What is up with it, Dead Draw Nation! Kam aka Nam Kim here again, and I'll be sharing with you my recap of matches at the North America Intercontinental Championships in the beautiful city of Indianapolis! I ended Swiss rounds with a 6-2-1 record with Ol' Faithful (Mega Rayquaza EX) and again, round 9 went to time. I'm sure you're excited to hear about my day, so let's get right to it!
Fellow North Dakotan, Cody G., and I messed around with a Passimian/Raichu deck the weekend prior to the NAIC, but knowing it would likely be my last chance to play the deck I began with in the Standard Format, I ultimately stayed the course to ride out Mega Rayquaza to the end. This format is an insane wilderness of many different styles and decks making it the luck of the draw, so I stuck with what was comfortable with me.
If you guys remember my last article, I ran a 59 card list of Martin Janous' Mega Rayquaza that he piloted with success in the Austrian Nationals. This time around, I dropped my recovery almost entirely, relying solely on Dragonite EX's Pull Up ability. 2 Megas will either win you games to the point where the third usually does not help in my experience. I prepared for the Zoroark decks so naturally I missed them all. I added the Kukui I wanted, and brought back the 4th VS Seeker, otherwise it's very similar to my Madison list. That being said, here's my list!
4 Shaymin EX (ROS 77)
4 Unown (AOR 30)
3 Rayquaza EX (ROS 60)
3 M Rayquaza EX (ROS 76)
2 Hoopa EX (AOR 36)
2 Tapu Lele GX (GRI 60)
2 Dragonite EX (EVO 72)
1 Zygarde EX (FCO 54)
1 Sudowoodo (GRI 66)
4 Sky Field
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Mega Turbo
2 Rayquaza Spirit Link
2 Float Stone
1 Field Blower
2 Professor Sycamore
1 Hex Maniac
1 Professor Kukui
4 Double Colorless
Zoroark Drampa cleaned up loads of League Cups prior to the NAIC, as well topping the last couple Regionals. With one fighting energy and stadium, it can KO Zorua and Zoroark with Kukui. With two energy attachments it KO's Zoroark and the Break also with Kukui. During testing, it took at least 2 prizes and up to 3 with a bit of luck. Timely Lysandres while having little to no bench, Zoroark players can start to feel the pressure really early. This balances the match up little more towards Rayquaza, but it is still difficult to overcome, as Foul Play is one of the best attacks in the format.
Metagross GX scared me at Madison Regionals, as I do not like seeing Pokemon survive Emerald Break for 240 damage. The little draw power was nice if I had Mega Turbos or DCEs that I didn't want to discard with Professor Sycamore.
Rayquaza's bane itself. It's a pseudo (no pun intended) - stadium that tips the scales in my favor. The ditto matchup is unfair without their own phony tree. If my opponents are not careful, they won't be able to play Tapu Lele GX or Shaymin EX with Road Block limiting their bench.
The Who and How?
Round 1 vs Christine M. (Espeon/Garbador) WW
Christine came out to play and busted out the Garbotoxin Garbador early, but did not attach a Tool onto it for a while, so Mega Rayquaza got to roam free, which took game one to victory. Game two she did get to Garbotoxin, but I got rid of it swiftly with a clutch Lysandre. Fortunately for me, Christine attached a second DCE to her active Espeon GX while she had one on her bench with no attachments. I promptly knocked it out next turn and cruised onto a 1-0-0 start.
Round 2 vs Blaine H. (Darkrai/Garbador) WW
Game one was quite a battle, as Blaine managed to Garbotoxin up and was running hot very early with Exp. Share. I took a couple early prizes, which lead to me getting N'd frequently to small hands. Eventually it came down to the wire, and I needed to keep the VS Seeker for Lysandre that were in my hand for the win, and Blaine Sycamore'd thankfully. Game 2 was nowhere near as exciting, as he went first to start Yveltal with a quick energy attachment and pass. I discarded about 2 DCE's and 3 VS Seekers to fail the turn 1 donk and miss the Mega Turbo, but it didn't matter as he attached again on his second turn and attacked my active Mega Rayquaza after an Enhanced Hammer to knock off the DCE attached. I Wonder Tagged for Mallow and Set Up with Shaymin to grab my DCE and Mega Turbo for the turn 2 donk.
Day one looked good for Kam this morning. 2-0-0.
Round 3 vs. James S. (Garbador/Drampa) LWL
James played the matchup masterfully, as he forced me to use up my resources early and also played Garbotoxin. At one point he used Delinquent on me so I had to discard the one more item he needed for Trashvalanche to KO my Lele. Game two was quick, as I immediately set up and eliminated any Trubbish. It helped that he could only put one down each turn. Eventually he only had Leles and Drampas that I KO'ed rather quickly, setting us for game 3.
We ended up going to time, and I misplayed terribly when what I needed to do for the tie was Lysandre stall, but tunnel vision prevented me seeing the Garbador with Choice Band attached and I promoted his Drampa instead. He attached DCE to retreat, Lysandres my Shaymin EX and ended it on turn two of time with Trashvalanche. 2-1-0.
Round 4 vs. Andrew W. (Espeon/Garbador) WW
My game one against Andrew turned out very much like my round two game one, where I quickly took a couple of prizes and he N'ed me to small hands. Luckily he did not prioritized Garbotoxin and opted to Trashvalanche as well as use Psybeam. Eventually I would only need one more prize for the win, and I took it by alternating between two Megas while setting up for my third. Game two it took me a while to set up, but the same happened to Andrew. He did manage to Stomp Off with Trubbish after I Mallow'ed, milling my Shaymin straight into the discard pile! But unfortunately for him, it wasn't enough as he did not get to set up Garbotoxin again, and Ray did what Ray does best - explode. Right back on the win train! 3-1-0.
Round 5 vs. Calvin N. (Volcanion/Turtonator) W
Calvin went first and started Volcanion, played Brooklet Hill to grab another Volcanion, and attached to the active. I used Brooklet Hill to grab my Sudowoodo, put my own Sky Field in and went ham. I took the first KO with the Mallow setting me up after I used Scoundrel Ring with Hoopa in hand and Ultra Balled away a Fighting energy. Ray took another KO off baby Volcanion, but then Calvin put up Turtonator GX. He did not knock out Mega Ray but if I retaliated, Ray would've knocked itself out and I did not want to be N'ed to 1 the following turn while giving up 2 prizes. I decided to make it difficult for him and retreated into my Sudowoodo. This paid out for me as he did not have bench space to play Lele, but did want to take 2 prizes off Hoopa EX, so played Lysandre for the KO. This bought me enough time to gear up another Mega Rayquaza by the time the Turtonator knocked out my Woodo with a couple of Steamed Up Shell Traps. Luckily I kept the extra Sky Field in hand with Dragonite. I pulled up my fraudulent tree along with a Shaymin to refresh my hand. I made the move and KO'ed his Turtonator, biting through Shell Trap damage. He proceeds to Brooklet Hill, N, attach for turn to benched Volcanion EX, and KO my Ray. I didn't get the sky Field on my next draw, so I hit back for 150 with my already damaged Ray, hoping he doesn't attach 2 energies into the benched one to KO Ray and take game One. He Sycamored into attachment for turn and then used Max Elixir after playing Ultra Ball to thin out his deck just a little more. Calvin found out if he hadn't used Ultra Ball and simply Elixired, it would've been successful. Luckily for me, he whiffs the Elixir with 9 or 10 cards left in his deck! He manually retreats and promotes the fresher Volcanion. I VS for Lysandre to finish it off.
Game 2 looked bad for me, as he was pretty well set up, and my set up was not as stellar. Time was called, and neither of us took any prizes start of turn 0. It wasn't the quick game I thought it was going to be, and it wasn't the way I would've like to end it, but as a wise man once said: "we take those." 4-1-0.
Round 6 vs. Adam S. (Mega Ray) WW
Adam and I both flipped over Rayquaza EX's (his the colorless and mine the dragon) and we both spout our love for the deck. Our jolly meeting was very short lived, however, when I played Sudowoodo. He did nearly beat me game one, as I had to dig deep to set up more Megas than him, so naturally Shaymin EX were aplenty for him to prey on. I did bait the Woodo for him to take, so I Pulled Up that bad boy right back onto my bench, making it a 7 prize game for him and Road Blocking any chances of victory. Game 2 went very similarly, as Sudowoodo severely tips the scale in my favor. But he and I both agreed there's no shame in losing to a fellow Ray brother, and he gave me his support to go as far as I could. 5-1-0.
Rounds 7 vs. Christopher S. (Darkrai) WW
I am convinced this match up is near auto-win for Ray if Darkrai doesn't play Sudowoodo. I didn't see it both games, and it really was a blur because of how fast both games ended.
Round 8 vs. Gustavo (Alolan Ninetales/Sudowoodo/Octillery) LL
I played this match up before, and it is very bad for Rayquaza. Gustavo immediately dug for his Sudowoodo both games. It really is no contest with Rough Seas added in there, so at most I'm smacking them for 140. 6-2-0
Round 9 vs. Christopher W. (Darkrai/Sudowoodo) WLT Time
Sudowoodo came in clutch game one when Christopher dropped 4 onto his bench turn 1, and I looked for my hero of the day. This ended up preventing him from playing his own Sudowoodo. He managed to Lysandre stall a bit but I had 3 fully ready Mega Rays by the end of game one. Game two seems like a blur because I didn't want to reach time, and the frustration showed in my opponent. He ended up winning game two though, and just when I playing out my turn one time was called. I attached DCE to the active and filled my bench, keeping my Sky Field in hand. Christopher attaches for turn on his active Darkrai on turn one of time, hits Max Elixir on his benched Darkrai and passes. I drop my stadium and sixth pokemon and KO his Darkrai for 2 prizes. He goes ham on turn 3, dropping down Sudowoodo, a couple Lele's and Exp. Shares as well as Choice Bands. He Dark Pulsed for 110, leaving him 6 prizes to my 4. He initialed and circled the Tie, and both of our Cinderella stories came to an end with records of 6-2-1 each.
I didn't get to beat Night March on stream with Rayquaza this time around, but I did improve from 4-4-1 to 6-2-1, missing Day Two by one win. I do go back home with less prizes than last time, but finishing out 103 out of 1350+ Masters is something I won't forget. My invite was nowhere near close, so my ride with Mega Rayquaza in Standard ends here..
I said it once and I'll say it again: the Standard format is alive and well. Burning Shadows will bring in a diverse set of cards that opens up the vastness of the playing field even further. World's should be a doozy, and I can not wait to get started for next year! I'll be sure to attend more than a single Regional and Intercontinental next time for you folks! Mega Rayquaza in the Standard Format has run it's course, but my journey in competitive Pokemon has seemingly just started, and having tasted a little success makes me hungry for more.
I. Love. This. Game. The competition, the volunteers, the judges, the spectatorship, and simply enjoying the game you love with others who love it as much as you is a sensation that can't be explained. I want to give shout outs to my league and friends from North Dakota who tested with me, theory crafted with me, and simple were a friend to me. Many thanks goes out to Darrin, Danny, and Dan from DDG for believing in me and supporting me. I will not let you guys down 2017-2018 season.
Also, huge congratulations to Tord R. for taking it all home, as well as fellow Ray brothers who managed a top 64 finish in the NAIC: Reno B., Patrick B., and Chris D. I feel I share a bond with those who chose to ride it out with Mega Rayquaza. You'll be sure that if Ray pops up anywhere at World's, they'll have my support without a doubt!
Hope to see you all in the Fall! Until then.
-Nam "Kam" Kim