TAndrewTourney: Midwest Regionals 2012 in Madison, WI

by TAndrewT ~ April 20th, 2012.

Before my Spring Regionals report, a confession: I wasn’t originally planning to go to Regionals. One of the things I like most about Pokémon TCG is its unpredictability—that with so many cards in format, you never know what combinations you’ll see in a tournament. I really enjoyed the City Championships (HS-NVI) format, where there were a lot of viable decks, and the metagame continued to evolve over the course of the winter. I think that some competitive players felt exactly the opposite about that time—that a Cities format with so many decks became a game of rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock, where it was difficult or impossible to practice a strategy that would win the most games. But the metagame had narrowed a lot by the State Championship series, partly because of the release of Mewtwo EX, and partly because of the steadily increasing advantage that Basic Pokémon now have. Going into Regionals, it seemed like almost everyone was either playing Zekrom/Mewtwo/Eels or Celebi/Mewtwo/Tornadus. And I didn’t like that one bit. So I didn’t play in any of the States events (though I did serve as a judge at MN States). And I resolved to stay in the Twin Cities last weekend, and catch a few of the Regionals matches on TheTopCut’s TwitchTV streams, instead of making the drive to Wisconsin.

But just two weeks out, I heard that the Hilton hotel adjacent to the Madison Convention Center venue had dropped the price of rooms for the weekend to $55/night—and, well, I guess my resolve was weaker than I thought! My son Paul and I did some furious, last-minute Ebaying to pick up the Mewtwos we needed to make one Zek/Eels and one CMT deck. Paul picked CMT, which meant that I was playing Zek/Eels, having never played the deck before. My goal for the weekend, as a result, was just to not be humiliated too badly.

Here’s the list I ran:

2  Tynamo NVI-38 3  Pokémon Collector 9  Lightning
2  Tynamo NVI-39 4  Professor Juniper 4  Double Colorless
3  Eelektrik 3  N
3  Mewtwo EX 3  Professor Oak’s New Theory
2  Zekrom BW 4  Junk Arm
1  Thundurus 3  Pokémon Catcher
1  Tornadus 2  Dual Ball
1  Tyrogue 2  Level Ball
 2  Switch
 2  Pokégear 3.0
2  PlusPower
1  Eviolite
1  Super Rod
15  Pokémon 32  Trainers/Supporters/Stadiums 13  Energy

This list was just slightly modified from one that I had made and proxied for the deck some two months earlier, so my apologies if it looks behind the times.

The event venue was awesome—a giant room that could easily fit all 320 players that had shown up for the day, and lots of extra space for families and for relaxing between rounds. I said hi to all of the MN locals that I knew, but soon enough, pairings were posted and we were off!

Round 1: Philip (Jumpluff/Accelgor/Sunflora)

As we were finding our seats, the judges passed out the promo card for the tournament, a Shelmet that most tournament-goers already have umpteen copies of by now. Philip smiled, and told me he might very well use it in his deck. I thought he was joking, but when he flipped over his face-down Pokémon to start the game, there was Shelmet, on his bench! I had started lone Mewtwo EX, and he started Hoppip Active. He played a Sunkern to the bench on his opening turn, but it really didn’t matter; I had a DCE in hand turn 1, and I just started loading up Mewtwo and taking things out. Phil mentioned it was his first TCG tournament, and was relieved to learn that unlike the video game tourney, his first loss didn’t knock him out for the whole day. I hope you had a good time Philip!

Round 2: Curtis Dietrich (Zek/Eels)

I see Curtis almost every week at Source Comics’ league in Saint Paul, so it was too bad that I had to play him at Regionals. Curtis had finished third at MN States, so I knew I was in for a challenging game. We both set up fairly slowly, but once we both started hitting supporters, I misplayed by dropping a Mewtwo on the bench instead of Junipering it, and then watched as Curtis Catcher-KO’d it to go up 5-2. At that point, I had just one chance to win this game—N Curtis down to 2 cards, get a Junk Arm and an energy from my draw, revenge KO his Mewtwo and hope that he drew garbage over the next two turns. All of those things happened, and I managed to steal this game from Curtis on sheer luck.

Round 3: Colin Peterik (QuadBulls)

Colin is well known in the TCG community as a strong player, so I knew I was in trouble even before the match started. Colin mulliganed a couple of times, and I saw plenty of fighting energy in those mulliganed hands, and that worried me even more. So when Colin flipped over his active Terrakion, I could only guess he was playing QuadBulls, which wasn’t good for me. Colin won the coin flip, but his start was pretty weak, and after he N’d us first turn, he still had a weak hand. Unfortunately, I also got garbage off of the N, and was limited to just 2 Tynamos and a Tyrogue for the first couple of turns. I gamely tried to stall with the baby, and then with Tynamo’s Thunderwave, but I missed the flips.But I doubt it mattered anyway. Colin had all four Terrakions up by turn 4 or so, taking a prize or two every turn, and I was going to have a tough time against Terrakion hitting me for weakness. Colin went on to place 7th in the event, so I don’t feel too bad, but Colin had a weak start, and it was too bad that I couldn’t capitalize on it.

Round 4: Kevin Goveia (Durant)

There were actually a surprising number of Durants at the tournament, which was great for me—Zek/Eels has a strong Durant matchup. Even better, Kevin started with Rotom, and didn’t hit a Collector the entire game, which limited his Devour attacks to three cards or less while I KO’d one of his guys every turn. But Kevin was clearly having fun, even though it seemed like he’d rather be playing Magic; he had MTG names for everything in the game. (“And Revive lets me search my Graveyard for a Durant.” Search your what?)

Round 5: Calvin Chang (Zek/Eels)

Calvin is an undergrad at the University of Minnesota, where I’m a professor, and so I get to see Calvin both at Pokémon events and occasionally on campus. A couple of weeks ago, Calvin e-mailed me to say that he was going to register for the Organic Chemistry II class that I teach over the summer, and that he was excited to take it. So before we play, we both have a laugh about what happens if I lose our upcoming matchup. Calvin and I ended up on very different strategic paths in this game: I successfully took out all of Calvin’s Eels, but he gradually loaded up his attackers, took out my Zekroms and Thundurus, and kept a Shaymin in his hand to move energies where he needed them and maintain a lead. I think I still could have won if I had been able to play N near the end, but all my Eel catchering had exhausted my Junk Arms, so I couldn’t Pokégear for it, and I didn’t manage to draw into one (even though I hadn’t played one all game). Great match—though, I think I *will* have the last laugh.

Round 6: Kevin Forbes (CMT)

Kevin is a Pokédad from Indianapolis who I know from the Pokégym boards, and it was great to meet him in person! Interestingly, not only were he and I 3-2 at this point, but so were my son Paul and his son Justin, and our sons got paired up this round too. I started just terribly, with no supporters for turns and turns, while he set up just fine and started taking prizes. I tried to stall with Tyrogue and Thunderwave again, against a Catchered-up Regigigas, but he had the cards he needed to escape all that, and took this match very quickly. On the plus side, Paul won against Justin, putting Paul at 4-2 for the day. But Paul’s resistance wasn’t high enough to secure one of the two available top cut slots for 4-2 players, and so Paul finished his day in 11th place out of 57 Juniors.

Round 7: Alejandro Luna (Durant)

Like my Round 4 opponent, Alejandro started Rotom, and had terrible luck getting things going. I actually won this game after just 3 KO’s by benching him, which is surprising given all the tools that Durant has for recovering KO’d Durants. Alejandro was a great-spirited opponent, and I hope I didn’t irritate him by spending most of our game trying to convince him to transfer from Northern Illinois U. to Univ. Illinois. (If you’re reading this Hondo, with a 4.0 GPA, you gotta do it.)

Round 8: Chad Spinks (Zek/Eels)

Chad and I were both super-relaxed for this match—we were exhausted, and we knew we had no real chance to top cut. This is the first game in which I played all four Junipers in my deck, which actually meant that when I played the last one for the last 7 cards in my deck, I knew exactly what I was about to draw. And that it was exactly what I needed to Catcher up the Mewtwo on his bench for my last two prizes. I talked Chad’s ear off this game, and at the end he actually thanked me for it—I guess his previous opponents had been really quiet. Not gonna get that from me!

So I finish 44th out of 201 Masters for the day. Way better than I expected! A few final observations:

  • I had originally planned to play Smeargle in the deck, but took it out for an additional Pokégear. I think that was a mistake. The Pokégear helped, but Smeargle would have gotten me out of a couple of rough starts, even though I had no Skyarrow Bridge to retreat him for free. I had cut him because I felt he was an easy prize once he hits the board, but let’s face it—with 30 HP Tynamos everywhere, a ZekEels’ opponent doesn’t have trouble finding easy prizes. With the next set there will be even more cards that we’ll be squeezing into our already crowded decks, and I think Smeargle can help with that by reducing the total number of supporters we will need to play.
  • All of my Zek/Eel opponents played Shaymin, which they used to help KO Mewtwos that I cavalierly placed on the bench. (“But he has no energy on him—he must be safe!”) Maybe I should have played Shaymin in my deck. Or just been more careful with Mewtwo.

In any case, it was great to see all of the MN area players in Wisconsin, and to meeting new friends from all over the Midwest. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at upcoming Pre-Releases and Battle Roads!

Category: Regional Championships, Tourney Report | Tags: ,