Pokémon in my opinion is 70% luck, 20% skill and 10% practice. There is the luck in shuffling, drawing and some of this can be helped with statistical changes, but even 14 Supports in a deck can draw you blank for 7 turns (sorry Clinton). Clinton in the same tournament lost 2 games in the Swiss because in 7 to 9 turns he did not draw a supporter. There is the added luck that TOM throws in when it pairs you up with players based on your name in the first round, and more luck on the percentages of who you play in the following Swiss rounds. If you could tell the future it might be better to loss the first round and play easier opponents in the rounds to come and with one loss still make cut, or to continue winning to not hit those dreaded PlasmaKlang decks. In the South African Nationals I did my practicing, I had my skill of remaining calm and collected to notice everything and play smart. I even did enough praying for a week on the Sunday, that and the luck from the game got me through the tournament. I need to break down the deck list first so you understand the match ups. Deck list Pokémon - 11 Trainers - 37 Energy - 12 3 Kyurem (PLF) 2 Thundurus EX 3 Deoxys EX 1 Keldeo EX 1 Landorus EX 1 Terrakion (NV) 4 Professor Juniper 3 N 3 Colress 4 Skyla 4 Pokémon Catcher 2 Ultra Ball 2 Team Plasma Ball 2 Frozen City 2 Tool Scrapper 2 Float Stone 2 Switch 1 Max Potion 1 Team Plasma Badge 1 Scramble Switch 4 Colress Machine 4 Blend WLFM 4 Prism 4 Plasma It is a TKD deck with Frozen City and no Lazers because at first I wanted more space for Lugia and DCEs. I saw myself focusing on the Lugia too often in games because I previously played Big Basics with Lugia and placing 3rd in Regionals. The Lugia in the TKD mirror matches was almost always KOed by Thundorus. The Frozen City also helped with Dark decks attaching and murdered the Blastoise decks. There is a strong presence of Darkrai in South Africa so I needed to have an answer for that. My online matchups against Darkrai before Landorus and Terrakion were not easy and I lost too many games to be comfortable. Then I added the Landorus and team plasma badge, and it was a strong helper against both Dark and Eels, two Landorus was too much and weak to water in TKD and not helpful against PlasmaKlang. I needed something to KO Dark and Eels but something better for mirror and PlasmaKlang. Terrakion worked well against PlasmaKlang for me in the past and 1HKOs Thundurus without a weakness to water. After about 150+ games online (about 10 at leagues) with this list I was happy. I had done bad in previous tournament because I changed the deck with not enough practice and experience in it. Let’s move on to how this deck did at the South African Nationals. Day 1 We were expecting 138 players at the South African Nationals. It might seem low but we have only been at this since Black and White, so we are impressed with our figures. I was there in the beginning when we had 11 players for the first pre-release in SA, so I am impressed with this number. It turned out to be 85 players and was a very successful event. Most players could not travel to JHB and there were a lot of players sick. Our climate is a very warm one and we had just had a cold front. The Nationals were held in JHB because have half the leagues in the country around this area and more than half of the players. I felt a little bad because I woke up at home when registrations started and made it there with more than enough time before the cut-off, while others had to travel 1.5 hours. Round 1 (vs. RayEels) [Mikyle] WOW, I wanted an easy opponent to start with just to warm up, this was not it. He started with a Mr. Mime and Tynamo which sat on the bench saying “na-na-nana-na”. Throughout the whole game I only did 20 damage to Mr Mime and that was when the frozen city was out and Mikyle placed an energy to retreat it. I could not decide through the game to go for just Eels or Rayquaza as the Mr. Mine was always in my way. I won by the skin of my teeth by KOing a combination of both. Frozen City help in more ways than one, preventing an extra attachment onto Rayquaza at just the right times to stop his 1HKOs. Round 2 (vs. TKD Lasers) [Latano] The game was tight but we were actually talking more about trades of Golden Catchers, Golden Ultra Balls and FA Junipers that I had to mentally stop and see what I had been playing. I don't know if this was what he was going for, as this happens with me and other players so I could be the common denominator. It worked in detracting me and after I stopped the game became a little easier to play. The deck was simply playing off mussel memory. Here the Terrakion came in very useful to 1HKO his Thundurus and stopped him from wanting to play other Thundurus down. This 2 prize for 1 prize trade off helps. He did not play Lugia that I saw, so he was pure TKD with Lazers. I have found in games that even benching a Terrakion with the treat of fighting energy -> team plasma badge -> Colress Machine with energy to give you a one turn revenge. Stops a lot of people and prevents them freedom of them playing any Pokémon down. Round 3 (vs. Darkrai/Absol) [Cape Town PokeMom Tarryn or Tamara] This match-up is what all the cards in my 3 card tech are needed for. Terrakion came out first to do great damage to the layout and her Darkrai was just not as fast as it should be. In about turn 3 or 4 I powered up Landorus Ex with a plasma badge and 2 x Deoxy on the bench. 200 damage to each Darkrai without discarding energy! After each KO and even after the win I felt very bad, like taking a boxes from a homeless person. Most people in the tournament were expecting a lot of Darkrai because of this expectation there were a lot of decks out there to counter them, it was good play on her part that she won the previous rounds. Round 4 (vs. TKD with Lugia) [Gershwin] The TKD mirror is up again and I played a lot of games online against this. He start was better than mine, but when I saw the Lugia I knew there was now some DCEs and other cards that made his TKD less consistent, just like my 3 tech cards did. My Frozen City and not Lasers gives me more space, but 2 dead cards in this game. He powers up the Lugia and just as Lugia does, he got stuck with one prize card. I N-ed him to a hand of 1 card and proceed to catch up from 6 prizes to 2 because he had no more plasma energy left. During this catch up he did Raiden Knuckle to get a plasma on Deoxys EX. After I got to 2 prizes he drew a Colress and needed after a Colress for 10 cards a catcher, prism energy and Hypnotoxic Laser. I will win the next turn as I have a catcher for a damaged Ex. He pulled all the cards he needed and took the win. The odd thing about this game was that it was the only time I was not wearing the Pikachu hat on my head. I realize this and continue to wear the hat on for every game going forward. Round 5 (vs. Mewtwo/Gardevoir) [Roger] He seemed to be very scared on my deck because of the speed, but he did not understand that just 3 catchers can make his Mewtwo Ex eat my Deoxy Ex for lunch. I had this done to me a few times online. I played well and did not show my fear targeting the Gardevoir and not the Mewtwo Exs. The game went quick after that, thanx to my son practicing the deck against me and showing me that the Gardevoir is the fuel for the deck. Round 6 (vs. Big Basics) [Friend of Riaan from Port Elizabeth] The only problem here is that he started with bit size snacks for the Kyurem in my deck, two Landorus Ex. After those two starters my Kyurem just finished off another EX to get me a guaranteed spot in Top 8 for the next day. So in the Top 8 for South African Nationals we had: 2 TKD, 2 Big Basics, 1 HydroPony, 1 RayEels, 1 Garchomp and 1 Deoxys/Landorus/Buffalent. I went home and practiced the Garchomp match up in fear of it and the only time TKD came out winning was when the Garchomp decked out. It would be my Top 4 game and if he was there I would lose. Day 2 Top 8 (vs. Big Basics) [Kaila] Kaila came 2nd in the Cape Town Regionals playing the same Big Basics deck. I helped judge the competition and watched a few of her games, so I was expected the addition of a Keldeo – Float Stone tech as it was not out then and maybe a few Cobalion (Ex and not) in the deck. To my surprise the deck only had the Keldeo tech. The morning was cold and the event was sort-of outside, combined with it being our first game of the day we played a little slow. I thought the match-up would be easy after practicing against standard big basics, but we must never under-estimate Kaila with any deck. She seemed to twist and turn that slippery deck out of my fingers at each turn. After I realized there was no Cobalion in the deck things got a little easier. I won the first game but we knew we had taken a long time to finish that game. Going into game 2 I thought that there would be no time for a third game. I wanted to either win game 2, have it not count with either player not taking enough prizes to count as a game or win with more prizes after the 3 turns if time was called. We both shuffled our decks at super speed knowing that time was against us and started the game. I was on 3 prize cards left and Kaila on 4. With her Mewtwos running around I saw that she needed 2 prizes to stand a chance. I only had a damaged Kyurem and clean Exs, so I chose to not place down Deoxys Ex in my hand. She could have easily added an extra DCE with Hypnotoxic Lazer or Engery switch to KO a Deoxys Ex. Well it paid off for me when time was called as she had no way of getting two prizes. She catchered out the Kyurem to leave us tie on prizes but the game did not count and I proceeded to the next round. Not a nice way to win. Top 4 (vs. “Deoxys and Friends” as we call it now) [Sbastian] I was very grateful for Sbastian beating his previous opponent as playing against a Garchomp/Altaria. As I mentioned Garchamp is an auto loss for TKD, but does not do well against other decks like Darkrai. I did not even expect it to make the top cut. I was so happy though and it looked like I had won the tournament already, but I still had two more rounds to go. Sbastian’s deck had Deoxys EX, Landorus EX, Terrakion and Bouffalant. These Pokémon give him a lot of options against a TKD deck as he can add the Team Plasma Badges to the Pokémon without direct weakness and do a lot of damage. I needed to play very smart and carefully here. I started the first game with 3 Kyurems before the first card was drawn. I found out later that this make him a little sad because he had 2 Landorus Ex on the field already. This sounds like the game would have been easy for me, but it was not. He played around the Landorus very well and at one point I thought I might not even win the game. He did not pull a Max Potion in time and I cleaned up the game never doing a Blizzard Burn once throughout. I was also playing very carefully as I did not want to commit the energy to the on Pokémon for his Dexoys Ex to KO and leave me without a plan. In the second game he now knew and understood my deck which meant the Landorus EX were not coming out. Well until I temped him with a Thundurs in play. He was even 2 HKOing my Kyurems with a well-placed team plasma badge on a Boufalent, it does 70! It was an even game taking us down to 2 prizes each and him having the winning hand for the next turn, but I played an N to shuffle it back into his deck. I then took another 2 turns after that to win game 2 as he drew nothing. I was very glad that it did not go into game 3. Finals (vs. RayEels) [Mikyle] I was planning on packing my video camera to record the finals if I was not in them. I don’t like filming and commentating on the games I’m in so it has kinda stopped the number of film games I do. Well I was running late so I just left it, good thing because I’m in the finals now. In the first game I won the flip and went first. At this point Mikyle turned over his Rayquaza EX and a benched Tynamo. He was very happy that he had not been donked the whole tournament, but what I was about to do was just as bad. Going first I was doing a standard ultra-ball to get a Kyurem, the regular run of the TKD, when I changed my mind and got my Landorus EX out. Put a prism on him, switch and started the hammer head on the active Rayquaza Ex and 30 on the Tynamo on the bench. Mikyle started got a fire energy onto his Rayquaza Ex and got another Tynamo and Keldeo out. In my turn 2 I got a catcher and pulled the undamaged Tynamo to KO both Tynamos, I was now in control of the RayEels deck. More Tynamos came out even after a super rod but as Landorus Ex was sitting there shooting “fish” in a barrel while the rest of the TKD crowd where building up on the bench. He did power up single energy 60hp attacks against Landorus Ex, but I had a Keldeo with Float Stone to Rush in and take advantage of his stadium PokeCenter to make it a 4 hit KO for Rayquzaz powering up manually. Game 2 was not the best way to win Nationals as he drew dead and I realizing this did not play N rather waited for a Juniper as I was still pulling my Frost Spear off each turn doing some damage as he struggled. I controlled the game from the early turns and he did not stand a chance. The round one game in Swiss showed the real power of the RayEels deck when things get setup. This is that same thing said about any Tear 1 setup deck, unfortunately if the setup fails then so does the power of the deck. I was really not expecting to win Nationals and went in with small goals to make it to the next day and then to the finals. I only needed the 200 points to “qualify” for Worlds and only for the achievement of getting in. I did not face a PlasmaKlang or Cobalion Ex in any game, so there was a lot of luck there. These games would have been a good 50/50 but this is how Pokémon sometimes is. I practiced a lot of the opponents deck and there was a good 2-3 days a week before the tournament that I was not going to play this list and played all the other possibilities to see which one would be better. This is the best practice you can get, because you need to know almost what your opponent is thinking and which cards he has left in his deck. The South African Pokémon community is growing well and will soon have the numbers to get paid trips and compete at the Worlds, watch this space.