Please forgive me as i haven't spell checked this As the national champion from the previous two years, there was a whole lot of pressure for me to perform well. I’ve played a total of 4 tournaments this year, and hadn’t tested with Majestic dawn a great deal, but knew fairly early on I could rely on my friends to update me on what was good/bad. I face a pretty significant amount of pressure by almost being expected to win when I play in the UK, however it really is never easy, with the growing player base and improving skill levels of everyone here, I think (without trying to offend anyone) I can safely say UK nats is the most difficult tournament in Europe. Friday night, I go and collect a friend of mine who lives in the middle of nowhere. We pick him up from Paddington station, and get conned by two old women who make us carry their luggage. I tell Yacine we’ll have good karma, but acknowledging that we are helping them to benefit ourselves makes him feel guilty! Long story short, we stay up and test until two. We fix Tom’s deck (GG) and do some final touch ups. I always promise myself ill get a good nights rest, but it never happens, the clock says four and I finally hit the sack The morning is uneventful, everything goes smooth and we all get there with no problems. I say hello to everyone and introduce myself to Chris Sparks; he compliments me on my ‘V’ mask , and the tournament starts a little later then planned, but with no real delay. I had played Magmortar variants most of the year, and tested Gardevoir/Empoleon to death two weeks prior to this event, but I didn’t feel like playing mirror all day. I ran Magkiss at the Leicester state a week ago, and felt like it was still a really good deck, but would inevitably lose out to mass Empoleon. So I had one choice left, something I had tested with pretty good results. I am terrible with names so please forgive me if I’ve forgotten/misspelled. The tournament structure is 5 rounds followed by a top sixteen cut. I played Garchomp. The List: 3-2-3-1 Garchomp Eric Craig Round 1: School Teacher – Wailord/Rotom/Dialga/Lvlx I saw Dialga and wondered what the odds were of being totally locked out of a game by the things power. He doesn’t really get going and chomps with L or R make life easy. He was a really cool guy and I think it may have been his first competitive tournament. Well played 1-0 Round 2: Nigel E – Kabutops/Aerodactyl Nigel’s a great guy, and I was pretty worried. I don’t play grass energy as I thought nothing viable was weak. He gets setup with two Aerodactyl and a Kabutops pretty fast but Beach slows him down a lot. He mimics a whole lot to try and find counters but can’t. I Claydol twice letting it die so he can’t default beach and scramble. I take 5 prizes with two Garchomps, and I make a play with Absol ex/Dugtrio’s dig under for the last prize. 2-0 Round 3: Stephanie (manicgiraffe) Empoleon/Omastar/Claydol She is really polite and I think it’s the first time we’ve ever played. I beach turn two and it slows her down as I don’t think she ran counters. I have Dugtro out fairly early and two Garchomps/Rotom win me a fairly comfortable match. Good game Steph. 3-0 Round 4: Scott X – Gardevoir/Gallade/Omaster Really cool guy. I played him last year at nationals, and it was equally as good a game. He gets setup pretty fast, but I limit his bench with Dusknoir whilst worrying about whether he himself runs Dusk. We both keep our benches at 3 and the game is tied at 4-4. He attaches something to his active to attack because beach is keeping him slow, and time is called on his turn. He had a Gallade to take the last prize but the drop to active means he can’t KO anything. He attacks, and Chomp can one shot anything, great game. 4-0 Round 5: Faisal Khan (Freddy) – Empoleon/LvlX/Omastar/Claydol/Mew* I had waited for this all day, and hoped it would be the final. However it is a pretty dramatic/ridiculous game. I start with Unown Q, Celio and a bunch of Garchomps. I’m like wow this is salvageable if Pachirisu isn’t prized/I top deck Rose. I win the roll and go first, draw no energy, end turn. He tries to KO the unown turn one but cant, and gets T1 Claydol/Prinplup. Well yeah, of course my singular pachi is prized and I have to Celio for like Baltoy. I don’t get ANYTHING for 4-5 turns while he kills basics with Empoleon. He surf together’s my diglett, and I promote Garchomp. I lvl X, TVR a Dusknoir and now have everything in one hit KO range whilst having his bench at 3. His bench is now Mew*/Claydol/Phione with Empo upfront. He is playing really slow, so I call the judge to monitor time and we get a minute time extension. I KO Empoleon and he realises he can restore using Mew, he uses Claydol and Night maintenance and rose, time is called. Now here comes the drama. The judge says we have a time extension of one minute, and I think Freddy is surprised, and whilst restoring with Mew shuffles some cards into his deck instead of putting them on the bench. Now, as he had just Night M’d it became apparent that it would be fairly difficult to tell what had gone into the deck with N’M and what had been ‘restored’. The judges deliberate for like 15 minutes with the prize count at F-3 left, S-5 left. The judges rule a ‘prize swap’ changing the prize count to F-4 and S-4. He can’t do anything because of Dusknoir and I KO to go ahead, he scoops. It was unfortunate that the game ended like it did, but I think the majority of spectators agreed the correct decision had been made, even if I did get a little heated. We later learn it should have been ‘a double prize penalty’ as apposed to a prize swap; nevertheless it would have been the same outcome. One of the best games I played all day Faisal. 5-0 So we look at standings. Yacine goes 4-1, so does Tom and Amy misses the cut at 17th T16 Charlie H – Infernape MD/Lvlx/Delcatty/ex Game one – I roll through his basics as he doesn’t get setup Game two – This game was interesting. He gets up with Phione/Delcatty really fast, while I get up too. He takes a 3 prize lead whilst countering two beaches, but one eventually sticks. At one point he brings up Delcatty ex to do a million damage to my Chomp, but I return the ko with a Claydol. I have one prize left and the win is inevitable. 6-0 Yacine and Fares make it through their respective cuts and Nitish loses to Freddy. Tom Hall also makes the cut. T8 Nick L – Gardevoir/Gallade/Claydol/Sableye Game 1 – Nicks a cool player. We only get time for one real game because he thinks all of his moves through, as well as getting Claydol/Gard/Sableye disabling T2 and having to play everything carefully. I dusk a Gardevoir and limit his bench to 3 the whole game, after 45 minutes? He remains beach locked, and I realise he cant break it as he begins telepassing TVR and discarding Dre/Scrambles. I win with little to no time left. Game 2 – I start with Pachirisu and call for family, he gets an energy drought early and time is called. Next to me I see that Yacine and Tom beat their top 8 opponents but Freddy lost to his. The top 4 – Sami – Garchomp Yacine – Gardevoir/Gallade/Dusknoir Tom – Gardevoir/Gallade/Dugtrio Jem– Darkrai/lvlx/Hunchcrow/Absol/Claydol Jem plays tom and I get the Hunch. T4 Bolton guy Darkrai Game 1 -I go first with unown Q and rotom. I attach and do 20 to a murkrow. He draws and says ‘yes’. Plays mars gets rid of something I didn’t need. Plays absol switch raid ko on unown. I draw, Roseanne, baltoy/baltoy, dual trans fighting onto baltoy. He goes, plays an absol down retreats and raid ko. Fortunately he has no real setup, and I baltoy to get a decent sized hand, from which he absols beach and candy :\. We finally do setup and I drop dugtrio so he cant attack my bench. He benches 4 so I’m certain Dusknoir will play a big part in me coming back from such a horrendous start. I eventually promote Chomp to dragon fang something, and he sleeps it with darkrai x. I roll and stay asleep, next turn I lvl x and ko him. I retreat the lvl x and go through with stuff Claydol. At one point I restore a claydol as he’s pretty good vs absol/darkrai . He’s about to scoop but I tell him my current chomp has no F energy. I use 2 claydols and find Night main, I show him NM/Rose and we start game 2. Game 2 – we don’t have much time for game two and I’m more concentrated on Yacine vs Tom. I see Yacine win, I point to god and shake my opponents hand when time is called. Really cool game man So it’s an all Sekkoum final we find out Fares lost to nick, but he still got an invite so will be attending worlds regardless. Now for the most difficult and epic game I played all day. T2 Yacine Sekkoum – Gardevoir/Gallade/Dusknoir Game 1 – I look at my hand and the exact words I say to him are ‘your looking at the 3 time champ bud’. I mentor and look through the deck to see my 3 gible and 2 baltoy are prized. He proceeds to rare candy 2 gardevoirs a claydol and psychic lock me from turn 2. Game 2 – exactly the same prizes, and outcome. Great day, great players and even better people running it! Thank you to all who supported us going into nationals, if I made a props list, I’d be in front of this computer for hours. All of you know who you are. Thank you, Your ex-national champion.