Wednesday, September 10, 2014

1st place report from Japan

Me and all the great Japanese friends I was priviledged to meet
Hi everyone!

It’s been a long time since I last wrote anything to my blog, but as most of you know, I visited Tokyo the last week for 10 days and of course attended a tournament there. Last time, I was in Japan, I only visited a small shop tournament. However, this time I was able to attend in an over 80-player tournament, which was a walk from the place where me and my friend were staying! That’s quite rare in Japan since Tokyo is such a huge city.

Anyways, I will write this report only, because so many people requested it. All I can say about my trip overall, is that it was probably my best trip ever and I had sooo much fun there! I recommend Tokyo for everyone and especially if you know someone who knows the places and speaks Japan. My friend had lived in Tokyo for over a year and as she speaks fluent Japanese, it really made my trip.

Anyways, onto the tournament report.

The Tournament system and the list

The format was BW-on (extended formt) and Tropical Beach was banned from the tournament. Also, all the games were best-of-one (even the top matches). All the matches were with a 30-minute time limit AND to make things very interesting, the game ended right there when the time was announced. No players were allowed to make moves after the time was called. This was very different from what I was used to and each round I played to the time limit, I was very confused. In top4 and finals, they had a 40-minute time limit.

Also, all the age groups played in the same age division! So I could face even Junior players during the rounds in Swiss and top games. I think this is an extremely good thing and no wonder why Japanese players are so good nowadays especially in Juniors. Thankfully I was able to witness just how good the Japanese Juniors are in the 3 round of Swiss in this tournament.

The tournament organizers wanted me to play with a full Japanese deck, so I asked my friend Ukinin-san to get me cards for Yveltal/Garbodor (probably the only deck I can play now that I only play two times a year). All of you must be very interested in the list, so here it is.


2x Yveltal
3x Yveltal EX
1x Darkrai EX
1x Seismitoad EX
2x Trubbish
2x Garbodor


4x Professor Sycamore
4x N
2x Bianca
2x Shauna
1x Colress
2x Lysandre
4x Ultra Ball
3x Dark Patch
3x Float Stone
4x Hypnotoxic Laser
2x Virbank City Gym
3x Muscle Band
1x Professor’s Letter
1x Switch
1x Dowsing Machine


8x Darkness Energy
4x Double Colorless Energy

The list was made by Ukinin-san and the only thing I did to it was to add 4th Laser (which ironically eventually won me the tournament) and switched Scramble Switch to Dowsing Machine (which was a very good change to my play style as well).

All in all, I think the only thing that makes a list “good” in the current format is that it works every. Single. Game. That’s the way you beat the difficult match-ups, not with some gimmicky techs. As long as your deck is more consistent than your opponent’s, you have an edge. Some may wonder why not Jirachi EX, if consistency is so important? The answer for this is, that it just doesn’t fit my philosophy of giving no easy prizes. Consistency-wise Jirachi EX is a very good card and many players in the tournament played it (for example my finals opponent who was 8-0 at that point).

Also, Ukinin-san told me Seismitoad EX was very good. But when I looked at the card, I didn’t understand why. However, soon I was going to understand, why it’s a must-play card for almost every deck.

The tournament

In the beginning of the tournament I got my own name badge, which I carried to each game. It was pretty much my POP ID, except it changes to each tournament, because they don’t have the POP ID system in Japan. Before the first round, the tournament organizer asked Ukinin-san to introduce me to the other players and of course they politely applauded when the introduction were done. And before I noticed the first match started…

1. Round (Mirror match)

I think he started with Seismitoad as I started with Yveltal EX. I was very rusty since it had been a while since I last played “Darkrai EX” decks. I think I misplayed more than once in this match, while attaching energy to wrong places and retreating and the wrong spots. I guess I also moved a few times the wrong energy with Y Cyclone. I got the first two prizes, but he took a very commanding lead with 5 straight prizes. I was able to N him to one card, but was one prize short from my comeback since he had the game winning Lysandre in his hand-

2. Round (Mirror match)

I was quite frustrated from the first match, but remembered and understood a lot from it and how the mirror match works. I think I played this match quite well and got a very fast start with T1 Ultra Ball and the regular Yveltal. He had a bit slow start and had to bench Jirachi EX, which I Lysandred immediately to get a huge 3-prize lead in first 3 turns. I think he whiffed at many points and ended up drawing only one prize card during the whole game.

3. Round (Pyroar/Mewtwo EX/Seismitoad EX)

I immediately noticed that my opponent was wearing a Semi-Finalist cap from this year’s Worlds. After the game, her dad told me that she indeed was in the top4 of Worlds this year. Anyways, Pyroar is an extremely good match-up for this deck thanks to Seismitoad. But what do you know, Seismitoad EX was my second-last prize in the game and I had no supporters in my opening hand! Thankfully I played Pyroar in this year’s Grinders, so I knew at least a bit of how it works. I was able to slow her down a lot with Lasers and she didn’t get a decent lead even though I didn’t have a Garbodor in play, because she had to discard 2 Switches from a Sycamore in her first turn.

Lasers were enough to disrupt her Pyroars in the beginning and when I got two Trubbish down, she flipped Catcher tails, which sealed the deal and I rolled through his Mewtwo EX and Pyroars with my charged Yveltal EX.

4.  Round (Virizion EX/Genexect EX)

Since we only had 5 rounds and a LOT of players, I needed to win all the remaining games in order to get through. In my opinion, this match-up is favorable for Yveltal, which is why I was very surprised about the heavy amounts of Virizion EXs in the Worlds top8 in Masters. But it may be that there is just something that I don’t understand since I’m not an active player anymore.

Anyways, he started with Virizion EX, but I was fortunate enough to go first. I got a T2 Y Cyclone with Yveltal EX and put immediate pressure on him. I also got a T3 Garbodor, which helped me a lot in taking down the Genesect EX, which had the G-Booster on it. Lysandres played also a huge role in the match since I know that the deck can run out of energy very fast. I was able to get Lysandre + Laser combo on a lone Virizion EX and while he whiffed the energy (I’m pretty sure he was out of them at that point); I was able to catch 2 free prizes, which gave a good-enough lead for the rest of the game.

5. Round (Hydreigon/Darkrai EX/Yveltal EX)

She starts with Deino and goes first. I have the regular Yveltal, Laser and Virbank in my hand and am very happy. She retreats the Deino, but I’m able to Lysandre it. In this game, I used 2 Lysandres and a Dowsing Machine to get the 3rd Lysandre, and she never got the Hydreigon in to play. That was enough since the deck wasn’t built to function without Hydreigon and eventually the 3 Dark Patches, Lasers and better energy lines gave me the edge that I needed to win the game.

I still wasn’t sure if I was in the top cut or not, because in the top 16 they have the fixed 4 spots for the Juniors players and it’s in fact “top12” for the other players. There were so many players that I was sure losing in the first round wasn’t a good thing for my resistance. The tournament organizer started reading the standings after Swiss and I was in the 11th place, huh! So I made it just through the top12. I was very happy since it would have been a frustrating way to end the tournament. I wanted to play more.

Top16 (Team Plasma?)

I don’t remember this game clearly, but I’m pretty sure he was playing a Team Plasma deck with no big twists. The only thing I remember from this game is that I didn’t really have to panic at any point of the game since my deck worked very well and I drew all the correct cards at the correct moments. The game was still quite even, but I always had the upper hand.

Top8 (Flareon/Dusknoir/Eeveelution/lots of stuff)

So he flips the Eevee and I’m pretty sure I have the game since I was on a roll and my opening hand was very good once again. Well, I think about between Sycamore and N but end up using Sycamore in my first turn. When I give him the turn, he just attaches an energy and passes. I was so happy that I didn’t use the N. It’s always a bit risky to use N in your first turn since you don’t know how good your opponent’s hand is. Even though he whiffed the two first turns, somehow he got back in the game with Jirachi EX, because I misplayed an energy to wrong Pokémon since I thought he would have something. I didn’t play aggressively enough from the beginning, which almost cost me the game.

He played 2 Duskulls on the bench, but I didn’t want to play Garbodor on my bench, because I wanted to force him into drawing 7 prizes even if he had the Dusknoir in play. This was a mistake. The Dusknoir ended up giving my a LOT of trouble and after the game I learnt that he didn’t play Tool Scrapper or Megaphones, so I would have had the game by just playing the Garbodor on the bench!

This was the first game, where the time was called in my turn. I was lucky that it was, because if it had been called in his turn, he would have won the game by getting the lead with Dusknoirs Ability. I realized all the mistakes I made in the game during the game, so I was pretty disappointed in myself, but thankfully that didn’t cost me the game.

Top4 (Hawlucha/Seismitoed EX/Garbodor/Landorus EX/Crushing Hammers)

If the Flareon deck was interesting, this deck was even more interesting. We both opened with Seismitoad EX, but he got the Laser heads andddd my Toad decided to sleep 3 TURNS! So practically he got the lock going in T1 and got a 2-prize free lead. Not the best way to start the game… However, I tried to solve the problem and soon noticed that my only chance is to get OHKOs on his EX Pokémon with the help of Lysandres. If he had Mewtwo EX DCE + Laser, it would have been the end for me but thanks to careful Nng from my side, I was able to get the OHKOs on Seismitoad EX and Landorus EX. The regular Hawlucha caused me a bit of headache when combined with Lasers and Hammers (it hit 110 with only one energy!!). The key for victory was that I took the OHKO route and loaded the Yveltal EX with just enough energy. He hadn’t an answer to fully loaded Yveltal EX as I didn’t flip a second tails from Laser Sleep. That would have been VERY frustrating…

Finals (Mirror match)

I think my opponent was one of the players who went 5-0 in the Swiss rounds. His list was veeryyy similar to mine. However, I think he used maybe Scoop Up Cyclone or Computer Search instead of Dowsing Machine. I think I wouldn’t have survived without Dowsing Machine. In my opinion the card is just plain perfect for this deck.

We both had very strong opening hands and he started with Yveltal EX while I started with the regular Yveltal. I got an early lead from the EX but then he Nd me to 4 and I started drawing very bad cards. He tied the game with Yveltal EX and got the lead with Seismitoad EX. I’m pretty sure, I would have had a very chance at getting 2 easy prizes if my Seismitoad EX wasn’t my last prize, but oh well. I had to survive with the cards I had.

There were 2 Ns from my side, which I only needed to draw 1 Laser in order to get down to 1 prize card, but whiffed the both times (had 3 Lasers left in the deck). He was still drawing strong and got down to 1 prize card. Eventually I was able to get down to 1 prize card as well. After that things got crazy. We had to think every move very carefully and I think I had 6 Pokémon in play, which each of them had at least 80 damage on them. After the game I heard the people watching say that the retreating in the late turns of the game, were skillful, which really cheered me up.

Often, I’m not very lucky in the games that matter (in top8 at Worlds I had both of my Glaceons prized, in the finals of Nationals 2009, I didn’t draw a supporter in 6 first turns etc. etc.), but today it really was my day. We both had 1 prize left, he uses N. I need Lysandre AND Laser in order to win the game. I draw the one card – Laser. Hmm, I still have about 15 cards in my deck and only one of them is Lysandre. He attacks. I draw – Lysandre. I couldn’t believe it. I topdecked a game winning card in the finals! I showed the cards to my opponent and he and the crowd just said “whoa!”. That was my first impression as well.

So, after misplays, learning a lot about the game once again and thanks to VERY GOOD LUCK, I was able to win the tournament in Tokyo! Considering the amount of games I have played (under 30 in the past two years), I was extremely happy to win the tournament. It meant so much to me and since all the Japanese players were very skillful and polite, it made the experience even better.

After the tournament, we took the picture and the tournament organizer asked me to give the closing speech, which Ukinin-san translated into Japanese. I love Tokyo and winning the tournament was only one of the highlights of the trip. I really feel blessed to be able to travel around the World and meet people thanks to Pokémon TCG. This is not what I expected from Pokémon TCG when I was 8-years old 15 years ago and bought my first booster pack from Base Set, but I’m thankful it’s the reality. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

After being in the Worlds and then in Japan, I really feel like I have traveled enough for one year. That’s why I’m not going to be able to participate in the Arena Cup in Berlin, but I hope that if you do, this report was interesting and thought-provoking!

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment on anything as always!


  1. Glad you had a great trip and congratulations on the win. For the modified format, do you see value in playing this deck without dark patch? If so, what would you replace dark patch with? Thanks.


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