03/02/2020 by Zach Lesage
Back From Down Under
What’s up 60 Cards readers? I’m back from Australia, did pretty well at the event, and I have a bunch of stuff that I want to go over in this article. Sometimes tournament reports get a little boring, but I’m going to do my best to make this one a worthwhile read! There isn’t any way to start than jumping into so let’s go!
Getting Prepared for an International Championships
One of the things that I pride myself on as a player is that I have never missed CP at an International Championships ever. Yeah, that’s right! Out of the 14 International Championships ever held, I have attended 12 of them, and I have received CP at 12 of them. I wish I could come up with some magic formula on how I have become one of the most consistent players at these big events, but I do have some tips. I usually start off by creating an artificial metagame that includes as many viable options as possible. This can be difficult for because they usually have new sets legal for play, but that is what makes them so exciting. For Oceania Internationals, we had a large change happen in the format - Sword & Shield was legal for the first time that weekend and the first turn rules changed. I started off by understanding decks with the new first rule changes, built as many new decks that came out from SwSh, and started testing decks locally. I probably had about 20 new decks built - Stonjourner, Snorlax, Polteageist, Cinccino, Cinderace, Zacian ADP, and Attacking Magcargo to name a few. After I built the new decks, I looked at my Google Drive (I use this to track each iteration of every deck I build), and decided which Cosmic Eclipse decks could exist in this format. This brought over many concepts such as AbilityZard, PikaRom, Mewtwo Fire, and a handful of over concepts.
All of that sounds great, but everyone understands that you can only play one deck at the event. Sometimes this means rating decks after only a few games, other decks seem weak based on my player intuition (cough cough Polteageist cough cough), and some decks aren’t appealing to me for large events. I know who I am as a player, I know which decks I pilot very well, and I know some decks are more consistent than others. After going through a large deck building and tearing decks down process, I was left with about 15 decks total. I added techs that lived within that metagame, properly altered lists as new content was released (Twitch, YouTube, articles), and narrowed down my choices. Heading into the week of OCIC, I finally settled on three decks: AbilityZard, Cinccino Control, and Zacian ADP. All of them were incredibly different decks and I wanted to make sure I picked the right choice.
I figured I would test the decks with my friends at the AirBNB that I was staying at. After driving from Toronto to Detroit, flying from Detroit to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Melbourne, I had finally arrived! We drove to Philips Island, started testing, and ran spreadsheets all week. We each picked relevant decks that I had built, recorded who was playing each deck, the matchups, and results. We did this over and over again until we realized that AbilityZard was the best deck for us heading into the event. In order to get the deck list where we wanted it, we looked up results from past AbilityZard variants since the deck was introduced to us at this past World Championships. After analyzing proper card counts and comparing them to our projected metagame, I was content with the list, and I was ready to play Friday morning.
Mind Set Over Everything
Before I jump into my tournament report or anything else, I want to go over my mindset heading into this event. I gave myself some light goals for this event that included being focused and to take each round one by one. The most important goal out of those goals is to take each round as an individual experience. I see some players making goals for events such as making Day 2 or to win a Regionals during a year. As a Regional Champion and a professional player, I have to say that those are unrealistic goals. If you are focusing on hitting a certain threshold of wins (example of 6-2-1 for Masters to advance to Day 2), you aren’t necessarily focusing on each individual game. I am by no means a perfect player and I admit that I will make mistakes during events. Even at OCIC I made two major mistakes... My first mistake was against Tord Reklev - I was so focused on earning a trophy by getting pst him in the Top 8 that I didn’t notice that he grabbed back his Quick Ball to use again. Let’s be clear, I don’t think it was intentional at all, but let’s change the scenario a bit. What if it was round 1 of OCIC against a player I didn’t know and it wasn’t on stream? If I was preoccupied thinking about making Day 2, I likely wouldn’t be paying full attention to my opponent breaking the game state. Similarly in the finals against Nico Alabas, I totally zeroed in on my Dedenne start and proceeded to see myself as the finalist. Had I given myself more opportunities to play that match properly, I had an opportunity to possibly become the 2020 OCIC Champion. That being said, Nico played extremely well and he is definitely deserving of the title! My whole point is, if you aren’t thinking about the game in front of you, you aren’t going to be playing at your absolute best. My goals will likely remain similar for future events and I will work on my goals to become an even better player.
My day started out as any other tournament starts out for me - wake up obnoxiously early due to my anxiety of time and find caffeine. Luckily for me, Melbourne is an amazing city for coffee and the convention centre makes an amazing flat white. After watching the opening ceremonies and talking to a few other players in the room, I sat down to face my first opponent of the day!
Round 1 vs. Alolan Ninetales “Rubbish Blizzard” WW 1-0-0
Round 2 vs. Mewtwo / Malamar WLW 2-0-0
Round 3 vs. Mewtwo / Malamar WW 3-0-0
Round 4 vs. Zacian / ADP WW 4-0-0
Round 5 vs. Zacian / ADP WW 5-0-0
Round 6 vs. Zacian / ADP WLL 5-1-0
Round 7 vs. Zacian / ADP WLW 6-1-0
Round 8 vs. Zacian / ADP ID 6-1-1
Round 9 vs. Cinccino / Oranguru WW 7-1-1
As you can see, Zacian / ADP was a popular deck at the event and AbilityZard does pretty well against it. Beyond the one rogue Alolan Ninetales deck and the randomness of hitting back to back Mewtwo / Malamar decks, my day was fairly normal. The thing that I like best about AbilityZard is that it can finish games quickly, it beats control decks, and it has a favourable matchup against the most popular deck in format - Zacian / ADP. Heading into Day 2, I knew that I would have to scrounge up three wins to make Top 8! That being said, I got back to my AirBNB, gathered my friends, and we went out for ramen!
Getting ready to win three games can be tough, but it’s easier to take each round one by one. I knew that Zacian / ADP did well during day one and so did control decks, so I was ready to hit some good matchups. I just wanted to make sure I was prepared for each round, was well nourished, and in a good headspace. Diving into the early day two rounds, I found myself staring across a poor matchup, but I said I would give it my all...
Round 10 vs. Attacking Magcargo LWW 8-1-1
Round 11 vs. Mewtwo / Welder WLL 8-2-1
Round 12 vs. Magcargo / Oranguru WW 9-2-1
Round 13 vs. Mewtwo / Malamar WLW 10-2-1
Round 14 vs. Zacian / ADP ID 10-2-2
Day two was weird with hitting what I thought was Magcargo Control during the tenth round only to find out it was attacking Magcargo! It is a great matchup if you play it correctly, but my thought process heading into that game forced me to misplay. I eventually taught myself the matchup in real time and was able to get past it. Mewtwo / Welder has always been a difficult matchup for AbilityZard and Not much has changed here. I won a convincing game one, offered an ID, was declined, and promptly had poor draws to lose. The rest of the day went as expected and I found myself in the top 8! After finding out I hit Tord with Mewtwo / Welder, I was slightly upset because I could have hit any of the other six favourable matchups in cut. Ford is one of the best players in the game, we were going on stream, and I just needed to focus. Having been on stream before, I was prepared for the game, the only issue is that I wanted to earn a trophy from this event. If you watched the stream and saw me looking nervous, that is because I wanted a trophy so badly it was the only thing I was worrying about!
Top 8 vs. Mewtwo / Welder WLW 11-2-2
As many of you may have watched on stream, I played a convincing game one, had a close game two, and Tord received a game loss in game three for grabbing back a Quick Ball that he just played. I already went over this a bit before in this article, but I don’t think it was intentional on his behalf at all. Tord is one of the best in the game, we were on stream, and it seemed to be a simple mistake that cost him largely! Moving on, I was ecstatic to find out that I was playing against a near auto-win, Cinccino / Oranguru, in the top four!
Top 4 vs. Cinccino / Oranguru WW 12-2-2
Similar to our game in round nine day one, I was able to use Ninetales and Victini Prism Star to avoid decking out and get around Lillie’s Poke Doll. The games were over in about 15 minutes total! I had so many people run up to me and congratulate me - it was surreal! I had made finals of an International Championships and I was playing against Obstagoon. Well, that’s what everyone was saying at the time! The Obstagoon pilot made a gameplay error of not shuffling enough / properly and was issued a Double Prize Loss. Nico made quick work of that with a sick Stinger GX play and advanced to finals instead! I’m not gonna lie, I was slightly heartbroken from going from a favourable matchup to an unfavourable matchup, but I wasn’t going to let it get to me. I decided to get back to my AirBNB, eat some food, and catch a good night of sleep.
After waking up feeling wide awake, I got ready for the day, and tried to get myself into a proper mindset to do well during the finals! I had a typical tournament morning of taking. A shower, grabbing a coffee, and listening to music! I guess it was time to play out the finals!
Top 2 vs. Mewtwo / Welder LL 12-3-2
I’ve posted a few times on social media about my game, I realized I made some crucial mistakes during those games, and all I can do is grow as a player. I completely let go of the game as soon as I started Dedenne and I knew I was misplaying as soon as I used Quick Ball for Heatran! I’m almost happy to lose though because it has reignited a flame for me. My performance has reassured me that I am not in a slump, that I am one of the best players in the game, and that I can still grow! It’s easy to get muddled up into a slump after a rough tournament here or there, but I am back and feeling as good as new! With the pressure of getting my Day two invite being over, I can focus on individual events with less stress! Only time will tell...
Toronto is up Next!
As I am writing this, I am still recovering from a horrible case of exhaustion from travelling and I have made the executive decision to cancel my travel plans to Puerto Rico. I still had opportunities to attend Collinsville, but I ultimately decided I would rather have a weekend at home. That doesn’t mean I am taking it off though, I am playing in Cups to acquire my last few wins (I still need three wins to get my perfect eight for the season) and to give myself the opportunity to earn a stipend for NAIC! That being said, my next major event is going to be another local one, Toronto Regionals! Fortunately for me, I don’t need to cross a border, I don’t need to buy a plane ticket, and I don’t need to drive very far either! With the next couple of weeks being relatively stress free, my goal is to find the best deck for Toronto and give it my best shot to go all the way! After that, I don’t know where my season will take me... I have looked up flights for Peru, El Salvador, United Kingdom, and South Africa. I’m going to make choices that allow me to have fun, to explore the world, and stay in the race for at least a T16 stipend for NAIC. For my next article, I will go over my AbilityZard list in full and explain how each matchup works! If you are looking for coaching or if you wanna follow me on Social Media, check out these links!
Facebook: Zach Lesage
Youtube: Rare Candy
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