Tuesday, July 30, 2013

World Championships 2013 - Metagame, Stories and The Accident

Me as a translator? That's what I call the last resort!
Hello everyone!

I knew I was going to Worlds, but for a long time I didn't book the trip. Eventually I decided to book the trip, but then something tragic happened - my big brother got hit by a car. So what does my big brother got to do with anything? Well, he should have been the Finnish translator, but due to the accident he can't go to Worlds at all! On such a short notice it was impossible to find another translator, so I had to make a big decision. I had to step down from the player position and step up the translator's spot. I would have loved to play in the Worlds this year, because this will probably be my last Worlds, but this was the right thing to do since there was no one else for the spot and I can't really go regretting the decision now. It will be a different experience for sure, but I'm sure it will be fun nonetheless!

Anyways, even though I will be watching the Worlds Championships from the sidelines this year (which is really heart-breaking for me as I would have loved to play), it doesn't stop me today looking at what to expect at Worlds. Decks, players, Japanese decks etc.

And remember, even though I will be in the sidelines, I will try to update interesting things from Worlds on Twitter and Facebook in the Worlds after each round, so remember to follow me there, if you want to know up-to-date things about the tournaments.

Let’s get going!


First of all, I would like to thank Rafael Katsuya for making this great article on SixPrizes: http://www.sixprizes.com/2013/07/20/poke-statistics-the-poke-worlds-factbook/ Even though they are only number of invites, it gives you a very clear picture on how the metagame will be affected by certain nations. If you haven’t read the article yet, I recommend reading it, it’s a very interesting read.  

The U.S. player metagame

Last year a total of 42 U.S. players was invited to Worlds in Masters age division. This year, the amount is a whopping 60. If a lot of international players skip the trip, it may be that 50% of the players in the Worlds are U.S. players! Anyways, this means only one thing – the metagame will be very U.S.-centric and thus we need to look at the results of the U.S. Nationals, if we want to predict the metagame correctly for Worlds. Let’s start by looking at the top16 of the U.S. Nationals in Masters.

Edmund Kuras (Gothitelle)
Ryan Sabelhaus (Plasma - Life Dew)
Samuel Liggett (Gothitelle)
Robert Seley (Plasma - Kyurem)

Dylan Bryan (Klinklang)
Omar Reyhan (Darkrai)
David Richard (Plasma - Life Dew)
Sean Foisy (Gothitelle)

James Hart (Darkrai)
Kyle Sucevich (Plasma)
David Shoyket (Garbodor/Landorus/Mewtwo)
David Ceculski (Plasma)
Jeremy Jallen (Gothitelle)
Jose Marrero (Plasma Lugia)
Jayson Harry (Plasma)
Aaron Curry (Gothitelle)

Which equals:

7x Plasma variant
5x Gothitelle
2x Darkrai EX
1x Garbodor/Landorus EX
1x Klinklang

Plasma is the dominating force, but I believe that in the Worlds there will be even more Gothitelles than in the U.S. Nationals, because it has been established to be the deck to beat. It won the U.S. Nationals and even though it was flying under the radar for some people, it still took 5 spots in top16. Also, everyone attending to Worlds probably have unlimited card resources, so Tropical Beach isn’t an issue for the Worlds’ attendees.

I think the impact that U.S. players will bring to the Worlds is simple. Gothitelle and Plasma will be clearly the two most popular decks. The match-up is only slightly to Gothitelle’s favor and there are always games were Gothitelle can be donked or just outspeeded by Plasma. If these two decks aren’t the two most popular decks among the U.S. players and winner of the tournament isn’t decided between these two decks, I’m VERY surprised.

What I also want to say is that Darkrai EX has its spot in the metagame as well. With two Keldeo EXs it still struggles against Gothitelles, because it can’t OHKO Gothitelle. However, with 3 Keldeo EXs it’s a whole another story. What I am eager to see is that, are Darkrai EX players ready to that far and play 3 Keldeo EXs. Playing 2 means an autoloss as long as you prize even one of them. And if you play 3, you will make the deck a lot more inconsistent and weaker in other match-ups. I like Darkrai EX a lot, but I don’t see a traditional Darkrai EX/Absol/Keldeo EX doing well in the Worlds. However, Darkrai EX/Garbodor is a whole another story since there are so many different variants of it.

International Players and their effect on the Worlds metagame

The name of the Worlds Championships is Worlds Championships for the one very good reason – it gathers the players all around the world into a one big showdown. The international players all around the World will shake the metagame like an earthquake and I am sure we will see a lot of interesting deck choices. Especially European players always tend to try to break the format. The trying often ends up being a failure, but there have been some years, when an European rogue has been able to push through the tournament (e.g. Gyarados, Glaceon).

Usually, you might meet 7 different decks in the 7 Swiss rounds of Worlds. However, this year that isn’t a reality. You will probably be facing multiple Plasma variants, Darkrai EX variants or Gothitelle variants during the Swiss. And the decks you will meet in the top cut are pretty much the same. This gives a good chance for someone to be able to break the format, because you can concentrate on winning 2 decks (Plasma and Gothitelle) with your rogue, and be able to very far in the tournament. However, considering how different kind of decks Gothitelle and Plasma are, I have huge respect towards anyone who succeeds in making a deck that has a positive Plasma and Gothitelle match-up. I sincerely hope someone can come up with a rogue; it’s always the greatest part of Worlds to see a rogue deck doing well.

Japanese Players and the Last Chance Qualifier

Japanese players will have weird deck builds in their sleeves this year once again – I promise that. Not necessarily new decks, but weird builds -for us that is. The LCQ will be crowded with Japanese players since Vancouver is still fairly close to Japan (not as close as Hawaii, but still on the west coast) and is a perfect place for Japanese players to come to try their luck in the Grinder. I’m sure that a lot of people will be interested in what Japanese players are playing and they also are very interested in what Tsuguyoshi Yamato is playing in the Grinder (I think I just saw his Facebook update, where he said that he has just chosen his Worlds deck. And knowing Yamato, I would bet it’s probably a Darkrai EX/Absol since he played in the Worlds Qualifiers in Japan).

Usually I keep very close eye on the Grinder and Japanese decks, because they tend to be different from western decks. However, now that I am a translator, and there will probably not be any Finnish Grinders, I have to reconsider what I do during the Grinders. We'll see, we'll see...

I’m pretty sure that other people are also less interested in Japanese players than before, because of the increased coverage of Japanese tournaments. We already know what they played in the BW-Plasma Freeze format and I’m surprised if any surprise decks will rise from Japan.

Winner decks per age group

As it’s the World Championships, you really shouldn’t overlook any age groups. Even though for most players winner of Juniors and Seniors may not be as relevant as the winner of Masters age division, I tell you one thing. They are still World Champions! And how many of us have really the privilege to claim a title of a World Champion? Only a few. And what’s even better, is that the younger players really put their heart and soul to the game. You are sure to see a lot of emotions, even tears, in the younger age groups while in Masters all the players just play with their poker faces on. Anyways, here’s what I predict will be the winning decks of each age groups in the World Championships.


Team Plasma variant

The U.S. Nationals Juniors division was won with Plasma. So was the Finnish Juniors division and oh so many other Juniors division all around the world. 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!  It’s safe to assume that Plasma will be the most popular deck in the Worlds Championships of Juniors age division and since it’s straightforward, fast and the most popular deck, it will VERY probably win the Worlds Championships. However, the big question remains, who will pilot the Plasma variant to the top?



Seniors seem to like Big Basics/Garbodor. And Gothitelle/Accelgor will have trouble against this deck as long as they don’t run Tool Scrapper. That’s why I am predicting that Garbodor will win the Seniors division. This is a very bold guess, but I just have a gut feeling that my prediction will eventually be correct. Seniors division is always full of the most creative decks (a lot more creative than the decks played by top Masters players excluding Ross Cawthon), and Seniors have a history of interesting winning decks.

All Garbodor variants are a good play if the metagame isn’t prepared against them and at the moment no metagame is prepared against Garbodor. They have their hands full while countering Plasma and Gothitelle and can’t use space for teching against puny niche decks like Garbodor.

If Garbodor doesn’t win, Plasma will win Seniors.



To be honest, I would have predicted Gothitelle/Accelgor to win Worlds even if didn’t win the U.S. Nationals. I have believed the deck to be among the best of the format ever since I did the article on it way back when it won the Norwegian Nationals. The metagame and decks have developed a lot during that 3-month span and as a lock deck, Gothitelle/Accelgor has developed more than many other metagame decks.  

The modern Gothitelle/Accelgors get T2 Gothitelle in almost every game and T3 Gothitelle in every game. All the other decks in the format rely heavily in Items, so it’s only natural that Gothitelle does well in the current format. And there is no way around it. Nothing stops Gothitelle… Except another Gothitelle! And that’s why I believe it will win Worlds. Gothitelle is almost impossible counter if they go first and get a T2 Gothitelle and since they are pretty much the most consistent decks in the format, this will happen very often.

There is a delicate balance when building Gothitelle/Accelgor. Do you want to win decks with heavy Keldeo EX lines, or do you want to have a good mirror match-up? I am sure we will see VERY mirror-heavy Gothitelle decks in the Worlds (decks with 4-3-3 Gothitelle lines that is), but it’s a gamble that might no pay off. You might run into a Garbodor deck and you have decided to cut the Tool Scrapper off your list. What then? There are so many little things that you can’t control. You can’t make a Gothitelle list that is consistent and prepared against every single threat out there. If you are playing Gothitelle, you must choose on which things to concentrate on and which things you avoid to miss. The player winning Worlds will need a lot of good luck during his run and he probably is able to avoid all the pitfalls his built has at least in the top cut. I would like to see the Worlds finals to be an epic Gothitelle mirror, where both lists are mirror-oriented. It would be a match worth the Worlds Championships finals.

Surprises and stories in the Worlds?

In my opinion, the most interesting thing in the Worlds Championships are always the surprise decks and personal stories of some players. Unfortunately, I don’t think we will see that many surprise decks doing well in the Masters division. To be honest, I haven’t been trying to break the metagame as much as in the previous years, but I just see the combination of Plasma and Gothitelle to be too strong in order to any surprise rogue to break through the top tier. Anyways, there are some personal stories, which I think are worth following if you aren’t going to Worlds. Here’s a few of them.

Sami Sekkoum

As you may remember from the very recent competition, I believe Sami is the best player in the world. He has only once gotten to the top4 of the Worlds Championships, but it’s the consistency, which makes him so good. He has at least 4 National Championship wins in the U.K. and he has gotten to the top16 of Worlds Championships like… TOO many times. More often than any other player in the world. No matter the format, Sami is always playing in the top tables. I’m sure Sami will once again get to at least top16, but the huge question remains – will Sami finally be able to claim the precious World Champion title?

Ross Cawthon

Ross’ story is interesting for many reasons. He has made to the finals of Worlds two times. He has lost the finals both times. And both times he played a very unexpected deck. I sincerely believe Ross’ is an excellent deck builder, but it may be that his luck has just run out at the wrong time. Everyone watching Worlds 2011 finals may remember how the World Champion was decided by an opening flip of a Sudden Death and Ross got the tails this time. Is it finally Ross’ year to get the heads at the right time and will he be playing with a rogue?

Kyle Sucevich

Pooka’s track record in Pokémon TCG tournaments is probably the weirdest one. He has unbelievable run in the U.S. Nationals, but he has (I believe) never top-cutted in the Worlds Championships. I think people wonder this every single year, especially since he once again managed to get to the top16 of the U.S. Nationals this year and get enough points from the U.S. CP LCQ to get the invite for Worlds. Will Pooka get his very first top cut placement in the Worlds Championships this year, or does the “Curse of the Pooka” still remain? I think a lot of people all over the world are keeping an eye of Pooka this year if the curse is lifted or not.  

Tsuguyoshi Yamato

This guy is a grinding machine. I have already lost count how many times he has grinded in to the Worlds Championships and I believe he will be trying to pull it off once again this year. Will he succeed? Yes he will. So the question remains, will Yamato return to his former glory in the Worlds Championships and claim the top4 spot? I am rooting for him for sure!

Igor Costa

Last, but not least there is our last year’s World Champion Igor Costa. Many U.S. players may have not heard from Igor this season, but I would like to remind you that he went 8-0 in the Swiss of ECC, so he is pretty much as strong as ever. He didn’t do well in the Portuguese National Championships, but I don’t know if he even played, because he already had the trip and invite. I’m sure the whole team Portugal will be stronger than ever or that’s what at least happened in Finland when we got our first World Champion. I wouldn’t be surprised if Portugal won the title of a World Champion in some other age group this year. However, for Igor, one thing remains unclear. Can he defend the title of the World Champion? No one has succeeded in that yet.  

My Worlds

It’s the 8th time for me in the World Championships this year. Due to the dying Pokémon TCG scene in Finland, it may very well be the last World Championships I will ever attend, so I intend the experience to be a blast. Also, sorry Drew for screwing up your fantasy draft! (https://www.facebook.com/#!/TopCutPokemon/posts/573615409349065)

Unlike previous years, we don’t really have “Team Finland” going to Worlds. We have 1 Junior, 2 Seniors and 1 Masters and me as a translator. It's probably the smallest Team Finland in the Worlds Championshisp since the Worlds 2004 when I was the only Finnish player! This alone gives you a perfect picture of the state of Pokémon TCG in Finland at the moment and I don't think that the reprint of Pokémon Catcher made it any better...

Anyways, when it comes to my deck that I was going to play, I can't reveal it yet, because it was rogue-ish and there will probably be players playing the actual deck I should have played, because I developed it together with Matijs. I would love to see the deck to do well, because it's a very surprising deck and has an extremely good Gothitelle match-up.


Anyways, if you happen to spot me in the Worlds, feel free to challenge me to a game since I would love to play as I can't play in the real deal! Even if you don’t want to play with me, feel free to come and talk to me anyways! I’m always happy to meet new people all around the world since I usually are just in contact with everyone via e-mail or Facebook. Last year was a great experience, because I was able to meet a lot of new people thanks to my blog. That’s what Worlds are all about after all – meeting the other players all around the world!

That's all this time. Thanks for reading and as always feel free to ask or comment on anything!

Good luck to everyone attending Worlds or the LCQ!


  1. This year Igor just tested Darkrai EX in Portuguese Nats (because he has the trip and the invite) and made Top 16 with it. His season was made with some deck testing instead of aiming to the win.

    1. Interesting to hear! Thanks a lot for the info!

  2. You didn't mention Blastoise at all......

    1. When looking at the popularity of Gothitelle, I don't see Blastoise doing well except in the Juniors division. In general, I don't think that Blastoise is a wise play for anyone else than Juniors players and I wouldn't recommend it to them either! It's a deck that is too often out of its players' control.

    2. What's a Blastoise?

  3. Sorry to hear about your brother...

  4. Your a good brother. See you at worlds btw what is your favorite pokemon card (besides FA N) because i want to get a card signed by you

    1. Moltres is my all-time favorite Pokémon so any Moltres card is good, but I guess my favorite card ever is.. ummm. Tough to say. Maybe Glaceon LV.X or Electrode EX if you can get your hands on those?

  5. I completely agree about the Junior and Master winning decks, but disagree for Seniors. I know many other Seniors going to Worlds, including myself, rely on that clutch scrapper for the Garb matchup.

  6. You mean you're not playing in worlds because you didn't qualify?

    1. He did qualify with 816CP... He is not playing because his brother got hit by a fucking car.

    2. Anonymous: Just where did that comment come from from the first place, haha. If you had read my blog before, you should have known that I got in top4 in the Nationals, which leads to automatic invitation thanks to 500 CPs. And yes, just as Patrik R stated, I have 816CPs, which you can check from the search rankings part of Pokemon.com. Well, it will be very interesting to be a staff member for a change and I'm really looking forward to it!

  7. Pooka did top-cut at Worlds 2004.

  8. dats a long time ago


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