The season is concluding and the most important tournament of the year is coming up. This season was a crazy one; I would have never expected the circuit to be like this with players traveling to all these tournaments. It really was exciting to see the game grow so much this season. As for my season, I ended up with 735 championship points. I could not push for a spot in Top 16 since the grind was so hard and I decided after my poor performance at the European Internationals that I should not pursue it. Going to 15+ Regionals/Special Events/Internationals was not feasible since I did not have the time.

It does hurt not going for it because I was ranked in the Top 16 in the previous three years but I’ll have to prove myself in Day 1 of Nashville. I took a break from traveling starting in March with the Portland Regionals until the NAIC. I felt revitalized and refreshed enough to start getting back into the grind. The Worlds format looks promising and there are a lot of unexplored concepts out there. I’m looking forward to all the testing for Worlds.

NAIC Recap

For Columbus, I really wanted to play a Zoroark deck. I love how consistent Zoroark variants are and the control they give me throughout games. I was on ZoroRoc but the deterrent for me was how poor the Buzzroc matchup was. I built Zoropod and was convinced this was the correct Zoroark variant to play because it had a doable matchup versus Buzzwole. I had both Zoropod and Buzzroc sleeved but I knew I was going with Buzzroc because I felt that the deck gave me the highest potential to win the tournament. Here is the list I used below.

R1 Beast Box WW
R2 Buzzroc LWL
R3 Buzzroc WW
R4 Zoropod WLT
R5 Zoropod WW
R6 Malamar WW
R7 Buzz/Garb LWW
R8 Buzzroc WW
R9 Volcanion WLL

I started off 1-1 after losing to a mirror match in the second round. Then I tied the 4th round to my teammate Mark Garcia. After that tie, I won four straight to put myself at a 6-1-1 record. The last round I played against Sam Liggett who was piloting his Volcanion deck, game one I ran pretty well. The next two games I flat out bricked. It was very frustrating and brutal but stuff happens. Losing like that sucks but I just shook it off. I really enjoyed the rest of the weekend so the loss did not bother me too much.
Reflecting on my deck choice I do not really regret it. I felt like I had a great chance of making Day 2. Looking at the results, Zoroark showed up big for the Top 8 by taking five out of the eight Top 8 spots. Zoroark’s consistency and maneuvering made if very successful. Through a tournament with 1500+ players and a lot of rounds, Zoroark’s consistency can carry a person to a great finish. I also found it interesting how there were four different Zoroark decks that made Top 8 in Zororoc, Zoropod, ZoroGarb and Tord’s Zoroark denial deck. It goes to show you that you cannot outright counter Zoroark since it can be played in so many different ways. I really thought Buzzwole was the king of the format but Zoroark still reigned supreme. Another aspect of the tournament I noticed is that most of the best players ran Zoroark variants. I think that is another reason why Buzzwole did not dominate like it did past tournaments. Buzzwole was dominating because most of the elite players were running Buzzwole. I still think Buzzwole is a great deck but I do think the best players have a lot of influence over what does well.

The winning deck, Zoroark/Garbodor was a really great deck and Meta call for the tournament. Stephane Ivanoff is a great player and for me, it is no surprise to see him win. (He’s beaten me twice as at Worlds) He and his teammates created a very cool deck. The deck has a lot of options, techs and control. What allows it to be so teched out is that Zoroark’s consistency can allow it to function and coordinate different strategies. I was testing the Bursting Balloon version of this deck and I thought it was decent but Stephane's version is definitely superior. This deck shines in the hands of a great player. I still think this deck is very good for the upcoming Worlds format and is a force to be reckoned with.

Previewing Celestial Storm

Apparently, this set contains a whopping 168 cards. I looked through them and after reviewing everything, I was not all that impressed by it, but I could be wrong. The card that should stick out the most is Rayquaza GX. This card is very powerful and fast and should be a solid deck. Japan’s best player, Takuya Yoneda recently won Japan National Championships with a straight Rayquaza GX build and I think we’ll see some builds similar to his in the Worlds format. There might be other ways to use the card, from Beast Ring/Xurkitree or Vikavolt but I think Max Elixir and Latias is probably the best way to play it right now.

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