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Max Armitage

When's Worlds

Max reflects on Nationals and looks forward to the Worlds metagame.

07/23/2016 by Max Armitage

Hey 60cards readers! Hope y’all are enjoying your summer, with the new release of Pokemon GO it is a very exciting time for all Pokemon players. For all of us who are currently planning to attend the World Championships we have been put into a situation that we have never faced before with the recent decision to allow the newest expansion, Steam Siege, to be legal for the event. This decision changes the impact of the results of the National Championships and the way that players will prepare leading up to Worlds. For those who aren’t aware we are roughly a month away from the World Championships and Steam Siege has not yet been released worldwide giving us very little time to transition to the new format which is both exciting and scary. My first goal for this article is to briefly reflect on the results and my personal performance at the National Championships and secondly to analyze and predict how the meta will change heading into Worlds. For those who haven’t took a good and thorough look at Steam Siege I highly recommend you check out the set review by my fellow writer Gabriel Semedo; I think he does a good job analyzing each card's potential and I share most of the opinions that he expresses throughout his article. To all of those who don’t have the chance to play in this year’s World Championships I advise take this opportunity to get a leg up and begin testing the new format and don’t forget to tune into the stream. Without further ado let's talk about what happened at Nationals! (The decklists are in plain text because of the lack of english Steam Siege scans and will be edit'd upon release.)



The 2016 Nationals happened over the 4th of July weekend and the results of the event have been published and broken down thanks to the Charizard Lounge. Not surprisingly Night March ended up taking the majority of the points at nationals followed by Trevenant, Waterbox, and Darkrai Giratina Garbodor in that order. The entire event was won by Nick Robinson piloting a Night March Vespiquen deck. This deck was a very strong play as it has a 50-50 matchup versus Night March and a positive matchup versus nearly every other deck thanks to the line of Vespiquen that Nick included. Personally I didn’t choose to play this because I didn’t think it had a good time versus trevenant, nightmarch, or Giratina and I stand by that train of thought. My choice for the event was a Wailord deck created by Brandon Cantu. I think this deck was a much better play than what my results indicate as it boasted a strong matchup versus vanilla Night March, Waterbox, Trevenant, and Darkrai Giratina Garbodor. My matchups went as so:

Round 1 Rayquaza WW
Round 2 Carbink Zygarde T
Round 3 Metal LL
Round 4 Metal W
Round 5 M Manectric W
Round 6 Metal L
Round 7 Night March WW
Round 8 Manectric W
Round 9 Night March Vespiquen LWL

After an unfortunate tie that could have turned into a win if I would have played or flipped better round 2 I ran into some very poor match ups that prevented me from advancing to day two. At the end of the day I learned my lesson of needing to play better under time and am not upset with my deck choice. I hope that if you were fortunate enough to attend or watch the event that you too were able to take something away from it.

Moving on from Nationals I would like to take each deck that performed well and analyze how they will change with the release of the Steam Siege expansion. At this moment in time the current consensus is that we will be playing in a format that does not include the card Karen and I am writing with that assumption. This section will include decklists from the national championships that have been tweaked to be competitive for the World Championships. Even though we are faced with the challenge of an entire new set we are lucky because the majority of the cards in the set are unplayable in the current metagame and the ones that will affect the metagame do it in a very linear and impactful way in my opinion. It shouldn’t be extremely difficult to analyze the changes that will need to take place from Nationals to Worlds.

To start us off I am going to look at the Trevenant deck. Going into worlds the odds that this deck performs well have been greatly increased thanks to the potential influx of Night March that many competitive players expect to happen going into Worlds.

(The decklists are in plain text because of the lack of english Steam Siege scans and will be edit'd upon release.)

Pokémon - 14

4 Phantump BKP 64
4 Trevenant XY 55
3 Trevenant BREAK BKP 66
3 Shaymin-EX ROS 106

Trainer Cards - 39

1 Super Rod
3 Red Card
4 Ultra Ball 
4 Trainers' Mail
4 Dimension Valley 
4 VS Seeker 
4 Crushing Hammer 
1 N 
1 Delinquent 
3 Team Flare Grunt
4 Professor Sycamore
3 Wally 
1 Xerosic 
1 Lysandre 
1 Enhanced Hammer

Energy - 7

7 Basic Psychic Energy 

This is a list very similar to the two that top 8’d US Nationals. My changes are dropping the two Head Ringers in favor of an enhanced hammer and a flare grunt. While the Head Ringers are nice to play against EX’s they aren’t as great in a more Night March centered Metagame. I also recognize that they also functioned as counters to the Shaymin loop however I think that with the copies of red card, N, and Vs Seeker that you play I don’t think that is a large enough issue to tech for. This deck has a lot of perks in the current metagame that make it a very solid choice heading into Worlds. You can win half of your games by going first and setting up a Trevenant regardless of what the matchup looks like which is an incredibly nice perk to playing the deck. However on the flipside the deck has some pretty glaring weaknesses that don’t make me especially eager to pilot it. For one it’s damage output is severely neutered by any deck that runs Rough Seas. While this isn’t a large issue with the decline of the water decks thanks to Vespiquen it is never a good thing when a whole turn of a attacking can be lost to a stadium card. Another issue when I have played the deck it feels like when you go second you have to play catch up to remain in the game and take risks that most decks don’t have to take to neutralize the board position. Nevertheless Trevenant will be played and I predict that it will find its way into top cut in some form or fashion at Worlds.


The next deck that I would like to talk about is Waterbox. This was a deck that emerged recently that I personally enjoy playing a lot. I feel that this deck could be a strong choice for Worlds because of the Night March players who attempt to cut corners and remove the Vespiquen from their deck in an attempt to gain the edge in the mirror match through consistency. This deck's strength stems mostly from the strength of toad and the variety of techs that you can include to counter other decks.

Pokémon - 12

2 Articuno ROS 17
1 Regice AOR 24
1 Glaceon-EX FAC 20
1 Hoopa-EX AOR 89
2 Manaphy-EX BKP 116
2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
3 Seismitoad-EX FFI 106

Trainer Cards - 37


1 Super Rod 
3 Energy Switch 
3 Fighting Fury Belt
3 Trainers' Mail
4 Max Elixir 
4 Rough Seas 
4 Ultra Ball 
4 VS Seeker 
1 AZ 
1 Xerosic 
2 Lysandre
2 N 
4 Professor Sycamore 
1 Hex Maniac

Energy - 11

11 Basic Water Energy 

This list is one card different from the list that Paul Johnston used to top 4 Nationals. This deck shares many characteristics with the Darkrai EX decks of the past that included trainer based energy acceleration, flexible game plans, and ability to pressure your opponent. The one change that I did decide to make from Paul's list was to drop the Startling Megaphone in favor of a second Articuno. The Megaphone never seemed very crucial to me as Garbodor is rarely set up against the deck thanks to the quaking punches and the deck can handle most Pokemon that have Fighting Fury Belts attached to them through 2 hit knock outs. Even if a garbodor is set up against the deck it’s not a large issue thanks to the AZ and Energy Switch in the deck. I also think that 2 Articuno is great because of the versatility that it provides being able to stall through Chilling Sighs, or change the pace of the game and take extra prizes through Tri Edge. The card is strong in nearly every situation and only sacrifices one prize. With that in mind Waterbox is a deck that is very tight on space and there are many other decks that I would consider running. I’ll touch on a few of the most powerful cards that I would consider fitting into the deck. The first is Aurorus EX which is a Pokemon that can hit for the crucial 170 with a fighting fury belt, this card helps your Greninja matchup and is nice to have versus a lot of decks. Another card that I would consider playing is the newly released Pokemon Ranger Supporter. It would be very nice to play a single copy of the card as our deck has no answers to a Jolteon except for regice however I don’t think that is a very legitimate concern heading into Worlds. I expect very few people to play Jolteon because of Pokemon Ranger so playing the card in Waterbox feels somewhat redundant. Another card that I have seen included in many good lists is Judge, while it not being great after the first couple turns an early judge is really strong in combination with a quaking punch or to act as a cushion for when you break your item lock. On that same note of you do include Judge it's really only effective in higher numbers so 2 copies will serve you well. There is a decent amount of concern that the deck can’t handle the new inclusion of Pokemon Ranger as it can break through the Regice and Glaceon locks that the deck uses however I don’t think that those cards are so crucial to the deck that it will kill the viability of it. The cards that are affected by the play of Pokemon Ranger do become better candidates for replacement. If Worlds was tomorrow this would be the Waterbox list I would enter however I think there is potential in all of the cards that I mentioned previously. A lot of the decks strength comes from it's ability to have a path to victory at almost every point in the game along with being able to play both an offensive and defensive game. I love the flexibility in this deck's strategy switching from offense to defense with energy switches along with the wide variety of options you have while playing it. I expect this deck to be the “toad bats” of this year's worlds. What I mean by that is I expect the results to mirror last years where it will have multiple strong finishes from good players like Mees Brenninkmeijer, Igor Costa, and Patrick Martinez performed last year. All in all if you practice with this deck a lot or if you can find a way for it to handle Vespiquen more effectively you have a very good chance for a high placement. Certainly a deck to look out for and consider playing heading into Worlds.

For these next three decks I will unfortunately not be going into as much detail in my explanation of them as I do not feel that they have a strong shot at performing well at worlds and don't want to waste anybody's time.

The first two decks I would like to talk about are the two unexpected Toads. At Nationals there were 2 decks that had very high placements even though many people wrote them off for the event. This is just another example of the strength of Seismitoad EX and is reminiscent of Jason Klaczynski's run with Toad Garb last year. The first Seismitoad deck that had a unexpected high placement was Marcos Garcias Seismitoad Giratina deck. Marcos is a fellow player from Texas and he plays Seismitoad Giratina, like a lot. He knew the ins and outs of the deck and he was able to take it all the way to the finals when other people didn't believe in its strength. This is all good and well however I don't think there is a good chance that he will be able to duplicate this success at the world championships thanks to the release of Pokemon Ranger. This card really takes away one of Toad Tina's strongest match ups and makes me doubt the decks chances of doing well. The next Seismitoad deck is the Toad Bats that had a top 16 finish piloted by Daniel Lynch. This was a very clever play thanks to the large amount of Night March and the other favorable match ups. As to whether or not a Toad Bats deck could have repeated success I'm really not sure. This deck has many problems including the lack of damage output when facing rough seas and relying heavily on special energy but I still don't feel comfortable in writing it off quite yet. Even though I don't feel like these decks are looking great going into Worlds they were definitely worth mentioning as they came out of left field for Nationals and you have to commend these players for playing their rogue decks. (Never thought I would be calling a Toad deck rogue.)

The third deck is the Darkrai Giratina Garbodor deck. This deck was is definitely a personal favorite for me going into nationals as it had a solid night March match up, thanks to chaos wheel, and a solid matchup versus most of the other popular decks in the format. Sadly like Toad Tina the Night March matchup is no longer good for this deck thanks to the inclusion of Pokemon Ranger into Modern Night March lists. For this deck to continue to have a chance in the current metagame it will have to drop the Giratina in favor of some baby yveltals to compete and challenge night March. I could see a Darkrai Garbodor deck having a solid performance at Worlds but it would certainly take a lot of tweaking and practice to find a positive night March matchup. Even with the switch to a dark centered deck I don't see the deck keeping up with the rest of the competition and winning for sure. Now that we're done with those let's get back to the decks that have good shots at winning the tournament.

Vileplume Vespiquen much like Trevenant has that, if I go first I win the game idea associated with it and it’s entirely true. If you set up a Vileplume and a Vespiquen on the first turn there’s very little your opponent can do, unless their name is Paul Johnston. I think this deck is actually a lot stronger than Trevenant because it’s able to capitalize on the first turn a lot harder through the use battle compressor. On that same note because this deck doesn’t run as much of the disruption in exchange for the power of Vespiquen it does have a slightly worse Night March matchup. There are also versions of the deck that choose to include Jolteon EX and electric energy to try and aid this problem and I’m not sure whether or not this is effective, I do advise that you playtest and try fitting in those cards to see if it works for you. The deck is fairly standard and needs a lot of consistency cards to remain strong and the list reflects that.

Pokémon - 27

4 Combee AOR 9
4 Vespiquen AOR 10
4 Oddish AOR 1
3 Gloom AOR 2
3 Vileplume AOR 3
4 Unown AOR 30
4 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
1 Bunnelby PRC 121

Trainer Cards - 29

4 Forest of Giant Plants
2 Professor Sycamore 
2 AZ 
2 Lysandre 
4 Ultra Ball
4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear 
3 Acro Bike
4 Trainers' Mail 
2 Float Stone
2 Revitalizer GEN 70

Energy - 4

4 Double Colorless Energy FAC 114

With the release of Steam Siege this deck really hasn’t lost or gained anything at all. Many people have discussed the potential of Talonflame in this list however I don’t think starting Talonflame is actually as good as it sounds on paper. While it sounds exciting to play a stage 2 that can be played straight to the active position the odds that it happen are roughly 47% and that's with playing 4 copies of the card. Along with the fact that you would have to attach a valuable Double Colorless energy to the card and have the potential for the cards that you search for from Talonflames attack to be N’d away. I don’t think it’s time for Talonflame to shine. Like I said the deck is very linear build and plays very few surprises. If you enjoy playing solitaire this is the deck for you. The goal of the deck is clear and simple and it gets the job done consistently. Able to get a turn 1 knock out on nearly every Pokemon is very strong and the deck usually using only 1 to 2 Vespiquen to win the game. This deck can be very infuriating to play against because it creates a feeling of helplessness once the deck is fully set up. I hate to admit it but the deck really looks like a great choice going into worlds, there are very few things that can compete with the t1 item lock plus attacker combo that this deck provides on the 1st turn. One of the largest criticisms for this deck was that the opponent has the ability to lysandre your Vileplume and keep it stranded active which has been countered by the inclusion of 2 floatstone, 2 AZ, and a bunnelby I really find this to be a non issue. What is a large issue with the deck is that if your opponent plays an Aegislash EX in their deck all they have to do is promote it to the active position and they will virtually win the game. While this is a valid issue I don’t think it hurts the decks chances of a great performance at Worlds because of the lack of popularity of Aegislash EX and Metal decks in general right now. My personal biggest concern with the deck is the mirror and Night March matchups seem like a total 50-50 and are entirely dependent on luck. I personally am not interested in entering a tournament with a deck that either wins or loses with the outcome being out of my control but I will touch on that more later. Overall the deck is a powerhouse capable of buzzing through a tournament. As for results I would not be surprised if this deck was able to take a top spot or even multiple at Worlds but it really depends on the amount of people playing it.

Now onto the deck that everybody is talking about. The small but mighty, the lean mean fighting machines. The villain of the format. Night March. I have been talking about this deck pretty constantly throughout the article for one reason. You cannot play a deck at worlds that has a bad matchup to this deck. With the absence of our superhero Karen these small pokemon will have their last hurrah of the 2016 season at the World Championships. You can expect the tables to be an absolute Night March field day at Worlds. This deck is popular, easy to play, and incredibly powerful. Everybody hates to see it good and loves to play with it. The deck was able to take the U.S National Championships and with the way the format is shaping up I would not be the least bit surprised if it won Worlds as well. There are two strong version of this deck at the moment and I would like to take time to discuss both of them in detail because they’re that strong. I also am going to take time to tell you why I’m not going to play this deck at Worlds.

The first list:


Pokémon - 25

4 Joltik PHF 26
4 Pumpkaboo PHF 44
4 Lampent PHF 42
3 Vespiquen AOR 10
3 Combee AOR 9
4 Unown AOR 30
3 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

Trainer Cards - 31

4 Professor Sycamore 
4 Puzzle of Time 
4 Ultra Ball 
4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear 
4 VS Seeker
2 Dimension Valley
1 Teammates 
1 Hex Maniac 
1 Pokemon Ranger
1 Xerosic 
1 Lysandre 
1 N 
1 Startling Megaphone 
1 Escape Rope 
1 Town Map 

Energy - 4

4 Double Colorless Energy

This list is 1 card different from Nick Robinson's National winning deck list. I chose to exchange a Enhanced Hammer, a card that was used mostly for Giratina's energy, for a Pokemon Ranger. This list is clearly very strong and has a lot of nice tech supporters to get you out of any situation. There is tons of footage of the deck being played in action so if you’re interested in that I highly suggest you go and check out Pokemon website and watch some to learn how the deck is piloted. This deck is great as it has the aggressive Night March core in tandem with the type advantage that Vespiquen provides to be able to knock out water Pokemon. I think a big misconception with the deck is that mixing the two decks together creates a clunky and dysfunctional deck where you don’t get the whole value out of Night March or Vespiquen. I couldn’t disagree more and think that the two sets of attackers actually compliment each other quite nicely. This deck's main weakness is a reliance on items but it shares that issue with basically every other deck in the format. To discuss its matchups I look at a list of the popular decks and don’t see anything that is below a fifty fifty matchup. However for me there still remain some very real concerns with the deck. Night March, or straight Night March, is not a good matchup for the deck. Regular Night March is slightly more consistent because of the exclusion of the Vespiquen line giving it a slight edge in the match up. I was lucky enough to have the chance to ask about and discuss this issue with Nick and some of his friends and the typical response was that they were just able to outplay the Night March matchup and that they always just seemed to end up winning the matchup. While that's great for them and they were able to succeed with that mindset I don’t think that that sort of thinking will cut it heading into the World Championships where there are higher level players who generally possess a more intricate understanding of the matchups that they play. I really don’t feel that a fifty fifty or worse matchup dictated almost exclusively by luck is something that I want to take against one of the largest decks in the format. This is also a problem that the more vanilla Night March deck shares. Nevertheless the deck will be played because of the unrivaled strength, speed, and consistency that the deck possesses and if we want a good chance at beating the deck its wholly necessary that we understand how the deck is piloted and built. It has been well understood that the format is play Night March or counter it and for me the option is clear this time around.

Onto the next build of the deck and the one that is stronger heading into the World Championships. This build has a better matchup versus nearly every deck and doesn’t lose much in that process. This deck needs little introduction as it has been present throughout the entirety of standard format.

Pokémon - 17

4 Pumpkaboo PHF 44
4 Lampent PHF 42
4 Joltik PHF 26
2 Mew
3 Shaymin-EX

Trainer Cards - 37

1 Hex Maniac
1 AZ 
1 Teammates 
2 N 
1 Pokemon Ranger
2 Lysandre 
3 Professor Sycamore
1 Startling Megaphone
4 Trainers' Mail 
4 Dimension Valley
1 Target Whistle Team Flare Gear
1 Escape Rope
3 Fighting Fury Belt
4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear
4 VS Seeker 
4 Ultra Ball 
2 Special Charge


Energy - 4

4 Double Colorless Energy 

There are so many different things that you can do with Night March right now! The deck is incredibly powerful and leaves room for some extra cards to be included. Steam Siege did nothing but make Night March stronger and I considered adding many cards from the new set to this list. If you haven’t noticed already I did make the decision to omit Puzzle of Time in the latest iteration of this deck. I don’t think that the card is needed anymore now that we have both Special Charge and Mew and I dedicated the extra room provided to play an extra copy of Dimensional Valley and Trainers Mail. In my experience playing Puzzle of Time you generally play a full set of 4 cards to get back two and I with Special Charge in the format we no longer need to rely on this subpar recovery. This list is consistent and will get the job done if played well but there are many other cards that I feel are worth further testing. Since the set is still new these ideas are relatively unexplored and could be gold waiting to be struck, lets hope they’re not fools gold.

Galvantula
This card is great! It adds a breath of versatility to a very one track mind deck. I think the inclusion of a galvantula or even multiple could certainly pay off thanks to its grass typing and strong attacks. This card is very playable in the mirror match and against all Mega Pokemon decks as well. I think if not at the World Championships this card will at least be great once Karen releases so that you won’t have to commit so hard with your battle compressors to whittle down your opponents Pokemon.

Captivating PokePuff
I like the idea behind this card but I feel like in practice it would actually be very underwhelming. It’s great to imagine forcing your opponents Shaymin EX’s onto the board but you’re usually able to get them onto your opponent's bench or at least into their discard to be target whistled anyways through the immense amount of pressure that you put on them. I think the card is unreliable and unnecessary right now.

Greedy Die
I was actually close to getting Greedy and including this card in my deck. I think Night March is already so good that a card like this is the only thing that could actually make it better. I know it sounds crazy that I would consider playing a card that has roughly a 20% chance of doing anything in a given game but I think it may be worth it for 1 reason. The only thing you can add to the deck other than this card that makes it more threatening is extra consistency which the deck really doesn’t need. I see it as a calculated risk or at least one worth trying!

There’s really not much more to be said about the Night March build right now. If you don’t expect as many Water Pokemon at Worlds this is definitely the build of choice. If not it still may be just because of the decks slight edge in the mirror match. It’s probably the best deck in format but it also doesn’t have a skill based mirror match and it really doesn’t make me eager to pilot the deck at worlds. The deck will have results and lots of them because of the sheer number of people playing it but I don’t think that it should be the deck you choose to play. It gives you a chance to win but you’re really gambling by playing it in the event.

While I have gone over a lot of decks so far there are still many fringe decks like Greninja, Metal and Manectric EX decks that I feel deserve attention or are at least worth discussing.

Starting with Greninja I think that the Frog Ninja Pokemon is not fast enough for the format. The first problem is that the deck has to setup a break Pokemon to be as effective as possible and it’s a challenge to not get ran over and rushed out of a game. If you’re fortunate enough to have a Wally in the opening turns of the game and stay on pace with the rest of the decks in the format the odds that you actually get 4 Frogadier onto the board are slim. This deck still has a large problem with Hex Maniac putting a cork on Greninja's damage output. Even without a large presence of Garbodor heading into Worlds I don’t think Greninja will be able to have very many if any strong performances. The deck is inconsistent, lost jirachi as a major asset, and doesn’t function effectively in the 50 minute best two out of three format that Worlds will be played in. I really don’t think this deck has great odds this year. The matchups aren’t good enough.

Next let's go over the Metal decks! The main version of metal that found success at the various Nationals around the world included Max Elixer and multiple copies of Genesect EX. While this build was great against Greninja and EX decks it did not fare too well versus the Night March decks thanks to their abuse of Hex Maniac and tool removing trainers. Even when you do manage to stream Aegislash EX against the Night March deck it is rarely enough to slow the deck down. This deck doesn’t handle item lock well either as it is very reliant on the Bronzongs and Max Elixers to set up. It does not look like this deck is in a great place in the metagame to be able to perform. I am not very interested in the deck for the reasons I described above and I don’t think that you should be either. It’s mediocre at best and I would be very surprised if I saw the deck put up any placement this year. Sorry to all the Metal fans but you’ll have to wait till expanded to bring back out your favorite energy accelerator.

Finally we land on the Manectric EX decks. This is a very broad way to umbrella a lrge variety of decks but it generally includes Mega Manectric EX, Rough Seas, and something to accelerate energy onto. To my surprise these decks actually ended up being the 6th best performing at our Nationals. One popular addition that was likely to have fallen under the radar of many players was the Trevenant EX’s included to counter the popular Waterbox. Mega Manectric is actually one of the decks than can take a hit from Night March and not lose prizes with a beefy 210 hp. Is that alone enough to make the deck a contender at the World Championships? That’s a big question mark. The deck does take a large hit from the latest expansion thanks to the release of Pokemon Ranger. Losing important walls like Regice and Jolteon EX that will most likely be replaced for cards that will attempt to push the decks offense or defense like Max Potion and Mega Turbo. I think this deck is being slightly overlooked going into worlds because it can handle itself decently well under item lock and it can keep up and compete with Night March if the deck is consistent. These are 2 very important criteria that this deck meets along with it’s ability to include tech cards like Articuno and others fluidly. I am very interested to see what kind of strategies people can piece together in the coming month before the World Championships as I do think that this deck has a lot of potential. The biggest hurdle this deck faces is having enough damage output as the deck is often only doing 110 per attack. The next hurdle is being able to keep up with the likes of Night March and Vespiquen as it will likely have to sacrifice an EX in the early turns of the game and I think that can be aided through cards like Max Potion and Articuno. If you can get this deck to run smoothly and have the power and techs it needs to be successful I highly suggest you play it for the World Championships.

I think that I successfully covered nearly every relevant deck that needs to be discussed going into Worlds. There’s still a month left before the event happens and a lot of time for you to practice and hopefully find the right deck for you. I hope that this article was helpful and can act as a guide and reference to the World's metagame. If you have any questions feel free to drop a comment or shoot me a message and if not I will see everyone in San Francisco, good luck, and happy testing! Until next time.

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