Bad Meta Forecast

I know this isn’t a news blog, but when I find that I’ve not got any major insights to offer or recent competitive goings on, I usually find that it’s about time to look forward and see what’s coming next. I tend to avoid ‘newsy’ stuff and predictions because i) other website do it better; ii) it’s a constant thing not a weekly thing; and iii) this isn’t a news site and I hate baseless speculation. (Also in pre-release 2 Buzzwole and 36 energy is broken apparently!)

Predicting the Usual Predictions

Prediction Pokémaniac
I predict… a NEW SET!

Also, as a rule I generally hate the ‘predictions discussion’ EG: “oh but in next block X will be good (and then I’ll beat you!)”. While these are popular online and at most casual meetups, I don’t think that I’m alone in this view.  Don’t get me wrong – looking to see what is coming is fun, even exciting and it can help inform you of what potential decks you might need to get components for via trades etc. My faith in humanity is that I have to believe that’s where these people are coming from, love of the game, just at a different angle.

Prediction Type Chart
My crude type chart. (Yellow = resistance)

It’s just that if you’re looking at building competitive decks, unless you literally have the cards in your deck sleeves ready to roll, it’s almost all hypotheticals so the speculation and predictions don’t really help develop the metagame.

An example is a statement such as: ‘In the next set Psychic will get a boost, therefore Buzzwole is dead LOL RIP, it’s not worth playing Buzzwole now’. When laid out like that it seems rather illogical. In the future the deck will be bad, therefore don’t play it now? I understand that if you don’t have the cards to make the deck it might not be worth trying to get them if you think the next set will render that deck useless. That’s sensible, but invalidating a proven archetype on baseless speculation is a little premature.

The Predictions Loop

While  I’m sure my Buzzwole deck will loose to a strong Psychic deck, the new stuff in Forbidden Light but it doesn’t worry me. Principally because the above belief is fundamentally wrong on many levels. Firstly Psychic might be a non-starter. Case in point you can still play a decent psychic deck and do well as of SM5, but people aren’t really. Unless the impact of the new cards has been tested (as opposed to just speculated about) we don’t know for certain.

Beast Ring TLATEFor example I also know that Fighting is getting a boost as are Ultra Beasts, that’s 2 distinct factors from the ‘Psychic boost’ factor. And so the Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock cycle continues. The reason simply is that until the meta gets settled, everything is conjecture and as a scientist person (though without the love of Magnemites), I generally believe that speculation doesn’t lead to productive predictions! A good example is the Magnemite + Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX deck which was overhyped but by the time it came to being played the reason for playing it (Gardevoir) was dying off. The deck suffers from consistency issues and the payoff – steel type damage and OHKOs, isn’t worth it compared to a similar deck in a different colour such as Vika-Bulu where the type sometimes is relevant in the meta.

Below I try to dissect the above statement about the Psychic buff. I believe that it is a more likely outcome (I’m not giving a guarantee!), but a bit more complicated. I’m going to assume that you’re an intelligent person, but as a species we tend to prefer, and therefore believe, simpler explanations. Couple this with the internet and we encounter trouble dissecting nuanced arguments.

I think this is a rational approach, but I know that I’m not in full control of all of the facts, and additionally there may be random confounding elements (such as all the top worlds players go crazy and use quad bidoof so it appears as if it is a good deck!) that cloud the ability to make predictions. So in case I’ve not made this clear – this isn’t science, but it helps to approach it logically and methodically when at least attempting to make basic predictions of the meta.

Ultra Beast Energy TLATESo let’s take the above predictions about Psychic becoming dominant due to Buzzwole and the new stuff from Forbidden Light. Let’s then look at the knock on effect: Say Psychic does do well,  initially religating Buzzwole to meme tier (RIP Superfly), then Dark stays popular since it resists Psychic giving it back an edge it didn’t have before, and in some cases has type advantage.

But then Fairy (which resists dark and loves all the energy that Psychic types need to attack) pops back. Steel still sucks so now Fairy just rampages all over the place like around SM3+. Consequently people play less psychic. In the two weeks of chaos Buzzwole players discover Beast Energy, Beast Ring, Beast Ball and Diancie Prism Star meaning that Superfly is back!!

Unfortunately I’m not a seer, nor is anyone I’ve met to date, so until it hits and we’ve got a couple of tournaments we just don’t know. Our predictions are imperfect, so I would caution you against believing anyone who claims to know otherwise.

And there is the crux of this article: those 4 words are probably the scariest in the English language. If you said ‘Doctor will I recover from being Snorlaxed?’ and she said ‘we just don’t know’ that’s BAD. It’s fear inducing. The expert doesn’t know – PANIC! If she said ‘you’ll be dead tomorrow’ well it’s bad but at least you’ll know. Again it’s that in a game where we try to control and predict outcomes, unknowns are out of our control and thus ‘scary’. It’s the same with why I think meta-predictions aren’t fruitful.

Concluding Predictions

I don’t like attempting to give predictions about the impact of new sets because the reality is that no one person has all of the required information. As such I find predictions fun, but unhelpful at best. Some predictions may be insightful but on the whole I’d hold off until the set actually hits!

Finally to wrap up in future I want to do another ‘best in class’ check list such as the ‘Top 10 to watch‘ and an updated ‘Viable EX/GX‘ list. I also want to revisit my own predictions to see how accurate I’ve been (if at all!).

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!

Oricorio Tech for Buzzwole

Oricorio Tech for Buzzwole-GX

In this post I’m going to cover the counter-tech that the latest iterations of Buzzwole/Lycanroc seems to be running and it is a good thing.

Counter Buzzwole Tech

Versatile Mew EXSo the latest tournament results are showing some interesting outcomes. Buzzwole is doing well – presumably beating down a lot of Zoroark-GX. However Zoroark has been fielding Mew-EX or (less-so recently) generations Mewtwo in order to hard counter Buzzwole. Mew-EX can use Riotous Beating hitting for weakness (240) for 1 DCE attachment, or alternatively it can also use First Impression from Golisopod-GX for 1 Grass, again hitting for 240 assuming it switched in.

Generations Mewtwo has more HP than Mew-EX but it’s attack is more dependant on them overloading their Buzzwole with energy. A Buzzwole with the full 3 energy will still only take 160 from Mewtwo (20+(20*3)) so you need a Choice Band or another damage buff (Kukui?) to ensure a knockout. A major benefit of Mewtwo is that it’s hard for Buzzwole to OHKO and that it only yields one prize, turning it into a 7 prize game.

The Answer

OricorioSo what is the solution to all of this Psychic Bugspray?  The unlikeliest of candidates seems to be Oricorio (Supernatural Dance).

Firstly it’s Psychic type so strong against Buzzwole, but cruically not weak to other Psychic types (by virtue of being a ghost type) – though ironically a Zoroark will destroy it easily.

While Supernatural Dance is used to counter Night March decks, for anti-Mew/two duty, Revelation Dance and a Choice Band are what we need. Since Buzzwole runs Brooklet Hill and other decks are sporting Parallel City, the stadium requirement is usually moot. 1 Energy is an irrelevance in a 13 energy deck so the only real ask is the Choice Band. I run 4 choice bands and 3 Float Stones although the winning deck run 3 Choice Bands and 4 Float Stones.

As well as anti-Mew/two duty, Oricorio is great against the mirror – in that it also counters Buzzwole – it has type advantage, low attack requirements, enough hitpoints that it can’t easily be OHKOed and vitally – it resists Fighting. Where a ‘baby’ Mew (50HP) gets OHKO by a Buzzwole with a single strong energy, Oricorio only takes 30 damage, dealing 60+ in return. As well as this it only yields one prize enabling you to play a 7 prize game.

Conclusion

I certainly prefer the Oricorio option to mimic Sudowodo – better energy requirements and Oricorio pulls double duty against the mirror march. It’s going to be an include for my Superfly deck going forward. My only dilemma now is – Multi-Switch or Energy Switch?-I’d love to hear your thoughts for each (or neither!)

 

Standard Vs Expanded

Originally this was supposed to be a write up of 2 different Expanded League Challenges (Southampton & Bournemouth) however due to family commitments I wasn’t able to make either of them. So instead I’m going to give a quick run down of Standard vs Expanded and which might be best for your community.

A disclaimer: I’m not that worried what format is played per se, I’ve got 2 copies of most relevant ACE Spec. cards  and can field most meta-relevant decks in each format. So it’s not a case of ‘waagh no cards’!

 

ACESPEC Computer SearchStandard & Expanded

Since 2014 the Expanded format has been from Black & White onwards which covers a fair range of cards including the infamous ACE Spec. cards. Any given newly released set might only have a couple of cards relevant to Expanded, cards which are sometimes ‘unusable’ in Standard format can find life in an expanded deck.

Standard, by contrast to Expanded, rotates about 4 sets every year – I would imagine by August 2018 that we’ll jump to Sun & Moon (SM1) onwards. Additionally each new set tends to shake up the metagame significantly, although not all sets are created equally. Guardians Rising’s Tapu Lele-GX significantly shook up things as did Gardevoir. Buzzwole from Crimson Invasion is possibly the only relevant Pokémon in the set!

Our League

Our local league is Expanded format. The reasoning given is that it allows for more variety of deck and a wider range of cards to be played. Supposedly this makes it easier for new players to play. However most of the people who turn up don’t have meta-relevant decks anyway and those that do tend to be geared towards Standard format. Those who do bring really old cards are still told that they can’t play them. Additionally newer players will not have bought any non-Standard cards so now in order to compete they need to search for things like VS Seekers, Battle Compressors, Blacksmith, Dark Patch or whatever makes their deck work. Most do not have these.

The store that hosts the league also sells Standard format cards, with the exception of Zoroark-GX boxes, nothing is massively relevant to the expanded format. While the current top Expanded decks have many similarities to Standard meta decks (namely the Pokémon) the supporters and trainers are usually quite niche and not available in store.

Accordingly, I don’t think that expanded is actually more accessible for newer players. Most new players only have more recent cards and then they have to start looking to get ACE Specs, VS Seeker, Blacksmith, Dark Patch or whatever is needed to make a viable deck. Most of our players do not have these except the competitive people who only turn up to events.
Additionally the shop that hosts us doesn’t have cards for Expanded, only standard so it hits their sales since if I was a Expanded only player there’s very little I need so am less likely to buy cards. Essentially we’re selling them Standard cards but supporting an Expanded format.

As well as this, the expanded metagame doesn’t change as much as standard (which may or may not be a good thing depending on a person’s view) whereas standard is shaken up by each new set. So while I like Expanded since it allows for more crazy decks, it also is less accessible at a competitive level for newbies.

TrevenantAdd to this decks like Seismitoad or Trevenant which lock down items and it can lead to a less than fun experience for players. These decks can seriously lock down your opponent while you slowly chip away at their Pokémon (and will to live!). All in all not a fun experience for newbies. Additionally a lot of expanded decks are so well developed in the meta that there are distinctive counter-tech/hate options available that can totally destroy a deck.

Case in point one week before a League Challenge last year I rocked up with Night March and obliterated every opponent I played, only to bring Volcanion for the actual event because I knew everyone would then hard-tech hate against Night March.  Also it wasn’t fun for my opponents to play against Night March because it outclassed most of the decks quite dramatically.

Conclusion

XY Collection Hex Maniac
Full Art Hex Maniac

Hopefully that’s given some food for thought, sorry that it’s not the cutting edge analysis that you’re used to here! While I like expanded, it’s hard to break into for a lot of people and the format is a lot more brutal when you have things like Siesmitoad, Trevenant and so on. Additionally the Expanded metagame as of today is extremely similar to Standard (Zoroark, Zoropod and BuzzRoc) which defeats the argument of a more diverse meta!

Don’t get me wrong, a bit of expanded is good to shake things up – it’s faster, has a more high stakes and intense style of game with more kooky techs and plays available. However for newbies the better balanced, more accessible and affordable Standard format is the option I’d be pushing to grow a community.

Viable Pokémon EX/GX In Standard Format SM5+

Hello again! Today’s article has revisited the older Viable Pokémon EX / GX  (SM4+) in the Standard format. Expanded has several gems that shine but they are usually quite niche within their own deck types. These will be noted as they arise, but this focuses mostly on the Standard format.

Of particular note is the full coverage of Shining Legends, the SM5/6 Ultra Beasts and the new Necrozma variants. In terms of Pokémon we only have Ultra Sun/Moon UBs such as Blacephalon, Stakataka and Ultra Necrozma left to get cards & we know Ultra Necrozma will be in SM6.

This post idea was partially inspired by a reddit post on r/pkmntcg where some newbies seemed to think that all GX/EX were good.

As always feedback, comments and criticism are welcome and encouraged.

Viable Pokémon EX:

As per the heading, viable Pokémon EX that are from before the Sun & Moon sets.

Regirock-EX FCO – Used on the bench to add +10 damage. However Fighting isn’t featuring heavily at the moment and even then there’s usually better ways to get more damage that doesn’t rely on an ability in a Garbotoxin meta. It will be replaced by Diancie from SM6 in May.

Volcanion-EX STS – Volcanion is a whole archetype by itself. Heavily used for the ‘Steam Up’ ability in Volcanion/Turtonator but also in Ho-Oh/Salazzle for the added damage.

Darkrai-EX BKP – Rarely used in standard at the moment but still a key component of a Darkrai based deck.

Espeon-EX BKP – Used as a 1 of tech in certain decks (Espeon-GX/Garb or Drampa-GX/Garb) for the devolving attack. Often seen in decks with Po Town since re-evolving means another round of damage counters.

Pokémon-GX that ‘never’ see competitive play:

Never is a strong word but at the moment it seems correct! This may change in the future of course, but for the moment these aren’t seen as competitivly viable Pokémon.

Alolan Golem – Electric just hasn’t got the love. While pairing it with electric Magnezone might help improve things, running 2 sets of stage 2 Pokémon is probably asking for trouble. Another casual/meme level deck.

NihilegoGXNihilego – Although the ability is interesting, a fragile 180HP and the PPP requirement means that unless something radically shifts, this isn’t going to see a lot of play outside casual or meme decks.

Gyarados – The energy investment is just too high. I do have to wonder if after rotation high energy cost will be the norm, making a lot of previously ‘unplayable’ Pokémon marginally viable.

GuzzlordGXGuzzlord – Despite having a lot of HP the high energy requirement and weakness to Fighting bump this down to unplayable outside of fun or joke decks. I’ve seen people combine it with Dragonair and other energy acceleration options but once it’s KOed all of that energy goes. Fun, but not competitive by a long stretch!

Kommo-o is possibly the only truly ‘non-viable’ card on the list due to lack of Double Dragon Energy but the rest are not very competitive or are relatively lack lustre in the current state of the game. Arguably ‘counter energy’ from Crimson Invasion works as DDE although it’s a bit more conditional than the traditional DDE. The Prism Quad Energy might also work but is still a corner case.

Incineroar GXCharizard, Machamp, Lunala, Incineroar, Tsareena, Primarina, Snorlax & Beware – just don’t really bring enough awesomeness to the table to justify their inclusion compared to other GX’s out there.

Toxapex – people want it to work but it is rather clunky and the 3 Psychic attack cost is prohibitive.

Umbreon – a tricksy card with some interesting effects on its attacks. However sadly it loses out on raw power compared to other ‘mons and also on utility compared to Sylveon or Espeon. The low damage output for the energy investment leaves Umbreon a relatively uncompetitive choice outside of a dedicated energy denial deck.

Noivern GXNoivern – I want to like this card since it is Seismitoad 2.0 but lack of DDE and odd colour requirements (Psychic and Dark) means that for the moment it’s relegated to the sidelines. I did end up facing a Noivern/Zoroark deck at a League Challenge which was interesting. Weakness to Fairy does hurt if Gardevoir is knocking around. If we get DDE in SM6 then we might see this in a hammers/wall type lock deck.

Off-meta/Rogue Pokémon-GX:

These are semi- viable Pokémon-GX that are not terrible, but not particularly strong either, or only feature as an option in some main decks, or feature as a counter to certain other decks.

Dawn Wings Necrozma-GXDawn Wings Necrozma – Much hyped along with Dusk Mane Necrozma however like poor Nihilego the PPP requirement in a format without Psychic acceleration leaves much to be desired. The mediocre 180HP as well as being OHKO by Zoroark-GX with 1 attachment means that in the current Zoroark heavy Standard format this otherwise funky Pokémon isn’t really viable at a competitive level.

Glaceon – Much hyped yet, if the recent regionals are to judge by, overhyped. The ability to stop opponents’ GX/EX abilities if active is good but conditional. Paired with a weakness to Metal and a mediocre attack the deck struggles to close out the game once an opponent has adapted to the ability lock.

Pheromosa GX

Pheromosa– Like several of the Ultra Beasts this was first released in a boxed set before being given a full art release in SM5. Similar to Buzzwole, Celesteela and Xurkitree it’s GX ability involves prize manipulation.

As a card it struggles to find a niche since Golisopod is a better Grass type. The first attack is only relevant 50% of the time and the low hitpoints combined with weakness to fire doesn’t really make it a card that brings anything new to the game. The only use I can see is as a 1-of for Beauty GX as a catch-up tech in grass decks.

Alolan Exeggutor – A funny card that I have seen people combine with the Shining Legends Venusaur to exploit the double energy ability.  Like Goodra it can target specific Pokémon but also like goodra it’s a Dragon type -weak to Fairy and overall a lacklustre card. There is a baby version which enables all of your Eggxecutes to evolve which helps the deck to function. It certainly has fun/meme potential but is in no way competitively viable.

mew2

Mewtwo – A poormans Gardevoir (30x energy on your Mewtwo) but does have type advantage over Buzzwole. However that niche can be fulfilled by Mew, Mew-EX or Generations Mewtwo.

Wishiwashi – A high HP Pokémon, similar to Wailord in that it is used to stall/wall in decks that aim to deck out your opponent.

Marshadow – Although low HP for a basic GX (150HP) it can use any attacks from basics in the discard changing them into the fighting type. With little relevant weakness to fighting (Drampa?) it doesn’t see much play in Standard. In Expanded has a place where it can be a more viable.

LaprasLapras GXCan be the centre of a deck based on water toolbox, stall/wall or other variants. Drawing 3 is nice, and Ice Beam GX has paralysis which is usually hard to access. However only 190HP and weakness to grass make it a liability in a Golisopod heavy environment.

Raichu – People are trying to make it work and it is a Stage 1 compared to Gardevoir-GX being a stage 2. The Ultra Prism electric Magnezone could help attach lots of energy but I’ve yet to see this in practice. Also in those kind of decks

Gumshoos – counters Gardevoir-GX and was included in some finalists decks recently for that very reason.

Alolan Muk – Needs a deck built around its conditions and a way to capitalise on them. Could pair well with Raticate BREAK.

Darkrai – Part of the low tier Standard Darkrai deck, also works in expanded since it comes back with energy.

Solgaleo – not in the ‘never’ pile because it counters Gardevoir and has a decent ability and GX attack. Still quite niche, paired with Metagross or SM5 Magnetic Circuit Magnezone.

Vikivolt – can be included in Vikivolt/Bulu as a backup attacker.

Supporting Pokémon-GX:

Thoroughly Viable Pokémon that are included in some deck types as a 1 or 2 count as tech, support or counter.

Dialga & Palkia – While no Top Cut deck has featured either Dialga or Palkia yet, their unique GX abilities and mono-energy requirements on a Dragon type make these both interesting Pokémon.

Dialga has a draw attack which isn’t bad if you’re starting off, but the shred of 80 damage for 2 attachments [MCC] isn’t terrible, it’s just that there’s usually better options. Of course the insane GX that gives you an *extra turn* (and deals 150 damage!) is unique in the game and certainly offers a lot of strategic options. The high cost is a downside but the havoc that you could cause by having 2 turns in a row cannot be understated. Hopefully we’ll see Double Dragon Energy in the next set, making this attack only need 3 attachments. (DCE, DDE, M)

Palkia isn’t as awesome sounding as it’s temporal counterpart, this spacial Pokémon offers a lot in the way of energy manipulation. One attack lets you move as much energy onto it as you want while it’s main attack does more damage for each [W] energy.

Again the GX attack on this beast is crazy – 150 damage and they shuffle all of their energy attached to the Pokémon into their deck. While recycling energy isn’t great it can clog up an opponents deck and severely disrupt their tempo. I suspect that after rotation when attacks will cost a bit more that these huge attacks won’t seem that expensive and will actually be somewhat viable.

Leafeon – I’ve categorised this as slightly better than Glaceon because it’s GX attack will allow for a lot more consistent Grass shenanigans. However it’s not a card to build a deck around but rather a support type Pokémon. The ability to heal 50 is interesting but requires Leafeon to be active which is a bit of an ask.

Xurkitree – Everyone’s favourite Christmas tree Pokémon! Immune to almost anything with special energy attached this is a strange creature! The attack is poorly costed and of limited damaged although the discard 1 card effect fits with some specific ‘mill’ deck archetypes. The Lighting-GX *adds* a card to from your opponent’s hand to their prizes. Could be useful to get rid of a Prism Star card or just to slow them down.

Vulnerable to fighting makes it a niche choice outside of dedicated denial/wall/mill decks, however I do know that some Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt decks are running a 1-of in order to buy themselves more time to get set up. Steel resistance is a nice perk too. In a format where every deck except Volcanion and VikaBulu run special energy I feel that we will see a bit more of this popping up in the future.

Celesteela GX FACelesteela – Bulky, resists popular fighting and weak to unpopular lightening (and more importantly not weak to fire!) this is a useful 1-of or 2-of addition to any Metal deck. The energy requirements are quite high although the GX ability gives you a free Town-Map type ability combined with good damage. I don’t think any serious metal deck should be without at least one of these Ultra Beasts.

Kartana – The Slice Off ability is a free Enhanced Hammer, the attack allowing you to shuffle it back in means you can do it again and recycle the effect. The GX is simply ‘get a prize’ which, as someone who often manages to get 4-5 prizes and then struggle to take the remainder, really appeals to me. Similar to Celesteela it’s not a main attacker to build your deck around but is certainly a useful inclusion in any serious metal deck.

Tapu FiniTapu Fini GX – a vicious GX attack and colourless main attack make this a useful tech in decks that run rainbow energy such as GoliGarb or Drampa/Garb.

Espeon – combine with Garb for a Psychic shenanigans deck. Turn 1 Eevee to Espeon and hit with the Confuse Ray is a solid play.

Tapu Koko – fits into Vikivolt/Bulu or some people replace the Bulu all together. Can jump in late game, steal all the energy and hit you when you least expect it. Like most of the Tapu-GXs it has no weakness.

Necrozma Necrozma GX Burning Shadows– Included for Black Ray GX – if you think its worth 3 energy. Cat sticks this in Golisopod to put pretty much everything in One Hit KO range. Also good in expanded thanks to Dimension Valley reducing the cost of it’s attacks.

Decidueye – fallen out of favour but still viable, especially in baby Alolan Ninetales decks. 99% of the time its for Feather Arrow.

Lurantis – used to be combined with Golisopod, though still out of favour at the moment. It pairs well with Shining Legends Venusaur thanks to the Jungle Totem ability. Certainly not one to overlook.

Tauros – features more in Expanded I think, but some decks include it for its versatility of 3 different attacks for a DCE. Gets stronger as it gets injured which is nice too!

Ninetales – another 210 hp stage 1 with decent attacks. The support that water has is really good with aqua patch so it can power up quickly. The Ice Path GX damage swap can also help keep you going. Usually includes a baby Alolan Ninetales to help against EX/GX decks. Needs to watch out for metal.

Sylveon – although a decktype by itself (Quad Sylveon Box), it used to feature heavily in Gardevoir decks. The Energy Eeveelution ability and Magical Ribbon ability for 1 Fairy energy makes this a great Turn 1 play (especially if you go 2nd!)

Metagross – It hard-counters Gardevoir although it’s not guaranteed since Gardevoir is more consistent. It can be clunky and brick up if things go wrong. The max 180 damage cap is also quite painful although this is easier to swallow with 250hp and Max Potions. Includes lots of switcheroos to get rid of the ‘can’t attack next turn’ penalty. Less of an archetype since practice and experience has shown it to be unable to match the Tier 1 decks.

Drampa – Has seen a fall in popularity and likely to remain there due to the prevalence of Lycanroc-GX and Buzzwole-GX.  A good early game GX attack to net you 10 cards is helpful and it has a variety of partners in the game. Drampa can also be splashed as a tech in quite a few decks and can be quite threatening as a result.

Archetype Defining Pokémon-GX:

These aren’t just Viable Pokémon, these GX’s are so good that they have a whole deck archetype centred around them!

Zoroark – Entire essays could be written about this Pokémon alone. Stage 1, 210 HP, resists Psychic and weak to Fighting. The GX is interesting but hardly anyone uses it. The Riotous Beating deals 20x damage for each of your Pokémon in play – without Sky Field that’s 120 for a DCE/1 attachment which doesn’t have a condition like Golisopod’s First Impression.

What kicks this card up a gear is it’s ability –Trade. Trade lets you discard a card to draw 2. You can do this for each instance of Trade you have in play. The massive draw potential enables strategies that would previously be considered inconsistent. Almost every top deck runs Zoroark with the exception of those explicitly built to counter it (Buzzwole & Lycanroc variants). It’s been combined with Gardevoir, Golisopod, Lycanroc and many others.

Even with no ability or with the ability but a worse attack, this Pokémon would have been playable. The combination of a solid attack and brilliant ability makes it probably the best card in the format at the moment in terms of it’s versatility.

Tapu Bulu – (Vikivolt/Bulu) Extremely consistent damage and setup with some built in resilience in the form of a healing GX attack. Probably the lower end of the top tier but one you have to be able to beat. Still suffers from ‘bulu hands’ and if it bricks for a turn a good opponent won’t let you recover.

Gardevoir – Still strong and  versatile in terms of the ability and the option to include the Zoroark-slaying Gallade. Has optional techs to improve consistency (Sylveon, Octillery) and hits for ‘bigger-numbers-that-you’ almost all of the time. However it is still beatable, being a stage 2 deck it can struggle to set up.

It looses to Buzzwole who can KO it’s bench before it can set up but is surprisingly alright against metal decks due to their reliance on a lot of energy. The main issue is that the deck can run out of steam. If the opponent is running Max Potion or Acerola the deck can flatline about 3/4 of the way into the round and struggle to recover momentum.

Before SM5 Tord Reklev used Zoroark and Gardevoir to great effect.

Golisopod Golisopod GX– relatively tough stage 1 that has several attack options. Most of the time it’s hitting for 120 for 1 Grass which is excellent value for energy. One option requires the deck built around supporting it but still has room for things like Garbodor and even promo Tapu Koko for free retreating shenanigans.

The other option is to run it as a secondary attacker – for example combined with Zoroark which did quite well in some of the first SM5+ Regionals (Malmó & Collinsville). OHKOing Lycanroc for G is extremely strong.

Lycanroc – The only card since last time to jump from ‘maybe as random tech’ to ‘archetype defining’! Bloodthirsty Eyes is a free Lysandre effect while the GX attack can punish an unaware opponent. This card has become hugely popular as a partner to Zoroark-GX as it also counters enemy Zoroarks. Weakness to grass lets Golisopod-GX OHKO it although you just have to avoid playing it in that case. Also seen partnered with Buzzwole. The other consideration is what Rockruff to use – the promo Rockruff can attack for 1 energy and so is worth considering.

Turtonator /Ho-Oh/Salazzle Ho Oh Gx Burning Shadows– A variety of the fire archetypes, usually includes some Volcanion-EX to help with the damage output. Turtonator vs Ho-Oh is more of a meta call, there’s almost no electric in the format (yet) but Ho-Oh does need 4 energy to properly attack compared to Turtonators 3, AND Ho-Oh can’t use the big attack next turn. Salazzle an option for late game KOs when you get down to your last couple of prizes and need to pull ahead.

The 99%:

3 Lele Expanded

It’s worth mentioning in an article about Viable Pokémon GX the most viable Pokémon in the format – Tapu Lele-GX

Almost all competitive decks have 2-4 (usually 3) copies of Tapu Lele-GX because it’s that good. Literally its only flaw is its’ 170HP. It has no weakness and an excellent retreat cost of 1.

The Power Drive attack only requires 1 DCE and in a format where a lot of energy is required it can really punish an opponent. Especially against things like Gardevoir GX or Fire decks. I have ‘donked’ several opponents who have played a 60hp Pokémon (eg Alolan Vulpix) attached an energy. My turn I attach a DCE and then hit for 60 for KO. Not a common occurrence, but still occasional enough that even starting with it isn’t the end of the world.

The Wonder Tag ability alone enables several strategies involving things like Kiawe for fire types or Bridgette for decks that require a rapid set up. As long as you have access to a Tapu Lele-GX (or the means to get one via an Ultra Ball for example) then you can get established quickly.

The only real downside is the financial cost, however this is beginning to drop as it’s hitting saturation point. Since it can be used in almost all of your decks it’s worth investing in a couple if you play  at all competitively.

 

Portsmouth ‘Guzzlord’ League Challenge Results

So the Portsmouth ‘Guzzlord’ League Challenge last Friday had 18 Masters and we played 4 rounds of swiss, best of 1 game.

Round 1 – Giratina/Lunala-GX

Game 1 was against a quite but nice newish player. Although he was running a psychic deck there were several misplays that I could capitalise on (Nest Ball for Lele for Brigette but had already played a supporter type events).

The Spiritomb that hit me for weakness and prevented my basics from attacking was a bit of a scary thought, but a quick Guzma and Lycanroc managed to get rid of it. The Giratina and Lunala-GX also resisted fighting but my deck was much too fast.

While I was happy with the win I kind of realised that my resistance wouldn’t be great as a result of the deck.

Ho Oh Gx Burning ShadowsRound – 2 Silvally/Ho-Oh

This was one of the toughest games I’d played in a long time. Ho-Oh obviously resists fighting being a bird thing but Silvally was weak to fighting.

We each started with a Lele and my 2nd Lele was prized meaning that it was much harder for me to get setup. In the opening exchange I took 160 damage on my Lele before retreating it away and getting a Buzzwole up and running. I managed to hang onto an Octillery until I got a Brooklet Hill for Remoraid. Despite the slow start my opponent took a risk to play Kiawe powering up a Ho-Oh.

The crux of the game came when I had to hit an elixir and hard retreat to knuckle impact for a KO on Ho-Oh putting me on 1 prize. However my opponent had his last Lele to fetch a Guzma and pull in my injured Lele. He’d previously managed to get an Elixir off and attached onto Type:Null who did it’s claw slash to KO my Lele and take the game.

This was the only match I’d lost and although I recovered from the terrible start I felt a bit prize screwed as I had a Guzma for game but he just managed to draw into what he needed. This is why I prefer best of 3 – it stops random flukes from influencing the outcome!

Empoleon Ultra PrismRound – 3 Empoleon/Octillery

This round I was paired down (opponent was 0-2-0) which I knew would effect my resistance again. Oh well at least it’s only a challenge!

A couple of these deck types were featured on the evening, this ladys variant had Manaphy and 2 lines of Octillery. My Brooklet Hill obviously helped her but I reasoned that I could get set up much more quickly – which I did.

The main issue arose when the Empoleons could OHKO my Buzzwoles (or anything really!) resulting in a 2:1 prize advantage. Thankfully I’d sniped away at Piplups and taken out the Manaphy early. She needed to go fishing for a 2nd floatstone but N-ing us both to 2 cards meant that she didn’t get it and I could Lycanroc up a Lele and then Knuckle Impact with Superfly for the win.

A lot closer than I felt it should have been mainly because I’d not played against the deck before.

Round -4 Turtonator/Volcanion

This was against Po Town regular Jamie who’s always lovely to play. The deck was a fairly standard Volcanion/Turtonator build with Oranguru for draw support.

I immediately went after the Orangurus because I know if Volc can’t draw into the energy it needs it can stall out. A Strong Energy + Regirock-EX meant that Knuckle Impact was hitting for 60 before weakness – just enough to OHKO an Oranguru!

Jamie recycled some energy and Oranguru before fetching it again via a (Secret Rare) Nest Ball. I promptly apologised before Guzma-ing it up again and putting it down once more.

After that I’d managed to  get powered up much more quickly and it was just a case of Guzma-ing out a Shell Trapped Turtonator and hitting a Volcanion for Knockout.

Conclusion

3-1-0 was 10 points but pretty poor resistance overall in this League Challenge.

As luck would have it I came 5th (3-4th on 10, 1st-2nd on 12) so just missed out on prizes. However 4th places was Southampton’s own Shakil and 1st place was Ace Trainer Sarah. She’d apparently not come along to win…. but swiftly did anyway!

I’m glad I didn’t run the Shampay deck since I was less confident with it and stuck with what I knew. I will however be testing it for the next events that I’m going to. The 3rd place Alex Hill deck looks a lot more skill intensive (only 1 Lele!) and I’m not sure if I’d have the courage to try it in an actual event but it might just we worth a shot too.

Next Steps

Update/Tweak deck for next Cups – try Alex Hill and if not that then Natalie Shampay variants.

Stick to best of 3!!

Get ready for the two Expanded format League Challenges – next Saturday locally and then Sunday in Bournemouth. However due to family commitments (medical stuff, so we have to be on standby) I might not be actually able to attend but it’s only expanded which I’d planned to bring my troll Sableye lock deck to anyway.

 

Meta Monday – Ultra Prism Decks

I have to admit, I’m not nearly as hyped about Ultra Prism as I think a lot of people have been. It’s a bit like Crimson Invasion – a few good cards, one or two really great cards and then a lot of chaff. However with the 2 recent regionals it’s time for Speculation & Conjecture time!

The Ultra Prism Champ

Weavile Ultra PrismThe stand out card, judging from recent tournaments, has really been….. Weavile!

 

Case in point Evil Admonition stands in good stead against the dearth of Tapu Lele-GX, Zoroark-GX and others. Even with Garbotoxin, Pokémon still have abilities (even if they don’t do anything) so Evil Admonition still works!

Being in-type with Zoroark-GX only helps and running Dark energy might even give Zoroark a chance for a GX attack.

However the weakness to Fighting is still a liability in a Buzzwole heavy meta. That being said, it didn’t feature heavily, was more of a tech option in a 2-1 or 2-2 line along with Zoroark.

Ultra Prism Damp Squibs

Glaceon Ultra PrismGlaceon-GX – Much hype surrounded this Eevolution because of it’s ability to lock down the abilities of your opponents GX/EX Pokémon.

However it must be active for the ability to function. Couple this with a lacklustre 90+30 attack for WCC and a mediocre GX attack leaves you wanting more. Finally add in the weakness to Metal, which is only going to get more popular, and you can probably realise that Glaceon-GX is okay, it’s just not great.

Obvious Ultra Prism Decks

So here’s the ‘new’ decks that have emerged with the release of Ultra Prism. However none have been seriously featured in the 2 tournaments. This could be due to players being unwilling to try untested decks, or the fact that actually none of these are strictly better than existing proven archetypes.

Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX Ultra PrismMetal – Metagross-GX or Magnezone + Solgaleo Prism Star + Dusk Mane Necrozma

The Metal acceleration deck is a pretty obvious play given the hype that metal has had in this set. Yet since each variant runs Stage 2 Pokémon you’ll need to dedicate about 12 slots to it before generating a way to retrieve/attach the energy.

Also Dusk Mane Necrozma is making people have conniptions about Fairies, however the 220 (+choice) or GX on a Dusk Mane would knock out a Gardevoir-GX even without weakness so it really little to no difference! There’s also very few Pokémon with more than 220 HP anyway so it does seem like a strong play irrespective of the format. It’s just that it needs the correct support.

Right now it stands as a clunkier, less reliable version of VikaBulu that hits Gardevoir for weakness – although Dusk Mane Necrozma would OHKO most things anyway. Like VikaBulu, highly vulnerable to disruption or ability lock. It will get better with SM6 where the Supporter ‘Lady’ will let you search out 4 energy so I would say sit on this for the moment.

Cynthia Ultra PrismGarchomp / Lucario – This is essentially a theme deck – ‘Cynthia’s Champion‘ – but up-rated to include the proper amount of trainers, energy and so on.

The fundamental strategy is to use Cynthia, enabling Garchomp to hit for 200 (+choice band) and using Lucario’s ability to search out cards to keep up the momentum. That being said, it again is a stage 2 deck, needs 2 energy attachments and you must use Cynthia which means no Guzma or N to mess with your opponents plans.

At 150 HP it dies really easily though and then you have the problem of having to recycle a stage 2 Pokémon and recover the energy. Hopefully card advantage established by Lucario is so strong much advantage that they can keep sustaining indefinitely but the reality is that an unlucky set of prizes or not having puzzles of time or a special charge to get back energy can cause it to slip and fall hard.

Needless to say this didn’t make any top cuts because it just isn’t that good. The fighting version of Garchomp might make it a little better (Strong Energy, lack of Fairy weakness) but it will still suffer from being extremely obvious in it’s approach.

Empoleon Ultra Prism Empoleon/Zoroark – both exploit bench space to do damage.

Both Zoroark and Empoleon rely on the amount Pokémon in play to deal their damage. Zoroark-GX is 20x # of your Pokémon in play (so 6×20=120 without Sky Field) . Empoleon counts both your and your opponents benched Pokémon for a maximum of (20x(5+5)=200) 200 damage without Sky Field.

The main issue again is that Empoleon is a Stage 2, the weakness isn’t too big of a factor and 160HP is a fair amount for a non EX/GX Stage 2.

Empoleon is an interesting card, although might be better in Expanded via Archie’s Ace in the Hole and some Sky Field Shenanigans.

Other random decks might be Metagross with Dawn Wings Necrozma. Both of the Necrozma variants have great ‘catch up’ GX attacks with tie in with the cards like counter catcher and counter energy that are starting to see more play.

Concluding Thoughts on Ultra Prism

Recently, there’s been some Paw Patrols as well Zoroark with Gardevoir/Gallade doing the rounds but they’ve been played by some top players, in a developed meta. What’s been great in the SM4 Standard is that with each major competition the meta has evolved and changed but not massively. More recently we’ve had Buzzwole/Lycanroc, Buzzwole/Garbodor and Golisopod/Zoroark do quite well in Regionals.

Crimson Invasion and Ultra Prism honestly haven’t been the biggest sets in terms of shakeup. Aside from Tapu Lele-GX in SM2 and Gardevoir-GX in SM3, the biggest meta change has been Zoroark-GX in Shining Legends. In truth I wanted Ultra Prism to shake things up a bit more radically but I don’t feel that it really has. I am glad to see that the Prism Star mechanic will persist in the next set too unlike previous mechanics which only last for a set.

Buzzwole-GX
We still love you Superfly!

I still quite like Buzzwole and I think it is in a strong position despite not gaining much from Ultra Prism. It still punches face efficiently and you can get multiple KOs via the spread damage. The GX attack is also strong – it allows you to jump ahead quickly – 240 for 3 energy is good value.

Cynthia is also a good shout in a lot of decks instead of Sycamore, especially  for decks with Trade.  When you don’t necessarily want something now, but might want it later on it’s a better option than discarding. Games don’t really go on long enough to see much of Pal Pad although that might change if there’s going to be more 1-of Supporters as techs seeing play. Cynthia is a card that everyone will need a playset of so is probably the card of the set.

 

 

Cup Aftermath: Buzzwole ‘Superfly’ Thoughts

Tweaking ‘Superfly’Buzzwole-GX

Before last week where I came 2nd at a League Cup with Buzzwole,  I was half on the fence on whether or not to play (there was a waiting list so it could have been filled easily) and just to judge but in hindsight I’m really glad that I did play and do well! (#NotCrap!)

I will probably drop the Zygarde-EX as it has the same weakness as Lycanroc-GX and doesn’t particularly add anything novel aside from a lack of weakness to Psychic (but the same could be said of Lycanroc-GX)

The Regirock-EX is also a liability, has grass weakness and only adds +10 damage – the new Diancie Prism Star will grant +20 damage, yields only 1 prize and is still searchable by Brooklet Hill so simply just a much better replacement. Regirock just seems to take up space where an extra choice band would be more useful more of the time.

Information is still coming in from the 2 big regionals but there have been several Buzzwole/Lycanroc as well as a Buzzwole/Garbodor deck featured in top cuts.

Buzzwole’s Jet Punch is 30 damage base +30 Choice Band +20 Strong Energy = 80 damage, even with Regirock (+10) bringing it to 90, it doesn’t OHKO a  Zoroark-GX unless said Zoroark has been softened by an earlier Jet Punch – and with the prevalence of Zoroark in EVERY FORMAT it is worth considering, but I struggle to see the benefit of more than one Regirock, and especially struggle to see it’s value when facing non-Weak opponents with one exception.

The only real argument for Regirock-EX in the Buzzwole deck is that Jet Punch 30 + Strong Energy 20 + Regirock 10 = 60 which is enough to hit most of the basics involved in an evolutionary chain and to KO Tapu Koko promo too. Lycanrocks, Ralts, Remoraids, Bulbasaurs etc all get squished at 60 damage. The scarier things like Volcanion will survive but they would anyway so 10 damage is less of a factor.

That argument is only valid for a few months though, as once Diancie  hits I’m sure that Regirock-EX will not see play except for that one guy who will put both in a list.

For those non-literate in Japanese (myself included!) :

Diancie – HP: 120

Ability: Princess Veil, if this Pokémon is on the Bench, your Fighting Type Pokémon does 20 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokémon.

[F][F][F] Diamond Rain  :90 damage – heal 30 damage from each of your Benched Pokémon.

Diancie will also help secure the Buzzwole deck archetype as one that is going to be supported and so worth being able to build! So my advice would be that in the meantime don’t run Zygarde-EX and think about Regirock-EX – it’s not a requirement but it can help round out numbers for early KOs which is where the deck excels, but I wouldn’t have more than 1 Regirock-EX in a deck.

Running Buzzwole

Anyway, apparently the deck (Deck List) is easy to pilot (thanks Reddit!) you attach energy and hit stuff which could really be said of most decks so isn’t exactly helpful advice.

The main advantage is that there are only two 2-2 evolution lines which are not essential to your Buzzwole being able to function efficiently, and that searching up Pokemon doesn’t require the resources to invest in finding and playing Brigette thus leaving you free to use Guzma or N early (Hi Tapu Bulu!). This makes the deck very streamlined and efficient.

Another aspect of Buzzwole is the ability to rapidly increase your tempo by attaching an energy to bench using max elixir, attach by hand, then guzma or floatstone so you now have a new Pokémon with 2 energy that literally had none on it the turn before. Or use the spicy Max elixir + Multi-switch to get that extra energy onto your active. Avoidance of over-committing is key I think.

Finally the mini-Guzma (or Lysandre effect) from Lycanroc-GX cannot be understated. It took me quite some time to get anywhere decent enough at using this. People will often target the Rockruff before you can evolve – which is fine because it means they’re not hitting the Buzzwole – but also means that it’s not easy to rely on several turns down the road. The ability to control what Pokémon is active is extremely strong, even with Guzma so prevalent in the format. The Rogue-GX attack on Lycanrock is  a 2 attachment attack usually doing between 150-250 damage and so is an effective way of hitting a knock out. Even with only 3 benched Pokémon, Choice Band, Regirock or Strong Energy can pump up 150 damage into 200 easily.

Additional Thoughts

I’m still concerned with the level of (dis)organisation in our community. I want things to be better and to encourage a greater community to grow in our area. I don’t want it to be defined by the current Pokémon League or any one other League that may emerge but rather by the calibre of player – and not just in terms of how many CP/how competitive they are, but by their character.

Thankfully after participating in a cup a lot of the more competitively minded local players have expressed interest in spreading their wings a bit and hitting some other Cups.  I’ll be heading to Eastbourne (approx 15 masters) in early April and hopefully Portsmouth too. Additionally I’m hoping that our friends over at Bag of Holding in Bournemouth will be running a cup of their own soon as well.

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.