From the Dark to the Light: A Tale of Two League Cup

With the first League Cup session over, and more coming up, it is important to reflect on the decks that did well and what changes we will see in upcoming events.

Infinite Heroes Games – League Cup (December 31, 2016)

For the first League Cup in Idaho, I wanted to play Greninja but felt a lack of trust in its consistency. Because of this, I wanted to switch decks and do more research. I started by looking into the Intercontinentals in London. I realized that Yveltal was by far the most popular deck with Greninja and Volcanion being the next two. I was expecting a lot of the seniors to play Greninja so that was a must win for me. The more  I looked into results and matchups, the more I realized that Yveltal Garb was the best deck with the best chances of beating out any of the decks I expected. At 1 AM I made the call to play Yveltal Garb instead of Greninja. Even with it being countered I was confident in my ability to pilot the deck and find win conditions. (As a sidenote, I want to mention that if you are a newer player I would not recommend making last minute deck changes. While you might be getting cold feet the night before a large event, every last minute deck decision I made in my first year of playing blew up in my face.)

I will provide the list for reference. This list is three cards off of the list that Michael Pramawat used to win the Intercontinentals in London.

Pokemon – (11)

  • 2x Yveltal BKT
  • 3x Yveltal EX
  • 2x Garbodor
  • 2x Trubbish
  • 2x Shaymin EX

Supporters – (11)

  • 4x Professor Sycamore
  • 3x N
  • 2x Lysandre
  • 1x Pokemon Center Lady
  • 1x Delinquent

Items – (23)

  • 4x VS Seeker
  • 4x Ultra Ball
  • 4x Max Elixir
  • 3x Fighting Fury Belt
  • 3x Float Stone
  • 2x Trainers’ Mail
  • 1x Enhanced Hammer
  • 1x Super Rod
  • 1x Special Charge

Stadiums – (2)

  • 2x Parallel City

 

Energy – (13)

  • 9x Darkness
  • 4x Double Colorless

 

-1 Enhanced Hammer -1 Team Flare Grunt +2 Trainers’ Mail
I love best 2 out of 3 due to the ability to dead draw and still win the game. This tournament was best of one however. I did not want to lose a game due to dead draws.I wasn’t expecting to face a mirror match, and if I did I was confident in my ability to play around my weaknesses without those two cards.

-1 Escape Rope -1 Olympia
Without any switch cards this does make me even more vulnerable to the mirror match and Yveltal BKT. It would also be bad news if I started a Yveltal BKT because I would have no way to switch him out of the active spot. I chose to take this risk because I was ok starting any of my Pokemon if my opponent started a Yveltal BKT. If I started a Yveltal EX I would only let my opponent get off one Pitch Black Spear before I used Evil Ball to knock him out. If I started Shaymin EX I could Sky return into a Yveltal BKT to allow myself to knock out the active in two Pitch Black Spears. If I started Trubbish I could attach a Float Stone and then evolve into Garbodor to bring the Float Stone back into play. If I started a Yveltal BKT I would be ok if I went first, which would allow me to Pitch Black Spear first and take the first knockout. I also didn’t expect to play any mirror matches.

+1 Delinquent
The ability to discard your opponent’s hand and leave them in top deck mode is incredible. It is also very useful if I get Parallel City locked down to a bench of three. If I didn’t run it, I would be stuck with a bench of three for the whole game.

Now to get into the tournament.

Round 1 – Mega Rayquaza

I was very confident with this matchup going into it. I play Yveltal Maxie’s in expanded and I have playtested that matchup a ton. I was able to get Yveltal BKT into the active on my first turn forcing my opponent to waste a turn evolving. Once I saw he was playing Ninetales and Manaphy I knew he couldn’t be playing any switch cards. I knocked out his Manaphy and Lysandre up a Dragonite which allowed me to apply pressure to his benched Pokemon. Once he knocked out my Yveltal BKT I swept with Yveltal.

Win: 3 Points! (1-0-0)

Round 2 – Volcanion

Prior to this tournament, I had only played one game with Yveltal Garb. I had no idea how to play this matchup. This was one of the problems  I faced at League Cup, because it was best of one I couldn’t use the first match to feel out the game. Most of the time I play a deck I have no idea how to play half of the matchups. Thus I frequently lose match one and win match two and three. I went with my gut and tried to get a quick Yveltal BKT to apply pressure onto the bench. Once I learned that my opponent was playing the Starmie version I felt a bit better. I could use Garbodor to shut off my opponent’s abilities making the 2-2 Starmie line dead cards. By the time their Volcanion EX was attacking it had enough damage to be knocked out by a Yveltal EX. My opponent then Enhanced Hammered me and played N. When my turn came around, there was nothing I could do but Evil Ball and hope my opponent didn’t have the Pokemon Ranger. My opponent didn’t have the Ranger and from there it was an easy win.

Win: 6 Points! (2-0-0)

Round 3 – Mirror

As I mentioned before I was not expecting to play against any mirror matches. I was worried that my opponent was going to be able to use their energy denial to obtain the upper hand by setting me back. When the game began I decided to go aggressive with a Yveltal BKT and a Parallel City. My opponent then began powering up the benched Yveltal EX giving me the opportunity to weaken the Yveltal EX before it became a threat. While using Yveltal BKT is a risky move in the mirror, due to energy denial, I chose to go this route because I knew I could recover my DCEs with Special Charge. My opponent then knocked out my Yveltal BKT, however, their Yveltal EX was weak enough for me to knock it out in one Evil Ball. After that, my opponent couldn’t rebuild.

Win: 9 Points ! (3-0-0)

Round 4 – Greninja

My opponent and I Intentionally Drew (ID). Looking back I should have played this game out because all 3-1s were going to cut. If I won, there was a chance that we could play in top cut and I was very confident in my Greninja matchup. Even though I knew this, I was tired and needed a break before cut so I took the ID anyway.

Tie: 10 Points! (3-0-1)

Top 4 – Giratina Fairies

I had no idea how to play this matchup. Luckily I was back in my comfort zone with best 2 out of 3. In match one, I tried to attack with Yveltal BKT first and get cheap knock outs on Shaymins while building up a big Yveltal EX. At the beginning of the game, my opponent had to discard a ton of energies which allowed me to withstand a hit from a Xerneas Break in the late game. This paired with a key Lysandre allowed me to win the first game.

For match two I changed my approach to the matchup. Instead of first attacking with Yveltal BKT I wanted to build up a huge Yveltal EX to take quick knockouts before my opponent could get set up. However, I only hit 1 of my 4 Max Elixirs which cost me the game.

In match 3 my opponent and I started the game by dead drawing. I started to power up a Yveltal EX while my opponent only had Shaymin EX in play. I drew an N but chose not to play it even though I was dead drawing because my opponent was in a worst position then I was. I kept on Evil Balling my opponent and after 5 turns I had cleared their board.

Win! (W-L-W)

Finals! – Vespiquen Zebstrika Garbodor

Going into this matchup I thought, “Second Place isn’t bad.” In match one my opponent’s Zebstrikas were too much for me to deal with. I also thought it would be a good idea to attack with Yveltal BKT. However, in the first game, I quickly learned that I needed to use Yveltal EX to KO the Zebstrikas. Match one was quickly over.

In match two I tried to knockout my opponent’s Blitzes before they could evolve. This limited the number of Zebstrikas my opponent could use. Still, my opponent got out a Zebstrika and quickly knocked out my Yveltal EX. I sent out my second Yveltal EX played an N and knocked out the Zebstrika. My opponent drew for their turn and passed. A couple of turns later I had cleared my opponent’s board.

In the final match, things got crazy. In the early game, I went for the same strategy as the last game. My opponent got out Garbodor, but then forgot it was out. They filled up their bench with Unowns, Klefkis, and Shaymins. This lead to them not being able to play down a Blitzle. I used Yveltal BKT to bring a Klefki up into the active. This forced my opponent to retreat the Pokemon and send up a Garbodor. With three prizes left I Lysandre’d up the Klefki and used Pitch Black Spear to KO the already damaged Klefki and Shaymin EX for the game.

Win! (L-W-W)

After the tournament, this is what I would change about the list.

Pokemon – (11)

  • 1x Yveltal BKT
  • 4x Yveltal EX
  • 2x Garbodor
  • 2x Trubbish
  • 2x Shaymin EX

Supporters – (11)

  • 4x Professor Sycamore
  • 3x N
  • 2x Lysandre
  • 1x Pokemon Center Lady
  • 1x Delinquent

Items – (22)

  • 4x VS Seeker
  • 4x Ultra Ball
  • 4x Max Elixir
  • 3x Fighting Fury Belt
  • 3x Float Stone
  • 2x Trainers’ Mail
  • 1x Enhanced Hammer
  • 1x Super Rod
  • 0x Special Charge

Stadiums – (2)

  • 2x Parallel City

 

Energy – (14)

  • 10x Darkness
  • 4x Double Colorless

-1 Special Charge +1 Darkness Energy
I never used Special Charge to its fullest. One problem that I had with the deck is that I didn’t hit enough Max Elixirs. Having the tenth energy would improve the consistency of Max Elixir.

-1 Yveltal BKT +1 Yveltal EX
The only mega deck in my area was the Mega Rayquaza deck, which you don’t need two Yveltal BKT to beat. Four Yveltal EX would have helped out a ton when one of the three were prized.

Utah – League Cup (January 14, 2017)

For the second League Cup, this time in Utah, I decided to play Mega Mewtwo after Josh, the expert at picking decks last minute, told me to play it. There wasn’t much more thought that went into picking this deck besides tweaking it to make it more consistent. Here is the list.

Pokemon – (14)

  • 3x M Mewtwo EX
  • 3x Mewtwo EX
  • 1x Diancie EX
  • 2x Garbodor
  • 2x Trubbish
  • 2x Shaymin EX
  • 1x Hoopa EX

Supporters – (7)

  • 4x Professor Sycamore
  • 2x N
  • 1x Lysandre

Items – (25)

  • 4x VS Seeker
  • 4x Ultra Ball
  • 4x Trainers’ Mail
  • 4x Mewtwo Spirit Link
  • 3x Float Stone
  • 3x Mega Turbo
  • 2x Fairy Drop
  • 1x Super Rod

Stadiums – (2)

  • 2x Parallel City
  • 1x Fairy Garden

Energy – (13)

  • 9x Fairy
  • 4x Double Colorless

 

-Psychic Stuff +Fairy Stuff
I chose to run the fairy build because of its improve matchup over Yveltal, which I expected a lot of in Utah. I also felt that this build would give me an improved matchup against Giratina due to Diancie.

+1 Fairy Garden
The reason this card is in this deck is the same reason Delinquent was in Yveltal. To prevent you from getting Parallel City locked. While 2 Fairy Garden might have been nice, I found that the power of Parallel City was too good to cut down to one.

-1 Pokemon Center Lady -1 Lysandre -1 N -1 Mega Turbo +4 Trainers’ Mail
I ran 4 Trainers’ Mail because just like the last League Cup this was best two out of three, and I did not want to dead draw. Also, Mewtwo is a clunky deck, and the 4 Trainers’ Mail help speed up the deck.

When the tournament was going to start, I realize that there were only four seniors and six juniors. This meant that we were going to get paired in with the masters. I was a bit worried because if I were to play against some tough masters I could drop below second place. Now to get into the tournament.

Round 1 – Yveltal Garb

This game started with both of us dead drawing. However, I was able to apply more pressure with Mewtwo than he was with Yveltal BKT. I perfectly timed Fairy Drop and a lucky top draw allowed me to run away with this game.

Win: 3 Points! (1-0-0)

Round 2 –  Giratina Gardevoir PCR

Going into this game I knew I had to target down the Giratinas with Diancie if I didn’t get a Float Stone on Garbodor. Even if I did, I would want to power up Diancie in case my opponent knocked out my Garbodor. During the game, I learned that my opponent’s deck wasn’t meant to keep up with the pressure of Mega Mewtwo. My opponent only attacked with Gardevoir once and never could power up Giratina. The game was over once I Lysandre’d up my opponent’s Giratina and knocked it out with Diancie.

Win: 6 Points! (2-0-0)

Round 3 – Mega Rayquaza

I knew this matchup would come down to whether or not I could keep pace with Mega Ray. On turn two I knocked out his Mega Ray with my Mega Mewtwo. This forced him to Stardust one of my two DCEs away. I used the other DCE to retreat into a Mega Mewtwo with two Fairy energies. I used a Lysandre to pull up my opponent’s Hoopa EX while also playing down a Garbodor and a Parallel City. After two turns my opponent scooped the game. After this round, I learned that I am guaranteed at least second place.

Win: 9 Points! (3-0-0)

Round 4 – Yveltal Garbodor

This matchup is normally an ok matchup, however, I took me far too long to find my Mega Mewtwo, and every time I sent Diancie EX into the active spot to soak up damage my opponent had a Lysandre. I was too damaged to keep up and the game ended quickly.

Loss: 9 Points! (3-1-0)

Round 5 – Carbink Zygarde

Going into this matchup I had the same record as the other senior in competition for first place. I decided not to ID because I had a three-fourths chance of winning if I didn’t ID. If I did ID I had a fifty-fifty chance of winning. Both of our matchups were fifty-fifty so here is how.

If I play it out:

I win, he loses – I win
I win, he wins – I win
I lose, he loses – I win
I lose, he wins – he wins

If I ID

I tie, he loses – I win
I tie, he wins – I lose

I didn’t know that the other senior in competition for first place had tied his game but made it look like he was playing it out. When I was playing my match I went second and my opponent played down a Silent Lab turn 1. I had nothing besides an Ultra Ball for the draw, but I couldn’t use my Pokemon’s abilities. I had a Trainers’ Mail but got nothing off of it. On turn 2 he Delinquented away my hand and I dead drew for the rest of the game.

Loss: 6 Points! (3-2-0)

I ended up getting second place, but I still was awarded 40 Championship Points. Overall, I really liked Mewtwo as a deck. It was a bit clunkier than I would have liked, but I wouldn’t change any cards in my list. Some people might be wondering why I would play Mewtwo after Gardevoir did so well. In my mind, you can’t be afraid of one deck if you only expect to play it once. While Gardevoir did take four of the top 8 spots in Dallas, that doesn’t mean that 50% of the people were playing Gardevoir. I expected one or two people to be playing Gardevoir; the odds that I would play both of them are very low so I felt it was worth the risk to play Mewtwo.

At the end of this League Cup season, I have 235 points out of the 500 needed to be invited to Worlds. Hopefully, I can continue to play at the level I am playing at now; if I can, I am very confident in my ability to get my invite. If you have any advice on how I can improve my articles let me know.

-Harry

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