12/20/2017 by Rahul Reddy
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Hello again, 60cards readers! I know it has been a good 2 months since my last article, for which I apologize. Life and school have gotten really busy, as I'm in my 3rd year of college and chose to take 6 classes this semester--leaving me with little time to write out my musings at leisure. Now that finals are a wrap, I can sit back and reflect on the past few tournaments and the one I had the most success in: San Jose Regionals. I feel like I have a very strong grasp of the expanded format and I wanted to share with all of you how I tackled the approach of the regionals and how I managed to secure a Top 4 finish.
Day -1 and 0
Let's set the stage of San Jose regionals before I delve into my decisions that lead me to Night March the night before the event. I had returned from London early Tuesday morning and I was feeling pretty depressed after my poor tournament performance over the pond. I had tunnel vision with respect to Gardevoir, and I ignored some of the bigger threats around like Golisopod and Silvally, leading me to my downfall.
After spending a day to recover, I found myself packing for San Jose and heading to the aiport Thursday evening. Once there I met up with my friends Jimmy Pendarvis and Igor Costa and we began the journey to San Jose. Thursday night we arrived, met up with Ryan Sabelhaus, and headed straight to our hotel by the venue. Once there, Brad Curcio, Peter Kica and Azul GG all met up with us and it was safe to say we had assembled sort of a power hotel room for the event. Without wasting much time, we began testing all our silly ideas at night--some of which were Golisopod/Zoroark, Marshadow Toolbox, Straight Zoroark and even Sableye/Garb. I was a huge advocate of Straight Zoroark with Muk, as I discussed the deck a lot with Kian Amini in London after we did poorly and I had tested it minimally the week of San Jose. The deck was running very smoothly and I loved it a lot in testing but kept having extremly close games, leading me to believe I had a suboptimal list. We called it a night and got up early Friday ready to figure out the tournament-winning play.
Friday morning Kian gets into town and we start working on the Zoroark/Muk deck later to be dubbed Lonzoroark. I fell in love with the deck and was beating everyone in testing and then the room began talking about Gardevoir-GX. I was ready to test that matchup and swiftly lost 6 straight games. I was stunned, and my confidence with the deck was shaken. Knowing that some top players might pilot Gardevoir-GX which was a bad matchup on paper for Lonzoroark, I switched over to the only other deck I was considering for the weekend: Night March/Zoroark GX. To my good fortune, I had the Night March guru, Peter Kica in my room. He had a 59 card list set to perfection with a flex 60th slot that we were deciding on until the morning of. I borrowed his deck and asked the guys to play some Gardy matches vs. me. Michael Pramawat, who won Ft Wayne regionals with Night March, sat next to me to critique my plays. I began getting the hang of the deck very quickly and it was remeniscent of Vespiquen to an extent. I was beating Gardy every single game I played no matter how hot they ran or how cold I ran, unless I literally went draw pass; you win. I was sold on the strength of the deck and sleeved it up by 7:30-8 PM and was ready to call it a night. Everyone else had a change of heart and jumped onto the Night March train around that time as well and we got ready to play the event. Here's the final list that 7 of us ended up playing. The 7 players were myself, Azul GG, Peter Kica, Michael Pramawat, Brad Curcio, Ryan Sabelhaus and Sam Chen. All of us earned CP over the weekend and 5 of us secured Day 2 berths.
San Jose March
- 4x Pumpkaboo
- 4x Joltik
- 4x Lampent
- 3x Shaymin EX
- 1x Tapu Lele GX
- 2x Zorua
- 2x Zoroark GX
- 1x Marshadow GX
- 3x Professor Sycamore
- 1x N
- 1x Ghetsis
- 1x Hex Maniac
- 1x Guzma
- 1x Lysandre
- 1x Teammates
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 1x Field Blower
- 1x Choice Band
- 4x Puzzle of Time
- 4x Battle Compressor
- 4x VS Seeker
- 3x Trainer's Mail
- 2x Dimension Valley
- 1x Float Stone
- 1x Dowsing Machine
- 1x Special Charge
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
Let's talk about some of the choices in the deck before we go forwards with my recounting of the weekend.
2-2 Zoroark GX
This was instrumental to most of my success throughout the weekend. Not only was he another attack, but he was raw draw power and consistency. An answer to Oricorio, as well, and a big body that couldn't really be handled very easily. Having a simple 1-1 line would make it too fragile and having a single piece prized would derail the whole strategy. The deck was adapted to be built around Zoroark as a fail-safe plan, and every game that I got both Zoroarks out on to the field, I felt like I couldn't lose the game.
The Ghetsis came back because of the simple Turn 1 win potential. In the Zoroark matchup, they have a ton of cards in their hands that allows you to Ghetsis and draw a bunch of cards as well. Also, many decks in expanded are item heavy and reliant so taking away the Compressor or VS seeker they need to make a play the following turn can be crucial to sealing up the game.
1 Hex Maniac
The Hex Maniac was just a flex card to see what advantages it gave me throughout the two days of play. I wanted it to handle the aggressive draw power that Zoroark possessed. If they were allowed to draw 6-8 cards every turn they could realistically never be stopped and have any card they ever wanted in their hand.
1 Choice Band
In Fort Wayne the list played a copy of Fighting Fury Belt to preserve your night marchers. But in this metagame with Gardevoir being so big, the choice band math was extremely relevant throughout the weekend. Including to hit big numbers on Zoroark GX.
1 Dowsing Machine
Dowsing Machine felt much easier to use as a card due to the nature of the deck. You already play out of the discard with Battle Compressor, but adding Zoroark GX to that bunch allows you to discard resources with the intention of using Puzzles and Dowsing Machine to get them back whenever you might need them.
2 Dimension Valley/0 Parallel City
The Parallel city had to be cut from the deck in favor of the Zoroark Line but the Dimension Valleys have to stay to attack with Pumpkaboo. I felt like I rarely attacked with Pumpkaboo but having the option is necessary in my opinion.
Now that we've talked completely about the deck let us get started on the tournament report in detail.
I was very confident in the deck and wanted to start play as soon as possible to further familiarize myself with the deck as I learn better in a tournament environment. I wanted to purchase a Full Art Hex Maniac because it was one of the only few holos/FAs I was missing from my deck but the vendors had it at an extremely pricey rate and I declined from the buy. I later did purchase it online.
Round 1 vs Trev
The first round nerves always exist, and when my opponent mulliganed and showed me a D Valley and a Psychic energy, I had no idea what to expect. I had won the flip, so based on his starter I could play reactively. My opponent lead off with a Phantump and I felt really bad about the matchup instantly. I went agressively for the Zoroark-GX set up and built up my hand to the point where if he didn't N on the first turn, I would simply steam roll him. He opted to go for a Xerosic on my benched DCE and used Ascension. I was able to get a T2 Zoroark-GX and a DCE and I never looked back from that point onwards.
The second game, I opened with Tapu Lele and 3 of my 4 DCE in my opening hand. My opponent went for a Wally and an attach Turn 1 and I responded with a DCE, 60 damage. He went for a Silent Fear while setting up another Trev on the bench. I proceeded to attach another DCE and OHKO his Trev Break. From there we went back and forth and he went for a ballsy play by removing my energies off of Lele but leaving him with just an active Trev and nothing else. He didn't have the energy to attack either, leaving us in a weird stalemate where the first one to draw out of it would win the game. I fortunately hit my Hex on the 3rd turn of the stalemate and was able to blow up on him by dumping my entire hand and setting up a Zoroark in the same turn. (1-0)
Round 2 vs Delphox Break
I was a little surprised to see a Delphox Break deck past the first round, meaning my opponent had won his first round. I frankly didn't know what Delphox did and didn't care to figure it out. My game plan was to just Ghetsis and KO every Fennekin I saw and it worked out in a very quick game one.
The second game, my opponent abandoned his furry foxy friends and instead went aggressive on me with Tapu Lele-GX and repeated use of Karen. This didn't pay off for him, as he wasn't item locking me, so I was able to take a KO turn after turn ending the game very quickly. I had established both Zoroark-GX in this game allowing me to cycle through my deck with relative easy. (2-0)
Round 3 vs Toad/Seviper
This matchup is extremely hard, not only because of the Toad+Karen combination, but because the Poison Barbs kill my marchers if I choose to attack into it. The first game, I continuously cycled Shaymin-EX and used Zoroark-GX aggressively to take tempo in the game and manage to take a slew of KOs on his two Toads, leaving him with a destroyed board that was easy for the pickings and taking my last prize.
I opened a Joltik, and he went first and played down Hypnotoxic laser and a Virbank City Gym and we moved on to the third game. To note, I think I had the best hand I would see for the whole tournament there with triple Compressor, DCE and a Sycamore raw in my hand.
The third game, I went for an all-in play and hit the Turn 1 Ghetsis to take away his entire hand, barring a single stadium card. He proceeded to draw for the turn with a lone Seismitoad and passed. I was able to quickly find 180 damage and end the series that I was dreading. (3-0)
Round 4 vs Night March mirror
This game and series was far less exciting than anything I've played all tournament. My opponent played Ghetsis me on the first turn and I simply did not get a chance to play the game.
I repaid the favor to my opponent, and this time it was him who didn't get a chance to play the game.
Once again, he got me. My whole 6 card hand was thrown back into the deck and with a lone Joltik active I drew for my turn and with a heavy heart said the words pass to lose the game. (3-1)
Round 5 vs Gardevoir GX
The first game was one of the roughest games of Pokémon I've ever played. I was unable to take a KO on my opponents Ralts on my first turn of the game and that can tell you what the game was like in a nutshell. I was whiffing energy for KOs and crucial pieces to do anything and eventually fell too far behind in the race and couldn't play around my opponent's Oricorio if he had it and to my dismay he had it and the game was a wrap with myself needing just another turn to end the game by taking out his Tapu Lele on the bench.
This game, I was firing off on all Cylinders as I took a KO on Tapu Lele on my first turn I could attack and the turn following I was able to KO his Gardevoir-GX. My opponent scrambled to make a comeback using Oricorio, but I was too far up on prize cards and was able to seal out the game from there.
This game, I never felt like I was going to lose due to my set up from the very beginning, but I knew time was getting close so I had to play fast and know my moves in advance to save time. I was fortunate that time was called with me having 2 prizes left and my opponent with 4. I was able to just dig through my deck at that moment and find the Guzma to end the game on his Tapu Lele-GX that was sitting on the bench all game after an ideal set up from both of our sides. He managed to get a Turn 2 Gallade and a Gardevoir with a Kirlia on board as well which was extremely scary for me. I was able to squeak this one out on the border of time and avoided a tie sending me into a bracket that I would like to dodge. (4-1)
Round 6 vs Golisopod/Zoroark
This is one of the matchups that I was hoping to face throughout the tournament as Night March is inherently faster and trades better than the other deck. In the first game I didn't see an Oricorio so I played recklessly and went for the early KOs on his Golisopods and prepared Marshadow to take out the Zoroarks, and my game plan worked out just as I hoped it would.
The second game, he got an early Armor Press and I overextended to take the KO on the Golisopod on my 2nd turn of play and I managed to get it. He N'd me to 4 and I hit some cards I really didn't care for, but he hit with Oricorio. I was able to use Teammates to grab a DCE and a Puzzle to set up some plays for the following turn. He went again for a low N and I was able to just use Trade and other tricks to KO another big threat on his board with a Marshadow and then cleanly finish up the game. The matchup was an interesting one because I think Night march is favored heavily but if Zoroark/Golisopod gets a good Hex off the game can change entirely. (5-1)
Round 7 vs Liam Williams (Lonzoroark)
The first game Liam went straight for the Toad+Karen play, which was crippling for me because I was unable to get a Zorua onto the board on my first turn even after using three shaymins to draw cards. I was under the lock and never was able to get anything going as Liam quickly targetted my threats and won the game.
Between games we were selected for a deck check and the deck check took approximately 20 minutes, but we were granted only 7 minutes back into our game. I was livid and Liam could tell as a fellow competitor, and we knew calling the head judge to argue the extension would result in more wasted time and a minor extension given back. We knew if this went to a third game we would tie almost certainly.
The second game Liam opened his Toad raw and I had a mediocre hand that needed Shaymin to operate, and I missed the Turn 1 Zorua again. He was able to have a super nutty hand with Brigette in hand, Toad+DCE already locking me out of the game. The lack of Zorua made it so I couldn't really do anything and the 2nd game was mostly just me floundering to do something and I lost very quickly. I realized how bad the matchup is for Night March when playing vs Lonzoroark after this round. (5-2)
Round 8 vs Israel Sosa (Silvally/Psychic)
Israel and I play at almost every big event, and our games are always incredibly close so I know this is going to be an insane series. The first game, I was in the good fortune of running really well and I was able to KO his lone Type Null with ease. I didn't hesistate to play agressively, even knowing that he had the Mew+Oricorio package and I took a commanding Game 1.
The second game was a blur of back and forth, but lead to me having 3 prizes and him with 1. So I thinned my deck down to exactly 6 cards with 3 of them being DCE and I N'd us low. I needed a DCE to KO his Oricorio and to hope he didn't rip a DCE and Psychic memory to use his Silvally. I drew my three cards and then I let out a desperate sigh and flipped my deck over which consisted of 3 DCEs.
The third game was similar to the 2nd game, as we had a big back and forth with it coming down to a turn where if I don't win that turn he would most likely have it. I made some heads up play and used the Puzzles and Dowsing that I had to secure the KO, and win an extremely close series vs a very good friend. (6-2)
Round 9 vs Josh Fernando (Gardevoir-GX)
The first game vs Josh went heavily in his favor, as I had prized triple Night Marchers and Josh showed no signs of whiffing anything or slowing down at all. I was unable to KO his Gardy after an all-in play, and that signed my fate in the first game as we headed into the second one.
The second game, I was firing off on all cylinders, and managed to hex chain him out of the game as he went for an early Octillery but I was able to simply target down his active and stay in control the entire game.
The third game was so scary because I prized 4 Night Marchers and I thought the game was just over. In a cross roads turn that determined how the game would go Josh promoted the Oricorio and I had a stadium in play so he could attack for free that turn, he promoted and used N to put us both low. Him to 4 and me to 3. I would've needed a DCE to use Zoroark to OHKO the Oricorio and stay in a position on tempo advantage leaving me just needing a KO on his Tapu Lele on the bench. Josh, after a long day of playing, didn't realize I had a stadium in play and proceeded to just pass the turn back over to me. I was able to draw the DCE anyway, so I set up a 2nd Night Marcher and I dug further through my deck, knowing his Oricorio would be gone after this turn. I then took the KO on his active and waited to see what his response would be. He used an N to put us both low and knocked out my Joltik with his Gardevoir. I was fortunte enough to Trade into a VS seeker to grab a Lysandre to end the game that turn. After a series that was way too close for comfort, I was able to secure my place in the 2nd day of play for the 2nd time in 4 regionals this season. (7-2)
After the first day of play, I realized how strong the deck was, and along with 4 of my other companions I'd be playing the 2nd day of a tournament. We called it an early night and all passed out, myself first as I was asleep the moment my head hit the pillow. I woke up the next day bright and early ready to go out there and try and finally win a regional championship.
We were told to be there early at 7:30 AM for Day 2, which was the earliest that I've ever been asked to be at a Day 2. We all assumed it would be to allot time for a deck check which was exactly what we anticipated. For about a half an hour we all sat around while the deck checks were being finished and we already knew our Round 10 opponents, so we were all discussing how matchups would go. In a cycle of fate, the Lonzoroark players wanted to avoid the lone Wailord and hit the Night March players, while we the Night March players wanted anything but the Lonzoroark players. Peter Kica went 0-5 against Lonzoroark in the 2nd day leading to his 6-7-1 record.
Round 10 vs Golisopod/Zoroark
This was my opponent from Round 6 of the previous day, so he wasn't too thrilled to see me again. I was able to do exactly what I did to him the first day and just steamroll him the first game.
The second game I whiffed a couple of crucial KOs by not hitting DCE or a certain amount of marchers and that lead to me losing a close Game 2 that I should've taken.
The third game, I went first and I used Ghetsis to get rid of his whole hand and just win in the following turn. I was going to go for the Hex to prevent him from digging for a Brigette on the first turn but I had prized the Hex so I was simply left with one disruption option on my first turn. (8-2)
Round 11 vs Jon Eng (Golisopod/Zoroark)
The first game, I used Ghetsis to throw Jon's whole hand away after his T1 Brigette. In his top deck he was able to get a Lele and make it a game. I was able to simply capitalize on a few mistakes he made and run away with a Marshadow that took out his Golisopod that he stacked all of his energies onto it.
The second game opened just like the first and I threw away his whole hand. He was again able to top deck a Tapu Lele to keep the game going and I eventually had a turn where I needed to go down to a no-card hand to take out his Golisopod, which I did. Then I played both my cards and the card for turn to thin my deck. I then played for 2 turns without a hand realisitically so he was able to run away with the game from there. It was super close, and if he didn't have the game that turn, I had it the next turn.
The third game, I finally got to go first so I went for the Hex to stop the Turn 1 Brigette but I prized the Hex. I instead went for the Ghetsis and again his whole hand was thrown away and he was left with a lone Sudowoodo. He was unable to finally draw out of the Ghetsis and I was able to seal a quick win in that matchup. (9-2)
Round 12 vs Ahmed Ali (Gyarados)
This was my win-and-in to Top 8 and I knew I had to win one of my next three to realistically make it into Top 8, because I determined if a 30 made it based on a downpair loss later on in the tournament. Ahmed was insanely confident in this matchup and I wasn't. The first game looked bleak for me as I whiffed a lot and Ahmed never whiffed anything and I got rolled very quickly.
The second game I was able to go first and control the prize trade in a 1 prize exchange and he benched a Lele to grab an N which sealed the game up for me in my favor. I was able to take a close Game 2 and realized that they need to hit a lot more moving pieces to score KO's than I have to every turn.
The third game I hit a Ghetsis, hoping that I would steal the game off the back of that play, but Ahmed had his copy of Sycamore in his hand and I was left in a poor situation with a poor hand. Ahmed from then on didn't miss anything he needed and just proceeded to roll me, but I thought the matchup was fine and wasn't afraid to hit it once again. (9-3)
Round 13 vs Gardevoir
The first game I get insanely unlucky and miss a massive KO on a Gardevoir with 15 cards in deck, including all 4 Sycamore, and and off a Sycamore I don't hit it. This led to me falling too far behind in the race and I got destroyed in the game.
The second game went much more favorably for me as I went first and was able to Ghetsis a few crucial cards out of his hand away. It gave me enough turns to just get far enough ahead to run away with it. He went for a Gallade play in the midgame but I ignored the Gallade and went right for his Gardevoir on the bench and knocked it out due to a really good set up in the early game.
The third game was a back and forth game that in one turn I missed a crucial DCE that made me miss a KO on a Gardevoir but I was able to recover to a good point. I had secured game in hand no matter what if my opponent didn't use N and he played down Teammates and I knew I had the game. My opponent also then made a crucial mistake of announcing Revelation Dance on Oricorio that turn as opposed to Supernatural Dance. It didn't matter because I had the game regardless but I couldn't allow him to take a play like that back in a win and in situation. (10-3)
Round 14 vs Simon Narode (LycanZoro)
This was an ID into top cut so Simon and I both decided to take our tie and hand in our decks for the ensuing Top 8. (10-3-1) An interesting statistic to note is that I've made 11 Top 8's at Regionals to date and I only have 2 Top 4's one of them coming at this tournament that I'm talking about. After eating, the bracket goes up and I'm on the Zoroark side of the bracket hitting Simon again in Top 8. I for once felt confident that I could actually just win the tournament with the bracket that I had been given.
Top 8 vs Simon Narode (LycanZoro)
This series of Pokémon is some of the best Pokémon I have ever played and had the pleasure of playing. My opponent was amazing and very intelligent. The first game was a very close back and forth that involved me taking a crucial KO on his Lycanroc before it could become a threat and he was unable to N and Hex in the same turn leaving me to use Marshadow to end the game.
We come down to a similar game state where I think I made one of the best plays I've ever made playing Pokémon in my life. I have 9 cards in my deck and 3 puzzles left between my hand and deck. I have 6 Marchers in the discard and my board is a Zoroark active with a DCE, a Marshadow with a DCE, a Joltik, a Shaymin and a Pumpkaboo with a Float Stone. Simon has a Sudowoodo and we both have three prizes left. I use a single puzzle to set my top deck assuming a Syacamore or Teammates wins me the game with Double Puzzle. Ironically the top card was a puzzle, the second was Shaymin and the 3rd was a Juniper to which I sigh and move the Juniper to the top of my deck. I take my prize and its a Puzzle. In the heat of the moment I forgot I had prized a puzzle so I would now be unable to make a puzzle play to win the game. I thought i had thrown the game and felt like I had no way to win. Simon goes off on his turn and uses Hex Maniac but whiffs the KO on my Zoroark so now I have two turns to end the game. I attach my last DCE to Joltik and Sycamored my hand away trying to win that turn. I sat there and thought about the board for almost a minute and asked if he had used Hex Maniac to which he responded yes. I thought deeply and then made my play for the turn. I benched a Joltik, Pumpkaboo, Shaymin and Zorua from hand. Retreated my Zoroark for a Joltik. Proceeded to Field Blower the Skyfield and discarded Joltik, and double Pumpkaboo and announced Night March for 220 damage. We both sat there in a state of awe for a second and then signed the slip. I was shaking after the game and was excited about another Top 4 berth and a potential run for the title.
Top 4 vs Eduardo Gonzales (Lycanzoro)
The first game went as it should because Eduardo played some clunkier cards allowing me to use Hex Maniac and Ghetsis to full effect and take some heavy tempo turns.
The second game was much less exciting as I whiffed early and Eduardo began to use Hex every single turn until I lost in a quick Game 2
The third game was an idea of what could go wrong will go wrong. I was able to get the Turn 1 Hex Maniac as my deck is supposed to against him and Eduardo goes Turn 1 Ultra Ball for a Rockruff, Pokecom for a Zorua, one of his only two Sycamores for 7 and benches another basic. I was able to keep pace and set myself up to win with a single DCE and I gave myself two turns to do it. I was able to Sycamore twice and not hit it either time with 2 DCE left in a 4 card deck after my 2nd Sycamore. I extended my hand and congratulated Eduardo on his chance to play for the title in the finals as I left with a heavy heart to pick up my prizes.
After the tournament I felt like I made the best meta call and played the best deck for the event despite having acess to Lonzoroark as a deck. Azul winning with the list and Michael Pramawat joining me in Top 4 just spoke volumes about how strong the deck actually was. It is 100% the first deck I'll be considering when moving into Dallas Regionals, and the other deck that I want to look at more is Lonzoroark. If I can fix the deck's Gardevoir matchup then I'm gonna be all right with the deck in a big field like Dallas.
That being said, thank you all for reading my report and sticking with me and showing me support through all this time. I recently began editing for a site called thedarkpatch.com where players can go to voice their opinions freely in a blog style and have it edited by pro players so please check that out and feel free to request me! I also have coaching posted through the website if anyone is interested in that. I am also a part of Team CCGCastle and the holidays are rolling around, I think you guys should go buy cards you need and cards that are good for gifts and use promo code CCGTEAM5 for 5% on your next order.
I'll be at Memphis this upcoming weekend, and Dallas right after so expect me there at both. I hope all of you have a happy holidays and wish everyone the best of luck. As usual feel free to message me and please continue to support me and help me out.
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