"I Gotchu Phan" Journey to Worlds Top 32 With Donphan
Daniel Lynch gives an overview of his Top 32 Worlds experience with Donphan.
09/11/2015 by Daniel lynch
Hello! I am Daniel Lynch, or you may know me by my more common pseudonym: Phinnegan Lynch. I'm here to tell you all a little about my journey at Worlds and how I got there.
Table of contents
Three weeks ago today, I was in Boston, grinding away in preparation for the World Championships. After completely immersing myself in my testing for weeks upon weeks, my last minute deck choice ended up being Donphan. My team and I had been working on a list together for about a month. Collectively, we felt very confident with it. This is the list I used to get 24th in Masters as well as the list Colter Decker and Jeffery Cheng used to get 2nd and 3rd in Seniors.
Worlds 2015 Donphan
- 4x Phanpy
- 4x Donphan
- 4x Hawlucha
- 1x Bunnelby
- 4x Professor Juniper
- 4x N-supporter
- 4x Korrina
- 3x Lysandre
- 1x Colress
- 3x VS Seeker
- 2x Fighting Stadium
- 2x Silent Lab
- 1x Computer Search
- 1x Ultra Ball
- 2x Muscle Band
- 2x Silver Bangle
- 3x Focus Sash
- 4x Robo Substitute
- 5x Fighting Energy
- 2x Double Colorless Energy
- 4x Strong Energy
4 Hawlucha/No walls
We chose a thick, consistent Pokémon list rather than running several walls and fewer Hawlucha. Ultimately, the reason we chose this route was to save space in the list. The only other viable way to use this deck is with walls. We found walls to be far too clunky and inefficient, which is why we transitioned to this streamlined version. When using multiple kinds of walls, the deck needs to run three or four Float Stone, whereas with Hawlucha you always have a Pokémon with free Retreat. Item-lock also shuts off our ability to attach Float Stones to the walls. Seismitoad was one of our biggest concerns, so naturally, Float Stones and walls had to go.
Initially, I was not sold on the one Bunnelby, but after testing, I realized it's a no-brainer. Bunnelby is nice because it gives us the ability to deck out our opponents in certain clutch situations. It also provides a way to recover Double Colorless Energy and the Donphan line if needed. Being able to recover Pokémon with Bunnelby made me far more comfortable not running any Sacred Ash as well as making two Double Colorless Energy enough to Wreck consistently without worrying about running out. Though all of this is helpful, the one reason I decided to put Bunnelby in is because it can recover two Robo Substitutes. Recovering two Robo Subs will result in two more turns of your opponent being denied Prizes. Assuming Bunnelby does get Knocked Out in one hit, the exchange is favorable because you trade one Prize for denying two Prizes. Once I realized this, I immediately had no doubt Bunnelby was staying in the deck.
2 Fighting Stadium/2 Silent Lab
Three Fighting Stadium and one Silent Lab were the original counts until we realized how Donphan can destroy Metal decks with two Silent Lab. Coincidentally, Silent Lab helped against many other top-tier decks including Archie's Blastoise, Night March, Kyogre, and Seismitoad Garbodor. In this format and the upcoming format, Silent Lab is becoming increasingly more powerful because of how decks heavily rely on Shaymin-EX. Against some decks, I would simply drop Silent Lab down and watch my opponent draw and pass turn after turn because they could not draw any new cards without Shaymin's Set Up.
Most Donphan decks run only two Lysandre. I have never understood this line of thinking. Donphan almost always is going to need two hits to knock something out. Your opponent is going to do their best to not let you get the second hit in on any of their Pokémon. This leads you to need to be able to Lysandre every other turn. An argument could be made that VS Seeker allows you to potentially play 5 Lysandre if you only run two copies. Although this is true, you are going to have to run pretty hot to hit a Lysandre or a VS Seeker every time you need it with only two Lysandre in your deck. Three Lysandre boosts consistency and will win games consistently.
3 Focus Sash/0 Professor's Letter
I was persistent in my argument that two Focus Sash and one Professor's Letter was better than three Focus Sash before I had actually tried it. After I gave three a try, I quickly realized how amazing the card is in a higher count. Professor's Letter is still very helpful and, in all honesty, I miss having it in the deck. However, three Focus Sash allows for a consistent two turns of Wreck, which is too strong to give up. Essentially in any given game, if the Donphan player is allowed to Wreck with a Focus Sash on their Donphan, they will win. That in combination with giving the ability to deny Prizes on a Hawlucha gives Focus Sash enough versatility to warrant three copies
I'll go over the tournament, but instead of explaining every match, I'll talk about the highlights and the interesting decks I faced. Frankly, I can't remember all of my matches and I find tournament reports extremely boring when they just talk about each match they play and who won.
Round 1, I am paired against my friend Franco Takahashi, and he's playing...well, I am not too sure what he's playing! He mulligans and shows me a hand with Shadow Triad, a Double Colorless, and a Hypnotoxic Laser. Immediately I think to myself that he's playing Seismitoad/Garbodor, which is a matchup I am very comfortable with. We flip over our Active Pokémon and Franco reveals a Genesect-EX. From here, I am incredibly confused, but try to just play normally. I go first and take a very cliché Donphan turn one by using Korrina to grab a Phanpy and a Silver Bangle. He has an abysmal first turn, attaching a grass to Genesect and maybe playing a couple other cards that don't do much. Up until this point, I haven't actually seen a Seismitoad hit the board and I start to think he just runs one or possibly two. As we continue our game, it seems as though Franco surprises me every turn with a new tech that completely counters me.
By the end of our match, I find out that he was actually using at least three Seismitoad and played what seemed more like a Toad deck with Virizion and Gensect as support. Turns out, Seismitoad/Virizion/Genesect with several Hammers and Xerosic is the perfect way to counter Donphan. The combination of Red Signal and Quaking Punch is too much for my poor Donphan to handle and I start Worlds 0-1-0.
[Editor's note: Franco was probably playing Yamato's Seismitoad/Genesect deck.]
Round 2 goes smoothly and I pick up a win. Round 3 approaches and I face Seismitoad/Crobat, my worst matchup. Silent Lab helps my opponent to dead draw through all of Game 1, and luckily, I take the first game. Game 2 ends quickly with a Toad beating up my elephants. Before the match started, we had mutually decided to go by who was ahead on Prizes to decide a winner for our third game. Unfortunately he pulls ahead on Prizes on his last turn and takes the series 2-1.
Now I'm sitting uncomfortably at 1-2-0 and I realize I need to win all of my games to make Day 2. Luckily, I do! I hit good matchup after good matchup and manage to win out. On a side note, Silent Lab actually is the entire reason I won my last match up. My opponent was playing Wailord with Snorlax! He countered my Silent Lab and sent up Snorlax, expecting to lock my Hawlucha in the Active, but to his surprise, I drop the second Silent Lab and narrowly escape what could have knocked me out of Day 2.
After getting a not-so-good night's sleep on the floor of my teammate Nathian's hotel, I'm charged up and ready to play the same sixty cards from yesterday. I was very uncertain about what to play for Day 2, but after pondering it for hours, I just decide to play what had gotten me to Day 2 in the first place. In hindsight, I may have rather played Seismitoad/Crobat, but even now, I'm not sure if it was a better play. They collect deck lists and my fate is sealed.
Round 1 is sadly against my new friend Max Armitage. Ironically enough, Max is the one who re-introduced me and Jeffry to the idea of using Focus Sash. I know Max is a good player but I'm not sure what he's playing, so I go into the match with no expectations. We begin and he flips over a Trubbish. Toad/Garb it is. Toad/Garb versus Donphan is a matchup that both of us had tested extensively. I was under the impression that Donphan is favored pretty highly in the matchup while Max thought the opposite. We play two lengthy games and I wind up on top. I apologize for using his own advice against him and move to the next round.
Many of my matches were not interesting nor were they very fun. In fact, the most fun I had was playing the games I lost. There was one game where I decked out my opponent and another where I tied against Groudon (which should never happen). Aside from that, the next five rounds are very boring. Fast forward five rounds and I'm sitting at 4-1-1. All I need is one more win to make Top 8.
Round 7, I'm against a man from Indonesia whose name I don't remember. "No pressure," I tell myself. "Daniel, all you have to do is win one more game and you're in". We begin, and he shows me a Spritzee and a Seismitoad. My heart sinks but I try as hard as I can to stay focused and not let my emotions get the best of me. We're halfway through Game 1 and we have used up about twenty minutes or so. I can see that things are not going well for me, except for the fact that he's fairly low on cards in his deck. I can see that a traditional strategy at this point is going to do nothing for me. I instead look for other outs to a win aside from taking knockouts. I look through his discard and realize he has four Fairy Garden discarded. I have not played my Bunnelby and I realize my one way to win this is by deckout.
My plan is to use Bunnelby to recover Silent Lab and use multiple Lysandre on high-Retreat Pokémon in hopes that he has no way to Retreat. The strategy may seem ridiculous, but If I can make him use the rest of his Energy retreating Pokémon with a three Retreat Cost, I can run him out of Energy and make him run out of cards before I deck out. I send up Bunnelby and give it a shot. He has two Prizes left and I have two Robo Subs along with a Hawlucha with a Sash on it. I also know that I have two Lysandre and one VS Seeker left, meaning I could force him to Retreat multiple times as long as I can draw my Lysandre quickly enough. After bringing back the Lab and the Lysandre on my next turn, I play a Professor Sycamore, needing to draw a Lysandre to give me a chance.
Unfortunately, I miss it and I know that unless I miraculously draw it next turn, I will not being making Top 8 this year. He simply Knocks Out a Robo Substitute and I draw. No Lysandre. At this point, somewhere around thirty-five minutes have gone by. I play at breakneck speed in an attempt to finish, but my efforts are futile. We did not complete Game 2, much less Game 3. I sign the match slip and tell him good luck in Top 8.
Although I did lose, I make the best of the night and have dinner with some friends. Overall, Worlds was tons of fun and, if my wallet could handle it, I would do the same thing every week.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope to write more articles in the future! If you want to see more from me, feel free to check out my YouTube channel or add me on Facebook!
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