Seena Ghaziaskar is the 2005 United States National Champion and 2017 Origins Special Event winner.
Hey everyone. Today I’d like to share my tournament report from the Internationals.
Testing for the NAIC
In the weeks prior, I had been testing a multitude of decks but ultimately decided on Zoroark. I was worried that many people would try to counter it, but I ultimately decided it’s not worth fretting about too much with such a large player pool. The deck is very strong, probably one of the 2-3 best decks in the format, and I felt comfortable playing it.
List Analysis: Zoroark/Umbreon
Here is the list I used, followed by breakdowns on Pokemon and Trainer choices.
3 Zoroark BREAK
2 Tapu Lele GX
1 Drampa GX
1 Shaymin EX
1 Umbreon GX
The addition of the Eevees adds another element to the deck. A fast Umbreon can put on early pressure and the snipe damage can set up easier eventual KOs with Zoroark, and Flareon and Vaporeon are a boost in the Vespiquen, Decidueye, Metagross, Lurantis, and Volcanion matchups. Even then, you still have one Drampa because it needs a heavy hitter.
I had flirted with 3-2 Umbreon, but immediately found that too clunky given that some matchups you don’t even use Umbreon at all. 2-1 felt sufficient, because since Umbreon is more of a secondary attacker than primary, you can afford it being prized.
4 Professor Sycamore
1 Hex Maniac
1 Professor Kukui
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Choice Band
2 Float Stone
1 Super Rod
1 Reverse Valley
Pretty standard. Most people play 2 Rescue Stretcher but I always felt 2 recovery cards was 1 too many, + I’m running a 3rd BREAK whereas most people run 2. Also, I like the option of putting Darks back in the deck given the most important attack is Foul Play, and sometimes you have to discard energies from bad Sycamores and using attacks like Bulu. Special Charge didn’t feel needed, because this isn’t a deck that chains DCE attackers like Bees and Gyarados. 4 Choice Band was flirted with at times but felt clunky in MUs where the card isn’t needed.
4 Double Colorless
General Thoughts on the Deck
If I had to change the deck, I may consider cutting the lone Reverse Valley for a 4th Choice Band, and the 4th N for a 6th Dark Energy. Missing energy drops was a frustrating aspect of this deck. But overall, I was very happy with how the deck flowed throughout the day, although maybe in part it was because I wasn’t running into bad matchups like Greninja and Darkrai
As for the matchup breakdown, I feel like we’re favored against Espeon/Garbodor, slightly favored in mirror, favored v Metagross, even v Decidueye variants (perhaps a slight underdog), lose pretty solidly to Darkrai and Greninja, beat Lurantis and Volcanion. Next set will change everything though, so I’m not sure it’s playable.
Onto the Games
Round 1 v Vespiquen
He flips over a Zorua, so I expect I’m playing a Zoroark deck, but as soon as he benches Unown I know it’s Bees. Annoying, because right before the tournament, I cut Karen. His 1st turn results in attaching a DCE to Lele and Energy Driving my Drampa, and I’m able to pull off a 2 DCE/Lele/Band/Float Stone/Kukui play to OHKO the Lele. I take a 3-0 lead and trade from there. Time is called in Game 2, and there was a crucial turn where he was only able to Bee Revenge for 80, and I think I would’ve won this game because of this.
Round 2 v Volcanion
Vaporeon shined in this matchup. He ran Fighting Fury Belt and this is where Vaporeon became important. He takes a 1-0 or 2-0 lead but is unable to keep up in trades from there as Volcanions get OHKO’d by single prize attacking Zoroarks. He dead draws in Game 2 despite KO’ing a Drampa for the first 2 prizes, and a combination of Umbreon and Vaporeon finish off his weak board state.
Round 3 v Sylveon GX
This matchup seems pretty bad, but I do pull off the T1 Hex Maniac. Unfortunately I made a gross misplay where I habitually discarded a Kukui with my Ultra Ball. Having done this, I was unable to Strafe for 60 (Kukui/Reverse Valley) to KO his lone Eevee on the 2nd turn (worst misplay of the tournament). And then Sycamored for 7 and Shaymin’d for 5 and could not find the game winning DCE. The game drags on and I’m sitting there doing 70-100 with Umbreon, and eventually have a turn where I take 3 prizes by KO’ing an Eevee and Sylveon with Shadow Bullet and win. Game 2 I get out 2 Zoroark BREAK and he has to waste a turn to use Plea GX, but since his deck is putting on no offensive pressure I eventually reset them and win anyway. As is expected with Sylveon, time is called and he is nowhere near winning the game or decking me out. I believe he misplayed some Magical Ribbons in Game 1 because he had an eventual awkward mid game sequence where he was passing after a Max Potion.
Round 4 v Zoroark/Drampa
His first mistake was dropping a Magma Base when I had a Drampa with Energy on bench, and I proceed to take a 5-0 lead with that Drampa alone. I was unable to find Oranguru so some late game Ns kind of hurt, but I was eventually able to find what I needed for that last prize. Game 2 I don’t recall much, but I did have an important turn where Kukui allowed me to one shot a Tapu Koko with Umbreon. I think i got a fast Umbreon in this game and it put in a lot of work before it went down.
Round 5 v Volcanion
This matchup was on stream. In Game 1 Vaporeon steals the show, as KO’ing back to back Volcanion EXs destroys his board and he concedes shortly after when I have 1 prize. Game 2 I realize my Vaporeon is prized, but I decide to bench 2 Eevee to bluff the threat and he does Lysandre KO one of the Eevees. I have a pretty slow start, and even have a awkward turn where I attach a Rainbow to KO my active Zorua falling behind 2-0 in prizes, just to Big Wheel out of a dead hand. I’m behind 4-1 or 4-2 when I have a sequence where I Hex back to back turns, and he is unable to take a prize on Zoroark BREAKS… eventually I dig through nearly my entire deck when I have 2 prizes left, and the Drampa that was sitting on the bench with 70HP gets to take the last 2 prizes with a Berserk on a Volcanion. I got lucky here, as he did have 2-3 turns where a Lysandre would’ve won him the game outright.
Round 6 v Zoroark/Drampa
The first game starts slow as I attach DCE to benched Zorua and he Lysandre kills it with Energy Drive. I repeat the same the next turn and he once again Lysandre KOs it with Energy Drive. I’m down 2 Zorua and 2 DCE at this point, but eventually I find a way to win this game through the power of Foul Playing Berserk and limiting my bench. Umbreon put a lot of work in the mid game sequence as well, with the 30 snipe damage being very relevant and being able to one shot Zoroarks thanks to Reverse Valley.
At this point I get my 2nd deck check and the judges tell me that a few cards are marked, and that I am DQ’d. I’m pretty disappointed, because I worked SO damn hard this year to try and get an invite. I don’t think I played more Pokemon at any point from 2001-2009, and I don’t think I traveled and spent as much money as I have the past 3-4 months. But I guess mistakes happen, and I don’t feel any guilt because I did not deliberately mark cards, and never did I have an unfair advantage over any of my opponents.
Thoughts on the Season/Conclusion
I’m very satisfied with my year regardless of the bitter and unfair ending. I had 27 championship points heading into March, but went on a tear with 1st/2nd/2nd at League Cups (145 points), T8 at Virginia (100), and the win at Origins SPE (145). At 6-0, I had basically guaranteed the final points I needed to get over 500. I played well this season, practiced a LOT as you can see on the PTCGO leaderbards, and hope to play in the next big tournament I can.
(7/16 update: the staff have since offered additional commentary on the issues raised by this report. To read it, click here.)