Behind the Evil Ball - Jay's 2nd Place London Report!
Come check out Jay Lesage's debut 60Cards article! Here, he talks about his experience at the London Intercontinental Championships...
12/25/2016 by Jay Lesage
Come check out Jay Lesage's debut 60Cards article! Here, he talks about his experience at the London Intercontinental Championships, and gives you the ins and outs of his deck, Yveltal/Garbodor!
Hey there 60 Cards readers! I'm Jacob Lesage, and I couldn't be any more excited to write my first article for this website; I've always wanted to write a piece for this prestigious archive, and now I'm finally granted the opportunity to do so. For anybody who doesn't know me, I'll briefly go over my player history and all that it entails. I'm 20 years old, currently residing in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, and I play Pokemon mostly in the Toronto area (usually referred to as the GTA). I started playing approximately 13 years ago, dating all the way back to 7-year-old Jacob eating his brother Zach's cherished Suicune card. The following year, I revoked the edible, and began to strive for consistent finishes. After vigorously getting ripped off with trades at league, I did my research and found great websites like Pokebeach and Pokegym. I began to top all sorts of tournaments in the Junior division, and followed that through to the Senior division with the help of my brother.
In 2010, I was able to win one of every single tournament, including a Battle Road (an olden League Challenge), a City Championships, a State Championships, a Regional Championships, a National Championships, and lastly the World Championships. The following year I made Top 8 at Worlds 2011, and proceeded to go into Masters very cocky -- I was in for a rude awakening. I stumbled in 2013, and came just shy of my World Championship invite in 2014 by a few Championship Points; the next year, I came back with a vengeance, earning my Worlds invitation after multiple Top 8's at large events. In 2016, I was able to strive deep enough to finish within the Top 16 in North America, earning me a stipend to the World Championships in San Francisco (which I also finished Top 16 at). All of these events led me to this year, where I swiftly bombed my first Regional Championships of the season due to a last minute deck change -- my confidence was at an all-time low. Going into the first Intercontinental Championships, I figured I wanted to stick to something rather simple and familiar -- Yveltal/Garbodor seemed to fit the bill. I managed to finish 2nd place overall at the event, and today we'll talk about all the craziness it took to get to that point!
Following the announcement of Intercontinentals, I was really excited to see what Pokemon was implementing. I (as well as many other players) could feel the change in the game for sure, mainly with the prize support and tournament structures. The old circuit Pokemon used followed the sequencing of League Challenges, City Championships, State Championships, Regional Championships, National Championships, and then World Championships. This new circuit oddly excludes States, and fortified Regionals even more. They also replaced City Championships with League Cups, which in theory are the exact same but they share a “best finish limit” with League Challenges. The thing I immediately disliked with this circuit was the exclusion of State Championships -- how were players in remote areas going to get their invite?
Not to mention underpopulated Regionals were also being removed, making it even more difficult for players to get their golden ticket to Anaheim. Pokemon isn't always the land of milk and honey, but where there's a will, there's also a way. Along with their announcement of London Intercontinentals, Pokemon also rewarded the top finishers in each rating zone with stipends to travel there. While I may seem biased as a recipient of one of the stipends, I think having global representatives from all corners of the world is important for the game! It allows cultural influence to impact the game, and provides an international flare that Pokemon was indeed looking for.
But I received money to go to London? What?! Shocked with excitement, I could barely contain myself; I kept reading the announcement over and over to see if I had missed something. I had only been to a few League Challenges at the time, and genuinely planned on copping out this year. With school, a girlfriend, family, friends, work, as well as personal projects, I considered soft-quitting the game, but as we all know Pokemon has a way of constantly pulling us back in! My only tournament before London was Fort Wayne Regionals, where I piloted a Mega Rayquaza deck to a 5-3-1 finish. I realized quite quickly that I'd need to evaluate my thought process going into further tournaments in order to succeed in the future.
I took all the information I had and essentially credited my thought process to countering people -- which is effective, but very dependant on other people playing the deck I'm attempting to counter. It seems almost silly reading that line back to myself; why would I want to wait for people to play a specific deck, when I could just be playing the deck that's the strongest? By opting to play the counter at Fort Wayne, I fell prey to several people “countering the counters”, when I could've just played Yveltal, the inherent best deck. With that in mind, I began to start putting in games online with the deck, and racking up wins roughly a week prior to the event.
PTCGO was my ultimate means for testing, and always has been. I'm such a huge advocate for playtesting on PTCGO just because it offers so many key advantages, mainly in the form of timesaving and convenience. I was able to pack a hundred games in a week online, whereas in real life there's no way I'd have the time to play that much Pokemon, let alone find an opponent with the same time resources. The only downfall to testing online is that I'm unable to manipulate what matchup I'm playing against, but in all fairness I don't mind that too much because testing against random decks allows you to build on your opportunistic adaptation abilities. In other words, if you're never put in weird card scenarios, you'll never know how to react to them in a tournament.
Once you've played on PTCGO for a while, you'll begin to understand what I mean. I travelled to London with my close friend Daniel Altavilla, and played several games of Pokemon on the plane. My deck was playing out flawlessly in every matchup, and I hadn't been that impressed with a deck since 2010. Besides minor consistency nixes, I was completely ready for the big tournament. I met up with TJ Traquair, Michael Slutsky, Aaron Tarbell, James McInnes, and a few other friends, and we began to inspect each other's decklists. The majority of the room was leaning more towards TJ's deck, which opted to play a thinner line of Garbodor, but also featured a Zoroark BREAK line in order to have more versatility as well as another strong attacker. After playing a few games against TJ, I liked his decks options, but felt as if a late game N could cause trouble; when you play multiple Stage 1 Pokemon, you're just asking to draw into a hand full of cluttered Pokemon. I also didn't enjoy Super Rod in most Yveltal lists, mainly because I like the principle of a thin deck, and I felt a Super Rod would disrupt a lot of my hard-earned thinning. Most people would argue that Super Rod helps you to hit Max Elixir, but with nine energy, you're sure to connect them 75% of the time. Without further adieu, here's this same sixty I decided to use going into London Intercontinentals:
- 3x Yveltal EX
- 2x Yveltal
- 2x Shaymin EX
- 2x Garbodor
- 2x Trubbish
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 2x N-supporter League Promo
- 1x Delinquent
- 1x Team Flare Grunt
- 1x Olympia
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 3x Trainer's Mail
- 4x Max Elixir
- 2x Enhanced Hammer
- 3x Float Stone
- 3x Fighting Fury Belt
- 2x Lysandre
- 2x Parallel City
- 9x Darkness Energy
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
The only last-minute changes ended up being the biggest ones. I originally had a Pokemon Ranger, as well as an Yveltal XY, but ended up cutting them for the Team Flare Grunt and second Enhanced Hammer respectively. They were both very key in orchestrating wins in the mirror, especially to unsuspecting opponents. At the end of the report, I'll go into more detail about the mirror, but all energy removal is crucial in that matchup, because otherwise your opponent will snowball tons of attachments and overwhelm you. Enhanced Hammer and Team Flare Grunt keep this threat in check. I considered cutting a Float Stone in exchange for a single copy of Escape Rope, but I never really felt like Escape Rope was necessary so I opted to keep my thick Pokemon Tool count. I made it to the tournament with time to spare, and began to get ready for the first round. Here we go!
Round 1 – Sylveon/Diancie WW
This deck was a large surprise to play against! As it panned out, her friends from Australia essentially gave her the deck to counter Yveltal/Garbodor variants, and included a full suite of Fairy Drop as well as a few clutch copies of Pokemon Center Lady. I applied an aggressive start Game 1 with Yveltal BKT, and began to gain knowledge of her deck. I quickly noted all healing cards, as well as her Pokemon line. After playing Delinquent, she realized it was her last Fairy Garden, and scooped Game 1 to a huge Yveltal EX. Game 2, I realized she couldn't handle a huge Yveltal EX, so I invested all my resources into one basket. She slapped an Assault Vest onto her Sylveon, and began powering it up on the bench. I promptly acknowledged this, and use a Fright Night Yveltal to place some chip damage on it. In the end, I ended up playing Parallel City to limit my bench, I discard my own Garbodor (which reinstates my abilities), which activated Fright Night, to turn off her active Sylveon EX's Fighting Fury Belt, which allowed me to KO it.
Round 2 – Greninja WW
This matchup I went second, and promptly swept through a field of Frogs. Using Lysandre around their Bursting Balloons really helps to mitigate most of their damage output, as well as setting up Garbodor to turn off their Greninja BREAK's abilities. It became really close at 1-to-1 Prize Cards, and I managed to draw a Lysandre off of his late game N. Game 2, I swiftly made work of his lone Froakie.
Round 3 – Rainbow Road WW
I sat down across from my opponent, and surely we both set up for the game. After calling the opening dice roll, we played a few turns and then he told me “Oh, I forgot to mention but you win the first game”. At first I was extremely confused, so I called a judge over to clarify -- it panned out to be true; he's received a game loss for a decklist error. Out of curiosity, I began to ponder which cards could've been removed. I started my turn off, and exploded with a phenomenal setup of multiple Yveltal-EX, a Trubbish, and tons of energy. I finished my turn with a Parallel City, and it stuck there the entire game; it turned out the card that was removed from his deck was Skyfield. The minute I played Parallel City, his damage capped, and from that point forward he'd never be able to KO my Yveltal-EX. Poor guy! I played Lysandre for his Jolteon-EX and eliminated the only threat, and proceeded to win the game.
Round 4 – Mega Mewtwo WW
Going into the tournament I figured I'd see some concoction of Mewtwo make a comeback! It is able to defeat Greninja with Garbodor, as well as the ability to overwhelm Yveltal EX's with energy. I promptly started with Yveltal BKT, and began to Pitch-Black Spear his Mewtwo as many times as possible before they evolved. After he evolved them, I was able to use Yveltal-EX to sweep the board and take all six of my Prize Cards, as all of his big Pokemon are all softened up. The second game went very similarly, however he was able to evolve Mewtwo earlier with the aid of Hex Maniac (which bypassed my Yveltal's Fright Night).
Round 5 – Yveltal/Garbodor LL
This was my first real mirror match that didn't take place on PTCGO, and consequently also my first match against Azul Garcia Griego! I began game one with a lone Yveltal, and he had an action-packed turn one, climaxing with multiple Max Elixir connects, quite a few attackers in play, and a toolbox of Supporters in his discard. I promptly realized I was going to lose and conceded a few turns in. The second game was a much better match, and I had 110 damage placed on both Yveltal EX at one point. I used Pitch-Black Spear to clear the board of both of his Yveltal EX, but it never occurred to me what could happen next -- Azul wanted me to do this. It was as if this was chess, and Azul had made a sacrifice in order to make an even greater play. After looking in my discard, he acknowledged I only had a single Double Colourless left, so he played Enhanced Hammer on my active. My Yveltal now only had a single Dark, and that was my only energy in play. He then played N to leave me with two useless cards, and proceeded to Pitch-Black Spear multiple Shaymin EX on my bench. I lost within a few turns because I was unable to attack -- extremely well played. Sometimes it's more humble to admit when you're defeated then to undermine your opponent.
Round 6 – Yveltal/Garbodor WW
Yet another mirror that I had to face! Luckily for me, coming fresh off of a loss to one of North America's best players meant I now had the insight to take down any mirror match. My opponent attempted to strand my Yveltal BKT in the active, however I always held onto an Olympia. My main strategy going into this was to use Pitch-Black Spear to soften up both of his Yveltal EX, and then use my own Yveltal EX to sweep his field. This strategy worked for the first game, but during the second game his deck operated very aggressively. I was constantly on the back-foot, and he even managed to set a Garbodor up to slow me down even more. I proceeded to N him to a low hand count, in which he began to draw dead. I hit him with a Delinquent, making his hand count drop to zero! I drew Prize Card after Prize Card until I finally won the game. Enhanced Hammers also helped to control the tempo, and Team Flare grunt is extremely valuable in the mirror.
Round 7 – Rainbow Road WW
I always hear how Rainbow Road is supposed to be a bad matchup for Yveltal players in Standard, however I feel like the Yveltal player controls the tempo throughout the entirety of the match. I begin by using Yveltal's Fright Night to strand his Volcanion EX in the active spot, and then pick easy prizes like Shaymin EX off of his bench with Pitch-Black Spear. I knew this strategy was virtually full-proof because turn one he had to play Professor Sycamore to discard multiple Escape Rope; this ended up virtually costing him the game. He was never able to retreat due to my Enhanced Hammers and single copy of Team Flare Grunt. In the second game, he started with Xerneas, attached a Fairy energy, set up a few more Pokemon on his bench, and then passed. I Team Flare Grunt'd him, and proceeded to resume with the strategy used from the first game. This time, however, he had the Escape Rope, but it was too late – I had already powered up far too many Pokemon for him to overcome, and had also taken four Prize Cards while he had taken none.
Round 8 – Volcanion LWT
At the time I wasn't aware, but my opponent Pedro would eventually end up being my Top 8 opponent! It was around this time in the tournament that I was considering tying in order to salvage points for Day 2 contention, but I was feeling greedy. Pedro politely offered me a tie, but I see the Fire energy on the bottom of his deck and decide to play it out to test my luck. Game one he absolutely demolishes me: he kills my Garbodor, bumps my Parallel City, and scores back to back Kos on my Yveltal EX army. However, I don't concede because if worst comes to worst, I can always play for a tie. Game two goes the exact opposite, with my settup consisting of multiple Garbodor, an Yveltal BKT, and a couple of Yveltal-EX that are loaded with energy. Pedro realizes he can't win, and I finish the game with five minutes to spare in the round. As opposed to letting one of us get donked, I put out the offer to tie, and Pedro willingly accepted.
Round 9 – Volcanion ID
My opponent and I decided to intentionally draw in order to secure a spot in Day 2.
With a solid 20 RP accumulated over the course of nine challenging games, I advanced to Top 32! I was very excited, and I was guaranteed a hefty amount of cash and a decent chunk of Championship Points. I knew that Day 2 would be significantly harder than the previous day, so I'd have to up my game, and be ready for even trickier opponents.
Round 10 – Rainbow Road WW
I had played this same opponent in the seventh round, so I had a very good idea of how his decklist was constructed. This time he played much more conservatively, and kept his basic energy on benched Xerneas, making it much harder for me to disrupt his attacks. I set up a Garbodor promptly and limited his bench with a Parallel City. Much to my dismay, he bumped it with a Skyfield, and took a massive KO on my Yveltal-EX. I topdecked a Parallel City to start my turn, and played N to get him back to the point where he can't muster a comeback. He attempted to use Galvantula to draw multiple Prize Cards off of my two benched Shaymin-EX, but I had the Olympia in hand. He scooped moments later.
Going into the second game, he started and played out an explosive turn. I decided to not play Parallel going into my turn, and instead used my Yveltal BKT to strand his Volcanion-EX active. I went on to draw all six of my Prize Cards with a single Yveltal, many Lysandres, and multiple Pitch-Black Spears.
Round 11 – Volcanion LL
This round I played against one of Pedro's friends, and I knew they were packing a very similar Volcanion list (if not identical). I started Trubbish, attached a Fighting Fury Belt, and passed. Volcanion does what Volcanion does best, and absolutely blew me out of the water! I got donked in one turn flat, after an onslaught of Steam Ups followed up by a Power Heater. I flipped my Prize Cards over to reveal all of my Yveltal EX and several Supporters. This exact same scenario played out twice in a row.
Round 12 – Mega Rayquaza WW
Mega Rayquaza is a really fierce deck if you can't find a Parallel City in time. I was able to find a Trubbish on the first few turns and start using Pitch-Black Spear on all of his Rayquazas. To make things even worse for him, I used both copies of Enhanced Hammer back-to-back in order to mitigate any possible attacks, and absolutely demolished his field. He scooped knowing it was too far gone, and we moved onto the second game. In the second game, he got a turn one Mega Rayquaza, passing the ball into my court. I swiftly discarded his energy in play, and began using Yveltal-EX to get damage in play; Y Cyclone is perfect for preserving energy for future attackers. After both Parallel City were used, I used Deliquent to throw his Skyfield away so that he could only hit 150 damage with Emerald Break. I then knocked out his last Mega Rayquaza for my last two Prize Cards.
Round 13 – Mega Mewtwo WW
Another Mega-based deck! I was beginning to notice a trend at this tournament! I go with my normal strategy against Mega Mewtwo and began with multiple Pitch-Black Spears on their Mewtwo with energy. He attempted to get stuff going, but to his dismay things just weren't going his way. I briskly ran through multiple EX's, and ended the game by stranding his Hoopa-EX active and sniping Shaymin-EX. The way the second game played out though was a little different, he was able to setup a Mewtwo at one point and Delinquent me to a zero card hand. I had thinned my deck out to the fullest degree, and atop my deck I ripped a VS Seeker! I promptly played Professor Sycamore and resume the same strategy. Yveltal-EX came in to clean up the remainder of his damaged EX's.
Round 14 – Mega Mewtwo WW
This game took place against one of Denmark's best, Nicklas, and was a phenomenal match! We played on stream, and the tension between us and the Top 8 was building, because the winner of this game would for sure move on into the final bracket. I begin game one just like I did the previous round, and started building damage quickly on his field with Pitch-Black Spear. He opted to draw as many cards as possible, digging for that coveted Hex Maniac to turn off my Fright Night ability. I realized it went into his hand, and I played N to remove it -- the more time I can buy, the better off I am in the long run. The following turn, he still couldn't find a Mega Mewtwo, and it was too late for him with all the dice piling up on his Pokemon. Game two was more climactic, with Nicklas pulling out a Mewtwo relatively quickly, and he began to attack my not-so setup field early. I managed to find a Delinquent, and bring him to a zero card hand; this allowed me to gain leverage, and pry my way back into the game. He continued to draw dead, while I picked away at him with Yveltal BKT and Yveltal-EX.
It was crazy to even fathom being one of the final eight competitors going into the third and final day. I had even booked my flight to leave the morning of the third day, and due to several peoples' donations I was able to afford to move my flight and play out the duration of the event. It's always amazing when you have the support of the people behind you; it makes paying exponentially more meaningful! Being the only Canadian player in the Top 8 was also a big deal, alongside the fact that only a few North Americans were left. One of the aspects I loved about this event was the amount of patriotism from all of the different countries; it was truly a multi-cultural competition. I rushed to make it to the venue, and sat down to play my first game.
Round 15 – Top 8 – Volcanion WLW
Volcanion was a matchup that I knew was positive for Yveltal, but I was unsure how comfortable I felt going into it. Volcanion's very overwhelming when it comes to the early game, but the Yveltal player is the controller of the tempo; I was prepared with a plan going into this. I had played Pedro in the eighth round, and wanted blood this game. I started off by setting up two Trubbish on the bench, opening up with an Yveltal BKT in the active spot. He started with a Volcanion-EX, and I was hoping to trap it there going into my turn. I had a Shaymin-EX on the bench that was forced into the active with an Escape Rope, and he was then able to draw two Prize Cards off of that. I set up both Garbodor, attached a Fighting Fury Belt to my active Yveltal, and started using Pitch-Black Spear multiple times. Once I got 3 Pitch-Black Spears off, he promply scooped knowing that his game state is done for.
In the second game, my opponent hit all of their Max Elixirs going first and absolutely punished me for winning the first game. He had setup far too many Volcanions, and even with a Garbodor set up it was far too late for me to win this game. I attempted to Delinquent him, but he played intelligently with four cards in hand all the time. I lost very briskly! In game three I knew this was going to be a nail biter of a match. I started off with my Yveltal BKT to his Volcanion-EX once again, and managed to get a Trubbish down, but I had to use a Shaymin-EX. My opponent did the same thing as the first game, by playing Escape Rope and KO'ing my Shaymin-EX with multiple Steam-Ups. I consistently used Lysandre to pick off multiple Shaymin, all the while setting up Garbodor. It got to a point where I had an Yveltal in the active, a Garbodor on the bench, and multiple Yveltal-EX powered up. He had to KO Garbodor to be able to OHKO my Yveltal-EX's, but if he KO'd my Garbodor, my Fright Night ability would activate, shutting off his benched Volcanion EX's Fighting Fury Belt, which would KO it because of it's pre-existing 180 damage. He realized I'd checkmated him and shook my hand. Great game Pedro!
Top 4 – Round 16 – Yveltal/Garbodor
I looked forward to the mirror matches more so than I would any Volcanion matchup to be quite honest! I knew Tord's decklist going into this game, and I knew he played no Enhanced Hammer or Team Flare Grunt. In the first game, we both got setup fairly quickly, but I was able to use Hammers to slow him down a few attachments behind me. It got to a point where both of his Yveltal-EX had Pitch-Black Spear damage on them, and I was able to KO them easily with the Yveltal-EX. Throughout many N's to low hand counts, I was able to pull out the win against him, and KO his Yveltal BREAK.
The second game went way differently however! The game began relatively normal like the first game, but I was on the back-foot this time since he started first. He was hitting a lot of Max Elixirs, and began to swarm me with tons of attackers and flowing energy. I realized my only way out was to whip his energy off the field, and take big Yveltal-EX KO's. I decided to Delinquent his hand of 4, so that he would keep the VS Seeker and discard some energy hopefully. I KO'd his active Yveltal-EX, and took a few Prize Cards, when I made a horrible mistake. I played Parallel City (so I could Delinquent later), and limited his bench -- he decided to discard Garbodor. This turned back on his Fright Night ability, which shut off my Fighting Fury Belt. This meant two things:
>I no longer could do enough damage to OHKO his Yveltal BKT
>My Yveltal-EX just lost 40 HP, and was now in range of being knocked out
I decided to play through this, and although I was most likely going to lose I wanted to play for any minute chance of winning. Tord then went down to a single Prize Card, and I sent up another Yveltal-EX. After KO'ing his Yveltal-EX, he attacked with his own Yveltal-EX, and used Y Cyclone, moving a Double Colourless to a benched Yveltal-EX. I drew for the turn, and played Team Flare Grunt, knowing that he was running extremely low on Dark energy. He drew, and passed the turn to me, confirming that this was right. I continued to keep attaching energy to Yveltal-EX, and promptly drew Lysandre out of my deck to close out a very intense match.
Finals – Round 17 – Yveltal/Garbodor
As much as I'd like to lament on a very good finals match against Michael Pramawat, it was very lacklustre. I proceeded to draw absolute garbage both games, with one of them featuring a Fighting Fury Belt'd Trubbish surviving a turn. All in all, it was about time my luck ran out, and I'd like to once again formally congratulate him on his big win.
The tournament was run extremely smoothly, and I can’t give enough kudos to the organizers for hosting such a grand event. It has been released that the location of the Asia-Pacific Intercontinental will take place March 12th in Melbourne, Australia! I’m beyond excited to take part in this event; it’s going to be one long plane ride, but surely worth it to experience a whole new culture. Overall, I’m glad I ended up playing what I felt comfortable with, and I think that should go for any player. Moving forward, I wouldn’t change a single card in the deck -- it flowed perfectly for me and I can’t complain! I’ll be attending Ontario Regionals as well as St. Louis Regionals, so I’ll be able to see you all there. Hopefully everything for Australia pans out, because I’d love the opportunity to travel to Oceania to play the game I love the most. Lastly, thanks for reading my debut article for 60 Cards. I look forward to writing more pieces about strategy outside of the game, as it’s been a topic that interests me as of late. If you have any questions about the article, message me, or just say hi next time you see me. Until then, cheers!
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