Phinnegan Lynch starring in the sequel to his last Regionals, return of the 9th.
I thought for sure after getting 11th, 10th, and 9th, I could not bubble again. The Gambler’s Fallacy is a fallacy for a reason. While I do think I could have either played better, or use a better list in my last three Regionals, in this case I cannot find much I could have done to get to top 8. Do not interpret this as salt, because it really is not. In fact, I feel great about Salt Lake! I just find it strange that I still cannot find something that I could have improved upon, to force a better placement.
I have said a couple times now that I believe Pokemon is 95% skill and 5% luck. I am not ready to say otherwise just yet. I believe I played more optimally with a better list than I have at any other event this season. I used time to my advantage in every round, I made only a few minor misplays but no mistakes that ended up making any difference, and I would not change card in my list. I am proud of that man! BUT, with all of that being said, I still think there has to be something I could have improved upon. I cannot bring myself to believe that I could have done everything correctly, and still miss top 8.
Tournament reports are sort of silly to me because they do not teach the reader much in general. I see them more as entertainment than anything. But I am also curious to see if I can find an instance where I may have made a mistake that contributed to the 9th placement. Nevertheless some people enjoy them. I decided to write a somewhat lengthy tournament report (Day 1 report is in the free portion). I include the 60 card list I played in this piece again; in case you missed my post from Friday. The list I used is unorthodox to say the least, well at least, to most people it is. To me the list is very normal, and not much different from what my Darkrai has looked like for the last four months.
I go into great detail about my card counts and inclusions because I think most readers will not understand why this version of Darkrai works (and in my opinion is better) than the variant that is normally played. I finish off with some thought about the direction Darkrai will take with the future meta and their events.
By the way, be sure to check Cut or Tap the night before every event if you are a Stage 2 member, because I always post my lists here before a Regionals, Intercontinentals, and Worlds. In most cases I write articles that have my list, but occasionally I run out of time and simply post a list, as I did with Salt Lake. Frankly I think the list I used for this event is the most easily net-decked list I have posted thus far.
The combination of playing a pretty easy deck, while having more experience than anybody (I started using standard turbo dark in late November), and using a consistent list, made a day two placement feel inevitable. I felt very confident going into this event. I thought I would not only make top 8, but was estimating a top 4 or better. So what went wrong?
Round 1 Decidueye/Vileplume/Jolteon/Glaceon
This is the number one most feared matchup I had going into the event. Rayquaza and Deci/Plume are what I considered to be Darkrai’s toughest matchups, and facing one of them immediately was not settling.
I lose the coin flip and pray the turn one Vileplume does not come down. It does not! I Ultra ball for something and check on important prizes like Lysandre and Escape Rope. Both Escape Rope are in-deck which makes a very big difference, however both Lysandre are prized, which makes a bigger difference. I knew immediately that I had around a 0% chance of winning the game, but I continued to play. My strategy here was to prolong game one, and then win the second game to force a tie. My plan works out perfectly. I win the second game by using Lysandre multiple times, and then using a Kukui to hit enough damage to take knock out on my last turn. Game three was about five minutes in before we tied. Perfect!
Round 2 Lapras
After my opponent mulligans four times, it becomes clear what I am facing. The way I have built my list makes this matchup quite easy for me, so I expected to take the match without much struggle. Game one my opponent flips several tails on Crushings which lets me take the game quickly with a tsunami of Dark Pulse damage. Game two he flips a little better on Crushings, but cannot find a Lapras! He benches out after losing his only Wobbuffet to a Dark Pulse for 110.
Round 3 Lapras
This is the round I face Pram on stream. I LOVE being streamed, so this was very exciting for me. So exciting in fact, that I made my first misplay. If you watched closely during our first game, one of my Ultra Ball targets was incorrect because I had thought I was going to use Set Up. Michael started with Wobbuffet, which I noticed at the last second before I benched Shaymin. I should have discarded the Shaymin in my hand instead of discarding the Reverse Valley. However, I did not end up having the chance to take advantage of the stadium even if I did play it, and I did not bench the Shaymin, so the error really made no difference. Still, I should have known better.
I won the first game with one card left in my deck. I Pram had used Team Flare Grunt something like six times in an attempt to run me out of energy. Oblivion Wing is a great attack that kept me in the game throughout. I knew exactly how to play the matchup because of my testing with Andy Hyun over the last two weeks. I conserved Escape Rope until after Ice Beam, and left myself with the correct options in my hands. Game two did not finish. After around a 25 to 30 minute game one, I was not too inclined to rush myself. notwithstanding, game two was also looking good, and I think it would have been a win for me if we had another fifteen minutes. This list is Lapras’ nightmare.
Round 4 Darkrai
Finally I face a mirror. I love mirror because my list is pretty much built to beat it. I lose the coin flip for the fifth time, and actually benefit from it because I can Oblivion Wing before my opponent. I missed three Elixirs and was sort of irritated by that, considering how many energy I play in my list, but find a route to win by repeated Lysandre use. I take game one by saving my last Shaymin for my last turn so that I can ensure a Lysandre out.
I want to say I won the second game, but frankly I cannot remember if the game happened. Either I won the second game or it never finished.
EDIT: My opponent was Avery George. He informed me that we did not finish the second game. I also forgot to note that he was forced to discard all three of his Escape Rope on his first turn! This definitely made a difference in the game’s outcome. Nice to meet you Avery!
Round 5 Rayquaza
I do not like this matchup. Polo Le is also a great player who I had never faced, which forced me to stay on my toes. Game one Polo pulls ahead, really ahead. He gets down to one prize while I have six left. I use this to my advantage by N’ing him down to one card and taking a knock out. He stumbles and does not do much after the N. I take another knock out and play Hex, going down to two prizes. Again Polo does not have an out to the game. I believe he did end up playing some sort of draw card on this turn, but I could be wrong. I could not take my last two prizes on the following turn, but I set myself up to have the game on the following turn. However, Polo finally finds an out to take the knock out. I try to go for a mind-game tactic that ultimately failed.
Game two takes the same direction to a degree. Long story short I end up N’ing him low again, but this time I take all of my prizes before he can. I ran a little better this time with combo-ing Set Up with Hex for a couple consecutive turns. By the time we finish this game, there is only about five minutes left. I play out game three in attempt to possibly take a donk to win the set. Once I see Polo Ultra Ball for Hoopa on turn 1 of time, I ask if he wants to tie because it is impossible for either of us to win. He agrees. The tie definitely works for me here. I do not think I would have won the last game if we played it out.
Drew Kennet is another amazing player and I knew that whatever he was piloting would most likely be a tough matchup. He went first and played Magikarp, which was a slight give-away. Fortunately for me, he dead drew for a good amount of our first game. I took advantage by never playing N and using Dark Pulse repeatedly. By the time Drew came out of the draw deficit, I had taken too much of a lead for him to recover. After our match, he said that his one Remoraid being prized gave him most of the trouble with draws that he ran into.
Game two was a bit of the same situation. Drew prized his Remoraid once again and dead drew towards the mid game for the same reason. I won another somewhat undeserving game. The matchup is difficult for Darkrai, around 40/60, so I was very lucky to have taken the match with a win.
Round 7 Tauros Hammers
I go into this matchup thinking I am favored due to the energy recovery I have with Yveltal (XY). My opponent flipping all heads on Crushing Hammers and me missing three Elixirs made the game hard to win. I almost pull it off, but cannot force my opponent to miss Lysandre and lose a close game one.
Game two really puzzled me. I remember walking away from the game feeling very confused, trying to figure out what went wrong. I lost again, but this time my opponent flipped two tails and one heads. I missed two Elixirs, which is manageable, but not great. I felt that I should have been able to win with these numbers. I still do not fully understand why I lost. Maybe Tauros Hammers is actually just a bad matchup. I believe if there is something that I did wrong at Salt Lake, it may have been in this matchup.
While Tauros Hammer is a very underplayed deck, I will most likely test it extensively because it is the only deck throughout the weekend that beat me without me dead drawing. It is also the only loss that I had where I was 2-0’d. My other two losses were due to me starting with a lone Pokemon and being benched out, as you will read about in the day 2 section of this report.
Round 8 Volcanion
I know that I cannot leave this match with anything less than a win. Volcanion is one of my better matchups, so I am confident that I can do it. Game one is pretty slow, but close. It was an ideal situation actually; one that I almost always strive for with the first game. I was subtly ahead the whole time, but not to a point where my opponent would scoop up. What this does is ensure that the game will run its course, but will also eat up enough time to give me a good chance of taking the set 1-0. Some strong Lysandre knock outs give me the win after about half an hour.
Game two is VERY scary. I start off with a lone Baby Yveltal with no draw cards. Two turns go by where I do nothing other than attach and use an impotent Oblivion Wing. I heavily consider scooping up my cards to try my luck with a quick third game. I stick with my gut and wait to see if I can draw out of the situation. My opponent has an opportunity to win the game, but he needs to play N to do so. He decides it is worth the risk, and plays N. I was lucky enough to see my opponent miss what he needed to Volcanic Heat.
I get a draw card from the N and come back into the game. At this point I do not care at all about taking knock outs, or even trying to create a board presence for that matter. All I am trying to do is put myself in a position where I cannot lose before time + turns are over. I play very defensively, relying on baby Yveltals and end up pushing the game until my opponent cannot win by the end of time. He told me after the match that he thinks he could have won the second game, but did not notice it until after the fact. Sheesh!
Round 9 Mega Mewtwo
I like this matchup. I know Mega Mewtwo is in theory a 50-50 against Darkrai, but I practiced Mega Mewtwo extensively over the last month, which gives me the advantage of knowing the ideal strategies to employ against it. For example, in game three I opted to pass instead of using Dark Pulse for 200 because I knew my opponent’s chances of having the Lysandre/Damage Swap combo were high.
Game one goes well to say the least. My opponent misses energy attachments and I go four for four on Max Elixirs. Think I did 240 on my last turn.
Game two I dead draw starting on my first turn. I have a hard time understanding how my list can play so many consistency cards and I still dead draw as much as I did. I scoop after my third turn because I realize my opponent has too much momentum for me to deal with.
With a small amount of time to finish the third game, I play very quickly. Going first is huge because I can Dark Pulse before my opponent can Psychic Infinity. I trade just a little bit better and then by the late game I hit for a ton of damage once again and take my last four prizes pretty handily.
I’m in! I skip out on a dinner because I know I need sleep more than food. I snack on some bread and pop tarts and go for a solid 8 hours of sleep. Both days of the event I actually woke up before my alarm went off, which is a great feeling. I feel very confident about my chances of making day two. I was 7th seed, my list was perfect, the meta was decent, and I was playing well during day one. The only concern I had was the fact that I had a 100% chance of facing Decidueye Vileplume in my first round