Hello, all. For those of you that don't know me, my name is Manny. I'm 20 years old and I'm from that windy city that you all love and know as Chicago. I've been playing the Pokémon TCG competitively since July 2010 and I'm here to talk to you today about my journey to Kenosha, WI. It was a dark morning in the SW side of Chicago as I waited for my friend Tim to meet me at my house. We met up around 4:30 in the morning because our plan was to take the early Metra train from Chicago straight to Kenosha at 6:35. After a walk, a train ride down the L, and another walk with was uneventful (except for the random street bum, but that's Chicago for ya), we made it to the Ogilvie station before 6 am. We departed at 6:35 and other than discussion between me and Tim about getting a team ready for the VGC at Wisconsin Regionals next April, nothing really seemed to faze us all that much. We arrived around 8:30 to the venue, Outpost Gaming in Kenosha. I was running Tim's Magnezone/Eelektrik deck that I picked up during the middle of the Chicago Marathon after going a combined 6-13 (1-5, 3-4, and 2-4 after 3 tournaments) with a rogue Sharpedo deck that I adapted from Ohio. I picked it up randomly and I had actually already beaten Tim once with it in play. During the last three cities I went to, I had gone a combined 9-9 (THREE STRAIGHT 3-3 FINISHES!) with them and it was interesting that I had finished that way three straight times. I was determined to kill the streak. My decklist...er, Tim's decklist, since it was his deck: 4 Magnezone TM 2 Magneton TM 3 Magnezone Prime 3 Tynamo (1 w/ free retreat) NVI 3 Eelektrik NVI 2 Thundurus EP 1 Zekrom Promo 1 Cleffa CoL 4 Junk Arm 3 Pokémon Collector 3 Pokémon Communication 3 Sage's Training 3 Pokémon Catcher 3 N 3 Rare Candy 2 PONT 2 Switch 1 Flower Shop Lady 15 Lightning Energy The tournament didn't get underway until about 10:30 in the morning. I go on to the first pairing and on the board I see: Round 1 vs Tim Hapke with Raichu/Eelektrik (19th, 3-3): Yes, my first round opponent was Tim for the second time during this run of City Championships! The last time we met, I took the first five prizes with his deck when he decided to try out CoKE during the Marathon. Needless to say, it was a disaster for him. Today he took in another interesting variation of Eelektrik: Raichu Prime! The match was fun as always, and he actually had me on the ropes early, taking two quick Catcher prizes with Raichu as well as craftily retreating a Raichu to get a promo Pikachu powered up to do a Thunderbolt for 100. At this point, I was down three prizes, but he had no Energy left on the board while he kept helping my cause by Knocking Out Pokémon with energy on them. As he tried to get more Energy up for another Mega Thunderbolt, I power up Zekrom and Magnezone and start taking prizes left and right. He then powers up two Raichu in the bench as I tie it up, trading prize for prize until the very end when I Catcher-Lost Burn an Eel to take the win. 1-0 Round 2 vs David Wilson with Lanturn/Eelektrik (1-3 Drop): My next round was against another match, and he was running a familiar deck to me. It was Lanturn/Eels this time. He manages to start taking prizes with Lanturn while I'm slow to set up. I then Rare Candy Magnezone with a free retreater Active and Junk Arm away two energy (to help Dynamotor) for a Catcher to take out an overpowered Zekrom on the bench with Lost Burn. After that, though, I run into problems getting more energy in play and he proceeds to take me on time. 1-1 Round 3 vs Steve B. with Six Corners (1-3 Drop): I don't remember much about this opponent except there was an early prize battle between me and him but he focused too much on getting Terrakion out early. That lead to three of my first four prizes being won against Terrakion. After that, his deck just crumbled and Magnezone cleans up house. 2-1 Round 4 vs Yoshi Tate with Chandelure/Dodrio/Yanmega (14th, 3-3): I had been looking forward to playing against Yoshi after meeting him during the Chicago Marathon. He had already made Top Cut quite a few times with his interesting Chandelure build. What shocked me was that he was playing Yanmega Prime, but I had expected a deck like this to come out and do well, especially since it's weird enough to run no energy. Going to the start he takes early prizes on my only Tynamo in play as well as my Cleffa. A play of Collector tells me that my other two Tynamo were prized, making this much more challenging. It was then that I begin to power up Zekrom and play Catcher like crazy, taking his Yanmega out of contention as well as one of his Dodrios. I keep at it with Catcher until later in the game, helping me come back from an early two-prize deficit to bring myself down to one prize when time was called. Yoshi respectfully scoops knowing that he could not knock anything out with only one Cursed Shadow for 30 HP. He's a brilliant player and I only wish him the best in the future. 3-1 At this point, me and Tim hit Red Robin next door to the venue for a lunch break. The bacon cheeseburger was delicious, and I was feeling good about my 3-1 start. I was also a little nervous though, because my last two tournaments I had started 3-1, only to lose my next two matches. We'll see how that would go as Round 5 pairings came up. Round 5 vs Eric H. with ReshiBoar+Shuckle (7th, 4-2): I was shocked to see an Emboar variant making a one-off appearance. I had some experience with it, but when I saw Shuckle Promo on the bench, that's when I became confused until I read its body. It turns out that Fermenting Liquid+Inferno Fandango=one interesting draw engine. I start with Zekrom and Tynamo, get the Eel turn 2, then he Rare Candys into Boar on turn 3 to PlusPower knockout Zek, then hits me once more with Reshiram for the game on Turn 4. Not a fun way to lose a match, but sometimes, that's how the deck is shuffled. 3-2 At this point, I forsee another 3-3 finish. If that happened, it would be my 4th straight finish of 3-3. I notice that at least one of my opponents dropped, so it only makes bubbling into Top Cut that much harder. What I didn't know, though, was that while actually two of my five opponents dropped out of the tournament, my other opponents were doing 3-2, so top cut was still a possibility with a smaller field than I was normally accustomed to. Round 6 vs Issac Soto with Terrakion/Tornadus/Kyurem? (8th, 4-2): It was another Terrakion deck, and it was against a man who was also hungry for Top Cut, but unfortunately, he spams a lot of things together and I go down quickly to him. I only manage to take one prize while he completely wipes the board with me. He goes on to Top Cut to lose to Pooka while I lament on my fourth straight 3-3 tournament. I end up 15th, the fourth best 3-3 behind Yoshi, Colin Peterik, and a girl named Amanda while all of the 5-1s and four 4-2s make it in. It was another strong beginning, but it ended in my fourth .500 tournament in a row. All in all, it was what I expected to do at least, but I had fun in a different area than I was used to, as this was my first City Championship outside of the state of Illinois. I feel like I can do better in the future now that Cities are done and I'm looking forward to my run of States, going to Illinois (with Durant because I lost a bet the next day!) as well as hopefully two more (Wisconsin and Iowa?). So I end these cities on a high note of sorts, and I now go into States with a run that I kinda want to improve upon. Going to 7 City Championships was a lot of fun and I hope I can go to this many next year! PROPS Starting 3-1. Beating Tim for the second time this season. (he's had my number in the past). Not playing against Durant. Although I have to play it now at Illinois States. (I lost a bet the day after with Vince B. who won a CCs in LaGrange, IN the same day I was in Kenosha.) The venue being easy to find and having a close food source for lunch. So many fun players to be around. I can't wait to come back to Kenosha sometime. Zekrom proving to be just as good as Magnezone at times. Not playing against Donphan, either. Colin Peterik for giving me and Tim a ride back to Chicago instead of taking the train home. SLOPS Going 0-2 at the end once again. Waking up at 4 AM to catch a train. Hearing that Adam Vernola conceded the final to Pooka just to watch Tim Tebow TeBLOW it in the playoffs. What a stupid excuse to forfeit.