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Karl Peters

The Time Before Worlds...

This time, I'd like to show you more about my preparation for the upcoming World Championships.

07/01/2015 by Karl Peters

Hey, everyone, it's me, Karl, back with another article. I hope you enjoyed my last article! This time, I'd like to show you more about my preparation for the upcoming World Championships.  I already mentioned some important points last time.  Today I’ll give you all the details of how I’ve been preparing myself for the last year. Time has passed so fast. All of the European National Championships have concluded and there are just a few weeks left before I'll be meeting the best players from all around the world. I've attended Worlds seven times so far and this year will be my eighth. I'm really excited about my trip to Boston. It's always fun to get to know new people and see familiar faces again. I guess there's no better opportunity to have new experiences and to improve your own skills.


 

 1. First Things First: Prepartion!

Each year before Worlds comes to an end, the new location for the upcoming tournaments is announced. It's one of my favourite moments of the whole event. So basically, the planning starts a full year before the next World Championship actually begins. You may ask, "Why should I already start with my arrangements before I even know if I'll get my invite?"  Well, that’s a good point. There’s no guarantee that one will make it through the year and end up with an invite for Worlds. That’s why I recommend my personal procedure only to experienced players who are more likely qualified for an invite. Luckly, it’s easier to receive an invite at the moment, since only 300 CP are required in Europe. If you're a new player with less experience or a player who wants to avoid the risk of ending up with a flight but no invite, I recommend buying your ticket as soon as you've secured your invite.

The early bird gets the worm!

Once I’m sure about traveling to Worlds, I start by applying my vacation time at work and finding an appropriate flight . The earlier the cheapier! But when it comes to accommodations, I tend to book them quite late. There are a couple reasons that waiting makes more sense.

First, if you share your room with friends, you can split the costs with them, so make sure to talk to anyone you know who will also be attending Worlds. Also, one of your friends could win Nationals or have their room paid for by Pokémon because of their high rating.  If your friend gets a free room and is okay with being your roommate, you can potentially save a lot of money by staying with them.


Try to plan ahead when booking your room and flight.  That means considering jetlag and other travel stress. I always take one or two days extra before Worlds starts so that I have enough time to settle in and maybe explore the city. Luckly, all the locations have been super interesting so far. Washington D.C., Hawaii, San Diego – all great places!

Championship Points: Gotta Catch 'em All!

So, you've planned to compete in Worlds and have already booked your flight. The season just has started and you know that you'll have to get those Championship Points.

But to get them, you'll have to travel – the very thought of the vacation time and the money!

Figure out which tournaments you'd like to – or need to – participate in. Where can you earn the most CP and which ones are the biggest events? Keep in mind, the bigger the tournament, the more experienced players you'll see there.

I've followed the same procedure for years. I attend all the big events. Sometimes I have to travel long distances and to a lot of events because of the size of the events or due to the relatively low numbers of pro players. Next to the National Championships and European Challenge Cup, there are Regionals and Arena Cups, which offer many CP as well. If you ask me, you need to play at least five tournaments during the season to earn enough CP, and if you're a beginner, try to play more than five, since you can't always make Top Cut at each competition. As I’ve already told you, I also compete in tournaments which are quite far away. Far away means travelling a lot and not everyone – experienced players included – wants to shoulder that. That's why I recommend traveling to those events, since there will likely be fewer experienced players in attendance.

At the moment, it’s only possible to attend an Arena Cup in Germany. They're similar to Regionals and you can win a small Travel Award of a €150 (150 EUR) value. They typically occur shortly after Worlds or during a time period when there are fewer tournaments in general. That’s why there are often many different players – even significant European players don’t want to miss out those Arena Cups.

Nevertheless I recommend that everyone – yes, even the beginners – join these competitions. Try to consider them as a possibility to gain more experience and to
improve yourself.

League Challenges and City Championships

These are smaller events and pros tend to join them with the objective of playing new deck ideas and strategies. They're a great way to test how well your ideas hold up in practice. Certainly, players with less experience can earn many plenty of CP at these events, especially if they stick to meta decks.


National Championships and the European Challenge Cup

These are the events that you can't always count on for points. The National Championship is the biggest competition in your country and shouldn't be your main hope for gaining CP. Obviously it's more than great if you end up winning Nationals and getting all your CP that way, but it's really important to have enough CP going into Nationals so your whole Worlds trip isn't riding on that one tournament! The same goes for the ECC. There will be more players and pros than at your Nationals and it’s not unlikely to see a game between two pro players. Everything’s possible at the ECC, so by sure to attend if you’re really competitive and try to improve your skills. It’s one of the best options!

Your hotel room – the cheapier the better!

Flight to Worlds? Check! Enough Championship Points? Check! You finally made it! You've removed almost all of the obstacles in your way to Worlds, but a quick check of the accommodation conditions reveals the real roadblock.

According to my experience, the hotel that Pokémon books for their venue is far from a bargain. In case you prefer a hotel near the venue but don’t want to return broke, speak with one of the players from your country who's earned a travel award. Maybe they'll share their sponsored room with you some and other players. I know that it’s not a big deal to upgrade a one-bed room to a two-bed room. In case you can't get a room with any travel award-winners, I recommend that you book a hotel room with friends. In many cases it’s possible to house up to four people in one room. So, if you don’t suffer from claustrophobia, it’s a really cheap alternative for five days.

The time between Nationals and Worlds

If you ask me, this is somehow the hardest part of the season. You're well prepared and ready to "take off," waiting for the day when you finally board the plane to meet all these amazing people. But before your adventure begins, you'll have to practice a lot. Testing, testing, testing is the name of the game. However, there are probably fewer tournaments during that time. This will make it harder for you to put your strategies to the test so your opporunities are limited. Try to play with friends or test online. I personally advocate building as many decks as possible so you have an overview of all decks which might be played at Worlds. The most important thing when it comes to Pokémon is information. Which deck will be the most played? How can you tailor your own deck to counter it?

Testing – alone or with friends?

There are different mindsets on testing efficiently, but when it comes to big events, I recommend working together with some experienced players.

There are two main reasons.

First, you broaden your horizons. Once you’re playing with another good player, you’ll get to know their point of view. Sooner or later they'll offer you their thoughts and strategies and you may learn something absolutely new. It’s always good to consider as many strategies as possible because that will prepare you to play at Worlds. There you’ll meet the crème de la crème, people from all around the worlds with different backgrounds and experiences. They’ll all have their own, and in most cases, very unique techniques and in the end, you’ll need to be able to deal with them. So get yourself well prepared!

Second, the best way to improve yourself is through criticism. If you keep testing alone, it’ll hard for you to realize your own faults. Only a few victories can lead you to overlook possible issues with your deck. A second opinion could tell you what might be a better strategy or what might be one of your biggest problems. Constructive criticism and discussion are always helpful when improving your skills.

Your biggest rivals can turn into your best friends 

I think everyone knows this situation well. During the season, you'd like to develop your success to the maximum, but on your way to success, you'll encounter some obstacles: other professional players.

Naturally, your rivals kind of stay your rivals during the season because in the end, there can only be one National Champion. But it might be helpful to overcome that rivalry when it comes to Worlds.

In recent years, many professional players built up their own small teams and worked together to come up with the best strategies. Even lone wolves can see the advantage of that system.

You might think I'm crazy to tell you to ally yourself with the players who were your biggest rivals for CP throughout the season, but when it comes to Worlds testing, your rivalry can lead to a very valuable and productive partnership.

Nobody will tell you to become best friends forever. Naturally, you can dissolve your team right after Worlds, just to start as opponents again at the beginning of the new season. May the best player win!

Never lose your focus on your enemies.

Normally, you’ll get the most information for Worlds from the various Nationals worldwide. Unfortunately, this year it’s quite hard to collect enough information about other Nationals in Europe since Lysandre's Trump Card was banned and with it, the meta has completely changed.

Nevertheless, focus on these Nationals before Worlds to receive valuable facts about various international metagames:

  • U.S. Nationals
  • Canadian Nationals
  • Dragon Mega Battles

Each of these events are noteworthy due both to their sizes and to the number of excellent players competing.  They also mark the last opportunity for players worldwide to make note of new decks and interesting strategies. 

Let’s have a closer look at these tournaments. 

 

The U.S. National Championship

 

 

If you ask me, this is the tournament with the most professional players before Worlds. This tournament is always good for a suprise – just as last year has shown us.  Different players play and show you their best lists during their quests to become the National Champion.

Next to the National Championship in Japan, it’s the biggest tournament of the year. It will certainly show you if your own deck and strategies can deal with all these international players since it's not only important that your deck has a good enough strategy, but also that it can work in practice against a diverse field. Focus on the decks that top at this event.  They'll usually give you enough knowledge about the successful decks in the U.S. meta.

It’s always really interesting and suprising to see which unknown or underestimated decks emerge victorious. A very good example is the finals from last year. Do you remember it?  Michael Pramawat with Pyror against Brandon Salazar's Landorus/Mewtwo/Garbodor/Raichu.

I’m sure that I speak for most players when I say that few people expected those two decks in the finals since Yveltal-EX had dominated during most of the European Nationals.

That’s why many professional players wait for this event to reveal its tricks and information before making finishing touches to their decks.  So don’t forget to follow this event and consider all the facts as you're setting up your deck for Worlds.

The Canadian National Championships 



Due to Canada's talented players, this tournament has become more interesting in recent years. For instance, two top players are 2014 World Champion Andrew Estrada, and Chase Maloney whose name is definitely not unknown. So don’t underestimate those Canadian players! Consider their ideas and try them out during your preparations.

 

Big Events in Japan

Let's switch our attention now to Japanese tournaments, which I personally follow through the whole year. These tournaments distinguish themselves by their enormous amounts of players.

In addition, tournaments in Japan are always interesting, since their format generally has more sets than the rest of the world. That means that their decks can give interesting insight into the future of our own formats.

Each year, Japan offers us one of the most talented and very special players from each age group, who often proceed to success at Worlds as well.

It's no secret that some of the big "Hall of Fame" players come from Japan, most notably Tsuguyoshi Yamato, Yuta Komatsuda, and Takuya Yoneda.

 

These players make their mark, not only in their country, but on the World Championship stage as well. So if you really want to know if your deck can stand on its own in Boston this year and want a preview of how the meta is going to develop, take a closer look at the Japanese tournament results.

So, I’m sure that’s enough so far concerning the theory behind preparation.  Let me show you which decks and strategies I've followed and tested these past weeks. I'll also give you an overview of all the interesting news and current strategies. 

2. Why Has the Meta Changed?

As I’ve already mentioned in my article, this year it’s not that easy to set up a powerful deck. Right before the last European National Championship, Lysandre's Trump Card was banned.

This had a massive influence on the meta, as you could see at the Nationals in Denmark. Decks such as Seismitoad and Flareon have lost some of their potential. If you ask me, many big decks from this season aren’t a good option for Worlds anymore because of their heavy reliance on Trump Card.

Here are some decks which have become irrelevant for Worlds:

Seitmitoad-EX with Slurpuff: It's no longer possible to recycle all your resources to continue disrupting your opponent,

Flareon: Without Trump Card, it's harder to keep attackers coming at the end of the game because of discarded resources.


Exeggutor Decks: 
You have no chance against decks running Shaymin-EX.  They can keep drawing cards and can absorb attacks with Shaymin and Sky Return back to the hand before being knocked out.  It's also no longer possible to recycle disruption cards.

Each of these decks domintated the meta before Trump Card was banned but now they're nearly unplayable. So, basically everything has changed. Let’s have a closer look at the changes together.

 

3. What is the New Meta?

Due to Danish Nationals, we've been given the first information about the meta's development.  Let's welcome back some decks that haven't been popular since the early Primal Clash era. In addition, some decks which were never remotely contenders before are emerging as all-stars of this new format.

I’d like to show you some standout decks which I've tested with a few friends.

 

4. LandyBats Returns 

This deck enjoyed a fair amount of hype before Seismitoad completely took over. It dominated almost everywhere, both in Europe and in the U.S.

It's real strength is its solidity. No frills, no elaborate strategy requiring a lot of planning. So simple, yet so effective. Your Pokémon have low attack costs, giving you flexibility to answer your opponent's complicated moves.

In addition, its damage output is anything but normal, in my opinion. Pokémon such as Hawlucha and Landorus-EX can easily hit for 60 or more with the very first attack of the match. Currently you can count among the most solid Pokémon in the current Meta. 

And then there's Crobat, a card which has become more and more essential in the recent weeks. A Pokémon which had disappeared from the tier one decks. But due to its powerful Fighting partner, it now belongs to one of the strongest decks in the format.

 

I’d say that Crobat has always been an interesting card since its complete Evolution line contributes a considerable amount of damage, which can be divided perfectly for different situations. Furthermore, Crobat just needs one Colorless Energy for to fuel its own attacks.

Also, your opponent will need patience and time to get rid of Crobat due to its 130 HP, which often can take more than one hit. All in all, a perfect, well-rounded card for your deck.

Naturally, this deck has to adapt and combine new tricks with old ones. 

4.1. The newest tricks and techs

Focus Sash

This Trainer has become quite important. On the one hand, it protects the smaller 70 HP Hawalucha against other decks, making it even more annoying for the opponent to deal with. On the other hand, it guards your bigger Pokémon against Primal Groudon, which can deal 200 Damage with a single attack. For this reason, make sure to add Focus Sash to your deck.

Another interesting card is Escape Rope, which provides you a huge advantage in certain situations.

For example, if your opponent has a single Wobbuffet Active and you're unable to use Lysandre to deal with a Primal Groudon-EX, Escape Rope serves as a good solution.

 

 

 

Well, enough with all these explanations concerning this powerful deck. Here’s the real interesting thing – the list: 

 

 5. Gengar's First Big Performance

Gengar-EX is one of those Pokémon who hasn’t found its spot in the meta yet, but in combination with Trevenant, things could change.

Let’s have a closer look on that combination. 

Gengar’s attack Dark Corridor is one of the more technical attacks at the moment, dealing 60 damage and Poison to the Defending Pokémon, and switching Gengar with a Benched Pokémon – in this case Trevenant.

I’m convinced that this is the biggest advantage of this deck. Generally, it imitates the strategy of Seismitoad-EX, which worked out well for most of the season. Trevenant, which produces Item-lock, is the main key to your success. It gives you more time to set up while denying the opponent their own setup. Basically, Item-lock is an effective weapon, one not easy to deal with for your adversary.

Another reason for this deck's viability is Trevenant’s Tree Slam attack. With only two Energy attachments (a Psychic and a Double Colorless), you're dealing a total of 100 damage across three Pokémon. I think it’s clear why this deck will earn recognition fast. It never depended on Lysandre Trump Card due to the fact that it relies on sustainable ressources. That's the major contrast with Seismitoad decks, which tended to use all their resources immediately.

With Trevenant's lock, decks like LandyBats are slowed considerably so the Trevenant player can keep the upper hand. Basically, your opponent has to expend quite a bit of effort to win the match. For instance, Gengar constantly returns to the Bench with its attack. Your opponent is then forced to have a Lysandre, both to get out of Item-lock and to actually attack Gengar – all without the ability to use VS Seeker to get that Lysandre.

  5.1 Newest tricks and trends

 

Wally is among the most important cards of this deck with its release in Roaring Skies. This card offers the opportunity to bring a Trevenant onto the field on the first turn, without even waiting for the opponent to draw a card. This allows you to Item-lock the opponent for the entire game, limiting your adversary in a huge way. Cards like Ultra Ball and Jirachi-EX facilitate this strategy in a big way.

M Gengar-EX 

This Mega Evolution has seen very little play thus far, but due to Primal Groudon, it should be definitely considered as a tech. That's why it's beginning to see play in lists today: it offers you good alternatives in complicated situations. For example, if you encounter a deck with a strategy you haven't prepared for, you can often rely on M Gengar-EX to give you an edge.

All in all, a card which can turn into an incalcucable risk for your opponent.


Here's a possible Gengar list:

6. Primal Grodoun: An Insuperable Wall?

Hands down – Primal Groudon has had its share of successful moments before Nationals. Whether as a loner or in combination with Donphan, it never disappointed in tournaments. But what makes Primal Groudon so special and powerful now?

Well, it’s obvious that your opponent won’t be able to remove this monster easily, since they'll encounter a wall with 240 HP. In addition, with with Ancient Trait as protection, your Pokémon will be almost invincible because your adversary will be unable to disrupt it with Items or Supporters. In other words, it's a wall which seems to be unbreakable – even cards such as Xerosic, Lysandre, and Crushing Hammer haven’t got a chance.

Moreover, decks with Primal Groudon are greatly assisted in their setup by Korrina.  But that's not all. Their damage output also becomes even more formidable with the help of Strong Energy and Fighting Stadium.

For Primal Groudon, healing is everything – the more damage you can absorb from an injured Primal Groudon, the longer you’ll have the upper hand.

Let’s have a look at the best cards healing cards available right now.

Super Potion, Pokémon Center Lady and Gold Potion

The first card can be used easily due to the fact that you need to discard just one Energy to heal 60 damage. This amounts to just one attachment, and since you'll also be running Mega Turbo, this cost shouldn't set you back at all.

You can achieve the same result with Pokémon Center Lady, but I’d recommend to save her for the late game. Meanwhile, Gold Potion is powerful healing with no discard, but it comes at the cost of your ACE SPEC.

Well, I’ve just listed many advantages for this deck, but we all know that nothing is perfect. The biggest disadvantage is the time you’ll need to collect all four Energy to attack. Until you've gotten all your Energy attachments, you'll be forced to pass each turn. However, Mega Turbo can help compensate for the attack cost.

6.1  Newest tricks and techs

  

Wobbuffet – Groudon’s new BFF?

At first, the combination of Primal Groudon-EX with Hawlucha and Landorus dominated tournaments in Europe and the States. Then came a version consisting primarily of Donphan, with Primal Groudon serving as a tech against Seismitoad-EX. But now, European players have come to favor the Japanese version of the deck, which combines Primal Groudon with Wobbuffet. This version of the deck just proved itself at Danish Nationals. 

With this version, Primal Groudon sits on the Bench powering up while Wobbuffet walls in the Active position, blocking your opponent's Abilities (like Set Up) with its Bide Barricade. 

Here's a version of the deck similar to the one from Danish Nationals.

 7. Night March's Rebirth

What’s going on here? Lysandre’s Trump Card is banned and Seismitoad's presence has diminished like never before. Looks like the little Night Marchers can make a comeback somehow!  It's not a big secret that this deck is more focused than ever.

But let’s face the truth.

It's true that the Trump Card ban gives Night March a serious boost. Nevertheless, its enemies remain the same. Watch out for Seismitoad-EX. The likelihood of being disrupted during setup is still quite high, so your matches won't last as long and you'll end up losing.

But no worries, cards such as Bouffalant from Primal Clash can be helpful against Seismitoad-EX. Make use of Bouffalant’s attack Derail to steal Double Colorless Energy from Seismitoad from time to time. Without Trump Card it won’t be possible to get them back. 

Another enemy is LandyBats, since it can attack two of your Pokémon at the same time. It can not only harm your active Mew-EX, but also your Benched Night Marchers.  They're also susceptible to Crobat's Surprise Bite. With only 30 HP, Joltik is immediately knocked out by either.  All in all, the deck still has a lot of issues to consider.

7.1 The newest tricks and techs 

Well, there aren’t many new cards for Night March that were released in Roaring Skies, but let’s have a look at the possible tricks with this deck.

Empoleon

 

This is a tech which matches perfectly with your deck. Here are two reasons why.

  1. It belongs to the family of Water Pokémon. That makes it a very effective counter to Landorus-EX.  In addition, it's a Stage 2, which means that you won't have any urgent worries in case you're facing Pyroar.  The fact that it attacks for a single Water Energy makes it even more efficient.

  2. Empoleon's Ability Diving Draw is a perfect fit for Night March.  First, it discards Night March Pokémon, increasing your damage output.  Second, it lets you draw two extra cards each turn, helping you dig for key cards like DCE or Battle Compressor.
     

Archie's Ace in the Hole

 

This card is hard to play normally since it needs to be the only card in your hand, but this seems to work out quite well with Night March. Archie's Ace in the Hole allows you to put Empoleon directly onto the Bench and with that, you can make use of its advantages. Even if Empoleon is knocked out, Archie can get him back anytime.

No Archie available? No worries. With VS Seeker, you’re allowed to grab Archie from your discard pile. In fact, you can’t really go wrong with Empoleon in your Night March deck.

Other cards that fit perfectly are Bouffalant and Kecleon.

Here’s a list, which I’m personally testing right now:

 8.0. Another Interesting Deck

 

Raichu/Crobat/Shaymin

This is the last deck I’d like to introduce you to. It has become famous during the past few weeks and this combination is quite uncommon. Its fame is due to Martin Janouš, a Czech Player who pioneered this deck to a First Place finish at Czech Nationals.

But what are its strengths and why haven’t we noticed it before? There are two main cards behind its recent success.

The first is Sky Field. It gives you the ability to have up to eight Pokémon on your Bench. In other words, Raichu’s Circle Circuit attack receives a damage upgrade from 100 to a maximum of 160 damage. The damage output is further boosted by Muscle Band and Crobat, allowing for one-hit knockouts on almost every Pokémon in the game.
 

The second genius update is Shaymin-EX. This Pokémon not only helps you draw and "Set Up" your board, but also puts another Pokémon onto your Bench to fuel Circle Circuit. 

This deck was established in the past, emerging as a counter to Mega Rayquaza due to Rayquaza's Lightning Weakness.

Even if the Rayquaza player gets Altaria in play to shut off Rayquaza's Weakness with its Clear Humming Ability, Raichu still poses a serious problem, especially if you’re playing Crobat to remove Altaria. In a nutshell, it’s a really strong deck that contains interesting techs.

 8.1. Newest tricks and techs

There are many techs that can be added to your deck, since the core just consists of 4-4 Raichu, 4-4-3 Crobat, 3 Shaymin EX and 4 Double Colorless Energy. Generally, you are quite flexible in your choice of techs due to the deck's space for extra Energy.

I’m personally a fan of extra protection, even for decks, which you would probably only encounter at the beginning of a tournament.

 

Kecleon is a Pokémon that can serve you well.

For one, it’s a powerful weapon against Colorless M Rayquaza-EX since it can copy Emerald Break for a big KO. Your opponent may not expect a knockout out of the blue.

Also, Mewtwo-EX is a common card in many decks. It's easily to one-shot the monster with Kecleon combined with Double Colorless Energy and Muscle Band since Kecleon's Color Change Ability makes it Psychic-type against Mewtwo. Such strategies and moves can supries your opponent easily and lead you to victory. Moreover, it's helpful in the mirror since you can use Circle Circuit from an opposing Raichu, perfect for situations when you can't get Pikachu onto the Bench.

It’s true that Kecleon can't help against every deck, but if you really do need him, he will have your back.

Next to Kecleon, Seismitoad seems to be a good choice as well. It fits in easily since you already run four Double Colorless Energy.  Furthermore, it'll support you against matchups like Night March (which relies on Item cards) and Landorus (which has a Water Weakness). In addition, early damage from Quaking Punch can set up KOs later in the game.

The last tech I’ll show you is Virizion-EX. It's a comfortable fit in the deck and it makes cards like Hypnotoxic Laser a non-issue for you. Basically, Virzion-EX is a good addition to the deck since you’ve got enough space for Grass Energy. This will bring you some advantages against Special Conditions.

There are way more tricks and techs, but always remember to stick with the green build.  This is how you can build your deck:

9. Conclusion

Testing, testing, testing – this is the most important thing you can do for preparation. Whether it’s a small City Championship in your area or the World Championships. The better you’re prepared – which means knowing your matchups and having gameplans for different situations – the safer and more confident you'll be when facing your adversary. The second essential thing is reading the meta correctly. That’s easier said than done, I know, since players from all around the world perform at Worlds and they have their own backgrounds and metagames. Nevertheless, try analyzing results from the various international tournaments. Don’t underestimate decks which aren’t common or dominating your meta. Remember, as you’re testing decks, you're testing their diversity, which makes each deck unique and powerful in their own way.

Always build your deck to have a good matchup against the most common and expected deck at the event.  Try to keep up with your preparation, even if your schedule doesn’t easily permit it. Practice makes perfect! Well-structured planning is half the battle. Other elements such as in-game skill, perfecting your list, and, naturally, a good portion of luck make up the other half.  So never loser your focus! It will pay off in the end.

Stay tuned for my next article, in which I’d like to show you some uncommon decks. I’ll focus more on Pokémon which haven’t found a spot in the meta yet, such as M Latios-EX and M Gallade-EX.

I hope that you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully you found good points and helpful advice. If you have any questions or opinions you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to contact me.

See you soon!

Yours,

Karl Peters

 

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