Hola people! October has treated me very well, and honestly, the past couple of months have probably been my peak so far in my Pokémon career in terms of consistency and performances. I’m sure a lot of you are aware how last season I struggled to get good finishes outside of Australia, but now I have a Regionals win under my belt to add to my Top 8 at Worlds.
I’ve started off the season on the right foot, despite below average League Cup finishes (25/100 possible CP). I now have a total of 365, which puts me comfortably in the #1 spot in LATAM. With the 30th of November cut-off fast approaching for the Oceania IC, I’m hoping I can keep performing at the upcoming events, London and San Jose.
With this being said, let’s jump into the action this past weekend! Having pulled me through all the way to Top 8 at Worlds, and Top 16 at Hartford, I saw no reason whatsoever to shy away from Gardevoir-GX.
The deck has obviously been modified since Worlds, with the biggest change being the inclusion of Sylveon-GX. We have a couple of really good Gardevoir-GX articles on the site, so I will spare you the details on why this deck is really that good. Below is the list I used to go undefeated throughout the day:
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 29
Energy – 12
And here is how my roller coaster ride of a day went—coincidentally, very similarly to my Oceania Internationals run:
Round 1: Espeon-GX/Garbodor
I started off the day with a tough match, as Confusion is really tough to deal with sometimes, and all Garbodor decks are playing Espeon-EX now, making Rare Candy a liability sometimes. Game 1 seemed to be looking OK for me, but my opponent smartly never committed too many energy to his Espeon, and forced me to run low on Energy. One crucial turn toward the late game, he was able to recover off of a low N, and I wasn’t, which let Espeon-EX wreck havoc on my field.
I never contemplated conceding Game 1 because things always looked to be in my favor, or close to even, but now I had the clock going against me. I was able to close out Game 2 with some very good draws against my opponent’s subpar start, but there wasn’t enough time for Game 3, so we started off with a tie.
Not the ideal way to start, but little did I know, ties would be a constant theme throughout the day.
Round 2: Espeon-GX/Garbodor (0-0-1)
When he flipped over 2 Eevee and attached a Psychic, I was not happy to be facing off another Confusion-based deck. Thankfully, I was able to get my 2 Float Stone to stick for a while, so I alternated between using Magical Ribbon and Infinite Force. This proved too much to handle, and I took Game 1 in a solid manner. Game 2 was a quick game, as my opponent’s draw was suboptimal—and mine was stellar.
The first mirror match of the day, and against none other than Sorina Radu. It felt like we were running pretty much identical lists. I never saw anything unique between our lists, so the game got very rough. I was able to win Game 1 through a well-timed Plea-GX with a strong setup behind it. Game 2 went the opposite way, and she was able to turn the game around through Plea-GX with my Tapu-Lele lined bench (used to grab Ns to avoid Magical Ribbon sticking on her side of the field). With very little time for Game 3, we both had full benches, so the game wasn’t going to finish, resulting in a tie.
Round 4: Golisopod-GX/Garbodor (1-0-2)
As my opponent flipped over Trubbish and Wimpod, I was not looking forward to my 3rd Garbotoxin deck of the day. Granted, I think this deck is easier to deal with now that Sylveon-GX is a thing, and devolving-based Garbodor decks are a lot more threatening. Game 1 went as planned, where Sylveon was able to get me the cards I needed and my opponent had tough decisions to make between Guzma or N every turn.
Eventually, I was able to power up 1 big Gardevoir that dealt with 2 Golisopod back-to-back, and then it was over, as my opponent’s deck ran out of steam given Garbodor BUS can be a subpar attacker in the matchup. Game 2, however was extremely close, as my setup wasn’t great and his was stellar. Game 1 had taken a long time, so Game 2 was probably going to be a win for him. However, despite all his efforts, a key Acerola on my Sylveon on the last turn of +3 made it impossible for him to get his last 2 Prize cards.
At this point, it felt like the whole tournament was going to be Garbodor decks or mirrors, as that was all I could see in the tables beside me. This mirror went similarly to the prior one, except I lost a very close Game 1 and then had to scramble to get a win in Game 2. Gardevoir is an inherently slow set up deck, and we didn’t have time to even start the Magical Ribbon + N dance when time was called in Game 3.
This was the deck that most of the top American players ended up using on the day, and I was actually a bit more afraid of it than the previous ones I had faced due to the high Po Town counts. As was the trend on Day 1, I had a super close Game 1 where, with a solid early and mid-game, I fizzled out and whiffed my outs to win the game. I was actually about to take Game 2 in a decisive manner, and we were both playing fast for Game 3… when time was called. I had a chance to win the game with very specific cards off of a Sycamore, followed next turn by a Guzma. I needed Field Blower, Double Colorless, Y Energy and Choice Band off of a Sycamore to KO the active Espeon-EX, but I whiffed the Choice Band, and thus had no way to draw 4 Prizes in my last turn.
Ending in a very close tie, where one extra turn probably wins the match, had me very frustrated. The deck was performing well, but fizzling out in the end, and 3-of those ties could’ve easily been victories had I been able to close out such games.
I made sure to walk it off, as I had been in this situation plenty of times during last season. Frankly, it was very unlikely that my hot streak during Day 1s would continue forever. I still had a chance to make Day 2, and just had to take it one game at a time.
When my opponent flipped over Salandit, I was relieved. I love playing against Fire decks because they’re the easiest matchups for Gardevoir, and Ho-Oh is a lot easier than the Volcanion we saw in Hartford. Both games played out normally, where we saw Kiawe and Magical Ribbons, but his low N count allowed me to keep Magical Ribbon every time. Setting up 1 Gardevoir in this matchup is usually enough, but setting up 2 like I did just ensures you win every time, and I closed out the series with a quick 2-0.
Another mirror match, but I believe my opponent had a smaller Sylveon line. Game 1 was quite intricate and close, but a Gallade KO on his Octillery allowed me to secure stronger hands on late game Ns, thus allowing me to build a stronger board position. Game 1 took a very long time, and I figured we wouldn’t have time for a complete Game 2. Unfortunately for my opponent, he dead-drew pretty badly, and I was able to win the second game fairly quickly.
Win-and-in, just like in Hartford! After playing against so many Garbodor, I was more confident going into the match with the idea that I’d concede a game if something wasn’t going as planned, allowing enough time to play out and win the series. Game 1 was incredibly close and scrappy, with both of us using our resources to fullest potential. Toward the end, it literally came down to a Confusion flip to decide the game. I rolled the die, and it showed a nice 6, winning me Game 1 with little time for Game 2. Game 2 featured an incredible start for me, with enough basics in my hand that I didn’t even need to Brigette on Turn 1 (despite being able to!). I was able to run through my opponent with a few minutes to spare in the end.
So, I ended Day 1 with a solid (and undefeated, I guess?) 5-0-4 record, which was enough to secure Day 2. With the number of participants, my record, and what not, I had a déjà vu kind of feeling relative to Oceania last March, and went to bed confident that 3 wins tomorrow would secure a Top 8 spot. After making a comeback from 2-0-4 to 5-0-4 (in Australia it was 3-3-0 to 6-3-0), I wanted to keep the momentum going.
Round 10: Golisopod-GX/Garbodor (5-0-4)
We began with an OK matchup, and one I think I’m very well-versed in, as it’s a very popular choice in Mexico. Nothing out of the ordinary in both games. Golisopod has to choose between dealing 30 damage to Sylveon and N’ing away the Magical Ribbon or using Guzma and letting me keep the 3 cards, which is difficult for it. I grabbed my Magical Ribbon targets fully expecting a Guzma KO, and ran away. A quick 2-0 to start the day gave me a ton of confidence.
I find out my opponent is a first year Master, and this has me a tiny bit worried, simply because I got wrecked by 4 of them at Ft. Wayne, and then once again by Michael Long in Hartford. Obviously, this is silly superstition, but it definitely crossed my mind as we were chatting pre-game. I honestly don’t remember much about this match other than him drawing very sub-optimally against my very strong starts. With some smart evolution play on my part to minimize damage on my field, his deck just didn’t have the firepower to match mine. Even the Devolving strategy proved to not be as effective thanks to my delayed-evolution approach.
This round I’m up against fellow writer and friend Xander. With him doing even better than me at Worlds, I knew this would be the toughest Garbodor matchup yet. This was right to an extent, but I’m still sure Gardevoir is favored against any Garbodor-based deck. Game 1 was very scrappy, and I was able to pull it off in the end thanks to some fortunate draws off of N. Game 2 seemed to be even more in my favor, but at one point Xander was able to even things out and left me with a difficult choice of using Twilight-GX or KOing.
Either of these would be combined with N, and I decided that KOing was my best course of action. Off of the N to 1, he drew Drampa-GX which didn’t help him, but then he topdecked Professor Sycamore to get the energy for Espeon-EX and his last prize. There were around 8 minutes left in the round (he was keeping track), and we both were at a point where a loss would make Top 8 difficult, while a tie wouldn’t be bad. We agreed to ID simply to avoid Game 3 being decided on an unlucky draw, and we wished each other good luck in the next rounds.
At this point, I was just missing a win to setup a last-round ID, so, fully determined, I sat down to play against another known player, Ben Potter.
Round 13: Drampa-GX/Tapu Koko/Garbodor (7-0-5)
With both sitting at 26 points, we know we’re in a win-and-in situation. At first, I thought this would be another of the Garbodor decks I faced throughout the weekend, but as the game progressed I found out he didn’t run Espeon-GX—he ran Tapu Koko SM31 instead. Not having to deal with Confusion flips (or rather, actively avoiding them) made the match so much easier. It felt like a more normal Drampa/Garbodor deck from Worlds a couple of months ago. Drampa is a terrible attacker due to its inability to KO any of my attackers and the requirement of 3 energy to deal significant damage. Taking back-to-back KOs in both games with a well-timed Twilight was enough to give me the win.
With both of us at 29 points, and 30 being the bubble, we agree to ID and hope to not be too affected by tiebreakers. It turns out that one 30 point player could have missed, but things worked out in the end for a clean cut.
I made it in as the 8th seed, and was ecstatic! After being 2-0-4, it really required some strong mental focus to not let bad temper or tilt get to me and stay focused on winning one game at a time. As standings go up, I see that I will face none other than my friend, and arguably the best player in the game right now, Sam Chen, in Top 8. We all know about Sam’s incredible results so far this year, but I did have the upper hand in the matchup, I believe.
We sit down and start talking, shuffling our decks, and then set up for Game 1. My hand is completely dead, and I draw-pass for 2 turns as Sam gets the ideal turn 2 Drampa-GX, Berserk, Guzma, KO on my benched Remoraid, and follows up with a Choice Band to KO the Tapu Lele I started with. It’s over in less than one minute, and I’m pretty disappointed with this. I calm myself down, knowing I still have plenty of time and this is something I’ve done before—not only on my streamed match at Worlds, but also against Sam in another round.
Game 2 plays out better for me, and the game is quite close. However, there comes a point where I conclude that, in order to win the game, I have to pass up on a KO in order to use Twilight-GX. This surprises Sam, and it ends up paying off as I’m able to win the game.
Game 3 is actually a lot more straightforward, as his start isn’t stellar, and even though he makes it as close as possible, I’m able to overpower him with my overall better attackers, winning the series 2-1.
I can’t lie: I was incredibly happy at this point, and full of confidence after the 2-0-4 turned around all the way to Top 4—and I remained technically undefeated! This match against Mark Garcia was tough, as he ran 2 Parallel City and 2 Max Potion, which were there specifically for the mirror. He didn’t run any recovery though, so in Game 1 he had to use Twilight-GX instead of Plea in order to have a chance at keeping up with my board.
The Max Potion were more of an annoyance than something that actually turned the match around, and they were somewhat matched with my Acerola, so I never felt like he had the upper hand. Game 2 was pretty poor for him, thus I was able to close the series with a solid 2-0.
In the finals, I ended up playing against Hale, the opponent I ID’d with in Round 14—it was fitting that we would face off. Last time I played a final of a major tournament, I ended up losing. Winning 2 more games seemed a lot easier than everything I had accomplished up until this point, though. I didn’t know at the time, but Hale also ran 2 Max Potion and 2 Parallel City. He was able to use Plea effectively in Game 1, just like I was, but he was forced to bench 2 Tapu Lele to keep up with the N/Magical Ribbon dance in the early game. Thus, he only had 2 Ralts on his bench, which made my Plea that more deadly. This proved to ultimately be the deciding factor in Game 1.
In Game 2, just like in Top 4, I had a much stronger set that allowed me to overpower him. He tried to make a comeback, but I made sure I was ready for any and all possibilities, thus not even the Max Potions allowed him to make that comeback.
And so, after making Top 8 for the first time ever at a Regionals, and third time at a major event outside of Mexico in recent years, I had my Champion trophy.
It was a really grueling battle to come all the way from 2-0-4 and finish 11-0-6, but I’ve recently adopted a mentality that’s helped me stay focused in these sorts of situations: one game at a time. I usually start imagining many scenarios of future rounds, on whether I will tie or win, or contemplate how many matches I can afford to lose, and that does seem to take away from the focus on the immediate problem: the current match. This mindset, I believe, along with enough practice and experience with my deck, allowed me to go on a 9-0-2 run after the first 6 rounds and end up as the Vancouver Regional Champion.
Thanks so much for reading this lengthy report, and I’ll be back next week with another article as we tackle Shining Legends and Crimson Invasion! Until next time!