Marching to a New Format — A Top 16 Worlds Report and an Early Look at the New Standard Format

Hey there Beach-goers! I am finally settled into school almost a week after returning from the World Championships and I’m very excited to be back writing for you all again. I was fortunate to be the highest placing PokeBeach writer at the World Championships, playing all the way through the day one grinder to a 6-2 record and 15th place on day two. I have plenty of Primal Clash-on content for everyone planned, but before I get into that, I’d briefly like to detail how my World Championship run went. Since Worlds took place in a format that will never be used again, I won’t go into too much detail about every round as it just is not very helpful for most readers. However, I will try to highlight important plays (or misplays) I made to highlight some things that the average player might be able to improve on.

For both day one and day two, I played the same 60 card Night March list. I used the same Night March list I published in my previous article; I truly believe this was the best Night March list at the World Championships, and I am really disappointed I was not able to pilot it further. If you’d like to see the list I am talking about, check out my previous article here. When I got to Worlds, I got in around 15 games with Dean Nezam, Mike Diaz, Mees Brenninkmeijer, Brit Pybas and Chase Moloney, all of whom are among the best players in the world currently. I believe I lost maybe four games total against them all (they were playing Water Box, Night March, and Trevenant), so instead of messing with my list that was allowing me to beat incredible players, I kept my list the same. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

My World Championship Run

Day One

Round 1: Shinichi Kato (JP)

My first match ever at the World Championships was actually played on one of the backup stream setups, so I was quite nervous, and I think my play reflected that. It did not help that my opponent was playing an anti Night March deck: Seismitoad-EX, Mew, Yveltal, and Zoroark with multiple copies of Enhanced Hammer and Team Flare Grunt. I do not believe this deck is good at all besides completely smashing Night March. That’s basically what happened over two games and there’s not much else of substance to talk about in this round.

LL (0-1)

Round 2: Jeremiah Williams (U.S.)

Jeremiah is a somewhat local player of mine, so it was unfortunate to have to play him early on at Worlds, especially since it meant the loser of our game almost certainly would not make day two (or so I thought). Jeremiah was playing a Metal deck with Seismitoad-EX, which I think is a favorable matchup for Night March if it can string multiple Hex Maniac together. Game one, I am unable to do so, and Jeremiah wins a quick game. Game two, I execute my strategy, and steamroll Jeremiah. Game three starts out the same way, but I run out of steam mid game and Jeremiah makes a comeback. Time gets called, and I’m left in a situation of being N‘d down to two cards with about a 15 card deck. I have one Double Colorless Energy left, as well as a Teammates, and a Shaymin-EX in hand. If I hit the Energy, I can Knock Out his Active Seismitoad-EX and win, but if I whiff, Jeremiah will have taken out my last Night Marcher, leaving me with no chance of winning if the game played out. I played my Shaymin-EX and whiffed any Energy out. Jeremiah was able to take out my last Night Marcher and I scooped.

LWL (0-2)

I was really bummed at this point. Starting off 0-2 at my first World Championship was not something I expected nor wanted to happen. At this point, I told myself I was playing with borrowed time and any wins I am able to achieve before being eliminated from day two contention were just an added bonus. I had nothing to lose and headed off to the second to last table to play my third round.

Round 3: Marcos Garcia (U.S.)

After Marcos took second place at U.S Nationals with Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX, I assumed he would be playing the same deck at Worlds, and immediately thought my Worlds run was over. However, Marcos flipped over a Joltik, and I was instantly relieved. I knew the Night March mirror very well, and my deck list was teched extremely hard for the mirror, so I won this series very easily.

WW (1-2)

Round 4: Junichi Kakinoki (JP)

I met Junichi at Worlds 2014 in Washington DC, so it was very cool to be able to play a foreign player I knew. He was playing the Volcanion / Volcanion-EX deck that many Japanese players took to Worlds. Right before the round, I was talking about the deck with some of my friends, so I luckily knew a little bit about the deck and was not going in to the matchup completely blind. Game one, I went second and Captivating Poké Puffed down a Shaymin-EX from his hand and left him with a lone Pyroar, so I was able to steamroll him as he drew passed. Game two he got set up way quicker than me and won. Game three I set up quicker than him and hit my Hex Maniac on his Pyroar when needed.

WLW (2-2)

Round 5: Ruben Cisca (U.S.)

Ruben was playing Night March with Pokemon Catcher and Target Whistle, but not Captivating Poké Puff, so I had a big advantage from the start. Nothing too exciting happened in this series that I can remember, just my list operating how it should and winning the mirror handedly, which I was able to do.

WW (3-2)

Round 6: Arthur Victor (BR)

Arthur was a really cool guy that I met this year at Worlds. Unfortunately for him, I have never run hotter with Night March than I did against him in our two games. He played Metal and went first game one and opened an Aegislash-EX. On turn one, I was able to Hex Maniac and hit a Night March for the Knock Out; I won in four turns. Game two, he opened one Pokemon-EX and a Bronzor. I went second again and Escape Roped his only Bronzor to the Active and Night Marched for 140. He had absolutely no set up after this and I won shortly after. I felt absolutely terrible for sacking Arthur so badly, but that’s part of what makes Night March such an amazing deck. I just prayed that my hot streak would continue for two more rounds.

WW (4-2)

Round 7: Emanuel Diogo (AR)

I was super bummed to have to play Emanuel. I’ve known Emanuel since 2014 when he visited New York City for about two weeks prior to that year’s Worlds, and he’s become a close international friend of mine. Before the tournament even started, we both looked at each other’s deck lists and critiqued them one last time before our lists were due, so I knew he was playing Yveltal / Zoroark with Shaymin-EX, a matchup I knew how to play very well. Game one I choose to go second and am able to win the Prize-trade due to this and also using Captivating Poké Puff to bring a Shaymin-EX down onto the Bench. Game two, Emanuel adjusts and chooses to go second, but I’m still able to win the Prize-trade by using Target Whistle on an Yveltal-EX and him not drawing well after I Captivating Poke Puff down a Shaymin-EX out of his hand.

WW (5-2)

Round 8: Martin Roman (U.S.)

Martin was one of the few players from Puerto Rico to earn an invite, so I thought it was very cool that Puerto Rico’s organized play has blossomed so much since I have begun playing. Unfortunately for him, I was looking to keep him, and Puerto Rico, out of day two. Martin was playing Night March / Vespiquen with Captivating Poké Puff, but no Pokemon Catcher. Unfortunately, I don’t remember too much from this series besides my final turn of game two. I had a Puzzle of Time in hand with one Double Colorless Energy prized, two Prizes remaining (the other being Teammates), one Double Colorless Energy in hand, and one Puzzle of Time left in a two card deck. For some reason, I was so focused on killing his Shaymin-EX for my last two Prizes at once, and chose to pass and not take a Prize, which would have also won me the game (barring an N). Instead, I chose to pass. This gave my opponent the chance to set up a game winning play for next turn, unless I hit the 50 / 50 shot of my last Puzzle of Time as my top deck. Luckily, I hit it and was able to Puzzle of Time for my Lysandre and kill his Shaymin-EX, but it is always important to look back at your games critically and see where you can improve. Although I was lucky enough to take the win in that game, my subpar play was absolutely not deserving of a win in that game and for that I apologize.

WW (6-2)

Immediately after I won, my close friend Kenny Wisdom gave me a bear hug as I was sitting in my chair, which made me feel overjoyed. After starting off the day 0-2 and expecting to be knocked out every following round, I was dumbfounded that I was actually able to make the six match win streak happen. It was a little bittersweet though, as my only other friend to make day two was Brit Pybas. We went out for a victory dinner with Aaron Tarbell and Jacob Van Wagner after the tournament had ended, and then made our way back to Brit’s hotel room. I played a few games versus Mees and Brit’s Water Box list after putting in a Galvantula to see whether it made the matchup better. After two games, it was pretty obvious that I either was using Galvantula wrong, the card did not fit my playstyle with Night March, the card was just bad, or some combination of the above, and I returned to my original list I had been playing for weeks. I headed off to bed after that and prepared for the next day.

Day Two

Round 1: Brent Tonisson (AU)

I had heard of Brent, as he had did well at last year’s World Championships in the Senior Division, so I knew I was already in for a tough match from round one. However, I am never intimidated playing against good players; I live for matches where I can take down a well known competitor. I think it makes me a better player having this mindset, so I highly advise you to try to take it up if you don’t think the same way! Round one begins and I learn quickly he is playing a Dark deck. I don’t remember too much from this matchup, but I do remember Brent becoming visibly more frustrated every time I hit whatever combination of cards I needed each turn. It was a close three game series, but I was able to come out on top.

WLW (1-0)

Round 2: Ryo Yamamoto (JP)

After playing two Japanese players with wacky decks day one, I had absolutely no clue what to expect going into this matchup. He opened up Joltik however, so I instantly became more relaxed knowing this is one of my better matchups. He actually played Galvantula as well as Shrine of Memories, so I did my best to take caution and not bench only Pumpkaboo and Mew if I could help it. Game one was extremely close, until I played my hand down to four cards and he was able to Captivating Poké Puff my Shaymin-EX down and Delinquent away the rest of my hand. I had no clue he played either of those cards, so props to my opponent for outplaying me extremely hard here. Game two I go second and get a turn one kill on a Shaymin-EX, and am able to win quickly from here. Unfortunately, game three I drew passed; my hot streak with the deck finally wore off!

LWL (1-1)

Round 3: Takahiko Kurashima (JP)

These games were extremely quick. Takahiko was playing Trevenant, and game one opened lone Phantump: I donked him on my first turn. Game two he goes first and gets the turn one Trevenant, but I am still able to set up well under Item-lock. Eventually, after many turns of Sky Return looping, I get his board down to a lone Trevenant. I have a 15 card hand with game in hand, just waiting to top deck the Hex Maniac to allow me to play my Items. I finally top deck it and am able to double Puzzle of Time for Escape Rope and a Night Marcher, play it down, attach Double Colorless Energy, Escape Rope my Night Marcher Active, and Battle Compressor away the rest of my Night Marchers to take a Knock Out on his Trevenant BREAK.

WW (2-1)

Round 4: Brandon Flowers (U.S.)

Brandon also had a remarkable run at the World Championships, finishing 12th. Congratulations Brandon for doing so well! Brandon had been playing Vespiquen / Vileplume the entire year, so I assumed that he would be playing the same thing. I was right. Brandon wins the flip and gets the turn one Item-lock game one, while I draw pass for two turns. Game two I go first and am able to get a strong turn one, while chaining Hex Maniac. Brandon is never able to set up and I win a quick game. Unfortunately, I start with absolutely nothing again in game three, and am unable to top deck out of it before he is able to kill me. While I am extremely confident in this matchup for Night March, that’s just sometimes how the cookie crumbles against this deck. I was pretty bummed to be knocked out of Top 8 contention, but I still knew there were thousands of dollars on the line, so I wanted to finish strong and take home some cash and make my Worlds trip worthwhile.

LWL (2-2)

Round 5: Joey Ho (SG)

Before the round, I was able to find out from friends that Joey was playing Seismitoad-EX / Jolteon-EX / Crawdaunt with heavy Energy-removal. I assumed based on my conversations with Carter Copeland (a U.S. player who was able to make day two with the same deck) that this deck absolutely demolished Night March, so I was hoping for the best this round. Game one he goes first, and I have an absolutely nuts hand of two Lampent, two Pumpkaboo, Battle Compressor, Ultra Ball, and Mew as my starter. As long as he didn’t hit the Silent Lab, I was going to have an absurdly good turn one, and probably kill whatever he put Active. Unfortunately, he hit the Silent Lab. My godly hand suddenly became useless, and I draw pass for a few turns before losing. Game two I choose to go first, and am able to get a very strong turn one with a Pokémon Ranger in hand for the following turn. I take three quick Knock Outs and win game two comfortably. Game three went very similarly to game two, as I was able to get a really strong start and just overwhelm Joey. I felt really fortunate to win what I perceived to be a bad matchup, and I prayed to not have to play that matchup again.

LWW (3-2)

Round 6: Jonas Xavier (ID)

I honestly do not remember anything from this match. It was a Night March mirror that I won 2-0, but other than that, I can’t remember anything else that happened. Sorry Jonas!

WW (4-2)

Round 7: Fabien Pujol (FR)

Going into this round, I knew I was playing the highest stakes Pokemon game I’d ever played, with a spot in Top 16 and $2500 on the line. Luckily, Fabien flipped over a Sceptile-EX, and I knew almost immediately I had won the series. Sceptile-EX can’t do anything to stop Night March from just running it over, and that’s what I was able to do both games, OHKOing Sceptile-EX from turn one and never letting him set up any offensive pressure.

WW (2-0)

Again, Kenny Wisdom was right behind me and was the first to congratulate me. Finishing in the Top 16 of the World Championships in my first year competing at Worlds will probably be one of my favorite Pokemon memories. There truly is no better feeling than having all your years of hard work validated with one tournament performance, and it is something everyone should shoot for! At the same time, I now need to go out and prove this season that my season was not a fluke. This means I’ll be pushing out tons of quality content for you all to read as I travel the country competing, so be on the lookout for that!

Thank you to everyone who made my World Championship run possible. There are a too many people to name everyone individually, but I would like to mention Travis Nunlist and Aaron Tarbell. Thank you to you two for being the two best testing partners and friends a man could ask for, and for turning me into the player I am today. Without you two, none of what happened this past weekend would have been possible.

Three Decks for the New Standard Format

Now that my World’s report is finished, let’s move on to what I’m sure everyone really came here for: Primal Clash-on decks! There are already tons of articles on the perceived “top decks” of the new format (specifically, M Mewtwo-EX and M Rayquaza-EX), so I’d like to focus my article on some decks that have been flying slightly under the radar that I believe also deserve to be mentioned as strong contenders in the new format. While I have been spending most of my time testing the Expanded format due to the Regionals I will be attending in the fall (Phoenix, AZ and Philadelphia, PA) taking place in this format, I have still taken the time to test three decks for my wonderful audience so you can get ahead at any Standard events near you! The three decks I would like to discuss today are Zoroark, Darkrai-EX / Giratina-EX, and Xerneas BREAK / Giratina-EX. All three of these decks are extremely strong archetypes that should be feared at any Standard tournament you attend this fall. These lists are solid but require some testing to get a feel for the deck and see what direction it could be taken in. I have spending most of my testing time to study the Expanded format, but if you have any questions at all about these lists, don’t hesitate to ask me!

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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