Doing well at any tournament takes the right mix of preparation, execution, and, unavoidably, luck. It’s well-documented that I’m a firm believer in the idea of minimizing risk while maximizing opportunity for things to go right. My Round 1s at Regionals this year have featured absurd foes like Pyroar BREAK (… as Night March), Xerneas/Giratina-EX, Mewtwo-EX/Lugia-EX (as Greninja), and a super weird Volcanion-EX list. Did I prepare for those? Nope. Did I consider such issues when making deck and card selections? Good thing I happened to play Hex Maniac in that Night March on a last-minute whim.
A quick note I’d like to hit right off in the vein of the above: My goal as a writer isn’t to cover any and every deck that might appear at a given tournament — and I don’t think it should be any writer’s goal where the reader’s best interest is truly at hand. Later, we’ll discuss the 15-some decks I had built for testing prior to Fort Wayne. I am not an expert in all 15 of those decks, and I don’t wish to pass myself as one. I haven’t been shy in the past about the fact that I feel coverage sometimes lacks for a given event. I’m proud to say that I believe SixPrizes nailed Fort Wayne coverage.
Anyone and everyone knew the heavy-hitters coming into the weekend — Yveltal, Vileplume, M Gardevoir, etc. — and I feel they were well-covered between Brad, Brit, and Aaron. Travis brought a preview of Pidgeot-EX and M Scizor, both of which saw success this weekend. Similarly, Michael profiled a deck that had fallen under the radar, but was able to make a sizable splash on the weekend. In a constantly evolving game, I feel this was the pinnacle of coverage that anyone could provide, and I hope you agree (and, as always, I would love to hear from you if you don’t).
This past weekend serves as the last dose of information for the community before chaos ensues in London in only 9 days. Fortunately, unlike in Fort Wayne, the community is well-informed regarding the legality of various promo cards and other event details for London. Today, I’m going to take a look at my experience in Fort Wayne and preview London. We’ve got a lot of coverage scheduled over the next few days, and while I believe Grant will be discussing Expanded on Thursday, between Alex, Brad, and me, I hope we’re able to give you a solid foundation for success. As a reminder, the upcoming article schedule is always available on the forums.
Fort Wayne Recap
This year hasn’t brought many terribly difficult deck decisions. I picked Night March as my favorite for Phoenix well in advance, Vileplume was perfect in Orlando, and Philadelphia presented no reason to depart from Night March. For better or worse, Fort Wayne proved different. After putting up sizable resistance most of the weekend prior to the event, I finally relented late Monday and acknowledged a slightly-modified Vileplume list as the likely play. The reality of Vileplume, in my mind, is that it can beat everything.
The flip side is that it can often simply fail to execute a basic strategy, leaving it vulnerable to decks whose linearity is a defining trait (I’m thinking M Mewtwo, M Rayquaza, and Volcanion). In particular, the Volcanion matchup worried me: If players took sufficient measures to prepare themselves, a combination of double Lysandre, Hex Maniac, and Pokémon Ranger is enough to scare any sane Vileplume player.
This all changed when, absurdly, a player’s Facebook message to a company employee quite literally changed the game. As we all know by now, Magearna XY165 went from a London debut to Fort Wayne-legal roughly 3 days before the event. Anyone who’d been testing with the knowledge — which had been repeatedly enforced on a multitude of official and semiofficial channels — that Magearna would not be legal was seriously compromised by this decision. I was aware the entire time that Magearna should be legal for the tournament, and even proclaimed to Alex Hill the day before the decision that I had zero faith that TPCi wouldn’t make a reversal.
That doesn’t change the fact that the landscape of a tournament was dramatically altered on a semi-arbitrary basis by a player’s Facebook message to a TPCi employee, after it had already been said that TPCi London affirmed the card’s release date as 11/18.
To reiterate: I know that it should’ve been legal. There are almost never Friday release dates for Pokémon TCG products. That doesn’t change the fact that the tournament landscape was altered a whopping 3 days before an event, which is wholly unprofessional as a practice.
Old Frog, New Tricks
At this point, I reluctantly let go of my M Beedrill hopes and was somewhat between Volcanion and Greninja, but leaning toward Greninja. Alex Hill arrived in Fort Wayne at this point, and after a few short games, he was sold as well. With that, Chris Derocher and a few others picked up the list, which was as follows:
I know some readers prefer a text version, and so voilà:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
Energy – 10
I wish I’d had this idea at Worlds, to tell the truth. Sure, Faded Town wasn’t necessary, but Splash Energy as a concept would’ve been a decent thing to have around when dealing with Night March beatdown. In any event, I feel this list is as close to perfect for this variant of the deck as it was ever going to get without Fort Wayne’s results, and still even now don’t really know that I’d change anything for London.
I think I did everything in reverse today, and have already expounded on the nuances of the list at this point, so I’m going to move on to a summary of my day:
Fort Wayne Regionals // 635 Masters
R1 Mewtwo-EX/Dragonite-EX EVO/Unown AOR (2-1)
R2 Yveltal-EX/Garbodor BKP (1-2)
R3 Vileplume Toolbox (2-1)
R4 M Gardevoir-EX STS (0-2)
R5 Zygarde-EX/Carbink BREAK/Medicham PRC 81 (2-1)
R6 M Gardevoir-EX STS (2-0)
R7 Greninja (60-card mirror) (1-2)
R8 M Scizor-EX/Raticate EVO (W)
R9 Yveltal-EX/Zoroark BKT (2-0)
Final: 6-3-0 // 84th place
Round 2 was disappointing. In Game 1, I eliminated his Garbodor from the board and took a commanding 5-2 Prize lead, but fell victim to an N that saw me draw nothing for over five turns. Unfortunately, that can be a reality of playing so many niche Items and Pokémon in a deck.
I had the option to use my lone card, a Water Energy, to either attack with my damaged Greninja BREAK or a Benched, fresh Greninja. If I were to keep the BREAK around topdeck a Water Energy, I would win the following turn.
But, if I used the Benched Greninja and he achieved a KO, that Yveltal-EX would probably run through my board. In a way, by using the BREAK, I encouraged him to divert resources to a 2nd Pokémon — but the gamble didn’t work out. I did draw a Water the next turn, but my BREAK was dead, and even some crazy Bubble luck wasn’t enough to keep me afloat.
I repeated Game 1’s mantra again in Game 2, but this time wasn’t N’d, so I won easily. Game 3 served as a reminder that a lone Froakie is not a particularly frightening specter. Alex Hill went 3-1 vs this matchup during his tournament run, so I do still feel the matchup is very solid.
Both games in Round 4 were what Worlds conditioned me to expect from Greninja. I prized a Frogadier and missed the Splash in Game 1, which meant that I only had two Frogadier going into turn 3. As such, I didn’t have enough of a board to set up the Ace Trainer/Stitching/“stick it out” plan, and he simply rolled me as I was forced to use Moonlight Slash to keep any degree of pace. In Game 2, I got the Splash to save my Duplicater, but I didn’t ever find a Greninja, so I was summarily ended.
Greninja mirror is a far less appalling affair than it used to be, as without Rough Seas, games do at least end. I got the better of my opponent in Game 1 and got destroyed with a dead hand in Game 2. Game 3 was a bit different, as I had an excellent hand of 3 Greninja and a Water Energy, with 2 Froakie in play … but lacked a Frogadier. By the time I attained one, it ended up that neither of us utilized Water Duplicates in the game. In the end, the game came down to one turn where I took a gamble on my lone Giant Water Shuriken of the game. I missed on that gamble, and came 10 damage short of forcing Bursting Balloon-enabled Sudden Death.
Otherwise, I beat the things that I expected to beat, but just a bit too infrequently. I firmly believe the deck was a great call, as Chris Derocher’s T4, Dominic Bargardi’s T32, and Alex Hill/I’s Top 128s demonstrated. Yet another person in our group started 5-1 before slipping out of contention, so overall, I believe it was a highly successful call, and I strongly believe it’s playable in London.
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