Report by: Erik Nance Deck: Arithmetic Event: Statesville, NC Southeast Regional Championship Format: Modified (HP-on) Before Note: Most of the stuff contained in this section is personal baggage that I thought would be interesting to those who know me well enough to care. If you only want to know about the matchups and whatnot, I suggest you make use of that scroll bar and read everything in the “During” section. We’ll go back a few weeks for this one… At some point within the last month or two I found myself up at 2:30 AM with my cards and decks out, trying furiously to find a counter to the Magmortar/Gardilade variants that had completely overrun the format. I felt like I had tried everything: Empoleon variants, BlissCat, Golduck/Banette/Claydol/Xatu, Swampert/Claydol, Tokyo (aka Skittles), Togekiss/Wailord, Absol/Wormadam, Banette/Gyarados (not Arithmetic, but close), Blastoise/Furret, etc. Of course, I tested those decks against my own Magmortar/Gardilade lists, finding out that time and time again I held little confidence in a rogue deck performing well at Regionals. I did all of this testing alone. Ever since my brother got a new job, we haven’t had time to get together and play much (and as many of you have observed, he hasn’t been able to make it to any of the tournaments either). This has left me with nobody to play the game with. Of course, I could go online and get Apprentice or Redshark, but I prefer to test and play Pokemon in real life. After watching every deck I concocted completely fail to meet my expectations, I felt discouraged. No, let me correct that – I felt betrayed. After three years of playing Pokemon I had found it at its lowest point. It seemed to me that every decision made by PUI/POP was made without the slightest interest in the competitor’s desires for the game. I don’t say this to create controversy, I’m just pointing out how things seemed. POP packs were worthless, new sets were lacking, set rotations left us with few choices, and I was afraid that we would see yet another Premier Tournament completely rife with Mortar/Gardilade variants (which, unfortunately, became true with only a few exceptions). Not only was I frustrated with the game, I was frustrated with myself. I had made Pokemon into an obsession, and I was trying to solve something that, for me, had no answer. As I mentioned before, I nearly “discovered” Arithmetic when I put together Gyarados and Banette, but with nobody to test with I quickly abandoned the idea. In fact, most ideas I had wouldn’t even materialize – I would always find some fatal flaw with a combo that made it unplayable. After leading myself down multiple dead ends, I finally realized that I needed to take a break. After that night I began to focus on the things that truly mattered in my life – things such as marriage and teaching. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been engaged for about five months to Paige Lineberry, only the coolest girl in the world (as well as my best friend). With plans to teach this fall I decided to start going over my textbooks from college again, hoping that I could make my first year of teaching as easy as possible (yeah, if you’re a teacher reading this, you probably just laughed out loud at that thought). I stopped posting on PokeGym because even that had become an obsession. I would constantly look around on the Gym, hoping that some good deck idea would pop its head up from the mediocrity that had taken its grip on the competition. Furthermore, I kept trying in vain to help people understand how varied this game once was. I wasn’t just tossing sour grapes around, but it certainly began to feel that way. I quickly realized that I had to stop thinking about Pokemon altogether. In many ways, I’m still in that position today. I still visited the PokeGym every now and then in hopes that something interesting would appear. One day I saw Jimmy Ballard post something about a 4 Corners deck; I tucked that away in my mind. I was also able to finally get together with Kevin to hang out. He had to practically beg me to play Pokemon. His latest deck idea – Wailord, Mantine, Palkia Lv.X, and Cresselia Lv.X – left me even more uncertain about the game than before (I honestly thought Kevin had lost it). With a couple of weeks left before Regionals I sent Jimmy a private message asking if he would pass the list for 4 Corners on to me. In the back of my mind I was planning on what kind of funny deck I could play just to make people laugh (I was planning an Unown deck complete with 4 Unown E, 4 Unown R, 4 Unown I, 4 Unown K, and a bunch of other random stuff). A day later Jimmy pm’ed me the Arithmetic list. I realized what things I had missed from my Banette/Gyarados deck and actually found myself interested in playing again. Aside from it being a viable counter to most of the decks in the format, it looked fun. Not that it matters to most people, but I actually liked the Pokemon as well (Claydol being one of my favorites). I’m not going to say that it completely changed my attitude about Pokemon, but it was definitely a refreshing idea. I found myself testing it with great success within the week. Note: Jimmy, many thanks to you. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without the list you gave me. I had confidence in myself as a player, but I seriously didn’t have the time or resources to come up with an effective counter. I want to say I got close, but your list was far superior to the combo I came up with. Thanks for helping us players break the format; it’s people like you that make this game so great. The night before the tournament I found myself making a few changes to the list that Jimmy had passed on to me. I didn’t change a lot, just the trainers. I also added a tech that helped me out in about half the games I played (the SW Mew). After completing the list, I put together two more lists for my friends that went with me to the tournament. At around 2:30 AM I finally got to bed. During I woke up at around 7:15 AM and checked back over my list to see if it all looked clean. Last-minute changes always need a recheck. It looked fine. My list was as follows: Pokemon (21) 3x Shuppet (CG) 1x Shuppet (PK) – Note: I would have gone with 4 CG Shuppets, but I only had 3. 4x Banette (SW) 2x Magikarp (MT) 2x Gyarados (MT) 2x Cresselia (GE) 2x Cresselia Lv.X (GE) – Note: Thanks to Chelsea for letting me borrow 1 of these. 2x Baltoy (GE) 2x Claydol (GE) 1x Mew (SW) Trainers 4x T.V. Reporter 3x Bebe’s Search 2x Copycat 2x Holon Mentor 3x Lake Boundary 4x Warp Point 3x Master Ball 3x Great Ball 1x Night MainteNance Energy (14) 8x Psychic Energy 4x Double Rainbow Energy 2x Holon Energy WP I’ll go over my reasoning for the changes I made (or the things I left in) right quick. A few people asked me why I had the Cresselia in the deck, simply because they found it too hard to get in play. I don’t have an easy answer for this, but I can point out a couple of things that probably helped out here. First of all, with two Holon Mentors and three Great Balls, I found it relatively easy to maintain a full bench at all times during the game. With the Great Balls I was able to get the Cresselias out mid-game after first focusing my attention on the main components of the deck (using a Holon Mentor, I would always make sure I had a Baltoy, a Magikarp, and two Shuppets out on the field unless the game state required something different). I could use a Supporter mid-game while still getting a Cresselia ready to go. Second, I usually depended on the Mew to help me set up unless I already had an outstanding hand. I don’t have the best luck in the world, so having the Mew in there helped out a lot. This usually meant that I had to sacrifice the Mew, leaving me with the opportunity to get a Cresselia Lv.X in play. Of course, Warp Points helped out too, but this was the general pattern for a lot of my games. The last thing I can say is that the Cresselia Lv.X worked wonders for me. A lot of people didn’t use it, which was cool, but I absolutely loved the card. It gave me a lot more options late-game, which was exactly what I needed. A lot of people used Crystal Beach with this deck. I thought that to be a great play, but I had already tried that stadium at SC States with little success (most people still had stadium counters in their decks). My choice for Lake Boundary was simply a response to the metagame. Most people found a 3-3 Gyarados to be more effective in the long run than a 2-2. If I could go back and change anything about the deck, this would be it. I might have dropped a card to make it a 2-3 Gyarados line, that way I wouldn’t be starting with lame 30 HP Pokemon as much while maintaining the ability to keep the Pokemon in play (with the Holon Mentor/Great Ball thing I wouldn’t have had a hard time getting Magikarps in play when I needed to). One reason I didn’t question the Gyarados line that much was the fact that I didn’t expect there to be a great presence of Magmortar variants. With the rising popularity of PLOX and water-type decks, I thought that any player opting for Magmortar would be making a risky decision, and risky decisions are usually the last thing good players make when it comes to big tournaments. Finally, I took out both the PokeNav and Energy Switch cards. In testing, I just never used them, though I still think Energy Switch to be a great play. I wanted to focus more on consistency than individual trainer techs, so it was just a personal choice. _______________________________________________________ At the tournament site (which was both awesome and new, by the way) I saw many people I hadn’t seen for a long time. It was good getting to meet up with friends again. I was dismayed when I didn’t see more Florida players (Ryan Vergel, Alex Hill, Bianchi, etc., when am I ever going to see you guys again?!), but the Silvestros were there along with Curry and the Malecs. Paige and I bought little Pokemon phone charms, and I purchased a Sableye plush for three bucks that didn’t sell at last year’s Regionals (come on guys, Sableye’s awesome). Hmm… I saw Garrett and his father, and Garrett told me that he was playing the same thing I was (Garrett went on to win his division with Arithmetic, which was just awesome). There’s a ton of stuff I can say here about the people I talked to and whatnot, but to save time and and space, I’ll move on to the main part of my report: the matchups. Note: We did a 7 Round Swiss with a top cut of 16. 7 Round Swiss: Round 1 – vs. Jeremy Wilson (Typhlosion/Gyarados) I helped Jeremy make his deck choice before the tournament started, so I already knew what he was running. It was either Typhlosion/Gyarados or Wigglytuff/Darkrai/stuff, so I suggested the Typhlosion/Gyarados deck (don’t be fooled by how cool Darkrai looks, that deck is bad). Jeremy’s start wasn’t that good as he flips over a Magikrap. I flip over a PK Shuppet (yeah, I only had three “Ascension” Shuppets) and do Bad Dreams. I thought I had him on the second turn but he plays a Roseanne’s Research to get out some more Basics. He also put a Cessation Crystal on his active Magikrap. This didn’t do anything since I had a Warp Point waiting. I got Claydol in play and pretty much overwhelmed him by playing a couple of Warp Points at the right time and rushing him with Banettes. 1-0 Round 2 – Ryan Sablehaus (GG/Dusknoir) I didn’t know if there were any other secret decks floating around at Regionals, so when Ryan flipped over a Duskull it had me playing cautiously. He benched a Pachirisu and I used a Warp Point to bring it out. I couldn’t KO it or anything, and one would have thought it to be a bad play, but it helped me set up better with my SW Mew. Unfortunately, Ryan couldn’t pull an energy to get his setup with Pachirisu, so I started to take an early lead. He finally got some stuff in play, revealing his deck choice to me. It didn’t seem to matter though, as Ryan seemed to have absolutely nothing in his hand the whole game. I was hoping for an intense match, but luck is cruel sometimes. Sorry about that one Ryan. 2-0 Round 3 – Denise Barlock (GG/Dusknoir) Denise opens with a Duskull, leading me to believe that I was going up against the same thing again. Her list included Stantler instead of Pachirisu, but I never saw it. I can’t say that I donked her though because every time she played a Ralts to the bench I used a Warp Point to bring it out and KO it before she could ever evolve into a Gardy/Gallade. She confirmed for me later that she had those Stage 2’s in her hand but no Rare Candy. After taking out 2 Ralts and a Kirlia within the first 6 turns or so, all she had left was that Duskull. I knocked it out for the win. 3-0 Round 4 – Aaron Curry (BlissBan/techs) This was my favorite game of the day, even though I lost. Aaron’s always been a strong player, and he proved it once again with this match. He opens with a Chansey and attaches, then passes. My opening hand is seriously lacking as I get a SW Mew in play to help me set up. Aaron moves quickly and starts knocking out things that I have to sacrifice before getting set up. He plays an incredible assortment of techs that helps him keep his hand size big, meaning that he almost always has what he needs when he needs it (be it a Strength Charm, Warp Point, etc.). I keep this in mind as the game moves on, making my moves with caution. Cresselia helps me out here as I’m able to take a prize or two by moving damage counters around. Aaron plays it wonderfully, reserving a couple of things on the bench for the right moment. Some of the details here are fuzzy, but I remember everything coming down to one single play. I put Aaron in a tough spot with a fully powered up Gyarados with no damage that will probably take the win if he doesn’t do something game-changing. Here’s where Aaron’s careful planning helped him out. He brings up a Sableye or something and looks at the situation. If he can’t OHKO my Gyarados I’ll probably have the win. After doing some mental calculation Aaron acts disappointed, saying that he’s only 10 damage away from knocking the Gyarados out. Almost instantly he realizes that he forgot to add the extra energy that Blissey pulls from the discard pile, so he sends up a Blissey with 4 Psychic Energy on it, attaches a Boost Energy and two PlusPowers, and takes the OHKO with that extra energy he pulled from the discard pile. All in all, great game Aaron. 3-1 Round 5 – Michael Adams (Gallade/Mismagius) Michael seemed to struggle greatly with this game. Without any supporter Pokemon he runs the risk of not having what he needed when he needed it, and this is exactly what happened. He starts with Misdreavus and gets another one in play, but he doesn’t have an energy so he passes. I have a Shuppet ready to ascend to Banette, but I bench a few things before attacking. I can’t remember if Michael used a Team Galactic’s Wager or a Copycat for 3-4 cards, but all I know is that he left himself with very few options. The game goes downhill for him very quickly as I’m able to set up Banettes with responses to anything he throws at me. He gets a Gallade or two in, but the OHKO is much too strong for him to deal with and I quickly take the game. 4-1 Round 6 – Todd S. (Ho-Oh/Togekiss/Claydol) This game was intense. Todd gets the desired start, using Pachirisu to fill up his bench. Fortunately, I know exactly how his deck works, so I concentrate on getting the Gyarados/Cresselia combo going. My Mew helps me out with this (as well as recovering from a pretty bad opening hand). Within a few turns Todd has a Ho-Oh up and running with something like six Basic Energy on it. He even attaches a Holon Energy WP to the thing, a great play that I pointed out to Alex Hill when he made a thread about the deck some time ago. Because of this, “Ghost Head” never saw play at all. Eventually, I’m able to “OHKO” the Ho-Oh with a Gyarados doing “Flail” for 80 (plus Cresselia’s Poke-Power). Todd flips a heads, meaning that my Gyarados faces its own OHKO. I get another Gyarados up and “OHKO” Ho-Oh again, to which Todd flips a tails. Had he flipped a heads, I can honestly say I would have lost this game. Without much of a response, Todd has to manually power up another Ho-Oh, leaving me with the opportunity to mount a comeback. Cresselia helped me out here, pulling me a prize just from moving damage counters alone. Time is called on Todd’s turn, and though he tries to pull something decent off a Copycat, the cards just aren’t with him. Great game Todd. 5-1 Round 7 – Tom Wise (GG/Claydol/Furret) This game was also pretty crazy. Of course, by this time one should be expecting the games to be tough. Tom’s been out of the scene for awhile now, but he’s back in full force with an awfully consistant GG deck. I struggle quite a bit with this game, as I have a hard time setting up. By the time I see Claydol I’m already facing “Psychic Lock,” and without multiple Banettes in play I see trouble brewing. Tom, who’s only been familiar with his deck for a couple of days, makes a risky play by using “Bring Down” to start cleaning my bench. I can see the ups and downs of his decision, but I think his unfamiliarity with my deck caused him to make that play. With Claydol’s “Cosmic Power” I’m able to get some responses up by getting Banette’s in play, but even this didn’t mean I had the win. For some reason, I could never pull a Lake Boundary to push the game in my favor. Instead, I focus on abusing Cresselia’s Poke-Power to reserve a KO in the later stages of the game. This proves useful, but I still struggle with pulling the right cards afterwards. I miss energy drops like crazy and can never seem to steamroll over this deck like normal (at least from my own testing). I can see that time is running out, so I have to plan my moves carefully. With another Gardevoir Lv.X up, Tom uses “Bring Down” to KO something on the bench (I think it was a Banette). My other Banette OHKO’s the Gardevoir, and I use a Warp Point or something after time was called to take another prize and win the game. For what it’s worth, this “auto-win” was one of the toughest games of the day. Nice playing Tom. 6-1 Top Cut of 16 After we all sit down to get the top cut started, it’s announced that due to time constraints the top 16 and top 8 matches will only be 45 minutes long. Everyone’s kind of distraught about this, since “time” in Pokemon has decided more matches than I even care to think about. Still, I know that the staff did the best they could, so it was just something that we all had to deal with. Top 16 – Matt Riddle (Feraligatr/Claydol) Game 1 – Matt’s a good friend of mine who has been around since day 1 for me, so it was kind of lame that I had to play him. Furthermore, I had only imagined this matchup and never actually played it, so I was still kind of curious about how this would play out. In our first game Matt struggled with his setup, but I did as well. Fortunately for me, Arithmetic’s “struggle” in setting up happens only when it isn’t KO’ing Pokemon on the second turn (or setting up a shield with Gyarados), so while I got set up in a few turns, Matt was just beginning to get his Pokemon in play. After knocking out a Totodile and something off Matt’s bench, the game quickly went in my favor and I won soon afterwards. Game 2 – Matt gets an excellent start this time, setting up a Gardevoir and a Claydol in no time at all. With “Telepass” and “Cosmic Power” in play, he starts moving faster than I’ve ever seen this deck move. My knowledge of the deck (yes, I tested this extensively too) leads me to believe that setting up the Gyarados/Cresselia combo is the way to go, as I had a hard time OHKO’ing things with Feraligatr when I tested the deck. This strategy works, as Matt is never able to OHKO my Gyarados’s. The second thing I kept in mind was how vulnerable Matt’s bench was, so utilizing Warp Point at the right times put me in the lead when time was called. Great games Matt, and thanks always for your kindness and inspiration when it comes to playing this game. 7-1 Top 8 – Jacob Burt (Empoleon/Mantine/Palkia Lv.X) Game 1 – Again, I have to play someone I know and respect a lot. More than this, however, is the fact that Jake is the greatest example of raw skill I know of when it comes to this game. He makes very few misplays, and he’s as sharp as can be when it comes to getting out of tight situations. He starts off with a Palkia and I a Shuppet. I get stuff out really fast, setting up everything as much as I can, leaving nothing on the bench for Jake to snipe (such as 30/40 HP Basics). Jake has difficulty setting up; I realized before we even starting playing that this would be his biggest hurdle to jump. He benches a Piplup, but I catch him off guard by using a Warp Point to knock it out with Banette. Jake’s trying everything he can to get stuff in play, but after using a Steven’s Advice for five cards one turn and a Copycat for ten cards the turn after, he still has nothing. He tries to keep things balanced with a Palkia Lv.X, but even that doesn’t help him as I quickly take the game. Game 2 – The one thing I realized about Jake’s deck was that if he set it up, I would probably lose. With Pokemon like Gyarados and Claydol with such high retreat costs, even four Warp Points wouldn’t save me in the long run. This is exactly what happened in this game, as Jake gets a very nice setup with the full combo going: two Mantine in play offering everything he has free retreat, Palkia Lv.X being there as a free “Gust of Wind” every turn, and Empoleon up to snipe everything I have on my bench. The game-changing play was when Jake pulled up my Claydol with Palkia’s Poke-Power, played a Team Galactic’s Wager which I lost, and then knocked out the Claydol. This was a maneuver that people saw in almost every game two years ago (and one that gave me a 12th place finish at Worlds in 2006 with MetaNite). Sadly, this is the first time I’ve seen something like this since the season started (and yes, that is certainly one thing wrong with the metagame). Anyways, Jake simply overpowers me after that move. I try to hang on with a Gyarados doing “Enrage,” but I lose shortly afterwards. Game 3 – We start this game with the knowledge that we have very little time left on the clock. My hand is absolutely atrocious: Shuppet, Shuppet, Psychic Energy, Psychic Energy, Holon Energy WP, Double Rainbow Energy, and Lake Boundary. I could have had the OHKO on a Mantyke on the second turn, but I have to play it safe. If I go ahead and pull a fast one on Jake, there’s nothing stopping him from getting an Empoleon in play and using a Scramble Energy to pull himself to a quick victory. So instead of knocking out the Mantyke, I retreat and use “Ascension” to get another Banette in play. This way I create a response in the event that one of my Banettes get knocked out. Jake also seems to have a relatively bad hand, using Mantyke to “Call For Friends.” Within a few turns I get some decent cards, setting up a Claydol. Of course, things move quickly after that. There wasn’t much to this game, but Jake gets a Mantine set up with two Water Energy and a Holon WP and hits me for 50 when time was called. I have to make the decision to either use a Copycat in hopes of some crazy topdecking or use “Cosmic Power” for three cards in hopes of some equally crazy topdecking. I opt for “Cosmic Power,” hoping to get something good. I draw three cards, including a T.V. Reporter and a Master Ball. I hold my breath, say a silent prayer, and use the Master Ball… the cards I reveal are as follows: Great Ball, Lake Boundary, Magikarp, Gyarados, Night MainteNance, Psyhic Energy, and… Banette! I couldn’t believe it, and neither could Jake as I used the T.V. Reporter to discard the Banette, then use “Spiteful Pain” to OHKO the Mantine for 80. Jake seems floored, to which I couldn’t really blame him (I mean really, I already had two Banettes in play, what were the chances of me pulling another one in such a small percentage of my deck?). I think I would have had this game even if we would have played it out, as I was moving very fast with the Claydol in play, but it still doesn’t do justice to the fact that not only did a time restriction play a part in the outcome of the game, so did an insane topdeck. Sorry Jake. 8-1 Top 4 – Steve Silvestro (Arithmetic) Game 1 – Another player I respect and am friends with. Steve always impresses me with his rogue deck choices in even the stiffest of competitions, playing an interesting Banette variant at NC States as well as having a hand in the creation of one of my favorite decks of all time: Flariados (oh, how I miss thee!). As expected, his deck choice here lives up to my expectations. He’s using a slightly modified version of Arithmetic, but the basic concept is still the same. I don’t think he would mind me revealing the differences, but I’ll be discreet just in case. My start this game was the best start I had all day while Steve’s is obviously bad. He has to bench a tech just to stay in the game, and I claim a knockout on his active Baltoy on the second turn. This game doesn’t last long as Steve scoops, seeing little hope with such a bad start. Game 2 – I wish I could say that we had a great game for this one, that we went on to a third match, but that’s just not the case. Steve starts this game with his tech, probably the absolute worst start he could have had (only a Magikarp getting T1’ed would have been worse). I have a strong start again, and within a few turns I have everything up: two Banettes, a Claydol, a Gyarados, and even a Cresselia Lv.X). All I needed to secure the win was two cards, and after using “Cosmic Power” and a Copycat, I show them to Steve. He’s a good sport about it, but I hate that we didn’t at least have good games. Getting in the top 4 was no easy task, and I know he didn’t do it with starts like the ones he had against me. At one point during our games we both looked over at the other two guys playing (Chase and Tom Wise) with a bit of frustration – they were both playing GG decks. Sadly, we had to be paired against each other. Sorry Steve. 9-1 Top 2 – Tom Wise (GG/Claydol/Furret) Game 1 – Once again, it’s me against Tom Wise. Tom has done an extremely good job to get to this point, but I have a feeling I know how things will turn out. I start strong this time, getting Banettes ready to OHKO anything he brings out. Even though I swarm with Banette, Tom still manages to keep things pretty close with numerous Gallades/Gardevoirs. I eventually have to send up a Gyarados to buy some time while I move damage counters with two Cresselia Lv.X’s to where they needed to go. Tom makes the mistake of hitting my Gyarados for 110 damage (instead of using Sonic Blade), which easily gave me the game. Even though it was a pretty big mistake, I was already setting up a couple of Banettes ready to OHKO anything he sent up. Game 2 – This one was interesting. I started with Magikarp and decided to shield for awhile, as Tom looked like he was already getting set up. After drawing into a Warp Point (and him benching a Baltoy), I forced him to bring up something from his bench, so I KO his Baltoy early on in the game. From this move I decide to start swarming. With Claydol in play I’m able to easily get stuff out, so I put early pressure on him using Banettes. He can never maintain a PLOX against me with this going on, so he eventually has nothing but Gallades and Furret stuff in play. He sends up Furrets to help with the set up, but it only allows me time to get Cresselia Lv.X’s going. After awhile I only have two prizes left and he has an active Furret with 90 HP remaining. I move two damage counters from stuff with my two Cresselia Lv.X’s to KO a Furret on the bench with 70 damage on it, then draw my prize: Warp Point. I then use it to force him to send something up, which I KO with Banette for the win. Good games all around Tom, you did well against such a tough deck. 10-1 ______________________________________________________ Special thanks to the judges and staff who go to great lengths to provide us players with a fun-filled event. Jeff, Keith, Randy, Toni, etc., you guys are just awesome! I really mean that. You always make sacrifices for the players of this game, and just know that it doesn’t go unnoticed. Thanks to all of the people who rooted me on, as well as friends for just being awesome: Matt Riddle, the Silvestros, Jake Burt, Garrett (congrats on your win buddy), Tom Wise, the Musgroves, la Pagina, Brian Leary, and others. If I forgot your name I apologize – my thanks goes to you as well. I really couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks to friends who just wanted to talk or say hey, it was good seeing everyone again. If you’ve read this far, my thanks goes to you as well. After As I mentioned earlier on in this report, I was taking a break from Pokemon all the way up until a week or two before Regionals. Thanks to Jimmy Ballard, I was confident in making it out to Regionals, securing a win with a deck that I found to be both challenging and fun to play. Even with this win, however, I’m still going to maintain my break from Pokemon until Nationals. From what I can tell, there were three big surprises in the Masters division at Regionals: the Beedrill deck that won, the appearance of Arithmetic, and the surprising success of Skittles/Tokyo. I guess that’s cool, but still… the two decks that still maintain control of the format are, to me, extremely boring to play with and even more frustrating to play against. Essentially, it’s just not fun. More important to me, however, is the fact that I have to work on wedding stuff. I’m very much excited about the event, and I’m excited about moving on with my life. I’ve taken a big break from responsibility up until recently, so I think it’s time to continue moving forward with marriage, teaching, and whatever else finds its way into my life. God has blessed me with so much, and it would be reckless for me to ignore all of that. Yes, I will be at Nationals, and yes, I will be at Worlds. As for next year, who knows? I’m not saying that to stir people into thinking that I’m quitting – I’m just pointing out the fact that I’m moving on with life, and with that comes uncertainties and challenges. Either way, I’ll see everyone at Nationals, under entirely different circumstances. If you want to get in touch with me before then, send me a private message – I’ll still get on the PokeGym occasionally to check up on things. Until then, thanks for all the great times!