NAIC Tournament Report and Early Thoughts for World’s Testing
Fresh out of NAIC, I am back with my tournament report and post-meta analysis as well as some cards I am excited to test out for the World Championships! I’ll be covering my matches from the weekend, the deck I chose, why I think the day 2 meta looked the way it did, and what to look into for World’s testing.
NAIC Tournament Report
As I made very clear in my Flipside Gaming Articles, on my Youtube channel, and on The Slowpoke Well podcast, I was 99.9% playing Zororoc for NAIC. I tested the deck 20+ hours a week in the weeks leading up to the tournament (probably closer to 40-50 in the last week before NAIC) and I felt it had the strongest matchup spread against the expected day 1 meta. Going into the tournament I knew that points were going down to top 256, so that’s what I needed to place at the very minimum to receive my world’s invite. Also for anyone wondering, my day 1 swiss was playing in the Orange pod and here is what I played.
I did not want to see a name I recognized round 1... and look at that! I went second game 1. I started Zorua active and Rockruff on the bench. My only turn 1 supporter was Cynthia and I never played a Brigette this game. I got off to an ok start for not having Brigette. I was claw slashing for 130 damage by turn 3. It was a very grindy game. I had a well-timed Acerola to make it that Christian could not one-shot my Lycanroc with a baby Buzzwole when I went to 4 prizes. I believe I KO’d 5 one prize Pokemon and Christian scooped at 1 to 2 prizes in my favor because his board was something like Diancie Prism, Octillery, Lele-GX. He told me after the game that a Super Rod was prized so he wasn’t able to get back his baby Buzzwole’s. He had to Sycamore one away early because I had his bench limited to three with Parallel City and he had to draw cards to stay in the game. I believe Game 1 he was at least ⅔ or 2/4 for his Max Elixirs. Although he played well and never really missed a turn of progressing the game until the last couple turns, I was able to wade through his one-prize attackers with Lycanroc-GX I hit 0 heads on Timer Ball flips.
Christian went first game 2 and ended his turn with a baby Buzz active and a Rockruff on the bench with one energy. I prized 1 Rockruff this game which could potentially be a problem, but it could definitely be worse. This game is less clear in my memory, but I do remember that I was able to go with my general game plan of hunting down Rockruff’s and Octillery’s whenever possible. Christian whiffed 1 or 2 early Max Elixirs this game but did end up hitting at least 1 in a turn shortly after. This game ended a bit quicker than the first did as I ran him out of attackers a bit quicker due to keeping his draw engine Octillery off of the board and N-ing his hands away.
Round 2 Vs. Justin Hendershot playing Buzzroc 1-0
Once again, I am going second. The early game went according to plan. Claw Slash his Baby Buzz’s and kill Octillery and Rockruffs when able to. On the turn when I was at 4 prizes and he could attack with a buffed sledgehammer from baby Buzz, he also benched a Buzz-GX and beast ringed to it. My Mew-EX was originally prized, but I drew it off of my 2nd prize I took. I OHKO’d his benched Buzzwole-GX with my Mew-EX, and on the following turn I Ko’d his baby buzz. He scooped at either 1-2 prizes or 1-3 prizes in my favor. The turning point of this game was when he benched a Buzzwole-GX and dedicated energy to it, allowing me to go from 4 prizes to 2. Game 2 I got off to a rocky start and going second. I did not get to play Brigette and used a Mallow turn 1 to set up for the following turn. I felt like I was 2 turns behind him the entire game. There was a crucial turn where I needed 1 heads off of a Timer Ball to get a Lycanroc-GX to go from 5 to 3 prizes. I hit double tails and had a board of Zoruas and Rockruffs. I scooped shortly after. Game 3 I went first but this was another game without turn 1 Brigette. I was able to make it a close game, but I was never able to have more than 1 Zoroark-GX on the board at a time, which hindered my ability to draw cards and ultimately caused me to lose game 3.
I go first here. My opponent starts Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX. I assume I am playing against either Dusk Mane Garb or Dusk Mane Magnezone. I Brigette, attach strong to Rockruff pass. He Brigettes for 2 Cosmog and Solgaleo Prism. At this point I read Cosmog, remind myself of what it evolves into, and try to wrap my head around what I am playing against. Of course this is an off-meta deck so I normally wouldn’t be too worried, but Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX can one-shot anything and Solgaleo-GX has 250 HP. Turn 2 I bloodthirsty eyes a Cosmog and knock it out. He gets turn 2 Rare Candy Solgaleo-GX and uses Sol Burst GX to attach two more metal energy to the active Solgaleo and 3 metal energy to the benched Dusk Mane. I Guzma the Dusk Mane and use Dangerous Rogue-GX to kill it. 3 prizes to 6 so it is looking good but I still have to deal with a 250 HP monster. He KO’s my Lycanroc-GX with Sunsteel Strike. The following turn I swing into the Solgaleo with Zoroark-GX for 120 damage. He uses Solgaleo Prism to set Solgaleo-GX back up. I Bloodthirsty Eyes the Solgaleo and knock it out with a banded Tapu Lele-GX. He KO’s my Tapu Lele-GX with a Belted Solgaleo Prism’s Corona Strike. We are at 2-1 prizes in my favor. I have to KO this Solgaleo Prism or I lose. I send up a Tapu Lele-GX with no energy, attach DCE, Multi Switch another DCE to it, blower the belt, Professor Kukui and Energy Drive for exactly 160 damage. Keep in mind that I hadn’t used any puzzles, my deck was thin, and I had two Zoroark-GX on the board so this wasn’t too hard to do. Game 2 went similarly. He got turn 1 Brigette, turn 2 Candy Sol Burst. This time he spread his energy out more and was able to get ahead on prizes. We were at 3 prizes to 2 in his favor. I had a Lycanroc-GX with 2 Strong on it and I had used my GX for the game. I attached a Strong Energy to it making 3 Strongs, left it on the bench, and passed with a Zorua active. I made the assumption that since he had 3 Guzma in his discard and he was playing a Stage 2 deck with a lot of energy in it, there was reason to believe he did not have a 4th Guzma. I pass, a Guzma hits the table, I scoop up and say I’ll be going first. Game 3 Isaiah drew very poorly and had just a Tapu Lele-GX for 3 turns and I won. Isaiah told me that this was his first year playing in official tournaments after collecting for a long time and I was very impressed by the way he piloted this off meta deck. Super nice opponent and we had 2 nail-biting games.
Round 4 Vs. Tim Patton playing Zoroark/Lucario 2-1
My opponent went first and played Cynthia. I had a Mew-EX start and my only supporter was Mallow. I Mallow’d a Brigette to the top of my deck and then waited through the next 5 minutes while my opponent played a Cynthia and a trade or two and tried to get the donk on my lone Mew. Luckily, he did not. I Brigette’d and got going. In addition to my slow start, I also prized 2 Zorua and 1 Rockruff. He missed Strong energy next turn and rightfully did not evolve his Riolus, so I took them down one by one and then swept through his Zoroark-GXs with Lycanroc-GX. Game 2 was textbook. I got turn 1 Brigette and starting killing everything with Lycanroc-GX.
Round 5 Vs. Brandon Nguyen playing Zoropod 3-1
My opponent was playing Zoropod with 2 Enhanced Hammer, 2 Counter Catcher, and 2 Parallel City. Luckily I tested against double Enhanced Hammer a lot as I felt it was the best way to play the deck. Game 1 I went first and was able to take early control. Brandon had 2 Zorua and 2 Wimpod going into my second turn, so I chose to chase down his Zoruas and limit his draw power. I did just this and the Golisopods proved to be easy to take care of once I had him drawing much less than I was in the mid game. I took this game fairly convincingly. Game 2 I had a good start but he Guzma’d every Rockruff that hit the bench. As I had prized one this game this was an issue. I attacked for chip damage with Zoroark-GXs and Tapu Lele-GXs and played the resource game after he had to drop an early double Puzzle of Time to retrieve an Acerola he discarded turn 1. Eventually, in the mid to late game, I took a Rockruff off of the prizes and Double Puzzle'd for another and something else. Benched both Rockruffs and attached a DCE to a benched Zoroark-GX while a healthy Zoroark-GX active already had a DCE. I put myself in a position where I was almost guaranteed a multi switch/Lycanroc-GX/Strong Energy play next turn because Brandon’s limited resources likely wouldn’t allow him to use his last puzzles for double Enhanced Hammer and have enough Guzma’s/Acerola/DCE to finish out the game. This ended up going like I thought it would and I was finally able to get a Lycanroc-GX that then took 4 prizes to win the game. Game 2 was really close and Brandon was a great opponent.
Round 6 Vs. Zachary Bohkari playing Buzz/Garb 4-1
If you somehow don’t know who Zach is, he won worlds in Seniors last year. He’s also a player I play against at least once a quarter at local League Cups. This was probably the most comfortable match I had since we are used to playing each other and I know I don’t have to worry about him playing to pace. Game 1 I prize Mew-EX so that is fairly rough for me. The early game is in his favor like it normally is in this match, but I get an N and N him to 4 while his Garbotoxin is locking us both. He dead draws for a bit like Buzz/Garb does and this allows me to take a slight lead. There are a few turns where he hits me with a jet punch and I hit him with a weak energy drive, and we have a super grindy mid game. I make a misplay and send up a Lycanroc-GX after my active Lele-GX is KO’d. I thought my Claw Slash would KO his active Buzzwole-GX, but I forgot to account for Fighting Fury Belt and Claw Slash would leave it with 10 HP and he would be able to return kill my Lycanroc-GX. I retreat the Lycanroc-GX to a one-prizer and leave it active. The game goes on for a few more turns and Zach ends up taking a very close game 1. Sending up the Lycanroc-GX didn’t stop me from KO-ing the Buzzwole, but it did waste the DCE I used to retreat. I’m not sure if this would have changed the outcome of the game, but it was a misplay nonetheless. Game 2 was a little different as I was able to KO his Garbotoxin turn 3 and he was not able to immediately set a new one up. The game was not over at that point, but I felt I was always slightly ahead from that point on. Game 3 was super grindy like Game 1. If you’ve ever played this matchup, you know that you have to try to save field blowers for the Garbotoxin tool until just the right moment which causes you to have a lot of underwhelming turns as the Zororoc player. The endgame was Zach with Lele-GX, Lele-GX, baby Buzz, Trubbish. I killed the baby buzz and went down to 2 prizes. He promotes Trubbish pass. On my turn time is called. I have two turns to KO a tapu lele-GX for game. I attach Strong Energy to Lycanroc, Guzma Lele-GX, claw slash 130. He retreats the lele and passes. I use my one trade to try to hit double puzzle for a Guzma, and I hit 1 Puzzle. I pass to him, he ends his turn and the game ends as a tie.
Nick was a super cool opponent. We had 2 really great games, but I was always a step ahead as Volcanion is fairly linear and Zororoc can take proactive actions on a deck like Volcanion that needs to set up.
Round 8 Vs. Heddi Brahmi playing Psychic Malamar 5-1-1
Game 1 I go second and I Brigette Zorua, Zorua, Rockruff. My hand is dead aside from a Timer Ball. Heddi plays down a Parallel City on his second turn. Turn 2 I top deck Tapu Lele-GX but cannot play it due to Parallel. I play Timer Ball and get double tails. I never recover from this and Heddi sets up very well and runs through me. Game 2 goes exactly as the matchup should, I brigette turn 1, and start drawing a lot of cards on turn 2 and hunt down his Inkays. He scoops a few turns later. Game 3 I start Lele-GX and I Mallow Brigette to the top of my deck. He doesn’t donk me, and I attempt to get set up. I grind through this game and somehow get to a point where I play N to put Heddi down to 1 card in hand and I take 2 prizes going down to 4. Two turns later I Guzma his Necrozma-GX and knock it out, and he responds by playing rescue stretcher for the Necrozma-GX, triple psychic recharge, Guzma to KO my benched Tapu Lele-GX. Heddi was a really great player and I wish we could have had a closer set.
Round 9 Vs. Michael Schaefer playing Buzz/Garb 5-2-1
Neither of our games are quite as grindy as my games against Zachary were, but they are still close until the end game. Early game 1 he locks me and starts Jet Punching. Once I blower the Garbotoxin I run through his board with Lycanroc-GX. Game 2 is really close but I am able to take a KO on his active Buzzwole-GX with a Dangerous Rogue-GX and go to 3-3 prizes. He has a small hand and is not able to Beast Ring. He Nest Balls and I then realize that because I have a Parallel City out, Nest Ball is not a legal play. So, I have to take two less prizes due to the prize penalty for my opponent illegally searching his deck. Even without this prize penalty, I was confident in winning in two turns due to Strong Energy, Choice Band, and N being in my hand to reduce his hand size to one if he somehow KO’d my active Lycanroc-GX and swing with a new Lycanroc-GX.
So I finished 6-2-1 and received 100 CP which puts me at 447/400, which means I will be playing at the 2018 Pokemon TCG World Championships! I think that Zororoc was the best pick for the tournament aside from Tord Reklev’s Zoroark-GX Control deck that took 2nd place. Team Carta Magica who had some of the top Buzzroc placements recently, played Zoropod, which I think is a large reason for Zoropod having success in Day 2 over Buzzroc. I expected Zororoc, Zoropod, and Buzzroc to all perform very well. I expected 1 or 2 very good players to take Zoro/Garb to day 2, but honestly did not expect the Zoroark-GX variant to take the whole tournament. I was a bit surprised to see Psychic Malamar in top 4, but the deck does consistently do the same thing most games and that is very important in such a long tournament.
Here are some bulleted thoughts I have for the World Championships BKT-CET meta. Note that I have done minimal actual testing at this time and I will be putting out much more content for World’s decks as it gets closer.
- Rayquaza-GX is going to be the main new archetype that comes from Celestial Storm, like Malamar decks were from Forbidden Light, Buzzwole decks were from Crimson Invasion, etc. So far Rayquaza-GX is very fast and consistent, but extremely linear. I imagine it is going to be easy to counter with ability lock and fairy attackers.
- Trashalanche is very strong again. The new Zoroark Control variant plays 24 items (according to Tord Reklev’s NAIC list) and Rayquaza-GX variants dump items like Max Elixir, Ultra Ball, Mysterious Treasure, and Acro Bike into the discard often and early.
- Forbidden Shrine (Commandment Shrine in Japan) is a stadium that will likely inspire damage spread strategies to be used.
- We are FINALLY receiving the psychic type Tapu Lele non-GX. I think this has potential in a Necrozma-GX Garbodor archetype.
- In testing, Buzzroc is better against Rayquaza-GX with 2 Buzzwole-GX 3 Baby Buzz as opposed to 1 Buzzwole-GX 4 Baby Buzz.
Like I said, I will have much more insight to World’s format as we get closer, but these are the thoughts and theories that I have as of now.
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