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Zach Lesage

The Blacephalon Bible - My LAIC Report

Zach goes over his Top Eight run at LAIC and shows his updated Blacephalon-GX / Naganadel deck

11/20/2018 by Zach Lesage

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What’s up 60 Cards readers? I am back from São Paulo and I want to scream to the world how happy I am with my weekend! After playing through 15 rounds of Pokémon, I was able to make Top Eight at the Latin American International Championships and firmly secure my Top 16 placement in North America.

My article today isn’t going to be all gloating, it will have pieces of triumph, humble defeat, and showcase why Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108)  is here to stay. With Roanoke Regionals and League Cups around the corner, there is no better time to pick up a new deck, so let’s get started here:

The Tournament

After landing in São Paulo on Wednesday, I decided that I was too tired to complete any testing and that it would be best for me to have a relaxing day. Part of the issue with many International Championships is that they are in locations that are far away which means that you will have to change multiple time zones in order to participate. I know my body and if I push myself to it’s limits, I will eventually just collapse, play poorly, or have massive mood swings. My plan worked perfectly and I felt refreshed heading into Thursday when I met up with some of my friends to play test with. I tested vs Hampus Eriksson, Jit Min, and Rukan Shao, Frank Percic, and Austin Ellis were there on Facebook Messenger to help me along the way. After some hours of testing, I ended up settling on the following list:

While I did updated my article with this exact list before the LAIC, I do want to go over some explanations in more detail. I decided that since this was an International Championships, that I would try to make my deck as perfect as possible and have outs to as many situations that I possible could. I think I nearly achieved this and the list of people who helped me is way too long to thank. Starting with Poipole (FLI; 55) , I truly believe this is the better one because you can instantly do 10 damage because of Poison and that can make a world of a difference. You see, Pokémon like Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  now only need to take four Fire Energy (GEN; 76)  to get OHKOd with Mind Blown with Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  and that can change the pace of a game. The other Poipole (LT; 107) , has a similar action, because you can know where your Fire Energy (GEN; 76)  is, but you might be costing yourself a turn by doing that. While I might have some future back and forth on which one to choose, it likely won’t matter at all because you don’t really want to attack with Poipole (FLI; 55)  if you don’t have to. It’s one of those things where if you find your self in a certain situation, which one will pull you out more times than the other. 

Moving onto the next card that I switched, I went from playing three copies of Lysandre Labs (FLI; 111)  to playing two copies of Ultra Space (FLI; 115) . The biggest reason for this change was the inclusion of Choice Helmet (LT; 169)  (more on that later), because Lysandre Labs (FLI; 111)  would shut it down as a Pokémon Tool. The Lysandre Labs (FLI; 111)  may find its way back into the list, but I can’t complain with how I did against the match ups I originally included it for. I originally wanted to use Lysandre Labs (FLI; 111)  to get around the copies of Spell Tag (LT; 190)  in Malamar (FLI; 51)  / Giratina (LT; 97)  / Tapu Koko (BW; 31) , but I was able to go 2 / 1 against the deck in the tournament overall. There were a few times that I would have been nice to shut off my opponents Counter Gain (LT; 170)  or Choice Band (GRI; 121) , but those situations were so few and far between that I didn’t miss it too much. Ultra Space (FLI; 115)  allowed my deck to pick up the consistency that was necessary to be successful and to give me an edge against the field at LAIC. When you are playing a GX deck, you need a Stadium Card to get around Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143) , so it’s all about bumping it out of play, the rest is just a bonus.

Sophocles (SLG; 65)  is a bit of a weird choice for this deck with Sightseer (LT; 189)  being printed, but it worked magically throughout the entire tournament. The thing with Sightseer (LT; 189) , it is likely a better card overall, but it compresses your hand to draw more cards. While this originally sounds good, I have found it forceful when I have to decide between discarding Beast Ring (FLI; 102)  and Guzma (BUS; 115)  or getting rid of other valuable cards in the process. Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143) allowed me to almost always discard Fire Energy (GEN; 76)  while keeping a large hand that was filled with Beast Ring (FLI; 102) , Guzma (BUS; 115) , and other Supporter Cards. This was especially helpful in Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108)  mirror where it seemed like the player who played down the most Beast Ring (FLI; 102)  in the game usually was crowned the winner. There were times where I was debating to switch to playing TV Reporter (CLS; 149)  to give me more flexibility when choosing what to discard, but Sophocles (SLG; 65)  gave me the most outs to having more dominating turns.

Looking at Choice Helmet (LT; 169) , most players would assume that I ran out of ideas for cards in my deck, but you need to look at this card like a reverse Choice Band (GRI; 121) . It was quite often the difference between my opponent using Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  to get an OHKO on my Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  and that is really saying something! In order for a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  to get an OHKO on a Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  with a Choice Helmet (LT; 169)  attached, they would need to have a full Bench, a Choice Band (GRI; 121) , a Professor Kukui (SUM; 128) , a Devoured Field (CIN; 93) , and a Field Blower (GRI; 125) . That sounds like an impossible combination of cards to gather and it worked that way at the LAIC for me. Most of the time, my opponents would read Choice Helmet (LT; 169) , and proceed to play out their turn knowing that they weren’t prepared for that card to be played at all. Similarly, in Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108)  mirror, it requires them to Lost Zone one more Fire Energy (GEN; 76)  with Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  to get the OHKO on your Blacephalon GX (LT; 52) . Overall, this card was a welcomed addition to the deck and I think it still has some merit going forward.

Now that all of those specific card changes have reviewed from my last article, I am sure you are curious to how my day played out. There were 680 Masters at LAIC and the best players from the world were flown out to this prestigious event. I felt slightly lonely being the only Canadian Master at the event, but I had plenty of friends to support me throughout the weekend.

DAY ONE

R1: WIN vs. Werick Santos [BR] with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)

R2: LOSS vs. Eduardo Storto [BR] with Malamar (FLI; 51)  / Giratina (LT; 97)  /  Tapu Koko (BW; 31)

R3: WIN vs. Raul Tavares [BR] with Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  /  Naganadel (LT; 108)

R4: WIN vs. Vinicius Gomes [BR] with Malamar (FLI; 51)  / Giratina (LT; 97)  /  Tapu Koko (BW; 31)

R5: WIN vs. Hampus Eriksson [SE] with  Sylveon GX (GRI; 92)

R6: LOSS vs. Victor Freitas [BR] with Granbull (LT; 138)  /  Magcargo (CLS; 24)

R7: WIN vs. André Porto [BR] with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Magcargo (CLS; 24)

R8: WIN vs. Jhonattan Nascimento [BR] with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)

R9: ID vs. Benjamin Ferrel [CL] with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Alolan Ninetales GX (LT; 132)

After my Swiss Rounds, I felt honoured to make Day Two at another International Championships because these tournaments are difficult to play in. They feature the best players, they are in exotic locations, and they have some amazing prizes for doing so well. I was relieved to have completed my personal goal of obtaining Championship Points from this event to get a stipend for the Oceania International Championships, but my fight did not end there, I was ready! I wanted to go as far as possible the next day so I went to bed early and relaxed as much as possible.

DAY TWO

R10: WIN vs. Antonio Vitor Jardim [BR] with  Malamar (FLI; 51) / Giratina (LT; 97) / Tapu Koko (BW; 31)

R11: WIN vs. Caio Navarro [BR] with Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  /  Naganadel (LT; 108)

R12: WIN vs. Gabriel Massaroth [BR]  with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Magcargo (CLS; 24)  /  Weavile (UPR; 74)

R13: WIN vs. Clifton Goh [SG] with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Alolan Ninetales GX (LT; 132)  /  Decidueye GX (SUM; 12)

R14: ID vs. Fabrizio Bellucci [AR] with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Decidueye GX (SUM; 12)  

I don’t know how else to explain it, but I felt relief. To many players, I am seen as a top plauyer, but I have felt cursed for years. Before this event, I hadn’t made Top Eight at an event for two years, but I have now squashed that curse. It sucked going into Top Eight realizing that there were many poor match ups surrounding me, but I was beyond ecstatic about my success in this tournament.

TOP EIGHT

TOP8: LOSS vs. Daniel Altavilla [US] with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Magcargo (CLS; 24)

So you win some and you lose some, I don’t have any negative feelings about this loss because it allowed my friend and Dead Draw Gaming teammate, Daniel Altavilla, to win the entire event. I went into this tournament hoping for a Top 128 finish to receive Championship Points for an Oceania stipend, but I ended up growing as a player. I earned plenty of amazing prizes, I have received messages from many people who have supported me, and I have further cemented myself as a top contender in this game! I knew that the match up was poor before hand, I gave it my best shot, and the result is what I expected. After playing this match out, I decided that Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Magcargo (CLS; 24)  would likely be a popular deck at Roanoke Regionals which meant that I would have to learn to beat it. After sleeping in until 11AM the next day, I wanted to test my brains out to come up with the perfect list for the expected metagame going forward...


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