Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Aiming High - Mexico City Report and Skill Set Growth

This is a part one of a multi-series article where Zach goes over Buzzwole-GX variants and some game changing skill-sets.

07/02/2018 by Zach Lesage

This is part of a multi-series of articles that are focused on empowering yourself as a player, learning Buzzwole-GX variants, and going over some hidden skill sets within the game. All articles *should* be released before NAIC, but all should have some timeless aspects as the game grows for years to come!

Greetings from Mexico

Hola 60 Cards readers, cómo estás hoy? Hopefully you exclaimed, ‘muy bien!’, because I like it when the readers of my articles are feeling great! If the [insert Spanish here] lines don’t make sense to you, I’ll explain it, I am still in Mexico City on vacation for another week! I can’t say enough great things about this city - the food is great, the people are welcoming, and the cultural values are inspiring! Anyways, let’s get back into the more important subject matter, making sure you know what is up with this article today. In my article today, I want to go over the deck that I played at the recent Mexico City Special Event, my tournament report, and I will detail some valuable tournaments skills! At the end of this article, I want you to understand how to play the game at a deeper level so that you can experience the highest level of success available to you as a player. Without wasting a moment, let’s jump straight into the rain forest as I showcase the Buzzwole-GX / Garbodor deck that I played at the Mexico City Special Event # 2:

Buzzwole-GX / Garbodor Deck

Quick Explanation

This deck is quick, has a locking capability, and is surprising consistent due to the inclusion of Order Pad. This deck focuses on attacking with Jet Punch during the early game, setting up a Garbodor with Gabotoxin, and using Beast Ring during the latter half of the game. You can disrupt your opponent with Garbotoxin and by playing an N to get them to a lower hand size under Ability lock. The biggest advantage that this deck has over the other Buzzwole-GX variants is the inclusion of Fighting Fury Belt, a card that brings Buzzwole-GX to a whopping 230 HP. This deck also brings match-ups to a realm of probable “luck”, something that quite a few decks in this format can’t say the same in any matter. What I am trying to say, this deck pops off out of nowhere, locks your opponent out of playing Abilities, and just steals wins sometimes. Other decks can still get “lucky”, but not to the degree of winningness that this deck expels. It was due to this reason that I decided early on that I would be playing this deck at the 2018 Mexico City Special Event #2 in Mexico City, Mexico. I knew that I would likely run into a few Malamar variants, just like the last time that I was in Mexico, but that I would have a solid chance against them. Lets look over my report and see how I did:

Mexico City Special Event # 2 Report

My journey to Mexico City was slightly better this time due to me flying on a better airline, Delta, and having an overall better morale heading into the tournament. So I eventually got to Mexico, got in to my hotel, met up with my Carta Magica teammate Bodhi Robinson, and started to test the above list. We settled into the same deck, got to the venue, and prepared for the exciting day ahead of us.

Tournament: Mexico City Special Event # 2
Division: Masters
Players: 38
Deck: Buzzwole-GX / Garbodor

As I stated above, I went into this tournament with Buzzwole-GX / Garbodor because of its linearity, its ability to steal games, and my comfortability with the deck. I had played this deck at League Cups the prior week in Alymer, Quebec. I had a strong weekend at those League Cups, piloting a similar list to a first place finish, and the rest of the Carta Magica squad told me it would be a strong play.

Round: 1
Opponent: Daniel Altavilla
Deck: Hoopa / Malamar
Matchplay: L - L
Outcome: Loss
Running Record: 0W - 1L - 0T

This was actually one of the games that I was not feeling because it is a friend and a rough match-up. The games went pretty much as I expected, I had a rough go because Danny used Giratina to snag my Cynthia out of my hand, leaving me Supporter-less. Game two was a blow out because I just dead drew hard and eventually scooped to Altavilla.

Round: 2

Opponent: Yasser Moreno
Deck: Buzzwole / Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX
Matchplay: W - W
Outcome: Win
Running Record: 1W - 1L - 0T

These games seemed to take only ten minutes because I had enough time to get some snacks after this round. I got a quick set-up, got Garbotoxin set-up quickly, and had plenty of resources left over. Game two went the exact same way so I took a quick lead.

Round: 3
Opponent: Gustavo Wada
Deck: Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX
Matchplay: L - W - W
Outcome: Win
Running Record: 2W - 1L - 0T

After already facing Altavilla, a friend and top 16 competitor, I was upset that I was facing against another strong opponent, this one being the strongest of all LATAM players. Wada smashed through my weaker set-up game one because I just couldn’t find a way to get out my Garbotoxin lock or use Beast Ring. Game two was looking slightly similar, except I was able to pull a last minute N late in the game that set Wada up for failure. With time almost running out, we began to play game three as quickly as possible to get the game out of the way. We both realized that time was going to be an issue so we played the absolute quickest we could. The game eventually resulted in a series of back and forth moments of dead draws and successes that ended up with me nabbing a Guzma on the last turn before I would lose. Super solid games, but the match-up is favourable for me in normal circumstances.

Round: 4
Opponent: Abe Morales
Deck: Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX / Malamar
Matchplay: W - L
Outcome: Tie
Running Record: 2W - 1L - 1T

After Round 3 we had a lunch break and I was not particularly happy to know that the pairings for the next round went up early so that we could find our opponent. Throughout my entire lunch break, I knew that I was playing against a decent player from the the United States who was playing a deck that I would likely lose to. During our actual game one, I took a quick lead that got me decently far in the game, but Morales was not too far behind. There was one turn where he needed to hit a Max Elixir and an Energy off of a Cynthia and he immediately attached the energy. He played down a Max Elixir and my heart sank... FAIL. Ok, we made it... He played down another Max Elixir down... FAIL. I got through game one with my heart beating, but I was ecstatic that I could squeak out such a close game. Game two was going fairy similar, except I had some awkward draws during the middle of the game that kept me from winning. Morales ended up check-mating my deck by having three fully powered up Pokémon that were more than enough to close out the game. Within the first few minutes of game three, time was called and I agreed to tie Morales based on my board being unable to draw all of my Prize Cards in two turns.

Round: 5
Opponent: Adrian Flores
Deck: Zoroark-GX / Trevenant BREAK
Matchplay: W - W
Outcome: Win
Running Record: 3W - 1L - 1T

Going into this game, I actually didn’t want to see myself sitting across from Adrian, a really good friend who I met a month ago at the last Special Event in Mexico, because he needed his invite to Worlds. He was bittersweet about facing me because he wanted to see me get my Top 16 placement in North America, but he really wanted his invite. Upon sitting down, Flores scooped to me out of nowhere and I was shocked at his actions - we were playing in a “‘major” tournament and I never expect any player to scoop to me ever. I told him to do as he wanted, but I still wanted to play him for fun to see what would have happened. I ended up getting everything I needed whenever I needed it, during both games, and I absolutely obliterated him. I wished him luck in his last round and I proceeded to get myself ready for my next round,

Round: 6
Opponent: Caleb Gedemer
Deck: Hoopa / Malamar
Matchplay: L - L
Outcome: Loss
Running Record: 3W - 2L - 1T

Unfortunately, I found myself paired up in the last round, to a fantastic player, to a great friend, to a fellow 60 Cards article writer, and to an awful match-up. I’m not sure why my luck takes me all the way to the top sometimes just to let me down, but this match was very infuriating because I really needed those points. From what I saw at the top tables, most of the other remains decks that I could possible face would have been Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX decks, which would have been fantastic match-ups. Looking back at these games against Gedemer, I had decent hands, but I kept on playing N, only for him to draw a Supporter and a Field Blower each time. Game two followed a similar suit and the game was over quite quickly.

Final Record: 3W - 2L - 1T
Final Placement: 15 / 38
CP Earned: 0 CP

So had there been ten more players, I would have walked away with 80 CP and I would have propelled myself into the Top 16 of North America. Unfortunately, I gained zero CP by losing my last round, and Zak Krekeler earned 50 CP by making Top 64 at the Sheffield, United Kingdom Regionals. It was at this point that the fight in me had kicked into high gear and I tried to dedicate my week in Mexico to fighting for CP at the upcoming Regionals (read my report on 60 Cards when it comes out either this week or next week). The whole week allowed me to take an introspective view on myself, re-visit some strategies that have got me this far, and to really pinpoint where I need to grow as a player. The rest of this article will go over these strategies and explain them as much as possible:

Practice Your Skills!

So one of the most overlooked factors in Pokémon is the skill set that goes beyond the games most basic actions. Every player understands that they should attach Energy, attack Pokémon, and ultimately try to win, but how do you get from point A to point B? Every one of the below actions can be used independently of one another, as a crutch in the thick of a game, or in conjunction with many other skills listed here. Sometimes you need to look at your watch to realize that your path to winning is not viable with five minutes left - some things just need to be realized. When you are playing your next game of Pokémon, I invite you to treat it like you are playing in a Regional Championships Swiss Round - Best two out of three, fifty minutes, and there will be an additional three turns after time has been concluded. It is within this setting that the most prestigious tournaments are held so it is wise to practise test games like this. Lets look over some of these skills:

Time Keeping

Do you own a watch? Within the allotted time in Pokemon, you are expected to play out a potential three games and sometimes players do not play games as if there is a pending doom of time. Sometimes you need to know exactly how many minutes you have left in a game to make a proper decision and a watch will get you there. Looking at real life situations, how many times have you missed the bus by only five minutes, that you were late to work only for your boss to yell at you, or that the store closed ONLY moments ago? The same is true for Pokémon - I hear countless stories about my friends losing a game by only one turn! The question that stands, ‘did they bring a watch to that tournament?’ I am sure you likely know that answer and if you don’t, the answer is a big fat ‘NO!’ The difference between losing an winning a game could be the difference of you not using Brooklet Hill on your last turn, not staring off into outer space, or perhaps not even cutting your opponents deck. Looking at some various game actions, look how the time quick adds up, you would be surprised at how quickly you can ‘lose’ a game based on your actions:

Brooklet Hill (on the first turn of the game)

Imagine yourself in game three, 10 minutes left in the game, is it wise to look through the deck for an allotted two minutes to find your Prize Cards? You will hardly ever have me go against the idea of looking through your deck to find your Prize Cards, but time is about to smack you in your face - you gotta just grab a Pokémon and get outta there. I have heard of countless players just tossing cards on the table in an attempt to finish a game on time, with due reason as well, usually those players laugh to me that then won the game by mere seconds! Now this is nota statement to rush your opponent in an attempt to gain an advantage, but sometimes you need to light a fire under your Arceus to get the party movin’.

Cutting / Shuffling Your Opponents Deck

If you are cutting or shuffling your opponents deck every time they do an action, you are taking away a significant amount of time that can be used to pummel your opponent to the ground. This is another grey area suggestion, usually I 100% recommend to cut / shuffle your opponents deck in an attempt to circumvent cheating, but there is a time and place for everything. Look at your watch, aka the watch you should have, aka the device I keep going on about, and tell me how much time you have left game three against your friend! Is it three minutes? Five minutes? Ten minutes? How long do you shuffle your opponents deck? Ten seconds? Fifteen seconds? Thirty seconds?!?! Think about how that adds up each time your opponent uses a Brooklet Hill, Max Elixir, or Beast Ring? That can easily be one - two minutes a turn that can force you into falling flat onto your face with an undeserved TIE! The opposite can be completely true, maybe you have won game one and your opponent has a chance to win game two, what if you use a Brooklet Hill in your last turn? That can add fifteen seconds to the clock. What about using an Ultra Ball when you have nothing left to search for? I don’t want to be flamed for giving advice to stall your opponent out, but there are times when you can flat out win the game by doing more actions instead of rushing the game to a tie. I would never say look through your opponents Discard Pile, look through your Discard Pile, count the cards in your hand, count the cards in your opponents hand, look through your opponents Discard Pile again, but I might recommend playing a useless Ultra Ball or an N when you otherwise could have passed. Just be sure to be fair to your opponent when you are going through game actions so there won’t be any hard feelings.

Check Your Prize Cards

How many times do you look through your deck with an Ultra Ball, grab a Tapu Lele-GX, and find out that every copy of Bridgette in your deck is Prized? I did a similar thing at the Mexico City Special Event # 2 - I started first, played a Remoraid from hand, played a Brooklet Hill from my hand, and searched through my deck only to find that Octillery was missing in action! It was obviously a disappointing sight, but I could have properly sequenced my hand to search through my deck before wasting a valuable Bench spot on a semi-useless card. Getting back to the main subject, it is an important strategy to search through your Deck and determine the cards that are missing from it, at least the important ones that is! Here are some of my best practices to search to find my missing Prize Cards:

Split Your Deck Up

A strategy that I often don’t hear about that I often use myself is splitting your deck up into categories. You don’t know what I mean? Look at the above Buzzwole-GX / Garbodor Deck, it has varying amounts of Pokémon, Trainers, and Energy - 11 Pokemon, 37 Trainers, and 12 Energy to be exact! When search through the deck, you can easily count those tree categories quickly than dissecting it into the 19 unique cards that the deck is made up of. So what if you find that you are missing 4 Pokémon, 1 Trainer, and 1 Energy? You can quickly cross-reference your Pokémon list with what is missing and determine the other two cards in subsequent searches. It usually doesn’t matter that you know 100% of your Prize Cards, but it is important to have a general idea.

Important Cards Matter

In terms of missing out on cards in a deck, the cards that are often taken away from me are not overly important, they are mostly tame. It is great that I can quickly, as in under one minute, determine my missing Prize Cards, but how do I determine what should I usually search for? Well, I look at the match-up at hand, and determine that there has to be a finite amount of appropriate cards that I can use in the match-up. Look at it this way, would you be looking for a Giratina Promo when you are playing against a Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX deck? No, right? You would want to search out your Giratina Promo when you are playing against a Greninja BREAK deck! I usually search for important cards such as Supporters, Special Energies, and key Pokémon pieces.

Keep Your Head in the Game!

It is 10:00PM in a different time zone and you are playing round eight of Charlotte Regionals, one of the worst ran events of this season, you have a headache... you need to win two games to make Top 64... your car ride left you at the venue because they all sucked today... you haven’t eaten beyond a hard boiled egg from the Howard Johnson’s at 7AM... YOU ARE BASICALLY DYING FROM FATIGUE! While this is more or less of a skill, it should be noted that the more that you focus into the game of Pokémon, the more you are likely to see some success in those final rounds! As a veteran player myself, I have been in these situations for over a decade and it happens to the best of us. We all have things going on behind the scenes, but those that trek through it are the ones that see the light at the end of the tunnel. The same can be said for players who get ‘fame-tilted’ when they realize that they are paired against Azul Garcia Griego or the almighty Igor Costa! I have had poke-parents tremble throughout an entire 50 minute round against me because they heard through their friend group that I am within the Top 16 best players in North America. What they probably didn’t realize is that they had a great match-up, were terrified instead of realizing anything, and that I am just a chill guy who likes to play Pokémon. Some key tips to get past any of the stresses in this game can vary from listening to your favourite music in between round, staying well hydrated, and talking to your friends whenever they are available for moral support. It is sometimes hard to admit it, but I can even be a NERVOUS wreck before a tournament or when I know that I am going into a win-and-in situation. I usually follow my own advice, sometimes it is as easy as just sitting down and eating lunch, and I usually feel much better. At the end of the day, you need to realize that your fears are usually only applied to yourself and that they are likely easy to get past if you just think about it for a moment. Whenever I am in a super stressful position in Pokémon, I think about what I did right, take a deep breath, and tell myself that it is supposed to be a fun game.

Last Weekend for Cups

I hope that this article has inspired you to become the best possible player you can be and that the advice in this article helps you win some more games. I know that a lot of you readers might need that final League Cup placement for your invite or need to do well at the 2018 North American International Championships in Columbus, Ohio so that is why I went with this type of article today. Whenever you are in a moment of darkness when playing Pokémon, just remember to keep you head up high, think your plays out, and keep on playing. I can’t believe how many tournaments that those words echo through my head when I am playing. The season can be rough from time to time, but we all ultimately enjoy playing in as many tournaments as possible. That being said, I will be at the following tournaments for the rest of the season:

June 30 - July 1
League Cups in the Greater Toronto, Ontario Area

July 5 - July 8
Columbus, Ohio North American International Championships

After a heartbreaking loss in the final round of this past weekends Mexico City Special Event to fellow 60 Cards writer Caleb Gedemer, I need to pave way this weekend to gain some CP. this season has had its ups and downs for sure, but it has been a crazy adventure for sure. While I can’t be certain if I want to do this all over again next season, I will still continue to fight with every amount of willpower that I have left in my body. For updates on my travel plans, tournament schedule, premium deck lists, strategies, and my most recent articles, feel free to check out and follow my professional Pokemon Twitter @ zlesage_pokemon. Also, remember to give this article a ‘like’ to let me know what you thought of this article - it gives me the motivation needed to write! Thanks for supporting PokeBeach, reading my articles, and watching me grow as a player!

Until next time,

#TeamCartaMagica #60Cards #PokeAcademy #PlayPokemon #Pokemon

[+17] okko


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