Bournemouth League Cup 14th April

Bournemouth League Cup

Choices
It’s Ya Boi!

Firstly I really meant to change my decklist after 3 League Cups because I’m not after a mat or points or anything now. My thought was pointed towards ‘TordPod’ because it has a good balance of matchups (no Bulu autoloss and there’s not much fire at the moment) but while I love Golisopod, I struggled to achieve the results comparable to Buzzwole in early testing. So for League Cup 4 I stuck with the Superfly. Again you can snag a copy of the list I used here.

My primary reason for change is that Bulu is a very bad matchup for Buzzwole and there’s been at least a 10% Bulu turnout at each event. Primarily I’ve been wondering about running a different deck with better odds against it. It accelerates faster and more reliably than Elixirs, and can heal. Additionally almost everyone is teching in Mew-EX or Mewtwo to kill off Buzzwole.

Fellow Team Oddish-er VoluntaryReboot, was running a Gardevoir variant which I think was a good choice although I know she didn’t get a lot of practice (and Gardevoir has a lot of moving parts which can go wrong…)

This tournament was taking place in Bag of Holding, my Friendly ‘local’ (30 miles away) Gaming Store. I know the owners and manager really well from wargaming (and previous Pokémon events of course!) They run a good show, in a well lit and comfortable environment.

Round 1 – Lucario/Zoroark (Dan)

Lucario GX SM5
Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind!

Dan is local to Bournemouth and was playing a Lucario-GX/Zoroark build. Dan is quite talkative and friendly and although I like a bit of banter we needed to keep focused on the game. Lucario/Zoroark is a good match up for me since the benefit of Lucario (OHKO Zoroark) is irrelevant.

We had to call a judge when my opponent tried to use Brooklet Hill  to get a look through his bench despite a full bench but otherwise I was able to get a 2-0 victory and we’d started playing a 3rd friendly game.

1-0-0 (3)

Round 2 – Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt (Demetrius)

tapu bulu
Raging Bull…

In contrast to Dan from round 1, Demetrius was more reserved and had travelled some distance to the cup, hunting CPs. He was playing Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt (without Rare Candies but with balls). Also running Brigette and Skyla, so accordingly was able to get setup fairly rapidly.

As mentioned earlier, Bulu is a tough matchup, my only chance of success is to play perfectly, hope they brick slightly and kill the Vikavolts. And despite all of that a fully powered bulu can easily OHKO me, or heal while I struggle to recover.

So needless to say I got killed in round 1, I had managed to set up an exchange but my opponent was too far ahead in prizes. I had terrible outcomes in round 2 – at this point in the tournament I had hit zero elixirs. My deck also bricked and I needed to use Lycanroc who gets OHKOed while returning 2 prizes.

As mentioned unless they miss a beat or their deck does ‘Bulu things’ it is all but impossible for Buzzwole to pull ahead. There’s also no one or even two card specific tech that makes it a better matchup – unlike say Mew-EX which almost everyone techs against Buzzwole.

1-1-0 (3)

Round 3 – D.Mane Necrozma/Silvally (Ryan)

Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX Ultra Prism
All the energies plz!

Ryan is local to Bournemouth but also visits our League in Southampton a fair amount. I remember having a close game in an expanded League Challenge (best of one though) a few months ago so wasn’t going to get complacent.

As you can see to the right Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX can hit for 250 for 3 energy with Sun’s Eclipse GX or 220 for 4 (but loose 3 energy) with Meteor Tempest. So acceleration really helps this deck and keeps it flowing.

Silvally also helps to counter some meta encounters with memory tools, and supports the rest of the deck by allowing your basics to retreat for free and its attack also accelerates energy. So on paper a good deck. However I’ve tested it and I’m still not convinced. Couple this with the Sudowodo ‘Watch and Learn‘ attack meaning I can copy Meteor Tempest for 2 energy on Sudowodo for a return KO.

Anyway, I managed to work around the energy build up and was able to take down the Silvally due to weakness – even if it’s Psychic type due to ‘Psychic Memory’ tool, its weakness to Fighting doesn’t change. So with slow building metal and Fighting weak normal I was able to pull ahead 2 games to win the round.

2-1-0 (6)

Round 4 – D.Mane Necrozma/Magnezone (Luke 1)

Magnezone
Power = Current x Voltage?

At this stage to get in to top cut I knew I’d need another win at least and my opponent was in a similar position. I played Luke running Magnezone/Necrozma. This opponent, is termed ‘Luke 1’ because I faced 2 consecutively, and since I’m rubbish with names, let alone surnames, they are playfully termed ‘Luke 1’ and ‘Luke 2’ (sorry Lukes!!)

The Magnezone deck is similar to Bulu in that it uses a stage 2 to accelerate energies onto a big attacker, in this case Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX. Luke was also running Mt. Coronet which lets a player recover 2 discarded energys from discard to the hand – and presumably attach straight away with the Magnetic Circuit ability.

Unfortunately the deck requires even more moving parts than Vika/Bulu and so can brick even more easily. My ability to play my own Stadium over Coronet helped slow down the power up. The Sudowodo Watch and Learn attack also put in work copying that nasty 220 attack for only 2 energy. It also has a ‘soft counter’ to Buzzwole since a benched Magnezone can’t take bench damage from a Jet Punch which made my job harder but not impossible.

Brick
The Brick giveth, and the Brick taketh away…

In fairness to Luke his deck bricked hard in game 1, not even getting a single Rare Candy & Magnezone up and running. Additionally my Elixirs actually hitting didn’t help his situation and I was able to take game 1. We had loads of time and shuffled up for game 2. I was getting a bit wobbly (yay Diabetes!) and had to nibble some food but I don’t think I misplayed in any major way while this was going on.

My opponent was getting a little stressed, I guessed from the total bricking of the deck in the first round, so I assured him to take his time rather than misplay as we had enough time. He played well and got a Magnezone online. via Rare Candy. I think I managed to disrupt it a turn earlier with an N but I hit zero elixirs (yay back to normal!) and rapidly got demolished since Luke 1 managed to keep me from jumping ahead until his deck fell into place.

We started game 3, but it rapidly went to time, there wasn’t really any way for either of us to take six prizes. if I did something *crazy* and it worked I possibly could have taken 3 and accordingly I would guess that if literally everything went right for Luke he might have been able to take 2 KOs, probably for 4 prizes. But there was no way either of us were going to manage to get 6 prizes in time. So we shook after some well fought games with a tie.

2-1-1 (7)

Round 5 – Zoroark-GX/Garbodor (Luke 2)

Garbodor GRI
Got Trash?

So it turns out that Luke travelled from Southampton too, studying but had come with a different player he knows from back home in London. I hope we see him at other events.

His deck was Zoroark-GX with both types of Garbodor, trashalanche and garbotoxin. Combined with bursting balloons and lot of tech cards I knew this wouldn’t be easy. Having both type advantage and weakness really makes the game interesting!

Fortunately in game 1 the 2nd trashalanche Garbodor was prized so I managed to kill off the relevant one and then pick off Zoroarks to win.

Game 2 was a lot different. I had to Prof. Sycamore a hand of tools away to avoid getting donked which meant that I was now in deep for Trashalanche which was obviously bad, but on the positive side meant that more tools couldn’t really make things any worse! Getting trades online and flying through his deck Luke managed to get down to 1 prize before I was in a position to even take any.

Being hit for weakness by a 1 prize attacker for 1 energy spells bad news for any deck, but that coupled with the draw engine of Zoroark and my brick start meant that game 2 was a write off. I probably should have conceded and tried for a game 3 win but it was long in the day and we started and almost immediately were in time. Luke made a long play to possibly try and go for an Acid Spray + Choice Band to get a KO but it didn’t work out and so similar to the previous round we shook on well fought and deserved tie.

3-0-2 (8)

Overall positioning: 7/18

Bless the pulls! Except when I’m grumpy! *flails*

Like an idiot I thought ‘yay top 8’ but of course it was a Top 4 cut due to only being 18 Masters! Voluntary Reboot came 6th and got 3 boosters, I got 2 and neither of us pulled anything useful. I did buy 2 in the store for Cat but when I got home she pulled a UPR Magerna and Fairy Tapu Lele. Lord Helix wasn’t really with us!

. We hung around to play some casual games and do some trades. I managed to offload my promo-Buzzwoles and got a few more things for collection and potential meta-decks. Additionally I got some nice tips on how to work Golisopod from Ben Short so that will probably be my play for the next time I’m attending an event. I’ve met Ben a few times and he seems lovely, but have yet to play him at an event.

Despite the poor pulls, and middle of the road tournament results, the event was quite fun overall. It was great to see the BoH team and play some stimulating and challenging games in a familiar environment

I don’t know if that makes sense. I can only liken it to when I was a kid, if I wanted to just relax I’d play Sonic 3 & Knuckles – I could do it backwards (and still can!), whereas if I wanted a challenge, no matter how many times I played it, Comix Zone was always something I had to focus on. Pokémon can be like that, games can be easy or hard, and the environment can be oppressive or friendly; there’s a lot of variables which can influence your enjoyment. Some people just want fun games casually to relax and shoot the breeze others want to really exercise that muscle between their ears and make it stronger!Today was a happy mix of the two which is just what I needed after the previous weekend’s 3 Cup bender!

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!

Southampton League Cup

Southampton League Cup

The venue for the League Cup was our local League’s Nerd World- Southampton’s only independent nerd store and first time running a Cup last Saturday, the 10th Feb. As usual, Ace Trainer Sarah did much better than me too!

There were 23 masters and 7 Juniors/Seniors too. Quite a few locals, some from Team PoTown and a couple of outsiders who had travelled quite far.

Buzzwole-GX
We Love You Superfly!

For my 3nd League Cup I was still running Buzzwole/Lycanroc (aka ‘Superfly’) with lessons learned from Reading – this time  the deck was more streamlined and included a one of Zygarde-EX to help against any Mew/Mewtwo/Mew-EX counter-tech’s that seemed highly popular. (You can grab a text file of the decklist here)

I brought Buzzwole because I didn’t have practice with anything else. Ace Trainer Sarah was also running the deck (I was using her list) since we both practice together and the only difference was that she had a Lillie and I had a Zygarde-EX – to counter against any sort of Mew/Mewtwo tech that crucified me at Reading.

Overall the list was similar to Reading except streamlined to be slightly more consistent version with less, crazy techs. The exception being Zygarde because I used to run a Zygarde/Lucario list before rotation and it so was a comfortable inclusion. The deck rotation with really aggressive very similarly played anyway so that’s what brought.

As before with very little Psychic in the format and quite a bit of Zoroark (who’s weak to Fighting) it is a good deck to run. Aggressive and relatively simple to handle. Having been violently ill most of this past week I didn’t get any testing done aside from a half-dozen games online (which went well) and I was almost considering not going to the event since I haven’t been sleeping well as a result of illness. However, in the end I decided to stick with it and I’m glad I did go – read on to find out why!

League Cup – Swiss Rounds

Round 1 – Volcanion (Jacob)

So we kicked off the first Southampton Pokémon League Cup on time. We got going and I was on T13 against a guy from Cardiff. Adjacent to me on T14 was Sarah against his friend who I’d seen at Reading – they travel quite a bit and were clearly competent players.

Game 1 – My opponent was playing Volcanion with no Kiawe. I got rapidly set up and took four prizes, then he caught up by a bit but then I hit into my Guzmas and managed to finished him off.

I used the usual sort of approach like pulling in targets with Lycanroc to get the KOs. The Max Elixir and Multi-Switch spicy tech is good for breaking up expectations in the tempo too.- Win

Game 2 – I managed to win the second game with time to spare which was good considering that the rounds were 45 minute best of 3 –Win

Round 2 – Zoroark/Lycanrock/Tech (Tyler)zoroark gx

This round was against Tyler who is a local, but new to our league. I haven’t played him before so was unaware of what he was running or quite how good he was until we started playing. Turns out he’s very good!

Game 1 – A Benchbarrier Mr Mime was among the first things found by Brigette but there was no Mewtwo – it was stuck in prizes! (And it turned out to be the last prize too!) Aside from the minor annoyance of Juggle Boy, the game went relatively smoothly and I was able to build on 4 early prizes to power up a buzzwole for a final KO – Win

Game 2 -Somehow, again, the Mewtwo was prized and wasn’t drawn during the game and it went similar to the first one. I was able to do my usual technique of rushing ahead but thankfully my deck is now consistent enough that I can then recover to claim the last prizes. – Win

Round 3 – VikaBulu (Craig)tapu bulu

Craig is another local who is quite good competitively. I have beaten him in a Volcanion Mirror to win a Challenge and similarly have been beaten by him in a Nightmarch Mirror for him to win! So I wasn’t going to be complacent in this League Cup!

Game 1 – I opened with an N to disrupt his hand while chipping away at a Bulu. Despite his attempts to set up I Leled for another N to keep the disruption going and was even able to take a cheeky KO on a benched Grubbin with Jet Punch. Having been beaten soundly by Bulu at Reading, and having studied and played it extensively I knew that the trick is to prevent their setup at any cost. By the time a Vikavolt was online I was just able to Rogue-GX the Bulu for game – Win

Game 2 – We had plenty of time left for game 2 and it started quite similarly although this time Craig had a curse of the dreaded ‘bulu-hands’. I’m not even use he got a Vikavolt online although he managed to attack with one which had gotten 3 manual energy attachments! His spicy baby Mew tech couldn’t really work without the energy from Vikavolt and his Tapu Koko was weak to Buzzwole meaning that I secured game 2, thanks in large part to his terrible luck – Win

During lunch, prior to Round 4 I had been approached by a random player (also on 3 wins, but as it turns out I wasn’t paired against him) who asked for an ID if we were to play and to be honest I would rather have played to ensure that there was no way someone could get 4 wins and out-score me. Although it would still mean Top 8 I guess. Either way my actual Round 4 opponent needed a win to Top 8 and I was keen to play so we cracked on!

Round 4 – Sylveon/Gardevoir (Tony)

This opponent was from Po Town, although I only vaguely recognised him but the day was getting on. He seemed nice and informed me that I had the favourable match up which I must admit I was skeptical of since I know how brutal Garde can be!

Game 1 – I unapologetically went for the Remoraids and made fish fingers out of them. I know that Garde needs to draw cards to get the energy and by sabotaging this early I would be able to win a war of attrition. Being able to hit the bench allowed me to soften up any Ralts/Kirlias before they evolved into Gardevoirs putting them in a OHKO range. He also had a spicy Mewtwo tech but it was prized in this game.- Win

Game 2 – Similar to the first although although much closer. He managed to get a couple of Gardes up and running, Mewtwo came out but Gallade was prized which didn’t help him and quite like the first and again I hunted the draw support. Although it got recycled his tempo was disrupted by my playing of N and my deck was just more consistently able to keep dishing out damage. When I got Lycanrock-GX online he played a clever Parallel City targeting himself to shrink his bench putting me out of OHKO range with Rogue-GX!  There was a point where he went Sycamore fishing for a DCE but with 2 in the discard and 1 on the field it didn’t happen. I N-ed away his DCE during time so avoided the OHKO on my Buzzwole – Win

The deck was regular Gardie and with no crazy techs so it was a case of just punch the little guys and keep knocking things out.

Of note was also the pair on table 1 beside us who IDed and one sat there literally studying my deck as I played it. It seemed a little gamey but on the other hand I was glad that I was considered a substantial threat!

Round 5 – ID

I don’t even know what my opponent was playing but we Intentionally Drew meaning that we each got a point, got into top 8 and more importantly got a 45 minute break. It was nice to get a break, taking paracetamol for a headache and get some food  to keep my sugar level sustained for the Top 8. Getting to use the loo was good too!

Swiss result: 4-0-1 (13) = #1 seed! I was quite happy with that result and to achieve my goal of making the Top 8 cut. Interestingly, my first 2 opponents also made top 8 as did Sarah (seed #7)

League Cup – Single Elimination

So I’d managed to make the Top 8 and hadn’t lost a round during the Swiss either 🙂

#1 – Buzzwole/Lycanroc (Me) vs #8 – Volcanion
#2 – Gardevoir vs #7 – Buzzwole/Lycanroc (Sarah)
#3 – Vika Bulu vs #6 – Vika Bulu
#4 – Gardevoir/Zoroark vs #5 – Zoroark/Lycanroc (Tyler)

Overall there was a good standard of skilled players present as well as a few ‘known names’ from around. (Although the biggest were probably abroad in Austraila!) Three locals making Top 8 was also pretty good showing that we didn’t get stomped.

The second games against my first two opponents were more difficult – they clearly learned more about my than I had learned about them and it was tougher although I guess I was confident since I’d already beaten them before.

Top 8  – Volcanion (again!)

Game 1/2 -I was paired against Volcanion again and hit no max elixirs and started to brick loosing game 1 relatively quickly. In game 2 I stupidly put down a Remoraid and meant to play a Rockfuff (to Lycanroc next turn) but my finger was off it (apparently that’s a thing, like in chess) However I drew into an Octillery which gave me the recover power I needed. Karma’s a bitch! -Loss/Win

Game 3 went to time and we couldn’t finish so with 1 win each, we went to Sudden Death. I had to take a 2 hit KO and take a risk – he needed 3 steam ups on his baby Volcanion and used Sycamore, only hitting 2. He possibly could have powered up a Volcanion-EX but I think he missed that option thankfully. It was the biggest gamble of the day but my only option to win so I had to take it.  Sudden Death is a bit scary as it can be highly luck dependant, however I felt that my hyper-aggressive deck had the edge here.

Top 4 – Zoroark/Lycanroc/Tech (again!!)Mewtwo Generations

Game 1 – This time Tyler had a mewtwo and it was one of the first pieces fetched by Brigette. It made my life difficult hitting for 120-ish damage while only yielding 1 prize for me. The problem was compounded by it being recycled with a Super Rod, however I managed to make the deck work consistently and take knockouts on his 1-of Buzzwole-GX and Lycanroc-GX. Certainly a lot tougher than the first time around! – Win

Game 2 -Again Mewtwo was back with a vengeance! We went to time with my Regirock just having being pulled out via Guzma. But with 1 prize to take, 11 cards in my deck -which I knew contained the 2 each of the Float Stone and Choice Band I needed to win – I evolved Lycanroc to pull in a Zoroark, Ultra-Balled for a Remoraid to get my deck down to 10 cards and then used Prof. Sycamore. Even my luck isn’t that bad so when I’m drawing 7/10 and only need a pair of cards I managed to retreat the Regirock and hit for weakness with a Choice Band on Lycanroc for game. A lot closer than the first set of games! – Win

This also meant I was onto the final!

Top 2 – 59 Card Mirror – Sarah

Buzzwole-GX

We sort of had a suspicion we’d have to face each other at some point in the day, but I don’t think either of us imagined it would be in the final playoff of the League Cup.

Beforehand we agreed to split the prizes (booster box + ETB = 22 boosters each, she got dice & I got sleeves) so would be playing for the 50CP, Playmat and the Glory! I did have a suspicion that Sarah’s deck tweak would prove superior in the mirror  and I know she’s practiced a lot more than me!

Since I was facing a friend at this point we didn’t really matter what happened – one of us would win and the other would still get 40CP and we were both really happy with hitting Top 8, let alone the final! Me especially since my abysmal Reading performances and I know Sarah was gutted to miss her ‘win & in’ last time.

So as mentioned Sarah and I had 59 card identical decks except my Zygarde-EX instead of her Lillie.

Game 1 – I started with Zygarde  and Sarah managed a turn 1 Lillie. I did play Brooklet Hill to increase the Zygarde damage and KO a Remoraid but it also helps my opponent prevent me donking them. However that extra Lilly consistency and my inability to find a single Guzma meant that Sarah took game 1.- Loss!

Game 2 – I started a lot better and Sarah’s deck basically bricked, I didn’t have a swimming start but managed to recover and get so far ahead that she scooped to get the full time in game 3 (none of us wanted sudden death!)- Win!

Game 3 – This game was obviously quite intense (in a good way) and my tempo was a bit behind my opponents.  The crux came when there was a point where I could have possibly used Rogue-GX for a KO but I didn’t because I would have been beaten next turn. So I focused on staying alive and used Guzma to buy time, but Sarah already had a counter-Guzma in hand as well as a back up attacker anyway. So with that she took the final KO and became the Southampton Cup Champion. I thus emerged 2nd with 40CP!

I am also thrilled to have been the top seed with 13 points and no losses. By contrast our Champion had 2 early draws and no losses which got her 7th seed.

I came away with 22 UPR boosters and the ETB sleeves which was good since I haven’t opened much UPR (7 packs from pre-release). Overall it was a tough day, a bit stressful at times and quite long – my timing/pace of play was good (lots of people’s games went to time, but most of mine didn’t).
I’m not half as disappointed at not winning (I hesitate to call winning all but one match loosing!) as I should probably be, but it’s easy to be happy at 2nd place when you know that it is a friend and extremely strong player who beat you. I knew that she’d play tested a lot more than I had and knew the deck a lot better than me so am really happy for my friend. Additionally I’d also been quite ill the preceding week and consequently had little opportunity for playtesting so was a bit surprised to do as well as I had done!

Organisationjudge

I’m sorry to say that could have been better. At times it was hard to hear the TO especially when things like Time was called. In addition the Seniors/Juniors were on the higher tables which were seated for adults, pushing adults down to the smaller chaired and more cramped tables.

In game 2 the constant warbling of 2 kids who kept interrupting my game and the games behind them caused me to call a judge to get them to shut up. I get that focus for kids is difficult, but don’t interrupt other peoples games because that’s just rude. In game 4 a local just walked in (which is fine) but again I’m in a game I don’t want people hovering near me when I’m trying to concentrate.

Lack of Match slips caused numerous re-pairs (3 or 4) and the reason given was that the shop didn’t want to waste paper which I think is a pretty pathetic excuse. I wouldn’t mind but I actually offered to bring a printer along or print blank match slips for the event before hand (since I already do the table numbers) so there was literally no excuse. Planning didn’t happen =(

I managed to convince the TO to print out the pairings so that he wouldn’t have to attempt to call out the pairings and have a load of people unsure as to where they needed to be. Printing them out and sticking them up proved to be the correct approach.

I’m biased towards the assistant judge since she’s my beloved but her judge calls on the day were correct, and despite subsequent discussion, still proved to be correct. She however has been put off from judging due to the event and the subsequent reactions of the TO. Her only mistake was mishearing a result which forced a repair and she was annoyed about it (and is now getting a hearing test as a result!). But if there were match slips it wouldn’t have been an issue in the first place. I don’t think it’s fair to force your assistant judges into positions where mistakes like this can happen when there are systems in place to prevent mistakes from happening. To further go and undermine them by then double checking everything they’ve already done, (while the TO has made 2 mis-pairs themselves) is means that there won’t be a second judge for the next League Cup. Additionally doing 9 hours of judging at a League Cup and giving up your Saturday to receive: a foil counter catcher.. doesn’t seem right.

The judge calls made on the day were accurate although the TO almost caused a double game loss by misinforming a Senior who was in time. The Senior asked if he could win the game since they were in time and was down a game and was told that he couldn’t and was about to scoop!! I took a risk to intervene and explain that if he won then they’d have won 1 each so the round would have been a draw.

23 masters and 7 kids meant that people had Byes, and with only 3 rounds for kids it meant that 3 of them only got 2 rounds. I would have ensured that there were even numbers (say 22/8) to allow for better pairing and more rounds.

Prizing was a bit odd, while I’m not complaining to have gotten the better end of the deal in some respects I think that they are heavily balanced towards 1st and 2nd place. I would rather spread out the boosters a bit more since the CP are the goal and ensure that everyone who made Top 8 got  at least something. With 7 Junior/Seniors 6 of them got prizes which again was odd.

However that all being said, this was the first League Cup and I hope that by cataloging these failings and addressing them at the next planning meeting that we can move forward and that the next one will be a lot better and more smoothly run. I hope that anyone who has opinions or feedback gives it as it’s very difficult to get the TO to change his mind about anything.

Cup Considerations

So in 2 weeks time we are hosting our first ever League Cup in Southampton Pokémon League. In a departure from our regularly scheduled madness, it is going to be in Standard format.

The last Standard event (barring pre-release on the 27th, where I was judging anyway) I attended was Reading League Cup. As you can see here, didn’t go too well!

There’s only 5 decks I’m considering unless something amazing comes out of the woodwork

1) Gardevoir-GX

 

Aka ‘Brokenvoir’ – Gardevoir with Max Potions. For some reason this has fallen out of favour despite no actual prevalence of metal in the format. However it does suffer from a lack of consistency, and an inability to hit for big numbers (Zoroark’s or Golisopod’s 210, even Buzzwole’s 190) without investing a lot of energy.

On the plus side it can have Gallade which greatly helps against the aforementioned Zoroarks and generally works by having a more efficient Energy:Damage ratio (1 energy for 30 damage is good, 1 energy for 30 damage + 30 for each of your opponents energy is much better). Additionally Gardevoir is resistant to Dark making Zoroark need a 3 hit KO without a Choice Band. There’s a lot of psychic tech too though which hurts Gallade

I find that the deck can stall out if you loose an overinvested Gardevoir and then fail to recover due to the lack of energy. It is not a deck I would like to play against, and due to the lack of meta prevalence, I’ve not really played against it a lot except at Bournemouth’s League Challenge.

2) Buzzwole-GXBuzzwole-GX

I want to like Superfly. 30+30 to the bench for Fighting Energy is pretty strong, but the Fighting EnergyFighting EnergyFighting Energy requirement for anything else hinders reliable escalation.  I don’t know if it needs mixing with Po Town, Tapu Koko Promo and Espeon-EX to run in a separate kind of spread deck, rather than the current partnership with Midnight Lycanroc-GX. Online and further afield some strong players do highly rate this deck but I’m not those players and I cannot necessarily replicate their success with this deck in a different meta.

Accordingly, I am going to test it out in the next few weeks and I really, really want it to work – I’m just not sure what to couple it with – Lycanroc is a liability to Golisopod and the deck rarely hits for max damage even when Bloodthirsty Eyes pulls in a victim to get those OHKOs. Garbotoxin might help shut down opponents, and Espeon-EX starts making it into a spread deck. Zoroark might make it a more efficient version of Pawpatrol (Fly-snapper?) although the energy types don’t really synergise.

3) Tapu Bulu-GXtapu bulu

My Po Town amigo Michael Feeney put me onto this deck well before Christmas and I have been trading for the parts to give myself the option. This has been around since the last rotation thanks to Vikavolt and is consistently able to hit for 120 base +60 (Discard Energy) +30 (Choice Band) +20 (Prof. Kukui) knocking out any format-relevant threat.

 

Having been beaten by it at Reading in round 4 and having faced against it early in the meta (Cat plays this deck) I know how vicious it can be. However it does suffer from bricking like any comb0-based deck, affectionately termed ‘Bulu hands’. The key with Michael’s variant is to improve consistency by having multiple outs via Skyla et al.

However I’m still not sure that anything is more consistent than TordPod (Zoroark / Golisopod with loads of trade and setup cards)

4) TordPodGolisopod GX

This deck rarely hits for more than 120 , but is extremely consistent and requires only 1 attachment to do 120 damage. 4 Brigette, 4 Puzzle of Time and lots of Trade abilities makes the deck highly efficient. A couple of hammers can hinder Paw-patrol or Buzzroc variants. The low energy investment allows for the option of Max Potions and techs like Mewtwo – as used by Joe Bernard (Omnipoke) to win both Cardiff and Reading League Cups.

 

Xurkitree GX5) Anti-Meta Troll Deck

With the exception of Bulu and Volcanion, every standard deck runs DCE, fighting decks have strong energy. Some run only DCE. To this end Xurkitree and Stardust Jirachi can cause severe problems. Couple with the fact that every deck except Greninja uses either EX or GX Pokémon too, baby Hoopa can indefinitely wall. Combine with hammers, team flare grunts, and other trolling cards, there’s probably a very Yoshi style deck that could do well if piloted by a capable player.

A part of me would like to make this deck but I don’t feel that I have the time needed to learn (or contempt for my fellow players) to play this deck well!

Conclusion

Unless something really goes crazy I’m probably going to look at TordPod or Bulu. Grass is a good matchup in terms of type advantage, although each has weakness (Pod to volcanion, Vikavolt and Zoroark to fighting). I need a deck that can carry most of the weight since I cannot rely on statistical outcome of things like elixirs or even finding energy.

Reading January League Cup

Reading League CupReading League Cup

As before the venue for the League Cup was Eclectic games – Readings one stop board game/nerd store and just like before, Ace Trainer Sarah did much better than me too!

There was approximately 50 masters and about 12 Juniors/Seniors too. Only one Po Towner but I saw some other players local to reading whom I recognised including a Southampton local. ( Jake – who has a YT channel and does streams – check it out/subscribe/stalk etc)

BuzzwoleGXFor my 2nd League Cup I was running Buzzwole/Lycanroc with 2 Parallel City and 2 Octillery. It should have good matchups against Zoro/Roc and reasonable match-ups against most things with Zoroark on a general level. It doesn’t have good match-ups against Golisopod or Bulu though. I didn’t get enough testing due to spending my Christmas time practicing Expanded for a League Challenge which turns out I was too ill to attend in the end!

As an aside, I am starting to get frustrated that our league is ‘Expanded’ despite the fact that no one brings competitive decks for Expanded. The greater accessibility argument is invalid since most of the cards are not in rotation or on sale in the store that hosts us and Expanded is a more complicated beast. /rant

My other option to play would have been Gardevoir which in hindsight would probably have been the smarter play. Oh well live and learn!

R1: Zoro/PodGolisopod GX

Kicking off this League Cup, I faced Joe (from Omnipoke) who was running ZoroPod on Table 26. Starting out I had to mulligan to begin with a Remoraid and needed to use Lele to get an N to try and get set up.  Then I tried to established a Buzzwole with Strong Energy and even managed to pull the Elixir + Multi Switch trick to get some knock outs.

However I made a couple of mistakes including forgetting to check my deck off an Ultra Ball although it really didn’t matter since, Joe’s formidable skills coupled with a razor sharp deck hitting Lycanroc for weakness meant that I lost Game 1, although it did take 5 prizes in game 1.

Game 2 went terribly for me; – this time there were Max Potions as well as a Mewtwo (EVO) which made short work of my Buzzwole. As it turns out Joe had recently won Cardiff’s League Cup and would go on to win this League Cup at the end although, obviously I didn’t know this at the time! He absolutely crucified my deck and I know Sarah played him later as well and did the same to her deck!

0-1-0

R2: Genesect/Venusaur/Lurantis-GX 

Game 2 was also on Table 26 so I didn’t have far to move. My opponent Jack was nervous and it didn’t help when I had to call a judge because he mulliganed without showing his hand. Thankfully the judge was OK with it and we proceeded.

I opened with a Buzzwole-GX and was able to take simultaneous KOs on a Formantis and a Bulbasaur, preventing the deck from setting up.

Game 2 saw both Venusaur’s being prized so despite starting with Remoraid I was able to get established and take the critical knockouts on Pheremosa and Lurantis-GX to win.

1-1-0

R3: Xerneas BREAK

XerneasWith a win I managed to move up in the League Cup world to Table 18 and faced Harvey from Sheffield running Xerneas BREAK. My deck packed parallel cities which didn’t make an appearance in game one. I managed to rush ahead but struggled to take the last prize. None of my Max Elixirs had hit either which was highly frustrating since I had only seen literally two energy cards.

Game two was no better, I managed to attach a whole four out of thirteen energy, no parallel city, no octillery. In short my deck bricked and yet despite this I again got down to 1 prize, needing my opponent to whiff one of his max elixirs – of course he didn’t and I lost game two.

My opponent was lovely, but I was feeling quite despondent at this point and losing by 1 prize is the same as losing by 6!

1-2-0

R4: Bulu/Vikavolttapu bulu

My Round 4 opponent was William running Tapu-Bulu and we were relegated to table 25. He managed to get set up rapidly and KO while powering up his benched Bulu’s put me in a loose/loose situation. I could have pulled ahead by taking a KO but despite 3 Choice Bands in deck I didn’t manage to fish one out and lost.

Game two was almost pointless. I started with a Regirock-GX and no outs (Lele, Sycamore, N or Ultra Ball) – it took 3 turns before I could get a Buzzwole into active by which point William had 2 Tapu Bulu’s powered up and I couldn’t survive them both.

To compound the issue I literally saw three energy all game which made me feel rather annoyed because despite playing well, my deck didn’t pull it’s weight.

1-3-0

R5: Zoro/RocZoroarkGX

Round 5 pitted me against Adrian running Zoroark/Lycanroc and lo and behold we were on table 25! I didn’t really have to move much during this League Cup! He went first and only had a Zorua, I managed to deploy a Buzzwole and donked it to cheekily take game 1.

Game 2 was more evenly matched and partially due to the fact that I saw a whole five energy I lost, although I had taken 4 prizes.

Game 3 saw me start with Remoraid, which I Guzma-ed to Buzzwole which was then Guzma-ed back to Remoraid in an attempt to buy time. This time the deck worked as intended, and although I didn’t get Octillery out I managed to pull ahead and we went to time with Adrian being Turn 0. I was holding a Lele for my last Guzma which I knew was in deck and despite trying to retreat and change around I determined that I was safe. He did 150 damage with Lycanroc, failing to find a Choice Band which still wouldn’t have KOed the Buzzwole. In my turn I drew the Guzma and pulled in the damaged Zoroark and my own Float Stoned Regirock to switch back to Buzzwole and KO Zoroark for a match win.

2-3-0

R6: Greninja // Turbo-GuzzlordShadow Stitching

My opponent for round 6 (Bolly) decided to drop/concede, so at the start of the round we handed in the slip for table 17. I know he was playing Greninja which I feel would have been relatively favourable for my deck. More importantly Ace Trainer Sarah, was playing her Win & In round so I was prepared to wait and cheer on if she’d gotten into top cut.

While I waited, Jake (EagleEye1995)’s opponent had also dropped so we had a friendly game. He was running a unique Turbo-Guzzlord deck featuring Dragonair, however I managed to beat it twice thanks to weakness. It emerged that despite a close game Sarah was defeated and so didn’t make Top Cut. With that the three of us headed back to Hampshire.

Final Standings: 3-3-0 24th (9 points)
Post Cup Analysis
Buzzwole-GX
It’s OK Super-Fly, I still like you!

Sarah had a 58/60 card similar deck, and faced 3 of the same opponents as me, beating Bulu, drawing with Xerneas and loosing to Zoro/Pod, so unsurprisingly she did a lot better and is a stronger player than me. It was great to see a friend do really well and almost taste that Top Cut!

The frustrations: the Bulu and Xerneas games were pretty tough in terms of deck performance. The lack of elixir hits or ability to draw energy from a deck that’s over 20% energy was quite irritating.  In the 2 games where the deck worked 1 didn’t matter (meme-tier Venusaur) although the other was a solid and fair win. The slow start ruined me against Bulu, Zoro/Pod generally beats the deck, especially with Mew/Mewtwo and the Xerneas  game was extremely close each time. Frustraitingly so.

My primary excuse is still that locally we don’t have a competitive meta. We’ve had good players but they’ve gone afar and locals don’t turn up to the casual events so finding good players to test against is difficult. It’s starting to annoy me since it limits the opportunities for testing and practice. There’s still PTCGO which is a godsend. It does seem that I haven’t managed to practice or change my list the night before the cup due to nerves (Thanks Anxiety!) But the next cup is on home turf and I now have time to prepare.

I wanted to do better than last time, and I just about managed that going from 9 to 10 points, even if one was a bye/concession. (That being said there was a guy with a theme deck who got a bye and then his opponent didn’t show so that could be someone in round 3 with max points…playing a theme deck…). I should probably be more grateful for that fact! The next goal is 3 wins + a draw (10 points) or better.

That being said I would have obviously preferred to do better than I managed and I feel most annoyed about losing to Xerneas BREAK despite having 2 Parallel City in my deck. I feel that my deck wasn’t massively consistent and is relatively fragile/prone to bricking. More draw support outside of 2-2 Octillery is needed.  Out of the 11 games I’d played there were at least 4 where I drew 4 or fewer energys despite the 13 in the deck and using Max Elixirs which is insane. Factor in the fact that I drew prizes meant that it wasn’t a shuffling ‘glitch’ or prizing fluke.

I am going to keep tinkering with it as I don’t want to just jump onto the Zoro/Pod bandwagon. I can beat Zoro/Pod with Gardevoir so I’d prefer to play that instead if I can’t get Buzzwole to work.

Next Steps

My next tournament is our Local Leagues Cup in a couple of weeks. Although Ultra Prism will be pre-released it will not be legal for the Standard format. This means that the format.

I’m planning on bringing the either Gardevoir or else a tweaked version of the Buzzwole deck. However now that I’m not sick I’m going to be playtesting the life out of my options!

Reading League Cup 28/49th

So this past weekend I went on a bit of a binge with Pokémon. Fellow TCG player Ace Trainer Sarah offered a ride to the local league at Po Town on Friday and also to Reading League Cup on Sunday. So in a fit of madness I said yes to both! (Also you can read her after action report here)

Po Town Warm Up

Friday night at Portsmouth (Po Town) resulted in 2W-2L-0D for Volcanion without elixirs, only loosing by 1 prize in each game. I always seemed to be a turn behind. I lost to the lovely Jeff’s Gardevoir-GX in a really great, close game and finally to a rogue Lycanrock-GX deck. Lessons were learned and my deck was adjusted to include Octillery – but still no elixirs because I’m a fool. Brief testing online convinced me that it was somewhat more consistent. (ha!) Anyway onto the cup!

Literally Portsmouth
Reading League Cup

The venue was Eclectic games – Readings only gaming/nerd store. There was approximately 50 masters and about 12-16 Juniors/Seniors. Two judges who were well organised and epitomised everything great about the game. Some early trades during the dreaded waiting phase, catching up with familiar faces and meeting new people.  Sarah & I were adopted into Team Po Town for the day since they’re our nearest competitive league, and we began Reading League Cup.

R1: The Mirror (but better)

A Volcanion mirror with elixirs. I lost lost game 1 by 2 prizes, I blitzed ahead getting 2 KOs but then couldn’t catch up. In game 2 I was setup to win but couldn’t draw one of seven energy from about 25 cards with a Sycamore so my attempt to pull a draw was to no avail. Secret Sushimaster tech was nowhere to be seen. So 2 game loss for Round 1

0-1-0

R2: Gardevoir GX

A nice gentleman with Gardevoir GX. However once again couldn’t get my engine going sustainably without elixirs and again Octillery didn’t turn up. Similar to R1 I could blitz the first 4 prizes but then stalled out like in my previous 2 games for another loss to the powerhouse that is GardevoirGX!

0-2-0

R3: Pimped Out Drampa/Garb

Undeterred by being on the scrub bench of the League Cup (table #29/30), I faced a really lovely local guy running a fully pimped out Drampa/Garb deck (in his words ‘mistakes were made’.) I managed to get Octillery deployed but was under garb-lock and succumbed to the consistency of the fabled Drampa/Garb combo. However in game 2, true to form I blitzed the first 4 prizes like panzers over the Rhineland (sorry France!) and then he wiffed his support so I could pull ahead to win game 2 for a match draw overall.

0-2-1

R4: Vikivolt/Bulu

This player was slightly newer than my previous opponents and his deck wasn’t too consistent. It did let me see in hindsight just how absurd my deck was. His prizes didn’t help him in game 1 (ran out of energy/recycling) and overall I won both games for a round win.

1-2-1

R5: Golisopod/Garb (aka GoliGarb)Tapu Fini GX

We were all getting tired and my laconic opponent was running Golisopod/Garbodor/TapuFini/TapuKoko. I expected a lot of Guzma but I was hit by Fini’s GX attack and Aqua Ring for weakness. I had a terrible start in that I had to Kiawe onto volcanion to bait out the GX attack early, but it slowed me down and required a lot of resources on my part. I won the first round (just) due to hitting for weakness with 2 steam-ups vs a benched GolisopodGX all while watching for the threat of trashalance.

Game 2 I started with a remoraid and again he had a Tapu Fini start, so while no Tapu Storm, hitting any of my fire pokemon for 100 with a choice band and switching was good for him. By the time I got established he was set up and then time was called. He had 2 cards in hand and 2 prizes left so I took the gamble that if he had a Guzma/Acerolla in hand I didn’t want him to have them, and if he had them in deck it was only 2 cards (of about 30) and played N. However I’m not very lucky and of course he got the 1 in 15 odds of Guzma and took game 2 for a match draw.

1-2-2

R6: Team Po Town Gardevoir

In the final round I was paired against Jeff from Team Po Town. As you may recall, I had just lost to him on the previous Friday League Challenge. Jeff is a lovely guy and a tough opponent to beat. However this time he was having terrible luck in game 1 with no Brigette and my Octillery was online which meant I could pull ahead. Game 2 was even crazier for him in that his prizes were plain bad and my deck finally hit its own stride to win 2 games for a round win.

Final Standings: 2-2-2 (~28/49)
Post Cup Analysis
GardevoirGX
YOLO!

Firstly the frustrations: loosing the first game against the mirror was frustrating especially given the massive dig failing to hit one energy from a Sycamore. I would have felt contented with a tie there. In hindsight I was massively underprepared for Gardevoir. My secret Parallel City tech only popped up a couple of times and Gardevoir-GX is just better. I should have taken my Metagross deck with which I was more familiar. However the fire deck was a hold over from the expanded challenge that I’d won so I was on a bit of a fiery path and thought I’d ride it to the Cup!

My primary excuse is that locally we don’t have a competitive meta (yet). We’ve had good players but they’ve gone afar and locals don’t turn up to the casual events so finding good players to test against is difficult.

Accordingly, being in a room of 60+ people playing Pokémon competitively is an experience worth repeating.  Everyone there is passionate about the game, Pokemon and trying to be better players. I’m only sorry that our own league isn’t competitive or organised in any approximate shape at the moment. Having come out of nowhere I’m happy to have went 2-2-2 with a sub-par deck.

Next Stepsmew2

My next tournament is a League Challenge in Standard in November which is part of Gaming vs Cancer and held at the University. Shining Legends will be legal but Crimson Invasion will be not. It will be interesting to see what emerges particularly with Mew, Jirachi and possibly Mewtwo-GX in the format.

I’m planning on literally bringing the best decks in the Standard format that I am most comfortable with. The trick will be trying to get in practice against good opponents with quality decks!