Hey there SixPrizes readers, I know it’s been a while since my last article. Since then, a lot of things have happened including a global pandemic shutting down a majority of the events in the world. This has led to the Pokémon season being canceled and everyone being stuck inside. What did that mean for me personally? My job allows me to work from home, so that aspect of my life remains unchanged, but the thing I miss the most—besides my girlfriend—is traveling to events every weekend and seeing my closest friends and competing. The first couple of weeks I was holding on strong and nothing could phase me, but this past weekend I was watching old World Championships opening ceremonies with Nico Alabas on Discord, and I couldn’t help tearing up. Missing a World Championships feels like a huge part of what I look forward to has been taken away from me. The circumstances are like this for a lot of people, but it just hit me hard while watching Nick McCord usher in the competitors in 2013 and the goosebumps it gave me.
I hope everyone’s been safe in these times and holding on strong. Today TPCi announced the rotation for the 2020–2021 season, but I haven’t had a chance to look too much into it, so I won’t be talking about that. I’m going to talk about how Pokémon can still be fun in this time and what the community is doing together to continue to compete and have fun along the road.
As many of you know, there are online tournaments and circuits popping up left and right. The abrupt cancelation of the season seems to have finally gotten the community to make the push toward holding online tournaments. There isn’t the same level of prestige as in-person tournaments, but for the situation this is an incredible collective effort. I’m hoping that this gives TPCi the push they need to improve the online client because of how many players are finally using it.
What kinds of online tournaments are there?
I’ll talk about each of these in some detail and how you can participate and have a good time. I know some players have had questions about how to sign up and how much of a commitment each of the various levels of tournaments are going to be.
Limitless Online Series
This four-part tournament circuit is an incredible effort put on by the gang over at LimitlessTCG. The idea is that there would be four Best-of-1 Swiss tournaments to determine which 12 players and 4 content creators would move onto the final 16-man tournament to face off. Did I mention there is money on the line at each of these events? The prizing isn’t even comparable to a typical Regionals, but it’s something to entice the public into giving it a shot.
The first try was a spectacular failure with Battlefy servers going down entirely and wiping the entire tournament after 2 rounds of play that lasted almost 3 hours, but within two weeks the group was able to put together one of the most successful online tournaments I have ever seen. With over a 1,000 participants split into four pools, they put on a clinically efficient tournament with 13 rounds of Swiss that lasted about 8 hours. Anyone with a record of 9-4 was to move on to Day 2, and participants who were 2-0 in the first qualifier were allowed to move on as well with an 8-5 record. The second day saw 7 more rounds of Swiss that went quickly and then the Top 8 played out with half of the decks being Mill decks and the other half being ADP decks. Ross Cawthon, known for his innovation over the years, came to this online tournament with an ADP/Spiritomb deck that piloted 4 copies of Pokémon Catcher in an attempt to beat the Mill decks. He made it all the way to the Top 4 before falling to Mill.
When is the next tournament you may ask? At the end of this week, signups will close for the 2nd of the 4 tournaments. This will signal the last Standard event we have without Rebel Clash being legal for play. The 3rd and 4th installments will bring Rebel Clash to a tournament setting and we’ll be able to see what players can come up with when the meta isn’t defined off the bat by the top brass. I’ll be participating in the 2nd qualifier as well as the others, because I don’t have anything else to do and I love playing Pokémon. Here’s what I intend on playing for the event if you’re interested.
1 Ditto p
8 P Energy
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 21
* 3 Inkay FLI 50
* 3 Malamar FLI 51
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Naganadel-GX FLI 121
* 1 Naganadel-GX UNM 160
* 3 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 2 Mewtwo & Mew-GX UNM 71
* 2 Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX PR-SM 217
* 1 Blacephalon CEC 104
* 1 Gengar & Mimikyu-GX TEU 164
* 1 Giratina LOT 97
* 1 Latios-GX UNM 78
* 1 Ultra Necrozma-GX FLI 95
##Trainer Cards - 29
* 2 Cherish Ball UNM 191
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 4 Marnie SSH 169
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 264
* 2 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 4 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Chaotic Swell CEC 187
* 2 Big Charm SSH 158
* 4 Switch SSH 183
##Energy - 10
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=80708 ******
This is the 60-card list Nico Alabas took to a 14-6 record in the last tournament, starting 6-0 as well. In a Best-of-1 tournament, the decks that should be played need to be consistent. If they can set up then they can do whatever they want. The biggest thing drawing me to this deck is Horror House-GX and the ability to just steal games in that manner. Even if my opponent knows it’s coming, sometimes they can’t do anything about it. That’s enough about this tournament series; I think it’s a really fun idea bringing the community together in tough times and allowing players to compete at a higher level from the comfort of their homes.
UPR–SSH and BLW–SSH Pods
I’m going to lump these two tournament structures into one because they both involve current formats. Many players are starting Discord servers and Facebook groups with the express purpose of holding tournaments in the current Standard and Expanded formats that can go rapid-fire with 8-man pods, like IC side events or even full-fledged multi-day tournaments. The entry is $2–$3 for these quick pods and it can be an evening of just getting your Standard or Expanded itch out of your system.
I personally haven’t played in either of these because I’ve been favoring older formats and playing Legacy recently on the PTCGO ladder. But for anyone who enjoys these formats, especially with Rebel Clash on the horizon, I would recommend looking into a Discord server that caters to your timings and there’ll be plenty of like-minded individuals ready to play some games.
PokéStats Old Formats Tournaments
This is quickly becoming a favorite of mine as more and more of these are popping up. PokéStats went ahead and decided to hold a multi-day 2017 NAIC format (i.e., PRC–GRI) tournament because many agree that it was one of the more skillful formats and had innovation up until the very end with Tord Reklev’s Drampa/Garb facing off against John Kettler’s Decidueye/Vileplume in the finals of that tournament. I decided to participate because that year was one that was particularly successful for me, netting multiple Top 8s and Top 16s at Regionals but eventually falling short of the finish line at both NAIC and the World Championships.
While playing the first round I realized how much fun I was having and these thoughts and memories came flooding back to me. I championed a deck you all know me for during the back half of that season, Vespiquen/Zoroark. This was the list that I piloted to NAIC that year and I figured that I wouldn’t change it because I hadn’t touched it until now, after that season had ended.
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 27
* 4 Combee AOR 9
* 4 Vespiquen AOR 10
* 2 Zorua BKT 90
* 2 Zoroark BKT 91
* 2 Eevee AOR 63
* 1 Flareon AOR 13
* 1 Vaporeon AOR 22
* 4 Unown AOR 30
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Mewtwo EVO 51
* 1 Mr. Mime BKT 97
* 1 Oranguru SUM 113
##Trainer Cards - 29
* 4 Professor Sycamore STS 114
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 4 Acro Bike PRC 122
* 2 Lysandre FLF 90
* 2 Special Charge STS 105
* 2 Forest of Giant Plants AOR 74
* 1 Teammates PRC 160
* 1 Revitalizer GEN 70
* 1 N FCO 105
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 4 Ultra Ball FCO 113
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
##Energy - 4
* 4 Double Colorless Energy PHF 111
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=80708 ******
The tournament ran for 7 rounds with over 60 players participating in this inaugural tournament to kick off the old format craze. I finished 5-2 making some mistakes that were incredibly punishing, but that’s what the format was at the time. Each game was a mental slugfest where the first to fall to their knees would be taken out of the game. I truly missed that format and playing it in a semi-competitive environment was really fun and sparked my old flair for older formats.
The PokéStats group is planning on holding a 2014 Worlds format tournament next, which I might participate in just to get a taste of what I missed on my break year, but all in all it’s just a really fun experience. For players who didn’t get a chance at these formats you now have a slew of decklists that did well and you can grab one and give it your all. Every year and every rotation the game changes in some major way. Whether it be a new mechanic that gets introduced or a rule change, so going back and seeing how I played those formats and just mentally bouncing back and forth has been quite fun.
Project Old Decks
One thing that I have been meaning to work on but haven’t had the time nor monetary resources for is building old decks from previous World Championships. If you do a quick TCGplayer or eBay search for these sealed decks, you’ll see that some of the older ones are reaching $70+ sealed and the newer ones are quickly running out of stock, leaving the only option as acquiring the real cards for these decks. I have quietly been picking up some of the newer decks when I see them at Target or Walmart around the holidays, but I never fully committed to the idea of spending money on this project. The interest around it has never really been there for me, and knowing that other players like Chip Richey already have comprehensive collections gave me the notion that I could be lazy and put aside my own ambition. After reading Jay Hornung’s article about the 2011 format, the first Worlds I followed with a competitive mindset, something inside of me had been unlocked. I couldn’t stop thinking about the format and I couldn’t stop talking about older formats and some of the decks that were the cornerstones of those formats.
I was cleaning up my room when I found the four World Championship decks from 2018 sleeved and in deckboxes and I had quite the strange way to justify myself about to spend a lot of money. Local business and small businesses are struggling in this time and I love my card stores, so why not go ahead and invest in their futures by finally spending the money I have toward the cards I’ll need to pick up anyway? The logic might not be all correct, but it gave me the final push I needed to invest. I found all four of the Worlds 2017 decks for $50 shipped, and I was itching for more. I ordered every card from Jay Hornung’s “Right” Yanmega/Magnezone/Kingdra list because that deck was one of my favorites in that format besides Stage 1s.
The next day during a work meeting that I can only describe as mundane and lifeless, I had an idea to make a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet of all the existing World Championships decks that I could purchase for the collection and what other decks I would like to build for the future. I know there are some decks that flew under the radar or didn’t have the best performance at Worlds, but building certain things (like Vespiquen) would make me happy, and as long as I had a group of friends who would play these formats with me I would be content.
Here you guys have my list of decks I’d to build with real cards (barring Tropical Beaches) for now. The list is ambitious and probably a really heavy investment on my end, but I think it’ll be worth it in the end when I collect the pieces over time. You might be asking, why not 2010 and before? Those had some really good World Championships, and 2010 and 2006 are two of my favorite ones to play, but I simply don’t have any personal memories of those years. I want to eventually go backward enough to get every single year, but for now this is the smaller and more achievable goal in my eyes.
As you can tell I’ve been favoring getting 1–2 formats close to done on the list so I can have them ready to go when the quarantine ends. 2017 Worlds was one I talked about in this article as being one of the more skillful ones and one that I just genuinely enjoyed playing. 2018 I believe there are more decks to be found, but besides the printed decks and BuzzGarb, I can’t think of any off the top of my head, so for now those will have to do. 2013 and 2011 are the other two I would really like to get done because of how fun some of the decks in that format are. 2013 had Blastoise, which was a personal favorite of mine, and I went ahead and built my 9-0 Nationals list that I wrote about on SixPrizes seven years ago. The Worlds list was improved with Exeggcute PLF and Jirachi-EX, but my Nationals list has more sentimental value to me at the moment.
I know today wasn’t an ordinary article where I would break down the Top 10 cards from Rebel Clash or talk about the format rotation, but simply one that came from my heart. I’ve been pouring a lot of time into this passion project and for me Pokémon is something that is an irreplaceable part of my life. The last 10 years of my life it has just introduced me to so many people and experiences and that won’t be something that I ever forget and lose my passion for.
I’ve been debating making YouTube content talking about these old decks or recording older format matches, so if there’s interest in those I’ll go ahead and do them at a reasonable pace so everyone has some content to digest when they eventually run out of Netflix shows to watch during quarantine.
I hope everyone stays safe, and if you miss the game and playing there’s so many ways to get yourself involved! I know personally I’ll be a crying emotional mess around August when Worlds would be, but until we all see each other again be safe and stay strong everyone!
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