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3rd Place Worlds 2013 Report

Take a look at tournament report from the Pokémon Trading Card Game World Championship semifinalist James Good.

09/10/2014 by 60Cards


I'm James Good, first year player from Seattle, Washington and Semi finalist (3rd) at this year's Pokemon TCG World Championship and I'm thrilled that you are taking the time to read about my season's journey, my Worlds experience and my insight for the game's future. This probably won't be like most other reports you've read. Unlike some players, I don't take detailed notes after my games, nor do I read highly detailed accounts of games played when I read the reports of others. I find the personalities and opinions of players to be far more interesting than detailed turn-by-turn recollections of matches.


My Season

Prior to Fall Battle Roads, I made the decision that I was going All-In this season to try to earn my invite. Truthfully, I don't think I was prepared for exactly what that meant in terms of time, money and dedication to the game. My season started off with a loss to a RayEels player at my first battle roads event on a windy September morning.  After that, I went on a pretty decent run, accumulating 51 points by placing in the 5 of the 9 events I played in, including piloting Darkrai-Hydregion to a first place win in a field of Ray-Eels. I made the switch to Ray-Eels for Fall Regionals and myself and 4 friends crammed inside a car far too small for five people and headed down the coast from Washington to California. In that event I ran my record to 7-0 before losing the final round to David Castillo, a California player who I respect tremendously. I was knocked out in top 32 by a Darkrai-Hydregion player who ran multiple switches to prevent against the combination of Raikou + Fliptini's "Thunderfang" stalling.

Entering cities with 71 points, everything I had read from veteran players suggested this was the make or break point of many people's seasons.  A poor showing would mean one would have to go on a tear throughout States and Regional championships and that was something I didn't want to place all my shoulders.  I accumulated 100 points in 3 of my first 4 battle roads, hopping on the Keldeo-Blastoise train while the rest of the meta was on big basics. As cities concluded, I played in 15 events, earning 150 points including 2 1st place finishes. I was at 221 points.

This is where my season hit a low point and I believe I got a little too comfortable being halfway to my invite after cities.  A 5-3 showing with Ray-Eels at winter Regionals wasn't good enough to make cut and two poor deck decisions at Oregon (Speed Darkrai) and Washington (KlingKlang) states and I was immediately behind the curve in terms of where I should be towards my invite.  I managed to earn a paltry 20 points through a top 16 finish at British Columbia (Canada) Provincials, but at that point I only sat at 241 points and my invite was looking bleak.

A few weeks later I went back up to Vancouver, B.C for spring Regionals with no decks built. I was ready to write off my season and enjoy playing fun decks throughout Spring Battle Roads. My teammate and greatest Pokedad ever Recco Connor (293 championship points in 2013) showed me a big basics variant he built that involved Victini-EX and Victory Piece and I immediately decided I wanted to play it. What a play it was. Not only was it an extremely fun deck to play, but it also proved to be a huge pain for my opponents.  I ran the deck all the way to top two, finally succumbing to Bidier Jing's big basics variant that included Coballion-EX, 1-1 Garbador and Ho-Oh-EX among other tricks.

This finish had me sitting at 251 points, setting up for an epic finish to my season. Technically I could earn my invite through winning 5 battle roads and earning the last 39 of the 90 maximum points a player could earn. Realistically though, I knew this was an outright impossible task and I wasn't about to ask for scoops every week either. I booked my flight to Nationals and grinded out 24 points at Battle Roads to put me at 375, meaning a Top 64 showing would give me the final 30 points I needed for my invite. Even with two byes through Regionals I wasn't able to bring Blastoise to the promise land, whiffing cut at 5-4. I had one chance left via the Last Chance for Points tournament announced just a few weeks earlier, I would have to go 4-0 to earn the final 50 points I needed to earn my invite.

I switched decks, opting to play Plasmadew, as the thought of being donked in this tournament spooked me from playing Blastoise. My opponent no-showed in round 1 and in round 2 after  opening Absol to Terrakion-EX and my opponent whiffing a blind ether attempt that would have spelt a donk, I made quick work of my opponent thanks to a Ghetsis that netted me 5 cards as my opponent shuffled his entire hand into his deck.  In Round 3 I started much faster than a Lugia TDK Variant which ultimately led me to victory.  Round 4 was upon us and I found a familiar opponent in fellow Washingtonian Jonathan Anderson, who had defeated me the day before in the main tournament.  He was still playing his highly consistent Blastoise-Black Kyurem build and played it to perfection. Luckily though, I was able to draw into the final components I needed to finish off his already damaged Keldeo-ex with my Absol, sealing the win and cashing my ticket to Worlds 2013.

Worlds Deck List

Now we get into the meat and potatoes of the report, my deck list and thought process surrounding some of the decisions.  I've  tested with and seen so many different variations of this deck and I think a lot of people feel as though this deck lacks creativity. I couldn't disagree more.

I felt like the Pokemon line was nearly perfect. Looking back at my matches, I probably would have opted for a third Black Kyurem-EX, dropping a Keldeo-EX to make room. 4-1-4 Blastoise proved key throughout my tournament. Having a Wartortle on field just waiting to evolve frustrated my opponent who intended to knock out my Blastoise. I ran the card mostly as a last resort to set up against Gothitelle decks who got  Goth up before I got Blastoise up, but Wartortle proved to be invaluable throughout the tournament.

My supporter line has been the subject of much discussion.  My friend Ron Ruthier convinced me the day before the event that you didn't need to run 4 Professor Juniper to be consistent. After much thinking, and realizing I often had turn one's where I discarded valuable resources because I started with only a Juniper, I dropped down to three in my list. The other glaringly different thing about my build than most is that I opted to run four Tropical Beach. I did this because this card in crucial to your set up and also to keeping your opponent's stadiums out of play. Every single game that I started with Tropical Beach in hand always amounted to my deck having a very big turn two. Finally I opted for a Cilan for two reasons. One because I found myself having turns in the middle of the game where I had everything I needed in my hand and two because I ran a lower energy count than most other builds. I was comfortable with running only 11 energy because realistically you only need to draw into four energy within the first three turns of your matches to put yourself ahead in most matchups.

3 Ultra, 1 heavy, 1 level is a pretty standard ball engine for this deck and I never considered anything else. 3 Pokemon Catcher is a minimum unless you're running Dowsing Machine in which case you can cut down to two. Computer Search was simply a consistency card as was energy search, which allowed me to get one of my two lightning energies in over half of my games. Finally, there's tool scrapper, which I included at the midnight hour prior to the tournament, opting to drop a water energy. I chose Blastoise expecting a heavy Gothitelle showing, but after spending time in the open play room I noticed an awful lot of Garbador being tested. I felt like a single well timed scrapper would be just enough to buy myself one turn where I could establish board control. I had no idea that Tool Scrapper would ultimately end up being the MVP of my deck.

Worlds Tournament Report

So here is where the report will get a little dry. Like I said earlier, I didn't keep detailed notes of my matchups, so I apologize if you were hoping to read extensive recaps of my games.

Round 1 vs Nelson Chua  with TDK - Not much to say here. I got my Blastoise online on Turn 2 and steamrolled this game. 1-0

Round 2 vs Justin Sanchez (Speed Darkrai) - Justin is a good friend of mine who was also staying with me and a few others for Worlds. I cringed when I saw that I had been paired up against a friend so early. His deck was extremely fast, getting the turn 2 night spear as it should. Ultimately I think Justin and I both agree that he made a mistake opting to attack one of my Black Kyurem's with a Darkrai that didn't have a Dark Claw on it and at the end of the game it was left with 170 damage on it, allowing me one extra turn that I needed to score the game winning KO. 2-0

Round 3 vs Gunther Kirchhofer (TDK) - Unfortunately for Gunther he started extremely slow and was unable to overcome the early prize advantage I had taken.  3-0

Round 4 vs Dylan Bryan (Eevees-Garbador) - I cannot stress enough how much respect I have for Dylan for piloting this rogue deck all the way to a top 16 performance.  My strategy against Garbador decks is pretty cut and dry: keep my opponents off of ability lock for as long as possible. I got my Blastoise up on Turn 2 and believe I was able to kill Trubbish's on turns 2 and 3.  He super  rodded his Trubbish's back in and I knew I wouldn't have enough catchers in my deck to prevent the inevitable. I just kept taking prizes and found myself with one prize remaining to Dylan's four. Once Dylan established the lock, he went on the comeback trail courtesy of Leafeon PLF, which one shot both a Blastoise and Keldeo to even up the game at one prize remaining each. With Scrapper and Retrieval in hand and a Blastoise that had two energy on it already, I broke the lock, attached four more energy and hit his Leafeon for 120, or 100 after resistance, giving me the much earned win. 4-0

Round 5 vs Bert Wolters (Darkrai)  - After such a whirlwind matchup against Dylan, every detail of this match escapes me. Sorry. 5-0

Round 6 vs Martin Janous (Blastoise-Keldeo) - This match was filmed for The Top Cut and I absolutely cannot wait to see it if for no other reason than to see two Blastoise players lucksack one  another extremely hard. I tell Martin I'm going to look like such a sack on cam as I proceed to get turn 2 double Blastoise. The prize race begins and on Martin's second to last turn he has an insane play where he is able to put 7 energy on a Keldeo-EX to kill my second Black Kyurem EX and also 4 more energy on a Mewtwo-EX. If I were to attach 6 energy to my own Keldeo to knock out his, he would simply X-ball for game. With him running low on resources, I saw one possible way to win this game that involved hitting his Keldeo with a four energy Blastoise and then with a 3 energy keldeo, hoping he couldn't attach two more energy to Mewtwo for game. Unfortunately he had catcher in hand, effectively ending my undefeated run. 5-1

Round 7 vs Mike Newman (Blastoise-Keldeo) - Mike is an extremely skilled player who had a phenomenal season. He's also one of the funniest and friendliest players in the game who I love to death. Unfortunately he started our game supporter dead and his Keldeo's couldn't keep up with my Black Kyurems.  Even though I had secured my spot in cut at 6-1, it felt hollow knowing that my friend would need to win his final round matchup to get in as well. 6-1

Round 8 vs Johnny Rabus (TDK - Lugia) - My deck absolutely fell apart in this game. I started no beach, no supporter while Johnny just hammered away with his Kyurem, setting up easy prizes for Lugia. There was never a point in this match where I could see a way to mount a comeback.  6-2

I entered Top 32 as the Ninth seed with a resistance of 70%. Also in Top Cut were 5 of my 8 swiss opponents, which seems like an insane statistic. I was tipped off of my Top 32 opponent's deck during dinner break and cringed when I learned he was playing Klingklang. I've actually played the matchup to death and it's not favorable for Blastoise at all. If I had to guess it's no better than 80-20 in KlingKlang's favor. I wasn't about to go down without a fight though!

Top 32 vs Charles Powell (Klingklang) - The key for Blastoise in this matchup is to be extremely conservative of resources and get at least three Blastoise up to attack with throughout the contest. The math almost never adds up in the Klingklang player's favor unless they run lasers, which Charles did.  In game one he whiffed Klingklang on his first several turns, allowing me to take prizes with Keldeo. When he did get KlingKlang up though it became a chess match. With  two prizes remaining to Charle's five, he made a critical misplay that could have sealed game 1 for him. I was out of resources and had less cards remaining in my deck than he did, meaning he could have simply catchered out my no energy Keldeo and passed for four turns. However that's not what we he did, opting to play his fourth N, meaning he would now have less cards in his deck than me. At that point I simply had to wait him out and watch him deck out before me, which is exactly what I did.

Game two was a different animal as Charles recognized our first game had taken nearly 50 minutes. He set up faster, opting to make more calculated risks in the process. As time was called he had only taken two prizes and I felt extremely comfortable that he would be unable to take enough prizes for the game to count. He snagged a prize via my Blastoise on Turn 1, meaning he needed one more for the game to count. All game long I had spent a majority of my time figuring out why I had been missing one energy card from my list. I had none left in my deck and only 4 prizes left, all of which were energy. But I was only counting 6 energy between my pokemon and my discard.  On his turn three, we discovered that one of my energy had clumped between a wartortle and a Blastoise, meaning my active had 5 energy on it instead of four. He was able to energy press for knock out, tying up the series at 1-1 and sending me nearly on tilt.

In sudden death he won the coin flip to go first but I believe he whiffed Klinks. I had a beach and an N in my hand. Instead of N'ing us both to one, I opted to skyla to set up for the T2 Blastoise. He benched Klinks his next turn and beached. I got my Blastoise up and N'd us to 1 before beaching. He beached and I proceeded to catcher a Klink and Juniper into the last energy I needed to use Black Kyurem's slash attack for game. 7-2

Top 16 vs Gino Lombardi (Blastoise-Black Kyurem) - This was an interesting matchup because I knew his deck list and he knew mine. Unfortunately I don't remember this series well, but I remember forgetting to put my beach in play before colress'ing for four, effectively stalling myself out for 2-3 turns while Gino killed my Squirtles. I top decked an N and went on a roll, killing 3 EX's on my next three turns to seal game 1

Game 2 went almost the exact same way. He once again started faster than me and began killing Squirtles. A late game N put Gino in a bad position where his board was simply three Blastoises and no other attackers. I ko'd two Blastoises to cash my ticket to Top 8. 8-2

Top 8 vs Takuya Yoneda (Darkrai-Garbador) - Takuya had what should go down as a historic run in Pokemon history. Traveling to worlds without an invite, he grinded in with a 6-0 record via the LCQ and then proceeded to be the only undefeated player through swiss at 8-0. Swiftly defeating his opponents in Top 32 and Top 16, he sat at 16-0 on the weekend. I knew I'd have my hands full and that feeling was increased ten-fold when I was informed we would be playing on the main stage and our game was going to be streamed for the world to see.

I went into the match with a suspicion that Takuya's Garbador line could be no stronger than 2-2, so my priority would be to target them down first and then focus down his attackers and clean his field of energy. Speaking to Takuya after the event, he confessed he did not know I ran tool scrapper, which I'm thankful he did not know during our match. Rewatching the stream, there is a turn during game 1 where he could have catchered my Wartortle and KO'd both it and my Blastoise on the same turn which would have most likely sealed the game for him. Luckily he didn't and then he made another questionable decision by junk hunting in the middle of our match. These decisions ultimately came back to haunt him as I broke the Garbador lock and defeated him in game one.

To his credit, he adjusted extremely well and in Game 2 he came out of the gates swinging with a much more aggressive style. This style proved to be too much for me to overcome and along with a misplay that involved Ultra Balling away my second Black Kyurem, he was able to secure a game 2 win by nabbing four prizes in one turn with a double Keldeo knockout. However in Game 3 I put everything together and had a solid game, remember not to repeat my mistakes from the previous game and sealing the win and solidifying my spot in the top 4. Play was halted for the evening  and we would play down to a winner on Sunday. 9-2

Top 4 vs Simon Narode (TDK) -  Simon is a second year player from Oregon who quietly had an impressive season culminating in his first World's invite as well. He's also a friend of mine who I've had the pleasure of playing with a couple of times this season, most notably in the Top 8 of one of my two City Championship wins.  It felt somewhat surreal playing against a friend in what would be the biggest game of our lives.

In Game 1 I started slow and could never bench more than 1 Squirtle in a turn, which Simon would quickly KO with one of his numerous attackers.  In retrospect I probably should have just not benched Squirtles until I could get two in play, but I never considered it during the actual match. When he had game on board I quickly scooped to him.

My heart broke just a little as I saw my starting hand of game 2. Starting lone Squirtle to his Kyurem, I was forced to Juniper away 2 Rare Candies, 2 Superior Energy Retrievals and a Blastoise. Despite this, I still got my Blastoise up on Turn 2, but Simon's board control was overwhelming. He had both Kyurem and Absol ready to attack, with Deoxys waiting in the wings with Prism attached. I misplayed by not attacking his Kyurem with Keldeo, instead opting to Black Ballista it instead. This proved costly and I simply ran out resources at the end of the game.

When I realized I couldn't win, I felt no sadness or disappointment because I knew my friend would be playing for the World Championship later that day. But before I scooped, I offered him some advice in an attempt to boost Simon's confidence as he prepared for the biggest game of his life. I stood up and announced Simon as the winner of the match, putting the finishing touches on an amazing rookie season. 9-3 , 3rd place.

So I have this obsession with a pro wrestler named CM Punk...

Looking forward

The response I've gotten from the Pokemon community following my third place showing has been overwhelming. One of the most common recurring questions I've received in the last week is what decks do I like in the upcoming season. Truthfully, I'm not sure if a BDIF has emerged yet and if it has, I haven't discovered it yet. With an invite to 2014 Worlds already secured, I don't envision myself playing very competitively throughout Fall Battle Roads. That being said, I do still plan on competing this season at major events and the City Championship Series in an effort to actually earn an invite.

I will say that silver bangle is easily my favorite card in the set and hopefully will allow for a lot more flexibility in the upcoming season. When paired with cards like Kyurem (PLF) and Bouffalant (DRX) it creates an extremely potent combo that puts most Pokemon-EX within sniping range of being knocked out.

To be perfectly honest I don't believe that Virizion-Genesect decks will spell the end to Blastoise decks at all. Blastoise players will undoubtedly have to increase their Black Kyurem lines, but I still feel like there is a place for Blastoise at the top of the metagame.

Only time will tell and I'm fortunate enough to be in a position where I can watch the metagame develop through Battle Roads before making an educated deck decision for Fall Regionals in Pleasanton, CA in October. In the meantime though, if you're lucky to play against me at Battle Roads, prepare for some craziness. Stoutland is coming!




             A perfect end to a near perfect ...



Written by James Good, 21. 8. 2013

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