U.S. Nationals 24th Place Tournament Report
Check out my experience at this year's U.S. National Championship!
07/19/2015 by Steven Bates
Greetings, 60cards readers! Steven Bates here with a 24th Place U.S. Nationals 2015 tournament report! Now, for those of you who don’t know, I spend most of my free time streaming the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online on the popular streaming site twitch.tv under the username "procircuitscrub". (Here’s the link: www.twitch.tv/procircuitscrub) I do giveaways all the time in partnership with 60cards.net and we have a lot of fun! I generally stream Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00 PM EST. Follow the channel if you like what you see! (Shameless plug.)
Now that that’s over with, I’ll go ahead and say that this is the first year I’ve played "competitively" since 2009. I happened to make Top 16 at Nationals that year, beating out the eventual 2009 World Champion Stephen Silvestro in my Top 32 match and going on to get my Crobat G donked by a Luxray GL in Game 3 of my Top 16 match. I started playing seriously again this year when Grafton Roll introduced me to Flareon before the City Championships in Tampa, Florida. I thought the deck was extremely fun to play and started playing it as much as I could. I happened to win a couple of Cities with the deck and instantly fell in love with this format. After Georgia Regionals, I thought I had a pretty good read on what the format was going to look like going into Nationals. Then boom...the Lysandre's Trump Card ban came down with a force that shook up everything I thought I knew. Countless hours of playtesting almost completely wasted. I had grown so accustomed to burning through the resources in my deck without a second thought because I knew my good pal Lysandre would be there to bail me out and reset the deck.
After Trump Card was banned, I immediately started thinking about how strong Night March was going to be and how to counter it without Trump Card. Gone were the days of Night March getting Trumped and then Item-locked by Seismitoad-EX to shut it out of the game. The only way that I could see beating Night March consistently was to win the Prize trade with the likes of Golbat and Crobat taking out the Benched Marchers while KO’ing the Active Pokémon. It would seem as though everyone else had this same thought process, and so the Canadian National Championship was full of Bats. Landorus/Bats, Seismitoad/Bats, Raichu/Bats, Yveltal/Bats….they were everywhere! Night March was hated out of the format entirely and did not make a good showing.
I did find it interesting that Seismitoad-EX had a strong showing and Metal ended up winning it all. I expected Toad to see a massive drop in play due to the deck losing the ability to Trump the likes of Double Colorless Energy, Hypnotoxic Laser, Super Scoop Up, and Crushing Hammer back into the deck. I was right in assuming that it would not see as much play, but I think I underestimated the ability of the deck to adapt to the new format. It was still very good, but not "broken" like it was before.
After seeing the results of Canadian Nationals, I immediately made a list of things I wanted my deck to do.
- Beat decks with Bats
- Beat Metal
- Beat Raichu
- Have a decent Night March matchup
- Have a decent Toad matchup
- Have a decent Fighting matchup
My first thought after making this list was Garbodor. With his Garbotoxin Ability, he was able to shut off opposing Bats, Aegislash-EX’s Mighty Shield Ability, Bronzong’s Metal Links Ability, Mew-EX’s Versatile Ability, and of course, Shaymin-EX’s Set Up Ability. This seemed like it could shut off major Abilities in almost every deck I expected to see at Nationals. Another card that I thought could see some potential was Rough Seas to eliminate opposing Bat damage. I decided to talk to a fellow Florida player and last year’s National Champion, Brandon Salazar, in order to see what we could come up with.
Brandon's first thought was to pair Garbodor with Raichu and Landorus-EX just like his Nationals-winning deck from last year. We also talked about Primal Kyogre-EX and Mega Manectric-EX as possible decks that could deal with the Bat problem through the use of Rough Seas while also having good matchups against Metal due to operating primarily off of Basic Energy.
Brandon's initial list of Raichu/Landorus-EX/Garbodor is the deck we started to work with first:
Landy/Raichu first draft
- 3x Shaymin EX
- 2x Hawlucha
- 2x Landorus EX
- 2x Seismitoad EX
- 4x Pikachu
- 4x Raichu
- 2x Trubbish
- 2x Garbodor
- 1x Computer Search
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 2x Colress
- 2x Lysandre
- 3x N
- 3x Professor Juniper
- 4x Sky Field
- 4x Float Stone
- 3x Muscle Band
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
- 4x Strong Energy
- 1x Fighting Energy
We tested this deck quite extensively and I quickly discovered several things:
- I didn’t like Seismitoad-EX in this deck. Without the help of Lasers, his damage output was too low to have much of an effect on the game. Even with a Muscle Band, he was unable to KO opposing Pumpkaboo in one hit.
- The Energy lineup was pretty difficult to work with. Strong Energy could not be attached to anything other than Hawlucha and Landorus-EX, and anytime I attached a Double Colorless Energy to a Toad, that meant one less Energy that I could use on Raichu.
- It was difficult to refill my Bench after Sky Field was replaced by my opponent’s Stadium.
I still thought that this deck had some pretty amazing matchups across the board, so I spent most of my time making this better. Brandon ended up spending his time testing his Kyogre deck.
This was his Kyogre list just before Nationals:
- 1x Shaymin EX
- 1x Absol
- 1x Articuno
- 1x Kyurem
- 1x Suicune
- 2x Keldeo EX
- 3x Kyogre EX
- 3x Primal Kyogre EX
- 1x Computer Search
- 2x Dive Ball
- 2x Energy Retrieval
- 2x Professor's Letter
- 3x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 2x Colress
- 2x Lysandre
- 4x N
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 3x Rough Seas
- 1x Hard Charm
- 2x Kyogre Spirit Link
- 3x Float Stone
- 2x Double Colorless Energy
- 10x Water Energy
I did not want to play a slow deck that would end up tying a lot of games if things didn’t end up going my way. Leafeon was also in a lot of decks that did well at Canadian Nationals, so that was something to be afraid of as well. I felt like these were problems that I didn’t want to deal with and decided against playing this.
Mega Manectric was another deck that we spent some time talking about, but we realized that it had a rough Night March matchup, was awful against Fighting decks (even with Archie and Empoleon), and Raichu/Bats still smashed it due to Raichu hitting 210 damage with a full Bench, Muscle Band, and a Crobat drop. It was very good against Seismitoad, but I didn’t expect to play against more than a couple Toad decks at Nationals. It didn’t end up meeting the requirements that I had set before testing, so I set it aside.
This left me constantly tweaking the Landorus-EX/Raichu/Garbodor deck to try to reduce the Energy problem. After several different versions of the deck, I decided that 4-4 Raichu with Sky Field just was not going to fit with the Fighting Pokémon. I was starting the game with Landorus-EX or Hawluchu most of the time and then cleaning up with Raichu at the end. Garbodor was working extremely well and I knew that we were onto something. In the end, I decided to drop the Raichu line down to 2-2 and drop the Sky Field line in favor of Fighting Stadium in order to make Hawlucha more of a threat. The deck still needed more attackers, so I added a Mewtwo-EX and a Lucario-EX to the mix. Mewtwo would help against opposing Lucario-EX in Landorus/Bats, and the Lucario was a very solid attacker that was not Weak to Water. It could also bypass Fighting Resistance with its first attack and draw cards with the second attack.
This was the list that I ended up going with:
- 2x Landorus EX
- 3x Hawlucha
- 1x Mewtwo EX
- 1x Lucario EX
- 2x Shaymin EX
- 2x Trubbish
- 2x Garbodor
- 2x Pikachu
- 2x Raichu
- 1x Computer Search
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 2x Switch
- 2x Max Potion
- 3x Float Stone
- 3x Muscle Band
- 3x Fighting Stadium
- 1x Sacred Ash
- 2x Colress
- 2x Lysandre
- 3x N
- 3x Professor Sycamore
- 3x Double Colorless Energy
- 4x Strong Energy
- 3x Fighting Energy
Now let’s talk a little bit about matchups…
I really thought this deck would be big going into Nationals, so I wanted to have no problems with it. Landorus is extremely good at smashing early Pikachu before they Evolve and has Resistance to Lightning. This puts him outside of one-shot range against Raichu due to them maxing out at 160 damage against him without the help of Bats. That's where Garbodor comes in. Garb shuts off the Bats and this deck easily pulls ahead in prizes.
Garbodor is the breadwinner in this matchup. Shutting off Aegislash-EX, Bronzong, Keldeo-EX, and Shaymin all but cripples this deck. Our attackers are just too fast for them to keep up when their attackers require two or three Energy to get going. This is a near-autowin for the deck.
This is nearly identical to the straight Metal matchup. The only difference is that they tend to play high counts of Shaymin-EX as well as Rayquaza-EX, which are weak to Raichu. Assuming I set up Garbodor, this matchup is a cakewalk.
Hawlucha is our go-to attacker in this matchup. He resists Landorus-EX and does a ton of damage for one Energy. Garbodor shuts off their Bats, so they will have a hard time doing enough damage to Hawlucha. Mewtwo-EX deals with their Lucario-EX as well. I also played two Max Potions to really put them out of reach.
This matchup can be rough if they get an explosive start with three or four Battle Compressor. The gameplan in this matchup is to set up Garbodor early, and use Lucario-EX to bypass Pumpkaboo’s Fighting Resistance. Garbodor shuts off their Shaymin-EX and Mew-EX, leaving them with only the Basic Night March Pokémon that have very low HP. Mr. Mime is also shut off, so Landorus-EX can become a powerhouse if they don’t get the right setup. Raichu is also able to one-shot Shaymin-EX if they drop them on the bench early. Run them out of Energy by KO’ing whatever gets Double Colorless Energy and you should win. If they get a perfect setup KO’ing Pokémon-EX in one shot on their first attacking turn...we lose. I did not expect to see more than a couple Night March decks during the event, so I was okay with this matchup.
This is our absolute best matchup. They simply can’t deal with all of the Fighting Pokémon. Hawlucha is able to hit for Weakness in this matchup if we can set up Garbodor to shut off his Ability, so it is not difficult for him to one-shot Mega Manectric-EX with a Strong Energy, Muscle Band, and a Fighting Stadium.
This matchup is largely reliant on the almighty coin flips. We can trade favorably with three Hawlucha, Lucario-EX, and Mewtwo-EX, but if we get put to Sleep, we have no way to get out of it. Stay Asleep too many times and the Toad will run over us. If not...we stand a chance. Again, I did not expect to see too much of this deck going into Nationals, so I was okay with the luck-based matchup.
Landorus-EX doing damage to a benched Groudon is so good! Garbodor shuts off Dragonite if they play it and Raichu does a ton of damage for a single Double Colorless Energy. This is a fairly easy matchup. Groudon is just too slow to deal with us.
Going into Nationals, I felt pretty confident in the deck and all of the potential matchups. For some reason, nobody had been talking about this deck. I guess people underestimated how good Garbodor was actually going to be, or didn’t think about it at all. In the end, I decided to play Landorus and friends while Brandon switched gears at the last second, settling on Seismitoad/Bats, feeling unsafe with Kyogre.
I left Florida several days earlier than needed in order to take spend time with friends and family in Kentucky on my way. It has been years since I had seen them, so it was a nice way to wind down and do away with the pre-Nationals jitters. I showed up at the venue on Thursday and hopped in the MASSIVE line for check-in. Luckily, I had Chris Fulop there to make the line much less boring. I doubted that we would actually get a playmat due to the amount of people in the line, but I was pleasantly surprised when I got one. After that, the time had come to get all of the cards together for the deck. A big thanks goes out to Mark Samuelson for lending me the cards I needed!
During my time at the event hall before the event, I had heard whispers of a big "secret deck" being played by Orion Craig and a small number of others from Florida. I was unfortunately kept out of the loop on this one for some reason. I tried to gather some more information on it, but ultimately gave up and realized that I had made my decision and wasn’t going to go changing it at the last second right before the event, so it was irrelevant. I went out, grabbed some awesome Italian food, and went to bed.
The next day, I got to the venue a bit early, ate some breakfast, and spent some time relaxing before the tournament started. There is nothing worse than not getting enough sleep, not eating, or rushing to get to the tournament on time. I wanted to be at 100% when I sat down for the first round.
Seatings were posted and a friend told me what table I was at. I learned a valuable lesson...always look at the seating yourself. There was another person in the event with my same first and last name, but spelled differently. I had to go up and let them know after they took my decklist. It turns out I was in the Ruby flight! Pairings were posted online and I quickly found my seat.
Round 1 versus Matthew McNeil playing Mega Manectric-EX/Mewtwo-EX
Game 1 was a breeze. I was able to set up Landorus-EX with three Energy after taking down a Manectric-EX with Hammerheads. I then one-shotted another Mega Manectric-EX using Landorus-EX’s Land’s Judgement. Mewtwo-EX returned the KO on my Landorus-EX and my Mewtwo-EX came down for the last two Prizes. Game 2 was not much different,; I was able to KO Manectric-EX before it Mega Evolved and he was unable to attack for most of the five or six-turn game. He seemed like he might have been somewhat new to the game, so I felt kind of bad, but I wished him luck and went on to Round 2 with a win!
1 - 0
Round 2 versus Victoria Spears playing Night March
Her setup was pretty lackluster. I think she actually passed her first turn without a Supporter and I was able to start picking up KOs with Landorus-EX on Pumpkaboo. I set up Garbodor and I don’t think she realized that Mew-EX didn’t work under Ability-lock, because she benched two of them. I KO’d them after taking out two Pumpkaboo and the game was over.
Game 2, I started with Lucario EX and went second. Her first turn was spent playing multiple Shaymin-EX on the Bench and getting a pretty decent setup. She was unable to set up the 180 damage attack for her following turn, though. I was able to one-shot her Pumpkaboo with Missile Jab, Muscle Band, and a Strong Energy. I set up Garbodor with a Float Stone on turn two as well as a Raichu with Double Colorless Energy. I switched into Raichu and Lysandre'd a Shaymin-EX for the Knock Out. She was able to return the Knock Out with a Pumpkaboo and Benched a Joltik for some reason. I was able to return the favor with a Landorus-EX Knocking Out the Joltik and leaving her Pumpkaboo at 10 HP due to Strong Energy and another Muscle Band. She was able to one-shot my Landorus-EX the following turn, but was unable to set up another attacker. Again, she benched a Mew-EX under Ability-lock. I Knocked Out the Pumpkaboo with Lucario-EX and she was forced to promote her Mew-EX. I believe that she drew and passed and I was able to one-shot the Mew-EX with Lucario-EX for game.
2 - 0
Round 3 versus Harrison Leven playing the "Secret Deck" (Bunnelby Lock)
I knew I would be playing in the same bracket as the people with two Byes from Regionals, but it is unfortunate that I had to play against a fellow Florida player. Harrison and I play at just about every event that we both attend. I played against him in the Finals of the City Championship in Tampa, Florida when we were both playing Flareon and he got poor luck against me. I have rarely lost to him in events and I feel as though this gets under his skin a bit, because he seemed visibly frustrated most of the match.
He starts Game 1 out with a Swirlix and begins drawing cards with Shaymin-EX drops. I don't remember him doing much else other than that. I didn't really know what I was playing against, but I knew that it seemed to want to draw a lot of cards. So, I set up a Trubbish and a Pikachu to Knock Out the Benched Shaymin-EX after Evolving into Raichu. Then it happened...Bunnelby hits the board and things start to get weird. I remember that he used Crushing Hammer to take an Energy off my board, and returned it along with something else to his deck using Bunnelby’s Rototiller attack twice. I quickly switched gears and brought out a Landorus-EX with a Basic Fighting Energy. I evolved into Garbodor and Knocked Out the Bunnelby. I also did 30 damage to the now-Evolved Slurpuff.
Harrison spent his next several turns discarding my Energy whenever I played it and shuffling his cards back into his deck. He ended up using Lysandre to bring up a Hawlucha and dropped a Team Aqua's Hideout to give him one more Retreat. This locked me in place for a few turns as I failed to draw a Supporter. But things started to go south for him when I replaced his Stadium with my own Fighting Stadium and KO'd another Bunnelby with Landorus-EX. He failed some Crushing Hammers and I was able to just get ahead of him. I won handily.
Game 2 unfolded very poorly for him as I set up early Garbodor again and he never really got anything going. He flipped tails on almost every Crushing Hammer and he ended up scooping Game 2 out of frustration. I can see how the deck could be very good against decks with Pokémon that rely on multiple Energy to attack or decks that play very few Energy, but it seemed to have a poor matchup against Landorus-EX and the gang running ten Energy and only ever needing one Energy attachment to attack.
3 - 0
Round 4 versus Andrew Krekeler playing Mega Manectric-EX/Empoleon/Ninetales
I have never met Andrew in person, but I have met his father Vince on multiple occasions. I have very fond memories of attending his events in St. Louis when I first started playing the game. His son was definitely cool to play against and I remember the game being a fun one! My memory on this one is a little bit fuzzy, but I know I ended up drawing dead in Game 1, whether it was at the beginning or after an N. He took Game 1 after getting multiple Mega Manectric-EX set up and attacking. Games 2 and 3 go much more like they are supposed to. I set up Garbodor both games and the Fighting Pokémon put in a lot of work against the Fighting-Weak Manectric-EX. I do remember Hawlucha going straight to the dome and one-shotting a Mega Manectric-EX. The Fighting Pokémon proved to be too much for Manectric and I took the match 2-1.
4 - 0
Round 5 versus Chris Siakala playing Night March
I believe that I lost the die roll on this one and he opened perfectly. He opened with three Battle Compressors on turn one and enough Night Marchers in the discard pile to just run through my poor deck like a hot knife through butter. Every time I played a Trubbish on the Bench, it was swiftly brought into the Active position by Lysandre and smashed. It was ugly...I never got anything going and failed to attack on multiple turns. Game 2 was no different. I started off with Hawlucha in the Active position and set up a Trubbish on the Bench. I tried to play a second Trubbish, but just couldn’t draw into a way to get it. He was able to open perfectly yet again through the use of Shaymin-EX and Acro Bike. He used Lysandre on my Trubbish and knocked him out with a Pumpkaboo. I tried again to to set up Garbodor by placing a second Trubbish on the bench, but on the following turn, Lysandre does his dirty work again and took him out. He proceeded to run me through. This was a tough loss to take after starting 4-0.
4 - 1
Round 6 versus Charles Randall playing Night March/Empoleon
A third Night March matchup in six rounds?! I looked all around me and there was no Night March anywhere else at all! Coming off of a loss to this deck, I wasn’t feeling too good about my chances. I just hoped that he didn’t explode in my face the way the last one did. Game 1, he started off by playing Battle Compressor, putting two Night Marchers and a Sycamore into the discard. This turned out to be a misplay on his part because I realizeed that he was playing Archie's and he could have used it that turn. My memory on the specifics of this game, unfortunately, isn’t the greatest, but I know I was able to win this game due to him not setting up a Mr. Mime early enough and me going to town with Landorus-EX despite not being able to set up Garbodor.
Game 2 was a bloodbath. He got the nearly perfect setup that Night March has the potential to get and melted my face off. Game 3 was a lot closer, but as time was called, he ended up trying to attack with Mew-EX, not realizing that my Garbodor's Ability was still on line. This forced him to Retreat with no Energy on the board to attack with anything else. He also played N, dropping me to 2 cards in hand and I drew absolutely nothing. I was unable to get to the benched Mew-EX in my two remaining turns and we unfortunately ended up drawing the game.
4 - 1 - 1
Round 7 versus Alex Snape playing Mega Manectric-EX/Empoleon
What luck! Another Manectric deck! The gameplan was the same in this match as the previous ones. Fighting Pokémon were just too much for their deck to handle. Game 1 went heavily in my favor as Lucario-EX bashed his way through one Manectric after another. He never set up an attacker and I steamrolled through to Game 2. This second game saw a very slow start for me, if I recall correctly. I whiffed Energy early on in the game, which allowed him to get multiple Manectric-EX set up and attacking. I unfortunately got set up way too late and he was able to take Game 2 without me putting up much of a fight. Game 3 goes exactly the same way that Game 1 did. I was able to Knock Out multiple Manectric before he got his first attack. I took the match 2-1.
5 - 1 - 1
Round 8 versus Geoffrey Sauk playing Mega Rayquaza/Metal
I opened with a solid hand Game 1 but lost the die roll and ended up going second. He used N for his Supporter and I drew completely dead. I played my first Supporter on turn four of the game and he was far too set up for me to make any semblance of a comeback, even with Garbodor. I should have scooped this game much sooner than I did in order to turn this into a win, but my biggest flaw in major events is knowing when to scoop a game due to time constraints. Something about scooping a game just seems wrong to me. Game 2, I chose to go first and ended up playing a Trubbish and a Pikachu on the Bench with Hawlucha as my Active. He played multiple Shaymin-EX and Bronzor on the Bench as well as a Rayquaza-EX. On the following turn, I was able to play a Garbodor down and Lysandre the Rayquaza. I Evolved into Raichu and secured two Prizes. He failed to get any other attackers set up due to the Ability-lock and I took Game 2 pretty easily. We both set up in Game 3 and he was able to get a Rayquaza-EX powered before I was able to evolve into Garbodor. I was able to knock it out with Raichu, but the first two games had taken too long for us to complete a third. Time was called and we drew the match.
5 - 1 - 2
Round 9 versus ??? playing Landorus-EX/Bats
The girl I played against this round was extremely nice during the entire match. I feel awful for not catching her name. We talked for a bit before the round started and she informed me that she needed to win this round in order to get her World's invite, but I felt really good about my deck going into Day 2, so I wasn’t about to let that shake me. I was here to win it all. Game 1 was very long and extremely close. I was able to set up Garbodor to lock down the Bats and Max Potion was useful for the first time all day. She was able to get a few Super Scoop Up flips to go her way and kept the match very even up until she played a Jirachi-EX on the Bench, forgetting that my Garbodor was active. This proved to be her downfall as I was able to use Lysandre and take my final two Prizes off of that very same Jirachi.
Game 2 was not quite as close. I was able to get a fast start while hers was not quite as fast. I took a commanding lead and time was called just before I took Game 2. She looked extremely depressed and I felt bad for knocking her out of the running for her World's invite. She told me that there was still a chance she could place high enough even with the loss, but in the end, she informed me that she did, indeed, miss out on the invite.
6 - 1 - 2
I ended up finishing 15th in the Ruby Flight at the end of Day 1 and qualified for Day 2! Brandon ended up finishing Day 1 with a 7-1-1 record and placed 5th overall in the Ruby Flight! Things were looking up! I was shocked to see so much Manectric in the event. Still no Toad decks, and I hadn’t seen a single Raichu deck. At this point, I had also heard about all of the Wailord decks in the Sapphire Flight and I tried to come up with a gameplan to beat them. I came to the conclusion that I just had to Colress myself into a very small hand and play nothing all game long. Hopefully that would be enough.
I was absolutely exhausted at the end of the day and decided I would get to bed early after eating some Noodles & Company with my roommates. Zander Bennett was nice enough to give me a bed to myself as well, so good on him for helping me get a good night’s rest!
Day 2 started off about the same as Day 1. Got up early, ate some overpriced convention food (an egg and cheese souffle if I recall; it was not great) and then headed to the event hall. I had been in Day 2 of Nationals before, so I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I had been the first time around. Pairings went up and I found my seat.
Round 10 versus ??? playing Mega Manectric-EX/Empoleon
This person had been sitting around me during the entire event on Day 1. I unfortunately did not catch his name, but he had been joking with me all day telling me to "stay away". He knew what I was playing and that he had a very poor matchup against it. I don’t remember his deck having any sort of surprises at all. Just the standard Manectric-EX/Empoleon. This match was extremely fun because we pretty much just joked around the entire time. I know the judge had a blast. This match was extremely one-sided. Game 1, I remember winning the die roll and winning before he was really able to set anything up. Game 2 was no different. I go second, and KO'd a Manectric-EX with Landorus-EX, Muscle Band, Strong Energy, and a Fighting Stadium. From there, he never set up an attacker and Landorus-EX took it all the way home for the win.
7 - 1 - 2
Round 11 versus Benjamin Sauk playing Metal/Mega Rayquaza-EX
I played his brother earlier on in the tournament and I knew that he was playing the exact same deck. I figured that this was going to be a solid matchup for me from testing the matchup previously, but I also know that Benjamin is an amazing player and so I left no room for error in this match. I won the die roll and decided to start things off so that I could set up Garbodor before he could set up Bronzong. This, however, did not end up working out because I missed the turn-two Garbodor. My hand was pretty bad, but his was equally bad. We go back and forth not really doing much for most of this game until I draw out of the slump and set up before he is able to. I quickly take over the game with Garbodor and Raichu. Game 2 goes much differently. He draws completely dead and I set up the way I am supposed to. As you can imagine by this point, things did not end well for him as Raichu tore through anything he tried to attach Energy to. I won Game 2 and started my second day off 2-0.
8 - 1 - 2
Round 12 versus Jake Jensen playing Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor
Jake is a longtime viewer of my stream, so it was amazing to finally get to meet him in person! Up until this point, I was lucky enough to dodge all of the Toad decks, but I knew that run couldn’t last forever. This was Jake’s first visit to the Top Cut of a National Championship, and I could tell that he was extremely nervous. I like to joke around during my games, but everything was falling flat on him due to the nervousness. Game 1, I was forced to start with Landorus-EX. This is not the optimal start against Toad, of course, because he was able to two-shot Landorus with a Muscle Band attached to his Seismitoad-EX. I was able to get some Hawlucha set up and we traded back and forth for a little while. Being under Item-lock, it was difficult to trade well due to not being able to play Muscle Band down. My gameplan was to swing with Hawlucha, doing 80 damage due to Fighting Stadium, and then follow up with 100 damage with another Hawlucha and Strong Energy. He was unable to get a Muscle Band down on his second Toad, which put Hawlucha out of one-shot range. Unfortunately for me, he was able to flip heads on every single Hypnotoxic Laser and I stayed Asleep on three separate turns to lose the game. Game 2 was awful, due to me not really setting up at all after an N into an all-Item hand. This game went swiftly in his favor and I lost 0-2.
8 - 2 - 2
Round 13 versus Eduardo Gonzalez playing Hippowdon
When my opponent flipped over a Hippopotas, I immediately knew that I was in trouble. There was no chance of me being able to Knock Out the 90 HP Basic in one shot. There was nothing stopping him from Evolving on the following turn, leaving me with only Raichu as a viable attacker against him. The only chance that I had of winning this game was to Lysandre after the Hippowdon used Resistance Desert in order to get damage on the board. This would require me to set up multiple Raichu while also drawing into Lysandre. Unfortunately, this plan did not come to fruition and I was stuck doing 30 damage to his Benched Pokémon with Landorus-EX while he did far more damage with his active Hippowdon. I was unable to draw into Lysandre in a timely manner and got absolutely crushed. Game 2 was the worst game of the event. I opened with a lone Trubbish and passed. My opponent simply opened with Toad, attached a Double Colorless Energy and Muscle Band, dropped a Virbank City Gym, and then played Hypnotoxic Laser for the donk. I lost 0-2.
8 - 3 - 2
Round 14 versus ??? playing Seismitoad-EX/Bats
Coming off of two straight losses, I didn’t want to see the same thing happen against another Toad deck, but if I recall correctly, Game 1 was extremely close. I was able to set up a Garbodor with a Tool and my opponent was unable to remove it. This made his Bats completely useless. I was able to out-damage him because of this and I took a narrow win in Game 1 after using an N that dropped him to one card and caused him to draw dead. Game 2, however, was a different story. I was unable to get the Tool down on a Trubbish before the Item-lock hit, and he was able to out-damage me through the use of his Bats. We were unfortunately unable to finish Game 3 and this resulted in yet another tie.
8 - 3 - 3
Round 15 versus ??? playing Mega Manectric-EX/Zapdos with Hard Charm and Weakness Policy
I knew at this point that I was out of the running for Top 8, but I thought that it might be possible to make Top 16 with a win. This was the most difficult Manectric match of the tournament since my opponent was playing the Fighting-Resistant Zapdos. He started Game 1 off with a Manectric-EX, but I was able to take the Knock Out with a Lucario-EX and the help of some damage buffs. But he also ended up dropping Zapdos on the Bench and made it very difficult for me to take Prizes by attaching a Hard Charm to it. The only problem with this gameplan was that Zapdos requires a lot of Energy to start attacking while doing a very small 50 damage. Because of this, I was able to out-damage him using Lucario-EX and ended up taking the game. Game 2 was a little bit better for him because he started with the Zapdos, but the same thing ended up happening and I was able to out-damage him all game long. Once I knocked out two Zapdos, the game was all but over. I ended up taking another 2-0 win against the very popular Manectric-EX.
9 - 3 - 3
This event was a blast, and although I ended up missing my Worlds invite by 50 Points, I was still very happy with how the deck performed. Even though I was targeting the Raichu decks, it seemed like they were all replaced with Manectric, so I guess it worked out for the best. I ended up 24th Place and collected my boxes. If I had to do it over, I think I would have dropped the Max Potions and played an AZ or Cassius in order to get out of Sleep. I might have also added a fourth Sycamore to reduce the chances of getting N’d into no Supporters. Sacred Ash was also largely useless all day. I could see dropping that, but I have no idea what I would drop it for.
After the event was over, the roomies and I decided to go grab some food, but were stopped outside by a guy looking for a lighter. It turned out that his brother was the person running the big Panic! at the Disco concert going on just outside of the convention center. He let us into the VIP section and we spent the next few hours enjoying the concert! Always carry a lighter! After the concert, we decided to grab some Jimmy John's and spend the rest of the evening watching the fireworks display in downtown Indianapolis. I can't think of a better ending to such a fantastic event!
On Day 3, I decided to go down to the event hall in order to sell my boxes and some spare cards to the vendor so that I could help pay for the costs of the trip, but I was shocked to hear that a fellow Florida player, Sam Bennett, had passed away from a heart attack in her hotel room the previous night. This hit me pretty hard even though we weren’t extremely close because the Florida players are a very tight-knit group and I had just spoken with her the previous day. I can only hope that she had the time of her life at her last National Championship. Rest in peace, Sam…
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