last years nats- 2nd place. this years....35th. I thought I'd better write some sort of explanation... So here is my report! So this year I have played a little bit- mainly CC's, I didn't make it to any states unfortunately due to this giant time-drainer called a degree... ouch! i did make it home for a few days to test stuff with Ian E and one of the things we tested was Empoleon. We both felt fairly confident about it doing well, then we saw the results at leicester CC and were sure that it was a good play. Our original choice had been BMC, but we knew we had no chance with all the penguins. In hindsight (a powerful tool of course..) it probably wouldn't have been that bad a play, as there wasn't as many as I expected. Anyway, I went back to Canterbury, and the night before made a couple of small changes to my list, in amongst playing too much xbox 360... So I arrive quite early to the venue, with this list- 4 piplup 2 prin 4 emp MD 2 2 claydol 2 phione 2 1 2 Omastar MD 4 wager 3 stevens 3 roseannes 4 bebes (I got advised to use this, but now would have chosen celios. LACK OF TESTING ARGH!) 1 Night maintenance 2 warp point 2 glacias stadium 4 candy 7 water 4 call 3 scramble 2 dre Ian goes with something similar, using chatot and cessations. I sit down with my first opponent Joe Hamilton. I'm about to have a MARE. round 1- Joe, Magkiss. Ive known Joe for a while- he's a northern player and does really well up in the North East. We start- my opening hand is something like... baltoy, DRE, DRE, Wager, Wager, Glacias, Piplup. I figure put baltoy out and hope for an energy. We start, i draw something awful- scramble maybe and pass. T2 he has togekiss firing on all cylinders with a magmortar on the way, and claydol backing it up. I have nothing and he takes a couple more prizes until I draw... stevens! for 6! there I come back into it MASSIVELY. its 5-3 on prizes to him but the game is in my control. By this point he has so much stuff running, his turns are taking a while. Fair enough- he can use it, so why not? Time was called- another turn and I would have levelled it on prizes, (with dual spread thingy). From there I know i can take the last prize but hey ho. 0-1, but definitely not bitter. Joe played well round 2- alex with lightning deck! LIGHTNING?! WHAT?! I wanted to cry. ANOTHER bad start- seriously, this was even worse than the last. I have one card in my hand to save me- a stevens. he plays mars and guess whats back in my deck right? You guessed it. He takes three prizes- ouch! But then I Yu-gi-oh a Wager and then manage to Ko a couple of thing with a scrambled claydol to get back in it. I then set up an empoleon to take the game. thank the LORD for glacias... A close call- good job though alex on such an interesting deck. 1-1 Ok so I'm thinking I might have a chance still at making cut. Joe had won again so I was happy with that- I mite get in with a 3-2 as long as he kept up a good record. round 3- Matt with magkiss Ok this game goes to plan- I storm him with empoleons and he forgets to windstorm his own beach which effectively killed off a comeback. Sorry Matt! 2-1 round 4-Jem with Honchkrow/Darkrai. Another Northern player with a nice deck choice! He was a little late, so I had to hurry him at the end- but I'm sure he understood. I mulligan 3 times- :O and then open with... a fossil. I have a call energy tho- the ONLY time all day I started with one in my opening hand. He goes first and attaches a dark to darkrai. I call for two basics and bebes for a claydol, ready for next turn. He uses the wager he topdecked and I of course lose. He levels up and kos the fossil. Im up a certain waterway without a certain instrument, but manage to get back into it. He has 2 prizes left so I know I can let one empoleon die as long as I get rid of the benched honchkrow. I took 2 prizes to make the prize count 2-3 i believe (I killed the darkrai lvl x with a scrambled claydol earlier). he kills the emp (1-3) i surf together to kill his active (1-2) and then put 30 on two basics. I can win next turn as long as he can't snipe the bench and kill my damaged baltoy. but of course he can- with the level X. There was nothing I could do to stop it coming... I had sacrificed too much earlier- one more turn was all I needed. 2-2 I know my chances are ridicuously slim of getting through, but go into the next game ever hopeful. round 5- stephen with GG My opening hand is ok, and I get an empoleon up turn.... 3 i think? I remember actually starting with phione and a basic this turn! :O but his second turn effectively cost me the game- it was something like... rare candy a fresh baltoy to claydol, evolve to gardevoir, rare candy to gallade etc. My empoleon was dead meat. I got back into it and managed to use omastar, but his plox stopped me from using a second. time was called and he's up on prizes. I mite have had a way back into it when I ko'd his active gardy, but who knows. 2-3 position: 35th. So it was a day of rubbish starts, rubbish luck, and a bit of rustiness on my part. i realise in hindsight, and said to my friends afterwards, that empoleon didnt suit me at all. I prefer quicker, snappier decks and feel that banbliss, (or something similar) would have suited me much better. "Play to your strengths" and all that. Next year- the comeback? Well hopefully... I plan to attend more tournaments, certainly bigger tournaments, and ones closer to nats. I'm doing a masters degree which I'm sure will be taxing on my time, but my passion for this game won't die out easily. I've learnt some lessons this year, and hope to take those into the next. Maybe a lack of pressure next year will also help- I think i put too many expectations on my own performance. Props- Everyone there- Ian, Nigel, Joe, Freddy, Sami- you guys rock! Team M- particularly Kempley- you're a legend! Sami and Yacine for making it an all sekkoum final! nick on winning! Slops- Bad luck! My friends not making the cut For the others- see above! Peace out!