Reflections On My Pokemon Nationals 2011

by Ed ~ July 11th, 2011.

Ed's Unown Pleasures Of Being Home

I’m back, and I’ve had some time to reflect. The lesson is test, and test against all the decks you think will be tier 1. In retrospect, I only did one of those things. Early on, I decided to build a Reshiram/Emboar deck. I did it in my own style, though. I wanted to see if I could build it without any of the extra baggage I thought went along with most builds. My goal was to have the deck set up and then Blue Flare six times for 6 One Hit KO’s. It could definitely do that.

I played the deck a bunch, and it did well. There were issues with it, but they weren’t insurmountable. I had problems when I faced larger Pokemon (that I couldn’t one shot), so I put in Reversals and more Plus Power to try to get strategic KOs when necessary. With the changes made to accommodate these inclusions, the deck became unreliable and very inconsistent. I put it back the way it was and decided to just run it without the Pokemon Reversal (but still had 1 Circulator).

I went on vacation just before Nationals, and I even played for a bit one day at league in Rapid City. I did very well in my matches there, so I thought things were going well. I also had built a ZPS/Yanmega deck that I had a friend play against me several times. This was actually a good deck (even though my quick build of it was suboptimal). The problem here was that Reshiram has a good matchup against Zekrom. It can usually OHKO all of the Pokemon in ZPS (including Yanmega in this case). As it happened, each time, my wins were reinforcing bad behavior.

Team Omar vs. Yanmega = One Hit KO

Vacation came and went, and I hadn’t played (except for a few matches at Rapid City’s league) for probably over 2 weeks prior to Nats. I knew that my deck probably wasn’t top tier, but I’m a big proponent of playing what you know. I’d rather play a slightly suboptimal deck that I am comfortable with than play a known Tier 1 deck that I will probably make misplays with. It’s worked for me in the past, anyway.

As far as testing in person with Team Omar goes, I mainly tested with Omar. Tre and Louis didn’t settle on decks until very late, so I wasn’t testing against top decks when I faced them. In fact, Tre didn’t settle on a deck until like 3AM on Friday morning (the day of the tourney). I didn’t get to test against those, but I had done a bit of play against Omar, Pikkdogs, and Louis, though. It wasn’t going as well as I had imagined. The horizon was slightly cloudy, and I started to think that I sticking with what I knew might not be the best move. But, that was only a “might not”, so I stuck with it.

So, that’s the back story. Now let’s get to Nationals. On the way there, we had a good omen. At least, I thought it was a good omen for me and my deck choice. It just so happens that at some point, Team Omar’s VW got a nasty KO on a Yanmega. You can see in the pic that it was stuck between the headlight and the hood. It was mostly all intact, too. It rode there as a symbol of things to come for most of the drive.

Ed, the Miraculously Recovered Pen, and WA State Champ

We arrived on Thursday, and walked right up to registration. There was no wait for me, and I used my trusty pen that I always carry with me to sign up and then grabbed my free Nationals T-Shirt.

We hung around a bit until Pikkdogs showed up. Then we went to the hotel, checked in, and looked for a place to eat. Things were going great. We found an AWESOME Chinese buffet and I gorged myself on shrimp, crab, lo mein, sushi, frog legs, etc. All of a sudden, though, things were looking bleak. I noticed my pen was missing. I always carry that pen. Oh man. I was a bit panicked. Of course, I could get another pen, but it wouldn’t be the same. I know you don’t understand. There’s no reason for you to, really. Anyway, I stole Omar’s pen and just decided to roll with a blue one for the weekend.

Pikkdogs and PokeCelebrity JWittz

We got up at 6:30AM to get to the convention center for the tourney. On the way, I filled out my decklist (in blue ink). When we arrived, we saw others filling in their lists, and there was Radu and Jon (Jake Long) sitting down filling theirs out. We went over and helped Jon figure out what cards he was missing from his list. Oh what? Hey! Radu and Jon were using my pen! How did that happen? That’s insane! Unfortunately, they didn’t have the pen cap. It was a victory, but it was like losing one of your friends to win the war. So, I flipped out a bit, they didn’t understand, and I got my pen (and kept the blue cap). I think Jon and Radu still owe me some cards (RH Bouffalant, Radu), but they did tell me where they were sitting previously (in the Juniors section). I went in search of the cap, but came up empty.

I got paired up with the Washington State Champ during the player meeting. I’m very sorry, I can’t recall his name, but I talked to the guy many times throughout the tourney. His parents were there, too, and they were all very friendly and nice people. He’s pictured up there next to me with my pen. We started playing a game for fun, but then it was time to get paired for Round 1 (for which we both had a bye but still had to vacate the area).

Oh!!!!!!!!!! mar

Round 1 was paired, but it turned out that many people (I heard around 50) just registered to get the shirt and then skipped out. Instead of having a ton of first-round no-show losses (or wins for their opponents), they repaired the people without opponents. This (or other things) took a LONG time. It took so long that they announced that the lunch break would be between round 1 and 2. What? I got up at 6:30AM so I could start playing cards at 1:30PM?

Ed vs. Conner

So, people (besides the BYE recipients) played round 1, and then we went to lunch. After lunch, I came back, donked a guy, and got to wait some more. Now we’re like to 2:30PM, and I’ve only played 1 turn of tourney Pokemon. So, my Nationals day 1 report and day 2 report covered my matches. I don’t need to go into that here.

Unown Pleasures vs. Catchy Phrase (6P vs. OHKO)

I will say that my deck ran very inconsistently. It did not set up well. Once it set up, it did fine, but in some cases, that wasn’t good enough. Even with that, though, of my four losses, I felt that 2 were on the verge of being wins (given a good draw/flip). If I had a better matchup in the final round of Swiss, I may have been in the top cut. I got paired against my worst nightmare, and I was out. It was a good run (especially to start the second day 2-0), but it wasn’t great. Louis was the only one of us to make top cut, and I’m very pleased that he did. We needed someone to represent, and even though he lost in tops, it was a good run!

Team Omar's Louis in Top Cut

I think I had more fun just hanging out, talking to people, people watching, chillin’ with Team Omar, etc. I met some people that I had only previously talked to via the internet, so that was nice. I met JWittz and Renae. I finally met Adam (who runs Six Prizes) who is shown to the right, and I got a shirt from him (which is shown in the topmost picture). I also finally met Austino in person. It was really good to meet these guys that I’ve conversed with so much but never got to shake hands with before.

Snivy and Ed

I talked to Jay H. for a while and met John Kettler (who runs HeyTrainer). In fact, I wonder if Jay ever got any good trades for the Celebi I gave him to start his game. He always seemed to be talking to whoever approached him, though, so it seemed unlikely that he found time to turn Celebi into Yanmega Prime.

Tepig, Ed, and $300

Oh, I also got to meet Snivy, Tepig, and Pikachu. My Reshiram were scared of Oshawott, because he may evolve at any time, so we didn’t go meet him. It was cute to see the kids get excited about meeting the characters, though.

Ed, Pikachu, and Pikkdogs

There was a lot going on besides the main event, but I had hoped that the side event stuff would have been more fun/interesting. They had an area where you could play “League” matches. You’d just go get a number. Then, you could wait in line to report your match. They would log the two opponents (maybe to make sure people weren’t playing the same people all the time) and then draw 2 random cards. Sometimes they were just cards, and the winner of the match got first pick. Other times, they had something written on them like “3 Packs” or “Playset.” Then you got say 3 packs of Black & White or a playset of 4 Lost Remover. That was cool, but the line was usually rather long.

Team Omar at Culver's Battle Arena

They also had 8-man pods where the top 4 players won packs. I wanted to play in these (much more than the big side event where I got dead last), but the line was always crazy long. The one time I did get up there to sign up, they said that it was all full and that I’d have to come back later. That would have been way better than what I played!

Testing Pokemon Catcher at Culver's Battle Arena

On Saturday night, I was sick of Pokemon. The other guys wanted to chat about what they’d play once Catcher came out. I didn’t want to think about it. On Sunday, we drove home, and I wanted to get an idea what I might play next. Donphan/Machamp was tossed around as a good play for my style. I thought I might try it. By the time we ate lunch, I was ready to play again, so I rebuilt ReshiBoar with the lessons I learned from the weekend (and Catcher). We ate at Culvers and played. My deck ran VERY smooth there (and later in the day when we played a few matches again). I think it went undefeated (for like 5 or 6 matches) and seemed well tuned. I guess I should have been more open to change, but I didn’t want to fix something I didn’t think was broken. I guess after I found out how broken it was, the fixes turned out to be worthwhile.

I planned to make this article into a Deck Analysis of what I did wrong with ReshiBoar and the lessons I learned about it during the Nationals run. I think the article is long enough already, so I’ll save the analysis for the next installment.

Category: National Championships | Tags: