Hello guys! For those who do not know me, my name is Marcelo Magalhães. I am 28 years old and from Brasília, capital of Brazil. I’ve liked Pokémon since I was 14 years old when the anime first appeared here. I then fell for the video game franchise, although I always played it only for fun.
It was long ago when I first played the Pokémon TCG for Game Boy, which is where I learned the basics of the game. At that time it was really difficult and expensive to have access to the real cards. I’ve only had the opportunity to play the actual TCG over the last 3 years when Copag began printing the game in my country. I started collecting a few cards, then went looking on social networks for others who played the game in my area and ended up finding the few guys playing it in Brasília. I started making friends, in my very shy way, and this was when I learned to play competitively. My first tournament was a Noble Victories post-release, which I ended up winning. That was when the game really grew on me and I decided to take it more seriously.
I participated in the 2012 National Championship and I was amazed with the atmosphere that exists in major tournaments. Competitiveness and fair play are what I like the most in the game and that’s what motivates me to keep playing. I can’t remember my position that year, but it was among the top 40 players, with Zekeels/Mewtwo. I admired the guys who made it to the top cut because I could see how difficult the tournament was. Then was when I had my first idol, the champion that year: Cesar Lopes Pereira. If I’m not mistaken, he won the tournament undefeated!
At the National Championship last year, I had the great fortune of making it to the finals playing with what we call “Spaghetti” because it won Italy’s National that year: Sigilyph DRX/Virizion NVI/Victini NVI 15/Sableye DEX/Tornadus-EX DEX. It was a deck that I would not have predicted, but what convinced me to play it was that few knew about it and those who knew did not know how to play against it very well.
I had both the sadness and frustration of having lost in the final by picking a very unfavorable match against Darkrai-EX/Bouffalant DRX/Sableye DEX/Hammers and a great opponent – my second idol, Vinicius La Padula – and I also faced an uncontrollable nervousness. It was my most important championship until that time because I learned a lot about myself and how to fight against adversity.
Last year I went to Worlds in Vancouver. I played Gothitelle because I was already training with it and because the deck had won the American National Championship, which showed the potential of the deck. This was a mistake because everyone expected and prepared against it, which gave me a 126th place finish. The experience of the Worlds is something surreal – I encourage everyone to get there one day. I hope this report becomes not just a description of what happened, but an incentive to continue fighting because my brief history in Pokémon TCG is a story of overcoming.
Brazilian Nationals 2014
This year Nationals happened on May 3rd and 4th, with more than 200 players. My choice of deck was very difficult this year. I played the beginning of this season with VirGen/Munna BCR/Musharna NXD and got a 2nd place in Brasília’s Regional. I played in two Cities with Ho-Oh-EX/Garbodor LTR/Techs and got a 2nd place in Brasilia as well. I played April Regionals near my town with Darkrai-EX/Yveltal-EX/Absol PLF in Brasilia where I had a 2nd place (AGAIN) and in Goiânia with Darkrai-EX/Yveltal-EX/Garbodor LTR where I got 7th place.
I was calm about my CPs as I totaled them high enough to make it to Worlds again this year. I did not have much time to prepare myself because of the rush at work, so I embraced the idea of my number 1 idol and good friend André Bortoni. We were training with Darkrai-EX/Yveltal-EX/Zoroark LTR, which no one would be expecting. I wanted to come again with the surprise factor.
Furthermore, we saw that Kevin Baxter had made Top 8 with this deck at an important Regional in USA. I contacted him and he was kind enough to give me some tips and the list he had used. From the Regionals to the night before the National I dedicated all the time I had playing Zoroark with Bortoni and my other good friend Daniel Nunes, but the majority of the the time was spent testing on PTCGO.
I worked early Friday until 7 PM and went directly to the airport because my flight was at 8:30 PM and I arrived in São Paulo at the hotel around 11 PM. Luck, fate, chance, divine intervention, or I do not know what – nothing was agreed – I stayed at the same hotel and on the same floor as Team Wada (Gustavo Wada is Brazil’s Junior World Champion). The guys were very kind in accepting me for training those last moments and that was the turning point.
The few matches we played I saw that Zoroark was not running well and losing almost all the time. Not convinced of my choice, I decided to change my deck at almost 4 AM. Had the intuition that Darkrai/Yveltal would win the tournament, I just did not know the version.
I was inspired by the list of another great Brazilian Pokémon player named Gabriel Semedo; I watched him playing during one of the Regionals and I memorized more or less his list and way of playing it. Yet I tried to do a mix of Darkrai/Yveltal/Bouffalant with 1-1 Garbodor at the very last minute, expecting that there would have lots of Blastoise, Emboar, and VirGen, which are difficult matches, and I had not trained much since I was playing Zoroark until then.
I went to sleep at 5 AM and woke up scared around 8 AM with Team Wada knocking at the door. I wrote the decklist with 1-1 Garbodor and went to Nationals. There we had the huge delay to start. The system had to repair everyone and we were released for lunch, then got back and started the tournament at 1 PM.
At this point I asked Daniel Nunes to play one last game with me at the hotel room and that was when I had the confidence in giving up the 1-1 Garbodor idea, as I thought it would not make much difference and would take the consistency away from my deck. So I made a new list with only Darkrai, Yveltal, and Bouffalant:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
Energy – 12
Round 1 vs. Felipe (Plasma/Lugia-EX)
I was very nervous at the beginning of the tournament. I remember he started the first game and have made quick setup, mainly hitting me with Thundurus against Yveltal and then the EX. I lost this very fast, but it served me to understand what I was playing against.
The second game I managed to make the deck run and focused more on hitting with Bouffalant and finish with Yveltal-EX.
The third match was very tight because of the time, but he had opened a good lead, it was when time was called. I had no chance to win and he had 3 Prizes left. He had a Thundurus with 140 damage on the Bench and I had a no damaged Darkrai ready. It was my turn 2 and it would be the last. I saw that he had a full Bench, 3 Deoxys, and a Lugia with 1 Energy. I decided to attack and kill Thundurus on the Bench with Darkrai.
It was the biggest stupidity that someone could commit – I should just had passed and he could not win at that time. He attached DCE to Lugia, used Colress Machine, used Muscle Band, benched the last Deoxys, and Switched to win at the very last moment.
This misplay left me very upset and completely took away my confidence. I saw that my struggle was mainly against myself and that if I really wanted to make it to the top cut I could not lose any more, nor commit any more misplays, no matter how silly it could be. And that’s what I stuck in my head in and did not let get out.
Round 2 vs. Kaio (Infernape PLS/Lugia-EX/Deoxys-EX/???)
I ended up on the table 96 and there I would have to overcome myself no matter what. I faced a deck that had not seen before. I do not even remembered what Infernape does. I do not remember exactly everything he had in his deck too, but I remember that the first game I won easily since he was without a Supporter for a long time.
The second game my deck decided not to work and his worked well. He was using Infernape’s attack that prevents me from using one of my attacks, so I could not hit hard.
The third game was more balanced, but had a moment that he was running out of Energy and I ended up clearing his field almost before time being called. The deck seemed interesting and he played it well, but I saw he was really nervous and that helped me.
A very kind opponent, our matches were well played. I focused on using Yveltal-EX and Yveltal as they have Resistance against Landorus and I think I caught him off guard hitting with Keldeo + Muscle Band to defeat his Landorus-EX. What bothered me the most was him using Max Potion one million times, since it is difficult to give 1HKO against his deck.
I do not remember if it was 2-0 or 2-1 for me, but I began to rely on my luck from now hitting the Catcher and Laser. They made quite a difference.
Round 4 vs. Henrique (Aromatisse/Thundurus-EX/Genesect-EX/Darkrai-EX/Techs)
This match was very entertaining and demanded quite me thinking. First he began with Thundurus and I with a lonely Sableye and an awful hand. He attached Energy on the Active, discarded Energy with Ultra Ball to bench a Genesect-EX, and next turn begin putting Energy on his field. I let him poison (but not sleep) and used Confuse Ray, leaving him confused. He attacked with Muscle Band, hit heads and I took 50 damage. Finally I got a Supporter and managed to bench a Bouffalant with DCE. He attacked again and took damage on Confusion, then I finished his Thundurus with Bouffalant and started doing my setup quickly, taking this first game.
The second game was much more difficult. He went ahead on Prizes and cleared my field with Energies. There was a time that came Sableye, Hammer, and Dowsing Machine in my hand. I used Hammer, Dowsing for Hammer again and Junk Hunt both to my hand. He could not Knock Out the Sableye because I left the field with only his Plasma Energies and one Prism, so I did Hammer, Dowsing for Hammer again, and Junk Hunt both again. He N’d me after that and I started hitting. Hit a Catcher to KO Aromatisse and this greatly facilitated my job.
I remember for my last Prize he left an Active Virizion with Prism and I got the combo Bouffalant + Muscle + LaserBank with Hammer that came in my hand again. As you can see how I have learned with the finals from my last year Nationals.
Round 5 vs. Louis (Darkrai/Yveltal/Garbodor)
Another very kind guy – we talked a lot. The game was relatively easy for a simple detail: he had no Yveltal non-EX. Against mirror it makes a great difference in exchange for Prizes and distributing damage to finish with Bouffalant. He was then forced to always attack with his 2 Yveltal-EX, who begins the Yveltal war usually leads worse, as it was with Mewtwo war some time ago. In addition, he did not used his Garbodor, which allowed me to abuse Keldeo’s Rush In to get rid of conditions.
At the end of the match he told me that in his town he had trouble getting cards and Yveltal was one of them. I grabbed my backpack and gave him an extra Yveltal I had so he could improve his deck for his next tournaments.
Round 6 vs. Francisco (VirGen)
Some small things that happened before we get to this game. My favorite Pokémon is Cyndaquil and I always played with a Cyndaquil coin. I just could not find my Cyndaquil coin before Nats this year and I had to choose another one I had. I found the Totodile one and decided to use it as it was the closest to Cyndaquil.
Just before beginning the 1st round, Bortoni told me that Francisco was looking for a Totodile coin and had a damaged Cyndaquil one to trade. I preferred not to take his coin, but still gave him the Totodile one. Bortoni gave me his nice Rayquaza coin and as I lost the first round using it, I decided to change the coin again. Among the others remaining I chose the Tyranitar one by finding it the most impressive I had, it was great choice because it gave me heads in the most crucial moments during the tournament.
Another addendum to this match was a moment I asked Semedo about what to do against VirGen, as we were running very similar decks. He explained quickly between one round and another that I should distribute damage with Yveltal since the 30 damage from Poison would not combo with Bouffalant or Yveltal-EX with Muscle, and my number 1 enemy was Virizion: I could not let him use more than 1 Emerald Slash. That’s what I did and was successful against Francisco.
We had a few moments when he was without Virizion in the field and that’s what helped beat faster with Laser. Also do not remember if it was 2-0 or 2-1, but it was a very entertaining match against another guy who I now admire very much. It was a very important match for me to learn to play against who I would face in Top 4.
Round 7 vs. Nelson Magalhães (Darkrai/Yveltal/Garbodor)
Nelson I met last year when I was playing a Regional at Rio de Janeiro and we took subway together. I remembered him because we have the same last name and knew from that time that he is a very nice guy too. At this stage of the Swiss we were both in table 2, but it was still no guarantee of top cut, the fellow who was in table 1 ended up losing the next two and did not make it to the top.
Do not remember the details of that match, but he took the first game with relative ease having Garbodor fast, not letting me use Rush In or Dark Cloak and leaving me sleeping between turns.
The second game he was ahead in Prizes, but I managed to make a comeback on the basis of luck, N, Laser, and Catcher.
The third match was very tense because we were almost out of time and the judges sat on our side to watch the match. I was ahead on Prizes and the judge called his attention for taking too much time on his turn, eventually giving us an extension time of about 3 minutes and yet, in after the 3 final turns, I just could not have a single Supporter nor hit heads on Catcher to finish the game. We ended up tying both with the obligation to win to make it to the top cut.
Round 8 vs. Gustavo Melo (VirGen)
Gustavo is from Goiânia, a nearby city, and had already faced him 3 times. Once in Brasilia’s City, the other twice in Brasilia’s and Goiania’s Regional Brasília, I always playing with Darkrai/Yveltal and he always VirGen and always at the last round of the Swiss, in Brasilia we faced at the top cut too. My history with him is me undefeated, I knew his deck, I knew how he played, and I was confident when I saw I would face him.
However, to my great surprise and admiration, he spontaneously and before we start the match said he would concede me the victory, since I was 5-1-1 and he was 5-2-0 with poor standings, even though he defeated me, he probably would not make it to the top cut and if I had the victory I still would depend on the results from the other matches.
Anyway, we played and he trained me as well, it was VERY important for me to prepare myself against the VirGen that I would face if I went top cut. The match came down to hit with Yveltal and finish with Bouffalant and Yveltal-EX. Gustavo plays very well and I believe in his the potential to compete for the title next year too, also have my immense respect and admiration.
Finally I made it to Top 8 in 6th place with an immense relief, but already worried because I knew I would face Nelson again, with the deck I had the hardest time to play during the first day.
The Swiss finished near midnight, I was exhausted, I had not already slept well the previous night, I was hungry and thirsty. Bortoni brought me food, drink, and even helped me that night to train some more. I built Darkrai/Yveltal/Garbodor with a similar list as possible that I could remember from my opponent and played a game. World Champion Gustavo Wada went to our room that night and played 3 or 4 games using Nelson’s deck and I lost ALL OF THEM, until the time came when I said: “I need rest, I can’t think anymore.” Thanks to Guto and Mauro Wada for helping me that night – these little moments are the ones that gives us the trouble, but at the same time the desire to overcome it.
I awoke the next day at 7:30 AM, took a shower and woke up Bortoni to train me another three matches against Nelson’s deck. He won the first and I the other two, so I was more confident. I was worried because I knew I would face VirGen if made it to Top 4, but as I had won against VirGen during the Swiss I prefered to focus on the match against Nelson.
I was a nervous wreck until I sat at the table and started playing. I was still more tense when I saw they would do streaming. I remembered the finals of last year – nervousness, pressure, everything – and decided to leave it all behind. I remembered when an opponent I played against during the Worlds last year saw me very nervous, he very kindly told me: “This is just another game, imagine you are playing with your friend.” That’s what I did throughout the top cut this year.
Top 8 vs. Nelson Magalhães (Darkrai/Yveltal/Garbodor)
I cannot remember how were the first two matches – I won the first and he the second one. He plays very well. I was afraid to use Keldeo and he let the Keldeo stuck in front Asleep and Poisoned with Garbodor activated, then I focused on hitting with Yveltal and Bouffalant to give a Prize at a time.
The last match was very tense as he had opened an absurd advantage at the start and I had to make a mythical comeback, playing on the basis of N, Laser, and Catcher. The time was to be called when I was 2 Prizes from victory and I could leave his Yveltal-EX stuck active Asleep and Poisoned and he did not woke up and could not get him out from active. I attacked and advanced to Top 4.
Top 4 vs. Cesar Lopes (VirGen/Roserade DRX 15)
I knew this would be the hardest match so far as I would face the 2012 National Champion and the first top player I admired, though he did not know that.
The first match I thought I would lose because I started with Keldeo, which is two free Prizes for VirGen. I started and managed to LaserBank his Virizion and retreated Keldeo. He chose to attach Energy on his Benched Virizion and let the damage run on the Active one. The next turn I managed to Knock Out the Active Virizion already, and I could KO the second Virizion early and Genesect lastly, all with great difficulty because he gave me N all the time.
In the second game he could make a quick setup, Emerald Slashing onto two Genesect. I did not have much to do – I had a perfect hand to use Oblivion Wing, but both were prized.
The third match was the most exciting and difficult. He started with Genesect and I could LaserBank again on T1. He left the damage rolling on Genesect while arming the Benched Virizion. It happened that I could not KO no matter what his Active Genesect, so he retreated and used Max Potion, then begun making his setup. He went ahead on Prizes and I went mining damage and had a KO on his Virizion-EX. It all went when time was called, I’d just Knocked Out his Sigilyph with Bouffalant + Muscle + Laser and I was with 3 Prizes and he with 2 left, if I’m not mistaken.
As time was called between shifts his turn became 1, mine 2, and his 3, and it was game over. I had to take 2 Prizes and he could not have any more, I had only one turn and he had two. He had a Genesect with Muscle and Energies and Virizion in the bank with only one Energy. I had the Active Bouffalant and a Muscle Banded Yveltal with two Dark and a DCE in the Bench. He used Hammer and Tool Scraper on Yveltal and left a Roserade Active so I could not take 2 Prizes, he wanted to get us to sudden death.
I knew that I had enough cards to Knock Out his Genesect with Yveltal-EX, but needed to hit one from two Catcher, and if I had tails on Catcher I would lose by deck out. I decided to risk everything: Tool Scrapered only his Virizion, let the Muscle on Genesect so he could not G Booster it and played a Juniper to draw 7-of 8 cards: I had the two Catcher, the last DCE, and Dark Patch that I needed. I hit heads already on the first Catcher and could Knock Out his Genesect – he had no way to respond with Virizion and I had overcome on the difference of Prizes left.
It ended up being the most difficult match of the tournament, beating the champion that I admired for so long. I was more confident than ever to take the National Championship home.
I did not know Alex – we talked briefly before the match. He was national runner-up a few years ago and we joked that this year at least one of us would finally become a champion. I had no idea how was his deck, what he used, what was the strategy, anyway… I was able to talk briefly with some guys who had faced him to figure out his deck and I heard some guesses of how I should play against him. I knew I had a slight advantage because I can hit hard and fast against his low-HP Pokémon, and if he wanted to lock me, Trevenant has Weakness to Dark. The big problem was Raichu, my enemy number 1.
Our first match was relatively simple because I got hitting fast, took 2 Prizes quickly, and hit a Catcher on his Jirachi-EX, picking up 2 Prizes even easier. He could not make a comeback and then he gave up and we went to the second game.
I started this with two Yveltal-EX on my hand. I chose to bench the second afraid of not getting another Pokémon as I had no Supporter. I ended up being forced to hit with Yveltal-EX and he took the lead with Raichu and then locked me with Trevenant Active while doing his setup. I tried to N him 3 times, but he drew a Tropical Beach and could always fill his hand back again. He left a Terrakion and Flareon at the Bench ready to hit anything I could turn Active, so I quit the game and went to the last one.
The beginning of the third game was tense as he could set up Raichu fast, but as soon as I cleared his Raichus, he was stuck with about 3 turns without much to do, so I took 3 easy Prizes. When I had only 1 Prize left, I had a damaged Yveltal-EX and Yveltal XY with Muscle Band + 3 Energies to hit for 120. I preferred to save Yveltal XY as it had more firepower at that time.
He N’d me to 1 card and I drew a Catcher. He KO’d my Yveltal-EX with a non-damaged Terrakion LTR and I thought: I’m one heads away from becoming champion with Catcher. My hand was trembling now, and when I draw the card from my turn it was a Laser, which was all what needed to reach 130 damage on his Terrakion.
This was one of the happiest moments of my life, undoubtedly. All the weight of the previous year was off my back and I felt like I had a mission accomplished. Now I am beginning my training for Worlds, rely on my friends and always with a little of luck, of course.
I would like to thank everyone who supported me and helped me in any way, but especially the guys from my town: Bortoni and Daniel (my great training partners), Bonfim (that whenever possible plays with me and always cheers me up), Charlon, Bah and Da Massa (that although not playing currently taught me a lot when I started playing), and Jeff for his constant support.
Anyone can add me on Facebook and PTCGO. Whenever I can I play a few games, this is my nickname: kikuichimoji.
Thanks for reading!