|Will the real Esa please stand up?|
So, last weekend I was playing in the European Challenge Cup (ECC). If you have followed me on Twitter or Facebook, you already know how I did, but anyways, the tournament is only once a year, and it was once again one of the greatest tournament experiences ever, so it’s worth writing a report.
After failing with Quad Sigilyph and Mewtwo EX/Landorus EX, I decided to give a chance for a deck, which I really didn’t want to play – Blastoise/Keldeo EX. I built a list of it, which was very close to the U.S. Regionals winning list and tried it out. It worked out superb and I was convinced that Blastoise is the BDIF as long as you can get it set upping consistently. The list set upped itself consistently and I even found room for a Tool Scrapper, so it was decided. I would like have to played Hammertime, but noticed that it has big issues against most Blastoise variants, so in a very early stages of thinking about the tournament deck, I neglected the idea of playing Hammertime. And in the end, Hammertime won the whole tournament! Why, oh why, didn’t I trust on the Hammers. Anyways, here’s the list of my Blastoise deck.
2x Keldeo EX
3x Mewtwo EX
4x Professor Juniper
4x Ultra Ball
2x Tropical Beach
1x Level Ball
1x Computer Search
1x Tool Scrapper
4x Rare Candy
3x Pokémon Catcher
4x Super Scoop Up
3x Energy Retrieval
12x Water Energy
1x Double Colorless Energy
A long time, I was deciding on whether to play Tool Scrapper or the 2nd DCE. After playing the games, DCE would have been a lot more useful since even though I ran into a Garbodor deck, the Tool Scrapper didn’t do anything while the DCE would have won me the game (and other games as well).
In the test games, I usually needed to hit only 1 heads, and it would turn the whole game around. Overall, I was very satisfied with the list even though Blastoise/Keldeo EX really isn’t m y kind of deck – a stage2 deck in this format is always a risky play in my opinion, because you can never get it as consistent as you would like to.
Anyways, I got to Amsterdam on Friday morning, where I had to wait my friend Matijs for 5 hours, because he lives in the Netherlands and I would be staying at his place the whole weekend. Usually, there are over 10 people from Finland going to the ECC, but this year it was different. There were only 3 people coming from Finland to the ECC (including me) and one of them was coming only, because he lives in the Netherlands at the moment. We’ll see if there is any players coming to the ECC from Finland next year…
Anyways, I had just loaned Eragorn from the library, which I then read on the plane and on the airport. I have heard mixed reviews of it, but I think it was good. Of course I haven’t even finished the first book yet, but still.
We went to Matijs’ place, where I met all his nice roommates. Soon, the Danish family Eriksen came to Matijs’ house as well and we tested a bit, and went to sleep. I lost to Garbodor/Accelgor once, why I decided to include the Tool Scrapper into the deck.
We had to wake up like 6.30 AM, which is too early for me. We took the two buses to the tournament venue and just lagged on the bus. On the tournament venue I met the 2 other Finnish players, got to a deck check, where the deck checker could admire my cool sleeves, I got from Amu-san in Japan. They had Koffing on them and something else. I will try to get a picture of the sleeves to my blog as soon as possible.
Anyways, the tournament didn’t really start on time and I think there was a 30 minute delay only, because one of the players had lost their deck… I apologize in advance that I don’t remember the names of my opponent’s, because I didn’t write them down.
1. Round (Darkrai EX/Landorus EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion)
I think he was from the U.K., but I’m not sure. He was a very nice guy and recognized my name, which was cool as well. I think I was able to go first in this game and we both got very slow starts starts. I got a T4 Blastoise and some energy to Keldeo EX. After that we went back and forth and I made a risky play to attach 7 energy to one Keldeo EX to KO Darkrai EX or Mewtwo EX. He didn’t find an answer to it, so everything I needed to win was one Catcher. He N’s me to 2 cards and I draw Juniper and a Skyla. To be honest, I wasn’t awake enough to check if I had all my Catchers in the deck (2 of them were in the discard pile), but I used Skyla and noticed that the Catcher was my last prize. Oh, well, I decide to search for a Super Scoop Up, hit heads and get the 7 energy Keldeo EX; which had lost 90 HP back to my hand. I just attach all the energy on the field again and hit active Darkrai EX. He can’t do anything else, but to hit back and I just draw the last prize cards. He was a great sport and to pleasure to play against!
2. Round (Blastoise Mirror)
I played against him in the last ECC in top32. I went first and got a very decent opening hand with T2 Blastoise. However, when I N myself in T2, I don’t draw any energy and pass. After that he gets a T2 Blastoise, 5 energy to Keldeo EX, Catcher my Blastoise and KO. Ok… After that I struggle in draing into anything, but he doesn’t draw that well either. I will KO his 6 energy Keldeo EX, if I hit any energy from my deck with a 5 card N. I had used only 2 energy so far, and no Energy Retrievals, so I was pretty sure I would draw into even a one energy. I miss the energy and then he just KOs everything with the one Keldeo EX…Ugly.
3. Round (Landorus EX/Garbodor/Mewtwo EX)
When I saw the pairings I laughed. This game was against a Norwegian guy, who is half-Finnish as well. In fact, I had never played against him, so it was nice getting to play against him. I got a T2 Blastoise again and 3 energy to Keldeo EX and then KO his Landorus EX. I had a huge control of the at that point and thought that I would have no problem at all. However, trouble began as soon as I KOed the Landorus EX. After that I draw into nothing. I missed the energy in just too many spots even though he didn’t have a Garbodor in play. I think I got a total of 5 energy to play during the whole game… Anyways, it came down to this. He had 3 cards in his hand and I got 12 cards in my deck and a Juniper. I Catcher a Garbodor, use Juniper and have to hit for the DCE from the Juniper. I miss the DCE and don’t attach an energy to my active Mewtwo EX. He has the Switch and the DCE in his hand, and is able to KO my Mewtwo EX. Good game, nonetheless and it was fun playing against you Tommi!
4. Round (Blastoise Mirror)
Practically my deck hadn’t been working the whole day, because even though I was able to get T2 Blastoises, I always seemed to whiff the energy. This game was probably the funniest of the day. I try to draw into a Blastoise like 4 turns and then my Squirtle is KOed. I had already checked that my other 2 Squirtles were prized so… Yeah.
5. Round (Landorus EX/Tornadus EX/Mewtwo EX)
My tournament was practically over at the point where I was at 1-2, because my tie break would have probably been to low even if made it to the 6-2 from that point, but now it was officially over. I was playing in a table and most of the people around me were Pokédads and Moms. I have never been doing this bad even in the Worlds, so I didn’t feel like playing at all. My deck didn’t draw into anything in this game either and in one point, where I used Tropical Beach, I draw N, N, Super Scoop Up, Super Scoop Up, Super Scoop Up, Blastoise and Keldeo EX. I look at my hand a moment and facepalm. It took me 6 turns to get the Blastoise up, but I was able to win the game with manually loaded Keldeo EX, because his deck wasn’t working either. Oh well.
I don’t like dropping, but in the end, it just wasn’t my day. There are some days, where everything just doesn’t go to the way you planned it, and this was one of those days. The deck worked perfectly in the test games and I didn’t have any problems I had in my tournament games, but as the tournament games are always such a small portion of the matches you play, anything can happen. And yeah, Blastoise isn’t a fun deck to play and the only reason, why I played it was, because I thought it was the best deck.
Nonetheless, I went to the balcony said of the ECC hall and continued reading Eragon. During the day, I gave a lot of autographs and I was very surprised to see how many people recognized me even though, I don’t do video stuff and there is only some pictures of me in my blog. It was great meeting everyone, I met on the Saturday and there is one happening during that day that really made me laugh.
I was reading the Eragon and some Swedish guys came beside us. If I heard discussion correctly, it went something like this.
A dutch guy comes to the Swedish guy beside me and asks:
“Are you Esa?”
“Are you Esa Juntunen?”
“Yeah, sure, I can be anyone who you want me to be!”
At this point, I wasn’t’ sure if I heard correctly and just continued listening to the conversation. The Dutch guy asked him to sign his cards and the Swedish guys signs them and talks something about how he (Esa) did in the tournament xD After a while, the Dutch guy went away and other of the Finnish players comes to the Swedish guy and says “Did you know that the real Esa is sitting beside you?”
He and his friends and we start laughing so hard. The Swedish guy also knew me and asked me to sign like a ton of his cards, rofl. I don’t really think that I could picture the situation well enough and probably it doesn’t sound as fun as it was at that moment, but trust me, it was fun! Of course, I came to the Dutch guy and signed his cards as well.
On Saturday evening we went to eat pizza with the Finnish players and then went back to Matijs’ plays with a bus as soon as possible, because it started to snow. We ate in the same pizzeria, I think, 2 years ago? The center of the Arnhem has already become very familiar to most of us. Of course, as a McDonald’s stock owner, I was a bit sad that we didn’t go to a local McDonald’s :(
After a long Satudray night, I wake up at 11 AM on Sunday and we decide to go to a Prerelease. It has been over 4 years since I last played in prerelease, because the past few years we haven’t had almost any Prereleases in Finland and I have also organized a lot of prereleases. I thought it would be fun to play in a Prerelease after a long break. We signed up and waited to Prerelease to start. I didn’t get any EXs from the 8 boosters, but got 2 Hypnotoxic Lasers, so I was happy enough with the draw.
My Prerelease deck looked like this
3x Trubbish (1 of each)
1x Garbodor (Biosmog)
1x Garbodor (The other one)
1x Klinklang (Plasma)
1x Zubat (Free retreat)
2x Hypnotoxic Laser
1x Team Plasma Grunt
1x Plasma Energy
14x Lighting Energy
6x Psychic Energy
So, yeah, Magneton was my best card in the deck, as it but my opponent into a confuse with one Colorless and hit 30 with two energy! Big EXs are so overpowered in prereleases, if you don’t run any Pokémon that cause Special Conditions, so since I didn’t get any EXs, I had to go with a Special Condition strategy.
1. Round (Durant/Skitty/Lombre/Watchog)
The only thing I can remember for this game, is that I retreated a LOT in this game and that she flipped over 10 straight headses with her confused Watchog, which came into play in T2. It caused me a lot of headache, but after my Pokémon had overall about 250 damage on them, I was able to take her best attackers down with Biosmog Garbodor.
2. Round (Durant/Moltres EX/something)
This is probably my clearest memory of the whole tournament weekend, because I was playing against this Czech lady, who had proxy energy in her deck. He asked a judge, if she should show the proxy to me before before the game or when he plays them, because if she showed them to me before the game I WOULD KNOW WHAT SHE WAS PLAYING! Omfg. At that point, I was going to hand over my deck to her, so he could check it card-by-card since it’s a prerelease! I know some people like to be competitive, but… Ugh. Anyways, she got Moltre EX to play, and I Hypnotoxic laser + Biosmog it and it really doesn’t’ do anything. Garbodor > big EXs in the prerelease, woot.
3. Round (Victini EX/Heatmor/Durant)
This deck was insane. He opens with Durant, which searches for Vicitini, which loads Heatmor in T2 and start hitting with Heatmor in T3. I figured he would play many and many more energy and when he attacked with Heatmor to my Rotom the first time, he hit 1 Fire energy. Second time, 0 energy. He had so back luck that it wasn’t even funny. I confused the Heatmor and he retreated and reloaded it with Victini EX and started attacking again. He hits 4 non-Energy cards again! At this point, I already knew that I would win the game, because he decks out and that’s exactly what he did. Rofl at prereleases.
YEAHHH!!! I go 3-0, get two extra boosters and got nothing from them. Oh well, at least I won all the games in the most competitive Prerelease, I have played in :P
After the Prerelease, I just settled watching the top8, top4 and the final games. The eventual winner – Dennis - came to me after his top4 game and asked me if I could sigh his Crushing Hammer after the finals. It was the first time, I even heard that there was a Hammertime in the finals. I felt pretty noob that I didn’t have the guts to play Hammertime, even though I felt most comfortable with it. Anyways, Dennis won the finals with Hammertime, so congratulations to him!
Oh, yes, and in case you haven’t seen the top4 yet, here’s the top4 of the tournament.
1. Dennis B. (Germany) – Hammertime
2. David H. (Germany) – Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX
3. Thomas V. (France) – RayEels
4. Tamao C. (United Kingdom) – Darkrai EX/Hydreigon
Rant/ I have organized a lot of tournaments in Finland and know how difficult it is to organize a big tournament like the ECC, but I would like to rant a little about the final games. The area, where the final games were played, was almost hidden from all the eyes of the players. In as precious tournament as the ECC, I really would like to see a big group to gather around the final games and live with it just like in the Worlds before the screened the finals. Also, I was a bit disturbed about how the cleaned up the WHOLE place at the same time when finals are played. Granted, it would be boring to staff to clean up the place after the players have left, but I’ve been there and done that. Cleaning up the place at the same time when the finals are played, takes away the preciosity of the finals. However, that’s just how I see it. /end rant
Now, I’m back to Finland and in fact was working the whole day! Now, I need to catch up with my school stuff. Ugh, the 4 days in the Netherlands really went by REALLY quickly. An Impact Crater coming soon about the new set, so look for it! Also, I have one Eye on Japan –entry in the storage as well, and will be releasing it soon as well. Lots of cool stuff coming.
As this was a bigger kind of report, in the end the pros and cons of the trip!
+ Hammertime won the ECC
+ Matti for borrowing the deck (I don’t own a single Blastoise or Keldeo EX)
+ All the Finnish players (the all 2 of them!)
+ Matijs for letting me staying at his place
+ Every single new and old player who I met in the tournament!
+ All the 50+ autographs I gave
+ Playing in a prerelease for a long time
+ Every single opponent were great sport and fun to play against
+ There wasn’t a Blastoise deck in the top4
+ Matijs’ roommates
+ Plasma Storm will make the game better
+ I was finally able to write the report
+ The fake-Esa incident
+ Eragon wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be
+ Had a blast even though the tournament failed
+ You for reading the report!
- I played a deck that I didn’t want to play
- Too much school work
- Need to top4 in the Nationals in order to get the invite to Worlds…
Thanks a lot for reading and feel free to comment on anything, ask anything or leave requests for the upcoming entries!