Eastbourne League Cup – 7th April 2018

Eastbourne League Cup

So the reason I was going to this was largely due to bumping into the TO/Judge Stephen at Reading and again at our first Southampton League Cup and we were asked/encouraged to come along. So we did, crashing overnight at a travel lodge after Portsmouth to get there in a timely fashion for the next morning. This event was 30 minute rounds, best of 1. After the previous days poor performance I went for a *little* more draw support instead of the Rescue Stretcher and  lone Field Blower. Again you can snag a copy of the list here.

Upon arrival we met with a familiar face from the previous day (Ya boi Toby!) and were welcomed in by the Head Judge/Organiser. It’s those little touches which made us feel welcome. Afterall we were never there before so to be welcomed and directed to the right place  rather than to awkwardly bumble into a Parent & Toddler meeting was really great!

Again before I go into the breakdown of the day’s matches I just want to reiterate my thanks and appreciation to the Judges, not just Stephen but also Nigel and Lee who were wholly supportive and encouraging throughout the whole event. I will touch more on this later but suffice to say the event was wholly organised, held in a nice location with clear and articulate communication and importantly enough space for us all to be comfortable.

This is also part of the Three Cups in Three Days series where we hit 3 different League Cups over consecutive Friday, Saturday & Sunday in April like the mad fools that we are!

Round 1 – Mirror (Sarah)

Buzzwole-GX
We still love you Superfly!

So you know how it is, you travel 2-3 hours and and overnight stay just to end up paired against your testing partner with a 59/60 card mirror! It almost goes without saying, but Sarah is an amazingly strong player. Anyone following her trainer career can see the rapid rise in skill and ability over the past year culminating with her taking first place at Southampton cup.

Fortunately I won the flip and went first which is a major advantage in the mirror. This was compounded further by Sarahs’ bad fortune – missing an elixir on top of being unable to find an energy despite digging with a Sycamore and Octillery really sucked. I could see the psychic pain once she missed the energy drop, and it hurt. Even if she wasn’t my friend or my opponent I would still have felt bad. That critical failing of her deck enabled me to jump ahead. Despite this pivotal moment I would never would have said that the game was easy, just that my opponent got dramatically unfortunate and I was able to capitalise on that for the win.

1-0-0 (3)

Round 2 – Turtonator-GX/Ho-Oh-GX (Will)

Ho Oh Gx Burning Shadows
Give me fuel, give me fire….

I recognised this opponent but wasn’t sure from where – fortunately he remembered me from Reading where I then recalled that he played Bulu. However this time Will was packing something a bit more … fiery!

I went first getting some energy on the board and he opened with Turtonator, playing a Lele for a Kiawe and started stoking the flames. With a choice band my Buzzwole was toast next turn.  I had a 2nd Buzzwole on bench that had an Elixir attachment, I opted to Guzma in the Lele and strike for 30 and following 30 more damage through onto the Turtonator. With luck Lele would be stuck and I’d be able to soften his benched Turtonator.

However a hard attach for the turn meant Lele withdrew and Turtonator + a Choice Band managed to Brightflame for 190 for KO. However being on 160 HP meant that I could attack with my backup Buzzwole for a return KO. I thought I was safe because by then there were 3 Kiawes in the discard. Lele was promoted and a Brigette meant 2 Ho-Ohs and a Dawn Wings Necrozma appeared (for the Invasion ability+ Float Stone combo to remove the no-attack clause from Ho-Oh-GX). I then managed to Knuckle-impact the lele for KO (thanks to the early damage).

However Will was running four Kiawes and souped up one of his Ho-Ohs. The main problem for my maths was that Ho-Oh and Necrozma all resist fighting. I could hit 190 but with resistance that wasn’t enough. Fortunately I managed to get out Regirock-EX for that extra 10 damage which meant that I could hit for 200 on Dawn Wings which with resistance meant a OHKO precisely worked and I was able to pull off a win against an otherwise unfavourable matchup.

2-0-0 (6)

Round 3 – Lucario-GX/Zoroark-GX (Darren?)

Lucario GX SM5
Step 1: Evolve | Step 2: Aura Strike | Step 3: ??? |Step 4: PROFIT!

Apologies to my opponent if I’ve gotten the name wrong – I’d never played this opponent before to the best of my knowledge but I thought I’d seen that he was rocking Lucario-GX/Zoroark. On paper this is a good matchup for me – I could target the Zoruas and try to target the Riolus to put Lucario into OHKO range.

When he did evolve and hit for 120 (or 150 with choice or  even 170 with strong) it still wasn’t enough to OHKO a Buzzwole while I could also use my Oricorio to inflict a bit of extra damage while yielding only one prize. It also didn’t help that he didn’t draw too well despite the Zoroark Trade ability. I was able to finish out the match relatively quickly.

 

3-0-0 (9)

Round 4 – Sylveon??/Zoroark-GX (Kyle)

Glaceon Ultra Prism
Ice to meet you!

I would have liked an ID but my opponent needed a win so we shuffled up and got going. I wasn’t sure what he was running and I saw Eevees and Zouras. I feared that this was some horrible Sylveon mill / wall deck.

With this in mind I explicitly went for the Eevees to nip the Sylveons in the bud because I didn’t want Magical Ribbons getting all the denial pieces into place.

There was a slight problem with this conclusion though, namely that the deck was actually Glaceon lock (not Sylveon mill) which I realised after an Aqua Patch got traded away. Although the only relevant Pokémon that would be locked was Regirock-EX (because I’d already played Lele & Octillery isn’t an EX/GX, not having early Glaceons did help. However by the time I’d cottoned on to not getting milled out I should have been OHKOing Zoroarks instead. As a result we went to time and neither of us could take our final few prizes so it resulted in a draw! This also managed to shake up the standings unexpectedly.

3-0-1 (10)

Round 5 – Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX (Nitish)

Versatile Mew EX
Nitish is like Mew – Versatile!

If you’re into Pokémon TCG seriously in the UK you may well have heard of Nitish. From what I gather he’s played Pokémon in pretty much every continent in the world. He had gone 4-0-0 so was happy to offer an ID which I of course accepted meaning that I had time to get some food and use the bathroom before round 5. We didn’t play a friendly as we knew that we’d be in the top cut and frankly a break from the action was welcome. This was the 2nd time I’d gotten to top cut, last time I came 2nd (loosing out to Sarah) – would I do better this time?

3-0-2 (11)

Overall positioning: 2/19 – Top cut!

Top Cut – Preliminary

Top 4 consisted of Myself, Nitish, Kyle & Patrick (playing Bulu I think). As 2nd seed I was paired against 3rd seed Kyle. Unlike the Swiss rounds, these would be best of 3 games, with 1 hour for time. While my deck was slightly tweaked towards best of 1 (less recovery items, more immediate draw support) I prefer best of 3 since it means you’re usually not screwed by a bad setup (Unless I’m playing Craig…! )

At this point action stopped for deck checks. Up until now I’d been using Pro Matte Eclipse sleeves since they are opaque and have a nice shuffle feel. Unfortunately they are i) expensive (£8 for 80), ii) pick up a lot of dirt on the front & iii) get marked easily on the back. I did actually end up using my spares after a game  because I was concerned at a couple of them having scratches and wear. However the judge informed me that I’d need to replace all of my sleeves as they were too battered. (I also shuffle hard). So I got some world regional sleeves from the stall there – a bargain at £4 – and resleeved. After the event I thanked the judge (Nigel) for letting me know about the sleeve conditions. I think he thought I was being sarcastic or something until I clarified that I was sincerely thankful that this was pointed out to me and that I was given the opportunity to resleeve rather than let me go into a game and take penalties. I don’t actually believe any judge would deliberately let a player do that, but I felt supported by this and quickly got to resleeving.

As I mentioned at the beginning and worth repeating; I felt that the judges at this event were knowledgeable, proactive and most importantly supportive of the players. In my top-cut games I was quite nervous (I  suffer with anxiety too) so was panicking about my timing of decisions. Buzzwole needs a lot of maths – and when you’re under pressure, and your train of thought is interrupted then it can be difficult to re-calculate what you’re doing quickly. Again the experienced judges were on point and and assured us that the games’ pace was fine (neither of us asked, but they could tell how we were feeling!). So from that perspective the experience was stellar.

Top 4 – Glaceon-GX/Zoroark-GX (Kyle)

Glaceon Ultra PrismThis was my round 4 rematch, only this time I knew that the deck was Glaceon so I focused on taking out the Zoroarks. By removing the draw support and getting 2 prizers I was able to come ahead. Even when Glaceon came online, I managed to Rogue-GX it for KO. I felt that now that I knew the matchup and accordingly had learned from my previous games against Kyle so I was able to play a better game and come out on top 2-0, putting me in the finals!

Top 2 – Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX (Nitish)

I won’t like I was really nervous. Nitish is a worlds-class player and experienced at the game. My main strength for this match was that I had type advantage and my Oricorio tech.

Nitish managed to get Mew-EX online and OHKO my Buzzwoles, despite getting Oricorio and a Choice Band up, I couldn’t find a Stadium. That said the threat of Oricorio  prevented Parallel City from being played. I missed my only Elixir and the game wasn’t going to well. However despite getting down to my last 2 prizes (which were 2 Brooklet Hills!) Nitish pulled ahead and I was down 1 game.

Game 2 went a lot better – although my Oricorio was prized it was the first one I drew so I was able to take out the Mew-EX when it emerged without sustaining too much damage. Lycanroc’s GX was the main threat since it could OHKO for just 2 energy so while early Zoroua KOs were tempting putting Lycanrocs into OHKO range was a better strategy.  I did get a warning after accidentally Octillery-ing and drawing an extra card  in one round but I caught it before any damage was done and it was easily corrected. It was a floatstone and my opponent joked that I should be allowed to keep it (would have been useless in the situation!) My targeting of Rockruffs paid off overall as the game went a lot more in my favour than the first and I was able to get the win to pull level.

Game 3 – it was down to the wire this time!  Without the bad prizing of game 1, and with the outcome of game 2 giving me a confidence boost we shuffled up for the final showdown. Before I give away the outcome I just want to state how communicative and open of an opponent Nitish is. He was always clear when playing supporters, using abilities, searching, shuffling and so on. We got on well and despite the ‘stakes’ we were having a lot of fun.

So game 3, I had my spicy Oricorio tech available, and nothing critical was prized. I opened up by taking out a Zorua and putting 30 on a Rockruff. We exchanged pieces carefully. The game came down really close and we had hit time. I had 3 prizes to take to Nitish’s 2. I had the game in my hand (Lele for guzma) and was somewhat relieved when Nitish didn’t use N but rather Sycamored for cards and didn’t find an answer. As luck had it I topdecked the Guzma I was going to fetch out anyway. I could have used Knuckle-Impact but needed to use my overloaded Buzzwole to Jetpunch a Zoroark  for KO but more importantly to get the ‘follow through’ 30 damage onto the damaged Rockruff from the first turn. Which had mean that I’d WON!

2-1

League Cup MatConclusion

Thank you if you’ve read all of this. It was an epic day for all involved, my first League Cup win and some great games with equally great opponents.

Aside from the actual games and event itself, the opportunity to mix with other players from outside our usual League was wonderful. As a consequence it was suggested that we try to make another league cup ‘nearby’ (2.5 hours away!). Sarah, having not made Top Cut this time and been bitten by the bug was keen, as was a familiar Portsmouth local, Tony. As well as this I was on a bit of a winners high so we made some calls and sorted places for the next day -which is why we made 3 cups in 3 days! Saner people might have stopped to think, we did not and just went with it!

Acknowledgements

There’s some obvious ‘thank you’s but they are still necessary:

Firstly to the judging staff and organisers who were all amazing and reassuring. It sounds daft but even me not knowing the etiquette of a formal deck check wasn’t made into a problem – I’d laid it out on my mat on a table, but they wanted it as a deck in order delivered to the judge table. I explained that this was my 2nd time in top and of course they didn’t give me a hard time.

Team Mates Cup
I get by with a little help from my friends!

Secondly to all my opponents all of whom were friendly and sporting. I met some really lovely people who I’m looking forward to meeting at other events and occasions. A special thank you here to Nitish not just for being a great finalist, but who let us know about the Bexhill cup the next day and that there were spaces!

Finally many thanks for fellow team-member Sarah for deck-brewing, playtesting, driving and waiting it out while I was in top cut. I know playing her in the first round didn’t really help her situation but the support of teammates is invaluable.

Portsmouth League Cup – 6th April 2018

Portsmouth League Cup

It almost of goes without saying but all of Jamie’s events are timely, professionally run, welcoming and extremely well organised. This cup was no exception. Quite frankly it is the standard that I compare anything else I attend with. If our league was even half as good as Jamie’s events we would be right to be proud. Of course one man isn’t an army, and he was supported by the always cheerful Devon and at least 3 other knowledgeable judges, all of whom are experienced players as well.

This is also part of the Three Cups in Three Days series where we hit 3 different League Cups over consecutive Friday, Saturday & Sunday in April like the mad fools that we are!

Round 1 – Mirror

judge
Rule 0: If in doubt, call a judge.

A difficult first round of the cup overall, wherein my opponent attempted to dictate my own plays to me, tell me I had nothing left to play and what attack I would use. Suffice to say I was aware of this players attitude and reputation prior to the event and was having none of it – so I called a judge. The entire charade was made worse by the fact that he literally took a phone call during a game 2 while there was about 3 minutes left on the clock. Not even a vaguely understandable ‘sorry Bob – can’t talk I’m busy right now‘ type affair or even a totally understandable ‘my wife is due to go into labour‘ – but an actual, full blown conversation. Apparently it was an ‘important business call’. Frankly I don’t care if it was the Pope – the rest of us cleared out schedules to be here for a League Cup, and my time and money is as good as anyone else’s.

We ended up drawing at 1 game each.

0-0-1 (1)

Round 2 – Zoro/Roc

ZoroarkGX
I wish I had a witty caption

I was a bit put off after the previous round (I was on a lot of meds that day for severe pain so I don’t know if that made me more or less bothered by it) – but figured it was all good from here. Unfortunately I don’t recall the name – should, by some miracle of the internet, my round 2 opponent is reading this I can only apologise and offer the aforementioned strong meds combined with 3 day old memory as an excuse. I just about remember the match-up type!

Zoroark/Lycanrock (‘Paw Patrol’) is more or less favourable for me and I was able to tackle the Zoroarks while counter-Lycanrocking his Lycanrocs before he could GX me. Hitting a surprisingly average amount of Max Elixirs also helped. We managed to get 2 games in for a 2-nil round win to me, so the cup dream was alive – for now!

1-0-1 (4)

Round 3 – KikaBulu (George)

tapu bulu
Bulu is a veggie, but will eat you alive!

I’d met George a couple of times at previous cups where he’s local to Reading and his partner Jay and I exchange a bit of Poké-banter on Twitter. Though I’d never actually played against him nor seen him play, and so was a bit surprised to find ‘Bulu with Balls’ (aka ‘KickaBulu’). Bulu has a reputation to easily fall apart since there’s a few moving parts all of which need to synergise fairly smoothly and each have their own ways of being disrupted.

However to his absolute credit George played perfectly, got set up really quickly and went to town on my underdeveloped board. My situation wasn’t helped by me misplaying early in game 1 – I was trying to be more aggressive to kill off the Grubbins and not being slightly more conservative in terms of planning future turns. I basically should have Ultra Balled for Lele for backup draw support, not for more killing power so I bricked. Total noobie error quite frankly and it cost me. The inevitability of Bulu meant that I struggled to catch up and got soundly, and fairly, annihilated!

All in all a wonderful opponent playing an underrated deck who deservedly made it into the top cut as 2nd seed. He then overcame Marcus’ Fire to make top 4 where he had to play against his partner Jay (I hate having to play against Cat in any sort of tournament so I felt their pain!) Overcoming that he made it into cup final – more on that later!

1-1-1 (4)

Round 4 – Mirror (Craig)

BuzzwoleGX
Sorry Craig, no full art for you!

The rule of travelling to events is that you’re going to play a local person you play every week. Maybe. I possibly made that up – it’s 4:22AM and I’m not sure what weight of the colour of the sky is again.

Craig and I tend to, completely without intention, design or malice, play the same deck archetype and then face each other with them – usually at local Challenges. I was counting on my spicy counter-mirror and counter-counter tech of Oricorio. But at what point do you stop trying counter rock with with your scissors, decide to counter paper instead and then end up around at rock again?

Game 1 went really well for me, I’ve been playing the deck for a fair length of time, while Craig has only recently made the switch to the Buzzwole brigade. I managed to accelerate up, GX for KO, Knuckle Impact for KO and play a fast and smooth game. All the things the deck does when running at 100% and the stars align. Hail Superfly! However Craig’s own mutant death flies weren’t so fortunate… but that was about to radically change!

Game 2 – Feeling a bit chipper after the game 1 win I started to wonder what puppies I’d kicked in a previous life as I mulliganed. FIVE TIMES.

Oricorio
Bustin’ moves on the dance floor!

I’m running 15 pokemon, of which 11 are basic so the odds are 62% of getting at least 1 basic [P(60,7,11,1) with a hypergeometric progression]. Nope. Now try that 5 times.  Then I did get a basic. My lone Oricorio. She’s kind of good…-ish? Against Buzzwole. Right…?

Well yes, as I elucidated before it’s a good tech but is conditional –  if I’m set up, have a stadium, Choice Band and so on or, at least in this situation, a draw supporter to let me dig for said pieces. But not as a lead attacker with no backup. I literally had to draw pass and watch as my poor dancing bird got its’ feathers plucked by an over ‘roided mutant death fly! So 1-1 – mercifully it was over quickly, giving us loads of time for round 3!

Game 3 – Whatever fickle demon hellspider spins her web to catch Buzzwoles in the wild was clearly having it in for me at this point. I mullagined again, and again, and again.  So only thrice to start with…. Oricorio. Again. I dare not even attempt calculate the odds incase the resolution of the equation destroys space-time itself!

Despite my hyperbole, it was after all a fellow local and an all around decent bloke, so if my deck was to brick embarrassingly at least it was to someone who can remind me of it every week…right? (Just kidding he’s really a cool guy! 🙂 ) However with that loss unless something really strange happened I was out of top cut.

In a slight consolation (for want of a better word – it’s not that I actually see someone who beat me fairly loosing as a form of consolation) he did face off against Espeon/Garbodor in round 5 which would more than likely have ended badly for me anyway so it was just not to be it seems.

Round 5 – Duskmane/Talonflame (Shakil)

Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX Ultra Prism
Hear Me Roar!

So Shakil is another local, like Craig a strong player, just hasn’t hit as many premier events yet so it was great to see the locals representing and holding their own against pretty strong competition.

The deck was Duskmane Necrozma with Talonflame and whatever about my 5 mulligans, it was nothing compared to the lack of any sort of consistency that Shakil achieved. Not through lack of trying or deck build, in one game he whiffed energy in a 13-15 energy deck despite digging down and I basically out-accelerated him managing to take KOs. Sudowodo put in legwork by copying the 230 attack of doom (+ strong energy) for knock out on the Duskmane and basically the deck bricked hard for him. I did feel, he is a mate, a local, and was risking an off meta deck, but it just didn’t work out game 1, at one point literally drawing into 3 Talonflames (useless if you don’t start with it).

Game 2 – He managed to start with a Talonflame which made it a bit more interesting. Being a cheeky git I copied it’s attack with Sudowodo – the novelty of searching out 2 cards meant that my deck got to ‘cheat’ more energy and control than it otherwise should have so it was fun but over quickly. In fairness we kept playing friendlies and he did win the next one so I think with a few tweaks the deck might be able to do a bit better.

2-2-1 (7)

Overall positioning: 14/28 – dead centre!

The Good & The Bad Sandwich

Good: I re-learned how to play the game at a competitive level and had fun doing it….

Bad: ….with the sore exception of round 1.

In future I’d probably just refuse to play that opponent again without a table judge present because it probably isn’t worth the stress. Though I’m not sure if that is the right solution or approach.

My assessment was further confirmed by a 4th person, completely divorced from the situation, who has played them in a different setting on a different day, and independently confirmed my (and the 2nd and 3rd party’s) assessment. According to opponent #1 I’m not a very good player (still worth denigrating to my peers 0.O) but ya know on narcotics and still got a draw? I’m in no way a supporter of violence or anything of the sort but karma is a bitch and eventually people will realise true natures.

Good: So this seemed to be a bit of a ranty witch-hunt (without the hunt!) so for some good news: VoluntaryReboot made top cut and went into the final against George’s KikaBulu. Unfortunately she didn’t manage to get the win against what is ultimately an unfavourable matchup for the deck. However I’m sure the 40-ish CP and 12 packs helped mitigate that little sting a bit!