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Brandon Flowers

A Slew of Standard Selections

Preparing for NA Internationals: the Primal Clash to Guardians Rising Format with both new and old archetypes

06/21/2017 by Brandon Flowers

Guardians Rising added a considerable amount of potential into the format, making old archetypes more consistent, giving old cards new life, and even spawning new archetypes entirely in a few cases. This does make it pretty tough to narrow in on choices for testing, so I started off by focusing on the decks that would suit my playstyle mainly, and added in a few outside of my comfort zone as well, just to mix it up a bit. The decks I used in testing were variants of Garbodor, M Rayquaza, Sylveon GX, Greninja, Volcanion, Raichu, Decidueye, Vespiquen, and Metagross GX. Garbodor is the only one in the list that I won’t be detailing, mostly because I feel like it’s been beaten to death at this point. (Inter)nationals in Indy this year stands to have one of the most diverse formats in my time of playing, which while great for the health of the meta, does stand to create some uncertainty in deck choice.

One specific thing of note before we begin – with the exception of M Rayquaza, I’m sure you will notice that many of these decks have cut down on or cut out Shaymin-EX entirely. The format is already shifting around the new consistency EX/GX – Tapu Lele-GX provides a similar role, while having considerably higher HP and a more useful attack. Shaymin-EX is proving to be more and more of a liability, and the removal of it from decks that can do without it gives them the edge of forcing the opponent to work harder for prizes. That said, if you need it, you need it – Rayquaza, Raichu and Vespiquen still benefit more from having Shaymin-EX than they do from cutting it, and skimping where it matters is a very bad idea.  


Sylveon can be extremely overbearing, demoralizing, and can otherwise push you out of the game if you’re unprepared – but if it goes second or misses a step anywhere throughout the game, most decks can capitalize on it and punish it severely. Sylveon going second and their opponent having a Hex, Silent Lab, or out to either can mean a turn 2 donk for Sylveon if the opponent can do 60 turn 2, which is extremely easy with cards like Tauros-GX running around.  Even if Sylveon does get what it needs to get going, it can also be hard to maintain momentum – in a League Cup I attended a couple weeks back, I was able to KO their active Sylveon-GX turn 2, and they didn’t have an immediate response, so the game was just over then and there. Despite all these flaws, Sylveon does build off momentum, and the turn it actually gets going can spell the end for you, your hand size, and any energy you’re attempting to use to attack.

The list I tested for Sylveon was based very heavily off of Shintaro Ito’s Sylveon-GX deck that was posted online just a couple weeks ago, with some modifications to bring it into our PRC-GRI Standard format, rather than Japan’s XY-SM3 Standard format. Here’s that, to start:


A few of the card choices are very odd, like the complete lack of Crushing Hammer – but with Garb/Lele being in the most hyped decks alongside Sylveon, Hammers can often lead to putting you in a more compromising position against decks that can capitalize on your item usage, or even just lead to being dead cards altogether if you flip tails. The high count of Flare Grunt and additional Skull Grunt helps to make up for this, as Flare Grunt is guaranteed denial, and Skull Grunt is good for stopping Shaymin looping, slowing down Greninja’s Moonlight Slash, or even just hitting their larger hands and getting a peek at what options they might have. Six Stadiums might also seem like overkill too, but between needing to counter their stadiums, and wanting to utilize the 4 Delinquent to lower or even obliterate their hand size, 6 is optimal- if space is direly needed, going down to 4-5 wouldn’t be the worst thing, but 4 Silent Lab definitely helps prevent surprise Shaymin/Lele plays, and keeps your opponents’ options limited.

Puzzles, Max Potion, and Red Card are pretty integral to the strategy too. Red Card into Delinquent can often be the beginning of the end for your opponent. Max Potion keeps you alive, and since you can search out any 3 cards for a single Energy, doesn’t really restrict your attacks much either. Fairy Wind and Plea GX are options you may want at some point, but staying alive and denying your opponent prizes is part of your core goal. Puzzles just keep you open to options that would otherwise be gone once they’re played – supporters once Seekers are gone, Stadiums, and even more Max Potions.

Nearly everything else in the deck could be considered wiggle room – Field Blowers, high Energy count, and even Handiwork are nice to have and can be pretty clutch in the right situation, but aren’t necessarily always crucial. So long as you consistently have an Energy to use Energy Evolution and attack early, it’s all good. More Hammers could be a good option to fit in the right meta, along with teching ‘the right’ denial for specific matchups that can be concerning. Talonflame could also be a nice addition to alleviate the Eevee donk potential, but Level Ball is suitable for such a purpose too, and doesn’t slow down how quickly a Sylveon hits the field. Sylveon is definitely under the radar for now, and I think it’s just not seeing success due to people’s preparedness for it initially. Internationals may have a broad enough field for it to see some success, however.


Greninja was among the decks I put together as well, despite it not being in my normal rotation of choices, and I was quickly reminded as to why I don’t generally keep it around. When the deck sets up properly, it has amazing potential, but with the majority of the format moving towards single prize attackers, denial decks, or decks that simply outspeed it entirely, Greninja can have a rough time setting up and keeping up. The clear turning point of the game was generally whenever I got 2 Breaks on the field. From here,  my opponent generally didn’t have a way to one shot them – that was pretty much the beginning of the end in my favor. Anyway, the list:


One thing I still have to test is navigating away from Talonflame altogether in an attempt to fit in more consistency options – though in testing against more aggressive decks that can take fast KOs on small basics, if I didn’t start Talonflame, I pretty consistently lost, so it definitely has give and take. Tapu Lele-GX and Wally are good options in lieu of Talonflame too, to get you up and going with Water Duplicates faster. If Talonflame were to come out, it would give me more options for stadiums such as Silent Lab, or search such as Level/Repeat Ball. Other options with Talonflame that are seeing some success lately are variants that use the standard Talonflame build, but teching in Talonflame BREAK to give it Fire typing and the ability to hit Fire weak Pokémon such as Metagross-GX, Vespiquen, Decidueye-GX and Lurantis-GX a bit harder than it would normally. With Band and BREAK against a GX, you’re hitting a hearty 140 with Aero Blitz for a single energy, which can give you dramatically more momentum early on than you would normally have.

Apart from Rough Seas, Starmie and Talonflame, pretty much everything else is a necessary inclusion. Greninja lines, supporters, and search options are all needed for the core of your strategy and consistency. Staryu isn’t a big detriment, as it has free retreat so it’s never a terrible starter- and with Blower around, you shouldn’t be without your abilities for terribly long, giving you consistent energy return for Giant Water Shuriken whenever you need it. Rough Seas is still good in a format where most things that can easily hit 170 are EX/GX, which put the prize exchange in your favor to begin with. If non-EX attackers can’t keep up, Seas allows you to rotate between Greninja while healing those in the back.


Always a fiery contender in the format, from the first tournament it was legal back at Worlds 2016, Volcanion continues to make an impression on the format with a few new tricks. With the addition of the commonly used Turtonator-GX and Brooklet Hill, Volcanion can now get and maintain power and energy without the need of too much reaching via Energy Retrieval and Hoopa EX. Of course, Retrieval is still useful in some situations, but Turtonator-GX’s Nitro Tank GX allows you to get 5 Fire Energy from discard onto your Pokémon for a single Fire Energy, so the concern of running out of steam is no longer as dire.


Much like the rest of the format, Volcanion has shown that it can shift partially away from items into a more heavy supporter build and still maintain its presence. The exclusion of Hoopa and Energy Retrieval here is a direct result of Brooklet Hill, Turtonator-GX, Fisherman, and a higher energy count to keep you going throughout the game. Two Turtonator can also allow you to take more knockouts without needed to need Steam Up as much, due to the higher damage output and utility of Choice Band. While the energy discard from Bright Flame can be kind of nasty, Volcanion’s Power Heater and Turtonator’s Nitro Tank both help remedy this and keep your board full of energy for as long as needed. Hoopa and Shaymin are both remnants of the past, and no longer can be liabilities as they once were. While Tapu Lele-GX can also occasionally be a liability due to it not benefitting from Steam Up at all, it still has a useful attack, no weakness, and much higher HP than Shaymin to prevent it from being easy prey. While some of the previous iterations of Volcanion cut down on items in seemingly key spots such as Ultra Ball and VS Seeker, I think there’s a middle ground to be found. Ultra Ball isn’t needed quite as much due to Brooklet Hill constantly searching for what you need, but VS Seeker is nearly always useful past turn 1, especially with 1-of supporters such as Fisherman and Olympia. Fisherman and Olympia both directly benefit you with effects you will need throughout the game, such as replenishing your energy and being able to cycle your attackers. Skyla does a very similar thing, while pairing better with things like Brooklet Hill and Elixir to further your board state and get you exactly what you need. Switch and Escape Rope both have the same use as Olympia – cycling attackers. While Turtonator does alleviate some of the need to stream Volcanion-EX’s Volcanic Heat, being able to do so is still a nice option. Rescue Stretcher and Field Blower are there simply to recover your Pokémon (primarily Volcanion-EX) and get rid of pesky Choice Bands, or Float Stones on Garbodor BKP. Abilities are still super necessary here, so being able to keep them active is the main goal of Field Blower.   


A constant favorite of many, Decidueye-GX has continued to adapt time and time again to a changing meta game. The latest adaptation included playing a thin line of Alolan Ninetales-GX to help pick off BKP Garbodors, as well as add a nice GX attack to the mix as well:


Ice Path GX allows you to heal your Ninetales, while displacing all of that damage onto your opponent. Many decks struggle to do 210 under item lock, so being able to use it is usually just based on whether you want to take one hit or two hits with it before going in with Ice Path. If there’s never an opportune time to use it, Hollow Hunt GX proves to still be a pretty solid option besides as well. Additionally, Alolan Vulpix allows you to search out Pokémon for no energy cost, making your Decidueye lines easier to set up even after you get out Vileplume. Vileplume is of course still a pretty major role of the deck, as the faster that you are able to get it out onto the field, the more you are able to limit your opponent’s options. This can be tricky however, as it limits your options too, so you want to be sure you aren’t painting yourself into a corner before you put it down.

Decidueye, as always, has a pretty mainstay role in the deck as well. Whether it be on its own, or combined with Ninetales’ ability to spread 50 damage with its attack, Decidueye can pick off Pokémon with its ability Feather Arrow over time or setup knock outs for itself with Razor Leaf to deal the finishing blow. The approach to each matchup will vary pretty significantly depending on what you’re worried about – as mentioned before, Ninetales and Decidueye can do a pretty good job of staving off Breakpoint Garbodor before it has too much of a lasting effect. Between the ability to hit Trubbish with 3 Feather Arrows and finish it off with Ninetales’ Ice Blade, or simply two hit KO the Garbodor with Ice Blade outright, your abilities won’t be shut off for two long. While still not OHKO potential alone, Ninetales can also hit active Fire Type Pokémon that are Water weak for 100, giving Decidueye a faster way of dispatching them as well. Even outside of being directly aggressive, Ninetales can serve the same purpose Fates Collide Meowth once did, in a much bulkier package – using Lysandre to drag a bulky Pokémon active while Decidueye and Ninetales pick away at the bench allows you time to take KOs without worrying about the active Pokémon affecting you much.


Another under-the-radar deck that has some decent potential, Raichu/Lycanroc gives Raichu the extra bit of power it needs to stay relevant. One of two variants I’ve seen around, the other being Raichu/Salazzle, Raichu/Lycanroc uses GRI Lycanroc-GX to pick targets at will for Raichu to finish off. With a full bench and a Choice Band, Raichu hits for 190, no longer needing the extra damage that Golbat and Crobat lended in the past. To get there, the deck of course plays quite a few basics, many of which being support in addition to attackers:


Sudowoodo can pose a threat to Raichu’s attack power, but Lycanroc can dispatch it pretty easily with base energy cost. While Strong Energy isn’t really crucial to many KOs that Lycanroc is able to take, the situations it is useful for warrant it over the versatility basic Fighting Energy would give you. Maximum HP for a non-EX/GX basic is still right around 130, which is hit with a single Strong Energy; plus, Strong Energy and a Choice Band allow you to OHKO a Metagross-GX with your own GX attack if they have 4 bench Pokémon. Two Strong Energy and Choice Band put you in range to OHKO most basic EX/GX as well, which gives you added options in case Raichu isn’t optimal for the situation. Of course, Lycanroc’s main utility is being able to choose your targets for Raichu, which will generally be your fastest and most useful attacker. Much like Vespiquen, Raichu having free retreat and the ability to attack for a single Double Colorless Energy put it in the upper class of non-EX/GX Pokémon, and will likely stay in that class until Sky Field is no longer an option for it.

Brigette and Lillie may seem contradictory, as they’re both things you would usually want to use turn 1, but they don’t interfere with each other too much. With so many Basic Pokémon, you can often use Lillie to get the same or more that Brigette would give you, along with a few more resources along the way. Brigette gives you the safety of 3 guaranteed Basic Pokémon, at the expense of not being able to dig for more. Teammates is extremely good throughout the game – once you’re set up, you generally only need one or two cards to keep your momentum, and Teammates gives you exactly that whenever your opponent takes a knockout. In addition to benefitting you directly, once your opponent is aware of Teammates, they may also attempt to play around the Teammates, which can be to your benefit as well.

One Lysandre is a direct consequence of having Lycanroc around – you usually want to play other supporters, since you can get Lysandre’s effect through an ability. The one copy is around for the clutch situations when you don’t have access to Bloodthirsty Eyes, but need the effect anyway. Most everything else here is just needed consistency – not need to tech things when you can put the prize exchange in your favor once you get setup. Just setting up and completing the Circuit is all you need.  

M Rayquaza-EX

M Rayquaza is a deck that many have counted out, and in the right (or wrong) meta that’s for good reason, but I think a broad field and a large tournament where consistency tends to overcome overly teched out decks is just the place for it. Sudowoodo is of course a constant problem for it, but many decks simply don’t have space for it, whether it be in the list, or on their bench. M Rayquaza itself is one of the easiest decks to fit it in, and can make the mirror rather dicey for whoever fails to get it out first. Zoroark is of course another issue, but with straight Zoroark decks you don't need that large of a bench, and if they play EX/GX, you have options to trade prizes better than 2:1. Outside of Sudowoodo and Zoroark, M Rayquaza can overcome quite a few obstacles that other decks cannot – it easily OHKOs Ninetales-GX, avoiding any Ice Path GX plays. While it does have a ‘soft’ damage cap of 240, Kukui and Koko can give it the extra boost it needs to OHKO Metagross GX as well, leaving any current competitive decks in OHKO range and vulnerable to being charged through when Rayquaza gets set up properly. While my list is pretty standard, I’ll go over some of the other varied options after the list:


Drampa-GX and Magearna-EX are the ‘safe’ choices, that I would go with personally due to the added consistency Big Wheel GX can lend if need be, along with the added aggression of Righteous Edge to slow down Decidueye. Magearna primarily protects you from things like Drampa and Jirachi discarding your energy, along with the added bonus of preventing status conditions such as Confusion from Espeon-GX’s Psybeam. Koko, Giratina and Hex are just options to get over Gyarados, Greninja, and and overbearing abilities you might come up against. Those 3 are pretty malleable, and give you space to work with.

Outside of the safety zone exists a whole slew of options that can add win more conditions at the expense of losing some of your safety. One of these options made it on stream during Mexico Regionals; a Lycanroc-GX variant piloted by Jose Marrero. This basically gives you an added Lysandre that you can use in tangent with a draw supporter for your turn, allowing for more aggressive targeting of your opponent’s threats – it also gives you a GX that can hit hard if your opponent has a large bench, too. GRI Garbodor is yet another variant, which cuts back on consistency a little to give you an option to capitalize on your opponent’s own aggressive playstyle, getting better and better based on how many items they play. Rayquaza by nature has a few slots that it can dedicate for spicy plays and a variable basic energy slot, making it so your opponent won’t know what’s coming until it’s already there.


Metagross-GX is the ‘rogue’ deck on everyone’s radar now, and for good reason. It’s a tank in the current format, only being one shot by Fire typing such as Volcanion or stage 1s with AOR Flareon’s assistance. If it isn’t taken down in one hit, it just moves on to the next one, Max Potions, and keeps the train going. While it can take a little time to get going, if it isn’t adequately interrupted in this time, it sets itself in a position to take down anything that isn’t ready. Here’s my list for this:


And while it’s quite similar to Chris Schemanske’s finalist list from Madison, it does have a few variations that are worth mentioning, along with a few potential changes as well. The main variation is lack of Dhelmise and the addition of a second Vulpix. Vulpix is the most ideal starter, and there are very, very few times I wouldn’t reach for it when I’m able to attack with it. Going first and setting up a couple Metagross without it is very doable, but isn’t always an option. Dhelmise is exempt here for one main reason – all of your basic Pokémon here have 1 retreat cost, and that’s the way I would keep it. Being able to attach and retreat turn 1 gives the deck much more consistency and quick outs to Vulpix, or even an early Metagross if you need to Algorithm quickly.

If I were to tech in any additional Pokémon, these Pokémon would very likely come from a short list – GRI Mimikyu, Tapu Koko Promo, or even Oricorio. All 3 give you options against things like Vespiquen, Gyarados, and beyond, while giving up one prize. Koko and Oricorio both complement your inability to hit above 180 (with Band) and can finish off things like Espeon-GX or Umbreon-GX if need be. The single Psychic Energy already in the list allows Mimikyu to come in without any change of energy, as well as giving you Tapu Cure GX as an option for when you run out of Max Potions. Since Vulpix also gives up one prize, using an additional attacker to offset the prize exchange and force your opponent to have a 7 prize game isn’t needed, but can be useful. The last notable potential addition shores of your other major weakness, outside of direct Fire Type weakness- in the event Pokémon Ranger can be fit into the deck, it helps alleviate the dramatic Hex Maniac weakness Metagross has, as well as Shadow Stitching. Now at first, I’m sure you’re thinking – wait, that’s not right? Hex isn’t removed by Ranger? – and it isn’t, but the effect of Metagross-GX’s attack Giga Hammer is, allowing the same active Metagross GX to use Giga Hammer consecutively. Likewise, it removes the effect of Greninja’s attack Shadow Stitching, this time both giving you abilities back and your own Giga Hammer.  


Vespiquen is one of the forerunners I have for deck choices – much like Metagross, it has its counters, but it’s very consistent and has good options against what I think will be one of the bigger decks in format – Espeon/Garbodor. Confusion doesn’t affect you quite as negatively as many other decks in the format, Zoroark has Psychic resistance, and the entire deck trades even or positively with all of their attackers. Both Flareon and Vaporeon (and even Jolteon, if you find the space) give you options for hitting for weakness against things such as Lurantis, Decidueye, Metagross, and Volcanion, which are all pretty respectable contenders as well. The speed, consistency, prize exchange, and heavy hitting potential are what draw me time and time again back to Vespiquen, and it’s likely what will cause me to stick with it this time around too. Here’s what I have right now, drawn in large part from a winning League Cup list from Edan Lewis:


And I constantly wish I had space for many more things – the list is very solid as it is, but having additional options against an almost too wide format would be very nice. Considerations I have to fit in to the current list are Oricorio or Tapu Koko (both being good options against things like Gyarados, but Oricorio having a higher potential than 20 flat), Hex Maniac, Teammates, and AOR Jolteon. Jolteon and Teammates will inevitably not make the cut, but Koko and Hex will likely find their way in by cutting back Float Stone and one of the many existing Pokémon. Hex Maniac helps a bit to shore up several matchups such as Decidueye, Greninja, and Vikavolt, where your board position can still advance while shutting down their abilities and continuing to hit them hard, advancing your field more and more with the more chances you have to play it – now with the added bonus of being able to reach it with a greater amount of ease now that Tapu Lele-GX is around. For those unfamiliar with the basic function, quite often you'll just want to go with Zoroark early, and then clean up with Vespiquen. This can change up against non-EX/GX decks though, as you can potentially get out Vespiquen as early as turn 1 with Forest, and start taking prizes immediately. Not going as aggro as you can immediately can also prove to serve you well - Karen and Oricorio are things to be aware of and be ready for, as much as you can at least. Zoroark is predominately unaffected by Karen (and you can even get parts of the line back to use again even), so having one ready in that situation is always handy. Oranguru is there as a safety net to help alleviate N/Delinquent disruption, but can also attack if you really need it to as well.  

Final Notes

Decks that I haven’t included here (due to a lack of interest in playing), but that still definitely warrant note for testing against are plentiful as well – Vikavolt, Gyarados, and Zoroark variants are all pretty decent contenders, and can do well in the current meta. Espeon GX/Garbodor is even a deck that I’m considering as well, but unfortunately I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said about it – the variant I like most so far is Colin Peterik’s, which is widely available online, along with some specific discussion as well. Some of the decks in this list have significant issues that can be exploited, such as ability lock in the way of Hex or BKP Garbodor preventing Vikavolt from staying in the game if the effects last too long, or damage spread from Oricorio or Tapu Koko for Gyarados, but those things can often be overcome and it’s very likely these decks will see considerable amounts of play.

Additionally, a short list of tech cards that I would have ready and expect to see around Internationals include – Brock’s Grit, Oricorio, Tapu Koko promo, Delinquent, Oranguru, Hex (arguably not a tech card, but can be), Rocket’s Handiwork, Talonflame BREAK, Karen, and even GRI Lycanroc GX as an aid to have an added Lysandre effect. Knowing your opponent’s options and expecting things such as these can be necessary to success, and allows you to prepare for them in some shape or form.

Large Tournament, Tips and Tricks

So I’ve gone over all my play related thoughts for NA Internationals – but why stop there? While many people know the ins and outs of a tournament such as NA Internationals, many others don’t and may find themselves unprepared for many of the factors that aren’t directly card related. Preparing yourself physically and mentally is just as important as preparing your deck, since crashing midday can bring you to just as much of a halt in the tournament as not having the right cards can.

Big tournaments do not have to be as daunting as they seem at face value – breaking down all of the ‘requirements’ to do well at something like NA Internationals is actually pretty easy to do. Making the right meta call is a part of it, but a relatively small one. Pacing yourself throughout the day, getting enough sleep (and not testing through the night), not stressing out, being sure you have enough food to get you through the day, keeping track of time in rounds, and knowing the rules of the game can go a long way to put you better situated to go the distance. Pacing and sleep are necessary things for any marathon-esque event – even if it’s not extremely physically stimulating, a tournament like NA Internationals, or even anything at or above the Regionals level, is going to drain you throughout what will be a very long day with an assumed nine 50 minute rounds.

Being ready for this via prior experience in a Regionals setting helps put me at ease immensely. Sleep and food are a huge help for this, as they make the wear and tear from the day affect you a bit less for every bit more of each that you manage to get. Relying on food at or around the venue during lunch time can be a tricky business too – most of the people plan on doing the same, and if you happen to finish your round later than average, many of your options will already have excessive lines. There have been times that my lunch option of choice simply isn’t an option any more, as my time available versus the time I would spend in the line doesn’t quite mesh right. Due to this, I tend to bring my own food with me more often than not – I don’t always need it, but when I do, boy am I thankful I brought it.  

Knowing the rules and keeping track of time are pretty major things too – knowing the rules allows you to play more technically correct, and ‘properly’, which can lead to generally better success than someone who doesn’t. Time and time again, ignorance of the rules causes people to incur prize penalties, game losses, or even getting disqualified from tournaments – the biggest leader of this being asking for concessions, deciding tie breakers amongst yourself, and even in extreme cases trying to bribe your opponent for the game. All three of this things can and will cause disqualification if a judge finds out about it. Now, why would you want to decide tie breakers amongst yourself? When things are at the wire and time is called, ties are not often beneficial. At a certain point in a tournament, a tie can be the same thing as a loss. For this exact reason, I wear a watch to keep track of time in the round. Watches are somewhat controversial, as many people assume they’re being used to stall in the benefit of the person wearing it, but I do quite the opposite – I wear a watch so I can keep track of time and know when the optimal time to scoop a game going downhill is. If I’m losing a game convincingly, and know I have time to win the next one, I might as well just scoop and play towards the odds. As long as your watch is not a smart watch, you’re good to go. Smart watches and other electronics such as phones and 3DSs are not allowed on the table or near the play area during TCG play – silence them and put them in your pocket to be safe.

One last thing can be pretty handy regarding knowing rules for what’s allowed at the table – notes and notepads. Notes are allowed to be taken at the table, but it is required for a judge to be able to access and understand your notes upon request. Your opponent, on the other hand, is at no time entitled to see your notes. You must use a new page for each game, and cannot reference older notes during each new game, nor can you reference any pre-written notes at all. Notes have to be fresh for each and every game (and as a result, each round too of course). So while there are quite a few conditions on having them, notes can be a pretty useful thing to have when trying to keep track of what your prizes are, how many of a specific card you or your opponent have played, or just general trends about your game that you want to keep track of. 

In the event something doesn’t go your way during the main event, no reason to be too worried about that either- there’s constantly something going on. The slew of options usually includes side events, vendors, trading, people playing old format decks, or even things like deck building games or SSB Melee. You name it, and you can probably find it with a little looking. There’s not even a need to limit yourself to the convention center – get out into the city and explore! Whether you want to play in the main event or not, a tournament like NA Internationals can keep you busy one way or another. 

Be ready for anything within reason, go with what you’re most comfortable with, and go with your gut; and a huge, imposing tournament like US Internationals won’t be so daunting when you have the ability to be confident in yourself and your deck choice. Any deck will have its issues, but being used to the deck you’re piloting will make you more aware of your options and plays to get around those issues, and stay in the game better. Comfort and confidence is half the battle, really. Consistency and luck is the other half.


Good luck and goodbye for now- hope to see you all at Internationals as well!

Brandon Flowers 

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