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William Hung's Underground Card Laboratory
Grinding my way to Worlds 06...
August 21, 2006

Pokemon TCG Worlds 2006 Grinders
290+ players in age 15+ (!)
Anaheim Hilton Hotel
August 18, 2006
 
Hello everyone,
 
As you may already know, only the top 8 players in age 15+ will get an invite to play at Worlds 2006.  This is the craziest and toughest tournament ever.
 
I am not going to be too optimistic, overall.  We played 9 rounds (!) and the whole qualifier started one hour late.  Sighs.  I kind of knew it was going to be a very LONG night.
 
As usual for a big tournament report,

I will break it into 3 sections.

 
I) Preparation
In any case, I playtested numerous decks, but the only decks I trusted were Ludicargo, and Metagross d/Electrode ex.  The expected metagame were LBS and RaiEggs.
 
Through playtesting, I know Ludicargo is most consistent, but I also predict that if I run Ludicargo, I am not the only one running it, and will have to play some ugly mirror matches toward the end.  [Mirror matches mean both players are playing the same deck versus each other.]
 
Ludicargo is absolutely amazing against LBS and RaiEggs.  It also can handle many of the popular decks, such as Queendom, Mewtric, Flariados, etc.  Overall, in a big tournament with a huge variety of decks, Ludicargo is, by far, my best choice.
 
So, why is Ludicolo/Magcargo so dangerous now and at Worlds 2006, and not before?  Well, it's because very few people (including myself) have explored the optimal way of running the deck.
 
I will first introduce my decklist, then explore it in depth.
 
Pokemon (23):
4x Jirachi DX (Wishing Star)
2x Slugma UF
2x Magcargo DX (Smooth Over)
4x Lotad (Surprise)
2x Lombre
3x Ludicolo (Swing Dance)
1x Ludicolo (Happy Dance)
2x Rhyhorn
2x Rhydon
1x Holon's Castform
 
Trainers (25):
4x Celio's Network
3x Holon Transceiver
2x Holon Mentor
1x Holon Scientist
3x Rare Candy
1x Steven's Advice
1x ATM: [Rock]
1x VS Seeker
1x Mr. Briney's Compassion
2x Rocket's Admin
4x Battle Frontier
1x Strength Charm
1x Switch
 
Energies (12):
4x Water
3x Double Rainbow
2x Heal
2x Scramble
1x Holon Energy WP
 
[To Editors: Scans of Ludicolo Swing Dance and Magcargo is almost obligatory, because it gets the readers into it much more easily.  Also scans of Rhydon and Jirachi DX would be nice.]
 
Please use card spoilers as needed from various websites.
 
Jirachi DX vs. Plusle DX (Call for Family)
With RaiEggs being quite popular, turn 2 Exeggutor delta is a disaster for Plusle DX.  Yes, you can get out Lotad and Plusle, or Slugma and Plusle, but let's face it - you're wasting Energy attachments that can go onto your Lotad or Rhyhorn, and you're giving your opponent easy prizes.  Absolutely dreadful.
 
Jirachi DX, combined with Holon trainer engine, is very consistent.  You can easily discard extra Jirachi DX or Battle Frontier (if you don't need it in your matchup), and set up your army fairly quickly.
 
Card choices
Every card choice is critical for a Ludicolo/Magcargo deck.  As you can see, the deck is extremely "tight".  The reason is because you can look for whatever card you need to get out of trouble, or simply keep the game in your favor.  With the expected metagame to contain very few decks with Lunarock (because they can stop Magcargo's Poke-Power), we can virtually gurantee ourselves a card of our choice every turn.
 
I have to mention the actual metagame was quite different, but I'm not going to spoil anything until the actual tournament report section.
 
I think many of my card choices are self-explanatory.  For example, you use Holon Energy WP against decks such as Queendom, Flariados, or Shedinja Stall.  You use Strength Charm when you're a little short in One-Hit KOing your opponent's Pokemon, and so forth.
 
However, the 2-2 Rhydon deserves explanation.  It is much more consistent to simply run Ludicolo/Magcargo without them.  They are valuable deck spaces that can be easily be replaced with additional 1-1 Magcargo, Pokemon Retreiver, additional Energies or Rocket's Admin.  So why 2-2 Rhydon?
 
------------------------------
 
The answer: 2-2 Rhydon provides much needed attacker and protector against RaiEggs and LBS.  Against RaiEggs, it basically forces them to switch to Exeggutor delta.  Raichu delta can OHKO with Metallic Thunder, but you'll take that anyday - because you don't want them to use it on your most valuable Swing Dance Ludicolo's.  If they do choose to go to their Exeggutor delta and hit you 60-70, just play Mr. Briney's on Rhydon, KO with Ludicolo's Circular Steps, and continue to outrace them in taking prize cards.
 
Against LBS, 2-2 Rhydon means their Steelix almost have to Avalanche him first - unless they want to risk losing their Steelix ex in one hit.  Because they have to Energy Rain, you are essentially guaranteed to One-Hit KO thier Steelix ex with Strength Charm if they're not careful.
 
--------------------------------
 
Holon's Castform has an element of surprise.  You could catch your opponent off guard, because they will never expect it, and when they see it, it's too late.  This is common when you have a Double Rainbow and another single Energy attached to Ludicolo.  Then you bounce back Double Rainbow and wham!  KO.
 
II) Tournament Report
I have to make a disclaimer that my reports are as accurate as possible, but there'll be some details that I could be wrong.  So if that's the case, just e-mail me.  I'll provide it at the end of the entire article.
 
Round 1: vs. LudiCargo mirror
Not only it uses the same Pokemon, it really runs the same trainers, runs 4 Jirachi DX, almost card for card.  It was a stall-out war, but later he took his first prize on KO on my Jirachi DX.  I take advantage of Scramble and KO back.  He KOs my Ludicolo, I KO him. 
 
Basically, when time is called, game is tied 4-4 in prizes.  However, he has a huge advantage, because he only has 3 Pokemon in play.  He made a great play with Healing Steps.  I had no way to KO his Ludicolo in one-hit, because even with Strength Charm, I could only do 90 damage.  My Holon's Castform is one of my prize cards.  Life's tough.  We kept using Healing Steps, because neither of us can afford to give up a prize card.  It was 17 minutes later that I decked out.  Tough loss, but GG.
 
Loss 0-1 0pts.
 
Afterthoughts: I can't waste Strength Charm in Ludicolo/Magcargo mirror.  I also underestimated Holon's Castform.  It's a key card that can win games.
 
Round 2: vs. Benito - random Marowak d deck
I don't think it's random, but it felt random, because he never got set up.  Not much to write about - just took straight 6 prizes to none.
 
Win 1-1 3pts.
 
Round 3: vs. Mewtric
This is a tough matchup for me, but fortunately he got a really slow start, and never gotten Electrike until it was too late.  However, his trainer choices are questionable.  I didn't see any POW! Hand Extension and Pokemon Reversal played against me.  Not even Warp Point.  I didn't know what he's up to with a 10 card hand after a healthy Steven's Advice for 6, so I Rocket's Admin to be safe.  He came back a little bit at the end, but it was too little and too late for him.
 
Win 2-1 6pts.
 
Round 4: vs. Queendom with Pidgeot d
I took advantage of the fact that his Pidgeot d is prized (I know because he didn't go for it with Celio's Network or Fast Evolution).  I just set up my whole army, and I gave him an extra turn to get something going, because I wanted to get Holon Energy WP onto my Ludicolo with Water and Double Rainbow as he Rare Candied his Nidoqueen Active with Grass, Holon Energy GL.  I knew that was going to hurt him, because he can't choose to Toxic my Active Ludicolo.  [Swing Dance one, of course.]  Everything else after that was routine - took 4 prizes against him, and he didn't take any as time was called.
 
Win 3-1 9pts.
 
Round 5: vs. LBS with Blissey ex
I started with Rhyhorn, he started with Chansey.  For some reason, he has a hard time drawing into Stadium cards.  Nevertheless, I have a slow start with no Energies.  That makes it more urgent for me to retreat my Rhyhorn as soon as I could hit my Holon Transceiver + Holon Mentor.  I grabbed Slugma, Lotad, Jirachi DX, and use Jirachi DX to get my setup.
 
By the time I set up, he does too.  I seem to have a tempo disadvantage throughout this entire match, and if he plays it right, I don't think I can win this game at all.  I am so relieved that he chose to discard his Onix early on in the game as well.  I think this will be a close game - if he gets first KO with his Mew ex or Lugia ex, and getting prizes back and forth.
 
It sounds absurd - because it is 2 prizes to 1 - however, 1 of my Ludicolo Swing Dance is prized, and therefore I will only have 2 to work with until much later (if at all) on in the match.  In addition, he is one of the slowest players I've played against.  Hard to accuse him stalling though, because he plays at the same pace throughout the entire game.
 
I do take fast turns, because the deeper into the game I get, the more the 2 to 1 prize swing favors me.  He made 1 crucial mistake - he played Water Energy, left his hand, and never said Energy Rain.  I immediately told him that you're not doing Energy Rain unless you are telling me you're using it.  And he never even moved his damage counter.  He realizes this, and I can't let him take it back, because it's essentially the difference between me winning and losing.
 
So the battle continues, and when time is called, it was my turn, and the game is tied in prizes 3-3.  I know he used up 3 Holon's Castform, 1 Holon's Electrode, and like 2-3 Rare Candy.  So I immediately Rocket's Admin, and he needs a stadium to counter my Battle Frontier, or a Pokemon Retreiver.  He has at least 3 Stadium cards left, and 1-2 Pokemon Retreiver, because he hasn't used one yet.  But he doesn't draw one, so he has to send up his Blastoise ex to give himself a chance, although quite slim.
 
[Because now he needs a Switch and another 1 of those cards I mentioned before - a Retriever or a Stadium.  However, I did use my ATM: [Rock] to slow down his set up earlier, so I may have to work a little harder to pull off the win.]
 
I hit is Blasty ex as hard as I can, it's his turn, and I forgot the exact details, but he ended up using his Pidgey to Corner my Jiarchi DX.  But I was certainly ready for that - I showed him Mr. Briney's, and KO'd his Pidgey for the win.
 
Win 4-1 12pts.
 
Afterthoughts: I got really lucky, because of the pace of the game, and some of the key cards are in my prizes, most notably my 3rd Ludicolo with Swing Dance.
 
Round 6: vs. Benlugia from pokegym - another LBS
This was a much different game.  It was fast and furious.  I got a mediocre starting hand, but I did manage to go first and get turn 1 Ludicolo.  I had no Water Energy though, so I attached a Holon Energy WP and passed.  Turn 2 Rocket's Admin was like lady luck on my side - because I got like 3 Pokemon, and it was just enough to One-Hit KO his Jirachi DX.  He immediately went Pokemon Retreiver for his Jirachi DX, retreat his Pidgey, and try to get set up.  But he did get a Giant Stump, and that's a huge problem 2 turns from now if I don't get a Battle Frontier.  That Giant Stump managed to stick for a while, and another couple turns later, he KO'd my Ludicolo, and without an answer to Giant Stump, I must send Jirachi DX to find an answer.
 
I did find a Battle Frontier finally.  However, I made a sloppy play by playing Holon Transceiver, getting Holon Mentor, and played Battle Frontier like on the bottom half of his Giant Stump card.  Judge was called, and I am glad I get to take my Battle Frontier back instead of going to the discard pile, but got a Warning.  Ouch!
 
That was a HUGE wake-up call.  I don't need to take a game loss from sloppy play.  So from that point on, I made every play deliberately - loud and clear.  I had a prize count 2-3 in my favor when time is called.  Again, luck was a factor, because he had his set up late in the game, including his Steelix ex, and who knows what would have happened if the game was played out fully?
 
Win 5-1 15pts.
 
I am on a roll since the loss in round 1, but I know I need to win the last 3 games to make top 8, because my tiebreaker is absolutely awful.  It was something like 48%.
 
Round 7: vs. Sharif - LBS
3 LBS decks in a row.  But this one was bad for me at the start.  I only had Lotad, he got out turn 2 Blastoise ex, thanks to his Jirachi HL - Make a Wish Start.  So he went 2nd, got Wartortle turn 1, Blasty ex turn 2.  I didn't draw another Basic until turn 4!  But he couldn't get enough energies to beat me.  Whew!  But once I got going, I made sure I keep the match in my favor.  I constantly challenge him with Battle Frontier, grabbing prizes in the process.  He chose to fight me with Blastoise ex.  Not sure - it's the 1st time I see that, because I expected Steelix ex to put serious hurt on me right away.  In any case, I do as much damage to Blastoise ex as I can, with Ludicolo Swing Dance.  When he managed to get 90 damage on my Ludicolo, I simply Mr. Briney's Compassion and continue my assault with my other Swing Dance Ludicolo.  When time is almost called, his Blastoise ex has 90 damage, so I ATM: [Rock] to KO his Active Blasty ex, and his Rare Candied Pidgeot to make it a convincing prize count 2-4 when time is called.
 
Win 6-1 18pts.
 
This is the only time when I would really beat LBS if the match were to be played out in full.  But again, I just play my best and make sure I don't make any mistakes to give away games.
 
Too early to celebrate - the last 2 matches, I expect them to be even harder.
 
Round 8: vs. David from Mexico - Ludicargo mirror
Wow!  Another mirror?  Unbelievable!  Anyway, he got a really fast start by going 2nd with turn 1 Holon Mentor, and turn 1 Rare Candy Magcargo.  He played extremely aggressive - he basically went all out to grab first 2 prizes, and seemed to slow down his play considerably.  He walks a thin line between thinking through his decisions and stalling.  There was even a point where he makes mistakes with his Jirachi DX and Magcargo's Smooth Over.  He basically never mentioned what he wanted to do first.  But fortunately, one of the judges were watching our match most of the second half and saw he turned his Jiarchi DX.  He ruled that he used Wishing Star, and Wishing Star only, because he never mentioned he wanted Smooth Over first.
 
In any case, at that point of the game, time is almost up, and I was really scared that I would get a cheap loss, because I was behind 1 prize, and I know I can KO his Active Jirachi DX to tie the game up, at the prize count of 3-3.  However, I have the same problem as round 1.  He only have 3 Pokemon in play, and Mr. Briney's Compassion was prized. 
 
Not sure if it matters, because my only choice was to KO his Active Jirachi DX.  Since I have my Bench full, I'm destined to lose this game.  I mean even if I play Holon's Castform, I have 5 Benched, my opponent has 3 total Pokemon in his side.  That means with Strength Charm, I would be 10 damage short.  And he will be able to load his Bench with his Holon Mentor/Holon Transceiver. 
 
He ran out of Rare Candies (all 4), but he definitely has Holon Mentor/Holon Transceiver, since he only has 1 of each in his discard pile.  He hit my 1 of my Ludicolo hard earlier, so I have 80 damage, and since Mr. Briney's Compassion is in my prizes, ATM: [Rock] also wins the game for him.
 
I can't deal lethal damage to his Active Ludicolo, and he shows me the ATM: [Rock] for the game.
 
Loss 6-2 18pts.
 
Afterthoughts: I can feel safe about dropping now.  It is already past 2am in the morning.  However, my cell phone isn't working, and round 9 was about to start.  I know I have no shot even with a 7-2 record with my horrific tiebreakers, but I have no time to drop, so I may as well play it out.
 
I never expected that many Ludicolo/Magcargo - I mean facing Ludicolo/Magcargo, with identical build of my deck twice?  Wow!  That's just my luck.
 
Getting a slow start really puts me at a disadvantage, especially in a 30 minute game.  In a regular full game, drawing a 1st prize is probably bad for you, because your opponent's tempo advantage with Scramble Energy is going to beat you eventually.  When it gets toward the end of the game, the energy efficiency will be an issue.  In a 30 minute game, it never gets there.
 
I can't do much about this loss either though.  My starting hand is nowhere as strong as my opponent's, and I thought I at least done what I can to stay in the match.
 
Round 9: vs. Raichu delta/Exeggutor delta
Perfect!  Finally, a matchup I wanted all day!  Not that it matters, we both are playing for pride, because we both have horrible tiebreakers.  He took the early advantage with Exeggutor delta and Cursed Stone, but my Scramble Energy with Ludicolo turned the game around in a hurry.
 
If I can't One-Hit KO, I made sure I do Healing Steps so he can't One-Hit KO my Swing Ludicolo with any attack other than Metallic Thunder and Cursed Stone together.  He managed to do this once, but I have a 2nd one ready, and it sealed the deal.  His hand shrinks fast, along with his options.  And in the late game, he simply didn't have the "firepower" to stay in it.
 
Win 7-2 21pts.
 
Results: As expected, I finished 19th, but out of 290+ players.  So coupled with the fact that my only losses were to the same deck as mine, I have a lot to be proud of.
 
However, if I get a 2nd chance to run this deck again, I would most definitely fit a Warp Point in there, in favor of either Switch or Holon's Castform.  If I did that, I would have win both mirror matches in round 1 and round 8, and probably could make it to Worlds 06.
 
One more section...
 
III) Props and Slops
Props:
+ Patriach from pokegym for lending me a Jirachi DX.  I really need a 4th, so thank you very much.
 
+ Honestly, not much to be happy about - except that I can keep my head up for the next season, and hopefully making it to Worlds 07 in Kona, Hawaii.  You'll see why...
 
 
SLOPS:
- Players from Japan, Germany, etc. are here trying to qualify for just 8 slots, just to play at Worlds 2006?  Something is very wrong with Pokemon Organized Play.  Sorry.
 
- Only 8 slots?  Considering it was 290+ players, I think at least top 16 deserve an invitation to play at Worlds 2006.  I mean what's the difference to Nintendo anyway?  Does it cost them anything significant to let 8 more players play at Worlds 2006?  Even 24?  All they are offering is a Competitor's Kit (not much, IMO).  No hotel stay, maybe food, no travel money, nothing!
 
- Tournament started 1 hour late.  Not as big as an issue, as the next one...
 
- 9 rounds of Swiss play!  I think the tournament organizers can divide us into 8 groups, into 8 smaller tournaments, with each winner getting an invite.  I see the potential issue of matchplay 2 out of 3 games holding the top contenders even longer, but they can certainly make it 1 game, single elimination in top X.
 
- Round 8 player David - as I said I personally think he walked a thin line between simply having to make tough decisions and intentionally stalling.  I mean he knew what he was doing by simply trying to set up just Lotads/Slugmas (no Rhyhorn-Rhydon because it's Weak to Water).  He also knows not to have more than 3 Pokemon in play in Sudden Death.  So I don't understand why he takes such "long" turns, unless it's for strategic reasons - in particular, to keep his prize lead.
 
As usual, thanks for reading my report.
 
E-mail any comments or suggestions at wilhung53@aim.com.
 
Best Wishes,
William Hung
 
 

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