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Zach Lesage

Columbus Everything - My NAIC Report and Overview

Check out Zach's newest article which goes over his NAIC report and some of the coolest decks from that event.

07/18/2018 by Zach Lesage

Back From Columbus

What is up 60 Cards readers? I am fully back from Columbus and I had an absolute blast! I actually earned my Top 16 placement in North America to secure my Day 2 invite, I took Buzzwole / Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX to a solid 6W - 3L - 0T record, and saw many of my friends from all over the world! This article is aiming to go over my personal experience at the 2018 North American International Championship in Columbus, Ohio and to go over some of the best decks from that event. I will also be dropping an article that goes over my Top 16 journey in North America soon so keep your eyes peeled if you are interested in my journey or if you are aiming to accomplish that feature next season. Lets hop into my Buzzwole / Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX deck that I played at the NAIC to see my final list for the season:

Buzzwole / Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX Deck

Deck Explanation

What can I say about Buzzwole that hasn’t been said before? This is my favourite list for Buzzwole / Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX because it is the most consistent out of all versions that are being played right now! The key thing about this list is that it plays nine draw Supporters which enables you to have a more consistent deck. Beyond that, it plays a thick Lycanroc-GX line which is used to gust up whatever Pokémon you want to pummel or smash a big Pokémon with a Dangerous Rogue GX attack! I can’t lie, I did miss playing a Regirock-EX, a card that is awful in Buzzwole / Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX mirror, but that is only because I faced a single mirror match all day! The only other debatable concept in this list is the tiny Octillery line, but that didn’t overly hurt me at the NAIC so I will likely leave that line the way it is for now. For more insight on Buzzwole / Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX, check out the following article that I wrote recently here 

Now that you have a brief rundown on how to play my newest Buzzwole / Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX list, lets peep out how I did at the NAIC! 

My 2018 NAIC Report

So my story starts shortly after Mexico City Regionals where I was so close to making Top 8, but I ultimately fell down to a Top 16 bubble! I can’t be too upset though, I was up 500$ USD, earned 80 Championship Points, and I jumped into 15th place in North America! Well, this basically meant that while I was secure for my Top 16 in North America at that moment, I would quickly have to become prepared for the 2018 NAIC to gain ANY amount of CP to stay ahead of those below me. The week or so that I had to prepare myself for this event heavily swayed me towards the Buzzwole / Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX deck that I played above and I was completely fine with that heading into the event! My mindset was running between just get points and to do the best I possibly could do at the largest event of all time. My original plans for heading to Columbus were to leave with my brother Jay Lesage on the Thursday, but I was actually able to hitch a ride with the owner of my team, Alex Alexopoulos! We had a super smooth ride, talked a bunch of business plans, and we eventually made it to Columbus.

When I finally arrived in Columbus, I thought that I would want to test, test, and test some more, but I just decided to relax for the better part of my week in Ohio. Gearing up before the event, I spread my deck out each day in front of me, searched for potential changes, and I ultimately settled on the above list. I went over the list with my Carta Magica teammates and they all agreed that the above list seemed ideal for the NAIC. With that being said, I printed my deck out online, prayed to Kanye West, and went to sleep. Waking up in the morning and heading to the venue, the numbers for Masters were finalized:

Tournament: 2018 NAIC Columbus 

Date: July 6 2018

Players: 1534 

Deck Choice: Buzzwole / Lycanroc-GX

Final Record: 6-3-0

Final Placement: T256

Championship Points Earned: 80CP

With these numbers being finalized, there was NO magical Top 512 points that would gain the masses their invites, there was no bonus 60 CP that would lock my Top 16 Invite, and there was a genuine sadness that swept the tournament hall. I know my brother, Jay Lesage, was only 60 CP away from his invite so it was definitely a sad day to get to this point and have to perform more. Oh well, Pokemon isn’t supposed to be easy and any competent player should want to win the tournament right? With high hopes running through my body and the fight for CP on my mind, I sat across from my Round 1 opponent...

Round: 1

Opponent: Miguel Angel Tovar

Deck: Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX

Matchplay: W - W

Outcome: WIN

Running Record: 1W - 0L - 0T

I usually talk to my opponents before a game begins to figure out who they are, where they are from, and what are they about - this match was no different. My opponent has been playing the game for only a month or so, no real tournament experience, and seemed like a generally cool person. It a good idea to ask some basic questions because you never know if you are playing one of the best players from a different rating zone, if you are playing against a new player, or if you are playing the best Magic the Gathering player who just switched to Pokémon. This information is valid because you can start to assume what type of deck your opponent may play, their level of experience might equal them playing slower, or perhaps you are dealing with a player who needs Championship Points for an invite. Looking back on the game, I opened poorly with a Diancie PRISM STAR start, a hand filled with Guzma, Guzma, Beast Ring, Beast Ring, Super Rod, Strong Energy, and a Professor Sycamore. I took the gigantic dive within my hand, but I quickly got a lead on my opponent and won! Sometimes you are presented with a ‘lemon’ of a hand, but you gotta deal with what you are given. I quickly won both series and started my day with a win under my belt. 

Round: 2

Opponent: Michael Zele

Deck: Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX / Weakness Policy

Matchplay: L - L

Outcome: LOSS

Running Record: 1W - 1L - 0T

This game was a weird game, but I quickly learned that Weakness Policy shifted the match-up in a way that I wasn’t used to. Both of the games that I played against my opponent were awkward because I had a decent set-up, but I just couldn’t gain leverage in the game. My opponent made some sloppy mistakes such as playing a Parallel City to limit his Bench and failing to achieve a Knock Out with his Mew-EX afterwards, but those didn’t matter in the end. After this game I was slightly triggered that I lost to a Zoroark-GX deck, normally a good match-up, but I just kept my head high and proceeded to Round 3.

Round: 3

Opponent: James Dorsey

Deck: Sylveon-GX 

Matchplay: W - W

Outcome: WIN

Running Record: 2W - 1L - 0T

Going into this match-up, I was fairly worried to face against a Sylveon-GX deck because I knew that it can be a long and grindy game. Fortunately for me, my opponent flipped over an Eevee, drew for his turn, and passed his turn immediately! I promptly attached a basic Fighting Energy to my Buzzwole and donked him. Game Two was a repeat of Game One which allowed me to win the series in under 10 minutes total. Phew, made it through a tough match-up, but we take those. 

Round: 4

Opponent: Rahul Reddy

Deck: Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX / Weakness Policy

Matchplay: W - L - W

Outcome: WIN

Running Record: 3W - 1L - 0T

Not gonna lie, my heart shattered a bit when I saw this pairing, but I had to go through the best to win the NAIC, so I just went with it. I was heavily relieved when I saw that Reddy flipped over a Zorua and that I had a decent hand. Our series was nothing spectacular at all - I would gain a lead, Reddy would counter it, and ultimately I was able to get through his board. It should be noted that Reddy suffered a bunch of key misses in the thick of our series which caused him to lose here. Luckily I was on the other side of the luck in this series, but I did feel bad that Reddy got unlucky!

Round: 5

Opponent: Tristen Roundtree

Deck: Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX / Hoopa / Malamar

Matchplay: L - L

Outcome: LOSS

Running Record: 3W - 2L - 0T

Well, this is one of the games where my deck decided to completely flop, against a tough match-up, and there is nothing you can do about it sometimes! Throughout this entire tournament, I kept on going back and forth on wanting to win the tournament more or getting my Top 16 placement in North America more... This was a game that hurt me more towards my Top 16 in North America because I had to win three out of the next four games to get any Championship Points. It was also at this point that I decided to zero out my mind to stop stressing about this tournament and to just play my deck perfectly.

Round: 6

Opponent: Keirnan Wagner

Deck: Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX

Matchplay: W - W

Outcome: WIN

Running Record: 4W - 2L - 0T

Going into this round, I already knew what Wagner was playing because my brother had played him earlier in the day. It’s always key to find out as much information as possible because I knew going into this match-up that Wagner did not play Weakness Policy, that he didn’t play any wacky techs (or at least he didn’t use them), and that his mindset going into this match-up was negative. Both of the games went swimmingly well for me, partly due to my strong hands, but also due to Wagner making some interesting plays. There were a few times throughout the series that Wagner would use his Counter Catcher to bring up my Octillery, instead of a fully powered up Rockruff, to try and stop my draw power. These plays ended up ending his run because I was able to utilize Lycanroc-GX to Knock Out his Wimpod and Golisopod-GX to keep my plays wide open. Wagner was a super nice opponent and it was great to finally play him.

Round: 7

Opponent: Juan Santiago

Deck: Ultra Necrozma-GX / Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX / Malamar 

Matchplay: L - L

Outcome: LOSS

Running Record: 4W - 3L - 0T

Déjà vu time... Well, this is one of the games where my deck decided to completely flop, against a tough match-up, and there is nothing you can do about it sometimes! Throughout this entire tournament, I kept on going back and forth on wanting to win the tournament more or getting my Top 16 placement in North America more... This was a game that hurt me more towards my Top 16 in North America because I had to win [two] out of the next [two] games to get any Championship Points. It was also at this point that I decided to zero out my mind to stop stressing about this tournament and to just play my deck perfectly. 

Basically this game was a repeat of my Round Five game completely and I knew I had to win the next two games to get my Top 16 placement in North America. This loss also put me in a position where I was unable to advance to Day 2, but I quickly got past that. I knew that I would have to fight for my life to get what I worked all season for!

Round: 8

Opponent: Trey Reese

Deck: Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX

Matchplay: L - W - W

Outcome: WIN

Running Record: 5W - 3L - 0T

This game almost had me in tears because my Game 1 was awful, like AWFUL, but I still had the opportunity to win the next two games in the series. The next two games in the series were decided upon Reese using N to disrupt my hand late-game and I was able to circumvent that play by keeping in Octillery on my Bench throughout the series. It should go without saying, but Octillery makes your deck N-proof in a way so that you can always have some draw power. The games went by fairly quick, with about 20 minutes to spare, and I ended up winning the series. Unfortunately this loss cost Reese his invite, but he wished me luck heading into my last round!

Round: 9

Opponent: Gabriel Pino

Deck: Hoopa / Mewtwo / Kartana-GX

Matchplay: L - W - W

Outcome: WIN

Running Record: 6W - 3L - 0T

Well, what happened here was nothing short of a miracle. Going into Game One, Pino started with a Kartana-GX, attached a basic Metal Energy to it, and quickly passed his turn. The thoughts running through my head consisted of me wondering what deck he was playing, leaning towards that it was a Zoroark-GX / Garbodor deck, and basic my game plan with that information in mind. My jaw nearly dropped once I figured out that it was a Hoopa / Mewtwo variant and Game One quickly went out of my control. I was able to make some big plays Game Two by playing a long game, waiting for him to waste resources, and then playing an N to lock him out of resources. Game Three was super close, but the result of the match resulted in a Tie. With me knowing that a Tie ended my Top 16 chase in North America, I sat there disappointed in myself for a moment, but Pino conceded the match to me. I didn’t know what to say, but he was a graceful gentlemen for making his own decision to concede (I would never ask another player to concede to me at an event). With that in mind, I quickly was surrounded by my friends who all cheered me on for having an amazing season. I also learned that my brother, Jay Lesage, received his World Championship Invite so I was super stoked for that too!

Looking at the Whole Event

I apologize in advance for my tournament report if you were looking for more of the nitty gritty of my games - I wanted to display my emotions in between each round because it something that is likely more relatable to players of all stature in the game. Looking back on the event, it was a weird International Championships because there was a lesser amount of Buzzwole / Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX being played, Yveltal BREAK flooded the top tables, and some of the best players in the game reverted back to Zoroark-GX variants. I look at the NAIC as an opportunity for players to pick a deck, toss faith to the wind, and go in with wacky plays that can lead them into being a Champion. Unfortunately for me, I had to go in with a middle of the ground pick, hope to go as far as I could possibly go, and live with my decision. Fortunately for me, it worked out, but that isn’t always the case for everyone. In this next section of the article, I want to briefly over look the decks that had success at the NAIC, explain how they work, and showcase those that had a strong run! Lets peep at some of the best decks from the NAIC:

Ivanoff’s Zoroark-GX / Garbodor Deck

Deck Explanation

The Champion himself, Ivanoff took a concept that we have seen glimpses of throughout the entirety of the season and ran to first place to win the NAIC! This deck focuses on attacking heavy with Zoroark-GX, allowing your opponent to acquire Item Cards in their Discard Pile, lick your opponent out of Abilities, and keep a consistent draw engine by using Trade each turn. When you think about a deck like this in a nutshell, it is a no-brainer that it would go far in a tournament like this because it seems to have answers to everything. It is important to note that Garbodor GRI also covers Buzzwole fairly well due to the glaring Psychic Weakness that Buzzwole carries. Between this deck being a multi functioning toolbox, having some strong attacking power, and keeping it consistent, Ivanoff made a great play for the NAIC.

Reklev’s Zoroark-GX / Oranguru Deck


Deck Explanation

Reklev, half man and half legend, was able to beast mode it all the way to the finals of another International Championships with ANOTHER Zoroark-GX deck! His deck focused on using Zoroark-GX to attack and keeping the pressure on his opponent by slamming them with disruption card after disruption card. The Oranguru in his deck is utilized to get back copies of these disruption cards such as Team Flare Grunt, Delinquent, and Enhanced Hammer to eventually run the opponent out of usable resources. Looking at Reklev as a player, I can also assume that his prestige level in the game causes some of his opponents to tremble in fear against him as he just tries to play the game normally. I have said it before in this article, but I will say it again, it is better to play the game with a zero-mind concept to only focus on what actually matters - THE GAME! Regardless, Reklev put on another star performance and penciled himself in as one of the greatest players of all time!

Pendarvis’ Zoroark-GX / Golisopod Deck

Deck Explanation

It’s awesome that I get to feature of the decks created by one of my favourite players in the game and my fellow Team Carta Magica teammates, Jimmy Pendarvis! His deck took the shell of a simple Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX deck, adorned it with some awesome techs, and he played the deck absolutely flawless. The newest techs that were added into this deck included Delinquent and a higher count of Counter Catcher to really catch his opponents off-guard. Obviously the concept of the deck worked well because we saw Pendarvis take this creation all the way to a Top 4 finish at the NAIC! It just goes to show that an already discovered concept can be deadly in the hands of one of the games greatest players!

Tarbell’s Yveltal BREAK Deck

Deck Explanation

Wooooooooaaaaaaaaahhhhh, ROGUE DECK ALERT! Tarbell took a funky deck that included some offbeat cards, like Yveltal BREAK screams ‘Sup!, and made it fly all the way to a Top 8 placement at the NAIC. The concept is actually more simple than you would think, it is a weird growth of a Hoopa / Mewtwo deck with some spread elements and the addition of Yveltal BREAK. Yveltal BREAK is cool because it can utilize the Yveltal underneath it to power up some nifty techs all while keeping its Fighting Resistance to scare Buzzwole away. This is one of those decks that you pick and choose the Pokémon that you want to use in each match-up, find ways to crack each opposing deck, and proceed to confuse your opponent. As a former Hoopa player myself, I might want to give this deck another try just because it looks so cool!

Looking Forward as a Player

Well, thats a wrap 60 Cards readers! I have completed my personal goal of making Top 16 in North America and I have my eyes set on the World Championships next! In terms of my article release structure, my next article will be about my Top 16 grind and any article after that will focus on my testing that I have been doing with Celestial Storm. It is my goal to provide solid insight in every article that I drop to help prepare you mentally, drop some solid tips, or to provide the juiciest decks possible. I am proud to have this opportunity to type what splatters across my brain as a player on this site for all of you to enjoy.

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 60 Cards, reading my articles, and watching me grow as a player!

Until next time,


#TeamCartaMagica #60Cards #PokeAcademy #PlayPokemon #Pokemon

[+21] okko


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