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Jordan Roberts

Lightning Strikes the Ocean: US Nationals Tournament Report

Tournament report of US Nationals 2016, and look at the meta to come for Worlds 2016!

07/13/2016 by Jordan Roberts

Hey 60cards readers! There is about a 95% chance you don’t know me, so let me formally introduce myself. Howdy, my name is Jordan Roberts, and I am a player in the master’s division, located in Dallas, Texas. I haven’t done much this year, with the exception of being donked on the St. Louis Regionals stream (sigh), but last year, I ranked 28th in the US and Canada in CP with 564 CP. Today, I am here to share with you my tournament report for US nationals, including potential deck choices, final list, actual tournament report, and brief discussion of what happened each round. So without further ado, let's jump in!

Table of contents

Table of Contents

·      Deck Choices

·      Final List

·      Tournament Report

·      Post Tournament Comments

·      If I were going to worlds…

So leading up to the main event, I hadn’t played at an event since St. Louis regionals, but I was still avidly building lists and keeping updated on the potential meta. From what I was able to discern, here was the tier list after Canadian Nationals (note: this is my list, so if you have a problem with it, you can silently think I am a bad player in your head and move on)…

Tier S:

·      WaterBox (Seismitoad/Manaphy/etc.)

·      Night March

·      Trevenant

·      Mega Rayquaza

Tier 1:

·      Vespiquen/Vileplume/Jolteon

·      Metal

·      Mega Manectric/Garbodor

·      Darkrai/Giratina/Garbodor

·      Greninja

Tier 2:

·      Wailord

·      Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade

·      Fighting (Carbink/Zygarde)

·      Mega Sceptile

·      Vespiquen/Not Vileplume

·      Seismitoad/Giratina

(note: decks within the tier are in no particular order)

So, after examining the list, I think there will be a few things people disagree with, but this is what I thought would see play. Additionally, there is something wrong with this list that really affected my day, so stay tuned for that. After I determined what I thought the metagame was, I gained the realization that no matter what the metagame consisted of, it wouldn’t determine my match ups. With that thinking, I had limited my deck options to two, WaterBox and Darkrai/Giratina/Garbodor, since those were the decks I felt had the most 50/50 match ups. 

After limiting my deck choices down to two decks, I had to make a decision based off of three criteria.

1.     Consistency: if I play this deck, will I be able to start with a playable hand a majority of the time, and if under a turn one item of ability lock (since Trevenant was tier S), can I still progress game state? Finally, can I count on my deck providing me a turn one attacker if the time is right?

2.     Comfort: if I play this deck, will I be able to adequately assess every match up and effectively create a game plan dependent on my opponent, as well as make the least amount of misplays possible?

3.    Quick: if I play this deck, will I have the ability to win a game three if necessary, and effectively use the win conditions of deck out and donk to win fast games?


Between the two decks I had chosen to be the nominees for my nationals deck, WaterBox was able to win the first round of criterion, consistency, since even though both decks run on a similar engine, the 12 searchable water energy was more consistent than the 9 darkness energy. The second round also went to the WaterBox deck, since I had a good amount of experience with Seismitoad (as stated earlier), and felt very comfortable knowing that I would make little mistakes since I knew the ins and outs of the deck. So, even with majority rule, WaterBox takes the third criterion, as in combination of item lock, effective healing, and many attackers that can create win conditions (i.e. Regice against Darkrai/Giratina with non EX attackers), the deck utilized multiple win conditions. 

After reviewing the criterion, I decided that WaterBox was the best play. Driving up to Columbus, Ohio, this was the list I believed I was going to play...

At this point, Nationals was a few days away, and not only did I know the deck I was going to play, but I felt comfortable knowing that even if I don’t perform well, I didn’t make a spur of the moment decision that could have jeopardized my tournament performance. Oh wait, I did.

To all of the readers at home, if there is one thing you should take away from this article, it’s this. Sometimes, before a major event, you’ll get jittery and nervous about your deck choice. Changing your deck right before a major event (for a good estimate, I would say two days before the event or less) is never a good idea. Though, there is a chance that you make a good meta call, you are putting yourself in a position where you, the player, had a great understanding of their deck, but switched to a deck you hadn’t really played before except on PTCGO. In a way, I did this, but at the same time, I didn’t. The literal morning before US nationals, I went downstairs to get breakfast before heading to the convention center. As I grabbed my hotel quality eggs, I saw my good friend Brandon Smiley, who is playing WaterBox with a little twist. After I personally said that adding the twist to the deck was a complete waste of space, Brandon, the devilish smooth talker he is, convinced me to make the change. After rushing around the convention center to complete the deck, and begging a judge to lend me a pen, I introduce to you my list for WaterBox with Jolteon!

 

Regarding the changes, I’ll explain. The changes I made to the deck were as follows…

-3 Water Energy

+2 Lighting Energy

+1 Jolteon-EX

So like I said before, I somewhat am a hypocrite regarding the sudden list change, but I maintained the concept with a twist. Here are the pros and cons of Jolteon…

Pros:

·      Jolteon-EX has free retreat, so if you start with it, you don’t have to attach to retreat it, or use energy switch

·      If Night March does not play a tech Gallade and you manage your discard pile well (i.e. manage pokemon discards alongside super rod to prevent target whistle KOs), the game can be yours for the low cost of setting up a Jolteon

·      Same goes with WaterBox mirror (except Articuno Chilling Sigh and Regice stall/deck out) and Darkrai/Giratina (except variants with Hydreigon)

·      If you start with Jolteon-EX, your opponent could make an assumption about your deck (will elaborate later)

·      If you start with not Jolteon-EX, your opponent could make an assumption about your deck (will elaborate later)

·      Attacks like Quaking Punch, Grenade Hammer (if only one lightning is attached), Crystal Ray, and Tri Edge (if only one lightning is attached) are not affected by the switch to lightning

Cons:

·      Attaching a lightning energy does not allow free retreat with Manaphy

·      One less energy hurts max elixir consistency

·      Manaphy can’t use the lighting energy, so Mineral Pump is affected by the energy swap

Overall, the pros outweighed the cons, so Jolteon was made an official member of the deck, and off to the races we went!

 

For those of you who did not attend US nationals, there were a lot of people. Like, 1105 people in attendance. Many players were some of the greatest in the game, such as Jason Klaczynski and Ross Cawthon. Others were in the tournament beginning their pokemon adventure. So without further hesitation, here is my tournament report!

Round 1: opponent did not show up, WW

The feeling of the time before the judges announce the beginning of the round is nerve wracking, especially in a situation where your opponent hasn’t shown up. There are three scenarios to how this plays out…

Scenario 1: My opponent does not show up to the round at all, and despite destroying my resistance, I get a free win and a chance to scout out the competition.

Scenario 2: My opponent does not show up in time for the round start, I either get the advantage of winning on time or both winning on time and my opponent receiving a game loss. This is ideal, because my opponent isn’t dropped from the tournament, and has potential to boost my resistance

Scenario 3: My opponent shows up a few seconds before the judge begins the round, and it costs us dire needed time, since 50 minutes + 3 turns is hard to complete as is, 47 minutes + 3 turns is much harder.

The judges started the round with my opponent not in his seat, and was absent until the ten minute waiting period was over and I received the win. After several dirty looks from people around me (because let’s face it, who doesn’t want a free win at one of the most important tournaments of the year), and ten minutes of shuffling, I raced to turn in my slip. 

In between these rounds, I was able to get a good insight of what was being played. The format was as diverse as I thought it was, and there was a bit of everything, everywhere.

Round 2: Unknown Opponent, Darkrai/Giratina/Garbodor, WW

Like I said before, this match up is as easy as get a Jolteon out and win.

Game 1, I went first starting lone Seismitoad-EX, Judged him to 4, attached, passed. I didn’t have much in hand except an N, a lightning energy, and an FFB, so I was in potential deadly position. My opponent draws, benches Giratina, uses max elixir on Giratina, passes. At that point, the game was won. I eventually set up a Jolteon, eliminated my bench with AZ, and won.

Game 2 plays out similarly, except I got Jolteon out turn 3 and could not eliminate my bench. Even so, I had a fully powered Jolteon on the bench, a damaged Seismitoad-EX in the active with no way to retreat it, a benched Articuno, and a dead hand. I was in a predicament, and if my opponent capitalized on the situation, allowing my Toad to remain stranded, I probably would have lost. He knocks it out, doesn’t even try to stall out my Articuno, and eventually concedes.

Round 3: Jonathan Paranada, Night March, WW

When I saw my pairing, I almost died inside. When I discussed the greats of the game, Jonathan was a member of this list. But let’s cut the chitchat and move to the round.

Game 1, Jonathan goes first, rivaling my active Manaphy. This is where the pro of my opponent not knowing I play Jolteon comes in handy; JP aggressively runs through his deck, knowing that I was playing a Seismitoad deck, and uses as many items as he possibly could. After about 3 battle compressor, using a puzzle of time, and discarding 3 VS seekers/Lysandre, I begin my turn. From JP’s hand of 3 cards, I know he has a Professor Sycamore and an N in hand (he played 2 VS Seeker at the end of his turn), and if I benched a Jolteon, he would need a Dimension Valley, DCE, and Lysandre to take the KO, which was unlikely. With this, I use Hoopa-EX’s Scoundrel Ring to grab a Jolteon and some other cards, and power it up with 2 water energy, play a Professor Sycamore, and pass. JP, seeing this, acts in a quick abort mode, and attempts to take prizes as quick as he can, and KOs the active Manaphy. The game was decided by two turns in the game, and this was the first. I had no lightning in hand, and JP had a large hand size, so I played N for 6, needing one of two lightning energy to remain in the game. I drew my hand, hit both, and hit the active with a Flash Ray for KO. The second turn came immediately after, JP plays two time puzzle for a VS Seeker and a Lysandre, and after Lysandring out my benched Shaymin, chooses not to VS Seeker for Lysandre again and takes the KO. My turn came, and I knew that JP could not kill a Seismitoad-EX with a FFB (he had both a Night Marcher and his Xerosic prized), so I set up a Seismitoad, quaking punch, and at that point, he had just about depleted all his resources, and I cleaned up the game after he ran out of Night Marchers to attack with.

Game 2: JP starts Joltik, plays Puzzle of Time, plays Hex Maniac, and passes. I start lone Regice, Hoopa-EX, and proceed to whiff two Trainers’ Mail for any useful card to get me a basic. I had a decision, do I bench Hoopa, prevent bench potential, and have nothing useful in hand, or do I risk the game, hold Hoopa in hand, and pass. I chose the latter and passed to JP, only for him to attach an FFB and pass. At this time, I get the necessary attackers and draw cards, manage a quaking punch, and dead draw due to a misplay. Even though I made a small error in judgment, filling my bench so I couldn’t ultra ball for another shaymin, with a combination of quaking punch and FFB, his lone Joltik was donked and I won 2-0. 

Round 4: Justin Boughter, Night March/Vespiquen, LL

From what Brandon Smiley told me, this was an auto loss. I didn’t believe him, since not only did I not know the deck still existed, but assumed I could win since the deck wouldn’t commit more than a 1-1 line to Vespiquen. There are not many times I am blatantly wrong, but my opponent didn’t play a 1-1 line, but a 4-4 line. I don’t remember much about this match up besides getting destroyed, but enjoy!

Game 1: Justin goes first, gets the ideal set up, and passes. I go second, miss the Quaking Punch, and the game immediately goes downhill. After getting completely shredded, I eventually find a win condition in switching between Jolteon-EX and Glaceon-EX, and strategically banked off hoping neither got knocked out. Eventually, Glaceon was knocked out by a Joltik, and the game was riding on the back of “Please God don’t let there be enough to OHKO me” and to my surprise, there were about 25 pokemon in his discard, so I got Bee Revenged to a loss.

Game 2: I don’t have a stellar start, having just Regice in the active and kind of passing. Justin couldn’t knock out a Regice with a FFB, and eventually found himself in a similar position, just sacking his Joltiks and Combees to my 40 damage Ice Beams. The game eventually put me in the position where I can bench a Seismitoad, energy switch onto it, attach to it, and AZ the Regice to get up a quaking punch lock, however, I didn’t like the idea of my opponent being able to wipe all my energy off the field with a Bee Revenge (which he definitely didn’t have). With my nerves up because of the potential to tie my auto loss, I decided if it wasn’t broken don’t fix it. Justin proceeded to top deck a VS Seeker, and at that point, the game was over. 

Round 5: Opponent Unknown, Vespiquen/Garbodor/Yveltal/Gallade, WLL

Not much happened pre game with the exception of introductions and sort, so we just hopped into the match.

Game 1: My opponent went first, started Trubbish in active and Jirachi on the bench, and I got all excited because I assumed it was a Darkrai/Giratina variant. He attached to Jirachi and passed, I drew, hit the turn one quaking punch, and quickly won the game without knowing what he was really playing.

Game 2: My opponent went first and started Combee, and I died a little on the inside. He got the Gallade out, and at that point, I decide the plan of action was to establish an item lock since he only discarded two pokemon, and to start setting up a Glaceon. Well, after a few disappointing max elixir misses and a series of not so friendly draws, I miss the lock, and the discard pile of two pokemon turns into 10+. Glaceon didn’t have enough time to set up, and I eventually accepted my fate of the grass weakness, and we go to a game 3

Game 3: The game starts out like I want it to against decks like Vespiquen and Night March, start a non-EX, Scoundrel Ring for a Seismitoad/Glaceon/Shaymin combo, and hit max elixirs to distribute energy to both Seismitoad and Glaceon. My opponent takes his turn, sets up his Gallade, and gets down enough setup to be a major threat. With about 8+ pokemon in his discard, I needed to establish a lock and establish it quick. The only thing stopping me from sweeping my opponent with Glaceon is an Yveltal-EX, so that becomes priority #1. I target it down, and apply as much damage as possible until my active Toad dies. At that point, I am down 5-2, and I N my opponent to 2 cards. I try to clear off my board with a combination of Sky Returns and Crystal Ray, but after him drawing somewhat poorly off the N, he hits a super rod to return a shaymin and two other cards to deck, uses ultra ball to grab the Shaymin, and in a deck of 9 cards and 2 DCE being left, my opponent wins a well deserved game 3.

After receiving a compliment on the way I played Glaceon against my opponent, I walked away from the table with a 3-2 record after starting 3-0. At this point, it couldn’t get any worse. And as always, I am wrong, and things proceed to get worse.

Round 6: Unknown Opponent, Night March/Vespiquen, LWW

The moment I saw the storage container my opponent carried his decks in, I knew he was playing Night March/Vespiquen, as I recognized the container from the official Pokemon stream. Out of the many opponents I had all day, I think he was by far the nicest. He wins the coin flip, and we are off to the races.

Game 1: My opponent has the start that is expected, and without the decent start I needed to combat my opponent, he sets up his Vespiquen and begins to take prizes. The events of the game are quite unclear to me, however, there comes a point where me stalling out the game comes down to a coin flip with Regice’s Ice Beam, after using Lysandre a Shaymin-EX on the bench. After flipping tails, and seeing him take a DCE from the prizes to retreat said Shaymin to win the game, I saw an opportunity to capitalize and took it. I asked him to take back my actions, and proceeded to AZ my active Regice and lose in style.

Game 2: Game 1 really chewed up the clock, so it was likely the game would end in a draw or win in my opponent’s favor, so I began playing as fast as I can. I go first, get the materials for a Quaking Punch next turn, and pass. He goes, sets down two combee on the bench, and attacks me with an active Joltik. At this point, the only way I can win is if I Judge him into an absolute terrible hand, and item lock him. All of those things occur, my opponent can’t get a Vespiquen or DCE into play before I take the game.

Game 3: the clock was definitely chewing away, and we only had about 10-15 minutes left to decide a winner. My opponent goes first, has a fantastic start, and passes with two combee again awaiting to destroy a Seismitoad. Thankfully, I started with Jolteon, and was able to get a Seismitoad, attachment, max elixir, and judge my opponent down to four. For some reason, whether it was because I didn’t adequately show him my supporter or he forgot that Judge existed with the reprint of N, my opponent draws 7 cards instead of 5 (with draw for turn since this was caught post quaking punch). This is a nightmare, because the ruling would be so minimal that a time extension might not have been given, but we called over a judge to resolve the problem, and a time extension was provided since the judge had to check the ruling with the head judge. The ruling was that two cards were to be selected at random from my opponent’s hand, and he put a dimensional valley and a fighting fury belt on top, and my opponent passed to me. The incident was a blessing in disguise, as I knew for a fact my opponent was going to draw nothing for the next two turns, I was able to capitalize. Going from a 5-6 lead to a 3-6, I began attaching to a benched Jolteon to eventually knock off one of my opponent’s benched Shaymin-EX, and by the time my opponent top decked a DCE for his Vespiquen, I had a powered up Jolteon and a Lysandre for game.

After the game, I held my head up high. I was 4-2, and I only needed to win 3 more games to make Day 2.

Round 7: Colter Decker, Medicham/Regirock/Carbink, LL

Heading to my table, I kept trying to remember where I knew this name from. Well, once my opponent took his seat, revealed his Worlds 2015 Top 8 mat, I remembered. Trying to put the feelings of playing another great player aside me, we began the game.

Game 1: Don’t you hate it when you start a really bad hand, and the head judges continue to talk for about a few minutes? Yeah, me too, since my opening hand was Shaymin, two Fighting Fury Belt, two Max Elixir, and a VS Seeker. My opponent starts Meditite, attaches fighting energy, plays Professor Sycamore, and after some other irrelevant cards, and passes. Literally, if I top decked an Ultra Ball at this point, my day would have been made, but alas, I top decked another VS Seeker. I attached a FFB, decided that I could live another turn barring anything crazy from happening, and passed. Colter draws, states “I should have game if nothing is prized”, uses Korrina, grabs a startling megaphone and Regirock, evolves into Medicham, attaches strong energy, plays the megaphone and benches the Regirock, and Yoga Kicks my Shaymin twice for a total of 120 damage, and since the attack negates resistance and he removed my Fighting Fury Belt, the game was his and I was one step closer to being out of contention for Day 2.

(Note: After the game ended, I took a look to see what my next card was, and it was a Professor Sycamore)

Game 2: I go first this time, and I am off to the races with attaching energy to anything. I was quite lucky with my max elixirs, and was able to get energy spread between Glaceon and a Seismitoad. My opponent begins setting up on his second turn with Carbink BREAK, but my onslaught of Crystal Ray is taking its toll. Eventually, I decide to Lysandre out a Regirock without a float stone, and wore it down with Seismitoad until Glaceon could knock it out with another Crystal Ray, preventing damage from evolutions, which was relatively all he had. The next turn, being the good player Colter is, he began setting up a Regirock with Carbink BREAK’s Diamond Gift. At this point in the day, due to exhaustion and not knowing what Regirock’s attack does, I made relatively my only blatant misplay of all day. For those of you who don’t know Regirock-EX’s attack, Bedrock Press, deals 100 damage, and reduces all damage from your opponent’s attacks by 20. So, seeing Regirock becoming an attacker scared me, so I decided to use the strategy I always use against 180 HP pokemon, Quaking Punch into Grenade Hammer with FFB for the knockout, so I Lysandre out the Regirock, and Quaking Punch it. Colter uses Bedrock Press, I return Grenade Hammer, go to take my prizes when Colter shows me Regirock’s attack. After I lose my active Toad with 3 energy attached, and return the knockout on Regirock with a Glaceon. At this moment of the game, the prize cards were equal at 2-2, and my opponent draws, and Diamond Gift’s 2 Strong Energy onto a Medicham. In the current game state, my opponent has a Medicham on the bench with 3 total Strong Energy, meaning it’s attacks did a total of 180 damage. I had a bench of a Manaphy-EX with a FFB, a Seismitoad with two energy attached, and Glaceon as my attacker. I know that my opponent has discarded all but 1 VS Seeker, has a single strong energy left in his deck, and has 2 cards left in hand. My final VS Seeker was prized, so I chose to Xerosic off one of the Strong Energy. I had a decision to make, either I had to go into my Seismitoad and Quaking Punch, risking him to have a strong energy to take the knock out on the Seismitoad-EX, or continue to Crystal Ray, risking him to have a strong energy and a VS Seeker. I chose the latter, and it didn’t matter, because Colter had the VS Seeker and top decked the Strong Energy to win a well-deserved game 2.

Now I am 4-3, and am completely out of contention, especially with my terrible resistance from round 1. I decided to play it out to attempt Top 128, and since I already hit 3 Vespiquen decks, the worst had to be behind me. Right?

Round 8: Brandon Flowers, Vespiquen/Vileplume/Jolteon, WW

First, I just need to establish that even in an absolute match up like this one, Brandon was one of the coolest opponents I played against all day, and we had a good talk. Going into the match up, I had no idea what he was playing, but I was just hoping he wasn’t playing Vespiquen. We chatted about what we played against, and it was nice, since there isn’t the looming presence of making cut on your shoulders. I won the coin flip (I am now 2/7 on going first today), and he flipped over an Oddish. At that point, I decided I was going to buy as many Vespiquen I could from vendors and burn them. We shook hands, and we were off.

Game 1: I went first, started with Regice, and had a decision in ahead of me. Do I attach energy and FFB and Professor Sycamore away a dead hand, or, do I play the game a little risky, and follow the same exact setup as the first option, play Hex Maniac, hope he can’t draw enough to both KO me, get battle compressor, and set up. I was at a point in the tournament where I knew I was in a rough position match up wise, so I decided to risk it, attach water energy and a FFB, play Hex Maniac, and pass. My opponent draws, plays a battle compressor, attaches a float stone, benches an Unown, and passes. At this point, this is my opportunity. Brandon had an Ultra Ball in hand, but chose not to play it since he couldn’t play Shaymin-EX (he later admitted this to me after my turn, referring to it as a mistake). I capitalize, play the Professor Sycamore, and to pretty much win the game, I need a Seismitoad-EX, energy attachment, Manaphy-EX, and an Elixir or Energy Switch. I hit none of that, benched a Glaceon and a Jolteon, attached to the Glaceon, and passed. My opponent played the game like you’d expect a VV player would on their first turn, and got the lock, got the Vileplume out with a float stone, and started attacking with Vespiquen for not a knock out. Regarding board state, my opponent discarded a lightning energy, so I know there is Jolteon in his deck, but not on his field or in hand. Because of this, I continue to set up Glaceon, and continue to draw cards. Due to the early game discard of my opponent’s Lysandre and Bunnelby, I know my bench is relatively safe, so I begin setting my board up in preparation for the potential Jolteon, attaching an energy to a benched Articuno, and powering up a potential Grenade Hammer against a sleeping Jolteon. Once the Jolteon was activated and began flash raying (a few turns after turn two), I implemented my strategy, and it eventually worked. The Jolteon stayed asleep, I Grenade Hammered it, and it continued to sleep, so I used Crystal Ray for the KO (Note: if my opponent woke up, I could have used Jolteon-EXs swift to deal the needed 30 damage for the knock out). With the Jolteon-EX long gone, and not a second one in sight, I won game one.

Game 2: Brandon opted to go first, but missed the item lock. The most influential turn of the game was that turn, as not only did he miss an item lock, but he discarded both of his Jolteon-EX in the process. With that in mind, I was able to safely set up a Glaceon, win the stadium war due to early game stadium discards, and eventually won with a combination of rough seas healing, Pokemon Center Lady, and decking my opponent out since the only form of damage he dealt was this Shaymin-EX loop. 

I am 5-3, I just beat my worst match up, and for the first time in a while, I am content. It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re in control of your own destiny, and that my next match would determine whether I would have a chance at receiving prizing. Round 9 pairings were updated, and the final round of my Pokemon season was about to commence.

Round 9: Owen Rob, Vespiquen/Vileplume/Jolteon, WW

I genuinely am unaware of how this is possible, but I ended up playing against 5 Vespiquen decks all day, whereas my teammate who is piloting the same 60 card list hasn’t seen one all day. Well, as I said earlier, the fear began to set in when the judges gave their final round remarks. My opponent won the coin flip, and I started with an Articuno and six item cards. Remember what I said about my destiny being in my own hands? Yeah, that was a lie. Whether or not I stood a fighting chance against my opponent came down to his start, and whether or not he got a turn 1 Vileplume. With a handshake and a wish of good luck, round 9 had begun.

Game 1: My opponent was digging through his deck like crazy, but ultimately misses the turn 1 item lock with Vileplume. This is monumental, because with an Ultra Ball top deck, I got rid of every single card in that hand, attached an energy to Articuno, began to set up a Glaceon with energy, and used Chilling Sigh. I don’t know the exact detail about what occurred in the game, since matches that utilize a repetitious strategy to win kind of mix together. A few key details that I remember was that I kept his active Vespiquen asleep for a total of five turns, allowing for a proper set up. My opponent never had a chance to set up a Jolteon-EX that game, but I know for a fact that he played a heavy energy count, since when I attempted to Lysandre stall, my opponent would always find a way to attach and retreat out, playing 4 lightning energy in the deck. The most important occurrence in the game was when my opponent completely abandoned his item lock, choosing to fill his bench with a mixture of Shaymins, Vespiquen, and a Bunnelby. I was completely oblivious to this, assuming the item lock was up, and discarded a hand full of items on a Professor Sycamore. The most influential play of the game (besides my opponent missing the turn one item lock), came from a Lysandre knock out on my opponent’s Bunnelby, preventing further restoration of resources and allowing deck out to be a viable win condition. Whether I took all my prizes or I ended up decking out Owen, I took game 1.

Game 2: Game 1 and game 2 were extremely different games. In contrast to game 1, not only did Owen get the turn one item lock, Owen was able to play his Jolteon-EX and power it up. As well, my game 2 differed significantly. I had a completely playable hand under item lock, and was able to slowly but surely set up the important pieces of my anti-Jolteon strategy. Over the course of the game, I found the necessary Pokemon, including a fully powered Seismitoad-EX, a Glaceon-EX with an energy attached, a Manaphy-EX, a Jolteon-EX for swift, and an Articuno with water energy for chilling sigh.  With the necessary set up, I had a 75% chance to be able to knock out Owen’s active Jolteon-EX (two 50% sleep flips), he misses the first flip, and I am able to provide the necessary damage to Swift my opponent with my Jolteon-EX. With the current game state as it is, Owen saw the writing on the wall, conceded, and I took game 2.

At the end of the day, I ended up 6-3, and despite my poor resistance, I squeaked into Top 128, placing 63rd in my pod. Overall, I feel the deck was relatively perfect in build, and there isn’t much I would have changed in the end, with the exception of removing the Pokemon Center Lady. For a clear a concise look at my overall matchups and results, I will present them below…

Round 1: No Show, WW

Round 2: Darkrai/Giratina/Garbodor, WW

Round 3: Night March, WW

Round 4: Night March/Vespiquen, LL

Round 5: Vespiquen/Yveltal/Garbodor/Gallade, WLL

Round 6: Night March/Vespiquen, LWW

Round 7: Medicham/Carbink/Regirock, LL

Round 8: Round 8: Vespiquen/Vileplume/Jolteon WW

Round 9: Vespiquen/Vileplume/Jolteon WW

In conclusion, here are the many things I learned from Nationals:

1.     Even though you may not expect a match-up, or plan to see it only once, don’t rely on that instinct.

2.     You may be stressed for time in 50 minutes +3 BO3, however, play fast enough where you don’t go to time (unless that is what you want), but don’t play too fast where you begin to make sloppy plays. Find an equilibrium.

3.     Even if the match up is not in your favor, don’t give up. Adding Vespiquen to any deck makes the matchup hard for WaterBox, but even though I now have a burning hatred for the card, I ended up winning 3/5 series against Vespiquen variants

4.     Making last minute changes aren’t completely awful, but nonetheless, they are still risky

5.     Sometimes even the least expected decks could pull off amazing feats. Neither of the decks in finals were even in my second tier of decks, yet the both performed well.

Moving on from US Nationals, although I wasn’t able to play that much this year to receive an invite to the World Championships, there are many of you who have qualified for the event, and for that, I congratulate you on your success and achievements. Although I won’t be attending the event, I will be testing and building decks for at least one contender, so with the addition of Steam Siege, here is some ways the meta game could vary from the current meta…

(Notice: a lot of this is based on the assumption that Karen would be in format, which it won't. I will return to fix all this information, as well as the deck list. This will be up soon)

1.     Night March and Vespiquen variants will see decreased play because of Karen. Of course, it will see play, because not everyone will be playing Karen in their deck, but the card will contribute to the decline, since their board state is not safe anymore.

2.     Xerneas (BKT) will increase in play. With the addition of multi-type Pokemon, especially the basic Volcanion-EX, and max elixir, this deck has the capability to do crazy turn one damage.

3.     Mega Rayquaza will increase in play, as the only thing that was once holding the deck back from it’s potential was Night March, which can be solved with a Karen followed by Quaking Punch.

4.     To counter Mega Rayquaza, Mega Manectric variants will receive hype, however, with a good start on Mega Rayquaza’s side of the field and or going first, Mega Rayquaza can still win the match up

So to conclude the article, I will include my current list for an XY-on Mega Rayquaza list, with the addition of the new set Steam Siege…

(Caitlin is Karen, new set hasn't dropped yet in deck builder)
Card Explanations:

Seismitoad-EX: the Pokemon is just good in general, and with the addition of the newest expansion, I find it to be a safe play. Need time to set up attackers? Quaking Punch. Does your opponent only need one more prize? N him to 1 and Quaking Punch. Do you need the necessary 30 damage to take the knock out, because you missed the KO with Emerald Break? DCE Quaking Punch. Need to trap something in the active so you can kill it the turn after with Emerald Break? Target Whistle Lysandre Quaking Punch. A lot of those are like one time uses, but the real beauty shines in a combo, but we will get into that later.

Karen (Caitlin): A new supporter to the format which shuffles all Pokemon from your discard pile into your deck, and the same goes for your opponent. It is a way to ensure you can get your discarded Pokemon back, able to be targeted with VS Seeker, and has the added benefit of significantly increasing the chances you beat Night March.

Seismitoad-EX/Karen combo: Separate, the cards are debatable whether they deserve entry into the list. Together, they make the combo the deck needs. As said earlier, I believe Night March will somewhat decrease in play with the release of the new set, however it will still see play, since Karen is an inconvenience in most decks. Before Steam Siege, you accepted your auto loss to Night March, but now, with a Quaking Punch and a Karen, you pretty much seal up the game, since they lose their damage output and way to dispose of Night Marches except KO and Professor Sycamore.

No Pokemon Ranger?: Perhaps you’re wondering why I chose to leave out Pokemon Ranger, even though Glaceon and Regice give me a hard time? Well, I have a sufficient answer in Target Whistle, and worst case scenario, I can Shaymin loop. Adding another one of supporter only decreases the consistency of the deck. Furthermore, this card works both ways. Night March can utilize the card to defeat the item lock, however, this card will be a one of in most Night March lists. That means that your opponent is less likely to have Pokemon Ranger in their hand, a decent chance they will discard it not knowing you play Seismitoad-EX, and since you played Karen, there is a chance your opponent will have many more Battle Compressors to use.

No Jirachi?: Now this one might sound funny, but bear with me. Most Mega Rayquaza players can agree that it's Emerald Break or bust. With the assumption that Night March and Vespiquen decks will decrease in play, Jirachi becomes an unnecessary card in my opinion. However, if I had the space to play it, I would afford to play it, since it's definitely a good card.

Well guys, that's about all I have for you. It was a great experience to be able to share this information with more people, and even better, to know that someone might be able to use this to improve their play, or help make a deck decision. Hopefully, I get to write more in the future, but that ultimately comes down to whether or not you enjoyed my work. If you did, leave a like. If not, tell me what I can improve on. Either way, I'd like to leave you with a quote that greatly reflects upon a player's success at a tournament, whether it be a league challenge or the world championships. "The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand."

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