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Matthew Koo

Legacy of the Plasma King

Here, I get a chance to interview a very talented player in Canada, Simon Luong. Join me as he shares with us his love for Team Plasma and his journey to the top 4 at Virginia Regionals!

02/25/2015 by Matthew Koo

Hello again 60cards readers!  


Today, I have a special opportunity to share with you. Recently, I had an interview one of the best players in Canada, Simon Luong. During the 4 years he plays Pokémon, Simon has finished in the Top 32 or better at Nationals all four years; placed 1st in both a Provincials and a Regionals; and has multiple 1st place finishes in Cities.  

Over the past year, Simon has been really fond of the Team Plasma Deck that has surfaced in the format. Simon played his Plasma Lugia EX deck at the City Championships and performed consistently well with it. He has played this deck so often that he has become known as "The Plasma King." Today, we get to see the list he built and why it's so unique compared to other Team Plasma lists.  

Additionally, last weekend, Simon had the opportunity to travel to Virginia to compete with some of the best players. He'll be sharing some of his top matches with us as well as his experience at such a large event.

Without further ado, let's get started shall we?   


MK: Simon, thank you for joining us today. As a first question, I was wondering why you decided to start playing the Pokémon TCG?

SL: I used to play casually ever since Base Set came out, but never became competitive. I was a part of the Air Cadets when I was younger, where I met a guy who always talked about Pokémon. He loved the game and told me how strong this one Pokémon, Jumpluff, was. He told me with only ONE energy, he could do lots of damage. From that day onwards, not only did the TCG begin to interest me, but Jumpluff also became my favorite Pokémon.  

Some time later, I went to the local card shop to buy some cards. I met one of my friends who played Yu-Gi-Oh there and he told me about a Pokémon league the shop ran. This sparked my interest, and I decided to enter one of their weekly tournaments. I played the popular "Shuppet Donk" deck and surprisingly made my way to the finals. Unfortunately, I lost, but that only made me more excited for the next tournament. I never looked back since.

MK:  You're currently heading into your 5th season of competitive play. What has kept you in this game for so long?

SL: I really enjoy the competitive scene, but what I enjoy most is being able to spend time with the other players. I have made a lot of friends throughout my years of playing and they are the ones that make the tournaments that much more fun.

MK: You had the chance this weekend to attend the Virginia Regional Championships in the United States. What do you think is a major difference between Canadian Regionals and U.S. Regionals?

SL: Canadian Regionals (Eastern Canada anyway) is made up out of a lot of local players who I play regularly. So when a Regional comes around, I can gage the meta-game easily. On top of that, U.S. Regionals has almost triple the amount of players, making it a lot more difficult.

Simon's Day 1 Plasma Lugia Deck

MK:  So we see here your Plasma list that you played for Day 1. Would you say this is a pretty standard list for most Plasma decks or are there notable differences in yours that makes it stand out?

SL: I feel that my list is unique in the fact that it plays a pure speed engine. The goal of the deck was to win the game on turn 3. To go through my deck more quickly, I decided to use a Smaller Supporter count (so my hand wouldn’t be clogged up with supporters) and more trainers to help me draw cards (Roller Skates, Bicycle).

I also play two Battle Compressors that help me thin my deck (so that I can draw into the cards I need) while also discarding key Supporters so I can use them with VS Seeker. The two cards I always discard with Battle Compressor are Lysandre's Trump Card and Lysandre while my last card could be a Colress or N (again, so that I can thin my deck and use VS Seeker to use these Supporters when I need them).

The last of my tech cards is the Target Whistle. This is used to ensure the EX knockouts I need to win my games. I never want to knock out a non-EX Pokémon with Lugia EX, because it would mean I only take two prizes instead of three, meaning I have to knock out 3 Pokémon to win the game instead of 2. The Target Whistle ensured that I can take an EX from my opponent’s discard pile and place it on their bench so that I can either use Pokémon Catcher or Lysandre to secure my win.

MK:  Could you explain your reasoning behind Lysandre's Trump Card, only one copy of N, and the Town Map?

SL: Sometimes games don't go as planned, and you find yourself discarding a lot of resources (E.g. Plasma Energies) so I added a Lysandre's Trump Card to help me recover from those instances. Considering the majority of cards in my deck are trainers that help me draw cards, I can easily go through my deck to get the cards that I need to win the game.

Similarly, I only play one copy of N, because it doesn't help me thin my deck. However, in crucial situations, a VS Seeker for an N can stop my opponent from winning the next turn by shuffling the cards they need back into their deck.

Lastly, the Town Map is important because Lugia EX relies on all four Deoxys EX and a Muscle Band to successfully knock out a 180 HP Pokémon EX. For this reason, if any of my Deoxys EX are prized, Town Map helps me pick them up to secure the knock out for next turn.

MK:  Awesome! So let's move on to the actual tournament itself. You tied the first match of the day, and then went on to win the following seven matchups to secure your Day 2 invite. Can you share some of your more notable matches?


Round 5: Jacob Lesage (2011 Seniors World Champion) playing Fairies Toolbox

Game 1: Jacob opens with a Virizion EX and two Spritzees on the bench. I manage to get an early Knockout with Lugia EX on the Virizion EX for three prizes. To counter my ‘all EX’ deck, Jacob only benches an Aegislash EX (which stops all Pokémon with Special Energy from damaging it) and a Suicune (which stops all EX Pokémon from damaging it). I was N'ed to three and drew dead. Jacob began clearing my board and had only two prize cards left. Jacob felt pretty confident that he won this game, considering I could not attack any of his Pokémon. However, on my next turn, I managed to top deck a VS Seeker. I got back a Professor Juniper and looked at the new seven-card hand I drew and found my way out. I used Target Whistle to bring back the Virizion EX and a Pokémon Catcher (on which I flipped heads) to bring it up. I sent up Lugia EX (that was fully charged) and used Plasma Gale for the knockout and won the game. The shock on his face was priceless. Definitely, one of my most memorable moments of that day.


Round 8: Brandon Salazar (2014 U.S. Masters National Champion) playing Landorus EX Crobat

Game 2: Brandon gets an early start with a Landorus EX, knocking out my Thundurus EX easily and a Lugia EX. I managed to charge up a Snorlax and N him to 2. He had a full bench consisting of Crobats and Hawluchas, but my Snorlax was doing an incredible 220 damage. There was no way for him to stop it, and I proceeded to win the game.

MK:  Amazing! After such a long day, what did you have planned for Day 2?

SL: The general consensus back at the hotel room was that Virizion EX/Genesect EX was going to be popular. I hoped this would discourage a lot of Seismitoad EX being played (since it was weak to grass) which is Plasma's worst matchup. With this reasoning, I modified my Plasma deck by just adding some Prism Energy and I was ready to go.


MK:  It must have worked for you as you found yourself in the Top 8 after 5 more Swiss rounds Day 2. How did your Top 8 and Top 4 matches go?


Top 8: Collin Schaetzke playing Seismitoad EX, Manectric EX, Crobat

I knew the hardest matchups for me were: Pokémon I was weak to (Manectric EX) and Pokémon that would shut down my trainers (Seismitoad EX), so this matchup wasn't the greatest for me.

Game 1: 
I managed to quickly charge up a Lugia EX, while Collin had a very slow start. By the time he was able to knock out my Lugia EX with a Manectric EX I had already set up a Snorlax. The Snorlax knocked out the Manectric EX, followed by the rest of his board so I was able to take Game 1 fairly easily.

Game 2: 
Collin got a very quick Seismitoad EX up and was able to shut off my trainers. I was unable to set up properly and decided to move on to Game 3.

Game 3:
Collin opened a lone zubat and played N. He missed on a Pokémon and I was able to use a Colress Machine and hit a Prism on my Deoxys EX with a Muscle Band to secure the win.

Top 4: Brandon Salazar playing Landorus EX, Crobat

I won four matches against Brandon (2 in Day 1 Swiss and 2 in Day 2 Swiss) so I was feeling confident at the start of this matchup. However, I still wasn't convinced that it would be an easy win.

Game 1: 
I drew dead and couldn't even set up a Lugia EX before he took six prizes.

Game 2: 
The complete opposite happened in game 2, I got a turn 2 Lugia EX with four Deoxys EX on the bench to get the 180 damage needed to knock out his Landorus EX. I proceeded to knock out another EX the turn after and won the game.

Game 3:
I opened with a pretty weak hand again. I had to play Professor Juniper discarding two Plasma Energy while one was in play and another prized. However, I got a quick knock out on a Hawlucha with a Deoxys EX and Muscle Band. At this point I had a choice between the Plasma Energy or Deoxys EX (I had used Town Map so I could see my prizes). I took the Plasma Energy instead of the Deoxys EX since I needed it to attack. In hindsight, I probably should have taken the Deoxys EX and used Lysandre's Trump Card to get my other Plasma Energies back. I admit my mistake because without the Deoxys EX I couldn't do enough damage to knock out his Landorus EX. I eventually get another knock out on a Hawlucha and take the Deoxys EX from the prizes.

The game came down to me having a Lugia EX with 20 HP left and my opponent having enough resources to knock it out. I knew I had to get the win this turn. I used Lysandre's Trump Card to put all of my Plasma Energies back in the deck. I used Roller Skates, hit heads, to draw 3 and then a Bicycle to draw 1 more. I needed a Deoxys EX to win me the game. I Bicycle'd for one and hit the Target Whistle. I realised the tournament was over for me, I extended my hand and congratulated him on Top 2. Just out of curiosity I flipped over the next card in my deck and found out it was a Team Plasma Ball.

MK:  An amazing run nonetheless! No wonder your friends back in Canada nicknamed you "The Plasma King"!  Now that Primal Clash is out, do you still plan to play Plasma?

SL: At first, I didn't think Plasma was viable any longer, the new Pokémon having HP that exceeds 180HP, but the ability to take three prizes off an EX is still very strong. If I were to play Plasma again, I would use Thundurus EX and Snorlax to deal some damage to these Mega Exs so later on I can knock them out with Lugia EX.

I, personally, will be moving away from Plasma (after playing it for so long!) and will be looking into other decks involving the new cards.

MK:  Any cards in particular?

SL: I really like the new Mega-evolutions, in particular the Kyogre EX and Camerupt EX. I think both have the potential to change the meta-game with their powerful attacks. Kyogre EX allows you to preserve your energy, while dealing 150 damage and 30 to all benched EXs, while the Camerupt EX allows you to deal an infinite amount of damage based off of how many fire energies you discard.

The trainers in this set, especially Teammates, look really cool. I think they allow more diversity in the game and more strategy in terms of game play. I'm really looking forward to the decks I can come up with and play against in the next few weeks.

MK: Looking forward to it! Thanks again Simon, and before we finished, do you have anything else you want to add?

SL: Shout out to Team Canada and all the support. I really can't say enough how much impact my friends have had on me, both inside and outside the TCG scene. And lastly, thank you to for having me for this interview.

What a great story about the Spirit of the Game along with meeting so many incredible people along the way. We, at 60cards, wish Simon the best of luck for the rest of the season and thank all of the readers for stopping by!  



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