was a crazy round; my opponent Kip sat at the wrong table for a good 3 minutes before he realized he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. After the confusion, we started what I would call the 2nd most nerve-wracking series of my weekend.
I started out the ’13-’14 season using Tool Drop/Virizion, so I knew exactly how to counter the deck. He didn’t run any Pokémon Catcher, so I fed him an extra Blastoise and my baby Black Kyurem until I was ahead in Prizes and able to start attacking with Keldeo. The Tool Scrapper to 2 Exp. Shares, preventing his Trubbish from attacking for a turn, was devastating as well.
Round 3 vs. Brenden Clark with Yeti
Brenden and I have been friends for a while, and having to play against a Florida friend wasn’t too great, but what else do you expect at Florida Regionals?
Our Game 1 went quickly, both of us setting up fast, but I used Pokémon Catcher to send up his almost-ready Lugia-EX and received the edge due to Brenden only being able to hit my Black Kyurem-EX for 50 with his Thundurus. The game ended with me needing a Superior Energy Retrieval (SER) to Black Ballista for my last 2 Prizes, and pulling the SER off of my Prizes from the previous turn’s knockout.
Game 2 was upsetting, as Brenden didn’t have too much, and I had a quick setup. It obviously felt bad beating a friend, but I dealt with it, expecting to see a few more in the next 6 rounds.
Round 4 vs. Jimmy Pendarvis with RayBoar
Jimmy is an awesome guy and a great player, who I met at 1 AM the night before Virginia Regionals, when Jon Bristow invited me to their table at Denny’s because I was alone. Due to that display of kindness, I was pretty upset that Jimmy and I had to sit across from each other in Florida Regionals.
The Blastoise/RayBoar matchup has always had 3 factors:
- Can you set up first? Whichever player can get the quicker initial 2 Prizes has a HUGE advantage against the other.
- Can you get out baby Black Kyurem to return a KO? If you can’t get out your Black Kyurem, you’re going to have a tough time staying in the game.
- Can you attack each turn? If you whiff a SER, a Black Kyurem/BK-EX, or 6 Waters for Keldeo, you have to send up Squirtle/Blastoise/Electrode and use Tropical Beach for a turn. This is a VERY big disadvantage for you against RayBoar.
This series with Jimmy consisted of me only having the 2nd and 3rd factors above, and not being able to stay in the game. I tried to Catcher up his Benched Rayquaza-EXs, but I failed and ended up losing two games in a row. At least it was to a friend!
Round 5 vs. Jake Piner with Yeti
Come on, computer! Three friends in a row?! Oh, well. Jake Piner is one of the coolest kids in Pokémon. He’s a great player in the TCG as well as the VGC and he really gave me a run for my money in our series.
I ended up coming out on top in 2 games, due to good Pokémon Catcher flips, being able to replace Jake’s Frozen City with my Tropical Beach most of the time, and the speed of my setup. But that’s how the Plasma matchup is supposed to go for Stoise!
Round 6 vs. Jonathan with Yeti w/ 4 Pokémon Catcher
Yeti is normally a favorable matchup for Blastoise already, but with the addition of 4 Pokémon Catcher, the games are quite a bit tougher. I lost game one in this series due to the surprise of the Pokémon Catchers along with some dead-draws, then came back the next two games with some crazy Catcher flips of my own to win the series.
Round 7 vs. Justin Sanchez with Yeti w/ Palkia-EX + Heatran-EX
After 7-8 hours of Pokémon, Justin and I were tired and ready to finish up. Justin being one of my closest friends in the game and both of us having 15 points, a win away from being on the bubble, we decided against intentional drawing and decided to play out the series.
Justin played the matchup the best out of the 4 Yeti players I played so far and he made me sweat by Raiden Knuckling onto his Snorlax, ready to Teampact me to death. I misplayed myself out of a T2 Black Ballista, allowing Justin to set up the Snorlax for when I Black Ballista’d his Thundurus-EX on my next turn. We traded Prizes, and then I Catchered up a Lugia-EX that was ready to attack and it was over.
Game 2, Justin sat back in awe as Blastoise worked its magic, and I came out on top. I felt so bad, but knowing Sancheesy, he was bound to win a game and tie another, and he did!
Round 8 vs. David Lopez with “Loplasma” w/ 4 Catchers + Cofagrigus
At this point, I was ready to ID twice and go get some sleep for day 2. But my good pal David Lopez wasn’t about to let that happen! “Think about it Danny, we need points to make top 8!” said David, as we shuffled and got ready for three of the funnest games of the day.
David and his brother Daniel are two amazing players and the funniest guys in Florida, so these games were bound to not only be great, but to wake us both up and give us some incentive to finish the day strong.
David had a Turn 2 Snorlax, Teampacting me, while I had 3 Pokémon and nothing else. David took Game 1 in our series effortlessly! “What I hate about Blastoise is that even if you beat it in Game 1, you can still get 2-0’d and lose the series,” David reassured me. Sorry David, but you jinxed it!
Our Game 2 was a drawn-out game, with both of us setting up quickly and trading Prizes. Two things gave me the win though:
- Six Feet Under + a Snorlax sacrifice substitutes Knocking Out an EX, and the 1 Prize for 2 Prizes trade-off is what makes Snorlax so good in the first place.
- Pokémon Catcher worked for me and not for David.
We started Game 3 with enough time left to avoid a tie, and it went much like Game 2, minus the Cofagrigus. I yet again got lucky enough to consistently Knock Out EXs, and the game ended with me needing to top deck a SER, and doing so. Sorry David, see you Day 2!
Round 9 vs. Brent Siebenkittel with VirGen/Mewtwo/Tropius
Before I get started I want to give a shout-out to Brent for being one of the greatest players in the game and also one of the nicest people. He was playing as the defending Florida Regionals champ, and did great, going 7-0-2 Day 1. If it weren’t for a bad cold, I’m sure he wouldn’t have made the misplays he did Day 2, and he would’ve been in Top 8. Sorry, buddy!
Before the games started I joked about how I was going to get my revenge for Brent beating my dad in Round 1, and boy, did that not happen!
Our Game 1, I had a horrible hand and a slow setup, compared to a turn 2 Emerald Slash onto a Genesect. I tried to come back, but I made a few misplays, such as leaving 4 Energy on Keldeo-EX instead of 5, not expecting to get my Stoise Red Signaled and then having to face an N all in one turn. Oops! I gave away Game 1, but at that point, it didn’t matter too much to me, I was ready to sleep!
Game 2 I got N’d early on, drew into two Scrappers, Heavy Ball, and a bunch of other nothing, and proceeded to get Megalo Cannoned until the torture was over. I thanked Brent for the games, and rejoiced that our series took a little over 20 minutes, as I was immensely worn out after a long 9 rounds.
I ended the day 3rd seed, went to my room and mentally prepared for the tough games of Day 2, then finally got some rest.
Round 10 vs. Brent Siebenkittel with VirGen/Mewtwo/Tropius
After around 30 minutes of confusion, the Top 32 players were seated and ready for their 10th round. With my luck, I ended up facing Brent again, and I was ready for another 2-3 great games.
Game 1 wasn’t much, as VirGen did what it was supposed to do and my Squirtle count slowly but surely depleted to 0. After that, Game 1 was pretty much Brent’s.
Game 2 was close to Game 1, but I lost a Squirtle and a Blastoise to Brent, and still had 1 Squirtle left, which was in my hand. The other contents of my hand were an SER, Rare Candy, Blastoise, N, and some other neat stuff that I don’t remember.
With a hand like this, I had to drop the Squirtle and wait a turn, hoping it didn’t get Knocked Out. Brent hadn’t drawn his G Booster yet, and Prize count was 4-4, so I thought for a while, and decided to make him go for the game instead of going for the Squirtle. I put on my poker face, benched the Squirtle, Rushed In with Keldeo, and used Tropical Beach.
I dropped the Stoise down, SER’d, N’d, and Black Ballista’d. 2-2. Brent went for game with a Colress, but he missed the G Booster and I won the 2nd game. (Phew!) Game 3 ended before one of us could really get a lead and we tied.
Round 11 vs. Franklin with Darkrai/Garbodor
I wasn’t ready for this matchup at all, but turn 1 Franklin Junipered away 2 Garbodor and I knew the game was mine from there. But was it? I sat back and let Franklin destroy me as turn by turn I whiffed the replacement Stadium to remove his Frozen City AND the Lightning for a Black Ballista. I scooped in fear of losing to time, knowing the nature of DarkGarb.
Good thing I scooped when I did, because Game 2 was drawn out. I set up quick, I was ready for a T2 Black Ballista, but when I performed my initial search and noticed the one thing I feared: BOTH of my Lightning were prized! I was about to scoop again, but I didn’t give up, and attacked with Keldeo-EX and then eventually Blastoise himself, until I drew the L Energy off of my Prizes and won the game.
A tie was inevitable, as DarkGarb is a slow deck by nature and Franklin slowed down his pace after winning Game 1. At least it wasn’t a loss, but from then on I knew I couldn’t afford anything besides a win.
Round 12 vs. Brandon Salazar with RayBoar
Brandon is a pretty good aged-up Senior, standing his ground in the weird world of Masters’ meta. These games were the opposite of the Pendarvis games, thankfully.
Game 1, Brandon gets the first knockout on my Keldeo. I return KO with a baby Black Kyurem. He then gets the return KO with his baby Rayquaza. At this point, I need some miracles. I was forced to Slash the baby Rayquaza to Knock it Out, after getting a tails on Catcher to KO his benched Rayquaza-EX. At this point, he returns the KO and it’s 1-3.
I N, and return the KO with my Black Kyurem-EX. Brandon rips a Colress for 9 off of the N, and he has 3 Fire in hand as well. He Inferno Fandagos 3 times, and uses the Colress. Brandon has an Active Rayquaza with 3 Fires on it, and 4 SER in his discard, as well as his 3 L Energy. He must pull his Dowsing Machine off of the Colress, and he doesn’t, giving me Game 1.
Game 2, I pull off my first T2 Black Ballista! Brandon just can’t respond after I Catcher up his Rayquaza-EX and KO it with baby Black Kyurem, leaving the Prize count 2-3 going into my turn. He can’t get the edge, and I win the series.
Round 13 vs. Austin Goen with Darkrai/Hammers
Austin and I had 2 funky games. He didn’t drop down a Darkrai, and instead attempted ruining my day with Absols, Sableyes, and Life Dew. He managed the best he could, but the fact that I wasn’t drawing Prizes due to Life Dew and he was just stalling with Junk Hunts meant our game would take a while, and in fear of losing via time, he conceded Game 1.
29 points! I was excited as I was pretty confident that I had made Top 8, but I had one last game to go.
Ryan and I chose to ID, because he had his 30 points and I just needed 1 more. We played out a fun game though, and he had a slow start. I realized that he must 2-shot my baby Black Kyurem, so I set it up and got ready for the Deafens. Ryan allowed me to KO a Victini, putting me 2 Prizes ahead.
He then proceeded to Deafen, but I had the Energy on my baby Black Kyurem, and I was ready. He lost one Dragonite in the exchange, then he Mewtwo’d my baby Black Kyurem so that he didn’t have to lose his last Dragonite.
I was ready for him to break the lock, and I set up Blastoise and Keldeo to end the game. It was a fun game of course, a nice break in preparation for the hardest leg of the tournament.
Top 8 vs. Michael Canaves with Ninetales/Musharna/LaserBank
This was the one matchup out of 6 possible that I feared the most. I’d need to be able to consistently set up Blastoises as well as hope Mike gets tails on Laser flips, Long-Distance Hypnosis, etc. It was a tough one, for sure.
Game 1 lasted 3 turns total. Mike had turn 2 Ninetales/Laser and I had a lone Squirtle.
Game 2 was a bit better, as I set up the way I was supposed to and received the win off of a fortunate Catcher flip to knockout his benched Keldeo-EX.
Game 3 would have been a weird one, I was ready to start attacking with my 1-Prize Pokémon, but I was N’d into a dead-draw and knocked out of Top 8.
9-2-3, 6th Place
All in all, 2014 Florida Regional Championships was an amazing weekend, filled with great games, hilarious people, and many memories. Thanks to the staff and to Heidi Craig for running it and allowing us an hour lunch break, and thank you guys for reading my first article!