|Life Dew flew under the radar all this time|
The U.S. Nationals are finally behind us! And the only thing left is the Worlds Championships - the most important tournament of the season for me and a lot of non-U.S players. However, before I make a Worlds Championships entry later on in this month, it’s time to look back to the results of the U.S. Nationals winning decks, and why these decks ended up winning each age group.
I’ll analyze each age group, but of course I will concentrate mostly on Masters, because that’s the only age group I could find a lot of good information from! We already know the top8 of the Masters division giving us a good picture of what really did well. I’ll also do some a not-so-rough draft of the Masters’ winning deck, which I believe won’t be too many cards off. I hope you enjoy!
Let’s get going.
Juniors division – Plasma domination
Carson St. D. (You can find his interview here: http://www.pokemon.com/us/pokemon-news/op_nats13_tcgjr-2013-07-07/ won the Juniors division with Plasm. I think was no surprise. Plasma was dominating the Juniors division in the Battle Roads and it is still dominating the youngest age division in Japan even though they already have one new set. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Plasma was the most popular deck in Juniors division among the players that had an unlimited budget. And it won simply because it’s straightforward, fast, extremely powerful and very versatile.
In Juniors division straightforward decks often do better than the complicated stage2 decks. For example Gothitelle/Accelgor is probably too difficult deck for even to the Worlds’ most skilled Junior player to play 100% correctly. When it comes to stage2 decks, I was surprised not to see Blastoise in the finals of Juniors. When having a good day, Blastoise is an easy deck to pilot and at the same time extremely powerful. It just seems that no Blastoise player really had good enough a day to rise to the top. Thanks to the readers, I got the information that there indeed was a Blastoise in top4 of the Juniors, which was only expected. Blastoise is THE Juniors deck in my opinion and I wouldn't be surprised to see Blastoise win Worlds in Juniors division.
Seniors – Basic Domination
Calvin C. won the Seniors division. You can find the interview of the winner here: http://www.pokemon.com/us/pokemon-news/op_nats13_tcgsr-2013-07-07/ I’m very glad that Pokémon.com does these so quickly nowadays. He was playing a Plasma deck with at least Absol and Lugia EX. I think there wasn’t anything too surprising about his deck as I am not sure if he played the Life Dew or not.
What I really like was the second placing Hammers/Garbodor/Darkrai EX/more attackers. The deck popped up every now and then, but it didn’t really gain that much attention. It’s a perfect metagame counter and there really is no deck that has a straight answer to it. I would play a variant of this deck myself in the Worlds, but as I don’t have that much time to test for Worlds, I will be playing a deck that is already familiar to me. I’m sure there will be more of these in the Worlds than in the U.S. Nationals, because European players always like to play rogues in the Worlds.
When it comes to Seniors division in general, I believe the skill-level of Seniors is highly underrated. A 15-year old can be as skillful as a 20-year old player as long as he has played for a long time. That’s why it’s kind of shame that Seniors division is often overshadowed by Masters division. For example in 2006, Seniors was equally important compared to Masters division. I really hope that in the future Seniors will get more coverage and that the player base will grow again in the younger age divisions. If we look at the attendance numbers of the U.S. Nationals, they are on a right track. Masters attendance dropped, but both, Juniors and Seniors grew compared to last year. Remember, the future of this game is in the younger age divisions, not in the old farts like me. Maybe I should concentrate more on Seniors in my blog as well in order to make Seniors a more popular age group.
I hope that the Garbodor/Darkrai EX will be popular in the Worlds in Masters thus proving that Seniors can have an impact to the game as well.
Masters – Long live stage2 decks!
The top8 of the Masters division included:
3x Plasma variant
1x Klinklang variant
1x Darkrai EX variant
In my opinion, there was only one surprise in the top8 decks of the Masters division. Klinklang was there once again! It seems that the U.S. Players really have a soft spot for Klinklang since it tends to make well in every big tournament. Once again it made an awesome run to top8 until losing to a Plasma variant.
What about Plasma? There were 3 Plasmas in top8, 2 in top4 and 1 in the finals. I’m not completely sure about the composition of the Plasma except for the VERY surprising fact that the both Plasmas in the top4 ran LIFE DEW (!). In my opinion, it was a perfect metagame call, because Garbodor is extinct and thus there is no reason to play Tool Scrapper. Probably the only deck that still runs Tool Scrappers is Blastoise and Gothitelle and not even all of Blastoise and Gothitelle variants play Tool Scrapper. This makes Life Dew a perfect card. It gives you a one-prize advantage against all the difficult match-ups for Plasma. And just how often do you lose a game by one prize in this game? VERY often and Life Dew gives you a win in these games. Sounds legit to me.
Also it seems that all the Plasma variants that did very well in the Masters concentrated on non-EX Plasma attackers, which help especially the mirror match-up. The top4 deck also run Exp Share and Float Stone alongside with Kyurem and didn't run Thundurus EX at all as an energy acceleration. All the lists that did well had something exceptional in them.
I really must applaud all the players that made the decision to run Life Dew in their Plasma decks. It really makes all the difference in the world and it only shows that there is some room for creativity in the current format as long as you predict the metagame correctly. There are so many possible ways of building a Plasma deck that I don’t want to go guessing about the lists that did well until I have more information about them. That’s why I unfortunately can’t provide you with a rough list of the Plasmas in top4.
What about the lone Darkrai EX in the top8? Well, Darkrai EX is the most consistent deck in the format. It has a positive Plasma match-up with enough Hammers and it’s only very bad match-up is Gothitelle/Accelgor (no matter how many Keldeo EXs they run). Even Yamato played Darkrai EX/Absol in the Worlds Qualifiers, so that tells how competitive deck can really be. However, I want to point out something. Darkrai EX is a consistent deck that will rarely lead into a negative record, but if you want to win a tournament, Darkrai EX isn’t the deck that can usually go all the way. It’s almost “too” consistent in order to win a big tournament.
Last, but not least, there is Gothitelle/Accelgor. Just like Plasma, there were 3 of them in top8, 2 of them in top4 and 1 in the Finals. The one in the was piloted by Edmund Kuras (interview: http://www.pokemon.com/us/pokemon-news/op_nats13_tcgm-2013-07-07/) and in the end, he succeeded in winning the whole tournament with it by beating Ryan Sabelhaus 2-1 in an intense finals game 2-1. I played Gothitelle in my own Nationals and lost due to a misjudgment in the metagame. I’m pretty sure that Edmund’s list is very close to all the Gothitelle lists running around the internet, because not that much variation can be done to the deck. You just have to make it as consistent as possible. Edmund ran 1-1 Dusknoir line, which is in my opinion the best way, because of multiple reasons.
1) If you run 2-2 Dusknoir, you will destroy your decks’ consistency
- If Gothitelle has a bad start, it loses the game automatically. Against the quickest decks in the format, you can’t even afford to have a mediocre start. This deck needs to be super consistent and that’s why I believe 2-2 Dusknoir is overkill.
2) In some games Dusknoir is a dead card
Mirror, Blastoise, some Plasma matches, etc. Occasionally there are games where you just don’t need Dusknoir / can’t afford using Rare Candy in order to get it to play. Having 4 dead cards in your deck is not optimal this deck, because the only way to get Gothitelle working well enough is to have 60 cards that have a purpose in every single game.
3) Finding space in this deck is VERY difficult
I believe the optimal way of running Dusknoir is 2-1 line. Having a Duskull in the prizes slows Dusknoir more down than prizing a Dusknoir. However, I can’t find space for the 2nd Duskull as much as I wanted to while keeping all the cards I want to the deck.
I don’t have a clue of what Edmund’s list looked like, but if I had to take a guess, here is a rough draft I came up with the help of the information I had about the list.
4x Gothitelle (Emerging Powers)
3x Accelgor (Dark Explorers)
3x Mew EX
1x Dusknoir (Boundaries Crossed)
2x Professor Juniper
3x Tropical Beach
1x Computer Search
3x Ultra Ball
2x Pokemon Communication
4x Level Ball
3x Float Stone
4x Rare Candy
1x Super Rod
3x Pokémon Catcher
4x Double Colorless Energy
Edmund didn't run Musharna! Now I'm intrigued. How could he keep the flow going then? That is a question, I can't answer.
There really is only one way to build Gothitelle and I think this list is max 4 cards off Edmund’s list. I don’t know if he ran Gothorita or not, but I think the percentages for this are high as he won a Gothitelle mirror match. If you have any info about whether he ran Gothorita or not, please comment. What I am especially interested in is the Accelgor count. 2 is a very risky play and in a long tournament like the U.S. Nationals you are almost sure to prize 2 Accelgors at least in a one game. (Been there done that, more about that in tomorrow’s entry).
In my “Underground” article I listed Gothitelle/Accelgor as the deck I believe would have the biggest chances of winning the Nationals. I’m glad that my predictions were accurate, but in the end betting on the deck wasn’t a difficult Even though I failed in my Nationals with Accelgor, I still felt like it’s the deck to out there and after the U.S. Nationals win, I’m more than convinced that it’s very close to a BDIF. I will play it in the Worlds - that might not be a surprise - and I can’t wait to play some Gothitelle mirrors in the Swiss of Worlds…! (not). I’m interested in how the decks and the metagame will morph, because Gothitelle is now officially a deck you should prepare against. However, I’ll do a whole new entry about the Worlds metagame, so now it's no the time for it.
The season has ended last weekend for a lot of players and that’s why I’ll bother you with an article about this format only 2 times until I will leave it to rest and concentrate on the future format. I won’t be testing the future format yet (as I need to prepare for Worlds), so I’ll try to find some information from Japan to share with you in the next few weeks. Not to mention the Tropical Beach giveaway, which will begin this week! (Or are you completely sure that there wasn’t a code hidden in this entry?!)
My history -series will also continue tomorrow with probably the most epic tournament experience I have myself ever experienced so be sure to tune in tomorrow as well! I hope you enjoyed these little musings. If you were at the U.S. Nationals and have more about the Juniors /Seniors division, please let me know in the comments, so I can extend my analysis in the future.
Thanks for reading!