Monday, July 11, 2011

US Nationals Report

Pokemon US Nationals 2011 ended yesterday and I had a blast! It was my first Nationals after my first full year playing (I started last spring so I only played in a few battle roads from last season).  I should have started writing this before today so I could remember more about my matches, so I'll just do my best to go through what I can.  Overall, I went 5-4 which was what I was aiming for (a winning record), but at the end I felt like I could have done a lot better.

I played a deck that I call "The Chinchilla Variety Hour", but I found out on Friday that someone else already thought of it and it's called "4 corners".  It's a combination of yanmega prime, donphan prime, zoroark and cincinno - 4 stage 1's that complement each other very well.  If you'd like to see my decklist, I'll have it posted on youtube. 

So the night before, I resleeve my deck with ultra pro matte black sleeves.  My regular ultra pros had been breaking and I was told that reverses would look better in matte sleeves.  This was the first time I had ever played with a complete reverse deck.  I played one practice game after resleeving that went horribly.  I ran into a huge energy drought, but was told it was just bad luck and not to worry about it.  My deck is pretty consistent.  So I go along and don't shuffle anymore tyring to keep the sleeves as mint as possible (I heard that Nationals can be picky about perfectly unmarked sleeves - I didn't want a bent corner that comes from shuffling too much to be considered marked).

My first match is against one of the biggest decks in the format - magneboar.  I have practiced against this deck so many times and beat it 80-90% of the time, so I wasnt too worried when I saw what he was running.  Unfortunately I lost anyways.  My sleeves continued to clump cards together (instead of an energy drought like the night before, I drew almost nothing but energy).  I was forced to use my cleffa several times and just kept dead drawing. He was able to take 3 prizes just on my babies because of rolling heads (I think I actually rolled heads on every baby, but he also had cleffa active which was the only reason I lasted more than 2 turns).  I flip 3 tails on reversals which pretty much gives me no hope.  I was able to take 3 prizes before he used rayquaza deoxys legend to take his last 2.

On to game #2.  Yanmega was one of the most expensive cards there - peaking at over $75 before the tournament.  My second opponent ran straight yanmega with sunflora to speed up the search.  Again, my sleeves clump (I draw little to no energy) and I can't set up until mid-game.  By that time he's got 3 yanmega and 2 sunflora (one of those yanmega with energy as a back up, ready to go).   I do manage to bring the game close, but lose because of time being called.

By game #3 I'm pretty frustrated.  My deck has been very consistent the past several months and the only difference now is the new sleeves.  But I figure with two losses already, my 3rd opponent should be pretty easy and even setting up mid game I should be able to get a win.  Luck was just not on my side.  My opponent was magnezone yanmega, a deck that I had not practiced at all against.  It was an excellent build and the only reason he lost his first two games is because he was donked.  He got set up fast and while I still remember being able to take several prizes, it was in his favor all game.  The sleeves clump for a 3rd time and I'm just not able to get going before he's got the magnezones in play.  0-3
I'm tempted to drop at this point, but figure that my rating is so horribly destroyed at this point that I might as well try and get a few of the points back.  So I go for game 4.  After a few hands it's clear that my new sleeves are finally broken in.  Even if my hand is bad, it's a variety of bad, rather than just being all of one thing like energy.  I'm playing a raichu deck with pachiriu to be able to attack every turn and plusle/minum to knock out babies.  But an all electric deck couldn't stand up to my donphans and I take my first win.

With finally one win behind me, I think that there's maybe hope for a winning record.  Losing the first 3 games destroyed any chance I had of top cut, but I didn't expect to make it to that level since it was only my first nationals and with the new rotation, my deck had never seen real tournament play.  I honestly can't remember many details of my 5th game.  I remember what the guy looked like and thinking that it was someone I had practiced against the day before, but the deck was different, so it wasn't.  I wish I could remember what he was running, but that slips my mind too.

We knew we would play 6 games the first day, so this would be my last game of the day.  When I sit down, my opponent is talking to a friend of his beside him, and I hear that he's playing reshiram.  Excellent!  That's what my zoroarks are for!  Before the game even started though, a card flew out while he was shuffling, which gave the deck away anyways. But it didn't matter. The poor guy never saw an energy despite running 20, so he couldn't use his ninetales engine.  I had a full bench set up pretty fast and one shot pretty much everything.  He had had a pretty unlucky day, so he dropped after the game was over.   Despite the bad game, he was extremely nice and a good sport. 

So the main tournament is over for the day, and I have quite a bit of fun playing in side events and talking with a lot of new/old people (getting Jwittz's autograph too!).  The next morning, there's issues with the alarms and we don't wake up until 7:40.  We were told to be in the hall at 8:30.  So after rushed showers we run downstairs to catch the shuttle to the convention center.  We're told a 5-10 minute wait.  That would still get us there a few minutes early.  After 20 minutes the shuttle finally comes by.  We barely make it to the hall in time and I rapidly start shuffling up my deck, slightly flustered at having to cut it so close.  My starting hand has a zorua and cleffa in it with the fighting energy.  I make a misplay that cost me the game.  I put clefffa active and zorua on the bench.  As we're waiting for them to call start, I realize my mistake, but it's too late to take it back.  I lose the coin flip and go second, which lets him get out his tyrogue to take out my cleffa.  WIthout a collector in hand I'm forced to play judge to try and get another basic.  I fail.  And worse yet, I judged him into the donphan and fighting energy he needed to take out my zorua.  I was donked. 

Determined to get a winning record, I refuse to drop.  My next opponent is none other than Candace, a player in North Carolina and a good friend.  We laugh about how we always seem to get paired up with each other at tournaments, how almost everyone we know seems to be doing horribly at nationals, and that we both drove over 10 hours just to play each other.  She's playing reshiphlosion.  The great thing about always playing her is that we always seem to to have really good close games.  I take a few KOs with my zoroarks, and I think I do some damage with my yanmegas too.  I get the early start but she comes back and brings it down to the last prize.  I have a cincinno with a full bench doing 100, but the active typhlosion needs 120 to knock it out.  I have one plus power in the discard pile.  I get rid of as much of my hand as possible and copycat for I think 7 (possibly 9) and in those 7 are two junk arms.  I use them both bringing my hand down to 1, but able to get both pluspowers to knock it out.  One of the best games I've had all tournament.

So my goal of a winning record is in sight! I have one more game!  I play a guy named Mike that sounds very familiar and I'm worried that it might be a big player that has just had a bad day.  Sure enough, its donphan yanmega (I forget what else).  I no longer have my samurott to counter donphan, so donphan matches are always difficult for me.  For some reason, I don't remember too much about this game either, but that it was extremely close and came down to the last prize.  I thought he had the game for sure, but he didn't have the energy he needed to knock me out (I believe he would have killed one of his own in the process which would have brought it to sudden death where I would have a really good shot).  So he stalls, but I was able to someone take the knock out (I believe I used judge and knocked out something on the bench).  We never did figure out why his name sounded familiar.  It was his first time at Nationals and he was from Michigan.  Oh well, he was still a great opponent.

I get my winning record and have a blast the rest of the event with side events and hanging out with amazing people.  I didn't want to leave of course, but there's always next year.  In the end, my ranking only went up by about 4 points, which was pretty sad considering I skipped a battle roads to practice for nationals, and could have earned quite a bit more than that there.  But oh well, I was never in the running for an invite to worlds anyways and I significantly improved from my last season (even though it was only a few tournaments).  My goal for next year will just be to continue to improve and do well at some of the bigger tournaments. 

If you made it to the end of this post, congrats!!  It's quite a big read!  Check out my channel and facebook for tons of videos and pictures from Nationals!

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