10/27/2016 by Matthew Koo
Hello 60cards readers!
After taking some time off from writing, I’ve come back to bring you a special article about my experiences in the Asia Pokemon TCG scene. In particular, today’s article will focus on my tournament report at a Hong Kong Special League Challenge event. I will cover my choice of deck, the meta game I faced, as well as some advice on being a player in the competitive scene.
For the event, I decided on a Vespiquen/Raichu variant thinking I would see a lot of M-Rayquaza and Yveltal decks. My friend, Joey Ho, lent me his list that he played a weekend before, and with my limited card pool, my plans were to modify the list to what I had available to me. Unfortunately, that wasn’t much. I was missing a Vespiquen line, 2 lines of Raichu, and 3 Klefki’s that I didn’t even know existed until I read the card. Luckily, I had met a friend in Hong Kong that could lend me some of these cards (Thanks Law Yuen To!). Here’s the list I used:
- 4x Vespiquen
- 4x Combee
- 4x Pikachu
- 4x Raichu
- 2x Shaymin EX
- 4x Unown
- 4x Klefki
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 1x N-supporter
- 2x Lysandre
- 1x Giovanni's Scheme
- 1x Pokemon Ranger
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Trainer's Mail
- 2x Special Charge
- 1x Level Ball
- 1x Escape Rope
- 3x Sky Field
- 1x Parallel City
- 1x Faded Town
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
I wanted to add in a Garbodor line for the Greninja and Volcanion matchup, but I couldn’t manage to find any spares. After the tournament, I definitely would have liked an extra Shaymin EX, an extra faded town, and more Pokemon (2 lines of Yanmega or 1 line of Garbodor). The deck ran extremely smooth, with me using up my deck in most games.
Moving to China in the past year has been an exciting adventure for me, but as a result I lost access to a lot of Pokemon events. This is why, attending a League Challenge 3 hours away in Hong Kong was worth it as I was itching to play. I got to the tournament, barely filled in my decklist in time, and realized I’m in the center of a huge shopping mall. Apparently, the League Challenge was a side event, but the main event was for the Pokemon VGC. With a big screen monitor hanging from the mall’s ceiling, news reporters interviewing past Worlds competitors, and Japanese representatives sent to promote the game, the atmosphere was similar to that of a 500 player Regionals. During opening ceremonies, it was announced to be 5 rounds best of 1, with a cut to Top 8! Awesome! Shortly after, the tournament got under way, so without any further rambling, here we go with Round 1!
Round 1: Speed M-Gardevoir EX
I hit the coin flip and go first. I get off to a quick start getting multiple Combees and Pikachus on my bench while going through a good chunk of my deck. He takes his first couple of turns trying to find energy for his Gardevoir EX. I’m doing my best to avoid the Gardevoir EX’s and taking cheap knockouts on his Shaymin EX’s with my Raichus. I’m down to two prizes and he has two M-Gardevoir EX’s set up, taking a prize from me each turn. With no way for him to take two prizes at once, I knew it was only a matter of time before I had enough Pokemon in my discard pile for a clean knockout on his M-Gardevoir EX with my Vespiquen’s Bee Revenge attack. We shook hands and I was off to a good start. 1-0-0
Round 2: Vespiquen/Yanmega Break
I hit the coin flip again and decide to go first. I see a Combee on his side and begin to think it might be a mirror match. I set up the best I can, but only manage 1 Combee and a Pikachu on my side. I decide to attach the Double Colourless Energy on my active Combee and pass thinking he couldn’t knock it out next turn. He throws down a Forest of Giant Plants and a Yanma, eventually getting the Yanmega out and knocking out my Combee. I manage to recover and we exchange knockouts until it reached a critical point in the game with him having an active Vespiquen and a Yanmega on bench and me having an active Vespiquen, and 2 Shaymin EX’s, 2 Unowns, and a Combee on bench. He plays Parallel City on me forcing me to 3 bench (I saw this as a misplay and quickly discarded my Shaymin EX’s). If I could knock out his Vespiquen next turn, and evolve my Combee into my last Vespiquen his Yanmega could not knock me out due to the reduced damage from Forest of Giant Plants. I start my turn, and for some reason I decided to bench a Pikachu. I hit my last Vespiquen and managed the knock out, but the Pikachu left me wide home to a game winning Lysandre from his side. It was a terrible misplay, especially with me looking to capitalize on his misplay. Nothing I could do about it, so I headed into the lunch break with a 1-1-0 record.
Round 3: M-Scizor EX/Garbodor
I lost the coin flip and he had a massive start with 2 Scizor EX’s each with an energy on it. I tried to stall a bit with Klefki’s, but he eventually got a Garbodor set up as well. There was no way I could out prize him at this point. It was getting late into the game and he was down to his last 2 prizes. I saw an opportunity when he placed his third Float Stone down on his Scizor EX instead of his Hoopa EX. I used a Lysandre on his Hoopa EX, and he couldn’t find the energy to retreat it. When he finally did manage to retreat it and take 1 more knockout, I had a second Lysandre ready to bring it up again. He had run out of energy. Time was called and I was able to escape with a tie. I wasn’t happy with it, but it was better than being eliminated with a loss. 1-1-1.
Round 4: M-Scizor EX/Garbodor
Again! I came to the realization that this matchup is by far not a good one, especially if they manage to get out the Garbodor. I started off strong, and he was draw passing. I placed my Faded Town into play and it chipped away at his two M-Scizor EX’s. I accumulated over 200 damage by the time he was able to get rid of the stadium. By that point, my Vespiquen’s and Raichus could knockout any of his Pokemon without a problem. I took the game shortly. 2-1-1.
Round 5: M-Mewtwo EX/Garbodor
I just want… to face a M-Rayquaza deck. This matchup isn’t too bad, as you can capitalize on taking cheap prizes off his Shaymin EX’s. He never managed to get a M-Mewtwo EX set up in time as I was diligent in putting at least some damage on each one of them with my Raichu (not enough for a Damage Swap knock out from him, but enough for me to knock out his M-Mewtwo EX’s with a Bee Revenge). I took the game shortly, clinching my spot in the Top 8. 3-1-1.
Top 8: Volcanion/Flareon EX/Volcanion EX
Without Garbodor this is a terrible matchup. Terrible. Just let me restate that… TERRIBLE.
Usually, this deck takes advantage of the EX trade (I knock out a Shaymin EX, you knock out my Raichu I take 2 prizes, you take 1). However, the Volcanion in this deck, along with 1 Volcanion EX on their bench is able to knock out my Vespiquen cleanly while accelerating up to two energies onto his bench. [Power Heater + 1 Steam Up Ability = 100 damage after weakness is calculate] I had no way of catching up as he was accelerating faster than me and trading prizes as fast as I was. I had to rethink my plan for Game 2.
Again, not much I could do here, but I did manage to take a few knock outs on his Volcanion’s with my Raichus. He made a crucial misplay where he attached an energy onto the wrong Pokemon and promoted a Flareon EX that wasn’t able to attack. I took the knock out and I was way too far ahead for him to catch up. Without that misplay, this game would have came down to the wire but he would have most likely taken it.
We set up and time is called. I set up quite well, but his volcanion is threatening the knock out. I had a Lysandre Raichu play set up where I would knock out his Shaymin EX for 2 prizes on my turn 3, winning me the game. However, on his Turn 2, he hits a Skyla and grabs a Parallel City. I was done. He thought about it for a bit, making sure to read the Stadium and he placed it down, limiting ME to 3 bench. I quickly used Lysandre to bring up his Shaymin EX and used Circle Circuit for the knock out. I’m still not sure what his reasoning was, but from what he said, he didn’t want me to fill up my bench and take the knock out on his Volcanion. I escaped with two misplays from my opponent, but in tournaments you take those wins. 4-1-1.
Top 4: M-Gardevoir EX/Giratina EX
Coming into this matchup, I knew I had to get my Pokemon Ranger out as soon as I could or else I’d be locked down by Giratina EX’s Chaos Wheel attack which prevents me from attaching special energies. I haven’t used Pokemon Ranger all day, so I was a bit excited to finally justify it being in my deck. He started off charging a Giratina EX, and I couldn’t find the Pokemon Ranger, and when I finally did find it, it was too late. He had already taken 4 prizes and he had a M-Gardevoir EX set up on the bench waiting to take his last prize.
I went first this game and I was determined to find the Pokemon Ranger, so I dug through my deck and finally Professor Sycamore’d into it for the turn after. He saw the Pokemon Ranger in my discard pile and began to charge up a M-Gardevoir EX instead. I used my Klefki’s to keep my Vespiquen’s safe, but he always had a Lysandre to knock out a Shaymin EX or another Vespiquen on my bench. Eventually, the lack of draw on his side (due to continuously using Lysandre), caught up to him as he was without an energy for a couple of turns. I had enough Pokemon in my discard pile to take the final two knock outs on his M-Gardevoir EX and Giratina EX.
Again, just as we finished setting up, time was called and again I had to find a way to take a prize against a EX heavy deck. I scouted out some Shaymin EX’s for an easy 2 prizes, but I knew he had the Parallel City to stop me. He started his turn, and attached an energy onto his Gardevoir EX, while using a max elixir to a Gardevoir EX on his bench. He passed. I ran through my deck and got out Combees with Klefki’s on them, and I Lysandre’d up a Giratina EX with no energy on it. He couldn’t retreat it without attaching a Fairy to it (and using Fairy Garden to retreat), so he attached and passed. This was my chance. I dumped everything I had with Ultra Balls and Unowns, VS Seeker’ed for my Giovanni’s Scheme and hit his Giratina EX for a perfect 170 for the game. I’m heading to the Finals! 5-1-1
Top 2: M-Scizor EX/Garbodor
I’m against my friend who lent me the cards, so it’s nice that we were able to battle it out at the top. I knew this was going to be an uphill battle for me, but I tied and won a series against it already so I’m not feeling too bad. He draws and passes. I took advantage of his dead hand and began setting up. Eventually I got my Faded Town out and racked up damage on his M-Scizor EX’s that still didn’t have the energy to attack. I eventually got a double knock out on two M-Scizor EX’s on one turn and he scooped.
This game went a lot differently. He had a massive turn 1, hitting his Max Elixir and getting a Trubbish with a Float Stone out. He got the Garbodor out next turn, and I was locked from my Klefki’s, Unowns and Shaymin EX’s. He took knock out after knock out and I was forced to scoop to save time.
Although I went first, his start was again amazing. He got a Garbodor set up turn 2, and hit a couple of key Crushing Hammers on my Pokemon forcing me to dig for my Special Charge’s early. I realized after my first search that 2 Shaymin EX’s, 2 Vespiquen, and 2 Combee were prized. I was in big trouble. He was down to his last 2 prizes and I still had 6, since I couldn’t get an attacker out except for my Raichu which was hitting for a measly 40 due to his Special Metal Energies and Parallel City. I decided I had to switch up my win condition. I Lysandred up his Hoopa EX and passed. He had about 10 card left in his deck with 6 energies on board and 3 Float Stones in play. On top of that, first turn he dumped his Super Rod. He gave me the look that he knew what I was going to do and that it was going to pay off for me. He drew and passed. I drew and passed. I knew I had the game in hand, but at that very moment, the judge announced time (the venue had to close early so instead of getting the full time, we got a fraction of it). I didn’t have enough turns to deck him out and he breathed a sigh of relief. We shook hands and I conceded. Not the ending I wanted, but I was still happy with my performance for most of the day and it was definitely the most exciting Leauge Challenge I’ve been to in a long time. Prizes were half a box and a 300 HKD mall voucher for first and 10 packs and a 200 HKD mall voucher for second.
Being a Better You
I’m just going to end the article off with some personal experience in competitive play that might help some new players analyze their performances a little bit better. I’ll be covering some mental aspects of the game that I’ve experienced more times than none and especially a lot during this tournament.
First and foremost, remember to forgive yourself for the mistakes you make. I made a big mistake that cost me the game in Round 2, and it hung all through lunch break. I knew better then to let it drag me down the rest of the tournament, so I got rid of it and moved on before I started Round 3. Negative thoughts such as “I should have knew better… Why was I so stupid…. I just threw a game away just like that…” quickly turn into excuses for poor play, “I’m rusty, it’s okay if I make a couple of mistakes… I think he would have had me either way…” Do yourself a favor, accept the mistake and move on.
Secondly, don’t give up on yourself. I know it may sound cliché, but we all do it when we face an “impossible” matchup. To me, even if it’s 99-1 in my opponent’s favour, I try to figure out the 1% to pull out the win. If it’s a best of 3 match, I use Game 1 as a test to see how my opponent plays, how well I can trade prizes with him, and how well his recovery is off of cards like N. If I manage to squeak out a Game 1 victory, all the better. If not, then for Game 2, I make sure to change my strategy and give it all I have. I feel the most important aspect of this advice is that you can leave a match knowing that you gave it your all.
Lastly, know your deck inside out. If you’re to avoid making mistakes and trying to figure out that 1% against your hardest matchups then you better know all 60cards (no pun intended) of your deck. Knowing what’s left in your deck, and what’s buried in your prizes is crucial as its information that’s only privy to you (unless you’re facing a friend that knows your exact list as well). Don’t lose that advantage by forgetting what’s in your deck or borrowing a deck before checking over the cards thoroughly.
I hope I was able to entertain all of you for even a little bit, even if you didn’t make it all the way down this article. I look forward to your comments and I always welcome any advice you might have in anything you would like to see in future articles. Cheers!
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