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!