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.