Experts' corner

Alex Wilson

One Last Time

Alex goes back over his experience with Rayquaza both Day 1 and Day 2 of the 2017 World Championships.

09/22/2017 by Alex Wilson

Take a deep breath, 60cards readers. Do you smell that? It’s the start of a brand new season, with it comes new dreams, adventures, friendships, and a bunch of other sappy crap. Like the start of every season, a new rotation takes into effect right after Worlds, but before we even think about the new standard format, I’d like to go back over my enjoyable Worlds run with Rayquaza.

My Worlds Experience

This was only my second year traveling to Worlds with an invitation, and it was easily one of the best tournaments I’ve ever been to. Compared to San Francisco last year, the venue felt like it was three times larger, which avoided all of the problems we saw with the fire marshals and players standing outside for hours just to miss the Opening Ceremonies.

In San Francisco, the venue was so small that VGC, Pokken Tournament, and the side events were in different rooms and buildings. This venue in Anaheim, which was larger than the International Championships in Indianapolis this year, allowed all Worlds events to take place in the same enormous room.

This year, I played Mega Rayquaza for both Day 1 and Day 2. I was considering many decks to play for Day 1, like Vespiquen, Espeon/Garbodor, and Metagross but ultimately choose to pilot Rayquaza as I’m most comfortable with the deck and felt that it was a safe play considering how few decks were using Sudowoodo. Here’s the list I used for both Day 1 and Day 2.

This is not at all the list I originally had planned to play, but after talking with fellow 60cards writer Jose Marrero the day before we had to turn in our decklist, I changed the list by approximately six cards. He talked me into playing Skyla, a second Tapu Lele-GX, Tapu Koko, and a few other cards. Some of the most popular decks at Worlds were Garbodor variants, so the Skyla plus Field Blower combo was too important not to include. Tapu Koko was perfect for spreading damage against big HP decks like Gardevoir, Metagross, and Decidueye, while also acting as a hard counter against Gyarados. I took out Darkrai-GX as it was more of a luxury to have, rather than something more important like the second Tapu Lele-GX for consistency. I was very pleased with the list and don’t regret anything. Here’s how my matchups went:

 Day 1

 Round 1 W - Christopher Shemanske (US) - Gardevoir

 So I have to give a huge shout out to this awesome, respectful player as my Day 1 may not have been as successful had it not have been for Christopher. I don’t remember much about our games besides game 3, in which I was only a single knockout away from winning. Time was called, and with me ending as turn 3, Christopher gave me the win even though I missed the Guzma for game. This here is why I love Worlds so much: everyone knows that during Day 1 in the first round, essentially a tie is a loss. So those who realize that and concede games based on board state, are those whom world’s competitors respect the most.

 Round 2 W - Abraham Morales (US) - Gardevoir

I considered myself fairly lucky for hitting a second Gardevoir matchup in a row, as I’ve always felt Rayquaza has the upper hand if Gardevoir doesn't play Parallel City. If I remember correctly, the first game was a quick one as Abraham dead drew for a few turns before I was able to knock out all of his Pokemon. The second game was a lot closer, we traded knockouts until we each had two prizes left, but towards the end of the game, he missed the knockout, allowing me to take advantage of the situation and win the game.

 Round 3 W - Chris Collins (US) - Espeon Garbodor

This was the most enjoyable series of Day 1 for me. In the first game, Chris went first, set up an Espeon-GX, benched a Trubbish or two, and Hexed me. Thanks to Hex Maniac, Rayquaza is a sitting duck without abilities, I didn’t bench a single Pokemon and passed my turn. Chris then evolved his Trubbishes, used Hex Maniac again with a VS Seeker, and used Psybeam. I passed for a second turn in a row, and Chris setup his Garbotoxin Garbodor, followed by knocking out my active. I drew another dead card and scooped. I obviously chose to go first in the second game, and set up my entire board ending my turn by manually mega evolving a Rayquaza with a Double Colorless Energy and Metal Energy attached. He set up another Espeon GX and used Psybeam, however this time I had Magearna EX on my bench, negating the effect of confusion to my active Mega Rayquaza EX. With Sky Field and drawing into every piece that I needed, I was able to attack for 210 damage knocking out the Espeon.

Throughout the remainder of the game, Chris was never able to set up another Espeon, only promoting his Garbodor (which were not dealing much damage as I never discarded more than four or five items), until I took all of my prizes. He went first in game three and once again hit a turn one Espeon GX as well as a Brigette for two Trubbish and another Eevee. I also was able to get the ideal setup with my deck, once again ending my turn with a Mega Evolved Rayquaza. Chris had an even better turn by setting up Garbotoxin, I believe he Nd me and ended his turn with Espeon’s Psychic attack. The only resources I had in my hand leading into my turn were a Sky Field, Water Energy, Mega Turbo, and a Shaymin-EX. To start my turn, I drew into an Ultra Ball creating the perfect hand, once again reaching 210 damage for the one hit knockout. At this point, I recall Chris hilariously saying, “of course you hit it; it’s freaking Mega Rayquaza!” The rest of the game was like the second if I’m not mistaken, and I pulled out a close win!


 Round 4 L - Alex Silva (BR) - Drampa Garbodor

We were chosen for the secondary, backup stream, which was unfortunately never streamed. However, I’m sort of glad it wasn’t as it would have been my first ever loss on stream. Here’s how game one went down, I started with my Dragonite-EX in the active and passed for three or four turns until he knocked it out ... On to game two! I went first and set up a full field. However, in the process I discarded more than five items. He set up a Drampa-GX and played Brigette before passing. I was able to knockout his Drampa on my second turn, however, failed to bench another Rayquaza-EX, which ultimately cost me the game. He followed up my turn by evolving each of his Trubbish, including a Garbotoxin Garbodor with a Float Stone, and attacked with Trashalanche for more than 120 damage. Knowing that my M Rayquaza EX was due to be knocked out the next turn, I had to set up another M Rayquaza immediately no matter the amount of items I would need to discard. But ultimately, I couldn’t find a Spirit Link, the only piece I was missing. I had to settle on knocking out the active Garbodor, hoping that he’d miss the energy that turn, but that was a lot to ask for as consistent of a deck as Drampa Garb. He hit the energy and knocked out my M Rayquaza-EX. I once again missed the Spirit Link, having to settle for ending my turn with a manual mega evolution. He responded with a Guzma, knocking out my only Rayquaza in play, ending the game from there.

 Round 5 W - Kyle Warden (US) –Vikavolt Tapu Bulu

I love this guy to death. Even in the face of destruction, Kyle was laughing and joking the entire game, a trait I wish everyone, including myself, had. This matchup is greatly in Rayquaza’s favor, mainly thanks to Hex Maniac and how much faster Rayquaza is at setting up than Tapu Bulu. Each game, I was able to Guzma each Grubbin, Chargabug, or Vikavolt, KOing them prior to setting up a Tapu Bulu GX. I wish there was more to these games, but Rayquaza simply sets up too fast for VikaBulu. He went off to win the last round to make day two, which was super awesome.

Day 2

 Round 1 T – Azul Griego (US) - Espeon Garbodor

This is a funny story: We stayed in the same room for this event, and the night of day one, Azul and Brad Curcio were discussing whether Sudowoodo would be worth teching seeing as how six of us Rayquaza players from day one made day two. After sleeping on it, while we were eating breakfast, Azul was writing out his Espeon list and threw in a Sudowoodo, making sure that I noticed him doing so. He then said, “don’t worry, I’m sure we won’t play each other,” and there we were round one . . .

Surprisingly, I pulled off a quick game one, thanks to a turn one Hex Maniac, and after hitting everything I needed to set up a turn two M Rayquaza-EX, Azul continued passing with little to no useful cards in his hand. Game two was a real game, with Azul choosing to go first. He set up his turn one Espeon-GX with the help of Eevee’s Energy Evolution ability, and hit the Brigette to fill up his entire bench, including a Sudowoodo. Obviously, thanks to Sudowoodo's evil Road Block ability, I couldn’t bench more than four Pokémon, meaning that it was practically impossible to knock out his active Espeon-GX. And unfortunately, I couldn’t get the turn one Rayquaza set up to Guzma and KO his Sudowoodo, so I ended my turn with a manual mega evolution. Azul evolved two Trubbish and confused my M Rayquaza EX, forcing me to find Guzma that turn. Alas, I did not, meaning that there was no point to go after the Sudowoodo anymore that game, so I believe I retreated my Rayquaza into another, and attacked for 120 damage. After having to discard too many items, Azul’s Garbodor swept the game from beneath my feet, and we moved onto game three. I obviously went first. Annoyingly, Azul opened with Sudowoodo and as always, ended my turn with a Hex Maniac and mega evolving a Rayquaza. Azul drew a card, and are you ready for this . . . he passed. Knowing that this was my chance to win, I played every card in my hand to increase the chance of drawing into the Double Colorless Energy I needed for the win. I played N, betting that reward outweighed the risk, aaaaaand whiffed one of four energy . . . After I passed my turn, Azul took the deepest sigh of relief I’ve ever heard and played out a phenomenal hand. Time was soon called, and come turn three, Azul needed the Guzma for the win after I Nd him to two. He missed it, and we took the tie. Given the board state, Azul clearly had game, but given how important ties are in day two, I couldn’t give him the win and felt really awful about it, until he later cheered me up before the second round.

 Round 2 W – Charlie Lockyer (US) - Drampa Garbodor Tapu Fini-GX

In the first game, Charlie started with Drampa, benched a Trubbish, and passed. I followed through with a turn one M Rayquaza-EX, KOing his Drampa. For the next two or three turns, I knocked out his Pokemon without him drawing into anything useful before he conceded the game. Game two, he opted to go first and set up a Drampa with a Brigette for three Trubbish. I too had an awesome turn one by setting up a Mega Rayquaza EX with a Double Colorless Energy and Mega Turbo, making for a quick lead by knocking out his Drampa-GX. His next turn caught me completely off guard however. I was feeling quite comfortable after that first turn of mine, until he played an Ultra Ball grabbing a Tapu Fini-GX! He attached a Rainbow Energy, retreated his active, and used Tapu Fini’s Tapu Storm GX attack, forcing me to shuffle my active M Rayquaza-EX and everything attached back into my deck. As scary as it may have seemed considering it was my only Rayquaza in play, I luckily had everything in my hand to build another Rayquaza. I did so, knocked out the Tapu Fini for another two prize cards, and won the game from there.

 Round 3 W – Tristan Wagner (NL) – Gardevoir

Tristan was playing a typical Gardevoir variant with little to no surprises. I honestly don’t remember this matchup at all, other than winning both games with enough time to grab some lunch before the next round.

 Round 4 L – Takuya Yoneda (JP) - Salazzle Ho-oh

I was feeling really good at this point in the day, until I saw that I was matched against Takuya. Earlier in the day, I had heard that Takuya destroyed Ross Cawthon’s Rayquaza deck on stream thanks to his one-of Sudowoodo tech, so I knew that I was in for a tough match. We were at table four, sitting beside Sam Chen and Pablo Tablemon Meza, so there was a large group watching our games to say the least. The first game, Takuya went first, started with a Ho-oh, drew a card, and passed his turn. I set up a M Rayquaza EX and won the game, just like that. In the second game, he started with a Ho-oh GX again and benched a few Pokemon including a Turtonator, Volcanion-EX, Sudowoodo, and benched a Tapu Lele-GX to grab Kiawe, attaching four energies to the active Ho-oh. Thanks to Sudowoodo’s Road Block ability, I could never knockout any of Takuya’s attackers, and unfortunately for me, it took two or three turns before I was able to set up an attacking Rayquaza. Ho-oh-GX attacks for 180 damage, and with a Choice Band and one Steam Up ability, I’m sure you can see why this is a tough matchup for Rayquaza. I was only able to deal 120 damage in the second game before conceding and moving on to our third game.

Essentially, the same thing happened in this game in that I was one turn late in setting up a Rayquaza. Takuya’s Ho-oh took the first knockout of the game, and I fallowed through with a revenge kill. He promoted his baby Volcanion, benched the wretched Sudowoodo of his, and used Power Heater to set up his benched attackers. I missed the Guzma, which could have changed the game entirely, and had to deal with knocking out his baby Volcanion. He then knocked out my Rayquaza with his Turtonator after hitting the Max Elixir, attaching a Choice Band, and discarding a Fire Energy with Steam Up. Without any Rayquaza left in play, I resorted to Guzma stalling Volcanion-EX and spread damage with Tapu Koko’s Flying Flip. This lasted for approximately five turns, knocking out his Sudowoodo, allowing me to begin attacking again with Mega Rayquaza-EX; however, he top-decked the Guzma leading into his turn, deciding the game.

 Round 5 L – 60cards’ Aaron Tarbell (US) - Decidueye Necrozma

After round four, my record was 2-1-1, meaning that I’d need to win out in order to have a chance making Top 8. However, I felt the wrath of my first Necrozma GX. I’ll save you the time by just saying that in both games, Aaron setup a couple of Decidueye GX, and killed multiple benched Shaymin EX with his Necrozma GX's Black Ray GX. I unfortunately opted out of teching a Mr. Mime for this matchup, so I had better luck prizing all three Mega Rayquaza than winning this matchup.

 Round 6 W – Junichi Kakinoki (JP) - Salazzle Ho-oh

Now that I was 2-2-1, I was playing for Top 16 and/or Top 32, which still meant a whole lot of cash. Paired against one of Takuya Yoneda’s teammates, I knew I was in for a tough afternoon. Junichi ended up piloting the same deck as Takuya, even including the one of Sudowoodo tech. Junichi won the coin flip and chose to go first. He started with Volcanion-EX, and I started with Shaymin-EX. Not knowing what deck I was playing, Junichi played Professor Sycamore discarding his Sudowoodo with it (I assume to conserve as much bench space as possible). He didn’t play any revival cards, which allowed me to attack for 240 damage the entirety of the game, winning it. In the second game, he benched his Sudowoodo on the first turn, which made us both laugh, and he ended his turn with a Kiawe setting up his Ho-oh GX. This game went just like the second game in the series I had against Takuya. With Sudowoodo in play, I could never one-hit knockout any of his Pokemon, while he did mine. The third game was a continuous trading of knockouts, with the threat of his Salazzle-GX growing stronger and stronger with each prize card he took. I was finally lucky enough to Guzma his Sudowoodo for my fourth prize card. His next turn decided the game, as I had the win in my hand, so long as he missed an energy attachment and Choice Band or Steam Up. Lucky for me, he couldn’t pull it off, settling to play a Guzma in an attempt to stall me for a turn or two, but I had the Float Stone in hand for the win.

 Round 7 L – Shun Ito (JP) – Gardevoir w/ Parallel City

Seeing that I was playing yet another Japanese player, I was afraid that it was another Fire Type deck like before, but once he flipped over a Ralts, I took a huge sigh of relief. But that sigh of relief only lasted for a single turn. I won the coin flip and went first, played out a beautiful hand ending my turn with a Hex Maniac and a fully loaded Mega Rayquaza-EX. However, I ended my turn only holding three cards in my hand. It was a big mistake. Only benching another Ralts and attaching an energy, he played a Delinquent, discarding my Sky Field and ridding me of the only cards in my hand. He then put down a Parallel City and ended his turn. I drew nothing helpful, knocked out his active Ralts, and drew a Professor Sycamore as my prize card! But of course, he played a Rare Candy evolving his Ralts into a Gardevoir GX, benched a Tapu Lele-GX searching out another Delinquent, and got rid of my hand yet again. He attacked for 120 damage and I drew into another dead card. I conceded a few turns later after he knocked out my Rayquaza with nothing of any use in my hand. The second game was yet another series of playing Delinquent, ridding me of valuable resources including my Sky Fields. Even though I was careful about ending my turns with four or more cards, that still couldn’t help from the fact that he ran me out of Sky Fields. The game came down to us each having two prize cards, but with no Sky Fields left, I couldn’t knock out his final Gardevoir, giving him the opening to win the game.

 Round 8 L – Thiago Giovannetti (BR) - Decidueye Necrozma

I knew I couldn’t win any prizes with the record I currently had, but with only one round left in the most prestigious event of the year, why not finish? Thiago was piloting the same deck that I ran into earlier when I played Aaron Tarbell. He went first, benched three Rowlet and Necrozma-GX. I benched a Hoopa-EX, searching for a Mega Rayquaza-EX and only one Shaymin-EX, hoping that I could avoid being sniped by his Necrozma’s Black Ray GX. I attached a Double Colorless Energy and manually evolved my Rayquaza-EX and ending my turn. He evolved all of his Rowlet into Decidueye, damaged my Pokemon with three Feather arrows, and attacked my Rayquaza with Razor Leaf for 90 damage. Desperate to catch up, I benched two Shaymin-EX attempting to get a knockout on his Decidueye. I succeeded but left myself vulnerable to a devastating Black Ray GX. Seeing his win condition, he attached an energy to his Necrozma GX and passed, leaving a 240 HP Decidueye in the active spot. I tried everything I could to find my Field Blower, in an attempt to discard all three damaged Shaymin from my bench, it  was prized. I knocked out his Decidueye because it had a Float Stone on it, leaving the game up to him if he had the Double Colorless Energy or not. He already had it in hand, and took six prizes for the win. And to end my Worlds experience, I went first in the second game, only to start with a Hoopa-EX, and a painful pass. He set up two Decidueye on his first turn, attached a Grass energy to one of them and ended his turn. I drew a card and passed again. He attached the Double Colorless Energy and knocked out my Hoopa for a quick game.

I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s World Championships, especially after doing pretty well making day two! But it wasn’t just that, as I spent an entire week with friends, staying up late playing games, hitting up awesome restaurants, and checking out a few places including my first visit to Disneyland. Doing well at Worlds and having a pretty successful year overall has got me pumped for this new 2018 season. At the beginning of each new season, I can’t help but daydream of all the events I have a chance of winning. And to add to this season’s excitement, I’m now a professionally sponsored player, which will allow me to travel to more events than ever, hitting more than 10 Regionals and even London Internationals. To be completely honest, my goal this year is to win a third regionals and make day two at Worlds again. And even if I miss that goal, obtaining 400 Championship Points this year should be a cinch.

Come say "hey" if you see me at any upcoming events, including Connecticut and Florida regionals!

[+13] okko


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