Hello again, SixPrizes! The focal point of the Pokémon Trading Card Game right now is the upcoming World Championships. In an attempt to give quality content to the Pokémon community, Jeremy Jallen and Josue “Crimz” Rojano organized a tournament series for the top competitors in North America. This tournament, which is named the “Pokémon Elite Championship Series” or PECS for short, was done to help prepare top-ranked players for Worlds while also showcasing some possible deck choices to competitors in Boston.
I’ve decided for this article to give a brief recap of each week of the tournament series with a focus on the two decks that made the finals each week. I’ll discuss the reasoning for each deck’s success and explain why these players’ particular lists are special. Understanding why top-ranked competitors play certain cards in their decks can help everyone in their own deck-building processes. Gaining insight into the minds of these players will eventually translate into tournament success through decisions about your own decks.
To explain more about the tournament, I’ll first need to go over the eight competitors that are participating and discuss why they were invited to play.
I am currently sitting at 692 Championship Points and ranked 10th overall in North America, which places me into Day 2 of the World Championships. I’ve been able to win a Regional Championship each of the past four seasons. At US Nationals this year, I was able to add another Day 2 performance with a Top 64 finish. I’m also currently the two-time reigning Top Cut Invitational champion.
While Kyle writes for SixPrizes and is half of the brotherly duo on the SabelStream, he is an accomplished veteran of the game that has two 2nd-place finishes at Regional Championships the past two seasons. Kyle also has seven top cut finishes at US Nationals over the years and is a Regional Champion from 2006. Qualifying to play in World Championships this year will bring his total to eight Worlds invites. His most notable performance of recent past would be the four City Championships he took home during the Georgia Marathon with his Seismitoad/Malamar deck this year. Kyle is currently sitting at 455 Championship Points.
Standing at 1,007 Championship Points for this season, Dylan is currently the 3rd-ranked player in North America which places him into Day 2 of the World Championships. He made Top 8 at US Nationals this year with Klinklang, won a Regional Championship, claimed a State Championship, and is one of the most consistent players in the game right now. Dylan is another SixPrizes writer with a large list of accomplishments to his name. He also helps run Some1s PC, which puts out quality YouTube content on the trends and topics in the Pokémon TCG.
Currently sitting at 484 Championship Points this year, Russell managed to lock up his invite with plenty of room to spare. He is an extremely consistent player that just broke into the competitive scene a couple of years ago and has performed fantastically in his limited time playing. Along with Dylan Bryan, Russell is the other half of Some1s PC and he provides expert YouTube commentary on Pokémon-related topics. In my opinion, Russell would be a prime candidate for one of the “greatest players you haven’t heard of,” which will certainly be changing at the rate of his success.
Brandon is the 7th-ranked player in the US and Canada at 784 Championship Points, which makes him another Day 2 Worlds qualifier in this tournament series. Brandon has been destroying tournament after tournament this year, including getting 2nd place at a Regional Championship to accompany his 1st and 2nd place State Championship finishes. Cantu has been most well known for his creative deck designs, which helped him to a Top 32 finish with Klinklang at US Nationals this year. He was interviewed by Alex Hill if you would like to know more about him and his incredible season.
Brit is yet another player ranked in the Top 16 for North America, which will allow him to skip straight to Day 2 of the World Championships. He is currently ranked 12th in the NA region and has 652 Championship Points to his name. Brit is an extremely consistent player and his accomplishments this season include winning a State Championship, which also happened to be the first major tournament win for an Exeggutor deck. He was able to get a Top 8 at a Regional Championship and came close to capping out on League Challenge and City Championship finishes too. He is yet another SixPrizes writer to join this tournament, which shows the skill needed to provide quality articles on this site.
Josh “Squeaky” Marking
Squeaky is a well-known name around the Pokémon community based on his popular YouTube channel, where he focuses on interviewing top-ranked players and looking at their deck lists. Squeaky truly stepped up to the plate and is doing his best to fill in for “The Top Cut,” which was retired after Pooka got a job working for TPCi. Marking is not just a YouTube personality, though. He made Top 8 at Houston Regionals last season, along with Day 2 at Florida Regionals and Top 32 at Georgia Regionals this year. He was one of the first players to show success with Bronzong PHF/M Rayquaza-EX, which has now become a fixture in the current format. Squeaky is currently sitting at 392 Championship Points and will be playing in Boston this year.
The proclaimed “Prince of Darkness” himself was invited to this tournament based on his successful season following up his performances last year. Israel was able to win three Regional Championships last year, which is an accomplishment that will go unrivaled for a very long time. Leading into this season, Sosa was able to accrue 574 Championship Points and is ranked 26th in North America. He got 2nd place at a State Championship, made the Top 8 of a Regional Championship, and had an incredible season again with his good friends Darkrai-EX and Yveltal-EX by his side.
The structure of this tournament was similar to the top cut of an actual tournament with a best-of-three match format. The eight players would choose a deck before the tournament and play that deck throughout the entirety of that day. A randomized bracket was formed and the players would pair up and play the first round to eliminate half of the competitors.
Then, each of the four remaining players was given the exact 60-card deck list of their opponent. This was done to replicate the format used in Magic: The Gathering tournaments and it was probably the most interesting aspect of this experience for me. Knowing exactly what to expect out of an opponent and knowing when their resources were gone was extremely helpful while playing out a series. Exact deck lists were sent out before the finals of each week as well.
After every match was completed, points would be awarded based on final placing. This was the point structure:
1st: 35 points
2nd: 20 points
3rd/4th: 10 points
5th-8th: 0 points
After four weeks of battling through this format, the fifth and final week would consist of the “playoffs.” The player that has accumulated the most points over the first four weeks would be the overall first seed. Second and third place in number of points would battle each other for a spot in the grand finals, with the same best-of-three match format.
The grand finals involved both players choosing three different decks to use. Those three decks chosen would battle against the three deck choices of the opponent. Deck A faced off against Deck A (in a best-of-three series), Deck B faced against Deck B (best-of-three), and Deck C faced off against Deck C (best-of-three). Whichever player won two of these matchups would be the overall champion!
Let’s get straight into the first week of the tournament.
The first week of competition was set to begin as the bracket was randomly constructed and matchups were formed. It seemed like every single person went with a deck that they had grown comfortable with. Let’s take a look at the initial matches:
- Squeaky Marking (Archie’s Blastoise) vs. Dylan Bryan (Primal Groudon-EX)
- Brit Pybas (Metal) vs. Brandon Cantu (Eeveelutions / Raichu XY)
- Kyle Sabelhaus (Seismitoad-EX / Manectric-EX / Crobat PHF) vs. Israel Sosa (Yveltal-EX / Darkrai-EX / M Manectric-EX)
- Ryan Sabelhaus (Primal Kyogre-EX) vs. Russell LaParre (Flygon BCR / Raichu XY)
Matchups played a large role in determining outcomes in the first round. Dylan Bryan was able to take out Squeaky’s Blastoise deck, as there was simply no way of knocking out a Primal Groudon-EX. With plenty of time to set up behind Robo Substitutes, along with Squeaky needing to pile a multitude of Energy on his Keldeo-EXs to do effective damage, the matchup seemed to play itself out. Brandon Cantu played multiple Flareon PLF in his deck, which was all he needed to overpower Brit’s Metal deck. Kyle Sabelhaus was able to come out on top of a good matchup, as his Manectric-EXs and Rock Guard proved extremely effective against Israel’s Yveltal-EX-based deck. The matchup was close, but Yveltal’s Lightning Weakness was too much to overcome. I was on the positive side of an extremely favorable matchup, as Russell’s Flygon deck was meant to spread damage, but my Primal Kyogre-EX deck was meant to heal with four copies of Rough Seas.
- Dylan Bryan (Primal Groudon-EX) vs. Brandon Cantu (Eeveelutions / Raichu XY)
- Ryan Sabelhaus (Primal Kyogre-EX) vs. Kyle Sabelhaus (Seismitoad-EX / Manectric-EX / Crobat PHF)
A great matchup ensued in the Top 4 of the first week between Primal Groudon-EX and Eeveelutions, which is always an interesting pairing. Dylan had to remain aware of Energy counts with Leafeon PLF having the ability to OHKO Primal Groudon-EX. His single copy of Landorus-EX and Hard Charms were enough to overpower Cantu and earn him a trip to the finals. The battle of the Sabelhaus brothers begins in the opening week?! Unfortunately for Kyle, Primal Kyogre-EX was made with the intent of never losing to Seismitoad variants, as I can shuffle between different Kyogres and constantly heal. The overwhelming damage and Keldeo-EX to utilize multiple attackers were too much for Kyle’s deck.
- Ryan Sabelhaus (Primal Kyogre-EX) vs. Dylan Bryan (Primal Groudon-EX)
One of the best matchups in the entire tournament series was held here between the two Primal Pokémon-EX. It was a battle of two giants that went all the way to a Game 3 and ended with myself decking out a turn before taking my last Prize card. The matchup was based off of me attacking as quickly as possible to prevent a Primal Groudon-EX from getting enough Strong Energy to OHKO my Primal Kyogre-EXs. If he was able to get those Energy, I was certain to lose, which is what happened in the first game. A very close matchup and great first week ended with Dylan Bryan taking home the first 35 points. Let’s take a look at the deck lists that battled in the finals:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
Energy – 12
I decided to go with Kyogre-EX because of the great matchups with Seismitoad-EX variants, Yveltal-EX, and Manectric-EX decks. That is what I was expecting to see during the first week and it seemed to pay off with a 2nd place finish. Constantly being able to heal with Rough Seas and cycle beefy attackers proved to be an extremely powerful combination.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 38
Energy – 11
Dylan went with a pretty straightforward Primal Groudon build that revolved heavily around healing and shutting down Abilities. With 3 Silent Lab and multiple Wobbuffet, he was able to slow down opponents enough until he had gotten a Primal Groudon-EX ready to attack. Once the attacking began, the multiple copies of Hard Charm and healing options kept his main attacker alive enough to finish the game.
Dylan also found the room to add in a Goomy, which was added in solely because of his adoration for the pile of goop. For competitive purposes, I would suggest replacing the Goomy with another Float Stone to assure not starting with Groudon-EX.
The single copy of Teammates was also a very big addition to the deck, as every time a Robo Substitute was KO’d, he was able to pick out the exact cards needed to prepare himself for future turns. This can be crucial in determining the outcome of Primal Groudon-EX’s matchups.
With the first week done and points distributed, it seemed as though all the players had grown comfortable with playing against each other and strayed away from the obvious consistent picks. The second week of battling saw some less commonly played decks coming out, along with a new competitor to replace Brit Pybas for the week. Brit had commitments and couldn’t reschedule to play in the second week, so Michael Canaves was there to replace him. Michael is known to play some crazy decks, but he shows consistent results and is actually one of the main people that I discuss Pokémon deck ideas with.
Let’s take a look at the first round:
- Kyle Sabelhaus (Klinklang PLS) vs. Michael Canaves (Flareon PLF / Leafeon PLF / Bronzong PHF)
- Dylan Bryan (Night March) vs. Israel Sosa (Scizor BCR / Seismitoad-EX / Garbodor LTR)
- Russell LaParre (Donphan PLS) vs. Squeaky Marking (Raichu XY / Crobat PHF / Leafeon PLF)
- Ryan Sabelhaus (Metal) vs. Brandon Cantu (Night March)
This week of competition definitely proved to be one of the craziest. Kyle Sabelhaus somehow managed the huge upset and beat Michael’s Flareon/Bronzong deck with Klinklang. With every attacker in Kyle’s deck being Weak to Fire, this was assumed to be an auto-loss for him. But due to some lucky Prize cards holding multiple Eevees and some over-benching complications, Klinklang pulled off the miracle.
Dylan Bryan hit a wall of question marks when he was paired with Israel’s Scizor/ Seismitoad/Garbodor deck, but he powered through and managed to take the series. I can’t even think to comment on how that matchup goes, but I would assume that Dylan avoided Quaking Punch and just KO’d everything with enough Night Marchers in the discard pile.
Russell decided to bring Donphan back into the mix, which was met with a perfectly symmetrical matchup in Squeaky’s Raichu/Crobat/Leafeon build. The match could honestly go either way depending on how well Squeaky can get set up with his Crobat line, but Russell managed to take the set with some big “Wrecks” from Donphan. I got paired against a pretty even matchup as well with my Metal build running up against Brandon Cantu’s Night March deck. In the first game, I was able to keep up on the Prize exchange and eventually capitalized on some unfortunate bad luck. The second game also ended prematurely with a lone Joltik that was KO’d in the first two turns.
- Kyle Sabelhaus (Klinklang PLS) vs. Dylan Bryan (Night March)
- Ryan Sabelhaus (Metal) vs. Russell LaParre (Donphan PLS)
The semi-finals of this week also had myself and Dylan Bryan advancing into the finals, just like in the first week. Dylan was able to set up enough Pokémon in the discard pile to overpower Kyle’s Klinklang deck, which wasn’t drawing as hot as he needed. Once completely set up, the advantage would certainly go to Kyle, but he was never able to hit the right combination of cards off of multiple Colress for nine being played. Dylan’s Night March deck moved onto the finals in hopes to earn another 35 points. I hit a rather fortunate matchup in Russell’s Donphan deck. With Aegislash preventing his Strong Energy attackers and Heatran knocking out Donphans in one hit, this matchup shows to be very positive in my favor. Russell managed to make the games close, but he could never get through my Pokémon with high amounts of HP, especially with a copy of AZ to use multiple times.
- Ryan Sabelhaus (Metal) vs. Dylan Bryan (Night March)
This match was a little different than the first week and seemed to be pretty even for both players. I did have 2 copies of Seismitoad-EX in my deck, which made me feel as though I had a slight advantage. The first game ended up being over in two turns as Dylan started with a Goomy and didn’t draw into another Pokémon, which allowed my Heatran to take the knockout. The second game ended up being much closer with an even exchange of Prizes towards the beginning, up until I took the Prize lead from knocking out a Joltik on his Bench. With a Heatran on my own Bench that had enough Energy to KO his Mew-EX, there was nothing he could do to prevent the game ending. I was able to get my revenge from the first week and tied the overall standings at 55 points between us two. Let’s look at the decks that made it to the finals:
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 34
Energy – 7
Dylan went with a seemingly normal Night March list (aside from the Goomy), with the only essential difference from other lists being Trainers’ Mail in place of Acro Bike. These cards are interchangeable, as both help to progress searching through the deck and both have their own advantages. Acro Bike helps to discard cards, such as Night March Pokémon, but it can also end up discarding essential resources. Trainers’ Mail helps to search for Trainer cards, but also has the possibility of not finding any targets in the top four cards. Dylan decided that Trainers’ Mail was the better choice in this case and it seemed to work out for him.
Dylan also managed to add in a Trick Shovel and Town Map, both of which seem to be luxury cards. I never saw Trick Shovel come into full effect when playing against him in the finals, but discarding a vital resource from an opponent’s deck could be huge in the late game, as well as for discarding a possible Night March Pokémon from your own deck.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 32
Energy – 11
I decided to play a consistent Metal deck with a stronger bias towards beginning with Seismitoad-EX’s Quaking Punch. I believed that slowing an opponent down and getting my board ready would help give me an advantage throughout the game, which seemed to be the case during this week. I hit some fortunate matchups and utilized my Seismitoads to their fullest potential. No crazy tech cards or anything in this build — just pure consistency.
As Week 3 came around, Dylan and I were able to gather huge amounts of points and separate away from the pack at 55 points each. Kyle was the closest person to us with just 20 points. With most of the competitors needing points to stay alive, there were a good amount of consistent deck choices being made in the hopes of getting some wins. Since Dylan and I were feeling comfortable in our point advantage, we both went a little rogue with our deck choices. It was our time to play something fun and enjoy the tournament atmosphere a little. Let’s get into the first round of matchups:
- Kyle Sabelhaus (Night March) vs. Brandon Cantu (Archie’s Blastoise)
- Dylan Bryan (Wailord-EX / Team Aqua’s Kyogre-EX) vs. Brit Pybas (Landorus-EX / Crobat PHF)
- Russell Laparre (Flygon BCR) vs. Israel Sosa (Bunnelby PRC 121 / Darkrai-EX)
- Ryan Sabelhaus (Hippowdon PRC / Seismitoad-EX) vs. Squeaky Marking (Seismitoad-EX / Manectric-EX / Crobat PHF)
The first round saw Kyle going with a Night March list, as Dylan just had great success with it in the last week. He ended up facing Brandon’s Blastoise deck, which should be a positive matchup for Kyle. The small Night March attackers can take advantage of knocking out larger Pokémon-EX and getting the Prize advantage. Due to the Exeggcute’s Ability unfortunately not working on PTCGO so well, Kyle found a way to take the series.
Dylan Bryan went completely rogue this week and brewed up a concoction of whale-based Pokémon that functioned similar to the Wailord-EX deck at US Nationals this year. Without a Bunnelby, Brit couldn’t muster up enough damage to KO any of Dylan’s high HP Pokémon-EX. Russell stuck with his “ride-or-die” deck choice and brought Flygon back this week, which was a perfect choice to beat Israel’s Bunnelby deck. With Russell not needing Energy to spread damage around, Israel couldn’t properly utilize his disruption cards and found his low HP Pokémon falling rather quickly.
Deciding to go with a fun deck this week, I brought Hippowdon onto the scene to try and take some games. During this series against Squeaky’s Seismitoad/Manectric/Crobat deck, I started with a Hippopotas both games and couldn’t manage to Quaking Punch quickly enough. This led to a rather quick victory for Squeaky over my valiant hippo warriors.
- Kyle Sabelhaus (Night March) vs. Dylan Bryan (Wailord-EX / Team Aqua’s Kyogre-EX)
- Russell LaParre (Flygon) vs. Squeaky Marking (Seismitoad-EX / Manectric-EX / Crobat PHF)
Upon first glance, you might assume that Kyle would lose instantly to Dylan’s deck being filled with such large Pokémon-EX. With the addition of just one Bunnelby into Kyle’s deck though, he was able to convincingly take the series and gain complete board control from discarding all of Dylan’s cards.
Russell found a pretty tough matchup against Squeaky’s Seismitoad/Manectric/Crobat build. Item locking is very annoying to deal with when Russell has multiple Evolution lines to get ready, although his large amount of Team Flare Grunt should have helped him immensely. In the end, the Team Flare Grunt’s couldn’t discard the Energies quickly enough to completely stop the Item locking from Squeaky.
There was almost no hope for Kyle in this matchup, as it completely favors Seismitoad/Crobat-based decks. Quaking Punch shuts down almost half of the Night March deck and makes it very difficult to accumulate Pokémon in the discard pile to hit for large amounts of damage. While this interaction is happening to slow Kyle down completely, the Crobat lines are picking off the low HP Pokémon that he utilizes to attack with.
The matchup went as predicted, but Kyle was surprisingly able to take a game and bring it to a deciding Game 3. Squeaky took the series in the final game and found himself with 35 points from choosing a solid deck that had good overall matchups around the board. Let’s see the lists that Kyle and Squeaky used to make it to the finals of this week:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 33
Energy – 7
Just like in the last week, Night March proved itself worthy of another finals appearance. Kyle also utilized the power of Empoleon and Archie’s Ace in the Hole, except differentiated from Dylan’s list by playing Acro Bike in place of the Trainers’ Mail. I agree with this change, as Trainers’ Mail never seems to net me the cards I’m looking for and Acro Bike will automatically have an effect on the deck (Trainers’ Mail can fail, while Acro Bike cannot). He also utilized a plethora of Muscle Bands to net extra damage in the long run, which was extremely different than the two Muscle Bands that Dylan was using. As mentioned before, the Bunnelby also proved its worth by singlehandedly winning the Wailord-EX matchup that he faced in the semi-finals.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 35
Energy – 8
This is a very consistent build that is extremely similar to the deck Kristy Britton piloted to a Top 8 finish at US Nationals this year. Seismitoad/Manectric/Crobat is a well-rounded deck that has great internal consistency from having free retreating options to get out desired attackers quickly, while also allowing Squeaky to attain perfect KOs each turn from well-placed Golbat and Crobat drops. This deck proved to be extremely annoying to face and earned Squeaky 1st place in the third week of the Pokémon Elite Championship Series.
Gaining points became crucial in the last week before the grand finals during Week 5, as only the top three players with the most points would advance to play. Here are the point totals up to this point:
Dylan Bryan = 65 Points
Ryan Sabelhaus = 55 Points
Kyle Sabelhaus = 40 Points
Squeaky Marking = 35 Points
Russell LaParre = 20 Points
Brandon Cantu = 10 Points
Brit Pybas = 0 Points
Israel Sosa = 0 Points
With Dylan Bryan and the Sabelhaus brothers leading the pack and in good position to make the finals, these three would control their own destiny and just need to keep winning to secure their placing. Every game now becomes increasingly more important for those players in contention to keep playing. The extremely consistent deck choices and lack of crazy rogue decks from Dylan, myself, Kyle, Squeaky, and Brandon showed the serious tone of this fourth week. Let’s look at the matchups:
- Squeaky Marking (Seismitoad-EX / Garbodor LTR) vs. Kyle Sabelhaus (Metal)
- Russell LaParre (Flygon BCR) vs. Brit Pybas (Wailord-EX / Suicune PLB)
- Ryan Sabelhaus (Klinklang PLS) vs. Dylan Bryan (M Manectric-EX / Garbodor LTR)
- Israel Sosa (Yveltal-EX / Leafeon PLF / Crobat PHF) vs. Brandon Cantu (M Manectric-EX / Garbodor LTR)
The most important match of the tournament was in the first round between Kyle and Squeaky, which would inevitably decide someone being eliminated. Squeaky found himself on the good side of a terrible matchup for Kyle and was able to shut down everything in his Metal deck with Garbodor’s Ability, eliminating Kyle from making the grand finals. Brit was able to utilize Rough Seas and large amounts of HP to overcome Russell’s Flygon deck with his Wailord/Suicune build. In the matchup to possibly decide the first seed of the tournament, I came out on top of a terrible matchup for myself (mainly due to some bad starts from Dylan). My Klinklang found its way through Dylan’s Mega Manectric/Garbodor deck and tied us at 65 points each for the tournament. Brandon also found a great matchup for himself with his Lightning-type M Manectric-EX deck meeting up with Israel’s Yveltal/Crobat-based deck.
- Squeaky Marking (Seismitoad-EX / Garbodor LTR) vs. Brit Pybas (Wailord-EX / Suicune PLB)
- Ryan Sabelhaus (Klinklang PLS) vs. Brandon Cantu (M Manectric-EX / Garbodor LTR)
This seemed to be the week of lopsided battles, as myself and Squeaky found terrible matchups and couldn’t survive to make it to the finals of this week. Brit and Squeaky found themselves in a US Nationals mirror matchup … except with no time limit to save Squeaky. Brit was able to easily take the series by discarding all of Squeaky’s Energy and eventually decking him out. Brandon also found a great matchup, as his Garbodor shut down my entire deck from working. With no answer to Garbotoxin and no dead draws to give me a chance, Brandon efficiently ran through my Klinklang build and found himself with an opportunity to tie with Squeaky at 45 points to advance to the grand finals in Week 5.
This matchup is completely based on how many Float Stone the Manectric-EX player has for their Garbodor, along with how many Startling Megaphone or Xerosic the Wailord-EX player has to remove those Tools. With 4 Float Stones from Brandon, he never lost a beat and was able to convincingly take the series and force a playoff with Squeaky in the final week.
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 50
Energy – 2
With the same concept as the deck from US Nationals this year, the Wailord-EX deck revolves around a multitude of disruption cards to eventually exhaust an opponent of resources and force them to deck out. Brit utilized a Mewtwo-EX and Double Colorless Energy in an attempt to KO opposing Bunnelby, along with a Bunnelby of his own. With only one copy of Xerosic and no Startling Megaphone, he wasn’t able to stand the onslaught of M Manectric-EXs with constant Garbotoxin locked in (to shut down Suicune’s Ability). This deck still proved to be very strong for Brit and it certainly doesn’t seem like a joke deck.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 37
Energy – 9
Garbodor is always a threat to many decks in the format, as plenty of archetypes revolve around abusing Abilities. Brandon picked a great time to utilize Garbotoxin and found some pretty easy matchups on his way to a much needed 35 points this week. The completely maxed out lines of Head Ringer, Manectric Spirit Link, and Float Stone seemed excessive to me at first, but they proved to be extremely powerful and synergetic with his “Tool Drop” Trubbish as well.
For the final week, only the top three point totalers advanced, which actually meant a playoff between Squeaky and Brandon for that third place position. Dylan and myself were also meant to have a playoff for the first seed position. Whomever placed first would have an automatic bye into the grand finals, while the second and eventual third seed would battle to determine a grand finals opponent. Let’s look at the point breakdown:
Dylan Bryan: 65 points
Ryan Sabelhaus: 65 points
Brandon Cantu: 45 points
Squeaky Marking: 45 points
Kyle Sabelhaus: 40 points
Brit Pybas: 35 points
Russell LaParre: 20 points
Israel Sosa: 0 points
While attempting to begin the stream, Dylan was unavailable to play and we couldn’t get in contact with him during the night of the tournament. It was unfortunately decided that I would become the first seed, while Squeaky and Brandon would now have a playoff to get into the grand finals. Let’s see the results:
Brandon found himself with a very positive matchup, especially with the addition of Focus Sash to his deck. Squeaky couldn’t get through the army of Donphans that kept striking and returning to the Bench. Without any non-EX attackers to utilize, Brandon was able to advance and face me in the grand finals.
As stated before, the grand finals would consist of three different decks played in three different matches (all best of three). Brandon had a fantastic comeback win in the fourth week and fought his way through the playoff with Squeaky to face me in the finals. Let’s get straight into the matchups:
- Round 1: Ryan Sabelhaus (Primal Kyogre-EX) vs. Brandon Cantu (Klinklang PLS)
- Round 2: Ryan Sabelhaus (Primal Groudon-EX) vs. Brandon Cantu (M Manectric-EX / Garbodor LTR)
- Round 3: Ryan Sabelhaus (Seismitoad-EX / Manectric-EX / Crobat PHF) vs. Brandon Cantu (Eeveelutions / Crobat PHF / Raichu XY)
The grand finals was definitely not exciting during the first two matchups, as they were both extremely unfavorable for each side. Brandon was able to demolish my Primal Kyogre-EX deck with his Klinklang build, as I couldn’t even attack once Klinklang made an appearance on the field. Luckily, I was able to hit a solid matchup when my Primal Groudon-EX deck faced Brandon’s Manectric/Garbodor build. Once I was able to attack, there was no chance of Brandon surviving, as his only attacker was Weak to Fighting.
The third and final matchup featured a pretty even meeting of my Seismitoad/Manectric/Crobat deck and Brandon’s Eeveelutions/Crobat/Raichu deck. Both builds intended to set up plenty of Bats and utilize their Abilities to gain advantageous KOs. With my deck featuring Manectric-EX and its Overrun attack, along with Brandon only being able to play one Zubat at a time, I was able to constantly deny him from gaining that advantage of extra damage. This ended up working out perfectly for my deck that utilized Super Scoop Ups. Without being able to KO my Seismitoad-EX and Manectric-EX in one shot, I could swing the matchup with just one Super Scoop Up heads to deny crucial Prizes. Let’s look at the deck lists from that final matchup in the third series:
Pokémon – 29
Trainers – 24
Energy – 7
An incredibly fast deck based on hitting huge amounts of damage and countering major archetypes in the format right now. That’s exactly what this deck can be described as. Brandon felt confident in this deck’s ability to properly counter any threats he may see, which may have been the case if he hadn’t run into the infamous Seismitoad-EX. Brandon utilized many interesting tech cards in this deck, such as a copy of Teammates and Training Center. Giving his Evolutions an extra 30 HP can help in plenty of different matchups, such as keeping his Flareons, Leafeons, and Raichus out of KO range from a M Manectric-EX using Turbo Bolt. This was quite an interesting build to see in the grand finals last match.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 36
Energy – 7
This deck has an answer for almost anything, which is exactly why I chose it to be my last deck in the grand finals. It does have bad matchups against some Seismitoad-EX decks, Manectric-EX, and Primal Kyogre-EX, but it can efficiently stand with most other decks. My favorite aspect of the deck would be setting up KOs multiple turns in advance, which is a very crucial part to playing this build effectively. The Rock Guard also threatened big amounts of damage throughout the match, which can be a game-changing swing.
The first run-through of the Pokémon Elite Championship Series has finally completed and seemed to be a huge success for its first trial run tournament. They are surely going to progress in quality and PECS will only get better from here. I was lucky enough to win a beautiful clip-art trophy to possibly tape on my wall, and also come away with a large amount of Worlds playtesting and a feeling of pride. Thank you to everyone that enjoyed this article and to everyone that watched the PECS play out. Hopefully you all will check out TrainerTalk on Twitch and any upcoming tournaments that they run after the World Championships, and also hang out on the SabelStream every Tuesday and Thursday night with my brother and me.
Good luck to everyone at the World Championships and feel free to message me with any questions that you may have!
–Ryan Sabelhaus <3
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