“G’day” sounds blasé I know, but it’s an oddly appropriate way to start a Worlds report from an Australian perspective. We are an awfully patriotic bunch in that we love our country and love to exaggerate the things that make it uniquely us sometimes.
My name is Anthony Smith, an Australian Masters Division Pokémon TCG player and as some of you may know (and most of you may have gleaned from the title) I attended this year’s Pokémon World Championships.
I start writing this as I sit down on the first of many flights to get to Vancouver. This leg would take me between Brisbane, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. The female Maori attendants stand out to me – it feels like I’m taking a flight to New Zealand. Without my phone and 3DS to entertain mid takeoff I began to write this, but I fell asleep pretty quickly – I hadn’t slept for an entire day before getting on the plane.
After arriving in Auckland, I run into fellow Australian player Michael Kan and the entire Kan family including Christopher Kan, the 2011 Seniors Division World Champion. I spent some time talking to their mother and even managed to sneak in a game against Michael. It was my Gothitelle versus his Blastoise. He did not play any techs (such as Wartortle) to mitigate the matchup, however, still proceeded to beat me while I struggled to respond.
After the Kan family left for their plane, I managed to run into New Zealand National Champion Louis Chi and his girlfriend Chloe, both of whom were on their way to compete with the rest of the New Zealand contingent. It was great to finally meet Louis after speaking with him through Facebook a number of times.
After a few hours I was onto my connecting flight to LAX and despite having prepared for the flight by purchasing a 3DS and downloading ‘Virtue’s Last Reward’ for me to play on it, I ended up just watching movies instead; I was far too tired to focus on a game. I watched a Japanese movie titled ‘Hospitality Department’ and one of the major themes of the movie was simply learning to appreciate and love the place you come from, even if you think it pales in comparison to other places. It was somehow fitting given that I was about to represent my country at the World Championships.
After watching that movie, I decided to write out my Gothitelle deck list whilst watching ‘Phone Booth.’ It took me two hours to remember I had Float Stone in the deck.
Pokémon – 22
4 Gothita EPO 43
3 Shelmet NVI
Trainers – 34
Energy – 4
I don’t feel like there’s much out of the ordinary in this list aside from the decided lack of Skyla. With the reasonably high amount of search in the deck, Bodhi Cutler (the deck list’s mastermind) and I felt that Skyla was unnecessary. We traded in that pinpoint search for more draw Supporters to net more combo pieces each turn and we were both quite happy with the deck’s results at that point.
The rest of the trip isn’t too eventful. I land at LAX, pass through customs and have to collect and check-in my luggage again despite being told I wouldn’t need to do that back in Auckland. I finally land in Vancouver late on Wednesday and catch a taxi to my hotel. Despite being aware of the fact that cars drive on the other side of the road in North America, I still tried to sit in the driver’s seat after putting my luggage in the boot.
I finally arrive at the hotel close to midnight, get to the room and meet my roommates for the weekend, Azul, Raymond Cipoletti and our very own Adam Capriola. I get my stuff into the room, talk League of Legends with Ray for about 20 minutes and then head to bed.
I wake up and it’s Thursday before the first day of events. After breakfast with Ray, Azul and Adam I head to the Vancouver Convention Centre where people are already playing on the 2nd floor anywhere there is a place to sit. At this point the open play area was not yet open – it wouldn’t open until 6 PM.
Another issue appeared to be with the Japanese sellers attending the event not being allowed to sell their products bought over from Japan. They were being closely monitored by the security staff and being moved along if it seemed like they were trying to make a sale.
We walked past the area where most people were (up a floor where Pikachu was suspended in the air) and found a quiet place to get in a few test games. I play against a Senior from one of the European countries and beat his Darkrai twice with Gothitelle.
After these games, I loaned my Darkrai deck and an extra Keldeo to Ray for testing and after this we headed down to eat. The main ‘go to’ was a food court accessible via a tunnel that goes from the convention centre, under the road to where it was located. Being in the main food court was amazing with players from across the world set up and playing games on almost every single table you could see. Even at the entrance to the food court, some of the Japanese players had set up with their wares and I think I picked up a few sets of sleeves.
We sat down for a meal at Fat Burger. I had chilli fries, Azul orders a breakfast meal I think and Jimmy Pendarvis orders a bacon and egg roll – freaking out when he discovers the egg yolk wasn’t fully cooked which was hilarious. People like the ‘The Top Cut’ were there too, and kind of highlighted to me the kind of opportunity Worlds presents to see these players we always read about in the flesh.
We head back to our testing place in the convention centre and I playing Gothitelle vs. Darkrai, losing a game or two this time. Eventually the open play room is opened and everyone files in. There are games being played and Japanese players selling their sleeves all over the place. I spent hundreds of dollars on sleeves and deck boxes. After spending time here, we grab food to eat back at the food court then head back to the hotel.
Friday comes around and we start with breakfast again. This time it’s just Adam and I as Ray and Azul have moved next door to the Marriot Hotel (thanks to Ray’s sugardaddy ‘Steve’). I get in line to register and sometime later (maybe an hour?) I’ve checked in, received my pass and Worlds goodies including the coveted… Champion’s Festival. Cute card, but not exactly competitive right now.
After wasting money on stuff at the retail store (and picking up some much needed Ultra Pro sleeves), I went on to spend time with some of the other Australian players, Shane Quinn and Jon Blair, who are both Masters Division players from Sydney that qualified. We went back to my hotel and played a few games, where we tested more Gothitelle vs. Darkrai and I wasn’t entirely convinced the performance of Gothitelle at that point. I also tried testing Champion’s Festival for the heck of it – with one of our ideas being to use it to mitigate the damage done by Darkrai’s Night Spear bench damage.
Later in the day, I sat down for a game in the open play room with another Australian player, Jennifer Wilson, who was intending on playing Klinklang for the main event. I get to a strong start but I somehow lose even after setting up and it’s at that point I begin to have serious doubts about my deck choice.
I eat dinner with Jon and Shane, then head to their hotel with them where at about 8 PM the night before Worlds I make the decision to swap off the deck I had been testing and pick Blastoise back up. I lay out my list, make some changes then play a couple of games with Shane, where I go 1-1 in the mirror.
At this point I also realise that I don’t have my other Keldeo for the deck since it’s with Ray, so I meet with yet another Australian player to borrow one. Although I would soon give this one back and borrow a full art Keldeo from Kaiwen Cabbabe the next day.
Once I get back to the hotel, I thought about the two games I played and the one card that stood out to me was the singular ‘Pokémon Communication’ that I was running. I ran it because an earlier build of the deck featured two Wartortle, and I felt the higher count of Pokémon warranted its inclusion.
I turned to Adam with a coin and told him if I flipped heads, I’d cut it for a 4th Ultra Ball.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 33
Energy – 13
After writing out my deck list and re-sleeving at about 1 AM, I finally managed to get to sleep.
I get up early, despite not getting nearly as much sleep as I’d have liked, to get to the venue and take a group photo with the other Australian players for both the TCG and VGC.
Shortly after we take the photo it’s time for the opening ceremony hosted by Nick McCormick who’s been the familiar emcee for the World Championships for the past few years. After this, we proceed to the player’s meeting in the main event hall which was essentially just everyone reading the rules and having their deck lists collected. I decide to check with a couple of judges about my deck list being written on note paper and they decide to give me a printed deck list to transpose my list onto.
Shortly after the lists are collected, the pairings go up and the first round is set to begin.
Round 1: Ben/UK/Team Plasma
If anybody here is familiar with baby_mario, well, Ben is his older brother. Ben tells me he’s been to Worlds for a number of years and after hearing that this was my first World Championship ever, he recounts mistakes he made in his ever first World Championship game to settle some of my worries.
I’m a little fuzzy on the details of the beginning of this game. I believe he opens Thundurus EX with I think Deoxys EX on the bench. I take the first turn of the game and set up reasonably comfortably into turn two. I take a lead in this game as Ben seems unable to fetch his other Deoxys EX from his deck and misses a few turns of fully utilising Thundurus’ ability to accelerate Energy.
He nearly stages a comeback however with a threatening KO via Plasma Absol, however a late Colress play from me nets me all the cards I needed to secure the victory.
Round 2: Jeremy/FR/Team Plasma
Jeremy is a player from France and we talk a little before the start of the match. I win the flip and proceed with a very comfortable set up with Keldeo + two Squirtle. On the other hand my opponent whiffs a Supporter for a couple of turns and is stuck using Frost Spear for a number of turns – while my Pokémon are protected by Mr. Mime.
I am able to set up and sweep his field reasonably easily as he has no resources to respond with.
Round 3: Pierre/FR/Blastoise
I sit down across from Pierre from France and as a result, he mentions that he already knows what I’m playing. The beginning of this match was ridiculous as I managed to mulligan no less than eight times and then lose the opening flip.
As a result he hits his turn two Blastoise and takes a KO on my only Squirtle. I respond by benching two Squirtle in the following turn and on my third turn I land a Blastoise, with a Wartortle drop not much longer after that. We trade KOs, and he makes the decision to KO my Blastoise instead of going for my main attacker. It may have been a decision made based on not being able to OHKO an EX Pokémon that turn anyhow, but I thought it was the incorrect play.
After losing my Blastoise, I simply evolved Wartortle and began to overtake Pierre in the Prize race. I try to mitigate the effect of a likely N the next turn by Deluging Energy I have in hand, however, Pierre wisely uses Pokémon Catcher on my loaded Black Kyurem and KO’s it after using N on me. Fortunately, I am able to draw into the cards I needed off the N to win.
Round 4: Josue/MX/”Kyurem/Deoxys/Exp. Share”
Josue introduces himself to me as a player who has been to the World Championships each year since 2006. He wins the flip and begins with a Plasma Kyurem. I have a Supporter drought and so does Josue after setting up with Deoxys EXs on the bench.
However, according to Adam who was watching the game and could see Josue’s draws/hand, he managed to top-deck a Catcher, KO a Squirtle, then hit another Catcher, KO another Squirtle, then draw a Catcher from Prizes and then KO the Blastoise I had finally established. I believe my last Squirtle was prized or otherwise inaccessible, meaning I was effectively locked out of Blastoise for the rest of the game.
I was worried at this point. I had heard that many of the really good players were sitting at 3-1. I was now swimming with the sharks and there was every possibility that I’d be paired up with a big name North American player.
WELL. I read the pairing and I was excited more than anything. Ross Cawthon is the kind of name that people like my friends and I throw around over a couple of drinks at home when we talk about the victories and various exploits of famous players abroad.
I shake his hand and tell him I’m a fan of his. We set up and he wins the flip. He opens ‘Victory Star’ Victini NVI 14 and Gothita EPO on the bench to my active Keldeo EX and benched Squirtle. On his turn 2 he sets up Gothitelle, however I hit Wartortle on my turn 2 the next turn.
On his turn 3 he N’s me away from the Blastoise I had in hand and he asks if I had it in hand, which I did. He begins to set up Celebi EX as well, and lands a Crushing hammer on me. This is when it clicks in my head what I was up against – Energy Denial Item lock with Celebi EX’s attack allowing him to hit me for 60 and Weakness before returning to the bench again, allowing the Item lock to continue.
He spends a fair amount of time planning out a turn, but needs to discard about 3 Crushing/Enhanced Hammers in the process. I hit Blastoise around about this time and the game continues for a few turns. He is attacking me with Celebi EX and I am knocking out Gothitelle with Keldeo EX.
Over the course of this exchange, I am able to find two Keldeo EX and four Water Energy for each, so I am able to continue delivering KOs to keep up. At the end of the game I am one Prize left to his two. On my final turn I top-deck Superior Energy Retrieval (which I could use then as Ross was out of Gothitelle and was walling with Keldeo). I get nervous and play the turn out, using Superior Energy Retrieval to get back the energy for Keldeo EX, using ‘Rush In’ to assume the active spot and then I played Pokémon Catcher to bring a low HP basic active for the final KO.
I was so astounded that things had happened this way that I could barely sign the match slip. Ross was a nice guy and was gracious enough to let me take a photo with him.
Round 6: Jonathan Bristow/USA/RayEels
I sat down across from Jonathan who seemed like quite a nice guy. His body language was very animated as we played. I opened lone Keldeo and unfortunately I was ‘donked’ three turns later. I saw no Supporters or means to draw this game, which gave the Jonathan an opportunity to set up uncontested then proceed to knock out my only Pokémon.
Round 7: Kerwin Lee/AU/RayEels
Kerwin Lee is Australia’s 2013 National Champion who piloted RayEels to victory amongst a sea of Team Plasma decks. Funny that I’d come all the way to Worlds only to have to face him Vancouver. We both had our shot at top cut on the line, and whoever lost was almost certainly not going to cut.
Kerwin wins the coin flip and proceeds to slowly set up. For the first few turns of the game, I am stuck with a lone Squirtle, being forced to use Tropical Beach to attempt to draw into something. As a result I fall behind in my setup.
Once I do get set up, we start exchanging KOs, but I was clearly behind in Prizes. Towards the end I attempted to swing the game back in my favour with a Pokémon Catcher + Computer Search for N play, however, I found that all three of my N’s were in the discard. Without being able to use N, I wasn’t able to disrupt his hand which contained everything he needed to win on the next turn.
Round 8: Tord/NO/”Drifblim/Mewtwo/Landorus”
I enter round 8 knowing that there is a very slim to no possibility that I’ll make top cut with 3 losses. I introduce myself to Tord from Norway and we sit down to play our game. I’m not super focussed as I was in the earlier rounds and try to take it a little easier in my final game of the day.
I start lone Squirtle going second once again. I have nothing for three turns, but somehow my opponent whiffs everything he needed to KO me and is forced to N on turn 3 as it was the last card he had in hand. He still whiffs the donk.
Because of the N I am able to setup, but am forced to deal with a high-Energy Mewtwo (perhaps 4 Energy?) by the time I get anywhere. He also has a benched Mewtwo with a DCE on it. I have a Keldeo with a lot of damage on it benched and another Keldeo which I use to put 110 damage on the high-Energy Mewtwo EX with Keldeo.
I am not sure if I even had the opportunity to attack with the damaged one or if I simply decided against attaching to it in favour of a fresh Keldeo to attempt surviving an X Ball. He manages to drop enough Energy on his turn to take out my fresh Keldeo EX however.
I put 3 Energy on a Black Kyurem and N my opponent to a two card hand at this point. I take the KO on his Mewtwo with Slash. All he has left to attack with is a Mewtwo with two Energy on it. He top decks a Pokémon Catcher and plays it to bring my other damaged Keldeo to the active and delivers the last KO.
I was both disappointed and pleased at the same time about my performance in the main event. To run an even record in an event filled with the best players in the World is nothing for me to sneeze at, but is certainly something that I’d like to improve on in the future. Mantra of every competitive player, right?
I spent the rest of the time eating, hanging out in the free play area and watching the top cut matches play out. I stayed all the way until 1 AM on Saturday and watched the big top 8 match between Klaczynski and Bristow.
As I wasn’t competing, I was able to get up late in the morning. Adam and I watched the Masters VGC finals on my phone using the restaurant Wi-Fi while we had breakfast. We got to the venue and watched the final top 4 matches quietly play out.
I grabbed a seat towards the front in the crowd and didn’t move. I watched each of the championship matches play out and cheered hardest for Kaiwen when he won it for Australia in the Seniors division. Directly after the Masters division final was the closing ceremony and the awesome video they put together over the weekend.
Afterwards the Australians went out for dinner nearby. When the restaurant found out about Kaiwen being the World Champion, they bought out a Calzone desert. I spent time there with the Seniors division contingent that we bought over this year. Kaiwen the champion, Jordan who made top 32, Naomi whose unbeaten streak at the time in swiss was cut short by Kaiwen, Michael who competed in the VGC instead of the card game and Christopher Kan, the 2011 Seniors World Champion from Australia. Each of these players are aging up this year (with the exception of Michael) and each of them bring a new threat to the existing Masters division of the players.
After dinner we all moved out to the railing by the water with the convention centre in the background to take a photo. After we took a couple Jason Klaczynski just happened to be walking past, so it was only natural that we grabbed him in for a photo with us too.
After this, I headed back to the venue to see out the remaining hours of Worlds in the free play area. A few vendors still trying to sell/trade the last of their items, The Top Cut invitational was playing out, people were playing decks from older eras and Jason Klaczynski was sitting in the back corner, taking challenges from every Junior that lined up to play against him.
After everybody was more or less kicked out of the venue, I headed back to the hotel where the topic of competing next season came up and we both agreed that the experience of being there and watching the closing ceremony only hyped us for the new season. The last few seasons I looked forward to the short break for a few months. This year, even with Worlds giving me less time for a break, I feel motivated as ever to continue on into the new season.
In hindsight I liked my list for Worlds needed more than just a few hours for tweaking. I felt the dead card in my list was Tool Scrapper and the supporter counts needed to be worked on. I also felt Level Ball would have been a better inclusion over Heavy Ball.
As to the experience itself, it was incredible. I highly recommend it to everyone that plays the Pokémon TCG to do a World Championships at least once in their life. I got to meet people from around the world and see the ones that I follow in the flesh.
I’d like to thank everyone that I got to meet for making the experience as memorable as it was and I’m determined to earn my invite to Washington in 2014 and congratulations in particular to Australia’s own Kaiwen for winning in Seniors!
Finally a quick plug: Looking forward to the new season Myles Oneill, Bodhi Cutler and myself have been hard at work working on and promoting our new Australian focussed Pokémon TCG website: Ace Trainer Australia
The mission of Ace Trainer is to grow Pokemon TCG around the world, and particularly in Australia. Growth means more players, bigger and better events, and greater engagement with the game. We view Pokemon TCG as one of many emerging eSports. Card games are late to the eSport tables, but are fast growing. We treat PTCG like the serious competition it is – setting a standard for excellent writing, streaming, and event coverage in Australia.
We’ve already experienced a degree of success gathering the interest of Australian and international interest with our coverage of Australia’s Nationals, USA’s Nationals and coverage of the World Championships and so we would love to see Australian and International readers alike visit our site and leave their thoughts on our articles.
Here’s to the new season. I look forward to (Hopefully) seeing everyone in Washington D.C. in 2014!
(If I met or played you at worlds, add me on FB!)