Editors Note: This Article is about a deck that appeared at Worlds 2007, and is mostly of historical interest. Article Name: Empoleon/Infernape Author: Pablo Date: 8/21/2007 Hello PokeGym community. As everyone knows, the 2007 Pokemon TCG World Championships just took place. This was a truly magnificent event and has been the most exclusive and arguably hardest World Championship out of the 4 held since PUI took over. One of the constants at Worlds and something everyone keeps an eye out is a Japanese player: Tsuguyoshi Yamato. His record so far at Worlds alone is impressive and I think he holds the best placement records of the 3 World Championships he has played in so far out of every player who has ever played three World Championships, which include: 1st place Worlds 2004 w/Team Magma Top 8 Worlds 2005 w/Ludicolo 3rd place Worlds 2007 w/Empoleon/Infernape His record in Japan is unknown but one can only expect he has a formidable winning record of events. This article takes focus on detailing the intricancies and mysteries surrounding Tsuguyoshi Yamato's latest creation which, in my opinion, was one of the two relevant deck revelations at Worlds 2007 The other being the previously underrated by many: Flygon ex LM, but that's a different story. First off I will start by detailing the list Yamato used at the World Championships, which he so kindly allowed me to review and question Sunday night. I don't have the best memory but I am sure the list below might be at most 2 or 3 cards off the original list, and those simply being in terms of quantities of each card, and not a different one I missed: Pokemon: 17 4 Piplup DP 3 Prinplup DP 4 Empoleon DP 1 Chimchar DP 1 Infernape DP 2 Holon's Electrode DS 2 Corsola UF Energy: 15 11 Water 3 Scramble 1 DRE Trainers: 28 4 Cursed Stone 3 Cessation Crystal 3 Rare Candy 3 Celio's Network 4 Holon Transciever 2 Castaway 3 Holon Mentor 2 Holon Scientist 1 Holon Adventurer 1 Steven's Advice 1 Mr. Briney's Compassion 1 Holon Farmer The key players are the following: Prinplup is a very good card that goes with the theme of the deck, sniping and setting up Pokemon with enough damage to be KO'd later on in the game. The main focus of the deck. It's first attack allows for setting up KO's later on just like Prinplup, and his first attack is the one used to sweep in the end most games, as after having severely damaged threats, 70 damage is usually enough to KO them. 130 HP and a +30 weakness makes Empoleon hard to take down, more so with the tech Mr. Briney's Compassion Yamato ran in his deck. Corsola played two roles in the deck: 1) Set up - by starting with it or retreating, it allowed Yamato to have access to his deck to get Empoleons, Prinplups or even Piplups in case he lacked a Holon Mentor at a decent rate. Being able to get either a Basic Pokemon or an Evolution helped this deck tremendously. 2) Bait - using it's second attack was sometimes vital to help set up Pokemon for a KO with an Empoleon, but msot importantly, Yamato used Corsola as a sacrificial Pokemon to activate his Scramble Energies to be able to power up his Empoleons or Infernape easier. Cursed Stone was vital to the decks success, as it provided no draw-back for Yamato by playing it, and acted also as a counter gym against the various Crystal Beach Stadium cards running around in several of the World Championships decks. The extra damage counter (or more if the opponnent didn't have a Windstorm/Stadium) worked perfectly to help set up Pokemon for a KO later on, or even work as a snipe-esque card itself and allowing KO's inbetween turns. And now, for the less crucial cards, that not necessarily helped every matchup but certainly improved upon some others so significantly they warranted play were the following: This card alone was, in my opinion, a genius addittion to the deck, and I think it is pretty similar in the way a 1-1 Milotic HL line was teched in QueenDom back in 2005. Infernape not only did more damage than Empoleon, which was very helpful, specially against the hoard of low HP ex's being played at Worlds (namely Absolutions/Speed Spread and Banette), but it also countered the same Japanese players who played Scizor instead of Empoleon (and my insider information tells me this was because Yamato has his own exclusive testing team, just like alot of other people), AND helped counter any water resistant Pokemon such as Meganium d or Sceptile ex d which would otherwise be extremely difficult for multiple Empoleons to take down. This is the other card which helped against certain key matchups, but was far from crucial to the decks success. It's main use I believe was Windstorm bait, to help ensure a Cursed Stone stayed locked later in the game to help KO any Pokemon and take multiple prizes at once. IF one of these sticked though, it certainly helped as the whole World Championships metagame was full of decks abusing Poke-Powers. This covers pretty much how the deck works, and what was essential to the deck, aside from the basic deck building, which included a very consistent trainer engine (which consists, in my opinion, of not using singles of any trainer card you are not specifically able to search for). The energy is also very consistent. Prinplups and Empoleons low energy costs and the use of Scramble Energy and Double Rainbow Energy allows some slack in terms of energy drops, as 12 seems to be the ideal number for 'turn 1 attachable energies', and 11 is still a pretty strong amount. Now onto the matchups. This is all from theory, after I saw Yamato sweep many players (including myself) on Sunday night after Worlds, and my own thoughts, but this does not include any playtesting on my part whatsoever so if you disagree on any matchup feel free to bring up your argument up for discussion as I might oversee certain things in some matchups. Absolutions 70 - 30 A very good matchup I believe, as Absolutiosn has trouble with all of the decks main components: high HP non ex Pokemon, Cursed Stone and the decks extras: Cessation Crystal and Infernape dealing OHKO's. Absolutions has a hard time drawing into its Windstorms, and playing only 3 doesn't make it any easier, so Cursed Stones and Cessations can stay a long while. Giant Stump helps Absolutions alot in this matchup, but with Empoleon only having to KO 3 ex Pokemon basically and non of them being safe on the bench, I think it may be a bit higher than 70-30. Definately a very favourable matchup. R-Gon 70 - 30 Another very good matchup. Cursed Stone hurt their main source of energy and if Fearow d or Chimecho d were played they were easy prizes as well. Cessation hurt them as well, and the only card that was the most helpful to them was Rayquaza ex d, but even then it was a 2HKO with a Strength Charm/Plus Power, and Rayquaza ex d itself wouldn't last long. Empoleon capitalized on the big benches to abuse Prinplup's first attack and being able to snipe benched stuff before it became a threat or set it up for a KO, as R-Gon struggled to set up. Any start besides a Holon's Castform start or Rayquaza ex d start meant trouble for R-Gon. Banette/(Vaporeon/Lucario/solo) 60 - 40 A favourable matchup, but not as onesided due to Banette's speed. Yamato's list had a weaker matchup when compared to Go's list which included 4 Cessation Crystal. The strategy against this deck was to have a Prinplup up with a Cessation attached, to make sure everything had 1 damage counter on it. Then a powered up Empoleon could KO Banette's left and right (without a Buffer PIece attached) by laying down a Cursed Stone and doing 70. If Yamato didn't manage to get the Cessation Crystals fast enough though, a well timed Vaporeon ex could hurt him alot, and Banette's speed alone hurt him as well as it could deal 60 by Turn 2 with Jolteon*, which OHKO's all basics in the deck. MetaNite 80 - 20 That percentage is being generous I think. Metanite slow set up, and being hurt by both Cessations and Cursed Stone was a bad thing. Metanite's best hope was to ensure it had Windstorms for the Cessations, and to be able to power up Latios* and Lugia ex to OHKO the Empoleons, but getting them powered up while Empoleon snipes Dratini's/Dragonites was very hard to accomplish. The downside to this matchup is it is very hard for Metanite to set up 2 Dragonite's, as Castforms die and it only runs 3 Windstorms usually. LucarioLutions 80 - 20 What I didn't like about LucarioLutions in general is the very low damage output. It's speed tries to make up for it, but if the game extends, doing 40 damage to the active is pitiful, and Jolteon ex needs the Defending Pokemon to be heavily damaged before it can do any significant damage itself. Now take that into account and you see how Empoleon's very high HP can make it hard to be KOed, and add to that Cursed Stone damage and everything dies in a single hit very quickly by Empoleon's second attack. Destiny ?? - ?? I never really played Destiny too much myself, and certainly not this matchup, but if Ambush (Empoleon/Marowak d) had an easy time against Destiny, there is no reason for this matchup to be any less easy, which I predict is about 80-20 or better. Scizor ex 50 - 50 As I quote a Japanese player who beat me with it at League on Sunday: "Japan's secret deck". Seems like the term SD (secret deck) is also used in Japan. This is where Yamato's Infernape tech shined. In this matchup it became the focus of the deck, as it could OHKO a Scizor ex with 4 Special Metal Energy attached and having used the first attack to reduce a further 20 damage. This matchup depends solely on how fast Yamato could set up Infernape, and also three options for the Scizor ex: 1) If it hit a Reversal on the Chimchar before it evolved (which would be foolish to play before Rare Candying I know). 2) Hitting a Reversal on the Infernape before it got powered up, and having 2 Plus Power or 1 and 1 Strength Charm in hand + 3 energy (Boost Energy possibly) to deal a OHKO. 3) Same scenario as above but after having lost a Scizor ex the previous turn instead of Reversaling the Infernape. Without the Infernape tech, I believe this matchup would be close to 80 - 20 or even 90 - 10 in favour of Scizor ex. Mario 70 - 30 If you managed to extend the game past the first turns and managed to set up and Empoleon, Mario had a very difficult time KOing one Empoleon, let alone 2 or 3. Mario's limited damage output is compensated by its speed early game, but if the game extends, the low damage output isn't usually enough to get past 2 or 3 Empoleons. Flygon ex/(Delcatty/CargoQueen) 70 - 30 A definite favourite but not easy as shown by Steffen (2nd Place from Denmark). Cursed Stone and Cessations hurt both decks bad, and Magcargo and Delcatty were easy prizes as they got showered by Prinplup and Cursed Stone. Taking down Flygon ex's was a bit hard, but the 2 for 1 prize trade off ended up hurting the Flygon ex player too much. Infernape 90 - 10 Not even a matchup, combine weakness plus Cursed Stone damage and Cessation Crystals, and you have all the deck covered very very well. Add to that Infernape never being able to deal 1HKO's aside from using Infernape Level X late game, which by then it was probably too late. and between Cursed Stone, previous damage and weakness, it could be taken down fast. I think there I have covered all the decks which were included in the Top Cut at Worlds 2007, and in the general metagame at Worlds. Of course there were other decks, but in a minority and that did not make the cut or were played much during the season, so I did not include them. I hope you enjoyed reading.