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2nd Place Worlds 2013 Report

Simon Narode begins the tale of his long journey through the 2012-2013 season.

09/10/2014 by 60Cards

Since many of the people reading this report didn’t know of me before Worlds, I’ll begin with a brief background of myself.

 

I’m from Portland, Oregon, in the United States. I started playing back in the spring of 2011, right before the mid-season rotation.


During the 2012-2013 season, I pushed myself very hard to get a Worlds invite and the hard work paid off. Many of my Championship Points came from Battle Roads and Cities, with a few top cuts at States and Regionals. I played a lot of Darkrai.Last year, I placed in the top 16 at US Nationals, which first put me on the map as a competitive player. This was the first World Championships that I have attended.

 

Building the Deck

Like many competitive players, I started testing the Team Plasma cards before they were even released. I was very excited about the deck and was determined to make it work.

Leading up to Nationals, I had tested all sorts of versions of Plasma. I had tested with Lugia EX and no Hypnotoxic Laser, Kyurem and First Ticket, Landorus Promo, Snorlax, Landorus EX, Druddigon Promo, Tornadus EX PLF, pretty much anything conceivable. I finally decided that what was most important to me was to have options. I played off of Plasma’s ability to tech and have an answer for any weird situation it could be thrown into.

So for Nationals, I played a relatively safe list without too many surprises, but with plenty of options. I went 8-1 in the Swiss rounds, but then lost in top 128 to another Plasma player.

With the success of Gothitelle at US Nationals, I made some changes to the deck. I teched more heavily for the mirror match, while maintaining lots of comeback cards and a diversity of attackers. Here’s the list I used at Worlds:

 


 

Some notes on the list:

 


3 Deoxys EX, 2 Thundurus EX

I really felt this was all that I needed. I found that I often only used one Thundurus EX and two Deoxys EX each game,  so I ran enough to get those consistently.

 

2 Kyurem, 1 Absol

These were the numbers I was least sure about going into Worlds. Absol is good to have as an option, but I didn’t use it every game. Kyurem is something I always used, but I felt like I would never need three.

 

1 Lugia EX, 1 Double Colorless

I am a strong advocate of Lugia EX as a tech rather than the core concentration of the deck. Having the Lugia option gave me an opportunity to come from behind in every matchup. It’s something Plasma could use that no other deck could, and I felt it would be silly not to take advantage of such an incredible Ability. There was no matchup where I felt Lugia wouldn’t be helpful.

 

2 Keldeo EX, 3 Float Stone, no Switch

I actually prefer 1 Keldeo EX, 2 Float Stone, 2 Switch in any other metagame, and that’s what I used at Nationals, but making the transition to all-in Keldeo significantly improved my Gothitelle matchup. And I definitely expected Gothitelle to be more popular for Worlds. This is a change that happened the night before the main event.

 

3 Hypnotoxic Laser, 1 Virbank City Gym

I would have liked to run more, but this was all I could afford to play. Lasers are a nice option for Kyurem, but most of my turns, I didn’t need to play a Laser. If I used them only when they were absolutely necessary, I could get away with running just three.

 

2 Max Potion, 1 Enhanced Hammer

I can’t stand 50-50 matchups. I don’t like going into a mirror match not feeling like I have an edge. So these techs provided me that edge.

The Max Potions were for the Darkrai matchup. If I were allowed to have six Pokémon on my bench, I would definitely throw in a Mr. Mime. I think Plasma wants bench protection more than most decks. But as my bench was already crowded, a second Max Potion was my next best Darkrai tech.

The Enhanced Hammer gave me an out to going second in the mirror, or would help me come back from my opponent’s early lead. Playing the Hammer at the right time would delay Blizzard Burn for a turn, or prevent my opponent from using Plasma Gale two turns in a row, which could otherwise lose me the game.

 

15 Supporters (4 Colress)

I found that from the second turn of the game, Colress was one of the strongest draw options I had, so it made perfect sense to max out that card. But I also didn’t want to cut down on first turn Supporter options, so fifteen became my number. I never drew dead.

 

The Tournament

 

The first four rounds of Swiss are kind of a blur for me. I played against Robert Lodder, Kevin Lee, Robert Seley, and Ole Stognief in that order. Both Roberts were playing Plasma variants, but I can’t remember the details of the matches very well. I won in all four rounds.

4-0

 

Round 5 vs. Martin Janouš (Blastoise)

This wasn’t an ordinary Blastoise deck. There was no Black Kyurem EX involved. It was straight Keldeo EX and Mewtwo EX with a 4-2-4 Blastoise line to accelerate. I’m sure he beat Gothitelle every time.

He went first and got all sorts of set up turn two. Turn three, he knocked out my Deoxys EX with his Mewtwo and a Pokémon Catcher. I wanted to attack with Deoxys all game, but kept drawing into my Plasma Energies, making Colress Machine a dead card. Nothing quite went my way, and Martin played very well.

I wished him luck in his next rounds.

4-1

 

Round 6 vs. Sami Sekkoum (Darkrai)

This one stings to think about. It wasn’t a pretty game. Sami played very, very conservatively. He spent probably the first half of the game just using Junk Hunt. I took a strong early lead, but gradually began to run out of Energy as Junk Hunt for Enhanced Hammer, Pokémon Catcher, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Tool Scrapper stripped away my board. On the second or third turn, Sami flipped heads on Hypnotoxic Laser to sleep my Lugia EX, and it continued to sleep for my next two turns until I expended heaps of resources to get Keldeo EX and a Float Stone on board. But the flips came back to me when I hit heads on my last Laser to sleep his Keldeo for two or three turns. His other Keldeo must have been prized.

Time was called when I had the prize lead. My energy supply had run dry – all of them had been discarded. My Keldeo was stranded active, but with my second Max Potion, I was able to stop Sami from catching up before our three turns were over.

It was a painful game for both of us.

5-1

 

Round 7 vs. Dylan Bryan (Drifblim, Flareon, Leafeon, Espeon, Garbodor, Audino, Mr. Mime, Landorus EX, Terrakion)

What a deck, right? I'm not even sure if I picked up on all of his techs. I was scared this whole game of Garbodor and Drifblim in particular. I did everything I could to keep my Energy out of the discard pile. It worked for the first half of the game, but there was a big turn when Dylan played two Enhanced Hammer to mess up my bench and then knocked out my active Kyurem to throw away a total of five Energy. I knew Lugia was going to win me the game, if anything, so I went all-in with Lugia. Dylan seemed to miss a Supporter near the end of the game, which allowed me to get the KO with Lugia for my last two prizes.

Likely my closest game so far.

6-1

 

Round 8 vs. Rick Verwaal (Plasma)

We both knew we were in for top 32, so this game wasn’t stressful at all. We chatted while we played. He drew the right cards. I drew the right cards, too, but not as fast as he did. It was one of those games. No hard feelings, and we wished each other luck in top cut.

6-2

 

Top 32 vs. Wo Pan W (Plasma)

This was a series of games where my techs proved their worth. I didn't reveal Enhanced Hammer during the first game, so I was able to catch him off guard in game two, and I believe that helped me win. Also, he drew dead in one of the games. I did not, but then again, I had fifteen Supporters. I won in two games.

 

Top 16 vs. Chase Moloney (Darkrai)

The first game, I won the coin flip and went first to his lone Absol. He played a Supporter but didn’t get another Pokémon or a way to get one. I knocked out his Absol on my second turn.

I felt bad for how the first game went, but that’s the game sometimes.

In the second game, he played Ghetsis on the first turn, which messed me up a little bit. I was still able to get that early pressure, though, and Chase filled his bench early on which allowed me to Colress for ten a couple times. His deck was much more aggressive than Sami Sekkoum’s Darkrai, and Chase didn’t run any Enhanced Hammer, so it was a lot easier for me to keep energy in play. I won in two games.

 

Top 8 vs. Johnny Rabus (Lugia Plasma)

Johnny was playing a Plasma deck with no Hypnotoxic Laser. It seemed to be focused around setting up for Lugia to sweep. I was very confident going into this match. Because he ran no Lasers, Johnny had no way of knocking out my EXs in one hit, and with my two Max Potion, I could deny him crucial knockouts. The Enhanced Hammer was also invaluable.

The first game went exactly like I had expected. My techs really pulled their weight. The second game, however, was much more challenging. Johnny managed to get lots of Energy on board early, and I was unable to slow him down enough to win. The third game was the closest of the three, as I recall, but I was able to pull through with another win.

The top 8 rounds ended around midnight, I think. I was exhausted, and I was relieved to learn that we wouldn’t be playing top 4 until the next morning. I didn’t sleep too much, though. Instead, I stayed up late playtesting with my friends to prepare for Sunday’s games.

 

Top 4 vs. James Good (Blastoise)

James is a player from Washington, so we’ve played before. As neighboring states, Oregon and Washington have something of a friendly rivalry, and I was looking to get him back for when he beat me during Cities in the winter.

The first game was as much in my favor as it could be. James drew four mulligan hands, and then I won the coin flip. So my opening hand and first turn were delightfully ideal. I had a first turn Frost Spear, with Catcher, Laser, and Virbank in my hand for the next turn when he benched a Squirtle. James couldn’t get a Blastoise up and running, so I won handily.

The second game was similar to the first. As I remember it, he didn’t get a Squirtle on his first turn, which, for him, was effectively the same as going second. I rushed him as best I could, focusing solely on knocking out his Squirtle and Blastoise. If he couldn’t Black Ballista every turn, I knew I would win. Eventually, though, James got his set up and began wrecking my Pokémon. Unfortunately for my opponent, however, he had to discard many of his resources early in the game, and I believe he used Black Ballista to knock out a non-EX at least once. This gave me an opportunity to win, as I used Pokémon Catcher to bring up his Keldeo EX and knock off the last Energy James would be able to access.

He scooped the second game, knowing he would be unable to attack. James is a true gentleman and a great player. I am glad he was able to get third, and I look forward to playing him again many more times this season.

 

The Finals vs. Jason Klaczynski (Darkrai)

 

This match was streamed online (near the end of this video), and I’m sure many of you reading this article have already seen the games. Of course Jason was the celebrity of the event, having won twice before, but I had played this matchup so many times and felt calm and prepared heading into the match.

My objective early on in the first game was to limit how many times Jason could use Junk Hunt. So at every opportunity, I would knock out Sableye as opposed to getting early damage on Darkrai. Mr. Mime prevented me from doing both at the same time.

Neither of us missed important cards throughout the early turns of the first game, but an early sleep flip forced me to play a Skyla for the Keldeo EX/Float Stone combination rather than for a Hypnotoxic Laser, allowing Jason another turn of Junk Hunt. We went back and forth vying for control of the pace of the game. I tried to rush, as Plasma does vs. Darkrai, and Jason kept slowing me down with his barrage of disruptive trainers (as Darkrai does vs. Plasma).

There was a point in the game where I knew I could win in two turns by knocking out his Darkrai with Thundurus while charging up Lugia to Plasma Gale his Mr. Mime on the next turn. Unfortunately for me, Jason had a timely Enhanced Hammer, Pokémon Catcher, N, and Hypnotoxic Laser to knock out my benched Thundurus EX while delaying my win condition with Lugia. I was forced to switch strategies, going for the 2HKO on his Darkrai, which I wasn’t able to execute as Jason played Professor Juniper to draw into a Dark Claw and Hypnotoxic Laser to take the first game.

The second game was much the same, but closer. I hit some nice early Energy, getting three in play on the first turn. Another bad sleep flip forced me to get the Keldeo going turn two, and a Tool Scrapper on the subsequent turn forced me to spend my Computer Search to grab another Float Stone. But I didn’t whiff anything too crucial until the end. Just like the first game, I went after the Sableye, and again I got a strong lead, but just as before, Jason was able to come back strong with a combination of smart resource management and good draws. Eventually, I was pushed into another position where I needed Lugia to win. I missed the Pokémon Catcher off a Colress for ten cards, so I had to pass a turn near the end. I played Skyla for the Catcher the following turn to take three prizes, leaving me at one with the guaranteed win next turn, but Jason played Juniper to draw the last seven cards in his deck, netting him his fourth Catcher and his fourth Laser to win himself the title of World Champion for the third time.

 

All in all, I’m very happy with my performance at Worlds. I don’t think there’s anything about my decklist I would change, unless I had known I would face no Gothitelle. I’ll continue testing throughout this season and hopefully I can earn that first place trophy in 2014.

 

The NXD-PLB Format

First, I have to confess that I have done pretty minimal testing with the cards from Plasma Blast. But from what I have seen, there’s a lot of diversity in the format this fall. Silver Mirror and Silver Bangle open up a lot of new deck options both offensively and defensively, and I think Virizion EX is an excellent way to balance out Hypnotoxic Laser.

But with all the new decks popping up, knowing your local metagame becomes increasingly important. The big EX decks that have been dominating our format will of course be popular, decks like Plasma, Virizion/Genesect, Blastoise, and Darkrai. But now countering those becomes so much easier! In my area, I expect to see a lot of metagame counter decks like Suicune with Silver Mirror (or anything with Silver Mirror), Darkrai/Garbodor, Zebstrika/Garbodor, and Victini EX in whatever can afford the space.

Believe it or not, my safe play for this fall is Garchomp. Whether paired with Altaria, Haxorus, Landorus EX, or something else, Garchomp is consistent and very difficult to disrupt. Here’s why I think it suits the meta now better than before:

No EX or Team Plasma attackers! So, Garchomp isn’t phased by Safeguard or Silver Mirror. That means no auto-losses. Also, without EXs, Garchomp can force long games, which works in Garchomp’s favor, as it rarely runs out of steam.
Silver Bangle works wonders for this deck. With a Bangle attached, Garchomp can knock out any EX in two hits. With two Altaria in play and a Silver Bangle, Garchomp can OHKO 170 HP EXs. That’s nuts.
Garchomp doesn’t rely on an Ability. Although Gabite’s Dragon Call provides an incredible boost in consistency, the deck still moves without it. This allows Garchomp to be a very solid attacker against any Garbodor variant right now. You could even run Garchomp and Garbodor in the same deck if you wanted.
The deck can survive without Items, especially as most lists contain at least three Gabite, so it doesn’t struggle against Zebstrika variants.
Special Energy is still popular. Denying Plasma of its big attacks (Blizzard Burn and Plasma Gale) by discarding the necessary Energy provides a great edge in that matchup, and even stranger rogues like Dialga EX, Lugia EX/Cofagrigus, and Porygon Z can scoop to Mach Cut.
Don’t misread this and think that I’m calling Garchomp the best deck in the format. The bigger meta decks like Plasma, Genesect, and Blastoise have more power behind them, but their weaknesses are easy to capitalize on now.

I think Garchomp fits nicely into this metagame, it doesn’t scoop to anything, and that it’s a safe choice when stepping into an unknown format.

As a starting point, this is the list I’m testing with right now:

 


 

Clearly, getting past the first turn could be an issue with all nine Basic Pokémon susceptible to donks, but in a full game, I hope this list can handle just about anything.

I chose Altaria as a partner because it’s useful in every matchup. Running straight Garchomp/Haxorus doesn’t provide me the option of knocking out EXs in one hit that aren’t Team Plasma. I think that’s an important characteristic for a deck like this to have.

Of course, take this all with a grain of salt. I haven’t tested too extensively, but this deck makes sense to me right now. Test and tweak it to your liking, or leave it here and test something else, as suits you. There are a lot of viable options this fall and I am excited to see what interesting decks develop.

 

Best of luck to everyone this season. I look forward to seeing you at Worlds 2014, or sooner.

 

Written by Simon Narode

21.8.2013

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