I decided to go with one of the teams from Cities that I played, "Topper." It uses Salamence Lv. X and Entei-Suicune LEGEND, with Spiritomb as the starter. It also uses Slowking (HS/CL) to try and ensure that I will get an Energy on top for Top Accelerator. The previous night, I had set my alarm for what I thought was 5:30. My plan was to get to the Midway "L" station at 7:30 (indeed, it takes about 1.5 hours to get there from Evanston). However, I didn't wake up until 6:30. Turns out I set my alarm for 17:30 and not 5:30. ARGH! At least 8:00 was the beginning and not the end of registration. The "L" ride was uneventful, and I met Tim & Manny at the airport kiss'n'ride. Uneventful time before the matches started. There were 81 Masters, and so 7 rounds and a top-16 cut. ROUND ONE: Noah vs. Bob M. (Eeveelutions) I opened Bagon to his Tangela (SF). My next draw was Spiritomb, and I Judged him and by turn 3, was fully set up. He managed to get Tangrowth (SF) in play, which KO'd my Spiritomb, but I came back with Steam Twister from Salamence (SF). He had 3 Eevee on his Bench, and evolved one of them into Umbreon (UD). This was my downfall. I had no easy way around it off the bat, and even though I saved a Prize by using Seeker on my badly-damaged Salamence, it wasn't enough. By time I had set up a Shelgon to attack (I wasn't drawing into Bebe's Search to get the LEGEND out), he had Leafeon Lv. X in his hand and out to attack it. Time was called and there was no way that I was going to be able to take 3 Prizes in 2 turns. (Noah loses Round One 1-4 and is now 0-1.) Too bad... that is the first time in my 7-State-Championship career that I dropped the first round of States. ROUND TWO: Noah vs. Chuck L. (Jumpluff) Spiritomb opened against Sunkern. Both of us spent the early part of the game setting up our Benches, with me getting two Salamence and Slowbro in play, and him getting Shaymin on the Bench as well as two Jumpluff, Uxie, and two Sunflora. He took the first offensive by KO'ing Spiritomb with Shaymin that got Leveled Up, but I responded with a Double Fall to take a 2-1 lead. My other Salamence was all powered up, and his Jumpluff KO'd my Salamence X. Good thing I had a Pokemon Rescue... another Double Fall put me up 4-2. I had to have a little finesse, but the end of the match came several turns later when I KO'd a Belted Jumpluff. He had taken 4 Prize cards, but three of them were off Spiritomb. (Noah wins Round Two 6-4 and is now 1-1.) Manny was 2-0 at this point (he was playing Gyarados) and Tim was 1-1 (playing Gengar, if I recall correctly). There was a lot of commotion at the table across from me as "Big Chuck" was playing Mr. Lucas and tehmoe was playing Ness. The CCnC squad went 1-1 in that exchange. ROUND THREE: Noah vs. Alan J. (Blaze-chomp): I started Spiritomb to his two Blaziken FB. He went first, and I got a Salamence out on turn 2 (Top Accelerator). I also got Slowking on my Bench, but he used Luring Flame on it and I think that was a bad misplay on my part. I probably should have trusted my potential luck with Top Accelerator, or foregone it for this match. Anyway, he KO'd the Slowking and then a Spiritomb, but I used Judge just before KO'ing his Blaziken FB Lv. X, when he had gotten a Garchomp C Lv. X in his hand. He used Dragon Rush to do 110 damage to Salamence, and I then KO'd the Garchomp. I was down 2-3 at this point, and was not fully set up. He KO'd Spiritomb, and although I picked off the Blaziken FB Lv. X, he was able to snipe one of my Benched Pokemon a few turns later to send me to a defeat. (Noah loses Round Three 3-6 and is now 1-2.) I'm not out of the running yet. At least all the matches have been good ones! Between rounds, I chatted with Max and Mandi, and we had some good philosophical and small talk. ROUND FOUR: Noah vs. Evan .. (Lux-chomp): He started with a lone Unown Q to my Spiritomb, went first, and had several turns of dead draws. I probably could have donked him on turn 2, but my play style prefers setting up--I'd rather lose a battle than win a donk. Ergo, I spent my time setting up, which allowed me to get a T4 Salamence Lv. X that Double-Felled his Unown Q, and then on the next turn, KO'd a Crobat G. He used Bright Look on Slowking, which I Switched out of. He had Lucario GL on his Bench, and I sent up a new Salamence Lv. X (previously I used Seeker on the one from early game). He used Power Spray on Double Fall, and I made 2 horrendous misplays: (1) using Expert Belt on Salamence Lv. X and (2) PASSING instead of attacking... trying some hold-up play that was doomed to fail. Indeed, it did, and throughout the rest of the match, I was consistently 10 HP short of KOs. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. (Noah loses Round Four 4-6 and is now 1-3.) ROUND FIVE: Noah vs. Zach W. (???) There was a pairing problem, and some of the people were forced to scoop and be re-paired. I was one of those scoopers. ROUND FIVE REDUX: Noah vs. Travis D. (Regigigas): I started Uxie to his Sableye, and he fielded Regigigas on turn 1, along with searching for Interviewer's Questions (!?!). I used Psychic Restore and fielded Spiritomb, and he used Bebe's Search for another regular Regigigas. I was able to set up, despite being slowed down slightly by Psychic Bind. After a significant amount of stalling, I drew the first Prize off a KO of his Regigigas that had 3 Energy attached and did not Level Up. Somehow, I was able to force him to use Sacrifice with attacks from Salamence, while avoiding KOs and limiting my damage to Spiritomb getting KO'd. He made a few misplays as well, but after time was called, we were tied in Prizes, and Gigas was Burnt from Suicune-Entei LEGEND. He attached an Energy to a DIFFERENT Gigas and attempted to use Sacrifice. This failure left it in KO range, so that I won a close one. (Noah wins Round Five and is now 2-3.) Quickly on to the next match. ROUND SIX: Noah vs. Tom S. (Scizor-Vileplume): I got paired up against a 3-2 opponent. I started Uxie and Bagon to his Scyther (Jungle), and my 8th card was Spiritomb. He also had Spiritomb Active, so this one was a real setup battle. He got two Scizor Prime out, Vileplume, Crobat G, and Uxie. I fielded Salamence (SF) and Salamence (AR), and eventually he springs out with using Uxie to KO my Spiritomb. My response was a Double Fall, and he is evidently trying to spring a one-hit KO on me, so he sends out Crobat G and passes, and I get another Double Fall by using Seeker. I had to stall out a few turns, but got one last Double Fall on a Scizor several turns later. (Noah wins Round Six and is now 3-3.) Yes! I have a chance to go north of .500 at States for the first time since 2006! Even if I don't make top cut, that would still be cool. ROUND SEVEN: Noah vs. Jake B. (Gyarados): I started 2 Bagon to his Smeargle, and I was caught in a Catch-22 when I had Bebe's Search in my hand, he went first, and on my next turn, I drew Collector. Spiritomb offered me only a little protection, because he used Regice, sluffing two Magikarp. Still, although this allowed him a turn of 1000 actions, he failed to get a KO. Here's what happened a little later: he had Gyarados out and had KO'd Spiritomb, I sent a shield Salamence out, and I did 2 Psychic Restores over the next couple of turns to leave his Belted Gyarados with 110 HP left. After he took another Prize, I sent out the Salamence with Battle Rush, with (R)(W)(W)(R) attached, Leveled Up, and then used Judge to take 3 Prizes. The next turn, I used Judge, got a successful Top Accelerator, and KO'd his Smeargle. Then, Salamence went down, and I brought another one out against another Belted Gyarados. (I was leading 4-3 at this point). Time was called, as he KO'd another Spiritomb, I had piled 70 damage on Gyarados and he was unable to get the KO. I used Seeker, his Broken Time Space allowed me to evolve all the way, and he failed to get the KO again. Next turn was Level Up and Steam Twister for 3 Prizes, even though I only had 2 to take. (Noah wins Round Seven and finishes at 4-3.) My final rank was 30th of 81, which I am happy about. I am still whacking myself with a large trout over what happened in Round Four, but hindsight is always 20-20. This is one case where my playing style got the better of me! PROPS: * Tim for providing transportation * Manny for allowing me to stay overnight * ShopCCnC for another excellent tournament * Finishing above .500 at States for the first time since 2006. SLOPS: * Two re-pairs -- a very unusual thing in his events! * Nerves and misplays that are uncharacteristic of me. * The alarm clock mishap. At least it wasn't as bad as the alarm clock mishap before going to Sedalia in 2009.