User blog

Caleb Gedemer

"... League Cups, We're Talking About League Cups?" -- Inside Reports Detailing the Competitive Player's Grind

Follow Caleb Gedemer as he travels the Midwest of the United States...

02/02/2017 by Caleb Gedemer

Follow Caleb Gedemer as he travels the Midwest of the United States in search of the best finish limit for this quarter's League Cups: two victories.


Hey 60cards fans, Caleb Gedemer here to provide some tournament experience for your reading pleasure. We finally got League Cups, and since they are crucial to obtaining an invitation to this season’s World Championships, I grinded my way to a handful of them, just in time before the second quarter of play closed. My hope is that this article paints a clearer picture of my in-game tactics, as well as the real circuit of tournaments that a competitive player is nearly “required” to go to obtain an invite to Worlds. I used a lot of different decks, and it should be fun to walk you through it all, enjoy!

01/01/2017; Coon Rapids, Minnesota; Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX; Standard Format

Round 1 versus Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX 1-0-0

Round 2 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX 1-1-0
Round 3 versus Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX 1-1-1

Round 4 versus Hoopa-EX/Jirachi/M Sceptile-EX/Shaymin-EX/Starmie 1-2-1

1-2-1; Did Not Finish

I have already covered this one slightly in my previous article, so I will not go into very much detail. Luck was not on my side for this tournament, and my deck crapped out on me from many different angles. This tournament sort of signaled a shift in power to me, Yveltal was basically dethroned from the top of the world in my eyes.

01/07/2017; Niles, Illinois; Dragonite-EX/Hawlucha/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX; Standard Format

Round 1 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX

When my opponent flipped over an Yveltal BKT, I felt good about this game. I got off to a rocking start with Gardevoir-EXs and Gardevoir Spirit Links. I was able to on the second turn of the game Despair Ray on a Trubbish, after using Lysandre (this allowed me to not end my turn with Mega Evolving my Gardevoirs). With Garbodor at least temporarily out of the way, I could run over my opponent’s field, all the way until a very decisive turn.

So basically, I had a choice: either use Despair for 110 on my opponent’s attacking Yveltal-EX, or play an Escape Rope to put up my other M Gardevoir-EX and (hopefully) take a knock out on his regular Yveltal. I had two Prizes at this point, and one of them was a Dragonite-EX. If I took the Dragon off of my Prize for the knockout on the baby Yveltal, provided I retained my hand, I would win. If not, my opponent would do something similar, but put up another Yveltal-EX (full HP), take a knockout, and leave me with one M Gardevoir-EX. I determined that the knockout would be my best route, since it was a highly probable way to win the game.

My opponent did, indeed, promote the Yveltal, I took the knockout, and then my opponent played his N. I drew nothing, and had a few extra turns to stall. I never drew anything and lost. I had a few outs, so this was a little unlucky, but I cannot complain.


Round 2 versus Giratina-EX/Hoopa-EX/Jirachi/Shaymin-EX/Xerneas BREAK/Yveltal-EX

This opponent was playing a weird deck, and opened by using Geomancy and attaching a Darkness Energy to an Yveltal-EX. Just by seeing these clashing Energy types, not to mention just the Pokemon I was facing, I figured this would be a very easy win. It was, and I never felt any stress about playing the game.


Round 3 versus Dragonite-EX/Hawlucha/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX

I knew that my opponent was using M Gardevoir-EX before the match, and figured that my playing two Hex Maniac would provide me with an advantage in a normally awkward match. I won the flip, and went first. Only problem was, though, is that my hand consisted of every single one of my M Gardevoir-EXs, and a Hex Maniac, and a Professor Sycamore, among other cards. Basically, I wanted to just Hex and pass, but with my hand being the way it was, this was a difficult call. I did Hex, and on her turn, she was forced to play an N to get an Energy.

Now it was back to me, and I went off. I got all the Gardes that i needed, as well as another VS Seeker out to Hex Maniac. From here, the game became very one-sided, even though my opponent took the first Prizes of the game.

I was continually able to play Hex, and just ran her out of attackers when I took a knockout on her last M Gardevoir-EX.


Round 4 versus Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX

My opponent went first and groaned after seeing my Gardevoir-EX, and obviously realizing that he was playing Mewtwo. If you know anything about this match, you know that it is extremely favorable for Gardevoir, and Mewtwo cannot really do anything about it. The only anomaly in this game was that he played Weakness Policy, which was directly aimed to help against Gardevoir. He never could get Garbodor out, so when I used Rattata to dispose of the Policy, that was game, set, and match.


Round 5 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX

Another Yveltal, and this time I hoped to come away with victory. I got just what I wanted, since my opponent drew dead the entire game, and they had nothing to say about the powerful Despair Ray attacks I got off for one-hit knockouts.


Round 6 versus Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Volcanion/Volcanion-EX

I got to play first with an insane hand. I not only had an Ultra Ball to get Hoopa-EX, but I had an Energy attachment and a Hex Maniac. I was super anxious to get the show on the road, but after my Ultra Ball turned up empty when trying to find a Hoopa, my jaw dropped. The going from here on out was rough, but I tried my best to make it work. I did get a Gardevoir-EX out, along with a Spirit Link and Fairy Energy, and played my Hex Maniac. This Hex was sick, because it forced my opponent to Discard his Hoopa-EX he had been holding in hand.

My opponent struggled a bit themselves to set up, but I was in a much worse position. I took multiple knockouts with the same M Gardevoir-EX, but never found the means to get another out. On the last turn, I had it in play, I opted to play a Hex Maniac instead of a draw Supporter, considering that my opponent had two Fighting Fury Belts in his Discard. The norm for Volcanion decks is generally one or two, so I did not expect him to play three. When a Trainers’ Mail of his turned up a Belt, I was shocked. I thought the game was over, because that Fury Belt upped his damage number to a knockout, exactly, and I did not think I could come back from it.

By now, I was running extremely low on resources, too, so I had one last hope. Since my opponent had used Volcanion Heat, he would not be able to attack on his next turn, and I would have to play an N to prevent him from using an Olympia or Pokemon Ranger to reset his attacker’s attack effects. Now I did not have an attacker at this point. I had to throw up a useless Pokemon and let it get knocked out, and play the N I had in hand. Off the N I drew just about everything I was looking for: Gardevoir-EX, Brock’s Grit, Ultra Ball, and Fairy Energy. On my opponent’s next turn, they had no choice but to knock out my Active Pokemon, and now it was time for me to go crazy. I used the Grit for a bunch of useful Pokemon, Dragonite-EXs, M Gardevoir-EXs and such. I used my Ultra Ball to draw most of my deck, get the M Gardevoir-EX out I needed, and lastly, I used Mischievous Fang to remove the Fighting Fury Belt from the Volcanion-EX. After my Despair Ray for a knockout, he had no response and I could Lysandre a Shaymin-EX and knock it out for the win.


Round 7 versus Greninja BREAK/Talonflame

When I saw my pairing, I was annoyed to say the least. I not only was paired down against someone that could not take an intentional draw, but my opponent was playing Greninja BREAK, an unfavorable matchup for my deck. This game was boring, I had a decent opening hand, but drew completely dead after my opening turn. When I finally found some useful cards, my best choice was to play Hex Maniac repeatedly to prevent my opponent from being able to win the game. I took the tie with pleasure, knowing it punched my ticket to the Top Eight.


Top 8 versus Beedrill-EX/Glaceon-EX/Jirachi/Jolteon-EX/Lugia-EX/Magearna-EX/Manaphy-EX/Mew-EX/Regice/Shaymin-EX/Vileplume

Game 1

Going into this, I had never played this matchup, but I thought it would be alright. I played two Hex Maniac and two Lysandre, so I could play around Vileplume being in play. This game did not go per plan, and I had to Discard my Hex Maniacs early with Professor Sycamores to even set up, among other things. A Regice using Resistance Blizzard is all my opponent needed to score a win, and they could get one out early and roll with it.

Game 2

This game went much better, and played out down to the wire. I noticed that my opponent early on Discarded his Magearna-EX, which was puzzling, since it can serve as a game finisher against my Metal-weak deck. He opted to use Regice again, which was the best choice. This game went back and forth, and eventually I could use my Hex Maniac to play Escape Ropes and use Lysandre to knock out Pokemon on my opponent’s Bench. I just barely managed to take six Prizes in this way, and got myself into the third game, which seemed likely to go to time.

Game 3

I was relying on this going to time, and that would put the game into a sequence where the player to take the first Prize wins. I felt I had the obvious advantage in that type of a situation, so when time was called, I was elated. I had a M Gardevoir-EX in my Active spot, ready to attack. My opponent had his own Regice attacking, and my Garde had 70 damage on it already. When time was called, I was turn zero. I had a Lysandre and I put up my opponent’s Vileplume. I did not want to knock it out, but rather Discard one of the Pokemon on my Bench of eight to make room for a Hawlucha, if my opponent had a way to switch his Vileplume with something on the Bench that I could not knock out. My opponent just passed on his next turn, and the ‘plume had 120 on it. On turn two of time, I made a very big mistake. I was thinking about some odds of whether my opponent had a way to switch his Vileplume to the Bench, or if he had a Ninja Boy to turn his Regice into a Magearna-EX. In the process of thinking this through, I completely overlooked the fact that my opponent attaching a Rainbow Energy to his Vileplume would cause a knockout. If I had known this, I would not have taken the knockout that I did on the Vileplume. After the knockout, my opponent could play the Ultra Ball that was in his hand, get a Shaymin-EX and find a Trainers’ Mail that found a Ninja Boy to turn the Regice into ‘gearna-EX for a knockout and the win. I should have just passed, which was my original intent, and my opponent would have passed, and then I would have taken the knockout and won the game.

1-2; 5-2-1

7th Place; 5-2-1

​01/08/2017; Madison, Wisconsin; Greninja BREAK/Talonflame; Standard Format

Round 1 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX

This game started very rough for me, I opened with two Greninjas in hand, and a Professor Sycamore. Going second, I did not have an opportunity for my opponent to play an N and give me a new hand, so I was forced to pitch some crucial cards and hope I could recover them later with a Super Rod. Since I did not start with Talonflame, this game was long and drudging, and almost pulled out the win. As always, Team Flare Grunt along with Enhanced Hammers and Max Potions were my big helpers against a deck like Yveltal, and ultimately, I ran out of them and crumbled to big Evil Ball attacks in the ending phases of the game. I did wind up with two Prizes, but that would not cut it for a win.


Round 2 versus Dragonite-EX/Hawlucha/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX

Knowing I was up against a M Gardevoir-EX deck was extremely consoling, and I was very confident in this match. I had played it dozens of times, and knew my odds. I opened with Talonflame, and had a stellar hand, but no way to get a second Froakie into play. During my opponent’s turn, they played very strangely, dropping a Sky Field, and playing a big Bench. I dropped my first Stadium, a Silent Lab, to begin the Stadium war. I wanted my ending phase of the game to consist of a Faded Town entourage, so I was well on my way to doing that at this point, since I played four Stadiums, and my opponent more than likely had just three.

I had to end my turn with an Aero Blitz, and with the one Froakie I had, I decided to grab another Froakie, and an Ace Trainer. This choice paid off because my opponent had a Hawlucha to use Sudden Cyclone with, sending up that lone Froakie, and took a Despair Ray knockout on it. Here, again, he made a very bizarre choice, discarding his entire Bench, which was very silly in this matchup. Grenina’s Shadow Stitching attack makes it so a Garde player cannot continually replenish his or her Bench, so clearing them all out did not make sense. Regardless, on my turn I still had my trusty Talonflame to use, and I got that golden second Froakie down to insure I could use Frogadier’s Water Duplicates on my next turn.

Everything went according to plan, and I used Duplicates for a full set of four Frogadiers. I had a Bursting Balloon on my Active Talonflame, so my opponent decided to use a Lysandre and knock out a Frog. I welcomed this, since I would be able to continue using Blitz. Here is where I essentially took control of the game, I got out three Greninjas all in the same turn, and used Aero Blitz one more time to grab a Faded Town and a Greninja BREAK. On my next turn, I got the two BREAKs out I was looking for, dropped the Faded Town, used a couple Giant Water Shurikens, played an N, and finally used Shadow Stitching. From here, there was no coming back for my opponent and they crumbled as any Garde deck should to ‘ninja.


Round 3 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX

This round was against an opponent I played the day earlier, so I expected them to be playing the same deck, Yveltal. I was right, and this game went the complete opposite as my first-round game of the day. I effectively denied Energy drops with my disruption cards, and used my Max Potions to good use. I took enough knockouts to win the game, and was never under very much pressure.


Round 4 versus Dragonite-EX/Hoopa-EX/M Rayquaza-EX/Magearna-EX/Shaymin-EX

I knew my opponent was using M Rayquaza-EX, and from things I had heard in the past, M Ray was a bad matchup for Greninja. I had never really played the matchup, and was not sure what to make of this hearsay. I ended up proving it wrong in dramatic fashion, and rolled over this opponent with Giant Water Shurikens, Faded Town, and such, after a great start of Talonflame and a Water Duplicates for a full set of four Frogadiers.


Round 5 versus Dragonite-EX/Hawlucha/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX

This was it, time to win and take a tie in the next round to lock up a Top Eight birth. This was pretty much a mirror of my second round, I was unable to get a second Froakie down, after opening with Talonflame, and my opponent used a Lysandre to take a knockout on that lone Froakie that I did have. From here, the game was even more in my favor after I finally used Water Duplicates and swarmed the field. My opponent played a little better this time, but eventually I put them in a losing position and continually abused Team Flare Grunt to prevent them from even attacking, and I slowly but surely Shadow Stitched my way to victory.


Round 6 versus Intentional Draw

I really thought this one through, and was semi-confident in my Resistance, so I took the tie. One player with thirteen match points would miss the cut, so I crossed my fingers and hoped it would not be me.


Top 8 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX

Game 1

Rematch against my first-round opponent time! I opened amazingly with Talonflame, which all but ensured victory in this matchup. I completely stripped an Yveltal-EX of Energy to attack early on, and that bought me quite a few extra turns to attack and set up. Nothing too out of the ordinary happened in this match, as when Greninja does its thing, it wins. My opponent almost ran me out of attackers, but I had clutch Bursting Balloons to prevent Pokemon Center Lady from playing a big part in healing up to make a comeback. Whew.

Game 2

This game was rough, since I did not open with Talonflame. I had the feeling I would lose the entire time, but since my opponent had to Discard two Float Stones on his first turn with a Professor Sycamore, I decided to play it out. Why? Well, without those Stones, Garbodor might not even be a threat and I would be able to run rampant with Giant Water Shuriken plays. However, before he set up a Garbodor, I was never able to find Water Energy to even use those Shurikens. I played it out a little more, and left myself with around twenty minutes to play the final game in the match.

Game 3

I did not open with ‘flame again, so it was looking like a wrap for my opponent. I did, however, draw into a magic combo of Team Flare Grunt and Enhanced Hammer to strip another Yveltal-EX completely bare and I could Water Duplicates in the same turn. I mounted a nice lead of two Prizes, and got stuck in a bad position. With three Greninjas out, after using my two Max Potions, I began to run out of options and the damage began to overwhelm my fragile froggies. I was up by two Prizes when my opponent began to take his own Prizes. When time was called, I was down by one. I needed to take a Pokemon-EX knockout to win the game and had one out: use an Ace Trainer to hopefully draw a Lysandre to knock out an Yveltal-EX on the Bench with 140 damage on it. I would also have to hit heads on Froakie’s Bubble to Paralyze my opponent’s Yveltal-EX. The Ace turned up blank, and I did not even flip heads. I packed up my cards when my opponent took another knockout on the Froakie, going down to two, to my four remaining.

1-2; 4-2-1

7th Place; 4-1-1

01/21/2017; Castleton, Indiana; Darkrai-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal; Standard Format

Round 1 versus Entei/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Volcanion/Volcanion-EX

I played first and went off. I hit three Max Elixirs and even attached an Energy for the turn, too. I got some Darkness Energy in my Discard to set up an Oblivion Wing from Yveltal on my next turn. I finished off my turn by playing a Silent Lab, in hopes my opponent would be stopped from using Hoopa-EX’s Scoundrel Ring to properly set up his field of Volcanion-EXs. Everything went very accordingly to plan, and my opponent played a very sparing count of Stadiums. I could “lock in” Silent Lab towards the end of the game and repeatedly use Dark Pulse for one-hit knockouts, leading to an easy win.


Round 2 versus Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Volcanion/Volcanion-EX

I did not run as hot as in my first game, but I hit all but one Max Elixir, and once again could drop a Silent Lab and make it stick. I hit the one-hit knockout range by the time I had my fifth turn, so everything was a breeze from there. When Darkrai runs well, this match is a good one.


Round 3 versus Carbink BREAK/Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Zygarde-EX

I was expecting to get blown out of the water in this match, but instead he drew somewhat poorly. He got a turn two Diamond Gift with Carbink BREAK, attaching two Energy to a Zygarde-EX, but my starting hand had other things in mind. I hit two Max Elixirs and attached a Darkness Energy to an Yveltal. I then used an Escape Rope to switch to that Yveltal, and finally a Lysandre for my opponent’s Zygarde-EX and hit it with a Darkness Blade attack. This was in attempts to set up a knockout with Dark Pulse. Now this was about the time that my opponent started drawing poorly, and this was quite apparent from a lack of Supporter usage, as well as a low hand size. I reached one-hit knockout range with Dark Pulse shortly after, and the rest was history with the use of Lysandre for potential attackers.


Round 4 versus Dragonite-EX/Hoopa-EX/Jolteon-EX/M Rayquaza-EX/Shaymin-EX/Unown/Zoroark

This may have been my most hot run of a game yet in this event. I opened with the perfect hand, and even went first. I had my Hex Maniac, along with an Ultra Ball. I absolutely blew up, hit some Max Elixirs, and got an Yveltal into my Active spot. I finished my turn by playing the Hex, and my opponent had a quick turn, resulting in a pass. For the next three turns, I used VS Seeker to pull out the Hex Maniac repeatedly, and in the process, I took four Prizes. When I finally broke the Hex “lock”, I was too far ahead on Prizes for a knockout to even matter. I had the perfect combination of three Darkrai-EXs to take down any opposing threat with a two-attack combo. I ended up winning, though, on a Dark Pulse for a one-hit knockout on a Dragonite-EX that my opponent placed in his Active spot to stall.


Round 5 versus Intentional Draw

I wanted to get a tie out of the way in this round to ensure a top cut birth, and then consider playing out the next round for seeding placement. This is all in attempts to play against a favorable matchup in Top Eight.


Round 6 versus Intentional Draw

I took another draw, because at this point all my matchups were for the most part favorable, and my opponent at the time was playing the same deck as me (or so I thought, it turned out to be M Rayquaza-EX). I did not want to face them right away in Top Eight, and wanted another opponent to hopefully take this player down. This applied for if the matchup was Darkrai, or even Rayquaza.


Top 8 versus Garbodor/Hoopa/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX

Game 1

I popped off this game, not as hot as in the first few games, but well enough so that I was confident from the beginning that I would win. The game broke down when I got to the point of taking one-hit knockouts on opposing M Mewtwo-EXs, and from there, there was nothing my opponent could really do.

Game 2

I drew passed the entire game, played a Team Flare Grunt a few times, and my only Pokemon in play, a Darkrai-EX, was knocked out in a few turns.

Game 3

Just like in the first game, I was confident the entire time. My opponent got a little overzealous by over-investing to an Active M Mewtwo-EX, and never truly solidified a board presence. Towards the ending stages of the game, I took a knockout on that big attack, right after using an N, which put my opponent at three cards, and from there I could run away with the win. Mewtwo is a slightly inconsistent deck, so N in the late game is often enough to get a win, alongside a powerful attacker.

2-1; 5-0-2

Top 4 versus Garbodor/Klefki/Shaymin-EX/Unown/Vespiquen/Zoroark

Game 1

Going into this series I was a little overconfident, as was displayed in this match. I opened with a rough, unplayable hand, and struggled to get myself back into the game. My opponent ran extremely well and was hitting in the high 100’s by his second turn. With my start the way it was, I had to play Ns repeatedly in the closing stages of the match to try and get a scrappy win. Unfortunately, my opponent drew out of those Ns, as he should with a very thin deck.

Game 2

Going first I hoped to get a Silent Lab down or play a Hex Maniac to slow my opponent’s roll of Shaymin-EXs, and the like. I dropped a Lab, but he had a Forest of Plants drop right away following it. Regardless, I could start taking knockouts on my second turn, and with the way this matchup plays out, the Vespiquen player can usually only take two-hit knockouts, whereas Darkrai is always going to be taking one-hit knockouts. This makes Darkrai-EX at an advantage, even with its Pokemon-EX typing. We went back and forth for a little while, but I put the game to an end with a final drop of a Silent Lab, and next playing an N.

Game 3

Time to take it home, and I did just that. I could score a knockout on a Combee with Oblivion Wing (Fighting Fury Belt attached), which put me ahead on Prizes right away. From there, it was a quick onslaught of Dark Pulses, taking plenty of Prizes, while my opponent struggled to do enough damage to do the same. Just like in the last game, I took the win with the combination of Silent Lab and N towards the end.

2-1; 6-0-2

Top 2 versus Garbodor/Hoopa/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX

Game 1

I hoped to draw a little better in this match, and got the exact opposite. For the first three turns, I drew and passed. I finally drew a Hoopa-EX from my draw for my turn, just in time to avoid a loss. I miraculously came back by managing my Energy correctly and pressuring my opponent with two-hit knockouts, all the while building up to the right number of Darkness Energy in play to take a one-hit knockout. When I got to that number, the game was over.

Game 2

My opponent was playing three Shrine of Memories, which was hard to play against, but with a Fighting Fury Belt attached to a Darkrai-EX, it did not make that much of a difference. M Mewtwo-EX turns out to have even less HP at that point, and I was safe from Damage Change knockouts. This game I drew much better, and even though I was pressured a lot early on, I took ahold of the game with a late game N and rode powerful Dark Pulse attacks to victory to close it out.

2-0; 7-0-2

1st Place; 7-0-2

01/22/2017; Buffalo Grove, Illinois; Darkrai-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal; Standard Format

Round 1 versus Darkrai-EX/Garbodor/Giratina-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX 1-0-0
Round 2 versus Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Volcanion/Volcanion-EX 1-1-0
Round 3 versus Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Volcanion/Volcanion-EX 2-1-0
Round 4 versus Darkrai-EX/Garbodor/Giratina-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal 3-1-0
Round 5 versus Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Volcanion/Volcanion-EX 3-2-0
Round 6 versus Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Regice/Shaymin-EX 4-2-0

11th Place; 4-2-0

I used the same League Cup Darkrai-EX build as in the previous event.

I decided not to cover events in full length that I did not cut in for this article. This event boiled down to two rough games against Volcanion decks. I was playing Silent Lab and Hex Maniac in my deck, but I drew them awkwardly. I had to play Silent Labs early, and one of my opponents playing three Stadiums did not help my cause. My other rounds were simple, but I did not run as well as the previous day, at all.

01/28/2017; Burnsville, Minnesota; Darkrai-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal; Standard Format

Round 1 versus Flygon-EX/Galvantula/Genesect-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Volcanion-EX/Xerneas BREAK

I opened with a relatively bad hand. I had to simply attach a Darkness Energy and play a Hex Maniac for the turn. This Hex, though, really screwed up my opponent’s hand, and he was forced to make an unfavorable play. We then had a weird period of moderate dead drawing, and finally I broke the wind with an Ultra Ball for a Hoopa-EX, which then yielded a Shaymin-EX. My opponent was at a severe disadvantage by this point, considering that he was drawing poorly too, and I had reached the one-hit knockout mark on a Xerneas with Dark Pulse. He was only able to take one knockout, a two Prize play on a Shaymin-EX with Lysandre. I whipped up the rest of my Prizes with ease.


Round 2 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX

I popped off to a zippy start this time around, and got cracking in the higher numbers right away. My opponent drew extremely poorly, and had a four-turn lull of passing. When he finally got to generate some offense, he made multiple mistakes with placing Bench damage with Yveltal’s Pitch-Black Spear. I took this one very easily, too.


Round 3 versus Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX

If I won this match, I would just be able to tie twice and lock up a Top Eight berth, however, I drew into some weird hands. I opened with a single VS Seeker, along with Pokemon Center Lady and Team Flare Grunt. Now these two tech Supporters are very useful in this matchup, so I was wary to have to Discard them right away. I used a Professor Sycamore, pitching that whole lot, and then I drew into two more VS Seekers. In this matchup, it is almost equally as important to be aggressive as it is to be conservative, and I was still willing to dump more VS with another Sycamore. But, when I drew yet another VS Seeker for my turn, it threw me for a loop in a weird situation. I decided to be more resourceful with repeated use of Flare Grunt, and a turn of using Pokemon Center Lady. While these plays were not entirely useless, they set me up for failure, and either way if I had been more aggressive, I was dry on resources and would have fizzled out in both scenarios. My opposing player set up three attacking M Mewtwo-EXs, and the game was a wrap.


Round 4 versus Jolteon-EX/M Audino-EX/Shaymin-EX

My opponents in this tournament seemed to get unlucky, and this match was no exception. He drew, and passed, for the entire game, except for his final turn. He never attacked once, and not much else needs to be said. I could take a knockout on the Jolteon-EX before it amounted to anything.


Round 5 versus Intentional Draw

Taking a tie here placed me in the Top Eight, guaranteed, so I took it gladly.


Top 8 versus Darkrai-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal

Game 1

Playing first in this one, I knew I had the advantage since I could play a Silent Lab or Hex Maniac before my opponent could set up effectively with Hoopa-EX’s Scoundrel Ring. I got a Lab into play and had a successful turn with my own Hoopa-EX and getting four Darkrai-EXs and an Yveltal into play. My opponent’s next turn was lackluster, but on my following turn, I got up my Yveltal up to put in some Energy retrieving action. Here is where it got interesting, my opponent played an Escape Rope, and without thinking, I placed my Hoopa-EX into the Active spot. He then played a Parallel City, which crashed and burned my dreams. I was forced to Discard two Darkrai-EXs, which was painful. I thought the game was pretty much over, but I wanted to play it out a little longer to be positive.

As the game progressed, I started to gain momentum with enough Darkness Energy to take one-hit knockouts. Even though I only had two Darkrai-EX, I waited for the right opportunity to punish one of the opposing Darkrai-EXs with an Exp. Share to gain the advantage.

When I got to that point, I was now “in the lead”. My opponent was not able to return my one-hit knockout with his own, and I ran away with the win in a close game.

Game 2

This game went just about as well, but I made sure to not mess up with my Discards off a Parallel City. This time, though, my opponent got the edge with the number of Darkness Energy he had in play and could out speed me in the trade of Darkrai-EXs. I was unable to find an N in the closing stages to stave off a loss by shuffling away my opponent's VS Seeker for Lysandre that he had in hand.

Game 3

Make it or break it time. I went first, and never found a Silent Lab. I opted not to grab a Parallel City from a Trainers’ Mail at one point, which I somewhat regret. Had I taken it, my opponent would not have been granted a nice set up, by using two Shaymin-EXs. I was gunning for the Silent Lab, but did not think clearly enough to realize that the Parallel would more than likely have been just as good, if not even better. I gained the early lead, and as time was called, we were both at four Prizes remaining. I had a VS Seeker (which I could get Lysandre with), and really thought the situation at hand over. I used the VS for my opponent’s bare Darkrai-EX that he had on the Bench, and hoped they did not have another switching card (there were two Escape Ropes and one Switch in the Discard). I also Retreated my Active Darkrai-EX (it was in knockout range for my opponent) and put up an Yveltal to use Oblivion Wing with. I regret this decision, as it was slightly more probable for me to win by just attacking the Darkrai-EX twice. Although, the game may still have broken down for me since the Darkrai-EX I would have been attacking with had my only Exp. Share in play. On the third turn of time, my opponent used a VS Seeker to pull up my damaged Darkrai and take two Prizes, which put them ahead, and seized them the win.

1-2; 3-2-1

6th Place; 3-2-1

I used the same League Cup Darkrai-EX build as in the previous event.

01/29/2017; Cambridge, Minnesota; Darkrai-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal; Standard Format

Round 1 versus Giratina-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Xerneas BREAK

I opened with a slow start, but my opponent’s deck was just not that great. To make matters even worse for him, he had a rough opening hand and was not able to properly set up attackers. I managed to get to the one-hit knockout range within five or so turns, and nothing was even close to problematic as I played the game to a victory.


Round 2 versus Carbink BREAK/Shaymin-EX/Zygarde/Zygarde-EX

I knew what my opponent was using from the start of this match, and I knew I was in for a beating. After I opened with a Shaymin-EX, I conceded when my opponent got a Diamond Gift attack on his second turn, attaching Energy to a Zygarde-EX on the Bench with a Fighting Fury Belt. I was not going to play out a hopeless game.


Round 3 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Snorlax-GX/Umbreon-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX

I knew already that this was a favorable matchup, and it played out to plan. I blazed through my deck (by the last couple turns I had four cards left), and obviously, I was hitting the one-hit knockout numbers. This game was mine for the taking from the very second turn, since my opponent put a Double Colorless Energy on his Active Yveltal with Fright Night. I drew into my Enhanced Hammer and could punish his best shot at winning right away. I took the reins from there and took out anything that came in my way.


Round 4 versus Dragonite-EX/Hawlucha/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX

I was a little concerned about this round going in, this can be a difficult matchup. A lot of people have been quick to judge how this one goes, but from my own personal experience playing Garde, most of the time you can beat Darkrai, handily. I had a completely dead hand from the beginning, and missed very valuable turns to set up. She could get some big hits in on Darkrai-EXs, and then Lysandre Shaymin-EXs for the win. I lost in a dramatic fashion.


Round 5 versus Ariados/Sceptile-EX/Shaymin-EX/Vileplume

At this point I wanted to drop and start the long drive home, but I played it out just in case. This match was a breeze and my opponent only attacked three times to add to the fact that the deck was not the most competitive thing in the world.


Top 8 versus Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX

Game 1

From experience, I also knew this matchup to be a favorable one. This game I got off to a rocketing start, finding most of my Max Elixirs in my first two turns, and hitting all but one of them. These are the types of games that you will win as a Darkrai player against Mewtwo, for sure. To make matters even worse for my opponent, I could get an Oblivion Wing attack off to start powering up even more Darkrai-EXs. I swept through this game after getting my two Exp. Shares down and taking out M Mewtwo-EXs in one attack.

Game 2

My opponent played very shaky in all of these games, which left windows of opportunity to win wherever I went. This game was no different, as I slowly but surely reached the one-hit knockout mark, and ended up falling slightly short to an overpowered M Mewtwo. Had I been able to play an N to disrupt my opponent’s hand, he may not have redrawn the VS Seeker for Lysandre that he ultimately played to win the game.

Game 3

This game went more similarly to the first, but my opponent tried to play as slowly as he could to “lock” me out of an opportunity to win. When time was called, I had four Prizes remaining, and my opponent had three. He was the “turn zero” of the plus three turns, so I would have two more opportunities to get ahead on Prizes. I played Lysandres both turns to knock out a Mewtwo-EX, and a Shaymin-EX to win the game by taking all my Prizes, naturally.

2-1; 4-2-0

Top 4 versus Carbink BREAK/Shaymin-EX/Vileplume/Zygarde/Zygarde-EX

Game 1

I expected my run to be over right here, but when my opponent missed the Vileplume on his first turn, I was allowed two turns of Items (since I played first), which was just enough to get a commanding board position that could knockout even Zygarde-EXs in one hit. The way I like to play against Zygarde decks is to get both of my Yveltals into play, and hopefully get Fighting Fury Belts on them. This essentially forces a Zygarde player to two-hit the Yveltals, and buys you lots and lots of time to get things going. In this game, I got the Yveltals going and used Darkness Blade many times to two-hit knockout Zygarde-EXs. My opponent ended up giving away the win on what would likely have been the final turn by announcing the wrong attack name, which ended up making him miss a knockout.

Game 2

This game was a lot rougher for me, I Prized an Yveltal, and ran out of steam by the time my opponent got Vileplume out. I conceded after a few more turns to conserve time.

Game 3

My opponent drew into a dead hand on his first turn, resulting in a pass. I recognized this and made more aggressive plays, choosing to use Professor Sycamores in most cases instead of something like N. I overpowered him quickly and could one-hit knockout anything in my path.

2-1; 5-2-0

Top 2 versus Carbink BREAK/Shaymin-EX/Zygarde/Zygarde-EX

Game 1

I thought going into this, which was already unreal, that my opponent would have to draw super poorly, and it almost was not even worth playing. Fortunately, my opponent started with a Shaymin-EX and struggled to set up anything in this game. He never got a Carbink down at all until towards the end, and I could just trade Darkrai-EXs for Zygarde-EXs and take one-hit knockouts towards the end. Yveltals were a huge help, too, as always.

Game 2

Now my opponent’s deck crapped out on him even harder. He opened with Shaymin-EX again, and had to Bench another to really do anything. I had a great start and avoided playing N once again. After a few turns I knew I was going to win and somehow won another upset enroute to the tournament victory.

2-0; 6-2-0

1st Place; 6-2-0

I used the same League Cup Darkrai-EX build as in the previous event.


Wow, that was a lot! I hope you all learned some valuable lessons from my score of tournaments that I could attend over the course of the month of January. I ended up with the sort of success I was looking for, so I have no complaints of any kind. With two victories, I ended my run sitting at 370 Championship Points, which puts me in great position to continue vying for the invitation to the World Championships this season. Thanks for reading everyone!

[+11] ok


Thank you for your time. Please leave us your feedback to help us to improve the articles for you! 





Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to see the latest stories. 


Pokémon and its trademarks are ©1995-2018 Nintendo, Creatures, and GAMEFREAK. English card images appearing on this website are the property of The Pokémon Company International, Inc. 60cards is a fan site. Our goal is to promote the Pokemon TCG and help it grow. We are not official in any shape or form, nor affiliated, sponsored, or otherwise endorsed by Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK, or TPCi.



Zach Lesage

Darkness Ablaze Buy List

07/01/2020 by Zach Lesage // Zach drops this freebie article that showcases his well tested Darkness Ablaze buy list. (+25)

Kenny Wisdom

Prepping for the Players Cup

07/10/2020 by Kenny Wisdom // Kenny Wisdom breaks down why the Players Cup is going to be an event the likes of which we've never seen before. (+15)

Kevin Clemente

I'm emerging a better player (And so can you!)

07/09/2020 by Kevin Clemente // Real life events haven't happened for months and it does not look like they will be resuming anytime soon. That doesn't... (+15)

Welcome to our Pokemon Community Portal. Have a look around and enjoy your stay!