Hello everyone! I hope you enjoyed the festivities over in Anaheim this past weekend, either by watching the stream or participating in the tournaments. Worlds has always been my favorite tournament of the year, since it’s what the whole year builds up to. Imagine it as the celebratory event for doing so well throughout the year.
Leading up to Worlds, I was set on playing Espeon/Garbodor or Decidueye/Vileplume. My summer was filled with traveling to see family in Bolivia and Michigan, resulting in little testing time. There were days I had time to test, but my mind was focused on relaxation and school. I knew that regardless of how little testing I did, I would be comfortable with both of those decks because of my previous experience with them. I was open to trying other decks, but I found myself having more fun and performing better with Espeon/Garbodor. This is because I’ve had lots of experience with it, rather than trying to learn a new deck as I go. I’ve found that experience with one deck is more essential than playing the correct meta call or BDIF. The tournaments I’ve done poorly at were ones I picked up a deck as a meta call, rather than the deck I played well.
Arriving in Anaheim
Thursday was the calm before the storm. Most of my friends already arrived, so I hung out with them in the Marriott lobby. It’s a great choice of venue to have some public area for players to hang out before and after the tournament. I played a few Pokémon games, but mostly resorted to other games such as Coup or Codenames. Since I didn’t have to play on Friday, I was extremely relaxed and enjoyed my time. This coming year I hope to get Top 16 again, allowing myself the same luxury. After finishing up, the Lesages, Michael Pramawat, Dakota Gillanders, and I dined at the hotel buffet. It was the best dinner I had all weekend, and eating with some friends I don’t see often made it even sweeter.
I woke up on Friday early and ready to watch the tournament. The Marriott Lobby had a Starbucks I ate every morning on my way to the convention. I arrived early with plenty of time before the opening ceremonies and sat down with my friends. However, I forgot to grab my SixPrizes jersey that other teammates and I debuted in Anaheim. I ran back and grabbed it to take a picture before the ceremony started.
After the ceremonies finished and Round 1 went up, players congregated at the tables. Alex Hill and I spent time in the open area where the Anaheim Open would be. At this point it was simply open space: the perfect spot to test. He and I played Espeon/Garbodor vs. Gardevoir and Decidueye with both matchups proving favorable. We went 6-2 against Gardevoir. I believe the matchup to be 60-40 in Espeon’s favor because of the early pressure Divide GX enables. (Evidently, this was the opposite case in my Top 4 match, but I stand by my logic and testing.) Gardevoir requires 4 Energy to KO a loaded Espeon-GX, which is harder than the 3 for Drampa-GX. Psychic can also do more damage than Drampa-GX for the same amount of Energy.
The last matchup we tested extensively was mirror. More experience playing mirror benefited both of us. As we played, we swapped in specific tech cards to see how much they impacted the matchup. Here’s a list of all cards that we talked about aside from the 57 card skeleton:
- Vaporeon AOR
- Oricorio GRI 56
- Sudowoodo GRI/Jolteon AOR
- 2nd Field Blower
- 4th Choice Band
- Parallel City
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 27
1 Brigette/Fan Club
Energy – 12
3 Free Spots
Most of these techs were good for only one matchup—ones that we would expect to play once—and steal a free win off of. Vaporeon, Oricorio, and Jolteon were there to destroy Volcanion, Vespiquen, and Mega Rayquaza respectively. On the contrary, all of the other techs were generally helpful, rather than aimed at a specific deck. They adhered to the deck’s strategy, rather than diverging to improve one matchup. Ultimately, Alex and I chose the bolded cards listed above. They rounded out the deck by improving each matchup slightly through adding good cards.
Field Blower was great at boosting Trashalanche, as well as any Parallel City in mirror. I also used it plenty of times against Mega Rayquaza to remove Sky Field. The last essential part of it is to remove Fighting Fury Belt, since Espeon-GX cannot deal with the extra 40 HP. Parallel City is amazing against Mega Rayquaza and mirror. In the early stages of the game, it’s great at limiting their bench size before they play Tapu Lele-GX. If you miss this opportunity, simply save it to remove your own Espeon-GX and Tapu Lele-GX to remove 2 Prize options. Teammates is self-explanatory; use it to guarantee what you need without using many Items or discarding essential resources.
Hopefully in mirror you’re able to lay down the necessary Basics: 2-3 Trubbish and 2 Eevee. Aside from that, there’s nothing you need to draw into besides Energy. Sure, you want Tools and some Items, but don’t be hesitant to hold a Supporter. You may be giving your opponent a better hand!
After Day 1 finished, Alex and I went back to Christopher’s room. Inside were other friends of mine, Wes Hollenberg, Joey Ruettiger, Sean Foisy, and obviously Schemanske the Younger. They played Secret Hitler and Resistance while Alex and I slaved away ourselves to testing. Wes and Joey made Day 2, while the others were playing in the Open instead. There also were breaks where I had to save the Rowlet plush I bought.
As Round 6 was happening, I decided to take a look in the store. The perfect, life-sized Rowlet was there waiting for me. After bringing it back to the room, everyone else doubted my investment. HOWEVER, I made the Pokémon Instagram story by playing catch with Rowlet. Totally worth it. Back in the room, everyone was kidnapping Rowlet and using him as a bowling ball.
I'm usually anti-fun but being bad at Pokémon is apparently therapeutic and I can't stop laughing at this. pic.twitter.com/MXQQpFqPPK
(Editor’s Note: Yes, indeed, Xander’s Rowlet is the one depicted in the video. No birds were harmed in the filming of this fun, though!)
I woke up, got some Starbucks, and headed over to the venue. Alex and I were messaging Sam Chen the night before about potential decks to play. We talked about Golisopod/Garbodor and Espeon/Garbodor. Alex and I were already set on Espeon/Garbodor and tried to convince Sam to play it. Instead, he stuck with Drampa/Garbodor and got Top 8!
Round 1: Simone Soldo (IT) Greninja
I remember being upset that I would have to play my worst matchup round 1. I have a slow start Game 1, but so does he. He didn’t have to play many Items to set up, so I’m forced to attack with Espeon-GX. I was able to establish Garbotoxin, but he was already 2-shotting my Espeon-GX with Choice Band. I play out the game and try to hold on, but lose to a strong Field Blower turn.
Going first in Game 2 gives me a great advantage by getting a T2 Psychic easily. I miss the attachment onto Eevee for the first turn though. He has 2 Froakie and a Staryu out with a Parallel City reducing his Bench. I make a play to KO his Staryu with Energy Drive, which looking back on it was wront. He would’ve only been able to Water Duplicates for 1 Frogadier, but he was able to get 2 this way. It gave me a Prize, but could’ve been another Greninja to deal with later on.
However, he has a pretty dead hand without any Supporter. I’m able to steamroll through the few Greninja he sets up with an Espeon-GX. I also managed to put 5 Energy on a Lele which was neat. We don’t have enough time for Game 3, and time is called at 6-6 Prizes.
Round 2: Sejun Park (KR) M Rayquaza
I went second again, but was shocked to see his start. He opened Sudowoodo and passed immediately. I Divide GX for the win on the second turn.
The second game was fair, with him getting a fast start with Scoundrel Ring. He set up 2 M Rayquaza on the first turn, leaving me behind. He also had Magearna-EX out to prevent Psybeam from confusing them. There wasn’t much I could do other than stall and let him play Items. However, his hand was pretty good with Guzma and other Supporters to let him take out essential threats.
Game 3 followed exactly as the first. Utter despair for Sejun as he couldn’t draw any Supporters. I attacked for 4 turns until he ran out of Pokémon.
Round 3: Heddi Brahmi (FR) Decidueye/Ninetales
This match was one of the tensest I’ve had all year, but wasn’t as exciting or nerve-wracking as later ones like Round 8 and Top 4. I open exactly as Sejun in Game 1 and lose 2 turns later.
The 2nd game I start out well with Brigette. However, I notice that Flareon is prized! What bad news for me, since it’s the only way of dealing with Acerola. This means I’m forced to use Garbotoxin and bluff the Flareon for the time being. This works out as he can rarely find Field Blower, and when he did I had another tool. He had an awkward few turns but was able to use Energy Drive for 100 and Acerola. It came down to a power play where I was able to KO a Decidueye-GX and N him, to which he scooped up his cards.
Game 3 was exactly like the first. I open Trubbish. I have no way to get a Supporter card. At least I had Garbotoxin and a Choice Band in hand to slow him down while I hope to topdeck something. He casually hits me for 40 with Energy Drive. I draw, then pass. He hits me again. I draw, and slam a Professor Sycamore. I manage to get 2 Eevee and a Double Colorless to save myself. He sets up a bit more with an N, and passes with my Garbodor active. I continue to regain my lead by evolving into 2 Espeon-GX, since Flareon was prized again. I set myself up with a Teammates because I know he’ll try and KO Garbotoxin the following turn.
He set up 2 Decidueye-GX, Field Blower’d my Choice Band, then KO’d it with Feather Arrow. I knew I was promoting a Pokémon to die from Razor Leaf, so I pushed up my 2nd Trubbish. He ended up doing exactly that and not much else, leaving me plenty of time to come back. At this point I’ve deduced all of my prizes, but have been slowly decking out. In the final turns of the game I Divide GX away a Decidueye-GX with 160, then place the remaining 20 on a Shaymin-EX. I go down to 2 Prizes. Off of them, I ripped my final VS Seeker to win the following turn. I N’d myself down to prevent from decking out and waited until I redrew the VS Seeker. There isn’t anything he can do with his 2 card hand as he uses Energy Drive on my Espeon-GX. I use my last Choice Band and Guzma to take down the Shaymin-EX.
Round 4: Martin Janouš (CZ) M Rayquaza
Another M Rayquaza; I was surprised to see 2 this tournament. I thought I would see 0-1, but fortunately I’ve matched up with another. At this point I questioned my decision of not running any counter, but it worked out fine. I have a good start Game 1, once again going second. He has a bit of a slower start and is forced to do 150 at some points. However, he also used the Magearna-EX package, reducing Psybeam and Divide GX’s effectiveness. I remember hitting a M Rayquaza for 60, then 150 with a different Espeon-GX as it was KO’d. He tried to use Tapu Lele-GX and Energy Drive, which I responded with 120 on it. At this point I have all 6 Prizes left with him having 2. He has Magearna-EX online, preventing my Divide-GX for 4 Prizes. I lay down Teammates, grab the Float Stone + Garbotoxin, and KO his only attackers. He scoops.
Game 2 follows similarly. I didn’t need to make a cheeky Garbotoxin + Divide GX play, as he was forced to discard Magearna-EX with Parallel City. I hit a M Rayquaza for 150, then was easily able to clean it up afterward.
Round 5: Alex Hill (US) Espeon/Garbodor
This match was streamed! It’s exciting to be on stream as it allows myself to rewatch it later and learn from my mistakes. I’m also able to learn about my style when playing Espeon/Garbodor, and view how effective it was. Watching the game is more effective than me explaining, so I’ll go over in light detail what occurred.
During Game 1 I set up insanely quickly and well via Brigette and a perfect hand off of N. I was able to establish multiple Trashalanche quickly and effectively without using Ultra Ball. If you watched the game, you’ll notice how often I held a draw Supporter when I had an Energy in hand. This is because I have all that I need for the next turn; using N gives Alex access to more cards such as Guzma, Energy, or Choice Band. There isn’t much Alex can do as I set up better.
Game 2 is much closer with him getting the slightly better draw. The end of the game came down to me trying to dodge DCE + Guzma from his Tapu Lele-GX to take the final 2 Prizes. I couldn’t find Parallel City to remove either Espeon-GX or Tapu Lele-GX leaving me open to this kind of play. On my penultimate turn I chose to N because I believe he hinted at having it by attaching to Tapu Lele-GX. Alas, he did not, and I missed Psychic Energy off of my N to 2 and lost.
Game 3 is a steamroll. I didn’t have to play 3 Items, I was able to Parallel City off a heavily damaged Espeon-GX, and I acquired the first few prizes. There wasn’t anything Alex could do once I had multiple attackers ready.
Round 6: Jimmy Pendarvis (US) Espeon/Garbodor
I get destroyed in this match. Game 1 operates slowly with both of us conserving our Item usage. I remember he rushed to a Garbodor war which I would lose since he played 2 Rescue Stretcher and I only played 1. His list also played 4 Tapu Lele-GX so it was easier for him to access the necessary Supporter each turn. He’s ahead with 2 Prizes remaining to my 3. I have 2 Garbodor set up to his potential 3. My only out to winning this game is by setting up a Guzma + Choice Band to KO Tapu Lele-GX for my last two. However, I was unable to find the necessary pieces. My hand size was small, forcing me to Teammates just for Energy + Garbodor each turn. Perhaps I should have tried to Professor Sycamore into them and another piece for the win, but I decided to play it safe and hope to win off of N.
Game 2 is much less fortunate as I get stuck with an awkward hand. I’m forced to Energy Evolution my active Eevee and let it take 60 from Psybeam. I once again haven’t drawn a Supporter, or at least played one and didn’t get to do much with it. I’m forced to attach Double Colorless and Choice Band to my active Espeon-GX and hope for a Heads. I hit it, but still fall to a Trashalanche for 140. I try to recover with Brigette for mass amounts of Trubbish, but I’m too far behind. I lose the Garbodor war as I cannot find a draw Supporter and run out of Energy.
Round 7: Alessandro Cremascoli (IT) M Scizor
I was VERY surprised to see my opponent Scoundrel Ring for Scizor-EX. He had M Scizor sleeves, but I never would have expected him to actually be playing it. My mindset in this match was to use Espeon-GX as much as possible with Flareon. Garbodor would be ineffective since I’d need 6 Items, or 5 and a Choice Band to 1HKO. He was limiting his Items well, plus laying down many Eevee instead of Trubbish allows me to Rescue Stretcher back the Flareon after he KOs it.
Game 1 goes exactly as I planned. I set out 2 Eevee because I whiffed Brigette. One of them became an Espeon-GX, but I was unable to protect the second one from Guzma. He took a quick knockout, but I retaliated by benching another 2. Once I developed the Flareon and removed his M Scizor, there was nothing he could do.
Game 2 is a tad scarier since I missed an Energy drop on the first turn. He also limited my Bench with Parallel City. I started Trubbish and had to bench a Tapu Lele-GX for a Supporter, leaving me with 2 spots for any Eeveelutions. Despite my missed Energy drop, I was able to pick up a T3 Psychic with Flareon to KO his M Scizor. This left him with one without any Energy, and me with an active Espeon-GX with 120 from the previous turn. He played a Professor Sycamore hoping for Mega Turbo + Energy—the two cards to KO my Espeon-GX and leave me without an attacker—but he misses. He scoops.
Round 8: Takuya Yoneda (JP) Ho-oh/Salazzle
I’d heard about Takuya’s deck from Azul, who had watched him play earlier. I knew what was in his deck, but I didn’t understand the strategy of it. This led me to getting destroyed in Game 1 while I adjusted and learned. The deck was surprisingly linear, but strong as it aims to Kiawe to Ho-oh-GX on the first turn while powering up Salazzle-GX. Ho-oh-GX can take easy prizes on Tapu Lele-GX and Espeon-GX, taking 2-4 Prizes. It’s at this point that Salazzle-GX brings up the rear by finishing off the opponent. It’s astoundingly strong and hard to counter, as Ho-oh-GX on the second turn is menacing.
The 2nd Game is uneventful as he struggles to find any draw Supporter. He’s stuck using Kiawe to a Turtonator-GX first, in which I Guzma it and use Psychic. My aim is to 2HKO all of his attackers, since those have the potential to sweep me early on while Salazzle-GX waits. I established Garbotoxin, leaving his Ultra Balls unable to find a way out through Wonder Tag. He continues to Kiawe to a Benched Pokémon, leaving me to Guzma it consistently. This happens 4 times until I take 6 Prizes.
Game 3 leads off very similarly to Game 1, except he misses the T1 Kiawe. He manually attaches and Max Elixirs twice, still netting him the T2 attack. I’m forced on the back burner immediately as I use Psybeam with my second Espeon-GX for 60. At this point I left myself with no other 2 Prize attackers on the Bench. I think that I’ll win, since he’ll be forced to Guzma or hard retreat and slow down. However, I thought wrong! He plays a Professor Sycamore, uses the only two Switch in his deck and KOs my Espeon-GX, leaving him with 2 Prizes left to my 6.
At this point I’m incredibly flustered as I see know way to win. I have 2 Trubbish and an Eevee out to his fully powered Ho-oh-GX and Salazzle-GX in waiting. I think that my only out is Psybeam, but I glance over at his discard pile. I happened to see 8 Items, perfectly fanned out and visible. Since he was forced to burn through so many Items to take the knockout, he gave me an out to win. I sent up my Trubbish, used Teammates for the return KO, and set myself up with another Garbodor and N the following turn. He promoted his Salazzle-GX, benched another Salandit and attached to it, and took out my Garbodor.
It was all or nothing at this point. I sent up my final Trubbish, evolved it and attached, and slammed down the N. I have the knockout on the Salazzle-GX since he has 10 Items in the Discard. I watch him draw his card—no emotion. I announce Trashalanche and go down to 2 Prizes. He draws his card for the turn, looks worried, and quickly promotes Volcanion STS and announces Power Heater. I look down at my hand and realize I drew Guzma off of my N to 4. I draw, play the Guzma down, then drag up one of his Bench EX Pokémon for the win.
6-1-1, 7th seed
Top 8: Jimmy Pendarvis (US) Espeon/Garbodor
Unfortunately this match wasn’t streamed. I don’t recall much of it, but the one thing I do remember is how he had to throw down 3 Items immediately on the first turn. This was great for obvious reasons, since I could safely trade Garbodors effectively. Jimmy also opted to established 2 Espeon-GX which let the game travel at a slower pace. It gave me potential prizes to take since he used Parallel City to limit my Bench on the first turn.
The first turns for both of us were awkward since he had to dump the Items. Both of us attached a Psychic Energy to our active Eevee, but did not use Energy Evolution. I tried to find a Double Colorless Energy to punish him with Divide and put myself in a winning position, but I miss. The game pans out normally from here, but I have a huge advantage since he started with 3 Items in the discard. Because of that, I won the Garbodor war.
Game 2 has a drastically different start; both of us are able to set up safely and effectively with little risk or overextension. The Espeon-GX clash, then the Garbodors do. I remember prizing 2 Trubbish which meant I could only set up 2 Trashalanche at most. Those were quickly defeated, leaving me with just Espeon-GX to attack with. We both got to a point with 1 Prize. He had a Garbodor with Choice Band active, 60 damage, and Confused. He attempted to Professor Sycamore into Field Blower and Float Stone to retreat said Garbodor into a fresh one and Trashalanche for game. However, he misses that. He flips for Trashalanche, but gets tails. I use Psybeam the turn after and win.
Top 4: Diego Cassiraga (AR) Gardevoir
Game 1 I open with no Supporters—lovely! I do manage to topdeck the N on my second turn with Garbotoxin established already. I was in a huge winning position since Diego was locked out of his Supporter engine, along with any attachments through Secret Spring. My problem in this game was whiffing Double Colorless Energy.
In this matchup, it’s incredibly important to take 2 Prizes before they apply tons of pressure. I also needed to pre-place 2 damage counters on Tapu Lele-GX, removing that as a viable attacking option with Acerola. In both of the games I lacked any early aggression, leaving me to barely fall short in Game 1 and have no chance in Game 2.
I had no way to pressure him while he used Twilight GX. I had an Espeon-GX out (finally with a Double Colorless), but it was too late. He had the Acerola and Rare Candy, effectively forcing his Gardevoir deck vs. my Espeon deck. As all compounded Stage 1 decks go, it’s typically bad when one of them is completely unusable. He drew well without needing to use Items, leaving my Trashalanche useless and my Garbotoxin susceptible to Field Blower with little punishment available. The most heartbreaking turn was missing Choice Band or any sort of tempo to KO his Gardevoir-GX; a Guzma would have put it at 210. If I had been able to make one power play throughout Game 1, whether it be early on with Divide GX or later with N, the game would have been mine.
The 2nd Game is a sadder story. I do not get an N on the second turn. I do have the Double Colorless I need, but I have a Trubbish trapped active. This game looked miserable from the first few turns in, and I honestly thought I had no chance. It looked bleak from every turn as I started 3 turns behind. When I finally drew Professor Sycamore, I had given him 3 free turns to set up. Those turns needed to be used for taking prizes and developing a second Espeon-GX. Every play I made this game was with the intent of slowing down the game and eventually stealing it through an N to 1-2 and Garbotoxin.
The one thing I’d like to comment on in this game is how important taking notes is. Checking prizes can be done without it, but it provides a way to ensure you never forget, and remember which ones you’ve taken. The other thing that I used my notes for in this match was probability. On my final turn of the game, I counted both his deck size and mine, the cards in hand, and favorable outs for both of us. I had the option of using N or Professor Sycamore.
He had a hand of 5 cards containing only one Energy: Fairy. I could have used Professor Sycamore in hopes of a Tool and attacked with Espeon-GX, but I found the chance of him having a Supporter very likely. I went for the riskier play in N and missed the Tool. At this point I could have stalled with Trubbish, but I don’t think it would have made a difference anyway. He would have gone down to 1 Prize, needing me to make a full reverse sweep against 2 powered up Gardevoir-GX.
Overall, I’m incredibly happy with how I performed. I dreaded the idea of 8 rounds; 6-1-1 is an impossible record to get in a room full of that many good players. However, with the right luck, matchups, and skill, I persevered and ended my run in Top 4.
I plan to compete just as hard and hopefully make Top 16 again this next year! I have the tournaments to do it, I just need to make the most out of the ones I go to. Good luck to everyone competing in Ft. Wayne! Expanded isn’t my territory, but I should be able to whip something up and secure some points. See you all soon!
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