Zekrom/Eelektrik (ZekEels): Calvin’s MN State Championship 2012

by Calvin ~ March 28th, 2012.

Trust me, the banana thing works.

Greetings OHKO!

I guess I’m going to start with a brief introduction. My name is Calvin Chang and I started playing Pokémon competitively halfway through the 2011-2012 season. I actually started playing Pokémon casually when I first investigated it for a high school composition class (yeah… long story). It was fun, the people were nice and I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Then I graduated from high school, moved onto the college campus at the University of Minnesota and took a hiatus from Pokémon since I had no car and no way to continue going to league. When January rolled around, some of the guys at Pokémon asked me if I wanted to compete at Midwest Regionals in the Dells. I figured it would be fun, grabbed a Magnerock deck from some friends and started playing competitively, all the way through Nationals. I wasn’t good but at least I went positive at all the events I played in and eventually finished 10th best player in Minnesota based off ELO points. Since then, I’ve been getting more and more into the competitive environment though still doing mediocre as always.

A week before Minnesota states, I went down to La Crosse with the other guys from league. I had no idea what I was going to play, as mid-terms just finished up and I didn’t have a chance to thoroughly test my options so Joey, Lukas, Michael, Curtis and I stayed up until about 1 in the morning so that I could figure out a deck to play. I didn’t.

At least, not until I woke up the next morning. During the evening, I had dreams that I was playing all sorts of decks and doing awful with all of them – Durant, CMT, you name it. The last dream I had was with me playing Zekrom/Eels and I actually did well with it in my dream. I woke up the next morning, sleep deprived but eager to play, joked with my buddies about my dream prophecy and borrowed Curtis’s Zekrom/Eels list for WI States. The list ran a Tornadus and a Zapdos – we figured that with QuadTerrakion doing well the week before we would be better off preparing for the Fighting types. And then I went 4-3.

A week later, I decided to give Zekrom/Eels another shot. I talked with Connor Murphy earlier in the week about a potential Mew deck but seeing as I had never played a game with it, I decided I would be better off with Zekrom/Eels. Curtis enlightened me on some minor changes that improved the consistency of the old list but other than a few Trainer/Supporter swapping the list was virtually the same. I went to bed at 11pm the night before and woke up at 8am. I packed my gear along with a banana, a pack of Rain 5 gum and a bottle of Kiwi Strawberry Snapple and went on my way. The potassium of the banana helps reduce nervousness, chewing gum stimulates the mind and kiwi strawberry is one of THE best food combinations, on par with peanut butter and chocolate. I also brought a video camera and tripod to record the top cut matches. I made a YouTube channel called Project1stEdition and I figured it was about time I uploaded some content there.

So I arrive at Legion games, turn in my deck list, chatted with Ed the vendor and some other folks that I haven’t seen in awhile and ate my banana to get rid of some pre-tournament anxiety. Trust me, the banana thing works.

After a lengthy wait, pairings went up…

Oh and just as a side-note, my memory of this tournament isn’t the clearest – especially when it comes to the finer details during the games. I hadn’t originally planned on writing a report, so I didn’t bother to keep notes during the tournament. But here goes nothing:

Round 1 – Joe? (Reshiram/Emboar)

We sat down for round 1 and exchanged introductions. I was surprised when he told me that he was part of the Facebook group for our local Pokémon crew that I co-admin and was added by a friend of a friend of a Pokémon league regular. What a great administrator I make. The coin was flipped and I started first. He opens with a lone Reshiram and I begin my play.

I start an active Tynamo and a benched Zapdos. I attached a Lightning Energy to Zapdos, played N, retreated to Zapdos and passed. He attaches a DCE to Reshiram, hits Zapdos with Outrage, with no basics on his side of the field. I attached a DCE to Zapdos and hit Reshiram for 50 with Random Spark. He tops a Reshiram EX and benches it, forcing me to KO more than just his active Reshiram to take the game (and an EX at that…). He then plays Heavy Ball to grab a Pignite, attaches a Fire Energy to his benched Reshiram EX and hits Zapdos with Outrage for 70 HP this time. I dropped a Mewtwo, attached a DCE to it, retreated Zapdos to Mewtwo and X-ball his Reshiram for game. He promotes Reshiram EX.

He was unable to get any basics again, attached a DCE to Reshiram EX and attacked with a heads flip Glinting Claw, putting my Mewtwo at 90HP. I attached a Lightning Energy to Mewtwo, allowing a total of 120 damage with X-ball. I also attached an Eviolite, which prevented him from knocking out my Mewtwo in the event that he drops a PlusPower AND flips heads on Glinting Claw. I realized that this forced him to have to use Brave Fire to KO my Mewtwo. After some quick calculations, I dropped my own PlusPower which allowed me to put more pressure on him. Since Reshiram EX has 180 HP, a 130 HP attack with X-ball would leave the fire dragon at 50 HP – just enough damage for Reshiram to self-KO if my opponent flipped tails with Brave Fire. I also prep a benched Zekrom using Dynamotor.

He was unable to get another basic the following turn, nor was he able to get the energy for Brave Fire.


Round 2 – Connor Murphy (Mew/Absol/Celebi/Terrakion)

Connor and I have been playing in the same league for some time now. Prior to this tournament, he was telling me about this “secret deck” that had an 80-20 matchup against ZekEels. He disclosed the main Pokémon in the deck, making it not so secret, when we were preparing for states and I was very close to playing his deck. Still, I hadn’t tested the matchup and prepared a strategy based off of the description of the deck he gave me a few days prior.

I knew he played Terrakion, which spelled disaster to Big Yellow, so naturally I went for Zapdos and Tornadus – my Fighting-resistant two-man army. Every time he dropped a Terrakion, it became a high priority target. I was able to KO these immediate threats and got rid of his low-HP Pokémon with Zekrom and Tornadus. He was able to use Absol’s Vicious Claw to Lost Zone a Jumpluff and a Shaymin EX, which Mew was able to take advantage of.

This game was close, as Connor was able to keep up with the prize race but did not target my Eels, so I maintained the pressure and ended up taking the final prize.


Round 3 – Alex Solomonson (Mew/Absol/Celebi/Terrakion)

Alex is also part of our core league group at Legion and I was surprised when he flipped over the same basics as Connor did from round 2. This time I was unable to draw any Supporters for the first three turns of the game and thought I was going to lose for sure. After only going down one prize, I was able to pick up the pace and began utilizing the Zapdos/Tornadus and prioritizing Terrakion strategy. Alex was able to get rid of my Eels better than Connor did which slowed down my plays. I eventually had to attach two DCEs to my Tornadus. I kept my bench small and attached Eviolites to my main attackers so that Mew couldn’t one-shot with the LZed Jumpluff’s Mass Attack. We exchanged prize for prize up till the later part of the game, Alex wasn’t able to get Terrakions on the field, so I sweeped with Tornadus and Zekrom.


Alex mentions at the end of the game that he prized two Terrakion, which shifted the game heavily in my favor. I believe him, if he had played more Terrakion, I would have had to spend more resources making sure they couldn’t KO anything important.

And then it was time for lunch! We were originally going to go for Subway but someone suggested Culver’s. I had never been to Culver’s so it was settled. The burgers are pretty good, I would highly recommend it anytime NOT during a Pokémon tournament. It might just be me but fast food in high-stress environments don’t mix well. Too much info?

Round 4 –  ??? (Donphan/Dragons)

He opened with two Virizion and I had absolutely no idea what he was playing. At first I thought I was up against Six Corners and marveled at how a Six Corners list made X-0 thus far. I start and Collector for Zekrom, figuring I should go for my heavy hitter, Tynamo and Tornadus. I start energizing Tornadus and pass, he plays PONT and shrugs at me saying he can’t get into energy. I attach a DCE to Tornadus and hit the Virizion with Hurricane. He Collectors for two Phanpys and a Oddish. And then I panicked. Luckily he still couldn’t get an energy on his Virizion, so he passes and I quickly nab a Zapdos with Collector. I attached a Lightning Energy to Tornadus, Catchered the Oddish and moved the Hurricane energy to Zapdos. He promotes Phanpy and evolves both Phanpys to Donphans. He gets the Fighting Energy, collectors for two Oddishes and a Phanpy and does a measly 40 damage to the genie with Earthquake thanks to resistance. I attach DCE to Zapdos, get rid of the DCE attached to Tornadus to retreat to Zapdos, Junk Arm to Catcher up one of the Oddishes and snipe the benched Oddish with Zapdos.

He’s able to retreat the Oddish and evolve it into a Gloom. Still stuck with no new energy, he hits Zapdos (also resistant to fighting) for 40. At this point, Gloom has two damage counters already from Donphan’s Earthquake. After prepping my benched Tornadus, I snipe Gloom for 50 putting it down to only 10 HP left. This would force him not to use Earthquake if he wanted Gloom to survive and it also allowed Zapdos to finish off Vileplume, should he decide to evolve it.

Instead, he Seekers the Gloom and never plays Oddish for the rest of the game. I assumed he was waiting to kill my Zapdos, which I never allowed him the luxury and swept his Donphans with Tornadus for the rest of the game.


Things were getting really exciting now. There were only 4 of us with an X-0 record at the time with three of us being Curtis, Mike Lesky and myself. Was my prophecy going to come true?

Round 5 – Austin Abts (CMT)

For some reason, Austin was never able to pick up speed, which is a huge handicap for CMT. I was able to set up a Zekrom and used Bolt Strike/Outrage to sweep his field. I think I took all 6 prizes before he even took one.


After placing the game slip in Colleen’s drop box, I realized something. I was going to make top cut for the very first time! I didn’t come into the tournament expecting to do so well, but I felt very happy and very satisfied that I came so far. I eventually learned that Mike beat Curtis, so I knew my last preliminary round was going to be a tough one.

Round 6 – Mike Lesky (ZekEels)

I’ve never actually spoken to Mike much before, even though the other guys in my league are very familiar with him. I’ve played him only once before during Cities when I beat his Magnezone list with Zekrom/Terrakion/Eels. But I knew he is a good player, one of the best players in the region and the favored contestant to win the tournament, so I had to be on top of my game.

To tell you the truth, my memory of this game is very hazy. I don’t know if it’s because my memory of this game is confused with my top cut game against Mike or if it’s simply because we both play Zekrom/Eels. I do remember that I had a faster set up and was able to get rid of his Eels before he could KO mine. Our lists were slightly different and I believe my Zapdos was able to take some cheap Tynamo KOs with Random Spark. The game played out like most ZekEels mirror matches with a very tense prize race and I was able to come out on top in the end.

Mike’s take on the game excerpted from his report:

I have a bad start, 2 tynamo are prized, and he goes first. I get 1 eel out and it is taken out very quickly, and I am stuck fighting with 2 zekrom black and white for a long time with no supporters. I manage to tie it up at 2-2 on prizes, but he tops a catcher to bring up my damaged mewtwo from earlier and win.


I was ecstatic. Not only did I just top cut for the very first time, I went undefeated in the preliminary rounds and got 1st seed in top cut?? I got a ton of congratulatory praise from my friends with several of them telling me to win out and nab 1st place. When I realized I had numerous, tougher matches ahead of me, I wished I had another banana.

I turned in my deck list and got my camera and tripod set up for the top cut matches. I asked some of the other guys for advice on how to play well in top cut and all I got was, “Don’t misplay.”

The Top Cut:

Here were the standings going into top cut:

1. Calvin Chang (Zekrom/Eels)
2. Mike Lesky (Zekrom/Eels)
3. Curtis Dietrich (Zekrom/Eels)
4. Emmanuel Divens (Celebi/Mewtwo/Terrakion/Smeargle)
5. Michael Slutsky (Terrakion/Landorus/Hippowdon)
6. Derrick Krenke (Zekrom/Eels)
7. Danyelle Simon (Durant)
8. Austin Abts (Celebi/Mewtwo/Tornadus)

Needless to say, Zekrom had a very strong presence. I was happy that Curtis made third seed. He and I, with some other guys, travel together to Pokémon tournaments so the $300 travel voucher would have been awesome. And with two of us in top cut, that increases our chance of getting a nicer hotel right?


Top 8 – Austin Abts (CMT)

I was pretty confident coming into this round since Austin, the same guy I played in preliminary round 5, didn’t take any prizes during our prior game. I was hoping for a repeat performance but he definitely performed a lot better this time around and we played the full three games. He mentioned that this was also his first tournament, so props to Austin for top cutting at his debut tournament! I also had the opportunity to record the match, so I’ll include a YouTube link to my channel, Project1stEdition, as well as a summary for each game. I’m also looking for any feedback on these videos – these will be the first on my channel and I strive to make better videos for everyone to watch. I wanted to add commentary but soon realized I was awful at it.

Game 1:

Editors Note: From here on out, we have some nice video footage of the matches.
I added them here for ease of use, but they’re rather tiny.
If you want to see them in all their glory, click the fullscreen button,
click where it says “YouTube”, or just go directly to the Project1stEdition videos.

Summary: He started first and opened with a Smeargle and Virizion. I had never seen Virizion played in CMT but I knew I had to be cautious of early-game pressure from Leaf Wallop, especially on my frail Tynamos. He’s able to KO a Tynamo and an Eelektrik with Virizion but luckily I picked up enough speed with Tornadus and Zekrom to take several prizes. At one point he miscalculates an X-ball, which cost him his prize lead. We go down to one prize each and I catcher around his active Mewtwo EX to take a cheap prize and win the game.


Game 2:
Summary: He elects to go first again and begins with an aggressive turn 1 Mewtwo against my Zekrom. My start was awful and only had access to Collectors for the first three turns – I intended to grab Cleffa with the first Collector to refresh my hand but it was prized.  He takes three prizes with Mewtwo before I was able to find a DCE and return KO his… which he KO’d the following turn. That’s how the Mewtwo war goes down, I suppose. Turn four (or five) and I still don’t have a single Eelektrik out, only a bunch of baby Tynamos. I eventually find an N when he had only a single prize left and he tops a Juniper. Austin catchers one of my benched Tynamos and takes his last prize.


Game 3:
Summary: I’m a little worried at this point but at least I got to go first. My start was solid and Austin started with two Celebi. He wasn’t able to get any other basics out for the first few turns but was able to Catcher my Eelektrik to stall for a turn. Toward the end of the game, it was my two prizes to his three and he had just KO’d my Zekrom with Mewtwo. I countered with my own Mewtwo taking the last two prizes and winning the match.


When I finished the match, I scrambled to take out the memory card from my video camera and transferred the video file to my laptop. The memory card is 4GB and barely holds 90 minutes of standard definition video (less than 30 minutes for HD). While I was on my laptop, I realized that I planned on being done much earlier in the day so that I could return home and work on some biochemistry and organic chemistry… Oops.

I learned that Curtis also won his top 8 match. We definitely had a shot at that voucher! We figured that I would be playing against either Emmanuel or Michael, depending on who won. This was rather disastrous for me as they both play heavy fighting. The week prior, I practiced with Michael and he rolled me during play testing. During the preliminary rounds of WI states, he and I were paired together and had one of THE best games I’ve played this season. It was close, but I ended up losing the game so I knew that being paired against Michael would put me at an extreme disadvantage. That’s not to say that Emmanuel is an easier route. Like Lesky, I haven’t spoken to Emmanuel much but I’ve gathered during my time in Pokémon that he is also a very good player and one of the best in Minnesota.

Oh, Curtis also mentioned that Top 4 finishers get a trophy and I decided that I would be 100% satisfied if Top 4 was the furthest I went that day.

Here are the standings for Top 4:

1. Calvin Chang (Zekrom/Eels)
2. Mike Lesky (Zekrom/Eels)
3. Curtis Dietrich (Zekrom/Eels)
4. Emmanuel Divens (Celebi/Mewtwo/Terrakion/Smeargle)

So I was to be paired with Emma while Curtis and Mike played the Zekrom/Eels mirror.

Top 4 – Emmanuel Divens (Celebi/Mewtwo/Smeargle/Terrakion)

Game 1:
Summary: The opening of this game was absolutely horrendous for me. I started a lone Cleffa and Emmanuel starts with two Smeargle. He starts first and Portraits – luckily he misses as I had no Supporters in my hand. Definitely dodged a bullet there. He also benched a Mr. Mime which was useful for both planning his own plays and making sure that he Portraits into my good Supporters. I eventually grab a piece of paper to write down what was in his hand but found that strategy was useless when he plays/Portraits shuffle/draw Supporters. I approached this strategy similar to the Mew decks I faced in Swiss where I withered down his Terrakions with Zapdos and Tornadus. Emmanuel was very good at getting rid of my Eels. I was able to get 3 prizes before he got 1 – apparently he wasn’t able to get a Fighting energy to attack with Terrakion. Towards the end of the game, he was able to get a Shaymin EX with Eviolite. He Portraits my own N forcing me to draw two cards. I had to get a PlusPower to KO his Shaymin. Luckily for me, I topped a Sage’s Training and was able to draw the cards I needed.


I asked for time here and apparently 30 minutes out of our one hour match was gone. I’m typically a speedy player – thanks to my background of playing speed chess when I was a kid. Was I playing slower because I wanted to be careful or is Emma naturally a slow player? I suppose that since I won the first game that time was in my favor.

Game 2:
Summary: This time he was better at getting rid of my Zekroms and Eels with Terrakion. I think I had one of my Zekroms prized during this game which made it difficult to dish out damage. I ended up only having a Tornadus and Zapdos left with no way to quickly charge a Zekrom. I Junk Armed for a Pokegear, trying to get into the Juniper and hoping I could respond to his active Mewtwo. Unfortunately I missed with Gear and his Mewtwo takes his last two prizes.


And then my camera dies. Note to self: charge video camera between rounds.

Game 3:

As game 3 started, I knew that we used up a lot of time. When we asked for it the judges only told us there were less than 20 minutes left but they called the 20 minute mark early into our 2nd game. Knowing that not much time is left, I approached with an early, aggressive Mewtwo. Time was called and I was able to take a prize on his Terrakion. I failed to notice that Emmanuel could Portrait the Collector in my hand to grab his Mewtwo to take the match and neglected to get rid of it with Junk Arm. He was able to get the Mewtwo and a DCE on his last turn and had to grab one of his two Switches in his deck. Luckily for me, he failed and I moved on to the final round.


Unfortunately, Curtis lost his match against Mike. Now it was up to me to win that travel voucher! Without any time to catch my breath, top 2 began right away.

Top 2 – Mike Lesky (ZekEels)

I wish I could paint you a beautiful picture of an epic exchange between Mike and I that lasted through all three rounds and was decided by fate on a single coin flip but, alas, I cannot. This match was much more lackluster than I hoped which is disappointing, especially since it was the final round.

Game 1:

I’m looking at my opening hand and I see a 40HP Tynamo, a Mewtwo EX and a Zekrom EX (which, by the way, was the very first time I played Zekrom EX ever in this deck). No Switch or Supporters, but I had the DCE. I decided that some early-game pressure would be a decent strategy. He started one basic and I was hoping that it was a Tynamo. I win the coin flip and he flips over a Mewtwo EX. Great.

So, instead of attaching the DCE, I attached a Lightning Energy. And with no Supporters, I had to pass. I believe I tried a Pokegear but missed.

Unlike me, Mike was able to get a great set-up. After taking three or four prizes, I realized I had no hope for a come-back and scooped to game 2.

Mike’s take on the game excerpted from his report:

Imagine that, another bad opening game. I eventually get a supporter and start to take prizes, and win a fairly one sided game after his zapdos goes down. 1-0


Game 2:

And then I ran into the same problem as I did in Game 1 – no Supporters. He was able to get a huge lead on me with Thundurus and Zekrom EX, knocking out my several of my Pokémon, including Zekrom EX. I remember being able to get 130 damage on his Zekrom EX with a PlusPower-enhanced Bolt Strike and, on the following turn, Catchering up an Eelektrik and sniping his Zekrom EX with Zapdos for two prizes. The turn after that involved me getting four or five energy on my own Mewtwo EX and then using Catcher to knock out his benched Mewtwo EX. By then, the prize count was one to one. He was able to get another Mewtwo set up with Collector and two Dynamotors and took game 2 and the match.

Mike’s take on the game excerpted from his report:

I get a damn good start, and his only defense is to catcher my eels which does stall a turn, but eventually I get ahead 3 or so prizes. He starts to make a come back and Ns me to two then kos my zekrom with Mewtwo Ex. My prize last turn was a gear, which netted me a collector to get mewtwo and win the game. I had a Juniper in hand as well with 3 mewtwo in a 20 card deck, so my odds were good.


I ended the day with a 2nd place finish which I was very happy about. Although I didn’t win out, which disappointed some people, I felt like the time I’ve spent playing this game has finally paid off. I walked out of Legion games with my new trophy, a booster box of Next Destinies (which I later pulled a Zekrom EX and Mewtwo EX – no full art, unfortunately) and a Pokémon hat.

Several of us, including Mike and the posse from La Crosse, went to a Chinese buffet after the tournament to celebrate and I enjoyed plenty of walnut shrimp and crab legs. Everyone chatted about everything and I showed Bradley “Pichu” Erickson how to use chopsticks. We decided to end the meal by telling “in bed” jokes with the fortunes inside the fortune cookie. I was elected to start, opened my fortune cookie and found no fortune. So, nothing in bed? Lame. But MN States was overall a great experience, I had fun, I was able to take some stuff home and I got to become friends with some very cool people.

As for advice, well, I won’t boast any wise insight because I frankly don’t have any words of wisdom to offer you. But here are some important things you can consider doing before your tournaments:

    1. Sleep – It seems like the consensus on sleep between Pokémon players is that “sleep is for the weak”. I was in that boat, thinking that staying up playing video games or testing for an upcoming tournament wouldn’t hinder my playing ability. Everyone’s different but I found that sleeping 8 hours prior to MN States helped me concentrate and not give up as quickly when things got grim was a lot better than sleeping 5 before WI States.
    2. Bananas – Eat them. Just do it. Unless you don’t get nervous at all before tournaments.

  • Music – If there’s one thing I learned in my Introduction to Neuroscience, it’s that music can have a huge impact on your thought processes. They say that appropriate music can help you get “in the zone” emotionally and mentally. Olympic athletes listen to pump up music before their events, so why can’t Pokémon players? I prefer some Lindsey Stirling hip-hop violin before the tournament as it is one part calming and one part pump up. I suggest you check her out, even if you’re not much for non-lyrical, instrumental music she does this really neat Legend of Zelda violin medley that many of us will appreciate: http://youtu.be/b3KUyPKbR7Q


  •  Regionals will be the same format as States – this is my only meta-related advice and it’s more of a “hey, in case you didn’t realize” reminder. We aren’t getting any new cards between now and then so keep practicing! And it’s coming up fast, so be prepared. The only advice I can offer regarding this is to test, test, test.
  • Watch Project1stEdition – this is for my own selfish agenda but I would be very thankful for all of you who do this. I know I said this before but I do need feedback to make better videos. Hopefully those of us at Legion will be able to become a reliable online resource that produces content frequently.


Until next time, OHKO!

Category: State Championships, Tourney Report | Tags: , , ,