PokeBeach’s September TCG Cup is over and the winners have been crowned!
96 players competed for the title in this exciting monthly event, with the top eight players facing off in a top cut. The tournament was played in the Standard format at the time — BREAKthrough through Burning Shadows.
Interview with the Champion
Here’s our interview with him:
What is your real name, and where do you live?
My name is Joe Callahan. I live with my wife and kids in Wellsboro, PA, which is a very small town just south of the New York State border.
How are you doing this season in Play! Pokemon tournaments?
Because we live in such a rural area, attending larger tournaments is quite time-consuming and expensive. My daughter and I try to catch the occasional pre-release in Erie or Rochester, but apart from that we don’t get to play much. We attended Philadelphia Regionals last year and hope to attend the Regionals in Toronto, Charlotte, and Roanoke next Spring. Eventually, my daughter and I would like to make a push for our Worlds invites, but we’ll see. Hopefully that can happen sooner rather than later.
Why did you decide to participate in this tournament?
Actually, I started playing in the PokeBeach tournaments exactly one year ago in September 2016 just as a way to get better at the game and help my daughter improve. She’s a Junior and LOVES to play, and I eventually grew to love it too, and compared to our local game store, the level of competition here is just off the charts. Also, as I said before, because of where we live, chances to play in big tournaments are few and far between, so being able to have a consistent competitive outlet like this has been awesome.
Why did you play Volcanion? Were there any other decks you were considering?
For the longest time, I had no clue what I was going to play for this month’s tournament. The rotation made just about everything uncertain. I had played Volcanion off and on all last season with some moderate success, so it was definitely an option. Over the summer, though, I went 4-0-1 playing Greninja BREAK at a win-a-case tournament up in Buffalo, and I had a lot of fun playing Espeon-GX / Garbodor for like the 15 or so minutes it was considered the BDIF, so they were both high considerations as well. I couldn’t really settle on a post-rotation build for either of them that seemed right, though, so I spent a lot of time testing a tweaking Speed Lapras-GX since I was certain there’d be a lot of fire decks running around. I was also very briefly convinced Speed Darkrai-EX had life post-rotation (it doesn’t), but in the end neither of those decks stood a chance against Gardevoir-GX or Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX, two decks I was sure I would face at least once throughout the month.
In the end, Volcanion just seemed like the best choice. First and foremost, it was consistent, and I made sure my build was as streamlined as possible, eschewing trendy tech options like Ho-Oh-GX, Salazzle-GX, or Kiawe for as many raw consistency cards as I could manage to cram into 60 cards. Also, even in its terrible matchups – like Greninja, for example – Volcanion always has a chance to win simply because of its speed and raw power. It was a comfort pick too in a lot of ways, and I figured my experience with the deck would aide me in tough situations. So, about 15 minutes before my scheduled match for round one, I finally settled on Volcanion, submitted the list, and hoped for the best.
You went 9-1 this tournament. Nice job! What was your one loss against? Is there anything you could have done differently to sway the matchup in your favor?
Thanks! My only loss came in round two against lukas2aces, who I would eventually face again in Top 8. He was playing VikaBulu with a copy of Tapu Koko-GX. It was a very similar list to the one I faced in round one, so I felt pretty confident with the matchup. Game one, I was getting set up, running smoothly and he was dead-drawing, which was a great sign for me since Volcanion can punish slow starts like no other deck. I had Tapu Lele-GX and N in hand, dropped Lele, fetched a Professor Sycamore and then promptly misclicked, playing the N instead of the Sycamore and giving him a fresh hand of six. I got a quick “Thanks” and a smiley face from him, and from then on he had every card he needed and eventually stole game one. I won game two, and if I remember right, game three came down to one Prize card each and he had Guzma for the win.
For our rematch in Top 8, I felt I just needed to make sure I played carefully and not make anymore careless errors. I also wanted to try to target down his Grubbin before they could become Vikavolt. That plan worked in one game, but the matchup seems to be more about pacing and tempo than strategy: whoever stumbles first loses. I was just lucky enough to stumble the least.
What decks did you play against? Did any interesting techs stand out to you?
This month was the month of the mirror match! Rounds one and two, I played against VikaBulu. Then, I played four Fire decks in a row, until I played Gardy in round seven.
At this point, the mirror matches all kind of blur together honestly. I just remember the games being FAST, trading OHKOs back and forth. I mainly attribute my success in the mirror to my build and my experience with the deck. Most of the other Fire decks were playing techy cards, like Kiawe (which I’m just not a fan of at all), Ho-Oh, and Salazzle. I’m sure they were all fine options in other matchups, but while they’re ending their turn with Kiawe or evolving into Salazzle, I was able to sit behind a baby Volcanion for a turn or two and have two fully powered Volcanion ready and another on deck, all hitting for Weakness. The only card that scared me was Ho-Oh, but I was still able to power through it without much trouble. A lot of matches were simply decided by who could set up faster. My build was designed to set up as quickly and consistently as possible, so I was just able to outrace my opponents whenever they stumbled.
What was your most exciting game or set?
By far, my most exciting match was round seven against uncleyuri. Up until the last minute, we were both considering ID’ing, but once I did the math, I realized I needed to win if I wanted to guarantee myself a spot in Top 8.
When we both flipped over our actives – me a Volcanion, him a Ralts – I thought to myself, “Hmm, this will be interesting.” Then, he proceeded to wallop me game one. I just never stood a chance. Game two I had a super aggressive start and was able to KO a couple Ralts with my baby Volcanion before he could get set up. When I played Guzma to drag a heavily loaded Kirlia off the Bench, he scooped and we went to game three. Whereas games one and two were both pretty one-sided, game three was a slug fest. But I had another very aggressive start and was able to keep the pressure on until the late game. He had rebuilt a fresh Gardevoir-GX and took a big knockout on my Active Volcanion. If I remember right, I had Starmie, a Turtonator-GX with two Energy, and a Volcanion on the Bench. I promoted my Turtle and was able to Steam Up, Rescue Stretcher back my dead Volcanion, use Brooklet Hill to get another onto my Bench, Steam Up again, use Starmie’s Ability, attach a third Energy to Turtonator and Steam Up a third and final time to get the KO on his Active Gardy for my last two Prizes and the win.
I’ve been playing in the monthly tournaments for so long, just trying to make Top 8, so for that moment to have finally arrived against such a skilled opponent felt amazing.
Lillie is a card that didn’t see much use before the rotation. Do you think it pulled its weight in your deck or, now that the format has settled down a bit, is it worth cutting?
I think Lillie is an amazing card right now, and until further notice, I’ll be playing two copies in just about every deck. My draw Supporter counts for this tournament were admittedly a little strange. I really wanted four copies N to give early game disruption since so many decks rely on holding combinations of Stage 2s and Rare Candy.
Initially, I was playing four Sycamore as well (like just about everyone else), but I cut one copy because in my testing I felt like Sycamore’s power had been reduced ever so slightly by the rotation of VS Seeker. Nothing hurt my chances of winning more than having a hand full of Supporters and having to Sycamore them all away just to set up.
So I included two copies of Lillie as a hedge against that eventuality, and they were great. They felt a bit like Colress in Expanded: just another useful angle on card draw. There were several games where I played out my hand turn one and Lele’d for a Lillie instead of a Sycamore. Lillie was also a great draw late-game instead of N (which I usually ditched with Starmie ASAP once I was ahead). There were lots of times too were I knew my opponent was dead-drawing but I still needed to draw a bunch of cards without losing one or two key pieces in my hand (usually a Starmie). Lillie to the rescue! I absolutely loved having the two copies; they were one of the MVPs for the month for sure.
Would you make any other changes to your list?
Well, a couple times I wished I had at least one more switching option, so I’d like to find room for just one copy of Switch. Initially, I thought cutting one of the two Rescue Stretchers would be fine, but now I’m second guessing that, because I got a lot of mileage out of recycling dudes from the discard, especially my Starmie line. Having the extra insurance in case I lose Staryu early was really nice. On the whole, though, I thought the list was great. We’ll see, though, the meta has had quite a lot of time to shift since we all submitted our lists at the beginning of September.
How will Crimson Invasion impact Volcanion decks as a whole? Do you think cards like Alolan Marowak or Silvally-GX are worth the space?
My initial reaction is no, they won’t have a place and won’t really effect the archetype much, simply because the deck seems to function best when it’s as consistent as possible, and trying to fit in another tech Stage 1 will almost certainly hurt that consistency. They do both seem quite interesting on their own, though. I will be sure to test them both out before coming to my final conclusion, and now that I’m not focused fully on making my way through Top 8, I can actually finally devote some time to thinking about and testing different ideas with the deck.
Here is the deck list he used to win the tournament:
Other Top Finishers
Below is the top-eight players and the decks they used:
- 1st: Joe Callahan (josie0001) — Volcanion-EX / Turtonator-GX
- 2nd: Josh Barua (Trainer Josh) — Metagross-GX
- 3rd: John Creagh — Gardevoir-GX
- 4th: Slappy White (uncleyuri) — Gardevoir-GX
- 5th: Jeffrey Blake (JGB146) — Tapu Koko / Necrozma-GX / Garbodor
- 6th: Nathan Sheng (Nsheng) — Volcanion-EX / Turtonator-GX
- 7th: Lukas Coenraats (lukas2aces) — Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX
- 8th: Josh Sproul (Nobodyshero2727) — Gardevoir-GX
All of them won a bunch of booster packs from the latest expansions, but John and Josh Sproul got a huge increase in prizes because they are premium subscribers. You can see how many packs each of them earned at the top of this page. The deck lists of second, third, and fourth place can be seen below:
Everyone in the Top 32 of PokeBeach’s monthly tournaments will also receive Prize Wall points via e-mail. Be sure to check your inboxes!
Creative Deck Winners
As part of every tournament, PokeBeach’s article writers voted for the five premium members whom they felt used the most creative deck lists, and each of them earned some additional booster packs or a promo product.
Triforce19, jpkemperor, Coolpilot, Gengar master, and Dooley Noted each walked away with several booster packs or a specially-selected Pokemon promo product from TCGplayer.com. The decks they played were Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX, Metagross-GX / Alolan Ninetales, Weavile / Tapu Koko / Necrozma-GX / Po Town, Metagross-GX / Vileplume, and Gardevoir-GX with two Fairy Drop respectively.
You can find each of their deck lists in the forum thread below.
Want to Become a Premium Member?
November’s tournament will be posted within the last week of October, and October’s tournament is currently underway. Each tournament awards up to 7 booster boxes of product to top finishers plus promo products and additional booster packs to premium members. The prizes for premium members are bigger than ever before, so don’t miss your chance to play in the next tournament!
If you’re interested in becoming a premium member, be sure to check out this link. All premium members get reserved slots in the tournaments, a huge increase in prizes, double the amount of Prize Wall points, a chance to win even more product for using creative decks, and of course all the other benefits that go along with having a premium membership, including weekly articles from the game’s top players and deck help from said players. A premium membership is extremely diverse!
All of these prizes are brought to you by TCGplayer.com. Their online store offers the cheapest Pokemon cards on the Internet from thousands of different sellers — you will find no better deals! So be sure to check them out any time you want to purchase or sell Pokemon cards!
You can always check the “Sets” tab at the top of our website to access their store.
(Note: The Pokémon Company International is not a sponsor or endorser of PokeBeach’s tournaments, contests, or prizes, nor does the company or its affiliates have any formal association with PokeBeach. Our activities are by fans, for fans, and are not sanctioned or approved by TPCi.)