04/29/2019 by Mark Dizon
Hey, 60 card readers! What an exciting time as we head into Q4. This weekend the European International Championships are occurring and there are a lot of story lines that are in front of the stage. This is a fitting send off to the SUM-TEU format. What are we watching for here as day 1 completes in the German Capital of Berlin? Will the end of the format be a celebrated event for good or for bad? A lot of the player base has now changed to expanded being the format of choice due to the associating of variance taking a big role in the format. Will this variance be what players remember most of this format or will they remember it fondly? I'm going to do something different this time and share my thoughts as we go through day one of the international. I'm watching from this time since I cannot attend so it's like Pokemon TV Guide time. Stay tuned as I post Day 2 tomorrow.
Will Lightning Keep the Throne?
Lightning decks have been at the forefront of the format. The introduction of two different decks that eventually became an amalgamation of good cards truly changed everything, almost as much as a Marvel Cinematic Universe’s snap did. If you have been living under a rock Zapdos TEU and Pikachu Zekrom Tag Team have turned both Standard and Expanded upside down. The advent of the lightning decks popularity has changed the dynamic of the game to focus to speed. Zapdos being able to take turn one knockouts has changed the way decks have functioned. We have seen lightning be in the running of every major standard tournament since the release of the deck and I have no doubt it is going to be the forerunner here in Berlin. With cards such as Thunder Mountain, Tapu Koko Prism and electropower all there to support the Lightning attackers, no other deck can boast the sheer power level and consistency of this archetype.
Two times for Zoroark?
Speaking of consistency, the last time we had a European International introduced to the boogeyman of the last format. Zoroark GX was the card most built around up to the release of Lost Thunder + Team Up. Still one of the top 3 decks of the format, many have not been ready to give up on the deck because of the consistency and set up provided once you have Trade Online. Zoroark plus devoured field can easily KO everything in the Zapdos oriented lightning decks. The deck has multiple back up attackers it can deploy into the game with Weavile, Lucario and the classic Lycanroc GX. A lot of players will always fall back to familiar decks and this is one of the ones to fall back to. Will Zoroark retain the throne in Europe? Unlikely but stranger things have happened.
The Return of Rayquaza
60cards writer Jose Marrero was one of the original minds behind the Turbo Pikarom lists. His ability to be able to focus on Big Basics decks has been around since I started playing. At Greensboro regionals, Jose introduced the world to Rayquaza GX as a viable option after seeing Preston Ellis run with the deck at other regionals. Some others followed up with his lead and Jose decided to play Rayquaza in Denver. The standard version stood out for him there and he decided to pack it with him to an SPE and he won there. Already a few rounds in and aside from seeing the catastrophic prizing he had in his feature round the deck might be the real deal. No one could have said they saw this coming without Jose’s push for the archetype and I am excited to see if he can have a top 8 involving the deck.
Player Showcase - Sarah Dougherty on Stream and Natalie Shampay in a Feature
Watching the stream on day 1 it was extremely awesome for us to be able to see that Pokemon is showcasing those who have great achievements in the game. It was really awesome to see a player such as Sarah Dougherty and a regional finalist like Natalie Shampay in segments and feature matches. I believe that Pokemon could have a lot more women players in the game and grow the player base with features like this. Anyone can be a strong player. I think a combination of marketing is important as well as players just be accommodating to every player they play against. Anyone can play Pokemon and that is the best way to grow the game. I believe we have a huge drop off when it comes to female seniors to masters due to how our Pokemon culture influences the game. Take pride in the game and encourage others to play. There was recently a great print piece about Natalie Shampay and if you haven’t read it yet, I would find it and read it. Use this as a starting point when helping others in your region get into the game.
Isaiah Williams vs Stephane Ivanoff
What an exciting game and rematch from the Oceania International Champion. Though the game ended in the tie, you can see why these great players were in the final. This was one of my favourite matches from the day and I am excited to watch it again. Both were on lightning decks this time and it shows you how intricate the mirror can be when it comes to the format.
Takuya Yoneda deck
As a magic the gathering player it hurts me that we are not allowed to play foreign cards when it comes to Pokemon. I think that is because of the absence of Oracle text but that is a discussion for later.Takuya Yoneda a classical figure in the game from Japan brought an original deck over just to try to succeed in our meta. I wish there were more instances of this in the game to make it really feel like a global game. This was one of my favourite instances on day one and I was glued to the screen watching the deck in action. If you haven’t seen it yet make sure to watch the VOD on this one.
Scot Symonds versus Pablo Meza
What a way to end the day. I recently had the pleasure to play against Pablo at Denver. What an amazing player. I did get quite fortunate against in him in Game 3 and he took it all in stride. He wasn’t salty, he had a minute of frustration and then thanked me for the games and wished me luck. I was so impressed by it. Rooting for Pablo in this match he showed again why he is a consummate pro. No supporters really in Game 3 and self proclaimed Poke-Dad Scot Symonds was able to take down the match. I wish we could all be that composed.
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