Wacky Worlds – Adventures from Boston, Plus a Look at Vileplume!

Hello PokeBeach readers! Hope you all had a fantastic time watching or participating in the World Championships! It was a great tournament full of a ton of exhilarating highs and a few unnervingly depressing lows. In today’s article, I’m going to be going over some of the crazy happenings that went down in Boston, including my tournament run, analyzing the top-performing decks, and the crazy adventure I went on to get to the event in the first place, as well a look at a new deck I’ve been tweaking recently centered around one of the most disruptive cards from Ancient Origins, Vileplume. But before we get to all that, I want to take this moment to shout out a few people who performed admirably at Worlds. First off, congratulations to the entire PokeBeach crew for an impressive showing overall. Many of us performed extremely well and we should all be proud to have been invited to the tournament.

Our boy is tuckered out

Special shoutout to Andrew Mahone for placing 9th overall with Night March. We had put a lot of hours into testing the deck, and while I do not mean to piggyback off his accomplishment, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride when he was being streamed as the feature match. Knowing how much work he and I put into the list, it was amazing to watch that effort manifest itself into an incredible run. Congrats on a fantastic performance and I can’t wait to see what is next.

Another acknowledgement must go to our very own Steve Guthrie. What an incredible achievement to say that you were one of, if not the first person, to play a deck and then see that deck rip through the competition on its way to being the best deck in the room at the World Championships. Kudos to you and your insight.

Threatening Signs

I want to take this time to address the gun threats that occurred at the World Championships. I am incredibly shocked by the actions of James Stumbo and Kevin Norton who made plenty of threats to a specific player and then backed up those threats by bringing firearms to the tournament site. While I personally didn’t know these two, I am still surprised that these two high level players would go to such lengths to sabotage a game that they enjoy playing. It is disgusting to think that innocent people, especially children, could get hurt from their harmful actions. While nothing ended up happening, it certainly scared me to know something easily could have. With the Trading Card Game growing to new heights, we must take into account the diverse population of people it attracts.

If this was a misguided joke, it was a sick one. If their threats were close to coming to fruition, they could’ve been horrific. While it is difficult to judge intent, they made numerous Facebook posts talking about killing and guns, made threats to individuals, then decided to drive up to Boston with said guns and plenty of ammo to do serious damage. If I can put my tinfoil hat on for one moment, I still believe that there are plenty of details we don’t know, the most glaring being the gap between when Stumbo and Norton were turned away from the convention center on Thursday to when they were finally arrested on Saturday. Regardless, I am grateful that authorities caught the two before they could deliver on their threats.

So, what does it mean for us? You can bet that Pokemon is not taking this situation lightly. We saw a quick response to the threats as an increased amount of security was initiated by Pokemon: bomb sniffing dogs, bag checks at the entrances, and an elevated level of police presence inside the convention center. I’ve heard that there could be heightened security at bigger events like Regionals or Nationals, which I would welcome. If there is a silver lining to this threat, it is that it raised awareness about potential mass violence by members of the Pokemon community. Overall, yes, the bag checks were annoying, and I’m very sorry if you missed the opening ceremony because of it, but those annoyances don’t compare to the loss of a human life. Pokemon reacted swiftly and appropriately and I hope to see a slight increase in security level in the future.

How I Got to Boston

I endured a highly curious and unusual journey on my way to Boston that characterizes the absurdities we will endure to play this amazing game. After missing my invitation to last year’s tournament by three points, I was determined to make my way to Boston no matter the cost. Below is the crazy story of how I got to this year’s World Championships.

I was so excited to leave for Worlds that I barely slept Wednesday night. My flight was scheduled to leave on Thursday at 6:30 AM and I had my bag packed full to bursting when I finally left for the airport. I had about four T-shirts, a pair of shorts, underwear and socks, as well as many cards as would reasonably fit in this little bag. Because I was flying Spirit Airlines, I made sure to keep my bag count at one carry-on to avoid extra baggage fees.

I took my local railway system to the airport. On the way to the airport, between casually switching from Facebook to PokeBeach forums, I got an email declaring that my flight had been delayed approximately two hours. “At least I’ll still get in at 11. Plenty of time.” It was at this point that I should have seen the red flags. Apparently there was inclement weather on the east coast that caused many of the major airports to shut down traffic. Uh oh.

I got to the airport where I was ecstatic to see people rushing by me with Chick-Fil-A bags in their grubby fingers. We don’t have Chick-Fil-A where I’m from so when there’s an opportunity to get some fried chicken sandwiches of such high quality, I always take that opportunity. After I finish eating, I casually check my four email addresses, and lo and behold, another email from my airline with a message: “Important – Flight Cancellation.” Weather had cancelled my flight.

I literally run to the Spirit counter as I know that the longer I wait, the less travel options I would have and the more people would arrive in line before me. As I stand in line for a customer service agent to decide my Worlds fate, I simply have to laugh. Would I ever compete in a World Championship?

I arrive at the counter and explain my situation to the agent. I needed to be there by 9:30, I explain. She says I have two options; take the next flight out of Cleveland tomorrow at 6:30 or get a refund. I shake my head. This cannot be happening. I ask her repeatedly if there is any way that she could transfer me onto another flight. It appeared as though there were a few airliners braving the weather that evening. Sadly, she tells me that she can only transfer me to tomorrow’s flight or issue a refund.

It’s at this moment that I take a step back. Since I have worked as a cashier and telemarketer, I fully understand how difficult it is to deal with angry customers and I vowed never to be the customer that blows up on the person who is just doing their job. I ask the agent if I can step aside and think about my options. Do I drive? Do I cancel my trip and just go home? I had no idea what my best option was.

I then overhear the woman next to me securing a flight the next morning from Detroit to Boston. When I find out that the flight landed at 8:58 the morning of the tournament, I realize this is my chance to make it to Worlds. “Can I get on this flight?” I ask the Spirit agent. She transfers me over to the flight from Detroit. I turn to the woman on my side of the desk and ask if she’d like some company on a road trip. Instantly, we were bound inseparably by time and space by this one flight cancellation.

Marisa was a new medical student at Cleveland State University in her late twenties. She was trying to get back to Boston for her last day of work. Apparently, her coworkers had planned on throwing her a huge going away party and she was going to do anything to eat some of the cake she was being treated to. She was instrumental to our trip – she coerced the Spirit agent into giving her a spot on the flight from Detroit. I couldn’t thank her enough for allowing me to tag along. I mean, how often do you meet a stranger at an airport and then let them hang around you for an entire day?

The two of us meet another fellow traveler trying desperately to get to Boston, Liz. Liz was doing everything she could to get to Boston to visit with a friend she hadn’t seen in a long time. Currently, Liz was working as a nurse in the Cleveland area. Riding with two women who had years of hospital experience gave me a ton of faith that we would get to Boston in one piece.

So, the three amigos left that night for Detroit at about 8:30. We talked the entire time about Pokemon, hospitals, and a myriad of other topics. Marisa was delighted to hear that I was traveling to Boston for the World Championships. She said her nephew would be stoked to hear about a real life Pokemon player. I explained my thoughts in the game, how difficult it is to be really good, and even said I might be writing an article that talked about my adventure! Of course, everyone you meet thinks you’re already a World Champion, and I tried not discourage her by telling her otherwise.

We finally make it to Detroit at 11. We decide to rent a hotel room to get a few winks of sleep before the plane ride the next day. In the lobby of the hotel, we anxiously wait for the receptionist to check us in as a man with seven teeth attempts to sell moonshine to a Russian man. “Ya evr had moonshine afore?” he asked. The Russian man couldn’t quite make out what he was saying and kept putting his hand up to his nose whenever the moonshine man got too close. I love Detroit.

We wake up at 5 and get a hearty but equally repulsive breakfast from McDonalds. We proceed to the boarding area. We say final goodbyes as we board the plane.

As soon as the plane lands I scamper off. Luckily for me, the plane landed about 10 minutes ahead of schedule which gave me approximately 40 minutes to find a way from the airport to the convention center. I call up an Uber and wait about five minutes of him to arrive. When it pulls up, I quickly get in and explain my situation. He scoffs at Pokemon, but otherwise is very comforting. He remarks, “we will get to the convention center in 15 minutes.”

The convention center approaches and I cannot believe my eyes. Just this morning I was in Detroit and now here I am, ready to participate in my first World Championships. I rush in to the convention center before being halted by security guards checking my bags. They unzip the bag and out falls four pairs of underwear. I sheepishly pick up my clothes as they tell me I’m not a terrorist and rush up the escalator. I bust in the door at 9:20 to the delight of a few friends waiting for me.

The Tournament

After arriving to the venue just in the nick of time, I had to get ready to play. I had my teammates fill out a Night March list for me so that I wouldn’t have to fuss with that considering how little time I predicted I’d have. I ended up being able to chill out a bit as the player meeting went a little longer than most people thought. I played a very standard Night March list, very few cards off from Andrew Mahone who would go on to capture 9th place!

Pokemon (19)

4x Joltik (PHF #26)

4x Pumpkaboo (PHF #44)

4x Lampent (PHF #42)

2x Mew-EX (LTR #RC24)

3x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

1x Jirachi-EX (PLB #60)

1x Virizion-EX (PLB #9)

Trainers (34)

3x Professor Juniper (PLF #116)

2x Lysandre (FLF #104)

1x N (NVI #92)

1x Colress (PLS #118)


4x VS Seeker (RSK #110)

4x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)

4x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)

4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)

2x Muscle Band (XY #121)

1x Silver Bangle (PLB #88)

1x Float Stone (PLF #99)

1x Switch (BS #95)

1x Revive (RSK #88)

1x Computer Search (BCR #137)


4x Dimension Valley (PHF #93)

Energy (7)

4x Double Colorless Energy (BS #96)

3x Grass Energy (BS #99)


This was a popular choice for both Day One and Day Two. The deck placed well, comprising one third of the top nine decks. It was a deck that was extremely consistent and really didn’t auto-lose to much, bar a turn one Trevenant. Andrew Mahone’s list ended up being two cards different – he took out my Jirachi-EX and Switch for a Xerosic and a Town Map. Andrew also played a fourth Professor Juniper, but I am unsure what he changed to include that card.

I felt that this deck would easily handle the main threats of M Manectric-EXBronzong, and Groudon-EX. Additionally, Andrew and I decided a few days before the tournament to add a Virizion-EX to flip the Seismitoad-EX matchup in our favor.

So, with all those matchups in mind, I was very confident in my deck choice. Let’s just say the matchups I had were not even close to what I expected.

I do just want to say that all my opponents were incredible. They deserved to be there and definitely came ready to play with unique twists and unusual decks. Unfortunately for me, I played against none of the decks I expected to face. For me, this was extremely disheartening. I put a ton of testing into my list only to see it fall to opponents who were playing decks that were equipped to take it down. There was no way I could have predicted having to face two RaichuLandorus-EXGarbodor decks on the day and not even see a single Seismitoad-EX-based deck. At the same time, my roommates were all doing extremely well with a TrevenantGengar-EX list that Sean Foisy eventually piloted to a top 8 finish.

I was actually surprised by the lack of foreigners that I played. All of my opponents were from the U.S. aside from my first round opponent, who didn’t actually show up to the tournament.

Day Two Thoughts

Here’s a list of the top 8 decks from Day Two:

Jacob made an amazing metagame call for the day. Just as I suspected with my World’s prediction article, the biggest decks at U.S. Nationals hardly ever make a solid showing at Worlds. Again in keeping with this trend, Seismitoad-EXGarbodor was virtually non-existent. This is probably the worst matchup for Jacob and his Blastoise deck, but he was able to navigate around that decks to finish as the best trainer on this day. He also knew that Night March would have a huge presence just due to its consistency. Because of this, Jacob included Articuno and Wailord-EX. In my testing of Archie’s Blastoise with Andrew Mahone, we just kind of found that the deck folded to the pressure of Night March. Wailord can help swing that matchup as it gives you an even trading behemoth that can even take out Shaymin-EX and Mew-EX before being Knocked Out.

Igor Costa cemented his place as one of the games elite players. He now has a first, second, and third place finish and is the second best Worlds competitor of all time just behind Jason Klaczynski, in my opinion. Another solid showing with a solid deck that gave him a ton of options against most of the format.

Two Night March decks made top 8 which was awesome to see. I figured Night March would be a major player on the day, but I didn’t know just how much. Initially, I had thought that Night March wouldn’t have been played as much due to an abysmal performance at U.S. Nationals, but it was a strong contender during both Day One and Day Two. Both Quittek and Janous focused their decks on speed, opting to play heavy counts of Acro Bike in place of techs like Virizion-EX or Mr. Mime. They kept it simple, and it obviously worked out amazingly.

I was really pulling for Sean Foisy to succeed. Not only do we usually room together, but he is one of the people that I regularly test with when big tournaments come up. He always has an unreal handle on the metagame and can usually theorymon a deck and go far in any tournament. This was the same case for both Day One and Day Two. He played essentially the same list both days, and it worked out extremely well for him. He also gave out his list to the other people staying in my room – of the four people that played this deck Day One, three made Day Two with the other starting 4-0-1 and losing his last two rounds. Point is, Sean is clearly a Pokemon genius just waiting for his big break. He always gets very close to the big prizes, and I know it hurt him to be so close once again. Still a fantastic performance by one of the communities longest playing competitors.

In the end, I was just ecstatic to be there. It was a fantastic tournament with people playing lists that seem so obvious in retrospect, but remind you why they’re the best players in the world. It was an unreal journey to make it to Boston, so just being able to play in the most prestigious tournament of the year and seeing friends succeed made the event special. Even though I didn’t perform as well as I wanted, I really felt like I didn’t hit the right matchups. That happens to everybody, so now it’s time to look on to next season! Next, I’m going to explain a rogue variant of Vileplume that I’m really liking right now. With this new format right on the horizon, there’s a lot of unique ideas to explore, and this Vileplume deck is certainly both unique and scary to face.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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