Taking on the World! An Aussie’s first Pokémon World Championships!

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Intro:

12071279_896133317130123_93628887_nThe World Championships! What an honour it was to attend the 2015 Pokémon World Championships for this year, held in Boston USA & home to over 500 of the world’s best players and competitors in the Trading Card & Video games. This year my best friend Miss Amy Wilson and I were lucky enough to travel together to the USA for the 3 week trip of a lifetime, not to mention a chance at competing for glory. In this article I will touch on the event, my trip as a whole and my entire day 1 Pokémon TCG experience as a 1st time competitor.

 

The Flights, Boston & Worlds preparation:

Not only does it take roughly 13 hours to get from Brisbane to Los Angeles international airport, but it also takes a solid 6 hours to get from LA to New York City and an additional 4 hours in a 12087537_896133297130125_1046207608_nbus to make it to Boston. I’m not usually the kind of man to complain about this kind of thing, but oh boy did it take an exceptionally long time to get to our final destination! We arrived in Boston on Tuesday evening local time & were greeted to a wonderful warm summer evening. This weather would continue into the week, with the event taking place Friday-Sunday in the Boston Convention Center. Even though our trip didn’t end here in Boston, with the added bonus of spending our extra week in New York City, this was my favourite part of my trip by a mile. The city is an incredibly old and historic one, filled with amazingly kind people and amazing scenery.

 

Enough about all that, however! Let’s get down to the important parts of the article, which were our World Championship preparation & the main event itself! Having only 2 full days to recover from the jet-lag, explore the city & test for the upcoming main event was definitely a big stress on the Australian players as a whole, as we weren’t all yet accustomed to the climate and the fact that we only had a few hours of sleep each night didn’t help either. On the Thursday, the day before the event was due to begin, I sat down with my friends and some testing members of the Australian community and ironed out any kinks that I had built up over the last few days of travel. The ‘open play room’ was opened to the public on the Wednesday, which consisted of 2 rooms side-by-side that were for any Pokémon World Championship competitors to use and practice in before the big event! These rooms were used for playing, trading, selling and general good times for all players involved.

12080739_896133350463453_2059761750_nOn that Thursday I had locked in my deck choice for the event, it being Rayquaza EX/Mega Rayquaza EX/Bronzong that I was convinced had a very strong shot at beating all the popular decks in the field. The main strategy of this deck, for those who aren’t aware, is to power up Mega Rayquaza with a constant stream of Metal Energy and/or Double Colourless Energy to hit for anywhere between 150-240 damage (enough to KO anything in one shot). This strategy had several glaring weaknesses however; the most predominant was its lightning weakness that had plagued the deck since its inception in the game several months prior. This was counteracted by Altaria, a Colourless Pokémon that prevented all other Colourless type Pokémon from being hit for weakness damage. In short, the card was a must in this meta and absolutely deserved a spot in my deck!

For those who were interested in my deck, in the list that I used for this world championship and the reason behind some of the cards, I’ll lay it all out below for you.  The first thing we’ll discuss is the Pokémon lines!

Bodhi Worlds List 2015
3-3 Mega Rayquaza:

A very standard setup of Pokémon, not only do you get the benefits of the Mega Rayquaza’s ability to evolve the turn that you play Rayquaza EX, you are also able to run fewer Spirit Link cards to compensate.

3-3 Bronzong:

Another relatively standard choice, the 3 Bronzor & 3 Bronzong is absolutely necessary to the core strategy of the deck and I was very close to sticking with a 4th Bronzor for consistency purposes. However, 3-3 was enough that my strategy wasn’t ruined if any happened to be prized and I could still use Mega Rayquaza’s attack for loads of damage in the early/mid game.

2 Shaymin EX, 1 Jirachi EX:

A different choice to what most people would make, some people opting for 3 or even 4 Shaymin EX in their decks, this count was purely about personal preference and comfort when playing Jirachi. Not only does Jirachi give you an easier out to a supporter than Shaymin, but there are no Pokémon that deal with a Shaymin EX that cannot also deal with a Jirachi. The deck is all about balance and as a result, I felt the payoff was the same & warranted the risk.

1 Aegislash, 1 Kecleon, 1 Bunnelby, 1 Heatran, 1-1 Altaria:

These cards were my ‘tech’ cards of choice, meaning that they were useful in situations where I needed them to be and relatively uneventful in others. Aegislash, for example, has an ability to block Pokémon that have any special energy attached to them from damaging it . This card is amazing in a slower paced match up, as the ability to slow the game down and force attaches from your opponent they may not normally prefer to try is extremely useful. Kelceon was used in much the same way, but with the ability to copy the other active Pokémon’s attack Kecleon handled the mirror-match as well as the Raichu match up that we will discuss later! Bunnelby was a late inclusion to my deck, opting for the chance at beating Wailord (a semi-popular anti meta deck) at this event that sprung up during US Nationals in July. With this card, you can recycle resources as well as potentially mill your opponent which was a win condition of one of my games at the event! Heatran was used mainly in the same vain as Kecleon, opting for another attacker able to deal with lower hp Pokémon and protect my Rayquaza’s from their weaknesses. The Altaria I have already covered; it provides a good defence against Electric type Pokémon and can be incredibly beneficial if allowed to stay on the board for multiple turns.

 

10 Supporters &  9 Energy:

The choice to play 4 Prof. Juniper, 2 Colress, 2 Lysandre, 1 N & 1 Pokémon fan club was one that I mulled over for many weeks before the main event. I was originally convinced that Pokémon fan club wasn’t a good card & that it had too many glaring problems beyond the first or second turn of the game. This was only debunked in my testing of the card, proving Jirachi EX and Fan Club to be a deadly combo on the first turn of the game allowing for an incredibly fast setup thanks to Fan Club into Shaymin EX and a Bronzor. The 5 Metal Energy was also originally 6. Opting for a faster and more streamlined approach to the energy I chose to replace it for a startling megaphone.

Notable omissions from the deck:

Some people would look at this list and wonder several immediate questions, such as ‘where is your Keldeo EX?’ & ‘where is your battle compressor?!’ These questions are legitimate, as at one point I ran both in the deck before the event and only chose to replace them several weeks before Worlds 2015. Keldeo, for a start, was not the card that everyone hoped it would be in this deck. Keldeo was originally used to give you multiple outs to poison lock, to sleep/paralysis lock and the ability to continually attach energy from your discard pile to the bench Pokémon thanks to its ability ‘Rush In’. This effect, although good, was not something that I wanted to have crowding my bench in the mid game. Float stone, which I ran 2 copies of in the deck, is just as good and doesn’t only have to be attached to Keldeo. It was mainly used as an out to poison and to reuse energy, something I was confident in my ability to do without Keldeo. Battle Compressor may be the more contentious omission. With the ability to ditch 3 cards from your deck when played, it has seen significant use in a multitude of decks since its introduction to the game. However, even though the upside of the card is getting rid of energy and supporters, the downside was that it replaced some very important tech cards in my deck that I felt were more necessary to have a better chance against the field. Instead of opting for the 100% most optimal build of the deck, with outright consistency & streamline turns, I opted for attempting to have good match ups versus everything and it really helped me during the first day!

 

The World Championships Main Event!

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Without too much babbling, the main event took place on Friday morning starting promptly around 9am. We were seated in order, placed into pairings soon after and I began the day full of confidence and excitement ready to take on the world!

Round 1: Abe Morales- USA (P-Groudon EX/Wobbufett).

My first ever opponent at the World Championships was also one of the kindest guys that I’ve ever met in my life! Abe was from I believe Chicago, sporting a Chicago Hat by his side and a big friendly smile as we chatted about our trips so far. We began game one with a dice roll to determine our starts, which he won and chose to go first. I didn’t have a blistering start, opting instead to continuously use N with V.S Seekers and an active Bunnelby to mill some cards. Eventually he was able to fully power up a Primal Groudon EX and began taking knockouts. This trend was over quickly though, as I found enough cards from Shaymin EX’s to set up and attack with Mega Rayquaza for 150 damage the following turn. He retreated shortly after and began to slow the game down, being unable to draw into many answers. He retaliated after I KO’d a Wobbufett by killing my Aegislash EX and, only needing two prizes left, this long first game was basically over. I had a shot at winning the game on my final turn, but missed the draw that I needed and I went down 0-1. Game 2 was only 5 minutes long, as we took nearly 40 minutes to play Game 1. I didn’t have enough time to win even though I started well and I lost my first ever World Championships match to Abe. Well played!

(Wins 0 Losses 1 Ties 0)

Round 2: Zac Lesage- CANADA (Mega Rayquaza EX/Bronzong)

My 2nd round was another lovely opponent by the name of Zac, who was quite well known in the Pokémon community as he’d been around since 2004! I was very excited to get the chance to play against a legend of the game and to test my skills against his. Game 1 started out wonderfully for me, I won the coin flip and opted to go first which gave me the perfect setup on turn one. Since I knew we were playing the mirror match, I made sure to prioritise locating my Kecleon and getting Rayquaza’s out as fast as possible. Unfortunately for Zac he had a much slower start, only able to attach energy to his benched Rayquaza EX and N to search for answers. Not 4 turns later I was able to take the game with some clutch Lysandre’s and some quick setup. Game 2 was much closer and equally fast. He went first and set up quickly. I responded with my Aegislash EX active so he was unable to take knockouts and eventually Lysandre’d to kill his benched fully powered M-Rayquaza. He ended up using Colress for 16 cards and with zero cards left in deck he was guaranteed to lose the following turn. I took the win 2-0 and was incredibly happy that I got the chance to play the mirror! GG Zac.

(Wins 1 Losses 1 Ties 0)

Round 3: ??? ITALY (Night March/Empoleon/Mew)

I’m terribly sorry to the lovely girl that I played in the third round but I cannot for the life of me remember her name! She was very kind and playing her was lots of fun. This is a match up that I was dreading because of the low HP Pokémon and the lightning weakness. She started first in game one; this is when I noticed that she was playing Empoleon. She managed to get it out first turn and blew through an incredible amount of her deck in one turn. At this point I realised my win condition wasn’t Rayquaza but was Bunnelby. I stalled with Aegislash for a few turns as she continued to dig deep with Junipers for the cards she needed. Eventually, she had two cards left in deck and only needed to take one more prize to win. I used Ultra Ball to grab Bunnelby and switch to it using its attack to discard the top 2 cards of her deck and winning game one without taking a prize. Game 2 she went first again. She was able to get Empoleon out turn 1 and began to draw through her deck for a second time almost as fast as game one. She was much more conscious of Bunnelby in this game, playing a little slower and with more patience. In this game I couldn’t focus on Bunnelby as I knew she was playing around it, so I had to power up Aegislash and Rayquaza to attempt to take my 6 prizes off Mew EX’s & Shaymin EX’s. With a mix of some bad draws and being behind in the game I couldn’t recover from a turn 2 KO on my Mega Rayquaza and the game was over in less than 10 minutes. Game 3 started around the half an hour mark, this time we were both sure to play much slower and much more cautiously as this game would decide who would go up to 2-1. For the third time she got a turn 1 Empoleon, which in itself is an incredible achievement, and she began to run through her deck searching for Night March Pokémon to discard. I took several quick KO’s on her Night Marchers and before I knew it she only had 2 of them left in the whole game. I took this opportunity to attempt to KO the last 2 and stop her from being able to knock out my Rayquaza. This nearly worked, needing only to draw Lysandre from the last 3 cards in my deck to win the game. I missed and was forced to pass on turn 2 of time. Her final turn she had around 10 cards in deck left, she used Acro Bike and Trainers mail in an attempt to find the last Lysandre in her deck but it was right at the bottom. Such a relief not to lose in that fashion, but an incredibly close best of 3 series comes to an end in a wonderful way! Well played.

(Wins 1 Losses 1 Ties 1)

Round 4: Zarif- South Africa (Raichu/Crobat/Miltank)

My 4th round opponent was the South African national champion for 2015 and was playing an almost identical deck to the one that took him to #1 in that event. Raichu as a deck was something that I was definitely prepared for, but really wanted to avoid in hopes of hitting more Manectric EX decks or Seismatoad EX based decks for the chance of winning on the prize trade. Raichu as a whole is a very strong deck, with the ability to abuse Skyfield and Crobat’s damage to take prizes on EX Pokémon quite easily. This match up is reliant on my ability to get Altaria out as fast as possible and prevent Raichu from taking easy knockouts. Game 1 he went first, playing fast and benching loads of Pokémon. I searched my deck and figured out that I was missing both Heatran & Kecleon, the two most important Pokémon for this match up. Knowing this, I attempted to Lysandre and kill Shaymin EX’s to take my 6 prizes, but could only manage 2 knock outs before I lost game one. Game 2 was only 2 minutes long, after a relatively long and drawn out first game that I lost I was able to donk his Shaymin EX in game 2 for a quick and easy victory. We got down to time in game 3, with both of us needing only 2 prizes to win the game. I made the mistake of not using N, thinking that with only 2 cards in hand he had no way to win and I could win on the next turn. Instead I opted to Lysandre to stall him for a turn, but with a Crobat and Professor Juniper he was able to draw into the cards he needed to win the game. Well played buddy!

(Wins 1 Losses 2 Ties 1)

Round 5: Andrew Jackson- USA (Raichu/Pachirisu/Leafeon)

Knowing now that it was impossible to make it to day 2, I was free to relax and enjoy my last couple of rounds at my first ever Worlds event. I came across a very lovely young man who shared the name of a former US president. With a happy smile and nice conversation, we were underway for our best of three series. At this point in the day, my deck had completely given up on me. Allowing myself 4 mulligans at the start of the game lead me into drawing absolutely nothing and having to pass my first turn. The first game was over in minutes. Game 2 was much the same; just as I looked to mount a comeback with an N to 1 he drew a Sycamore and proceeded to win the game on the next turn. At 3 losses I was out of contention, but I had an amazing experience and a really fun game! GG.

(Wins 1 Losses 3 Ties 1)

Round 6: Daniel Collins- Australia (Primal Groudon/Regirock/Wobbufett)

My first opponent from the same country, Daniel is a West Australian player who I have played many times in the past at Cities, Regionals and the like. We always have incredibly close matches and this one was no exception. Game one was a long and drawn out game, with him being ahead by virtue of a Wobbufett start. He took game 1 with a Scramble Switch into his Regirock and an attachment to knock out my Aegislash EX. Game 2 he didn’t start with Wobb and I was able to continuously Lysandre out his Groundon’s to take prizes over and over again for a quick win in game 2. Game 3 once again went down to time, with me having a turn 3 this time. On turn 2, Daniel was convinced that since my previous play was to prepare for a KO, that I had Lysandre in my hand. I did indeed and he N’d me to 5 cards where I drew the Lysandre to take the final prize and win the game. Thank you for another amazing series Dan! GG!

(2 Wins 3 Losses 1 Tie)

Round 7: ??? North America (Flareon/Leafeon/Deoxys)

Another opponent whose name I’m afraid I can’t remember! This young kid was in his first World Championship as a master after competing in 2012. When he flipped over a couple of Eevee in game 1, I could see that he was definitely playing Flareon and was excited as I never really got the chance to play much of this match up in testing. Games 1 & 2 were both super quick unfortunately; with 220hp Mega Rayquaza can completely block a Flareon from doing enough damage without a ridiculous start. I managed to kill enough Shaymin and Flareon to take both games without losing more than a few prizes. GG buddy!

(3 Wins 3 losses 1 Tie)

That concludes my main event for the Pokémon World Championships! Of course, not being able to win the whole thing is a shame but I’m very happy that I was able to experience this incredible atmosphere at least once in my life. I hope you enjoyed my report and I hope that I can bring you many more in the future!

 

~ Bodhi Cutler

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