The Tale of Mally Mal

The Georgia Marathon and Metagame Prophecy

SixPrizes! I’m back (and currently recovering) from easily one of my favorite portions of the Pokémon TCG season: the Georgia Marathon. This test of skill and endurance lasted 10 long days with 9 City Championships on the schedule. I’ll be sharing my full experience on this journey around the greater Atlanta, Georgia area, so pull up a seat and get comfortable!

Table of Contents

Training for the Marathon

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I’ve run a race or two.

I have attended the Georgia Marathon from its inauguration almost a decade ago. Ever since the late, great Gary Warren and other tournament organizers in Georgia began this style of back-to-back City Championships during the winter holidays, my friends and I have been cracking the code to achieve the most success. A City Championship Marathon turns the metagame into what I can only describe as a metaphorical boss at the end of a level in a video game. Every day (level), this boss continues to grow and it is your responsibility as a player to learn the weakness of the boss and exploit it.

Coming into the Marathon this year, my brother and I knew to expect a lot of Donphan and Yveltal-EX decks from what we heard about the metagame in Georgia. It was important to have an understanding of what players in the area were comfortable with, along with what we should expect to see in the first day of playing. With this information, I had my opening day decks down to three choices. Consistency and metagame advantage weighed heavy on my selection:

Manectric/Zapdos

Pokémon – 15

4 Manectric-EX
3 M Manectric-EX
3 Zapdos LTR
2 Jynx FFI
2 Mewtwo-EX
1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper
3 N
2 Colress
2 Skyla
2 Lysandre

 

3 VS Seeker
2 Battle Compressor
4 Ultra Ball
3 Manectric Spirit Link
3 Max Potion

2 Switch
1 Escape Rope
1 Computer Search

 

1 Champions Festival

Energy – 12

8 Lightning
4 Double Colorless

Manectric/Zapdos was one of the easiest counters to the expected metagame. Zapdos handles Donphan while Manectric overwhelms Yveltal-EX. The speed and healing of this deck were also very appealing when thinking about my deck choice’s characteristics in an open metagame.

Seismitoad/Garbodor

Pokémon – 10

4 Seismitoad-EX
1 Mewtwo-EX
2 Trubbish LTR
2 Garbodor LTR
1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 41

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Colress
2 Skyla
2 Lysandre
1 Shadow Triad

 

2 VS Seeker

3 Crushing Hammer
2 Enhanced Hammer

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Ultra Ball
3 Muscle Band
3 Head Ringer

2 Float Stone
1 Escape Rope
1 Scoop Up Cyclone

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 9

5 Water
4 Double Colorless

Coming into November, this was my #1 choice for City Championships. The ability to slow the game down to a snail’s pace and let Poison damage do the work is such a powerful strategy, especially in the right metagame. The addition of Shadow Triad and VS Seekers allow for the potential 5th, 6th, and 7th Hypnotoxic Lasers.

Yveltal/Hard Charm

Pokémon – 11

3 Yveltal-EX
3 Yveltal XY
2 Darkrai-EX

1 Seismitoad-EX
1 Spiritomb LTR
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Colress

2 Shauna
2 Lysandre
1 Pokémon Center Lady
1 Lysandre’s Trump Card

 

3 VS Seeker
3 Ultra Ball
3 Hard Charm
3 Energy Switch
3 Max Potion
2 Enhanced Hammer
1 Scramble Switch

 

3 Shadow Circle

Energy – 12

8 Darkness
4 Double Colorless

The epitome of consistency and resiliency is Yveltal/Hard Charm. Donphan didn’t stand a chance and other Yveltal-EX decks would have a difficult time with all the healing in the mirror. Darkrai-EX was also highly underrated coming into the Marathon and I wanted an excuse to play it.

Setting the Pace (Day 1)

Fellow players Ryan Sabelhaus, Nelson Chua, John Orgel, and I set out toward Lawrenceville, GA for the first tournament of the Georgia Marathon early in the morning from my house in Greenville, SC. After a quick stop at the Atlanta airport to pick up our good friend Dylan Dreyer, the crew had fully assembled and we were ready to begin.

Dylan came into the Marathon with some early success with Donphan and Yveltal variants, while the only other player in the group with City Championship experience this year was John with his Pyroar/Seismitoad taking some victories in the Carolinas. Along with what we knew about Georgia’s metagame coming into the event, we began to thinking about the best deck for the first event.

Ryan was smitten with the new Slurpuff PHF and its “Tasting” Ability, and he was likely going to play Seismitoad/Slurpuff. Nelson had decided on Donphan when the metagame seemed quite stacked against the elephant, but it was a lesson he had to learn firsthand. From what I saw when we finally arrived at the venue, Metal, Slurpuff, and other Ability-focused decks seemed to be the most popular. Of the three decks I felt the most comfortable with coming into the marathon, Seismitoad with Garbodor was looking like the clear choice for Day 1:

Round 1: Flareon/Leafeon – W
Round 2: Manectric/Black Kyurem/Plasma Kyurem – W
Round 3: Seismitoad/Slurpuff – W
Round 4: Fairybox – W
Round 5: Metal – ID
Round 6: Metal – ID
Top 8: Metal – WW
Top 4: Metal – WLW
Finals: Flareon/Leafeon – LWW

I felt like I made a strong metagame call as soon as the matchups started falling into place. Flareon and Manetric aren’t the greatest matchups to see, but the endless stream of Hypnotoxic Lasers was enough to tilt the odds in my favor. The Seismitoad/Slurpuff was against my brother where, along with being what I considered a good matchup, he drew poorly and started Jirachi-EX. Fairybox is a very favorable matchup where I put a Head Ringer on every attacker and removed any Energy as soon as it hit the board. With top cut booked, I intentionally drew the next two matches and ended up playing against both of them in top 8 and top 4. These early drafts of Metal were not built to handle Seismitoad. Low Tool counts and no Keldeo-EX made for early Head Ringers and some crucial Sleep flips against my opponents.

In the finals, I found Jim Roll and his Flareon/Leafeon deck. This deck soon became my nightmare, as Leafeons destroy Seismitoad. After being dismantled in the first game of the match, I started to experiment in game 2 with an early Mewtwo-EX and late Seismitoad-EX lock. Nothing seemed to slow down Jim, but with some lucky draws I was able to pull a miracle and take game 2. Game 3 looked similar to game 2, but a mid-game Item lock left Jim a couple Pokémon short of a one-hit knockout with Flareon’s Vengeance. This was the turning point that eventually led to me taking Day 1 of the Marathon.

A Slip Up (Day 2)

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One loss turned into a big win.

Now usually on the night before, some serious thought goes into the metagame shift we expect to see. I fell asleep and missed all of that, so I caught up on the car ride to Duluth that morning. Virizion/Genesect is the obvious hard counter to Seismitoad, but with the emergence of Flareon, it was a highly dangerous play. With this in mind, Seismitoad/Garbodor was looking like the play again. I played the exact same list as the day before.

Round 1: Manectric/Black Kyurem/Plasma Kyurem – W
Round 2: Seismitoad/Slurpuff – L
Round 3: Manectric/Black Kyurem/Plasma Kyurem – W
Round 4: Malamar – L
Round 5: Manectric/Zekrom – L
Round 6: Yveltal/Darkrai – L

Well, I certainly got my wake-up call. The loss in the round 2 was to my brother, and revenge was served after the previous day. I felt confident I could still make top 8 coming into the 4th round, but this was the round that turned my entire Marathon around. I met Mally Mal. Michael Canaves was piloting the deck that I have affectionately nicknamed Mally Mal, or Malamar. I was dismantled in this matchup and Seismitoad/Garbodor basically gave up on me afterwards, leading to a 2-4 final standing for the day.

Nelson Chua won with Seismitoad/Garbodor after some impressive victories against Virizion/Genesect in top 8 and against Dylan Dreyer’s Yveltal/Hard Charm in top 4. In a mirror match of Day 1 finals, Nelson defeated Grafton Roll’s Flareon/Leafeon. This added to the confusion surrounding the Day 3 metagame. Would everyone just play the same decks again? Would techs begin to emerge?

Once we got back to our room, I began to start building Malamar. Here is a skeleton of the list with some options I faced when building the original list:

Pokémon – 10

3 Spritzee FLF
2 Aromatisse XY

3 Seismitoad-EX

1 Darkrai-EX
1 Malamar-EX

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Juniper
3 N

1 Colress
2 Lysandre

 

4 VS Seeker
4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Ultra Ball
3 Max Potion
2 Muscle Band
1 Computer Search

 

2 Virbank City Gym
1 Fairy Garden

Energy – 10

4 Rainbow

3 Double Colorless
3 Fairy

This 50-card skeleton was a solid start to the creation of Mally Mal. The main focus of the deck is to have an early Seismitoad-EX Item lock, with Aromatisse to move the Energy for a Max Potion drop. Malamar-EX is the key to the “soft lock” this deck creates, with every Energy attachment going to Malamar-EX, later to be moved to another Pokémon. The Sleep flip along with the Item lock is highly disruptive. Here are some of the card I considered adding to finish the list:

Cobalion-EX

Although the deck is supposed to focus on Seismitoad-EX as the main attacker, issues can arise that need a solution. Cobalion-EX and his Steel Bullet to go through all effects, such as Safeguard Pokémon like Sigilyph LTR and Suicune PLB. This also is useful against an Aegislash-EX where we only play a few Fairy Energy to attack with. Cobalion-EX’s Righteous Edge is also a great surprise in this heavy Special Energy format. A solid one-Energy attack is a benefit with all Aromatisse builds.

Jirachi-EX

Consistency is still king. Jirachi-EX can provide that Professor Juniper, N, or Colress when you need to draw out of a poor start. If Bench space is no concern, Jirachi-EX can search the 1-of Supporter cards that could flip the game. Also, remember that he can attack when necessary! Popular Pokémon like Kyurem PLF and Xerneas have Metal Weakness.

Yveltal-EX/Mewtwo-EX

Sometimes the lock will be interrupted by an overpowered Yveltal-EX or Mewtwo-EX that couldn’t be dealt with earlier. In these cases, it is important to have a response like an Yveltal-EX or Mewtwo-EX to counter, and hopefully regain the lock in the coming turn. If Metal is more prominent, Mewtwo-EX can take down that Aegislash-EX with 7-8 Metal Energy on it.

Shaymin-EX

Against other Seismitoad variants, Shaymin-EX can be an absolute nightmare of a cleanup hitter. After they knock out 1 Pokémon-EX, Shaymin-EX is delivering knockouts. In a heavy Seismitoad metagame, this card should certainly be considered.

Virizion-EX/Keldeo-EX

Because this deck tends to exploit the power of Special Conditions like Sleep and Poison, it is important to avoid falling victim to the same fate as our opponents. Although Virizion-EX prevents these Conditions when you have Rainbow Energy, don’t count out Keldeo-EX. Secret Sword can still steal some knockouts in this format!

Skyla

A fantastic Supporter in this deck. When a Virbank City Gym would help lock in perfect math (a Poison knockout at the end of my opponent’s turn) or a Max Potion would buy an extra turn of Item lock, Skyla is necessary. With a maxed count of VS Seeker, an early discard of Skyla could solidify the Item lock in the midgame.

Lysandre’s Trump Card

One of the most game-changing cards from the newest set was Lysandre’s Trump Card. Not only can you continue the use of Hypnotoxic Lasers and Max Potions in long games, but against Metal, Yveltal, Night March, and Flareon you can cn shut down a game with a well-timed Lysandre’s Trump Card. Metal and Yveltal lose the Energy acceleration from the discard, while Night March and Flareon lose all damage output and will struggle the rest of the match to discard without the use of Items.

Xerosic

Garbodor is an absolute pain. If your opponent gets a Tool on a Trubbish before you have item lock, a Startling Megaphone or Xerosic is going to have to hit the board in order to have a chance in the matchup. If they are also using Siesmitoad, Startling Megaphone is useless now as well. The beauty of Xerosic is that as soon as that Tool is removed, you have them under Item lock for the rest of the match and won’t have to worry about losing your Abilities. If you aren’t playing against Garbodor, Xerosic can be the dagger when taking a knockout on the Active Pokémon and removing a Special Energy from a Benched Pokémon in the same turn.

AZ/Cassius

An AZ or Cassius can continue the Item lock when your opponent is also Item locking. This Supporter can also open up a Bench space when you are setting up the perfect Bench to maintain the lock. Clearly off those two free Prizes that Jirachi-EX ends up being can be a game-saving play.

Along with these choices, higher counts of Seismitoad-EX, Virbank City Gym, Colress, Max Potion, Ultra Ball, Muscle Band, Double Colorless Energy, and Fairy Energy all are strong choices depending on what you expect to see at the tournament.

Finding Rhythm (Day 3)

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The soporific squid.

On this day I knew I wanted to play Mally Mal. When we arrived at the venue, I talked to Orion Craig (the deck was his idea) about a few changes I wanted to make to the list. At first glance, everyone was playing either Flareon/Leafeon or Donphan, which made absolutely no sense but I wasn’t going to complain. With a Lysandre’s Trump Card in Mally Mal, I felt I could handle Flareon better than the earlier struggles with Seismitoad/Garbodor. Donphan was a simple matchup with the early item lock, so I registered and anxiously awaited the pairings.

Round 1: Donphan – L
Round 2: Virizion/Genesect – W
Round 3: Fairybox – W
Round 4: Flareon – W
Round 5: Flareon – L
Round 6: Night March – W

Well, I got what I wanted in the opening round. Unfortunately my deck didn’t cooperate and I ended up losing a close game to Alex Haas. I nearly gave up on the day when my opponent flipped over 2 Genesect-EX in the 2nd round, but fortunately all he could do was Hypnotoxic Laser and pass for the opening 4 turns. After the rough start, Mally Mal found its stride and took out a Fairybox and a Flareon. Going into the 5th Round, Grafton offered me an ID, which I stupidly refused. Flareon is a difficult match, but I felt confident after just beating Jim Roll in the previous round. After a total beat down from Grafton, I locked up a Night March on the first turn and ended the day 4-2.

The metagame shift finally made sense on Day 3. Douglasville saw Donphans with Silver Mirror (Flareon tech), Flareon/Leafeon, and Virizion/Genesect (one with Beartic) around the top tables all day. John Orgel ended up with the City Championship trophy, running a consistent Donphan list. I had confidence in Mally Mal if Flareon started to disappear, and that looked like it would be the case.

A Major Checkpoint (Day 4)

The Alpharetta City Championships were upon us. In the morning I made sure the list was exactly where I wanted it and enjoyed the short car ride to the venue. We arrived early and found our seats to fill out our deck lists, only to be surrounded by people 15 minutes later. The store filled up with players from all over and some tables were even set up outside due to limited space. It was much too difficult to see if our metagame predictions were correct, so we just turned in our lists and got ready for what would be a long day.

Round 1: Fairies – W
Round 2: Manectric/Plasma Kyurem – W
Round 3: Flareon/Leafeon – L
Round 4: Metal – W
Round 5: Yveltal/Jamming Net – W
Round 6: Manectric/Yveltal – W
Round 7: Flareon/Leafeon – ID
Top 8: Yveltal/Hard Charm – WW
Top 4: Donphan – WW
Finals: Fighting – LWW

The first two rounds went according to plan, with favorable matchups in Fairies and Manectric, but once again I found a member of the Roll family with Flareon. This time it was older brother Carson and he absolutely slaughtered my Toads before they had a chance to bother him. After some difficult games against Nathan Brower’s Metal deck and Kyle Warden’s Yveltal, I was just 1 win away from an intentional draw and a lock for top 8. I ended up playing against Blake Ware’s Manectric/Yveltal, where I believe his Active Pokémon was awake for a total of 3 turns all game. Tristan Lackey and I intentionally drew the next game, and most of the top 8 looked like favorable matchups for Mally Mal.

I found my friend John Orgel in top 8, where he drew nothing but Items in an early lock for 2 quick games. Chris Derocher’s Donphan was similar to top 8, where he just got benched early in 2 odd games. The finals were unlike any match set I had, and was a true test for Mally Mal.

James Hart piloted his Fighting/Garbodor deck fantastically, forcing pressure from the first turn of game 1 and never looking back. The Fighting Weakness of Darkrai-EX and Malamar-EX made it difficult to run the typical lock, so I had to find the perfect spots to bench them. After a comeback from basically nothing in the first game, I thought I had the win after counting out 2 Lysandre in his discard pile and he was under the Item lock, but he played the 3rd Lysandre and rocked my world. The video of the finals was captured by Team Absolute if you’d like to see how the rest of the series played out!

A Body in Motion (Day 5)

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I was on a roll.

Coming into this event at Marietta I felt fantastic. Mally Mal was working to perfection and the metagame has shifted right into my hands. When we reached the venue, I was shocked to see that almost nobody had changed decks. I could understand that everyone likely caught one or two poor matchups yesterday in such a large event, and wanted to give their deck another shot, but it was just odd to see so many people come to the same conclusion. With no influx of Flareon or Virizion/Genesect, I had no reason to change decks. Could Mally Mal pull off the back-to-back win?

Round 1: Malamar – W
Round 2: Metal – W
Round 3: Flareon/Leafeon – W
Round 4: Yveltal/Pyroar – W
Round 5: Night March – ID
Round 6: Metal – ID
Top 8: Flareon/Leafeon – LWW
Top 4: Malamar – LWW
Finals: Metal – LWW

I start off the day against John Orgel in the exact mirror. He started off the lock early while I struggled to draw out, but he over-benched in the beginning of the game and left an opportunity for me to creep back into the game and eventually lock him when some Sleep flips. After a fast lock against Metal in the second round, I once again had to play Jim Roll and his evil Eeveelutions. I remember drawing very well in the beginning of the game, but no game is ever easy against Flareon. I was able to pull out the win, and now Yveltal/Pyroar was the only thing in the way of a date with top 8. Luckily for me, an early Item lock along with an Energy drought on his side lead to a lopsided victory. After some intentional draws with Night March and Metal, I was hoping to find a favorable matchup in top 8. Instead, I found Jim Roll. AGAIN.

I worked harder in this series than I had all year. I disrupted him with Xerosic, Lysandre’s Trump Card, opened with early Cobalion-EX aggression, and all sorts of tactics. I tried running him out of Energy, Lysandre locking Deoxys-EX, and the usual Sleep flips. After a 1-1 series score, game 3 involved a Malamar-EX using MAXamar multiple turns and an epic turn 3 of time where Jim needed 2 cards in a 15 card deck off a Juniper for the win and missed.

Top 4 against Collin Schaetzke was another epic series. He told me coming into the match that he watched me with the deck the day before and attempted to make his own build, and clearly it was working well for him. One thing that became abundantly clear after the first couple of turns was that he did not play a Keldeo-EX or Virizion-EX for the mirror. My opening was so poor though in the first game that I couldn’t take advantage of this. After 30 minutes of working, I had turned the 6-1 deficit into Night Spear for game if he stayed Asleep. He flipped. HEADS. Well that was disheartening.

Game 2 and 3 looked much more like how I envisioned the matchup when they have no answer for Special Conditions. Eventually we went to time in the third game, where he had very little setup and taking Prizes was not going to be a problem.

I was absolutely exhausted after these two fantastic series that both went to the 75-minute time limit, and now I had Nathan Brower and his Metal deck awaiting me in finals. Game 1 was decided on the first turn, when I used a Professor Juniper to discard my 2 Aromatisse only to find out on the following search that my Lysandre’s Trump Card was prized. I worked for 2 Prizes and still couldn’t draw the Trump Card, and there was no coming back from that.

After a great game 2 that I managed to pull out in standard fashion, we shuffled up for the final game of the tournament. I was shocked to see Nathan play his hand down to zero cards, with only a Dialga-EX and Mewtwo-EX on board. I set up the item lock and watched Nathan slowly get knocked out by Poison and Quaking Punch with a handful of Items by the end of the game. Mally Mal stole another victory.

Fighting Through (Day 6)

After the success of Mally Mal in the past couple of days, I thought I would see some Flareon or Virizion/Genesect during registration. To my surprise, I saw more of the same, with only 2 Virizion/Genesect in the field to my knowledge. Roswell would only be 5 rounds, so avoiding them would be the key to success for Mally Mal.

Round 1: Fairybox – W
Round 2: Virizion/Genesect – L
Round 3: Fighting/Garbodor – L
Round 4: Seismitoad/Slurpuff – W
Round 5: Manectric/Lugia – W

After my early success, I figured a day like this was bound to happen. After a 6-0 of Fairybox, I found Dylan Dreyer’s Virizion/Genesect and received a romping of my own. I then got paired up to my brother and his Fighting/Garbodor at a record of 1-0-1, where I conceded, because I knew he would have the best chance of making cut. For the record we played it out afterwards and he won decisively. Afterwards I had some great games with Cody Lovingood and Ryan Peterson where the stress of making cut was off our shoulders.

Nathan Brower went on to win with Metal, and the metagame looked like it had stopped changing. The playerbase was consistent and the deck choices were becoming predictable. After nearly a week of the Marathon, it had started to take its toll.

Reality Check (Day 7)

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Mally Mal is not infallible.

Canton, Georgia. When we arrived at the venue it was obvious that today was going to be a small event. During registration, today looked like the metagame was leaning toward Metal, with a little bit of everything else sprinkled in. I like the Mally Mal matchup against Metal, so once again that would be my play.

Round 1: Metal – W
Round 2: Malamar – W
Round 3: Yveltal/Darkrai – T
Round 4: Seismitoad/Garbodor – L
Round 5: Crobat/Wobbuffet – W
Top 8: Metal – WW
Top 4: Seismitoad/Garbodor – LWL

The day started against Metal, where he really never got anything going against the lock. Of course, in the second round I found Nelson Chua and we had the pleasure of playing the 60-card mirror. After taking down my friend, I needed one more win to start intentionally drawing toward top 8. I was paired against Austin Vance and his Yveltal/Darkrai had all the techs necessary to make this long game. He opened Keldeo, which is my nightmare, and we played back and forth getting nowhere. Time was called at around a 4-4 Prize count, and there was no way either of us would be finishing.

After the tie, I find myself matched with Craig Abley’s Seismitoad/Garbodor. He plays heavy Item draw, so I knew if I could lock him early the game would end quickly. That would not happen in this game, as he burned through his deck while I sat with a Head Ringer on two of my Seismitoad-EX before I even had a turn. He dominated me, leaving my last round as the decider for top cut.

I see that I am playing Andrew Gibson and his Crobat/Wobbuffet. He likes to focus on Gengar-EX to Dark Corridor and promote Wobbuffet to lock down my Abilities, so I knew that Malamar-EX would have to attack during this match. Gengar-EX has Darkness Weakness, so when the moment was right, I used Lysandre on Gengar-EX and went for the MAXamar. Knockout! Near the end of the game I moved all my Energy to Malamar-EX to attempt to take my last 2 Prizes on a Mewtwo-EX. With 9 flips, I knocked out Mewtwo-EX on the 6th flip.

I anxiously awaited the top cut standings because it looked like 1 or 2 players at 3-1-1 would miss the cut. Thankfully, I made it in at 8th seed. My top 8 opponent was Connor Finton who played Metal to the top seed that day. Our match was fun, but in Pokémon terms it was uneventful as he kept prizing his Keldeo-EX. In top 4, I found Craig again, and it was more of the same. He flipped heads on Roller Skates and burned through his deck while I drew-passed. Game 2 I was able to set up and win, but I had nothing left in game 3 where he literally Quaking Punched for 30 damage six times to knock out my Active and Bench me.

My brother, Ryan, went on to win with Metal against Craig in the finals. After this day we finally had a break from competition for a day, but we all love Pokémon! We decided to meet up with some friends at a local card store the next day and enjoy our day off.

Rest Day (Day 8)

It felt great to wake up at noon and stop analyzing the metagame from the moment the day started. We arrived at the store and ended up playing a fun tournament all day on stream with our friends. After a Steak ‘n Shake visit and the inevitable playtesting back at our room, I got a full night of sleep before the final two events of the Georgia Marathon.

Finishing Strong (Day 9)

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I turned to the dark side.

Coming into the Buford City Championship, I knew Mally Mal needed an answer to an overpowered Mewtwo-EX and Yveltal-EX, as this seemed to be the only strategy my opponents had in the last couple of days. I wasn’t finding much use out of the Fairy Garden, so I replaced that with Yveltal-EX. With Hypnotoxic Laser and a Virbank City Gym, I don’t have to commit too much to a Yveltal-EX when I break the lock and take out the tanked Mewtwo-EX or Yveltal-EX, so I gave it a shot. A lot of locals came out to play this event, which meant a lot of unknown for the metagame. After registering, I heard about a lot of Pyroar and Garbodor, but I can handle both of those so I felt confident going into the first round.

Round 1: Crobat – W
Round 2: Manectric/Fighting – W
Round 3: Manectric/Masquerain – W
Round 4: Fighting – ID
Round 5: Night March – L
Round 6: Yveltal/Darkrai – W
Top 8: Malamar – WW
Top 4: Fighting – WLW
Finals: Metal – LWW

Well I was glad I added that Yveltal-EX when I saw that I was playing against Andrew Gibson again. This match went much smoother for me this time around, because nothing was left to coin flips. Afterwards I played against two Manectric variants, and both ended fairly quickly. Of course, when I need 1 more win for top cut, I ran into my brother. We intentionally drew to give us the best chance of both making cut. Round 5 I ran cold as ice against a vicious setup from Night March, but I only needed one more win to make it in, so I took my beating and moved on.

After a great match against Yveltal/Darkrai, I found myself in top 8 playing against Nelson Chua. The Yveltal-EX was my addition before the tournament, and we hadn’t talked about it before he registered, so I knew I had an advantage coming into the match. The first game got to an odd point where if he wanted to continue Item lock, I was in a position to move all my Energy to Yveltal-EX and Evil Ball his Seismitoad-EX, clearly his board of energy. He took the risk of me not having a Double Colorless Energy, which I played the following turn and went for the all-in play. He scooped following that. In the second game he prized his Keldeo-EX, but I prized Malamar-EX. After I finally drew the Malamar-EX from my Prizes, the game tilted in my favor and I won a few turns later.

In top 4, I was paired against Ryan Sabelhaus and his Fighting/Garbodor deck. We played 3 odd games full of dead-drawing and eventually I stole the match with a Keldeo-EX with 2 Double Colorless and a Head Ringer attacking a Landorus-EX with only a Fighting Energy. One more win and I could finally relax.

I looked over and saw that Connor Finton was waiting for his revenge from the previous tournament. He wasted no time in finals, and his opening turn involved Keldeo-EX with a Float Stone, a Battle Compressor, some Bronzors, and a Professor Juniper. He thoroughly beat me and I scooped for time. It seemed that Keldeo-EX had had enough competition for the day after that first game, since it decided to prize itself in the 2nd and 3rd game. With quick locks and solid draws, Connor couldn’t get anything going without Keldeo-EX. After knocking out his last resort Mewtwo-EX with Yveltal-EX, Connor would have to draw a Dialga-EX, Muscle Band, his final Double Colorless, and a Float Stone off a Colress for eight. This did not happen, and I used Lysandre the following turn to win the match.

Maxing out my City Championships on the Georgia Marathon was always the goal of the trip, but for it to actually happen was surreal. We went out and celebrated that night before the final day of the Marathon.

Victory Lap (Day 10)

I did not care if everyone and their grandmother were playing Virizion/Genesect and Flareon; Mally Mal was getting a victory lap on this day. I registered early and enjoyed the company of all my friends on this final day.

Round 1: Virizion/Genesect – L
Round 2: Manectric – W
Round 3: Crobat – W
Round 4: Yveltal/Darkrai – W
Round 5: Fighting/Garbodor – ID
Top 8: Fighting/Slurpuff – WLL

After an early stomping from Virizion/Genesect, I took out the usual suspects of Manectric, Crobat, and an Yveltal/Darkrai. I was so relaxed during the event that I didn’t realize I would probably make top 8 after my 3rd win. I was paired against my brother in the 5th round and we intentionally drew into cut. I found myself playing against Fighting/Slurpuff in the top 8, where Justin Whitaker made use of his Crushing and Enhanced Hammers to hinder my weak setups, and eventually win the match. Ryan Sabelhaus would go on to win the last day of the Marathon with his Fighting/Garbodor deck against Justin in the finals.

Final Thoughts

We went to Georgia with 5 players in our car and ended the Marathon with 8 of the 9 trophies. The analyzing of the metagame in the aftermath of each tournament began to pay dividends early and often. If you take one thing from my experience on the Georgia Marathon, understand the metagame of your tournament. Take your best guess at what you expect to see and play the odds. Sometimes you’ll make the perfect choice and run into an early auto loss, where other times you’ll glide to the top seed. It’s always a chance, but those who are most prepared will have the greatest odds for success.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my Georgia Marathon experience. Regionals will be here before we know it, so when thinking about your deck make sure you are prepared for the popular decks of that area. If you have any questions, be sure to contact me either on SixPrizes, Facebook, or Twitter.

Best of luck at Regionals!

Kyle Sabelhaus


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