The First Internationals — A Complete Look at What Happened in London

Hey again PokeBeach! I haven’t written for a while now, since Worlds, so that’s where I’ll start for this article. I played WaterBox (Seismitoad-EX / Manaphy-EX) in the main event, and ended up with a final record of 3-2-2, losing to an opposing WaterBox and Bronzong / Genesect-EX. The introduction of Steam Siege made the event much more interesting and harder to test for, which led me to the safe choice of WaterBox for the day.

Moving on from Worlds, the next big event for me was less Pokemon related; I got accepted into the University of York to study Computer Science! I’ve just finished my first term here, and so far it’s been a great experience. While being at University, I have been able to play some Pokemon TCG here and there, and took part in Liverpool Regionals a month ago. Liverpool Regionals was much larger than any previous UK Regional due to the new system, along with greater prizing. Due to this, Liverpool was attended by multiple European countries, making it similar to European Challenge Cups we had in the past.

Liverpool Regionals

For Liverpool,  my choice was based off both what had performed well at Orlando’s Regionals and the decks I’d tested recently. Yveltal-EX / Garbodor won the entire event, with Darkrai-EX variants also performing well. The single Volcanion-EX deck in Top 8 caught my eye the most, though. I had been testing Volcanion-EX builds a lot, and this proved that Volcanion builds had what it takes to get far in a large event. In the UK, Mew variants of Yveltal were slightly more popular than Garbodor builds; there was also some amount of hype for M Scizor-EX. Volcanion had shown reasonable matchups against most of the field, barring the obviously terrible Gyarados matchup, due to Volcanion-EX’s Weakness. Here is the list I played on the day.

Pokemon (11)

4x Volcanion-EX (STS #26)3x Volcanion (STS #25)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)1x Hoopa-EX (AOR #36)1x Flareon-EX (RC2 #RC28)

Trainers (37)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (FAC #105)2x Lysandre (FLF #104)1x Olympia (GEN #66)1x Fisherman (BKT #136)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)3x Max Elixir (BKP #102)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)2x Energy Retrieval (AOR #99)1x Fighting Fury Belt (BKP #99)1x Switch (KSS #38)1x Escape Rope (PRC #127)1x Super Rod (BKT #149)1x Professor's Letter (BKT #146)2x Sky Field (RSK #89)1x Parallel City (BKT #145)

Energy (12)

12x Fire Energy (RS #108)

A couple of cards I played are interesting and unique, so I’ll go through them now.

One Flareon-EX

Usually Volcanion-EX is a strong enough attacker to just play four copies and no other attacking Pokemon. However, Flareon-EX provides some extra utility in its Flash Fire Ability. Being able to move Fire Energy from Volcanion that have been used early on for Power Heater but wasn’t KOd is huge as acceleration. Damaged Volcanion-EX with any Energy attached can be transferred to a fresh Flareon-EX over a couple of turns. Finally, Flareon-EX’s Blaze Ball doesn’t have the downside of Volcanic Heat, making it much easier to consecutively attack each turn without having to find switching cards or a Pokémon Ranger. Blaze Ball also has no damage ceiling, meaning the more Fire Energy, the bigger the attack.

One Parallel City

Both sides of Parallel City are bad for a Volcanion-EX deck. Limiting the Bench to three isn’t perfect for a deck that wants as many Volcanion and Volcanion-EX on the field as possible, and reducing all attacks by 20 isn’t going to help much. However, after early testing I found that, if you couldn’t find a Sky Field early on, Parallel City can remove utility Pokemon that are clogging up the Bench. An average early-game Bench involves using Hoopa-EX to find a Shaymin-EX and two Volcanion-EX, and then another final Pokemon depending on what else you need in the early turns. Parallel City fits perfectly here, discarding the Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX used to setup. Sometimes it is correct to limit your opponent’s Bench to three in the early game, for example against decks that use their own Hoopa-EX.

Finally, Rainbow Road gained some traction recently, and later on in the game Parallel City paired with N can be game changing due to Rainbow Road’s need for a large Bench. I loved the inclusion of Parallel City in the deck, and wouldn’t consider changing it.

One Professor’s Letter / Two Energy Retrieval

Originally the list had three Energy Retrieval, but early on getting two Energy from the discard can be redundant since you simply haven’t got any Fire Energy in the discard. Even if you happen to have used Volcanion-EX‘s Steam Up twice, you want the Fire Energy in the discard for Volcanion‘s Power Heater. I tested with two, one and zero copies of Energy Retrieval, and decided to stick with two. This means you might occasionally get a copy early on, but usually have them left in the deck for late-game. With the empty slot I put in Professor's Letter. Since the deck plays four Trainers' Mail, this gives the deck more outs to Fire Energy in the early game, to make sure you can deal as much damage as possible through Steam Up and Power Heater.

Evolutions Changes

The only change I might make with the inclusion of Evolutions is a single Dragonite-EX. I would most likely remove Super Rod from the list, since both have a similar purpose. With the deck playing Sky Field, it’s possible to discard Shaymin-EX and then put it back into your hand, along with another Pokemon, such as a second Shaymin-EX or a discarded Volcanion-EX. The main benefits over Super Rod is that Dragonite-EX is searchable with Ultra Ball, and can also act as a niche attacker. Against Water focused decks, like Gyarados, Dragonite-EX’s lack of Water Weakness and Hyper Beam can give you an increased chance against the horrible matchup. This does require a full four Energy attachments, though!

On the day I found out that quite a few high-level UK players had opted to go for M Scizor-EX builds, which Volcanion stomps. The tournament structure adopted didn’t include a Top 32, which meant you needed 7-1-1 to get Top 8 and advance. This was my run.

6-2-1, 11th Place

I started off the tournament strong at 5-0-0, but unfortunately couldn’t keep up the steam as I dead drew twice and then tied against M Gardevoir-EX. My fate was sealed once I hit Gyarados in round eight, and without any sort of counter I got demolished. My resistance was strong though, meaning I was able to nab Top 16.

London Internationals

Once the concept of Internationals Championships were announced, I was ecstatic to play in the European tournament. The idea of what would essentially be a massive nationals with players from all over the globe is something that mirrors the World Championships, and this time it would be in my home country. Unfortunately for myself, Pokemon announced the date a week or so too late as I’d already made unchangeable plans for the ninth of December this year. I did, however, continue testing to see what I would play, could I have gone.


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