Hello everyone! I am Adrian from the Philippines Pokémon TCG community. Let me share with you my experience from our recent National Championship!
- I started to play the Pokémon TCG as early as Base Set. (Yes, my brother and I took turns using the Machamp/Charmeleon half-decks.)
- I joined my first League in 2007.
- Some of my recent achievements include: 2013 City Champion, 2014 City Champion, 2014 States Top 4, and now 2014 National Champion!
This is the first big tournament after the release of Flashfire. And as expected, players will attempt to either: (1) build a deck based on Flashfire or (2) tech against the hyped Flashfire cards.
At first, it makes sense to not play Virizion/Genesect because of the fear of battling Charizard/Pyroar. True enough, this Fire duo could spell an auto-loss for Virizion/Genesect. This made me revisit some of the other deck options and how they could adjust to the Flashfire cards:
This deck requires the least editing to face Pyroar because most versions already run Garbodor or Raichu. Furthermore, the 4-Energy casting cost of Charizard’s attack means an easy KO with Yveltal-EX’s Evil Ball. I expect to see a lot of people taking the easy way out and playing this deck.
A 2-2 Glaceon PLF line is conceivably good in this deck. It gives Deoxys-EX free retreat, which may come in handy in case it is pulled out. One of my buddies, Chuck, mentioned Vaporeon PLF in Plasma as well. Vaporeon has a 2-Energy attack which can easily KO both Pyroar and Charizard provided 3 Deoxys-EX are in play (or 1 Deoxys-EX + Muscle Band). Other tech options for Plasma include Beartic PLS and, to some extent, Shred attackers.
The inclusion of Stage 1s in Plasma variants significantly hurts its consistency. It feels like you sacrifice a whole lot against the other matchups just to accommodate the Pyroar matchup (which isn’t even an auto-win by then).
This deck can easily tech in Shred attackers, like Rayquaza DRV or Giratina-EX. The former option risks wasting three Energies, as Pyroar can easily reply with a KO next turn. The latter option is more tanky, which would survive Pyroar’s attack. However, a simple inclusion of Druddigon FLF could be disastrous for both these techs. Generally, the consistency of Plasmatisse decks will not be hurt too much with these inclusions.
Rayboar and Blastoise
These decks have built-in answers for Pyroar as they play Stage 2s that have decent attacks. However, Druddigon FLF threatens the main EX attackers of these decks. Furthermore, Lysandre can easily take out those tanky Stage 2 Bench-sitters. But to put it into the right context, the entire Philippines Pokémon TCG community only has around 4 to 5 copies of Tropical Beach collectively. This has made these Energy-showering decks quite difficult to pilot in our country.
After tinkering with so many lists, I tried to put myself in the position of a Charizard/Pyroar player. One of my friends, Chuck Noel, piloted a Charizard/Pyroar deck that we built together. Our initial lists were too tight – and we ended up having problems with the Supporter line. I dismissed the option of Charizard/Pyroar as I didn’t want to play something I am not fully confident with. Kudos to Chuck though, his record was still perfectly viable, but he had to drop the tournament because he wasn’t feeling too well.
In summary, here are my thoughts going into the tournament:
- 60% of the field will run Darkrai/Yveltal variants or Plasmatisse variants.
- The remaining percentage will be split into Plasma, a few Virizion/Genesect, some Pyroar/Charizards, and perhaps some form of rogues.
- Charizard/Pyroar builds have yet to evolve into a solid, “tried-and-tested” list.
- Ultimately, the rest of the field shall tech against Pyroar more than any other decks – and consequently drop their techs against Virizion/Genesect (i.e. Plasmatisse players substitute their Entei-EX for Shred attackers).
I built a standard Plasmatisse deck along with my Virizion/Genesect and delayed my decision until the day of Nationals itself. Considering that Virizion/Genesect is extremely consistent on its own, and it had good matchups against both Darkrai/Yveltal and Plasmatisse variants, my deck choice is slowly beginning to make sense.
My teammates Neil and Chuck warned me about a few Charizard decks on the tables for practice games. I figured that there could be at most 5 Charizard/Pyroar players in a field of 50, and so I’ll take my chances. I could bank on the hype for the new cards, and play a deck no one expects to face – Grass!
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 35
Energy – 13
What is particularly notable in a Virizion/Genesect deck is the available space. This permits putting in “luxury” cards, like a Town Map, Pal Pad, and a second Super Rod, without having to sacrifice the bare essentials of the deck.
I squeezed in a Plasma Frigate in place of a 3rd Pikachu. This was a last-minute decision to have some form of confidence against Fire matchups. My previous version had a 3-2 Raichu line and it worked pretty well for me. I figured the 2 Super Rods could compensate for the loss of a 3rd Pikachu.
The Tournament – Day 1
Round 1 vs. Adrian Lim (Plasma w/ Giratina-EX) (WW)
My opponent played a Plasma Kyurem deck with Giratina-EX. I noticed that he is not too familiar with his deck as he attempted to Raiden Knuckle and attach to his Benched Giratina. I ended up winning both games. In all fairness to this guy, he was a real sport.
Ranie is the defending National Champion of the Philippine PTCG. In fact he is a two-time champion. I definitely didn’t wish to be paired against him at such an early stage of the competition. Although, I already knew what he is playing as he borrowed some components from my teammates.
Our first game was extremely close. I managed to Red Signal a Spritzee and an Aromatisse, effectively shutting off his engine. He tried to stall with a Suicune PLB. At this point, I wanted to capitalize on my lead and decided to G Booster his Suicune. He then saw the opportune moment to N me to two. I drew a Juniper. For the next turn, he Dowsing Machined another N, and then Mega Evolved Kangaskhan-EX. I drew nothing useful and was stuck in this position for several turns.
He then set up two Aromatisse swung with Wham Bam Punch with all his might. There’s no way for me to 1HKO his enormous M-Kangaskhan-EX, and he kept on healing any damage I dealt him. I ended up losing. We spent too much time on Game 1 that I couldn’t manage to seal Game 2 with the limited time remaining.
Round 3 vs. Vincent Pableo (Aromatisse w/ Mewtwo-EX and Xerneas-EX) (WL)
My opponent opened with Mewtwo-EX and benched a Spritzee. I hit his Active Mewtwo-EX for my first Emerald Slash. On turn 3, I ignored his EXs and Red Signaled that precious Spritzee, and then set up a second Genesect-EX on the Bench. The first game went smoothly for me and I cleaned up his EXs with Megalo Cannon and G Booster attacks.
Game 2 went terribly for me. I drew no Supporters for 4 turns, meanwhile my opponent was already dishing out damage with his fully-powered Xerneas-EX. I finally got an Emerald Slash on turn 5, but it was too late.
Time was called when we were shuffling. We then settled for a draw on that round.
Round 4 vs. Paolo Alberto (Garbodor w/ Eeveelutions and Raichu) (WW)
I had a bad feeling going into this round. I knew that I could not afford any more draws or losses to make the cut. And my next opponent had just recently bought a couple of Emboars and Delphoxes from me – and I know that facing Rayboar is an uphill battle for my deck.
I flipped tails, and he decided to go first. He opened with a Pikachu and benched an Eevee. I felt a little relief seeing his Basics. But I knew I had to be cautious against Flareon. Game 1 went well for me. All of his Pokémon were within 1-shot range. And I noticed that he didn’t play any Stadiums in Game 1, which meant I could play Plasma Frigate and forget about the Fire Weakness.
Going into Game 2, I got the lead early on and played Plasma Frigate. He never got to attack with Flareon though. But to my surprise, he played Tropical Beach toward the end of the game. He just meant to play it for the sake of playing it, and we got a couple of laughs about it. He N’d me to two and I drew a Scrapper and a Plasma Energy. I Scrapped the Float Stone on his Benched Garbodor and Red Signaled it, while I Beached. At this point, he used Skyla only to discover that he had no way of retreating his Active Garbodor, sealing the game to me.
Round 5 vs. Hanz Ronquillo (Landorus-EX, Bouffalant w/ Garbodor) (WLW)
Hanz is one of the veterans here – and I expected no less than having an intense matchup with this guy. I knew he was playing Garbodor, but I didn’t know that he was using Landorus-EX and Bouffalant with it.
Game 1 went smoothly for me. I got a turn 2 Emerald Slash, and I was able to Red Signal his Garbodor. No Garbodor, no Laserbank + Gold Breaker shenanigans.
Game 2, he capitalized on his Bouffalant. At turn 2, he was swinging with Gold Breaker. Not too long after that, he set up a Garbodor. The Prize trade with Bouffalant for an EX was certainly a pain to deal with. Toward the end of the game, he dealt 30 on my Benched Munna to set up a KO for his last Prize. I scooped, knowing that there were still around 15 minutes on the clock – and I wanted to go first on Game 3.
For Game 3, Hanz got very little luck on his draws. As far as I remember, he was not able to set up a Garbodor. I invested in my Raichus to keep the Prize trade even. And without the Garbodor, he couldn’t 1HKO my Raichu with his Bouffalant. Toward the end of the game, he used a Hypnotoxic Laser on my Raichu and attacked for 60 with his lone Bouffalant.
He thought he sealed the game as I no longer had any Pokémon ready to retaliate. But my Benched Virizion protected my Raichu from the Poison. After he announced his attack, I knew I had the game as I could KO his lone Bouffalant with my Muscle Banded Raichu with five Benched Pokémon.
Round 6 vs. Juancho Saldana (Yveltal/Darkrai w/ Garbodor) (WW)
Both Juancho and I were both tired at this point. We explored the feasibility of settling for a draw. But we discovered that settling for a tie would rob us our spot at the top cut.
Game 1, he opened with an Yveltal-EX and benched a Trubbish. I was not able to get a turn 2 Emerald Slash because he Catcher-stalled my Munna early on. I managed to set up 2 Raichus, as it gives Yveltal-EX a hard time. He was able to set up a Garbodor mid-game. But the Prize exchange was too much for him to catch up – he scooped.
For Game 2, I am able to Emerald Slash on turn 2. However, I had to Juniper away 2 Super Rods, which meant I had no means of returning any basic Grass Energy from the discard pile to my deck. I played conservatively at this point, to preserve my precious basic Energies. I am able to set up 2 Raichus again, which put pressure on him. Toward the end, I am down to 2 Prizes and he N’d me to 2. I needed only an Energy card to attach to my Raichu to KO his Yveltal-EX. I got a Professor’s Letter off the N, sealing the game.
I am seeded 3rd for the top cut, along with the following decks:
2nd: Palkia/Walls with Pyroar
The Top Cut – Day 2
Top 8 vs. LJ Lambino (Plasmatisse w/ Giratina-EX)
LJ is one of our tournament organizers and one of the most consistent players around. We have had pretty hot duels in premier events in the past. I guess it’s only fitting that we face each other in this year’s Nationals.
Game 1 was kind of blurry for me. We both had explosive starts, and the game was neck-to-neck. When I was down to my last 2 Prizes, he N’d me to 2. In the two cards, I got a Plasma Energy, which enabled me to Red Signal one of his damaged EXs to win the game.
I got an early lead on Game 2 – I was able to Emerald Slash early on. He even committed a misplay – he played Max Potion on his damaged Landorus-EX without transferring the Energy to one of his Benched Pokémon. I had to be stern with him and didn’t allow him to undo his play – that’s just the way it is in premier tournaments. But he was cool with it too.
He was able to set up a Genesect-EX, however he attached a Muscle Band on to it. This gave me some confidence that he won’t be able to pull off a G Booster KO the following turn. I banked on this and used G Booster on his Active Landorus-EX. His next turn caught me off guard – he Tool Scrappered his own Muscle Band while attaching a G Booster – sending my Genesect-EX to the discard pile. I failed to get my own Tool Scrapper, and everything went downhill from here. Seeing that there are still around 10 minutes on the clock, I decided to scoop to get the first turn for Game 3.
Game 3 started a bit one-sided in my favor. I am swinging with Emerald Slash on turn 2, while my LJ got a slow start. He was able to pick up his pace about 4 turns in the game. Just when the time was called, I am at the lead for the Prizes, 4-2. He was able to tie the Prizes at 2-2. At this point, the first player to draw a Prize wins the game. I Red Signaled a Benched Aromatisse and hit it with Megalo Cannon for the win.
Rhian is a two-time National Champion here in the Philippine PTCG scene. And his deck is practically a duplicate of Ranie’s deck – my lone loss in the Swiss rounds. However, I learned valuable lessons from that loss. I knew that I should KO that Kangaskhan-EX as soon as it came into play.
Both of us had impressive starts for Game 1. He started with Landorus-EX, beginning to put damage on the field early on. I got my turn 2 Emerald Slash. I then KO’d his damaged Landorus-EX with Megalo Cannon. His next move caught me off guard. He transferred ALL of his Energies to his Yveltal-EX to grab a KO on my Genesect-EX. That was a risky play for him – if I get a return kill, he would be left with no Energies on the board. I have two Energies on a Virizion-EX – so my hope was to get two Energy Switches, one Energy, and a G Booster – that’s a lot. I was not able to pull off a revenge kill, while he swung with his Yveltal-EX and his Landorus-EX – eventually sealing the game.
I get to go first in Game 2 – pulling off a second turn Emerald Slash while my Rhian got a lousy start. He had no Supporters for the first five turns – during which I favored playing Professor Junipers over Ns. He was able to Mega Evolve his Kangaskhan-EX on his Bench. I Red Signaled the giant Mega Pokémon, attached a Muscle Band on my Genesect and hit for 120. He was not able to do anything helpful in his next turn, while I hit for 120 again to KO his M-Kangaskhan-EX. My lead was too much for him to catch up – Game 2 goes to me.
Game 3 was pretty even at the start. Rhian, however, had a critical misplay mid-game. He had an Active Virizion-EX without any Energy. Skyarrow Bridge is in play, he benched a Kangaskhan-EX and attached a DCE to it. His plan is to use Kangaskhan-EX’s attack to draw 3 cards as he has only 2 cards in hand.
He played his Fairy Garden and then attempted to retreat. But this time, Virizion-EX is no longer free-retreat. He was forced to pass. This gave me an opportunity to hit his Virizion-EX for 120 with my Banded Genesect. He passed again for his next turn. I hit his Virizion-EX for 50 with Emerald Slash while setting up a Raichu in my bench. I have prepared a Raichu in case he swings with an Yveltal-EX later on. I was down to 2 Prizes at this point. In my next turn, I Red Signaled a Benched Yveltal-EX and then hit it with my Raichu to seal the game.
Top 2 vs. Christian Cagungun (Yveltal/Darkrai w/ Garbodor and Bouffalant)
Christian is one of the younger players in the Masters Division – still he belongs to one of the “sharks” in the tank. He beat my teammate Neil at the Top 8 round – and I plan to serve vengeance!
Games 1 and 2 were both relatively one-sided. For Game 1, I was able to pull off an Emerald Slash by turn 2, Tool Scrapper his Benched Garbodor, and Red Signal it for the kill. From this point on, everything went smoothly for me.
Game 2, on the other hand, was horrible for me. I was on a Supporter drought for the first 5 to 6 turns. By the time I drew a Juniper, he was down to 2 Prizes. His setup was solid by then – I decided to scoop to get the first turn on Game 3.
For Game 3, I got to Emerald Slash on turn 2 and he had a relatively slow start. I avoided using Ns at the first few turns to capitalize on his apparent bad hand. He was able to grab a Supporter and mount revenge KOs by mid-game. However, he was not able to set up Garbodors, meanwhile I already had 2 Raichus in play. By the time I am down to 2 Prizes, he used an Absol, forcing me to be down to 1 Prize and then an EX.
At this point, I am expecting an N from him, so I had to burn most of my resources currently in my hand. I used 2 Energy Switch to transfer 2 Energies from my damaged Genesect to a fresh one. I used Professor’s Letter to scan what’s remaining in my deck – and I saw my lone Pal Pad. I used Skyla to grab my Pal Pad and then recycled two Junipers from my discard pile – hoping that this would pay off in an event that I’d get N’d to 1. I take down Absol, bringing me down to 1 Prize.
He promoted an fresh Yveltal-EX and then N’d me to one. From which, I topdecked a Juniper – a moment of relief! He was unable to attack because he doesn’t have a Dark Energy on the board. I just need an Energy card to power up my Raichu to KO his Active Yveltal-EX. I drew a Super Rod. I used this to pick up 3 Grass Energies from the discard pile back to my deck and then used Juniper. I drew several Plasma Energies and 1 Grass Energy. I attached to my Raichu and claimed victory!
While other decks have teched against the Flashfire cards because of their novelty, they have dropped their Fire techs in the anticipation that Virizion/Genesect would see less play. This made my gutsy decision to play Virizion/Genesect pay off! But then again, a Pyroar or Charizard matchup would have burned me to ashes. Luckily I did not run into these fiery decks.
Thanks to our local Pokémon TCG distributor, Courtside, for the generous prizes. Huge thanks for Neil and Chuck who lent me cards and brainstormed with me in preparation for the tournament!