Hello everyone, Grant Manley here with another article. Instead of writing about the usual rogue decks or metagame predictions, I am going to go into the nuances of each stage of the Premier Event series with tips on each of them. I will be discussing League Challenges, Cities, States, Regionals, Nationals, and Worlds. In other words, just about everything! Make sure to check out the section on Cities! They’re right around the corner, and you don’t want to miss out on advice to squeeze as many Championship Points out of these tournaments as you can. There’s a lot to these tournaments that players don’t really think about, and I’m going to show you a lot of these small things that can really put you ahead of other players.
These tournaments are somewhat different for each age division, though I will try to remain focused on the Master division; however, a lot of what I cover is still relevant for younger age divisions as well. I’ll try to include some tidbits of information for Seniors that I picked up during my years playing in that division. One thing to note is that I will be talking about these tournaments assuming they are American ones, as those are the only ones I have experience in. Most of what I say will be relevant for international tournaments as well, but Nationals and sometimes Regionals tend to be wildly different in every country. After talking strategy for each of these tournaments, I will also be taking a look at a few cards from BREAKthrough, which is the upcoming set that will be used for Cities.
Let’s start with League Challenges. These grassroot events are held almost everywhere all year long. It isn’t terribly difficult to win one of these tournaments unless you live in a very specific location known for a tough community. I don’t usually take League Challenges as seriously as I should, as they have a potential combined yield of 90 Championship Points (henceforth referred to as CP). Winning six of these is equivalent to the CP yield of second place at a State Championship, which is no small feat. League Challenges are odd because of how diverse they can be. You can have casual players win the whole thing with decks as silly as Camerupt-EX and Machamp-EX, and on the other hand see Jason Klaczynski go 1-3-1 or me go 0-3 drop with EeveeBox. Yeah, don’t ask.
While League Challenges are rightly viewed as the easiest tournaments, they are ironically the most unforgiving. This is because you almost always have to go X-0, occasionally X-0-1, and rarely X-1 to win. This means that one unplayable opening hand costs you the tournament. Jirachi-EX start? Too bad. Went second with lone Exeggcute against LaserBank? Sorry, you’re out. Any bit of bad luck costs you harshly. My point is that you need an ultra-consistent deck to minimize your “bad luck.” For the most part, any spare space in your deck should be dedicated towards consistency. Add another drawing Supporter or Pokemon-search card whenever you can. Matchup-specific techs are not desirable, especially if you have no clue whether you will run into the matchup in question.
Sometimes League Challenges are predictable, but I’ve found that most of the time they are not. You don’t want to play a deck that loses to anything even somewhat relevant. At a League Challenge right before Worlds this past year, I built a M Manectric-EX deck that was focused purely on consistency so that I would never dead draw. I ran a thick line of M Manectric-EX with only a single Mewtwo-EX and a single Articuno as backup. While this deck was consistent, I made a mistake in leaving it overly susceptible to Fighting-type decks while going into a completely unknown metagame. I ended up playing against two Landorus-EX / Garbodor decks and a Donphan / Trevenant deck. Oops.
This is why I have to discourage decks like Night March for League Challenges. Night March is a solid and consistent deck that rips apart some things, but if you face any of the numerous Crobat variants, you are done for. For the current Expanded format, decks such as Blastoise / Keldeo-EX and Yveltal-EX / Darkrai-EX / Seismitoad-EX seem like well-rounded plays for League Challenges.
Overall, powerful and consistent decks are great in League Challenges. You don’t want to struggle with random decks and you don’t want to lose because of an unlucky draw. Normally I dislike cookie-cutter meta decks with a passion, but for League Challenges I can make an exception.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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