Hey there, Underground readers! It’s only been a little over a month and a half since my last article, and a lot has definitely changed for me, personally. I’ve managed to keep my grades high, as well as earn my invitation to the 2014 World Championships!
I had a blast at States, although I was pretty sick during Texas. Both events I attended were very well ran, and I once again had no problems with the 50 minute best-of-three Swiss format. I managed to (technically) put myself in the highest ranked spot for Championship Points in North America for a week, until Ryan Sabelhaus went on a tear and pulled off yet another 2nd place States finish. (I say technically because I have a League Challenge that has yet to be put in the system, which would put me at 600 CP.)
There has been a ton of creativity shown this format, and I for one have enjoyed it immensely. I love to play decks that counter certain metagames, and I take pride in my ability to come up with a concept the night before a tournament and then pilot it to a solid finish. I was once again able to do this for the first weekend of States, and it paid off. In this article I’ll share my experiences from Oklahoma, as well as an outlook on the upcoming Spring Regionals.
Going into States, I was sitting at 480 CP, so I was pretty comfortable. I only had to hit a Top 16 at one of the upcoming State Championships I was going to be attending, which I felt was fairly easy to do.
Before I start talking about my performances, I’ll take a look at what was going through my mind before I ended up choosing my deck for the first week. I was pretty set on a Plasma-based deck after my article a couple months ago, and it was the only thing I had really tested extensively.
On my way up to Del City, Oklahoma I had two decks built and tested, which were Plasma/Aromatisse and a more standard Plasma. I wrote about both of these decks in my last article, although I had changed a lot in both lists. The main changes I had made in the Aromatisse list were the inclusions of Genesect-EX, G Booster, and Plasma Energies. After some testing, I realized how much of a difference having access to Red Signal and the ability to do 200 damage made.
Here is the list I had planned on playing:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
I played a few games at my friend Austin’s house (he was nice enough to accommodate my friend Chance and I for the weekend), and the deck was struggling to keep pressure on board and I just wasn’t feeling it. I felt like my list was fine, but the deck doesn’t completely fit my playstyle. I probably only won a single game that night, so I knew it wasn’t the play for me.
I thought this would only make it easier for me to decide on playing Plasma, which was the deck I had wanted to use in the first place. The weeks leading up to the first weekend of States, I talked to my good friends Brit Pybas and Justin Sanchez about a Plasma list that Justin had been testing himself.
I tested a substantial amount of games with this list, and I felt like its matchups were pretty even around the board. I don’t mind sharing the list, as I changed it up a bit to fit my personal playstyle, and it is a bit different from Justin’s list.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 35
Energy – 14
Brit played a similar list and ended up getting Top 4 in Arkansas. This is still one of my favorite decks in this format, as I have become a big fan of Plasma-based decks this season. I almost wish I had played it, but at the same time I’m pretty happy with what I ended up playing.
I CHOOSE YOU, RAICHU?!
My good buddy Austin Baggs was building his friend a deck for the tournament, and it ended up being a Yveltal-EX/Landorus-EX/Raichu XY/Garbodor LTR deck. We played a few games with this list, and it actually ran pretty decently. I was pretty surprised by the strength of this deck, and I started to think about playing it myself.
We started to look over the list, and it felt very awkward. There were a lot of 1-ofs, there wasn’t enough Energy, and Yveltal-EX, while good, made the deck a bit slower than I had liked. I built the deck with my own cards, and sent it to Brit around 2 AM before the tournament. He said it looked… pretty bad. I went ahead and slept on it, and ended up waking up and changed the list quite a bit.
I decided to drop the Dark-type attackers, and added Mewtwo-EX. The deck already played Double Colorless Energy, so it was fairly easy to splash in. While I didn’t have time to play any games with the new and improved list, I felt like it’d be a solid play for the first week.
Here is the list I ended up playing:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 37
Energy – 11
As you can see, there are a lot of 1-ofs, and it’s pretty raw. Without any testing, I had decided to try to keep it as consistent as possible, but also had a hard time fitting everything that I would have liked to.
The main problem that this list had was filling the Bench. With Raichu being your main out to Yveltal-EX and Lugia-EX, it was key to have a large Bench early in the game to get rid of these threats. I was able to use my Muscle Bands and Lasers effectively to score these knockouts, but it would have been easier had I played more than 8 Basic Pokémon.
I woke up at the usual 6 AM (if you’ve ever roomed with me, you know I’m always the first up and out) to get ready for the long and stressful day ahead of me. I had only gotten around 3 or so hours of sleep, which wasn’t normal for me. I usually try to get a decent 8 hours of sleep before any large tournament, and at the very least 5-6.
We get to the venue and it’s actually much nicer than I had anticipated. I expected it to be a fairly small room with a few tables, but it was pretty large for a small town in Oklahoma. I go around and look at the decks people are playing, and am fairly satisfied with my deck choice. I ended up letting Ty Smith borrow most of my Plasma deck, so it was too late to turn back.
After some scouting, I found out the field was mainly Yveltal/Darkrai and Lugia-EX-based decks, a decent number of Aromatisse decks, two Trevenant/Accelgors, three Klinklang/Aromatisse, and few Blastoise/RayBoar. The Trevenant decks actually scared me quite a bit, as I don’t really have an out to Item lock besides getting my Garbodor out early, which still isn’t extremely effective.
The rest of the field, however, I felt I could handle fairly easily as long as my deck functioned properly. Raichu counters Yveltal-EX and Lugia-EX, Landorus-EX is extremely strong with Muscle Band, and Garbodor shuts off anything else.
Round 1 vs. Sidney Brown (Klinklang/Aromatisse/Attackers)
I know Sidney is probably one of the best players at the tournament, so to see him in the first round is pretty scary. I knew what he was playing beforehand from friends, and I felt fairly comfortable going into the matchup.
At this point, I’m sure most of you have heard of the deck he used, as it won the Texas State Championships a week later. His list was somewhat similar, but Sidney played Tropical Beach, which made his list much more consistent.
Game 1: Our first game was fairly uneventful for him, as I got an early Garbodor and Landorus-EX was eating away at his field of 50-60 HP Basics, and heavy Energy cost EXs. I was able to set up multiple Landorus as well as a Mewtwo and Raichu, so he wasn’t able to pull anything out in that game.
Game 2: Our first game went well for me, but our second… not exactly. I start with a lone Pikachu, with no search cards and only an N. He’s able to go first with a Cobalion start and plays some cards and ends up with an Energy attachment and a Spritzee on the Bench.
I play out my turn, and… I’m unable to find another Basic or a search card to prevent getting benched on the second turn. He ends up getting out his Aromatisse, a Darkrai-EX, and an Yveltal-EX to use Evil Ball and bench me.
I was a bit frustrated, but it happens. We still had plenty of time to finish out game three, so it’s not like the match was going to time… hopefully.
Game 3: I get a strong turn one, with a Trubbish on the field as well as an Active Landorus-EX. I have the Garbodor and a Professor Juniper, so I felt like I was in a great position. He’s able to get out a Klink, but not a Spritzee. I’m able to hit just about everything I need in the next turn, and have a solid board with a Garbodor, Pikachu, Landorus-EX with 2 F Energy, and a Mewtwo-EX on the Bench. I’m able to put plenty of pressure on his board with constant Hammerheads, and end up taking game three pretty quickly.
1-0 (2-1, 2-1 overall)
Round 2 vs. Michael Feller (Klinklang/Aromatisse/Attackers)
Well, in the field of 75 players, I managed to play two of the three Klinklang/Aromatisse decks in the first two rounds! This player’s name may sound familiar to you… and that’s because this is the same guy that won Texas States! Michael is a friend of mine who used to play in my area, until he moved to College Station for college. He’s known for playing “different” decks, but sometimes he’s able to pull off a solid combo and it usually works for him.
Game 1: Our first game goes heavily in my favor, as I get out a quick Garbodor and start to snipe his Basics with Landorus-EX. The difference in this game, is he’s able to use Tool Scrapper at one point to activate his Abilities, and is able to use a Keldeo-EX to take out my Landorus. The only problem for him, is that I’m able to use a Mewtwo-EX with 3 Energy, a Muscle Band, and a Hypnotoxic Laser with a Virbank City Gym in play to take out his fully powered Keldeo. After wiping away all of his Energy, I’m able to take the game with no problems.
Game 2: The second game goes similarly to the first, as I’m able to get a Garbodor out before Klinklang becomes an issue, and am able to keep pressure on his board with Landorus-EX. He ended up making the same move as last game, using a Tool Scrapper on my Garbodor and setting up a Keldeo-EX, but I was prepared for this and managed to wipe the Keldeo off the board again, along with most of his Energies.
2-0 (2-0, 4-1 overall)
Round 3 vs. Zach Teller (Darkrai/Yveltal)
I had never heard of Zach before, but he dropped a D Energy out of his deck as we set up, so I was pretty sure I knew what he was playing.
I had yet to play against a Darkrai/Yveltal deck yet, but I assumed this was going to be one of my easiest matchups since my deck was pretty much made to counter it! Raichu covers Yveltal, Landorus-EX covers Darkrai-EX, and having Mewtwo-EX doesn’t hurt either.
Game 1: In our first game, Zach drew completely dead. I, on the other hand, had a solid setup and managed to get out just about everything. I was able to overrun his board in less than 10 minutes, leaving plenty of time to finish out the match.
Game 2: Our second game wasn’t as bad for him, but he still didn’t draw very well. I felt pretty bad because his deck was just crapping out on him in the middle of the tournament. Raichu did a lot of work by scaring off the Yveltal-EXs, and if he decided to use Darkrai-EX, I’d have a Landorus with a Muscle Band ready to hit it back for 100 and 30 to the Bench. He wasn’t able to keep up with the pressure, and I ended up taking the match pretty easily.
3-0 (2-0, 6-1 overall)
Round 4 vs. John Kettler (Trevenant/Accelgor)
Well, I was hoping this wouldn’t happen, but unfortunately it did. I knew that out of the entire field, this was the one matchup I would like to avoid the most. John is also one of the best players in Texas, and a good friend of mine. I knew I was most likely going to lose this game, but I tried to stay confident.
Game 1: I start out great, getting my Trubbish out with a Tool, as well as a Landorus-EX Active ready to start hitting John’s 60 HP Basics next turn. The only problem is, John is able to get Trevenant out before I can find my Garbodor, so I’m left with no way to search for Garbodor, and end up getting Deck and Covered to make my situation even worse. Once he gets out his Dusknoir, I knew the game was pretty much over. I play out the rest of the match, just hoping to kill time incase I’m able to pull off a miracle.
Game 2: I started the second game similarly to the first game, but I once again wasn’t able to get out a turn 2 Garbodor. I was hoping to get a quick win, to hopefully pull the match to a tie. He’s able to set up some Trevenants and eventually Dusknoir, so I decided to concede.
3-1 (0-2, 6-3 overall)
I felt a bit down after losing that match, but I knew I still had a chance at making cut. I knew that all 5-1-1’s would make cut, and a few 5-2’s would as well.
Round 5 vs. Alex Mayfield (Plasma/Lugia)
Alex is a nice player from Oklahoma who I met during the Texas City Marathon. He did fairly well at a few of those tournaments, and I actually played one of my favorite matches throughout the entire season against Alex.
He’s using a list similar to the Lugia/Snorlax decks that did well at Cities, with the addition of Muscle Bands. I felt like my matchup against this deck was also fairly good, as I had a counter for just about any attacker he could use.
Game 1: He won the flip, but let me go first. I haven’t seen this happen very often, but I can understand why he would do it. It’s nice to get off the first hit, but it doesn’t always happen. I’m able to procure a normal turn one, getting out a bunch of Basics and an Energy on my Landorus-EX.
He gets off to a decent start, and ends up using Raiden Knuckle and does a small amount to my Landorus. I’m able to put the pressure on immediately by attaching a Muscle Band to Landorus and hitting for 100 and 30 to a Benched Lugia. He had a hard time getting out an efficient attacker and keeping it out, because my Landorus-EX was able to Knock Out Snorlax in one hit with a Muscle Band and a Hypnotoxic Laser with a Virbank City Gym, while Raichu scared him off from making any big Lugia plays.
I’m able to take game one after he struggles to deal with all of the counter plays that I am able to make.
Game 2: Game two isn’t as easy for me, as he chooses to go second again, but this time he’s able to Raiden Knuckle onto a Lugia-EX against my not so strong hand. During the next few turns, I’m able to get a decent board up, but he is able to do the same. The game gets extremely close, but near the very end, he makes a misplay that costs him the game.
He benches a Snorlax and decides to not power it up, but instead charges up a Lugia-EX. Snorlax would have been able to take his last 2 Prizes, but Alex had already used all of his Tool Scrappers, so I was able to avoid getting Knocked Out in one hit by the Lugia. He realizes his mistake, and decides to scoop up his cards.
4-1 (2-0, 8-3 overall)
Round 6 vs. Christopher Beaty (Darkrai/Yveltal/Bouffalant)
This was once again a matchup I felt pretty comfortable with. Landorus-EX is able to take out Bouffalants in one hit with a Muscle Band attached while Garbodor is up.
Game 1: Game one is pretty poor for Chris, as he doesn’t hit a Supporter for around five or so turns after his first. He isn’t able to put on much pressure, while I do the complete opposite. I’m able to set up my Raichus and a Landorus to clean up any threat he puts on the board. After he does manage to get out of the dead-drawing phase, he is able to mount somewhat of a comeback. The only problem is, he runs through his deck extremely quickly.
As the game is about to end, Chris uses a Professor Juniper without counting his deck, and ends up drawing the rest of it. He tries to take this back, but a judge was watching and I told him he couldn’t. It was slightly sketchy, as he acted as if he hadn’t played the Juniper, but luckily the situation didn’t get out of hand.
Game 2: With game one ending in a dumb way, I felt somewhat bad, and I could tell Chris was on tilt. He makes some pretty sloppy plays in the first few turns, which helps out my not so great start. Eventually, he gets out a large Yveltal-EX and takes out my Landorus-EX. With only a few Basic Pokémon on the Bench, I felt like I was in a pretty bad position. Luckily, I’m able to pull off a huge Circle Circuit off a Juniper, which is able to nearly seal the game for me. A few turns later, I win the match and seal my place in the Top 8.
5-1 (2-0, 10-3 overall)
Round 7 vs. Alex Fields (Lugia/Plasma)
Alex is 5-0-2 at this point, so he is guaranteed cut. We decide to intentionally draw so that I’m able to make cut as well, and we’re able to take a break from the stress. Alex and I are good friends, and we’ve played a few times this season. He’s one of the best players in Texas, and I’m not surprised at all to see him doing so well again.
5-1-1 (ID, 10-3 overall)
Between rounds, I call my mom and let her know that I secured my invite. I was so happy at that point, and I was glad to be finished with the fight for 500 CP. After that, I made a few more phone calls and waited until deck checks were finished.
Cool fact: I’ve used the same set of sleeves for every tournament since the top cut of Houston Regionals and haven’t split a single sleeve. Gotta love Dragon Shields!
Top 8 vs. Clay Carney (Aromatisse/Basics)
This was something new! I had yet to play against an Aromatisse deck, even though there were plenty in the field. I wasn’t sure how many Tool Scrapper he played, but I know that Garbodor will be huge in this matchup to shut off Fairy Trans.
Game 1: In game one, Clay has a pretty slow start. He can’t hit any colored Energies, and I have a Landorus-EX slamming him for a decent amount of damage. I manage to get down to 2 Prizes off of big EXs he has to sacrifice just to stay in the game, and I was pretty sure I had the game locked. That was, until he was able to power up an Yveltal-EX and managed to wipe my big Landorus-EX off the board. I hadn’t drawn extremely well either, and didn’t have that great of a field. I wasn’t able to Knock Out the Yveltal-EX following that turn, and he was able to take a clean sweep with it, surprisingly taking game one.
Game 2: Game two went better for him, and he managed to set up a healthy amount of Energy on his board with Raiden Knuckle. I also was drawing better, and managed to get out my Garbodor early and was prepared to set up a Raichu incase of a large Yveltal. With some conservative playing and timely Hammerheads, I’m able to get rid of his Thundurus-EX and Aromatisse, as well as a few of his Energies, thanks to my single Enhanced Hammer.
With that large swing, I was able to pull the game completely in my favor and ended up pulling out the win. I was nervous, as I wanted to make at least Top 4 so that I could win a trophy. Only one game away…
Game 3: Clay had a poor opening, and I was pretty happy to see that. He ended up with a Darkrai Active and only a Spritzee on the Bench, and ended up passing into my turn. I was able to get out my normal Basics – a Pikachu, Trubbish, and a Landorus-EX – and was able to put a ton of pressure by using Hammerhead. The only problem is, he was able to get out Aromatisse and a Max Potion to pretty much negate my turn. He drops an Energy onto Darkrai, and passes into my turn.
I get out Garbodor with a Tool, a Raichu, and a second Energy onto my Landorus-EX, and put myself into a great spot. He’d need a lot next turn to save his Darkrai from getting Knocked Out, and even if he did, I’d have a Landorus threatening the Land’s Judgement for enough to Knock Out just about anything he could put Active. I end up using Hammerhead, and set up his field for a double knockout next turn. He draws, and luckily for him, it’s an N. He drew a Max Potion off of this, but that wasn’t going to be enough to save him. He saved his Aromatisse for one more turn, but he was about to lose all of his Energy and give up 2 Prizes.
With such a strong board, I’m able to take the game a few turns later while he struggled to get anything out. I felt somewhat bad because he drew poorly, but at the same time I was pretty happy to advance to the Top 4.
6-1-1 (2-1, 12-4 overall)
Top 4 vs. Jesse Strain (Aromatisse/Genesect)
I’d never heard of Jesse, but I had seen him playing throughout the day and knew he was playing an Aromatisse deck. I didn’t know too much about his list going into it, but based on my last match I felt fairly comfortable.
Game 1: I win the flip, and get to play out a solid first turn, getting out the usual Trubbish and a Pikachu and get a Landorus-EX into the Active Spot. He started Thundurus-EX, so by putting out Landorus I’d be able to resist the Raiden Knuckle, and threaten a Hammerhead on the following turn.
He gets a solid turn as well, getting out some Spritzees and a Genesect-EX. His list seemed to be pretty similar to the list I shared earlier in the article, so I had some experience with the deck myself and knew how important Genesect can be. He Raiden Knuckles my Landorus, but didn’t have Energy in the discard pile.
On my turn I got a second Energy onto Landorus-EX, and hit him for 60 and 30 to a Spritzee. Where he goes wrong, is that he decides to pull out an Yveltal-EX and hits me for 100 to threaten a knockout on his following turn. This allows me to set up my Raichu and wipe off all of the Energy on his board, and put him in an awkward spot because I still have a Landorus-EX with two Energy on the Bench, ready to Knock Out a Thundurus in one hit.
He realizes that misplay pretty much cost him the game, and just uses Raiden Knuckle and powers up his Genesect on the Bench. I get to take the easy knockout on Thundurus, and put myself at 2 Prizes, to his six. Without Abilities, he can’t do much and scoops to game two.
Game 2: Game two goes similarly to game one, where I put early pressure on with Landorus-EX and keep a Raichu on the Bench in case of the random Yveltal-EX. He doesn’t do it this time, but I’m still able to pick up easy Prizes with Landorus-EX. This match really proved to me how strong Landorus-EX is in this format. Being able to do up to 50 damage to the Active and 30 to the Bench, with even more from Hypnotoxic Lasers and Virbank is huge, for only a single Energy. Land’s Judgement is no joke either, with a possible 170 for 3 Energies.
I take game two, and I move onto the finals! At this point, I was extremely excited to have gone so far with a “different” deck. I’d also won at least 3 boxes of XY and $100, so I was pretty pumped.
7-1-1 (2-0, 14-4 overall)
I was going to be playing against my friend Alex Fields, and I was contemplating scooping to him. If he would’ve had more CP and was trying to hit the invite, I most likely would have since I had already locked up mine. The only difference between 1st and 2nd is $100 and a bye at Nationals, which I already have two of from Regionals. I decided to play it out to try to take the title, and well…
Finals vs. Alex Fields (Lugia/Plasma)
This match was pretty laid back, as Alex and I are good friends and are some of the best players in our home state of Texas. We tap eachothers decks, and try to keep the games as fun as possible.
Game 1: Unfortunately, I have a horrible start with only a Landorus-EX and a hand full of unplayable cards. I believe I take an early Colress for 3, and continue to draw nothing. It’s only a few turns before he’s able to bench me and take the game.
Game 2: Game two is just about as bad, the only difference is that I draw too many Basics and no Supporters at all! Alex sets up a quick Lugia, and is able to take a huge swing on a damaged Landorus-EX for 3 Prizes. Without a Lugia to hit him back, I’m forced to leave something Active and he’s able to go down to 1 Prize to my six. I sit behind an Active Landorus-EX, hoping he won’t have the Plasma Energy to use Red Signal onto my Benched Trubbish.
He hits it, and we shake on the match. It was a pretty poor way to lose, but I’d rather it have been to Alex than pretty much any other player there. I was still satisfied with 2nd place, since I only needed a Top 16 finish to get my World invite.
7-2-1 (0-2, 14-6 overall)
(SHORT) TEXAS STATES REPORT
Going into Texas states, I was focused on streaming the event more than playing it. I considered not playing at all, but due to being sick I wouldn’t have been able to provide commentary anyway.
When it came to picking a deck, I just wanted to play something fun. I felt like Virizion/Genesect would be a good play for the second week, so I added my own little touch to it…
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 34
Energy – 14
I felt like the list was decent, but if I could go back I’d probably change to the deck I played in Oklahoma States. This didn’t run as well as I would have liked most of the time, but I still managed to pull out a solid 6-2 record. Here are my matches:
R1 vs. Jordan Rawls (Plasma) – WIN // (3-2-1) 10 pts
R2 vs. Phillip Barta (Plasma) – WIN // (1-3-1) 4 pts
R3 vs. Andy Gray (Blastoise) – WIN // (6-1-1) 19 pts
R4 vs. Michael Feller (Klinklang/Aromatisse) – LOSS // (6-0-2) 20 pts
R5 vs. Ian Arellano (Plasma) – WIN // (4-3-1) 13 pts
R6 vs. John Kettler (Darkrai/Yveltal) – LOSS // (6-2-0) 18 pts
R7 vs. Anouluck Phomsouvanh (No Show) – WIN // (4-3-0) 12 pts
R8 vs. An Vo (Plasma) – WIN // (4-2-2) 14 pts
As you can see, there was a ton of Plasma there. Half of my matches were against Lugia-based decks, so Raichu came in handy a lot. I still think Garbodor and Landorus make better partners for the little mouse, though.
I’d like to give a huge shoutout to my friend Chance Grantham for driving me up to Oklahoma with him, as well as many other tournaments throughout the season. Getting my invite definitely wouldn’t have been possible without him, and I really appreciate him. I’d also like to give Austin Baggs a shoutout for housing us and the deck idea, Sina Zojaji for letting me borrow the Landorus-EXs, and Mad Pullz for being the best team in Texas.
MOVING FORWARD TO REGIONALS…
I’ll be attending Kansas City Regionals this weekend, and I’m pretty excited to get to see everyone again. I’m not going to be taking the tournament too seriously seeing as I have enough Championship Points for now, but I’ll still be playing and trying to win.
I will most likely be playing Plasma, because I feel like it is the best deck in format. If you have the right list and you play it correctly, there really are no auto-losses for the deck. My good friend Chase Moloney got 1st and 3rd in the second and third weeks of States with a list based off of mine, and his friend Trevore Read got back-to-back 2nds with the same list.
I feel like it’s one of the best decks in format, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take home a few Regionals over the next few weeks. I also feel like Rayquaza/Emboar may come back and make a solid showing with the rise of the Klinklang/Aromatisse decks. RayBoar has extremely strong matchups across the board, and received a huge boost from XY with the addition of Delphox.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you did please leave it a “Like!” I had a blast writing this for you guys, and I’ll hopefully be back within the next few months to share my thoughts on Nationals and Worlds. I’ll be attending Nationals and Worlds, so if you see me there or even this weekend, come say hi!
Good luck to everyone attending Regionals in the next few weeks, and hopefully this article has helped you figure out what you want to play or even what you don’t want to play.
Until next time,
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