Monday, July 8, 2013

The U.S. Nationals results and hindsight


Life Dew flew under the radar all this time
Hello everyone!



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 Gothitelle/Accelgor
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.


Pokémon:

4x Gothita
1x Gothorita 
4x Gothitelle (Emerging Powers)
3x Shelmet
3x Accelgor (Dark Explorers)
3x Mew EX
1x Duskull
1x Dusknoir (Boundaries Crossed)
0x Munna
0x Musharna!
=20


Trainer:

4x N
4x Skyla
2x Professor Juniper
2x Colress
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
=36


Energy:
4x Double Colorless Energy
=4

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.



Conclusion

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!







45 comments:

  1. As far as I know Edmund Kuras didn't run Munna.

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  2. Thanks for putting this all together in one spot to read!!

    I didn't see a code above, but I would sure love to have one or two!!!

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  3. I played Edmund Round 5. He did not run Munna; and he did have at least one Stage 1 Goth piece in there. (He Super Rod'd it back in.)

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  4. Replies
    1. Was it Ian Robb? He was playing blastoise in swiss, if I had to pick a junior player to win nationals, it would be him.

      Last year worlds runner-up

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    2. Ian did play Blastoise, but he lost in T16.

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    3. No, it was Josh F. I unfortunately don't know the rest of juniors Top 4 and what they were playing.

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    4. 1st carson st denis plasma
      2nd hayden pyrezts plasma

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  5. I don't think Edmund played Town Map, and I believe his Ace Spec was Computer Search. I watched the finals which is where I got this information.

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  6. Also, Dave Richard was in top 8 with Plasma and he used the same list (or at least very similar with the Life Dew) as Ryan Sabelhaus. It also played at least 1 of the GRPD Blend Energy, and thusly probably played 2 Absol.

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  7. Anyone knows the list/roughlist for the klinklang variant deck?

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  8. And the list/roughlist for Ross Cawthon's Garchomp/Altaria, please?

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    Replies
    1. Don't even bother, I talked to Ross and even he said that it wasn't a good deck to run. He just was running it for Nationals to test it out in a tournament. To be honest, the only way he got into top cut was because he had the two round byes.

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    2. OK, thanks!

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  9. There's no purpose in running Musharna, Esa. You should know that by now. You can use those 2 spaces way better.

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  10. Thanks for everyone for the more details, I updated the lists and the entry. Any more information would be great since no international player was able to attend Nationals and watch the final games.

    And I am genuinely surprised that the list didn't run 1-1 Musharna, because I often find myself winning every game with Musharna. Not to mention the Long Distance Hypnsosis Munna is especially good in the mirrors. Any info about the other 2 Gothitelle variants in top8. I am shocked if no one of them ran Musharnas.

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  11. No chickens in TDK?! I'm disappionted in all of you.

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  12. Sean Foisy in Top 8 did not run Musharna.

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  13. Re: no international players....there were two people from Japan there.

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  14. Top 2 plasma played both blends and had a stronger Absol focus than Kyurem. Top 4 plama was straight kyurem and deoxys and he unfortunately dead drew both games that match. Bicycle was another interesting card in the Top 2 variant. Though, I don't believe your statement about life dew being in the Top 4 variant is correct. That player used exp share to keep a stream of Kyurems rolling along with float stone Keldeo.

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    Replies
    1. Not sure if the Top 4 had Absol but it did drop Thundurus out of the list. Just thought I'd toss the information out there. Life Dew was definitely in the Top 2 list though.

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    2. The top 4 plasma deck ran at least 1 Absol and computer search was his ace spec. He used Exp Share to pass along the water energies instead of Thundurus for acceleration, and played Keldeo float stone for retreat. I played him in the top 16 and unfortunately whiffed some key cards in the first game like energy and scramble switch, won the second game, but missed out on supporters in the last game.

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  15. Blastoise made top 4 in the senior division. The first place senior was Josh Blades who ran Darkrai, but lost in top 64 to a zekeels. >.< What a hard matchup

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  16. Edmond also ran 4 catchers in his deck too. Also Sam Liggett who got third overall did not run a Musharna in his list either. Seems like it was the play.

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  17. How is darkrai a good matchup for Goth? As soon as keldeo hits the field, you can't lock anything but keldeo any more. if the second one comes in time, you can't lock anything any more at all.

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  18. Great information guys! I corrected the post as much as I could with the information I got. Seems that the non-EX Plasma variant a very strong play and why wouldn't it be? Forcing a 7 or even a 8-prize game is extremely good in every single game.

    Blastoise in the top4 Juniors, that's what I expected! It really is a good play for the Juniors division.

    4 Catchers, whoa just whoa. I better test this aggro-Gothitelle out right now.


    Darkrai EX is a lot stronger match-up for Gothitelle than people usually give it credit for. Especially with 4 Catchers. You only need to hit Keldeo EX twice with Accelgor and you have an KO. Darkrai EX can't OHKO Gothitelle, so during this time, they only have drawn one prize. After that you bring the 2nd Keldeo EX to the active spot and just keep the lock going.

    It's also very difficult for a Darkrai EX variant to be able to get 2 Keldeo EXS into play with energy and at the same time have a quick Darkrai EX under an Item lock. As long as Gothitelle gets a good start (which I believe the winner did get in almost every game, because his list was so good), Darkrai EX doesn't really have a decent chance of winning a game.

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  19. Is there anyway you could do a new article about these updated Plasma list because now I'm completely lost at what to play. Drop Thundurus? Doesn't seem possible, but apparently that's what some did. Did anyone run Lugia, or was it just Kyurem/Absol assault? For people like me who didn't go to Nationals we can't get a hold of any info because they didn't stream, and it sucks!!! Lol.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I'll do later on an analysis about the Worlds Championships metagame, where I will take a look at the development metagame. It seems a lot happened in the U.S. Nationals that no one on the Internet couldn't predict. We are living interesting times indeed.

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  20. I quit reading after this: "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)."

    Because a good Darkrai build doesn't play any hammers, and has got a near auto win against Goth.

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    Replies
    1. If you think that goth is an autowin, you haven't tested the matchup.
      Goth shuts down energy accel/recovery and draw support in Darkrai, if they take out even one Darkrai it's hard to get more attackers going.

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    2. It takes at least 3 attacks to take out a Darkrai, manual attatching will probably be enough on top of that you will have 2/3 energy in play before there even hits a goth in the field. I think you people just test against awful Darkrai lists.

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    3. Everyone is saying gothitelle beats dark rai except you. You should stop assuming you know everything and actually test against a good gothitelle list.

      The trouble isn't getting dark rais up to attack. The trouble is dark rai will take forever to take 6 prizes and by then permalock will be set up and dark rai can do nothing as gothitelle takes all 6 prizes at once

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    4. I rest my case, you guys are so funny ^^

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    5. With 4 catcher it's pretty easy for gothigor to get deck and covers off of Keldeos. Meaning solid 110 damage with accelgor. Darkrai goes down in two turns and absol is swept away in one.
      You are also assuming that you can drop an energy every turn, which just isn't true. You play 11 energy at most. You're only supporter outs are N and Juniper. Random receiver does nothing, Bike does nothing, hand size is usually too big to use Bianca or Tropical beach.

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    6. Before the lock you probably already have a full darkrai or absol and if not the turn after. As a Gothlock player you need 3 catcher and your lock to be stabelized before a Darkrai player gets in trouble. Normally a darkrai player can steamroll a whole Gothlock deck with just 1 Darkai.

      Darkrai dies in 3 hits, Absol in 2 and Bianca is sooo bad :').

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    7. This theorymon troll too stronk

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  21. Quite interesting article. Too bad we don't have more information about the us nats due to the absence of stream.

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  22. why juniper over Bianca? I don't feel that in a 4+ round tournament you would ever want to juniper stage 2 or candys. I use a 1-1 electrode line in mine and a 3-1-3 gothitelle. that electrode mag draw is so clutch. I think the preferred ace spec should be dowsing machine. with 4 skyla and 7-9 pkm searchers, comp search isn't necessary. as for the darkrai matchup, its easy to say you can get out of the lock with keldeo but keeping the attacks going every turn can be hard for darkrai sometimes if you don't see 7 energy early enough.

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    Replies
    1. You need 4 energy...

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    2. no you need more the four. remember even though you will get out of the status condition thanks to keldeo and dark energy you cannot play Dpatch, energy switch, and more than likely you will was an attachment to keldeo. oh and you cannot oneshot a gothithelle ever. oh and if goth/acc player catchers keldeo and deck and covers you need another keldeo and another dark energy to get out of the status condition and again cannot play trainers still. so yeah more than four energys need to be seen early

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  23. Now the question is, how will we stop gothitelle/accelgor deck at worlds ;)

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  24. Writes an article. Barely has any of his facts right.

    K.

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  25. Only Sabulhaus ran Life Dew. The other Plasma deck ran comp search.

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