"The Fortnight before the Battle!"- A Look at the Sabelstream Draft and Nationals Winning Decks

23.6.2014 wrote: Ryan Sabelhaus in category Trading Card Game

Hello again 60Cards Readers! Nationals are coming up for the United States and there have already been very mixed results from the other National Championships around the world. The format seems so very spread out because of all the different deck choices and options available. For this article, I’m going to go over some of the successful decks from National Championships and discuss the exact card choices from each list. To figure out how to find success at the United States National Championships or any other National Championship that hasn’t occurred already, it is always good to figure out what’s been working so far.

I’ve also decided to go over the Fantasy Draft that was done on the Sabelstream and discuss who has the greatest chance at escaping as the Fantasy Champion of this year’s draft. Before we can go over the draft and each player’s picks, let’s figure out who was drafting this year! The first overall pick went to:

Kyle Sabelhaus (Team Wiggles): Kyle has already done a Fantasy Draft before and has had plenty of experience with Fantasy Drafts because of playing fantasy football. I was expecting Kyle to look for players with 2 round byes to maximize chances of scoring points, along with picking players that he personally knows to perform well at large scale events. Kyle’s Team looked like this:

1st Round: Ryan Sabelhaus, 2 Byes

2nd Round: Frank Diaz, 2 Byes

3rd Round: Evan Baker, 2 Byes

4th Round: Jose Marrero, 2 Byes

5th Round: Dean Nezam, 1 Bye

6th Round: Justin Sanchez, 2 Byes

7th Round: Brit Pybas, 1 Bye

8th Round: Jacob Van Wagner, 2 Byes

9th Round: Tyler Morris

10th Round: Nicholena Moon

Senior Pick: Ishaan Jagiasi

As predicted, most of the players on his team either have 2 byes or are very skilled at large scale tournaments. The first 4 rounds were spent on just picking up players that have 2 byes. This strategy definitely worked out for Josue “Crimz” Rojano, who picked all five members of his team to have 2 byes in The Top Cut Fantasy Draft last year. If the strategy worked out for Crimz, it could definitely pay dividends to Kyle this year and bring him home the gold. There are many strong names with big finishes, which could include the former National Champion, Justin Sanchez. Regional Champions Frank Diaz, Jacob Van Wagner, and Ryan Sabelhaus are also looking to secure Kyle some easy points.

Now most people may have wondered why Kyle chose some players without byes for his team. Tyler Morris may not be a household name just yet, but he has done wonders in his first competitive year so far and earned himself a $500 travel stipend to Nationals because of his high number of championship points. This pick does seem a little risky, but with 10 players on each team, it’s okay to take a little risk that might pay off with some points in the end. Nicholena Moon is another great player that has been having success recently. She performed very well with the Virzion/Genesect/Roserade deck at Regionals and even dyed her hair green to match the deck. Who wouldn’t want to pick a girl with this much dedication to her deck choice? This may seem like another risky pick for Team Wiggles, but it’s a pick that could also hold high rewards to go with it.


Dean Nezam (Team Sneaky): Dean also has plenty of experience with drafting from fantasy football and previous drafts on our stream. His choice of players will certainly not depend on how many byes they have, as Dean is just looking for the hungriest players out there. He wants the players that will perform the best and that want to be in the spotlight more than anyone else. Let’s take a look at Dean’s Team:

1st Round: Dylan Bryan

2nd Round: Sam Chen, 2 Byes

3rd Round: Michael Pramawat, 2 Byes

4th Round: Michael Skoran, 1 Bye

5th Round: Chris Murray, 1 Bye

6th Round: Benjamin Potter, 2 Byes

7th Round: Raymond Cipoletti

8th Round: Jon Bristow

9th Round: Angel Miranda

10th Round: Ashon Haswell

Senior Pick: Henry Ross-Clunis

These picks definitely had a common theme to them that most people may not have seen. EVERY single one of Dean’s picks were from the North-East United States. They all lived extremely close to Dean’s area of playing so he was certainly choosing players that he knew personally. I’m not sure how this strategy will end up working out for Dean, but with the lack of players with byes on his side, it may not end up on the winner’s trail.

Dylan Bryan is certainly not someone to take lightly, regardless of how many byes he has. With Dylan as this team’s first overall choice, they may certainly have a good shot at landing the big points with one player having a top 8 finish. Even though most of these choices aren’t going to have the advantage of byes at Nationals, they all have brought major tournament placing into this team. Ashon Haswell even made top 8 at Nationals two years ago and he was chosen in the 10th round! We’ll just have to wait and see if this team of players from the North-East United States can bring Dean the Fantasy crown this year.


Sami Sekkoum (Team Jason Klaczynski): It’s so nice to add a little bit of foreign flavor to this Fantasy Draft with the very skilled player out of the United Kingdom. Sami Sekkoum has performed at the highest level of competitive play for many years and has left a path of destruction behind him at the National Championship level for his country. He certainly knows what he’s doing at the Nationals over there, so maybe this could translate to a solid draft team for the United States National Championships. Here’s Sami’s Team:

1st Round: Kevin Baxter, 2 Byes

2nd Round: Kyle Sucevich

3rd Round: Jay Hornung, 1 Bye

4th Round: Michael Diaz

5th Round: Kaitlin Young

6th Round: Kyle Sabelhaus, 2 Byes

7th Round: Lewis Peterson

8th Round: Santiago Rodriguez, 2 Byes

9th Round: Mike Newman

10th Round: Nikolas Campbell, 2 Byes

Senior Pick: Sydney Morisoli

We weren’t quite sure how this team was going to turn out because Sami doesn’t really know that many players from the United States that well. There are definitely some strange picks from Team JS, which could include choosing Kaitlin Young in the 5th round! Kaitlin has performed very well at the National Championships in the senior division, but it looks like Sami has a lot of faith that she can translate that over to the masters division as well.

This team will be suffering a huge loss of their 2nd round pick, Kyle Sucevich, who has just been announced as the commentator for the National Championships and the World Championships. That pick definitely came with its “high risk, high reward” scenario, but Sami knew that there may be a chance he was commentating and couldn’t resist pick the greatest performer at US Nationals.

Surprisingly, Sami’s team looks pretty good for a person that seemed to be choosing his team based on how nice the players were. Sami even admitted to picking Mike Newman and Michael Diaz based on his impression from playing them at the top cut of the World Championships of 2012 and 2013. I certainly don’t know how his team will end up doing until all the points have been tallied, but it seems like “Team Jason Klaczynski” could be the underdog of this draft.


Israel Sosa (Team No-Neck): Everyone in the draft has had previous experiences with each other and seems to have a personal relationship aside from the West Coast stud of the Regional Championships, Israel Sosa. We asked Israel to join the stream to draft with us, to which he accepted and joined the group. Israel certainly fit in very well with our group and even chose the name “Team No-Neck” because his camera refused to work and only the no-necked avatar was visible. From our first thoughts, we assumed that Israel would probably stick to his West Coast players and shy away from players he didn’t know personally. Let’s look at Israel’s Team:

1st Round: Dustin Zimmerman, 2 Byes

2nd Round: Ross Cawthon

3rd Round: Jeremy Jallen, 2 Byes

4th Round: Brandon Smiley, 2 Byes

5th Round: Henry Prior, 1 Bye

6th Round: Kian Amini, 2 Byes

7th Round: Colin Moll

8th Round: Chris Nguyen, 2 Byes

9th Round: Joe Sanchez

10th Round: Sami Sosa

Senior Pick: Ian Whiton

Israel completely proved us wrong and snagged one of the best overall choices as his first pick, which was Dustin Zimmerman. He chose many other players that were not from his area, but chose players that have proven themselves to be very good in large scale tournaments. Bringing along Jeremy Jallen, Brandon Smiley, Kian Amini, and Chris Nguyen with 2 byes each, Israel’s team is definitely looking very intimidating. Most people believe this team to be a strong competitor for the Fantasy crown, but only time will tell.

It seemed like most of the picks were being spread out around the Midwest US and Central US, but eventually Israel found his way back to California for his last 3 picks. It seems like he has a lot of faith in the players that he knows personally, which could end up netting his team plenty of points from consistent play. If Israel’s team manages to do half as good as he has done at Regional Championship’s this year, they should have nothing to worry about at all.


Michael Diaz (Team Sosa): From last year’s fantasy draft on our stream, we have learned two things: Michael Diaz will make some very strange draft picks based on his friends AND Michael Diaz puts faith in the right people for his choices. Last year’s winner chose two seemingly random picks in Dave Richard and Sam Liggett, but both of these players ended up making the Top 8 and Top 4 respectively. If you may not notice many of the player’s on his team as well as some of the other teams, make sure not to count them out. They could be the one’s making it to top 4 this year. Here is Michael’s Team:

1st Round: Israel Sosa, 2 Byes

2nd Round: Dave Richard

3rd Round: Brandon Jones, 1 Bye

4th Round: Karl Kitchin

5th Round: Harrison Leven

6th Round: Christian Ortiz

7th Round: Sam Liggett

8th Round: Michael Canaves

9th Round: Robby Weidemann

10th Round: Andrew Ramey

Senior Pick: Lex D’Andrea

No, you don’t need to see if I missed any of his players that have byes. It seems like Michael didn’t care at all about byes for Nationals and just went for the players that he has confidence in to do well. I can’t say that this is an effective strategy, but after winning last year’s draft with players that seemed very random, I’m not going to knock it until results are in. This team will definitely be the overall underdog of the draft teams, but last year’s champ isn’t going to give up the crown so easily.

It seemed like Michael had a plan before the draft even started, as his team name was already chosen as “Team Sosa”, which was written on a giant whiteboard behind him. Although it may have been awkward if Israel had been chosen by someone else before it had come to Michael’s turn, the luck was on his side and Sosa fell as the 5th overall pick to Team Sosa. There is also certainly still faith in players like Dave Richard and Sam Liggett, who were again chosen by the younger Diaz brother for this year’s draft. We can only wait to see if this strategy will end up netting this team enough points to retain the gold.

Successful Decks From Other National Championships:

With Nationals coming up and other countries having their National Championships earlier than ours, it gives us a great opportunity to take a look at some of the decks that have been performing well in different areas of the world. I’d like to take a look at two decks that have performed very well at the National Championships in South Africa, New Zealand, and Portugal.

This is the deck that got first place at the South Africa National Championships in the masters division. It is very clear the Muhammad Aaqil Sedien decided to play a very consistent deck to give himself the best opportunity to win his National Championship. This list looks very consistent, plays more than enough drawing cards and energy cards, and has a solid base under the 4 Yveltal EX. Let’s get into detail about why this deck performed so well for Sedien.

Consistency: This deck plays 4 Yveltal EX, which helps to max out the consistency of getting out the main attacker of the deck. I’m sure it wasn’t very hard to find a Yveltal EX whenever an attacker was needed. Not only does this deck play 4 Yveltal EX, but it also plays 8 dark energy and 4 double-colorless energy to go with the professor’s letter. Making sure to never miss an energy drop definitely helped Sedien to win his National Championships.

Although all of these other traits about the deck may seem great, the best overall characteristic of this deck has to be the amount of supporter cards. There are 12 drawing supporters, 2 random receivers, a dowsing machine, and a Lysandre to threaten the bench. This high amount of drawing cards was certainly the reason why Aaqil was able to win his matches so effectively. There may have been very few instances in which he was drawing dead without supporters. The best type of Yveltal EX/Garbodor deck is the type that shuts off abilities quickly and attacks fast with Yveltal EX and Hypnotoxic Lasers.

Tech Cards: I’m not sure whether or not he knew that he was “teching” his deck for certain matchups or not, but it seems like Aaqil chose his tech cards very perfectly for the matchups that he would see. The Absol seemed to be the perfect card for his Finals match against Brian Murdoch, who was playing Greninja/Miltank. The deck needs to have a very large bench to function properly, which can be abused by Absol’s “Mind Jack” attack.

Versatility: This deck has the ability to win against many different matchups, which seemed to come in hand for the South Africa National Championships. There were many different decks in the top 8, which included Greninja/Miltank, Virizion/Genesect, Virizion/Genesect/Raichu, Plasma, and Charizard. All of these matchups have a weakness to abusing energy or abusing powers, which are the two strengths of Yveltal EX/Garbodor with such consistency. It was surprising to see that there were no Yveltal EX/Raichu decks in the top 8 of this National Championship, which can deal with many of the threats in that top 8. Nevertheless, this deck was built in a very consistent and well-designed manner for a National Championship.


This is another deck that got 1st place at a National Championship, but this time it was the New Zealand National Championships. This deck was built by Kishara De Silva, who piloted this Yveltal/Darkrai/Raichu deck to a National Championship victory. Although this deck may not have the overall consistency to setup effectively in every single game, it has many different tech cards to help with different matchups. There was definitely a lot of thought put into this list based on all of the different cards with only a single copy. Let’s look at what sets this deck apart from other decks and how this was able to win a National Championship.

Tech Cards: There are so many different tech cards in this deck that helps to set this apart from the other decks. Although he doesn’t play that many supporter cards for the early game setting up, Kishara definitely made sure to not lose consistency near the end of the game with the addition of a Pal Pad. This can help so shuffle back in 2 crucial supporter cards for added protection from a late game N, or also to shuffle back in the Lysandre to knock-out a benched pokemon to end the game.

This deck also has another tech card in the ACE SPEC card, which is scramble switch. This can help to setup a very large Yveltal EX out of nowhere, or to help switch the energy on a damaged Yveltal EX to a clean Yveltal EX.

Spiritomb helps to provide protection against Virizion/Genesect, but can also hurt you because Scramble Switch will become unplayable. The addition of Hard Charm is also very interesting and can come in handy for different situations. Allowing a Raichu to withstand a Druddigon retaliation could come in handy, along with allowing Sableye to last longer for maximization of Junk-Hunting.

Versatility: It is very obvious that this deck has answers to many opposing decks from all of the tech cards. This deck may not have setup ability of the more consistent builds, but it’s hard to argue with results. Kishara was able to make it through the field that had 3 Yveltal EX/Garbodor, 2 Plasma Kyurem, an Aromatiss/Mega Kangaskhan, and a Trevenant/Accelgor/Palkia deck with him in the top 8. This deck certainly was built to thrive in the late-game, which was an effective strategy to win Kishara his National Championships.


This deck got 2nd place at the Portugal National Championships and was piloted by the 2012 World Champion, Igor Costa. Yes, this may be another Yveltal EX/Garbodor deck, but it is different from the other types of Dark/Garb variants. This deck focuses on playing the same as any other Garbodor variant, but plays a smaller Garbodor line to help beat the mirror matches and other matchups. Igor even stated that he used the Garbodor line as more of tech line for his Yveltal EX deck. The only deck that was able to take Igor down was intevitably a Virizion/Genesect/Drifblim deck, which should be a surprisingly good matchup for him. Let’s talk about Igor’s choices in his Yveltal EX/Garbodor deck.

Consistency: Igor chose to play 4 dark patch and 4 hypnotoxic laser to maximize his damage output with Yveltal EX. These spots were made from the smaller Garbodor line, which could have been an added float stone and Garbodor in a regular build. This smaller line could have been the reason why he lost to Virizion EX/Genesect EX/Drifblim, because without “Garbotoxin” in play, all of his hypnotoxic lasers were useless.

Igor also chose to play 8 dark energy, 4 double-colorless energy, and a professor’s letter to make sure that he didn’t miss an energy drop while also helping the chance of dark energy ending up in the discard pile.

Late-Game Strength: Since Igor played Lysandre, Pal Pad, Dowsing Machine, and Escape Rope, he left himself many opportunities to attack an opponent’s benched pokemon. This proved very effective for Igor on his way to a 2nd place finish. Having 4 Random Receiver also helped the possibility of drawing into an effective supporter after a late game N. With only good supporters being brought back in to the deck with Pal Pad, late game N’s are much less effective.


Let’s Wrap It Up…

I hope you all enjoyed this article! The US National Championships are coming up soon, so I’m not sure if I’m going to be writing anything more before then. I wish everyone the best of luck in drafting, testing, and inevitably playing in Nationals. Feel free to message me with any questions and thank you all for reading!

-Ryan <3

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