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Luca Schuster

Arena Cup Würzburg 2015 - Tournament report, top 8 decks, interview with the winner and what we can learn from it.

In my first article I´m going to have a look at the Arena Cup in Würzburg...

09/07/2015 by Luca Schuster

In my first article I´m going to have a look at the Arena Cup in Würzburg, Germany, which took place at the 5th september 2015. There are just 4 Arena cups in Germany and Austria over the whole season and therefore it´s always a very special event. Why is it that special you ask? Because it is held in expanded format, which guarantees you a lot of deck diversity with so many legal sets to play.

Grüßgott! (Hello in german)


I´d love to introduce myself before you start reading this article.

My name´s Luca Schuster, I´m 19 years old, I am a paramedic, also a soon to be university student and some of you may know me from our Youtube channel/Facebook page Pokemon TCG Austria. Before some of you start thinking, wow, he´s from Australia, what a beautiful country, stop it right there. So many people at worlds mistook my country of origin, just because it sounds familiar. Austria is located in Europe, you could say that it´s the small brother of Germany because we share the same language and are located next to each other. (Technically it´s the same language but I would rather compare the differences with american and british english, just not the same!)

I´ve been playing the Pokemon TCG since 2009, but just started playing really competetively last season, so 2014/2015 was my year. Nevertheless I accomplished quite a few things during this season, for example Top 22 in Europe, 2nd at nats, 2x times 1st at regionals, 2x times top 4 regionals and some top 2, top 4 and top 8 finishes at cities and regionals as well.


Buuuut let´s get to the important stuff now! As mentionend in the title of this article, I´ll show you my deck and explain why i decided to play it, report about my playing experience during swiss rounds, show you the top 8 decks (including two top 8 lists i found the most interesting), let you have a look at an interview i had with Robin S., who won the tournament and last but not least, discuss the importance of the arena cup in comparison with the expanded regionals in america and what the AC could mean for these regionals.


1. Nightmarch as my deck of choice

Well, I made the mistake to underestimate Nightmarch at worlds where I didnt´even spend a single second of thinking about playing this deck, because I simply didn´t like it and wouldn´t have thought that people actually would play this. I didn´t realize that this deck was way too strong and fast with Shaymin ex. Stupid me, in the end my good friend Merlin Q. even made it to top 4 with this really fast and amazing deck.

Nightmarch is still kinda playable in standard format, but with mew ex and its amazing abillity to copy the nightmarch attack with one less energy cost in combination with dimension valley, it´s just incredible. I thought about adding 1 maxi and 1 archeops, because I personally expected many Vespiqueen variants and Toad/Bats, but threw away that idea in the end because I don´t like running Jirachi in my decks and actually didn´t manage to get out my T1 archeops as often as I would´ve liked it, so I held on to the straight, brutal variant.

I talked to many people about which deck to play in expanded and many told me, that they´d expect a lot of archeops variants, therefore Nightmarch was a good metacall in my eyes. I playtested a lot after worlds and realized that this deck is just way too strong, if you manage to get your setup properly. After lots of changes, I decided to play this final list at the AC Würzburg:

1.1 My decklist

Actually there´s not really much to say about this list. It´s kinda similiar to Merlins Top 4 list, but I didn´t like that he was just playing 2 Juniper and 1 switching option, so I decided to play 3 Juniper, 1 float stone and 1 escape rope. Also I tested Hard Charm in this deck, but found myself in too few situations where I really would´ve needed that tool card, so I decided to cut it.

4 Shaymins are an overkilll you say? Absolutely not. I had plenty of situations where i really needed to play down 4 Shaymins to get just the ONE card i needed to get the game winning card. Also it turned out, that besides my nightmarch attackers, my Shaymins also loved to hide unter my price cards, so I found myself in some situations where I just had the option to bench 2-3 shaymins, which was crucial in some testing games.

I also tested a Nightmarch variant with Archeops and Maxies hidden balltrick, but I didn´t manage to set up the Archeops as often as i would´ve liked it, in addition I didn´t expect that many decks which relied heavily on evolution pokemon, so i decided to play the aggressive, straight forward variant.  

2. Tournament report

With 110 TCG players in total and 93 masters, the first tournament this season started with more players than I expected. I almost knew every deck of the "dangerous" and well known players, because most of them are good friends of mine and I knew that it would be a tough time facing them. I expected a lot of nightmarch, vespiqueen, toad variants, accelgor variants and donphan decks.

As I walked around during round 1, I was surprised how many different decks I saw at the tables. Of course there were the normal, known decks, but I also saw Sceptile/Ariados, Tyranitar/Bats and Greninja EX (lol) decks. Surprisingly I didn´t see a single Toad deck, but more Donphans and Yveltals than I would´ve thought and even a Latios/Bats deck, which i definitely was afraid of. After that I knew that the metagame of this tournament would be an interesting one.


Round 1: vs Lasse P. - Donphan/Eveelutions

He started and after he flipped a Phanpy and an Evee, I knew that I would win these matches if I was able to play my Lysandres properly. He drew his card for the turn, attach an energy to his benched Phanpy, didn´t look happy and passed. I was kinda surprised and also not quite sure if he bluffed or not. I had a great start and knocked out his active Evee. After that he drew his card, seemed to hope for the topdeck, didn´t get it and scooped the first game. I really felt bad for him, but i even felt worse as the exact same thing happened in match 2 and I 2-0´d him. We finished after propably 6 minutes and I felt kinda relieved.



Round 2: vs Michael P. - Vespiqueen/Plasma Flareon

As i saw the pairings, I was both happy and kinda sad, because I had to play against a friend who decided to start playing competetively again afer a couple of years and I also knew what he was going to play because i borrowed him some cards before the tournament. What I love about playing against good friends of yours is the relaxed atmosphere (if it´s not a topcut match or even worse, the finals) and so we made the best of it!

First game I totally steamrolled him and the match was over after 10 minutes, but game 2 was more exciting and difficult to play. I knew that I had to win the DCE war and drop as few EX pokemon as possible. The difficult thing to calculate was, that he played fire energies and blacksmith to attack with his plasma flareon, so he had more outs to draw price cards. The game went down to two price cards and 4 DCEs in his discard on his side and 2 price cards and 2 deck cards left on my side. He really managed to pull of the Blacksmith combo, knocked out my active joltik and drew one price card. I knew that I still had one DCE left in my deck and I really needed to draw it, because otherwise I would have to play a juniper to draw it and deck out the next turn, without getting my last price card. Fortunately I got the DCE and won 2-0. Great games Michi!



Alright, so good, so far. The parings came and somehow it said that I had a 1-1 score and had to play at table 25. What? Immediately I told the Judges, they made some reparings and I...still had to play at table 25, against a guy with a 1-1 score. WHAT? Well, at least my score was correctly after the repairing and I figured that it couldn´t be too hard to win against that guy. Well...turned out that i got the one and only deck I really didn´t want to face in this tournament.


Round 3: vs Stefan B. - Latios/Bats

I sat down and thought about scooping immediately, just to get something to eat. Haha. I knew that I just could win these matches if I was really lucky and my opponentn wasn´t. He won the coinflip (of course), benched three zubats and knocked out my active Pumpkaboo with muscle band on his Latios. What a start. And after playing a Battle Compressor I thought that the game was over. Four nightmarchers were priced. FOUR! I figured that I had to risk it all and discarded 7 nightmarchers (I had an active Joltik with Silver Bangle) just to get two nightmarchers out of my prices. I got a revenge knockout, got 1 Joltik and 1 Pumpkaboo and so the price trade began. It was a real close match, but in the end my opponent made some misplays and so I really pulled of a win. Incredible! With adrenalin rushing through my veins I really wanted to win the second game as well. This one was closer and faster and with one crobat drop, lysandre for my mew and muscle band he won the second game. We didn´t have that much time anymore and actually I was completely fine with a Tie against my Autoloss Matchup. But after i saw my starting hand i knew that I could make it. This time no nightmarchers were priced and I had the advantage because I started. He again benched three zubats, knocked out a joltik from me, i knocked out his Latios, he knocked out my Pumpkaboo, i lysandred his first shaymin, knocked it out with a pumkpaboo again, he didn´t get the knockout because he whiffed a Golbat and i lysandred his second Shaymin for the win. Whaaaaat, I just won again Latios/Bats and was 3-0 now!!! Tops seemed to be no problem anymore, especially not after this ego push I got after this match.



To that time, many of my good friends also had a 3-0 or 2-0-1 score and I really didn´t want to play against one of them, at least not this round...


Round 4: vs Fatih A. - Yveltal/Archeops (2nd place after topcut)

Mhm. I had to play against Fatih, a good friend of mine, who decided to play a very consistent Yveltal/Archeops Deck. We´ve been in NYC together after worlds and tested this matchup quite a lot. I knew that it was very tough, because of his Darkrai and baby Yveltals who just put too much pressure on my small nightmarchers. These were some very concentrated and quite games, because we knew that we couldn´t make any misplays. The matches always got down to two prices cards on my side and three on his side, I had the winning Lysandre in hand, but he managed two get a Darkrai with muscle band + lysandre for a shaymin and knocked out two pokemon with one attack and drew his last three price cards that way. He really mastered this deck and played it with absolute perfection. Props to him! After my loss I knew that I had to move on and focus now...



Round 5: vs Robin S. - Seismitoad/Giratina (1st place after topcut)

Oh come on, not now! I just won against a horrible matchup in round 3 and now I had to play against Giratina? Man. My gameplan was to lysandre up his Giratinas, give them a OHKO in turn 2 and deal with the Toads later, but sadly it didn´t work out that way. He always had the T1 trainer lock and I whiffed quite a few cards, so the games were over in an instant. He 2-0´d me and I asked myself, against which deck I just played. Who comes up with such an amazing, crazy and good idea? A typical Robin idea. To reach the topcut was out of range now and the jetlag kicked in. Not a good time.



Round 6: vs Viet-Tuan P. - Nightmarch mirror

Alright, nightmarch mirror. I watched the game at worlds where David Hochmann played against Andrew Mahone and knew how to play this mirrormatch. Win the DCE war, don´t drop any EX´s and if you have to drop a shaymin, attack with sky return and knock out your opponents Joltik to get it back to your hand. 

Sadly he won the first game, because one DCE was priced, additionally he won the coinflip and let me start, of course. I hoped that he didn´t know my deck, but sadly he just watched me lose against Robin. Meh. The second game was way better, I played it perfectly and managed to play strictly according to my gameplan. Thank you David! Of course he had the price advantage because he chose me as the starter of the match, but I managed to knockout a Shaymin of his and so it was getting close. In the end I had to drop a Shaymin to draw my DCE to be down to one price card, but after that I had nothing and he won that game. Well played, but you can´t always be lucky. 

I had such an amazing start and somehow managed to screw up.

3-3 now.

The jetlag and the deprivation of sleeped kicked in pretty badly and I thought about scooping the next game, just to be able to get home earlier. But I didn´t want to start the new season with such a thing and therefore i decided to play the next round. My opponent must´ve thought that I´m a Junkie or something like that because my eyes were bloody red.


Round 7: vs ? - Vespiqueen/Flareon (So tired I couldn´t write down his name anymore)

Not much to say, he made several misplays and had to discard a DCE in both games and I just steamrolled him. At least it´s something and I achieved my personal goal not to have a negative record.


All in all I was quite content with my performance, of course I would have loved to win two more games and secure myself a place in top 8, but that´s expanded. There are just too many decks and in the end, you lose to the decks you really don´t want to face. 

I wished my buddies who managed to get to top 8 all of the best, whispered to Fatih that I want him to win so I can tell people after the tournament that I lost to the soon to become champion and headed back home to my friends place who lives one hour away from the tournament location. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep immediately after entering the car. 


3. Top 8 Decks

1. Robin S (Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX)

2. Fatih A (Yveltal/Archeops)

3. Nico A (Yveltal/Seismitoad-EX)

4. Niklas L (Yveltal/Garbodor)

5. David S (Vespiquen/Flareon)

6. Tobias T (Accelgor/Vespiquen)

7. Lucas B (Night March/Archeops)

8. Tobias S (Yveltal/Garbodor)


Personally, I think that this is one of the most interesting topcuts I´ve ever seen. On the one hand, there are 4 Yveltal Decks in Top 8, which is crazy, because just 4 - maximum 6 people decided to play Yveltal at the AC Würzburg. Which means that all of the top 8 Yveltal players either knew their deck pretty well and knew how to play it or were lucky and managed to play against good matchups all day long, which is very unlikely if you ask me. 

On the other hand, there are two decks which should get some attention: Accelgor Vespiqueen (How does this deck even work?) and of course this miraculous Seismitoad/Giratina I had to face in swiss rounds. Let´s have a look at the list of "Giratoad".

3.1 Decklist of Toad/Giratina

Aaaalright, here we have the absolute superstar deck this tournament brought to us. To be honest, the idea behind it is just genius. One single attack from Giratina is enought to take down whole decks. It´s the absolute MVP against Nightmarch (as i had to experience myself) and has enough power to make many other decks, if not all decks, struggle.

Actually, the deck is really simple to play. You try to stall as long as possible with Toad in the active spot, try to disrupt your opponent as good as possible with laserbank and crushing hammers and if you don´t see a point in trainerlocking anymore, you attack with Giratina and lock him even worse. With your own Keldeo in combination with float stone you don´t have to be afraid of lasers played by your opponent and it´s also really helpfull if you want to attack with your second Giratina but don´t want so spend your energies on the retreating cost. 

I also thought of playing Toad at the AC Würzburg, but decided against it because I was too afraid of Vespiqueen and random grass decks (definitely was the right decision), but Robin managed to pull of an excellent counter attacker against exactly these decks. If you manage to attack just once with Giratina against a Vespiqueen deck, he starts to struggle reeeeeally badly. 


All in all it was a great metacall for this expanded tournament and I think that it has the potential to win a lot more tournaments which are held in expanded. 


4. Interview with Robin S. (Winner with Toad/Giratina)


Me: Hello Robin! Congrats on your first place at the Arena Cup in Würzburg! You decided to play Seismitoad/Giratina, which is obviously a very interesting deckchoice. How did you prepare yourself for this tournament and how did you come up with the idea for Seismitoad/Giratina?

Robin: Thanks a lot! I actually did quite a lot of testing with my brother prior to the Arena Cup. We both like Seismitoad decks because of all the control they give you over games, especially in the Expanded format, where some decks play close to 30 Items.
Getting a T1 Quaking Punch can already win you the game, and Seismitoad/Shaymin does exactly that with near unmatched consistency. Giratina is probably my favorite attacking Pokémon from the new set because of the ability to completely look some decks out of the game (DCE is sooo huge!) and seemed to fit into the deck quite well because of how much it benefits from having access to disruption cards. It completely wrecks Night March, Accelgor and other DCE based decks while also helping against some of the Mega Pokemon that Seismitoad doesn’t like facing. Giratina also gives you a stronger hitter to finish off the game when resources are getting low.


Me:Which decks did you expect to see the most play and why?

Robin: The three decks I expected to see the most were: Night March, because of how great it did at worlds and because of its ability to be paired with Archeops; Vespiquen, because of all the hype it got and having access to Flareon in Expanded; and Yveltal/Archeops, because of how good of a deck it is and of course it having won Japanese Nationals in the same fomat.
Those predictions turned out to be quite right, but the amount of players choosing to play Yveltal without Archeops was definitely a big surprise to me.


Me: After swiss rounds you placed first seed and headed to top 8. Which decks did you face during swiss and what was your final score after swiss?

Robin: In the first two rounds I played against Yveltal/Garbodor, a rather good matchup. My opponents didn’t get much going and I think all four individual games ended without them taking even a single prize.

The third round was much more difficult, facing David Sturm’s Flareon/Vespiquen deck. I won the first game by taking quick prizes with Quaking Punch and then finishing him of with two powered up Giratina, but lost a close second game to a well-timed Blacksmith. We didn’t have much time left for game 3, but I managed to take a quick win by getting a T2 Giratina and knocking out three Pokémon-EX in three consecutive turns.

My fourth round ended in a draw against Niklas Lehnert-Rappel’s Yveltal/Garbodor deck after two long and very intense games.

In the fifth round I fortunately played against Night March. He ended up not getting 9 Night March Pokémon into the discard on his first turn in both our games, so Quaking Punch gave me more than enough time to setup the unbreakable lock, resulting in a quick win.

In the sixth round I faced yet another good matchup, Fighting/Crobat. However, I lost the first game in like three turns after not drawing a Supporter and also had a lot of trouble in the following two games because of not hitting Super Scoop Up flips. She eventually run out of Hawlucha to attack though and I was able to take the very close win.

Going into the last round with a 5-0-1 record, I ID’d my way into cut.


Me:What did you think about the topcut matches? What did you play against in top 8/4/finals? Have they been intensive and skillful or would you rather describe it as easy going?

Robin:The Top 8 match was a rematch of my first swiss round, and the games didn’t change much. He drew bad and didn’t manage to attack more than a few times. Quaking Punch puts in a lot of work against those Dark Patch based Yveltal builds.

The Top 4 match was yet another rematch, this time against David’s Flareon/Vespiquen deck. I lost the first game after he caught me off-guard by discarding 4 Pokémon with Juniper and knocking out my Seismitoad with his Flareon. In the second game he didn’t get enough Pokemon into the discard and I was able to win by using Quaking Punch and yet again keeping his Combees of the board.
The third game then was so nerve-wreaking! I was really lucky when he whiffed a Vespiquen after drawing like 10 cards with Juniper and Unowns, which gave me time to stabilize. In the end he hit his last VS Seeker to Blacksmith-KO my Giratina, I then N him to 2, Quaking Punch KO his Flareon and pray he doesn’t draw his last DCE he needs to win. He flips his last two prizes and reveals the DCE in there, Phew!!

In the finals I played against Yveltal/Archeops, which should be a good matchup because of how few Supporters and Energy the deck plays. In the first game however, he gets a T1 Float Stone Keldeo and Muscle Band DCE Seismitoad, Quaking Punches my very underdeveloped board and I then scoop a few turns later. The next two games he doesn’t hit great first turns and I am able to lock him out of the game with some good Crushing Hammer flips.
Which decks do you expect to be successful at the American regionals which will be held in expanded?
Yveltal/Archeops and Flareon/Vespiquen (btw, if you’re looking for a list, David’s Top 4 one is basically perfect in my opinion) seem to be the safest choices right now, so I’d expect to see a lot of them there.
Manectric might also come back because of the success Yveltal and Seismitoad had at the Arena Cup.
Expanded is such a wide open format, I also definitely expect a lot of crazy and exciting decks to pop up!
How many CPs do you currently have and are you planning to get a spot in the Top 22 in Europe this season?
I had 25 LC points before this event, so the win puts me at 175 CP. I don’t really expect to finish in the Top 22 because that would require me to have a very good day at either the ECC or Nationals, especially because of do not have any Worlds points, but I of course will do my best anyways!


Me: Would you maybe like to give a shoutout to some people who helped you testing/developing the deck? Or was it just your secret deck idea?

Robin: Yeah, shout-out to Philip Schulz, my brother, who originally convinced me that Seismitoad/Shaymin is still a viable deck after the Trump Ban, came up with the idea to put Giratina into the deck and helped me test!
Also shout-out to Tobias Thesing, who took our Accelgor/Vespiquen deck into the event and managed to reach the Top 4, great job!
I’d also like to congratulate all my other friends who reached the cut, Fatih, David, Nico, Niklas and Tobias S.! Let’s keep the good work up all season. „grin“-Emoticon
Thank you very much for the interview, congratulations on this great start of the new season, see you at the next tournament!

Thanks a lot again!


 Me: Thank you very much for the interview, congratulations on this great start of the new season and see you at the next tournament!

5. What can we learn from this tournament?

Yes, the Arena Cup Würzburg was held in Germany, Europe and maybe won´t get much attention from american players because of that fact. But it was the first, official expanded tournament this season worldwide and definitely should get attention in my eyes. 

 This is a pie chart of the deck diversity at the AC Würzburg.




As we can see, the most played decks were Vespiqueen, Donphan, Archeops and Bats variants. Around 10% are labeled as "others" which should cover decks like Greninja EX I saw at one table. 

Europe has a different metagame than America, but in a format where over 20 sets are legal to play, there are just so many different deck variations, that every deck variant should be a factor considered during testing. In expanded the luck factor is also bigger than usual. You can be so lucky with parings or get the worst of it, of course it´s the same in standard format, but the chance to get paired against autoloss matchups are higher in a tournament with a bigger deck diversity. For example, if Ancient Origins would not have been allowed for the AC Würzburg, I would not have played against Toad/Giratina, ergo one fewer autoloss matchup. 

Lastly, I don´t regret that I decided to play straight Nightmarch at the AC Würzburg. I chose a solid deck I felt absolute comfortable with and in my eyes, this is exactly the way you should try to choose your deck for the upcoming tournaments.

In the end you always assume how many and which tier 1 decks are going to be played at a tournament and it´s not wrong to choose a deck because of these predicitions, but in a format like expanded I can assure you, every deck is going to be present, so just pick the one you tested the most with and trust that it´s consistent enough to not draw dead and whiff most of the time, because these are the factors you´re able to influnce. Factors like pairings or matchups are the ones you are not able to influnce. If you lose because you had an autloss matchup, that´s the way how the pairing system works, but if you lose because you draw dead multiple times, you should overthink your deck choice.



Phew, that was my first article. I really hope that you enjoyed reading it, if you have any further questions, just feel free to ask. 


Thank you very much for reading and see you at the next tournament!



-Luca Schuster (Austria)


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