Friday, January 18, 2013

Eye on Japan: Tournament report from Tokyo!

Thundurus EX became familiar for me!
Hello everyone!

As I'm writing this blog -entry I'm on an airplane from Tokyo back to Finland. The trip to Tokyo was awesome and since my blog concentrates only on Pokémon TCG, I won't get to any details about the trip but the details, which matter for you – the tournament experience and discussion about Japanese metagame.

So far, I've had the privilege to play Pokémon TCG in 4 different countries, all kind of tournaments in Finland, Cities and Regionals in Sweden, ECC in the Netherlands and Worlds in the U.S. Thanks to the tournament I played in Tokyo, I've already played in 5 countries! I know there are some players that have experience from even more countries than I do, but I think I'm very blessed by the opportunities to play in such many countries and meet great people.

In the end, Pokémon TCG is all about internationality for me as the player base in Finland is getting smaller and smaller all the time and without my international contacts, the game would turn out to be very dull very quickly.

I would like to dedicate this entry to every single one international Pokémon player, who I have a privilege of knowing. I hope I'm able to describe the awesomeness of the experience in a way that does justice for it. Let's get going!

I was going to attend the tournament in Tokyo, Akihabara in a card shop called ”Cherumo”. I didn't know where it is and as it was my first time in Japan, I needed to get guidance to find the place. Thankfully Ukinin-san was kind enough for finding me a contact from Tokyo (Amu-san), who gave me the dates and map to the tournament place. The first time I visited Akihabara on the day 1 of the trip, I didn't find the shop since I hadn't the map with me, but as I went to Akihabara the second time on Monday, I noticed that I had walked past the shop 2 times on the day 1!

The only deck I had with me in Japan, was Hammertime w/Mewtwo EX (the same deck I played in Regionals) and some random cards. I had been discussing the pre-metagame of Japan with Ukinin-san before I went to Japan, so I expected some Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX decks and the same decks as in the west. However, as I didn't want to buy Japanese cards, I felt pretty underarmed against Poison Psychic Beam + Virbank City Gym combos (especially as I don't own any Keldeo Exs, which could help me to get rid off the Poison). Anyways, I wanted to tech Terrakion in case of Thundurus Exs to my Hammertime, but as I started searching through my cards, I noticed that I didn't have any Terrakion or Fighting energy with me! It was a bummer, but I had to settle with the Mewtwo EX (which didn't do a thing in the tournament).

It's also good to mention that I haven't purchased a single card from Boundaries Crossed as the set is pretty horrible, so in fact I was 3 sets behind the Japanese players, when entering the tournament (lol). Here's the list I settled with in the tournament.


4x Darkrai EX
4x Sableye
1x Mewtwo EX


4x Professor Juniper
4x N
3x Bianca
2x Random Receiver
4x Ultra Ball
4x Dark Patch
4x Pokémon Catcher
3x Crushing Hammer
2x Enhanced Hammer
2x Energy Switch
2x Eviolite
1x Dark Claw
1x Tool Scrapper
1x Max Potion
1x Potion


13x Darkness Energy

There was nothing too surprising with the list, except that I didn't even have the MVP of my deck with me as I didn't have ACE Spec with me. Gold Potion is in my opinion a lot better than Computer Search in Hammertime as long as you have enough draw supporters in the deck (and in this tournament I learnt that 13 draw supporters ISN'T enough).

Anyways, the tournament day came and I found the tournament place pretty easily. It was a small, cosy shop, where a lot of people played different card games. All I could do was to look at the prices of the single cards enviably as all cards were ridiculously cheap. One card especially caught my attention. A Japanese Gold Potion for 3,5 euros (About 4 dollars). Even though I couldn't play with Japanese cards in the west, I thought it was a good bargain even if it was only for a one tournament. However, at that point, I only looked at it and didn't buy it.

Finally, I met Amu-san and he helped me to register for the tournament. It's a lot easier for Japanese people to pronounce my name as the pronunciation in Finnish and in Japanese is pretty much the same and differs a lot from for example English way to pronounce letters. The tournament began on schedule and funnily enough I was paired with Amu-san in the first round. I sat at the table and knew that I just HAD to buy the Gold Potion in order to stand a chance. As it was a Gym Challenge tournament, there were no decklists given, so I could change the list one the spot. I said Amu-san that I will buy one card and then be back. So, I purchased the Gold Potion and removed the Max Potion from the deck. Eventually it won me many games (once again).

I had no idea how many tournaments would we play and how many players we had since everything was explained in Japanese, but thank goodness Pokémon is an universal language. Also, in case you don't know what the Japanese cards in the decks I faced do, I'll provide the translations of the cards after the match explanation.

1. Round (Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Kyurem/Lugia EX)

I open with a lone Sableye and goes first. He starts with a Thundurus EX and I immediately know that I'm in trouble. I had tested the deck a bit and knew it was super fast and aggressive. However, the match-up is very good for Hammertime as long as I can stand the early pressure as the opponent runs only special energy cards! However, the deck can't be won by Hammerspam as Thundurus EX takes energy from the discard pile with its first attack.

Thanks to Psychic Poison Beam, Virbank Vity Gym and Deoxsy EXs, it's very easy for the deck to OHKO a Sableye in T1. He played Skyla in the first turn, so I was expecting something like Virbank City Gym, 1 Deoxys EX and Psychic Poison Beam = GG. Thankfully, he didn't have the Poison Psychic Beam, so I was able to live one more turn. He played down 1 Deoxys EX and hit for 40 to my Sableye.

Thahnkfully I had Gold Potion in my hand, so I could just heal the damage away and attach an Eviolite on my Sableye and start set upping. The set-up was pretty easy as he wasn't able to OHKO me in the second turn either. I could disrupt him with Hammers and was fortunate enough to hit some Crushing Hammer heads in the early turns to completely negate his energy attachments. In T4 he had Koed 2 of my Sableyes, I N'd him to 4, Hammered his Thundurus EX to one energy and started attacking with Darkrai EX.

Once I started attacking with Darkrai EX, it took 5 prizes. I had taken the Gold Potion back from the discard pile with Junk Hunt and as he didn't play any Eviolites, Night Spear was highly devastating against his all-EX bench (and Kyurem).

I don't remember the end of the game, but all I can remember is that it was very close game to the end, but eventually his deck run out of resources (Switches and Energy) and I was able to Night Spear for the win. He kept switching his attackers all the time and as it was late game, I wasn't able to draw into Catchers after the late game N to take the easy prizes.

Once the game was over, I noticed that almost everyone was gathered around our game and clapped in polite fashion. As it was a small tournament, I was very surprised by it, but it created a nice atmosphere for the match and the tournament as a whole.


2. Round (Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Kyurem/Snorlax)

Once again, I opened with a lone Sableye, but nefore that I mulliganed 5 times! He went first, which was very bad for me as I mulliganed so many times. I was waiting to get OHKOed in T1, but thankfully once again he played Skyla in T1 and only hit 50 to my Sableye. I was able to get a Potion and Eviolite into my opening hand, so I healed 30 from Sableye, attached the Eviolite, Catchered a Deoxys EX and started Hammerspamming and set upping. I had trouble set upping due one small fact – I didn't have a Supporter! In the last game, I had some trouble in the late game as I was lacking draw and now it happened in the early game. At this point, I already knew that I had too few supporters in my deck.

In T2 he played Snorlax on his bench and I saw my opportunity. Snorlax hits with 5 energy and has a retreat cost of 4. There is no better target for Hammertime as it can Hammerspam and Catcher the deck to death. However, as soon as I noticed that I have the game, I also noticed that I had 2 Sableyes prized. As I didn't run Revive or Super Rod, this would turn out to be a problem if I wasn't able to keep my Sableyes alive.

I tried to find the balance between Night Spearing and Junk Hunting so that my opponent wouldn't understand my strategy to run him out of resources, because if he understood, he would've just Koed my Sableyes ASAP and after that I would've lost the game (I was behind in the game so much due the mulligans and he starting the game).

In the end, I was able to run him out of Switches so all I needed to do was to take the energy off the Snorlax (it already got 5 energy on it due my horrible Crushing Hammer flips). I wasn't able to hit any heads from Crushing Hammers in this game and that combined to the beginning of the game and the Sableyes prized, I lost the game 6-0. I wasn't able to get the prizes as I was too much behind and I couldn't draw into my last Enhanced Hammer that was N'd away. Eventually he finished the game with Scramble Switch, which I had calculated, but wasn't sure if he was running it or something else. 5 energy Snorlax with 2 Deoxys EXs on the bench is just too much to handle even for an Eviolited Darkrai EX... (200 damage!!).


3. Round (Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Kyurem/Lugia EX)

Again, he goes first and flips a Thundurus EX to the active spot. This time I had the priviledge to open with Mewtwo EX, so at least he couldn't donk me! In the early turns I decided to run him out of resouces as he benched 3 Deoxys EXs by T2. Catchering and Hammering should be enough since I believed he didn't run 4 DCEs.

I assumed correctly and after he KOed my Sableye and Mewtwo EX, I N'd and Catchered him and he drew dead. After I noticed that he drew nothing, I saw no more reason to play with Sableye and just started Night Spearing his Deoxys EXs. He retreated the Deoxys EXs from the active spot (which was weird in my opinion as I was at 6 prizes all the time and never become vulnerable to N). Eventually I killed the first Deoxys EX and then he N'd me. He wasn't able to draw to the healing cards, but as I had damaged his Pokémon a lot, I could take 4 prizes at the same turn with Dark Claw + Night Spear.

At this point I already become pretty comfortable with the match-up and knew that Hammertime had the advantage, and hoped to face some new decks, but whaddya know...

4. Round (Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Kyurem/Lugia EX)

I guess I don't have to tell you what is the most popular deck in the Japan at the moment! For the first time, I was able to go first, with Sableye active and it immediately game me a huge advantage to the game. Thanks to Dark Patches and Energy Switcehs I was able to get the T2 Darkrai EX and as I Enhanced Hammer the energy away from the benched Pokémon, which had energy from Thundurus EXs attack, I had the upper hand in the game.

After that I never looked back and didn't even have to resort to Hammerspam. Eviolited Darkrai EXs are more powerful than non-Eviolite Darkrai EXs even if I don't have Keldeo EX to get rid of the Poison. Retreating and Random Potion and Gold Potion is enough to make Darkrai EX a real nightmare for Thundurus EX.

There was one point, in this game, where I was fortunate enough to flip heads from the asleep as my Darkrai EX was put asleep by the Hypnotic Poison Beam. Looking back, the tails from that would've made the game a lot tougher for me, but at that point the flip didn't seem that relevant. Ok, it wouldn't have been a problem if I owned a Keldeo EX but anyways I ended up winning the game pretty easily due the overpowering force of Darkrai EX.


The local players were very interested in me and there were many people watching every game I played. After the tournament, they asked me to sign their cards and thanked me for coming.

The tournament was 230 yens (about 2 euros) and the prizes were very cool from deck boxes, to sleeves to binders. Before the tournament I had seen an awesome looking deck box hanging on the wall of the card shop and thought that I wanted to buy it. However, I soon noticed that it was a prize for the tournament. As I went 3-1, I thought I could be able to get the deck box as a prize, but as I lost one of the games 6-0, I ended up being the worst 3-1 and only got some sleeves as prizes.

After the prizes were given my girlfriend asked me to come to her aid (she had shopped too much, so I had to carry her bags as there was a huge snowstorm outside), so I couldn't be able to stay for the second tournament (even though I would have wanted to). Then Amu-san came to me and asked me if I was going. I explained the situation for him and he asked me to wait. After a moment he came to me with the deck box I was interested in (even though I didn't even mention it to anyone!) and 70 cool sleeves, which (I think) were their own league's official Pokémon TCG sleeves (and tournament-viable too!).I thanked Amu-san for this, but I want to thank him again as the deck box and sleeves are just simply so cool! Thanks you VERY MUCH Amu-san!

I’ll try to get pictures of all the Pokémon stuff I got from Japan to my blog as soon as possible.

All in all, the tournament was one of my best experiences during my long career in Pokémon TCG and I'm sure I won't never forget it. All the players were extra-nice and the atmosphere was simply awesome. If you ever happen to visit Japan, be sure to visit a local tournament, it's really worth it!

What's next?

The tournament season has been very quiet for me. I have read people saying that they went to 17 Cities in the U.S. That's a LOT even in my opinion. Heck, I haven't even attended Cities this season! Anyways, now that I have come back from Japan (ok while I'm writing this I'm still on the airplane), the tournament season will get a bit more hectic for me. I will attend my first Cities this season tomorrow and I'm excited about that. What I'm not excited about is the jet-lag, I'm sure to have in the tournament tomorrow!

And in only 2 weeks after the CCs ,I will once again fly away from Finland and this time for the Netherlands and Europe Challenge Cup! I'm sure ECC will be as awesome as always and hope to do at least as well there as in the previous years (2-times in top16).

In the end, note to self: I'm a poor student, I shouldn't travel this much or I'll have to live with noodles for the rest of my university studies!

Thanks for reading and don't hesitate to ask anything considering Japan or this tournament report, I'll try to answer all the questions you have in the comments and in my next blog entry!

P.S. For those who are looking for more information about Japan, do not worry! I'll do a more detailed Eye on Japan entry after I have survived from the jet-lag. I just wanted scratch the surface and write the tournament report out as long as I could remember things.


  1. Hey esa, great article. Definitely interesting decks you played against. Nothing too surprising Imo. However what was spurring was kyurem... why did they use that? Was it to set up ex kills with lugia?

    1. kyurem OHKOs landorus, which is a huge weakness to the deck obv

    2. Ah I see... I didn't realize anywhere that it was plasma kyurem. Makes more sense now.
      Nvi kyurem would seem to reactive with just outrage.

  2. It's pretty cool that you played a tournament in Japan, but reading this report doesn't give a lot of information about the Japanese metagame. You didn't give the results of the tournament.
    Many players seemed to be playing this deck you faced four time, but you don't really explain what it does, just how you beat it by using Hammers and Night Spear. What is Kyurem used for?

    You said you'd write an Eye on Japan article soon so I'm looking forward to it.

    1. Look up the cards in the new set, the deck is pretty self-explanatory. This was actually a strong analysis of the metagame because it shows what deck is being played there in large amounts, and it also shows that darkrai can still keep up if piloted well.

  3. Hi Esa, nice article, I'm interested in that so common deck, what is the idea behind it?

    Any information about rotation in Japan?


  5. Report is very helpful to see what decks are popular in Japan. What are the strategy in this deck (Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Kyurem/Lugia EX)?

    1. The strategy is extremely basic, read the cards figure it out for yourself

  6. Which kyurem did they use..and why would they put poison/hypno beam /Virbank city gym in that deck.. (that would be only 3extra damage..this is not needed when oh can have 2 deoxys out to have the 180 math right (50+140=180) that would be Thundurus first attack one time then have Lucia ex finish then off if they put in a Rook scrapper to do away with evos. As for the depends on which one I don't think they need it..what other decks has Japan been playing since plasma came out..not Crobat with Virbank can do 100 for 3 damage at the end of ur turn 40 base attack +40 toxic + Virbank (2more) = 100. I would put a garbodor in there to do away with keldeo. So they only rely on switch and normal retreat.

  7. Sorry, I can't understand why Snorlax can do 200 damage with 2 Deoxys EX on the bench. The base damage of Snorlax is increased by 10? Otherwise, it was very funny, I'm from Peru and always follow your entries. Go, go Pokémon!

    1. Snorlax's attack does 30 for each Plasma Pokémon you have in play. So with a full field you do 180. If two of those are Deoxys EX, then you're hitting for a massive 200.

    2. Thanks, I was thinking something like that ;) ScrambleSnorlax is amazing!

  8. Great tip!!! couldn't find any proper league area there..

  9. I'm little bit jelaous for you Esa. You across world tournament to tournament playing this bad game. Your experience and knowledge rising up. but this game is very horrible. You are nice to game, but game isn't to you. My reply remind me why I'm even going in the morning to tournament.. Hopefully we play against each other.
    - B-Hero

  10. If there using the new kyurem..its,ok its,just a landorus ex with one more energy needed, but there r 2 better kyurems than that one..first the NVI, then the dragon type one from Dragon vault (130hp, 3white for 60, second attack: water, psy, 2white: 90 base, 10 to each of there benched) has two retreat,

    1. Kyurem plasma is so much better than either of those because it is a plasma pokemon therefore Deoxys EX and Colress machine. Also it can hit for 120 which is great as well when boosted by Deoxys and poison...

  11. Finally a decent Snorlax again <3

    Nice report!

  12. Thanks for comments everyone! I'll probably do an own entry about Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX as it seems people are very interested in it and another entry about the tournament differences in Japan and in west (even the tournaments are ran differently!).

    I'll ask for your opinion about the order of the articles on Facebook and Twitter so be sure to let me hear your opinion!

  13. How often was Lugia used in the Thundurus/Deoxys decks? It seems like the decks would focus around them.

    Also, did you see any non-Thundurus/Deoxys decks in other games? It would be pretty cool to hear about those as well.

  14. That seems like such a boring meta (though I do understand one tournament isn't representative of the country as a whole). Any evolution decks doing okay?

  15. Pony and Hammertime(and maybe quazaeels). Just like any worlds meta. Tier 1 decks too overpowered.


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