Pikkdogs Nationals Report Part 1

by Pikkdogs ~ July 8th, 2011.

Hey Everybody, this is Pikkdogs here to talk about the first day of Nationals. I know I promised to be tweeting while I was there, but that didn’t happen because of phone problems.  I hope to make it up to you with this bigger report.  Along with the match report of my games the first day, I will give you my thoughts on everything about nats.

Team Omar, minus me, getting ready to go on day 1.

The Location

Of course, this year’s U.S. nationals were located in Indianapolis.  The city is a decent choice, the location is only really bad for the people on the extreme edges of the country.  One bad thing about the city was that it was jam packed with people.  No matter where you went for lunch there was a million people standing in line.  Due to the city also holding several basketball tournaments and other events, the city was over crowded.  It was quite annoying, a quieter smaller city might be a better choice.

However, we will never find a perfect location.  Indy has a lot of hotels and is well equipped to handle us Pokemon Players, somethings are just a little inconvenient.

The convention center is a really nice and big place.  We had about 1,500 people in the masters division and thanks to the venue we were able to cramp them all in one room without it feeling too…..well…cramped.  There was also a meeting of an African American fraternal order at the convention center, it wasn’t very hard to pick out which people went to which event.

The Shops

Nationals is known for having vendors right at the convention center.  Troll and Toad and Collectors Cache were both at this year’s event, and did a decent job.  It was convenient to go to the shops and get all the supplies you need, like sleeves, deck boxes, cards, and toys.  Some cards were very overpriced (a $50 Yanmega Prime comes to mind) but you can’t blame them for the laws of supply and demand.  I stopped in and got some cool sleeves.  The only change I would make would be to put the shops in a bigger room, shopping  in a packed store is no fun. 

The Play Area

The play area for the tournament was very big.  There were room for nearly 2,000 players and their family.  Nintendo did a very good job of decorating for the event, the banners were amazing, and the life size Tepig, Snivy, Oshawott, and Pikachu livened the place up.  It was funny watching this one toddler playing with the person in the Tepig costume.  The toddler would dance a little, and Tepig would mock the baby.  Then the toddler would push Tepig in the belly and they would start all over again.  One of the cutest things I ever seen.  Besides having areas to play, there were area for the video game tournament, a kids art center,  a place for Pokemoms and Pokedads, and places for League play and side events.

The play  area did get a little cramped, but that was more due to people wanting to go to the same place at the same time, than the size of the rooms.

The League Play

As mentioned, a lot of the play area was occupied by the League play area.  This was a place where you can go meet friends or strangers for a fun game.  It takes the competition out of the game, which is good for some people at some times.  After you played a game, you and your opponent could go to one of the tables and get a prize.  One of the volunteers would give the winner a choice of two random prizes, and the 2nd prize went to the loser.  Most prizes were league promo’s and un-playable cards, but some people got things like mats, deck boxes, and packs.  For being an area for informal play, it was pretty fun.  This was also where a lot of the trading took place.

The Side Events

I am not an expert at the side events, but this is what I know of them.  All I know of the side events is every once and a while there is a tournament of about 8 people.  The participants get packs just for playing.  I’m not sure what kinds of decks were featured in these events, but the people who played in them seemed to enjoy it.

The banners were super cool

The Staff

There was a major blunder at this year’s event, and the blame of it can only be put on the staff.  The player’s meeting started at 9:30, and play was supposed to start shortly after.  But, by the time play actually started it was closer to 11:30.  This was because of the fact that 50 people who registered did not show up to play.  I’m not sure all of why that is, by the staff seems to think it was just people who wanted to pre-register and get the promo card and t-shirt.  If these people are going to delay the event by an hour, the t-shirt distribution should not have been on Thursday.  They should have made it on either Saturday or Sunday.

Waiting was a theme of the day, the people who got a first round bye did not pick up a card until after 1:30.  But, after the people who registered and did not show up were dropped, and more players dropped, the tournament went by a little faster.  Though, I can’t help thinking that the staff could have been a little more prepared to speed things up.

Besides the speed issue, the staff was great.  The judges are always awesome, and the volunteers are always nice.  A big thanks go out to them.

The People

One of the best things about going to Nats is seeing all the people.  I got to meet a lot of new people like: Adam from www.sixprizes.com, Jwittz from the Profit show, and some random guy named Manny.  I also got to caught up with a lot of people that I already knew like: my fellow Team Omar members, the members of Team Warp Point, and a host of other people from around the area.

I started playing this game for the strategy and for a hobby, I keep playing it because of you guys.  Its  a great way to hang out with friends, and Nats would not be the same without the buddies.

One disappointment in the people is that the best players did not really play.  To protect their ratings, Chris Fulop and Jay H. sat this tournament out.  While other great players like JWittz had to drop to protect their ratings.  I know they did the best thing for them, but I want a nationals tournament to prove that there is a best player in the country, we can’t do that with the best guys twiddling their thumbs all day.

The Decks

One big thing that everyone wants to know is, “What is everyone playing?”  One cool thing about the format is that we saw a lot of things.  We saw Blastoise, Cincinno,  Zekrom, Weavile, Donphan, Samurott, Machamp, Zekrom, Reshiram, Emboar, Typhlosion, Yanmega Prime, Mangezone Prime, and many more.  But the most commonly played decks were: Reshiram variants, Magnezone variants, Zekrom variants, and Donphan variants.  A lot of people splashed Yanmega into their decks, following the lead of the Canadians.

One interesting deck I saw featured Spinarak and Vileplume.  Spinarak has an attack that for G does not let your opponent retreat during their next turn.  So the player would trap a starter Pokemon like Cleffa and use Spinarak to force them to try to use a Switch.  But, if Vileplume is in play, your opponent cannot play that Switch.  The player would just setup an attacker like Yanmega Prime on the bench, and then at the end of turn 3 when time is called, they would retreat for Yanmega, do a Judge, and take the first and only prize of the game for the win.

One theme of the day has been donks.  A lot of people have been playing Cleffa, and a lot of their opponent’s hand infanticide on their mind.  Using Tyrogue or another attacker, Cleffa can be easily knocked out for the first turn win.  This is why I chose Manaphy as a starter over Cleffa.

The Report

A view from the play area.

Here it is, after all that, here is my report.  I decided to play a deck I call “The Natural Disasters” (after the early 90’s WWF tag team, more on them tomorrow) at Nats.  The deck features Donphan and Samurott.  Even though they have no synergy, these two Pokemon work together to counter most of the important Pokemon in the metagame.  Hitting for weakness in almost every game, this deck is something to be feared.  I will not give you the decklist now, but wait till tomorrow, and I probably will release it.

I left for Indy after working the morning shift at work on Thursday.  After a 5 hour drive, I arrived at the Convention Center just behind my Team Omar pals.  I saw my hometown judge Rich and he got me signed up.  Then I met up with Team Omar and we went to our Hotel, of course I made it their faster and did not get lost along the way like some people did.  After checking in we went to a Chinese Buffet to eat some dinner.  After eating way too much Sweet and Sour Chicken and not enough Flan, we headed back to the motel.  Me and Ed got one final testing session in before we both hit the sack.

We woke up early the next morning and I headed straight to the kitchen downstairs.  The motel had some excellent Biscuits and Gravy.  After filling up we headed over to the downtown area.  I said hello to some friends and got ready for the tourney.

Round 1- ZPS

This was a straight ZPS deck made and played by a guy named Manny from Chicago.  First I thought he was going to donk me, but he could not get the donk.  I decided to go with a straight Donphan strategy and hit Zekrom for weakness until my prize cards were no more.

1-0 A good easy victory, just what the deck was built for.  After this me, Tre, and Louis went to a local mall and ate at the food court for lunch, a lot of people were around.

Round 2- Typhlosion Prime/Kingdra Prime/Reshiram

One thing you could do at nats was try out the Pokemon TCG Online game.

I see a Kingdra and start to get worried. Kingdra decks are about an even matchup for me.  But, I am comforted by the fact that he seems to be running a fire engine, and sure enough he eventually uses Typhlosion and Reshiram to attack.  I start with Oshawott and think that setting up multiple Samurotts would be easy.  But for some reason my deck did not cooperate.  I kept on getting the same card in bunches, and had an energy drought for like 4-5 turns.  I tried to come back, but my deck again stalled, giving me 4 Pokemon Communication but no Pokemon.

1-1: I just lost to a deck that I should not have lost to, I blamed it all on bad luck and carried on.

Round 3- Cincinno, Weavile, Yanmega, and Slowking.

This was a disruption deck, but it’s hard to disrupt Donphan. I started Phanpy and ELM’d for a Donphan on turn 2.  I got OHKO’s going on Cincinno and Weavile, but Yanmega was harder to get.  Once I got Ruins of Alph out, Yanmega retreated to the bench and stayed there all game.  When I had a 2-3 prize lead, my opponent tried to stall with Pokemon Reversal, and could have turned the tide of the game, but he flipped 2 tails.

2-1: Another win for Donphan.

Round 4- Typhlosion and Reshiram

Yes, another fire deck, should be easy.  I fairly quickly setup both Samurott and Donphan and he does the same with Typhlosion and Reshiram.  I fall into a little energy drought and have to “Earthquake” a bunch of times. This puts damage counters on my bench, and sets the opponent up for an OHKO.  Sure enough, he was able to OHKO everything with Reshiram and Plus Powers.  The game ends when I got nothing left on the bench.

2-2:  Wow, I am just blown away on how I lost to a good matchup twice.  I still don’t know how, but it really discouraged me.  I was thinking of dropping and leaving for home tomorrow, but I decided to stick it out for today.

Round 5- Yanmega Magnezone

This game was against a really nice guy from Texas.  He got lots of Yanmega’s early, but I countered with Samurott and Ruins of Alph.  At one point in the game he plays Black Belt when we are tied in prizes, I quickly call him on it, but not quickly enough to stop him from taking a prize.  After I realize he took one, we take a long time getting the judges to sort it out.  We come back with an equitable solution, and I get a prize lead I never give up.  Without their resistance, Yanmega’s cannot stand up to Donphan’s and with Donphan around, he does not dare try playing with Magnezone.

3-2:  Feeling a little better, but I know I must get a lot more wins to be back on the good side.

It's me peeking in on a shot, on the convention center floor.

Round 6: Blastoise, Floatzel, and Magnezone.

I am a little afraid because Blastoise can hit Donphan for weakness, and Magnezone can do it to Samurott.  I just hope that my speed and weakness on Magnezone keeps the game in my favor.  He starts really slow, having to sacrifice 4 Pokemon to my turn 2 Donphan.  By the time he gets going, his OHKO on my Donphan is not too impressive and he is painted into a corner.  If he uses Blastoise I will just bring up Samurott and that is a fight that Blastoise cannot win.  But, if he uses Magnezone I bring up Donphan and OHKO Magnezone.  Perhaps if he did not have to sacrifice 4 Pokemon, he could have exhausted my Donphans with Blasotise, but that did not happen.

4-2:  This was the last round of the day.  At 4-2 I feel decent.  If I win out tomorrow I should have no problem of making top cut.  If I go 2-1 I will have to wait to see if that is enough to make top cut.  It might, but my tie breakers might not help me too much.

So come on people, give me a big cheer tomorrow morning, and hopefully with your support I can rally to make top cut.  I have a decent deck that should be able to beat almost any deck out there, so you never know what could happen as long as I make it in.  Look for Part 2 of this article tomorrow night.

So long and thanks for all the fish!

Category: National Championships | Tags: