Midwest Regional Championships Report: From Hero To Zero

by Ed ~ April 18th, 2011.

Well, I don’t really think I was ever a “hero” but it sounded good in the title. Maybe a better title would have been “Riches to Rags,” but it’s already up there. My previous installment saw me winning the Minnesota state tourney, so that’s what I’m talking about with “Hero” or “Riches.” The “Zero” and “Rags” will be discussed below.

Radu Vs. Andy

Before that, I have a little side story about Pokemon economics. This is something of a lesson in online sales via eBay, but kinda just an interesting story. Just before Regionals, I decided to sell off a bunch of cards from my LuxChomp deck. On one hand, it’s a good deck to have around for testing. On the other hand, I don’t plan to play it in any upcoming tourneys, and I have some other stuff I wanted to buy (meaning I needed the cash). One of the cards I listed was my Uxie Lv. X. On Thursday of last week, I got a message from a guy that needed this card for Regionals. Well, I was leaving for Regs on Friday, so it was tight. He was willing to cover the extra shipping charges, but he also added a question. “Or, if you are going to be at regionals this Saturday in Wisconsin Dells, can I just pick it up from you there?”

Well, that seems like a shot in the dark. I suppose you can guess that he actually hit the target on that one, based on the title of this article. So, yeah, we work it all out and agree to meet, but he’s going to be unavailable to reach on the phone for a while. It turned out that I was effectively out of email contact for the weekend, too. Luckily he got ahold of me the night before, because he was unable to make it to the tourney. The card, however, was for his son playing in Seniors, and he told me who to look for. The blue/white headphones was the tip that I needed, and I spotted Zach almost immediately after registering.

Zach was a very pleasant kid. I handed him his card, and we talked for a while. Whenever I saw him after that, he was curious about how I was doing and we chatted a bit here and there. You never know what you’re going to get when you meet people to do a transaction in person, but this was quite enjoyable. Based on Zach, my only regret was that I wasn’t able to meet his father, Eric.

But, I said this was an economics lesson, so enough of my pointless anecdote. Let’s get down to business. When it was all said and done, Eric paid $44.75 for the Uxie. I think this is a very fair price if you check the comparables on eBay and factor in his time constraint. I also think it’s a good deal for me to get almost $45 for my Uxie. The problem is that I didn’t get almost $45, hence the lesson. To list this, I wanted to post a clear picture of both the front and back of the card. It costs $0.50 to list a buy-it-now “auction” and $0.15 for the extra picture. On a buy-it-now, eBay charges 12% of the final value. The listing was for $41.75 (with $3 shipping/handling), so eBay gets 41.75 x 0.12 = $5.01. To accept the money, of course I use PayPal, which is also owned by eBay. When I do accept the money, PayPal charges me $1.60 just for that privilege. If you’re following along, that’s $7.26 in fees for me to sell a single card online. Out of the $44.75 that Eric paid, only $37.49 goes into my virtual pocket. The reason I say “virtual pocket” is because it will most likely just sit in my PayPal account until I buy something else on eBay. Then eBay and PayPal will get another big chunk of that deal. It’s a bit amazing to me that they can pull so much out of something so small and do it in such high volume day in and day out.

So, think twice if you’re considering selling cards on eBay. At least know what you’re getting into. There are some ways to cut some of those costs(like listing multiples of the same card or doing an auction instead of buy-it-now. It doesn’t help a lot, though. For singles, auctions tend to sell for less in most cases, so even though the fees are smaller, the end result might be a wash.

Ed and Ava

Now back to our hero, who’s been foreshadowed to soon become our zero. Going into States, I thought SP was my main concern. You can read my States report for more details. Basically, I wanted to beat SP, and I didn’t want to have Sableye become a liability. I talked to Austino, and he hooked me up with a list that addressed all the things I had been worried about. It had some poor matchups, but I rolled with it. The result was better than I could have hoped for.

Going into Regionals (from the recent States), I knew that my luck couldn’t hold. I figured I’d hit some bad matchups, but I was very comfortable with the deck, and I didn’t want to mess with it. My main concern was with my LuxChomp matchup though, because many run Expert Belt now. If a good player has the ability to belt a Luxray with Lucario on the bench, it’s almost surely lights out for me. I considered/discussed options like Gyarados with Promocroak, Pokemon Reversal, Plus Power, and Bubble Coat. Abdi swapped 2 cards for Bubble Coats. I opted to make 0 changes to my list.

Oh, and it’s not that I wasn’t concerned with my trainer-lock matchup. I was playing a “Trainer ‘Dos,” so it’s a big concern. It’s just that I figured it was so much of an uphill battle that I couldn’t tweak the deck to account for the problems. I’d have to rework much of the engine and go back to a Sableye-centric build if I wanted to help that matchup. That, however, would probably hurt my SP matchup, which was my main concern (coming from the MN meta).

Round 1) Yehoshua Tate (aka Yoshi) with Gyarados, Mew Prime, Mesprit, etc., etc.
I’ve heard of Yoshi before, and I feel that it’s fairly unfortunate to get paired against a top player to start things off. However, this is the first time I’ve actually met Yoshi, and he is actually quite an enjoyable opponent. His Gyarados was about as far from mine as you can get, and I dare call it a bit schizophrenic. That might sound negative, but it really threw me off. From his first-turn Psychic Bind, I was already at a disadvantage. I had to put in a lot of effort to KO his Gyarados, but not much to KO his Karp. After that it was Mew Prime one-shotting my Gyarados thanks to 4 discarded Karp.
LOSS: 0-1

Round 2) Phil with Vilegar
Imagine my dismay when I learned that after losing my first round, I was paired against my worst matchup. I have no business winning this matchup, but it can happen. I can see that Phil agonizes over his starting Pokemon. He has two, and when we start, I see that he chose to start Uxie active. He goes first and blind Time Walks. His reward for pulling this stunt? Spiritomb! He retreats to Spiritomb and passes. What am I to do with this? Well, as lucky as Phil is, I am slightly luckier, I guess. The only Pokemon in my starting hand was Regice. Thanks to Regi Move, I am able to get 1 turn of trainers off before he locks me up. This turn sees me setting up Gyarados with a Belt and 2 Karp in the discard. It’s enough to win me the game after Phil gets a Tails on Fainting Spell. This was the lone bright spot in the first half of the day.
WIN: 1-1

Round 3) Quinn with Magnezone/Regirock
I don’t know Quinn, and maybe I underestimate him a bit. That’s a bad habit to get into. Quinn starts with Spiritomb active, so it’s looking bad already. I think I had a Karp and a Gyarados in my opening hand. After some deliberation, I opt to play the Karp setting me up to potentially attack next turn if things go as planned. Quinn, who I later find out is Rob Downs’ kid, makes the correct play by putting down a second ‘Tomb on his bench. Now, who knows if he would have done this if I hadn’t played the Karp. He should have done it anyway (in my opinion), but maybe I tipped my hand a bit on that play. After that, I drew cards like mad while he Darkness Graced each turn. I believe that I played Sea Spray for about 5 turns in a row. I think my previous best was once. I think I got like 5 or 6 cards one turn. At one point, Quinn asked me how many cards I had in my hand. My reply was 20. That’s 20 useless cards. Quinn finally let me KO a Spiritomb (which was probably good for him with his full bench), and I got to do a couple things. Then he proceeded to repeatedly KO Gyarados. Quinn went on to top-4.
LOSS: 1-2

Round 4) John with Yanmega TM (not the prime)
Hot on the tails of underestimating Quinn (which I really don’t feel had anything to do with my loss), I went up against a guy playing Yanma. Now, I don’t know if my playtesting partners see this, but I’ve noticed something about myself. I play a lot better when I’m in a tourney atmosphere. When it’s on the line, things click for me. It goes the other way, too. When I playtest, I am nowhere near my best. I make mistakes, and I ask for a lot of help from the people around me. Actually, I think this is good. I really want to get input and learn. Seeing what things are mistakes and what things are better plays helps me grow. The problem is that when I find myself at 1-2 facing a Yanma, I let my guard down. I do things like discarding my extra BTS to Junk Arm/Regice. I don’t mean some of them, I mean ALL of them. Then, when my opponent does something like, say, play a Stadium of his own, I’m sunk. I can almost win by setting up Karp a turn before I need to bring Gyarados back, but it comes down to one prize each. I retreat my heavily damaged Gyarados to attack with my clean one. John uses Devoluter to KO my benched DOS. Good game, John.
LOSS: 1-3

At this point, I ask Omar if I should call my article “From Hero To Zero” or “From Riches To Rags.” He says it should be both, and he’s not wrong.

Round 5) Frank (check out his article) with Absol Prime and Lucario (Dimension Sphere)
I don’t remember much about this match other than Frank being amazed at how I set up so fast. This is how the deck is supposed to work. Frank is able to do some damage here and there, but I’m not sure he ever got a prize.
WIN: 2-3

Round 6) Taylor with Charizard
On my turn 1, I have to Regi Move to set up. Luckily for me, his only bench Pokemon is Whismur. After I KO that, I’m able to one-hit every one of his Pokemon. He tells me later that he only has a 1-0-1 Exploud and no way to retrieve the Whismur.
WIN: 3-3

Round 7) Danielle with Donkphan
Danielle is a new Team Omar player. Her and her boyfriend, Patrick, have been getting into the game recently. On Friday night, I helped Danielle build this Donphan deck. I essentially gave her my daughter Ava’s list and told her how to make it better for Masters. I think she liked it. I don’t, however, think she liked me KO-ing her lone Uxie on my first turn. Her mistake was retiring Unown R, but it would have just prolonged the misery had she not.
WIN: 4-3

Ava went 2-3. The best thing about her play was that, after one of her losses, she told me that she could have won, but she miscalculated weakness/resistance and didn’t get the KO. She said that had she played her Expert Belt, she would have been able to win it. I think that the Art area was the best part of Ava’s day (which was expected). She drew a lot of new Pokemon Art, and I will post those pictures in a following article.

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t underestimate any opponent or their deck. There’s no upside.
  • When you sell a card for $45 on eBay, don’t expect to get $45. Expect to get about 84% of the sale.
  • Playing at the lower tables after top cutting my previous tourneys is kinda eye-opening. The atmosphere is a whole lot different. This is not a bad thing in the least. It’s enjoyable, and many of the guys are having a good time. The decks are a lot different, too, and it’s interesting and fun to see new cards for a change.
  • Regionals is not just a bigger MN meta. This isn’t exactly something new to me, but it was just reinforced. MN is almost all SP. I didn’t face a single SP deck at Regionals. Now, yeah, that also has to do with me not being at the top tables. Three of the top 4 were SP, and I know that a bunch of the other tops were. It just seems like in MN it’s SP or you’re rogue.
  • When you start a tourney over an hour late, you might just need to play the final match in the TO’s hotel room.

So, I think that’s it for my report. I’m hoping that I can get at least one other from one of the MN top cut players. What do you say, Andy, Ross, Radu?

Oh, and congratulations to the champion Ross Cawthon. I can’t say that I really know the guy. I’ve only met him once (at last year’s Regionals), but he seems like a cool fellow who’s very focused, and he’s obviously a great player.

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