How VirGen became Tier 1 - A 1000 CP Journey
Hey everyone, my name is Marc Lutz, a well-known Master from Germany and the latest addition to the 60cards Staff! I started playing competitively in 2008 and have been a force to be reckoned with ever since. I've made deep runs in big tournaments all over Europe, including my ECC win in 2014 and qualified for Worlds every time but once since I started playing. Here's a quick overview of my past accomplishments, but keep in mind that I prefer playing in Europe over anywhere else in the world mostly because I'm lazy :)
1 1st Place
German Nationals (biggest Nats in Europe):
5 1st Place
Several 2-4th Place
- Qualified for Worlds 6 times, attended 3 times
- 3rd Place at the Prague European Cup 2010
- also have a ton of CC/BR wins
As you can tell I have a lot of experience and I won't mind sharing it with you guys!
I just couldn't figure out what I can contribute to the 60cards blog, but eventually I decide on a "2013-2014 Season Report", or just "How to G-Booster over 1000 CP" (That's right: I made 1045 CP this season alone, playing all kind of Virizion/Genesect variations!). I will go into detail about every game, every matchup, the tournament structures and competition in Europe and obviously the metagame at each given tournament cycle, including my thoughts and lists for each event and why math is very important in this game, or: why consistency is king.
Before we start with the first tournament, here's a quick overview over all events I played with Virizion/Genesect this season, including some analysis:
|Event||Location||Standing after Swiss||Final Standing||CP earned||Deck played|
|Arena Cup*||Dortmund||5-1-0||5-2-0 Top8||20||VirGen/Lugia EX|
|= 8 events||43-6-6||53-12-6||1045|
*Arena Cup is a Special Premier Event where the winner gets a ton of packs all over the season just for showing up at any given Premier Event. Same point structure as a City.
**ECC = European Challenge Cup. Biggest TCG Event in Europe that takes place in Arnhem, Netherlands. Same point structure as a Regional.
As you can tell I didn't participate in a lot of events, but I have a 100% top cut rate in the ones I did. Looking at your past season is always important in understanding of how well you did and whether some deck or tech choices were better than others.
Looking at your win rate after Swiss and your overall win rate is just as important in determining how consistent you and your decks are. In any kind of professional gambling you have to look at the pure numbers (a big example would be Poker; that's why our 3-time World Champ Jason K. is so good) and analyse them. In my case, prior cut, I have a 78,2% win rate, a 10,9% loss rate and a 10,9% draw rate, which is obviously fairly strong and gets me into cut pretty much all the time.
Once I am in cut my win rate goes down to 74,6%, proving that I'm stronger in Swiss then in Top Cut, which also explains why I'm not winning most of the tournaments I participate in. But obviously you can just get unlucky in Top Cut, playing against an autoloss matchup or just drawing dead twice (which happens even with the most consistent decks).
How did I wind up with Genesect/Virizion in the first place?
When I was at Worlds 2013, I obviously grabbed a playset of Genesects and Virizions just in case I might need them for a tournament; I didn't playtest anything at the time, but even if the deck turns out to be bad (which seemed silly to me, but I can be wrong, too!) I could always just sell them away. The next two weeks after Worlds a few friends of me and I did a Roadtrip down to San Francisco, Vegas and some other places and there were a few times when we would get bored in the evening or just couldn't do anything exciting in the evening so we decided to playtest just a little bit. A friend tried his Trubbish/Sigilyph Deck (Tool Drop) while I toyed around with some Plasma Variants including Genesect. After a few games it felt like I did a bad investment and I quickly built a Darkrai/Victini Deck and kinda liked it. It wouldn't be before I already returned to Germany before I realized that the deck needs maximum consistency to work properly.
And that's when the Klazynski Open took place and Mr. Henry Prior landed a Top4 finish with his Genesect/Lugia/Drifblim Deck. As I was already very interested in Genesect Variants I couldn't overlook that event and list, so I thought about Prior's Idea for quite a while before deciding that Drifblim just wouldn't cut it for me and I'd be better off playing Enhanced Hammer. I couldn't playtest that "idea", but I made a list anyway and wanted to try it at my next tournament.
3 Genesect EX
2 Virizion EX
2 Lugia EX
4 Professor Juniper
2 Shadow Triad
3 Pokemon Catcher
3 Colress Machine
3 Ultra Ball
2 Sky Arrow Bridge
2 Escape Rope
1 Max Potion
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Town Map
2 Enhanced Hammer
8 Grass Energy
4 Plasma Energy
2 Double Colorless Energy
Why this weird Pokemon line?
Is it inconsistent to play two starter Pokemon? Usually it is, but in this case we have to look at the Deck itself. There are seven Pokemon in total and two Virizion EX, which means that you have a 28,5% to open with them. That's your ideal start. BUT: Genesect EX isn't a bad opener either, since you can just T2 Megalo Canon/G-Booster thanks to three Colress Machine and four Skyla to search for them, implying you have a 42,8% to open with Genesect. And if you still want to T2 Emerald Slash you just need a Sky Arrow Bridge, an Escape Rope or a Colress Machine in order to retreat to your Virizion EX. Basically you have a ton of outs if you open Genesect EX, making it a good opener as well. In numbers that's 71,4%, a very solid number. While Lugia EX isn't as desired as a starter it can still apply a lot of early game aggression towards your opponent and is a stand-alone attacker with Virizion EX or Genesect EX as backup. You can't really open bad, and that's one reason why the deck is consistent.
Some might ask why there's no non-ex attacker. There is no strategic reasoning behind it, I simply forgot to add one. Oh well, it wasn't that good anyway thanks to Catchers everywhere (after all the old rules apply for the deck), but a Mr.Mime wouldn't have been that bad. Ugh!
The first picks in this section (Supporters before anything, you can't really run a deck without them) are the Professor Junipers since, well, I don't think there were any good draw-based Supporters other than Bianca and Cheren and those aren't even considered good. Colress is a bad choice since you play less than ten Basic Pokemon, so your chances of getting a full or even filled bench are almost zero. That being said the card sucks in mirror for reasons that I just stated. It's also dead early on and I can't express how much I hate inconsistency.
Now onto the other choices, four N is a no-brainer since there's no other disruption/hand refresher out there and you need them just as anyone else. While the card might not seem to be the best choice due to you wanting to be ahead all the time there's hardly anything you can do about the supporter pool at the time. Also N is my personal Supportor of choice due to the extrem aggression of the format and the comeback potential. There were plenty of games that were won thanks to a well-timed or lategame N. Really good card in general.
Then you need four Skyla (and by four I mean not three, but four) because this card searches for EVERYTHING and gives you an advantage over other decks. It's especially good since your setup is complete within the first two turns so you basically play with a very hard hitting board that can hardly whiff key cards that will set your opponent back due to increased outs thanks to Skyla. It's like playing with Jokers in Poker, so why wouldn't you run them? Some people are arguing that Skyla can't draw and that's also a reason why speed decks favor the 4/4/4 engine (Professor Juniper/N/Random Receiver) but Genesect/Virizion needs his G-Booster to really shine and ultimately be better than other decks. Otherwise there would be hardly any reason to run an inferior Darkrai EX (at the time Genesect's Ability wasn't as prevelant as it is today).
I was a huge fan of Bicycle when it first came out in Plasma Freeze because it's just so easy to play down your hand and draw 2-4 cards with an Item! To make additional sense you can just Skyla for Bicycle in a pinch and try to get lucky or just Skyla for something you need and then Bicycle for a bunch. Four Bicycle just makes the deck run very smoothly and sometimes even absurds your opponents due to runner-runner Bicycle topdecks. It's like Upstart Goblin in YGO, deckspeed equals consistency!
As we need to G-Booster more than once or it might just get discarded due to whatever reasons we should naturally run Shadow Triad and I did run two of them because that seemed to be the default number by the people who have been testing the deck longer than I had. Shadow Triad also lets you pick a Colress Machine to quickly power up a Genesect EX or Lugia EX and it can get your Plasma Energies back to function as a Pokemon Catcher. And never forget that you can get Genesect EX himself because he's a Plasma Card, too! There were games where two Genesect EX happened to be prized and the only one was knocked out pretty early so the card saved us there a lot.
The ultimate tech supporter in this deck is Ghetsis because I thought that Darkrai EX/Garbodor would probably be the play and as you might know that deck plays a LOT of Items. A T1 Ghetsis does not only cripple them (if they run the 4/4/4 engine they might be dead) but also lets you draw some cards. The only problem is that the card sometimes requires a little bit of skill simply due to timing. If your timing sucks you just wasted your Supporter for the turn and might give your opponent an opening to come back and if you aren't new to the game you should be aware of the fact that we don't want that to happen. Obviously the best timing is right after your opponent tries to get back into the game with Sableye's Junk Hunt and then dies horribly after you Ghetsis them for game. Only reason why you can afford to run this card is due to the enormous amount of space in the deck. Ghetsis is higly situational and that's not exactly what we call desired. Also unreliable and random.
G-Booster is easily among the most broken cards of all time and in this metagame it just works as an ominous threat: you can erase any Pokemon on the field from the game, which makes playing against VirGen so damn difficult. You need a backup in case you get G-Boooster'd. Or at least a way to get rid of the Booster to buy some time. Very powerful Ace Spec and the only reason why this deck can compete with the metagame.
Not only is Genesect EX a Pokemon that can get accelerated by Virizion EX, it's also a Team Plasma Pokemon so it gets the benefit of Colress Machine, making the deck even faster. In this particular list you'll also use that neat machine on Lugia EX for obvious reasons.
Then there's Pokemon Catcher, a staple at the time for obvious reasons. Normally I'd strongly advice to play four copies, but since Genesect EX can Catcher something up just as good as the Item card can, three are just the right number in this deck. Also Lugia EX + Catcher usually means three prize Cards so there's that to think about.
Ultra Ball over Plasma Ball or any kind of split between the two of them mainly for consistency reasons. You don't want to draw a Plasma Ball when you could just as well Ultra Ball for a Virizion EX which, after all, you need 71,5% of the time.
Sky Arrow Bridge is not really necessary but it surely comes in handy and saves you a bunch of Energies over the course of the game. Additionally it's a very nice counter gym that shouldn't help your opponent since the gyms you'll counter will always be in decks that won't benefit from the reduced retreat cost.
Now there are times where all those retreating outs won't be any good thanks to Garbodor/Tool and a lucky Hypnotoxic Laser flip. To be prepared for those moments you need further switching outs. The difference between Switch and Escape Rope is that Escape Rope can work as a Pokemon Catcher if your opponent doesn't know what he's doing and even if he does you can catch him off-guard with a lot of Genesect EX plays, like Colress Machine and G-Booster out of "nowhere". These plays will be better with the release (or rather reprint) of Enenergy Switch.
Like I mentioned earlier there are two Enhanced Hammer in this List to deal with Special Energy Cards and the Deck which runs them the most is Plasma, TDK, or any other variation. While it does help with your matchup with slowing down your opponent, it does only buy you enough time to close out the game. Simply because Plasma will eventually come out on top with better trades (Plasma Kyurem vs Genesect EX is a 2:1 trade = you have to kill it, but only get one Prize while your opponent can just kill you and get two Prizes). Your best shot at winning is to slow them down with your Enhanced Hammers and close the game out before they do.
Now coming up are the techs of choice, there usefulness can't be undermined but they won't do any good if played more than once.
Max Potion gives you a great edge in the Darkrai EX/Garbodor Matchup simply because they lose a turn which equals into a speed advantage for you. It also denies them of taking crucial Prizes against you and mostly will end up costing them the game. While you have to discard all your Energies, it shouldn't affect you too much since you should prepare another attacker in time to fill in for the just healed Pokemon.
Tool Scrapper is another way to get out of the sleep trap, removing Garbodor's tool and getting your Abilities back. Also very useful to combat Float Stones or opposing G-Boosters to give you an edge in the mirror match or helps making a comeback when you're behind (usually when you open second and nothing weird happens like your opponend whiffing on a Grass Energy, you're already behind).
Town Map is a card that I wanted to try so badly and I'm really glad it worked out nicely because it just makes for a much faster game. In the new 50+3 enviroment you just want to win as fast as possible and apply even more pressure by just being ahead a game. With Town Map, not only you can check where your precious G-Booster is hidden, you can also get key-cards out there whenever you take a Prize Card. Also your first search into your deck will be just for Town Map, everything else can be seen after that. No need to take an absurd amount of time "just" to check what's prized and what's not.
Eight Grass instead of Nine because you really need those two Double Colorless Energies for Lugia EX and Genesect EX (G-Booster discards any two Energies, or just one DCE) and four Plasma are mandatory since you'll need all of them in your deck and later in your hand to Catcher stuff up.
The Tournament Report
Now that we're done with the deep analysis of the deck it's time to move onto the real deal where all our theory has to be applied: a real tournament. The buy-in (or entry fee) for this Special Premier Event called "Arena Cup" which is only available in Germany is 8 Euros (equals to about $10) and gives away a very special prize to the winner: whenever he participates in a tournament in Germany, he'll receive a ton of packs just for showing up! With the default Booster Box the winner receives immediately after winning it adds up to about 3 total boxes. Also Championship Points are up for grab, Arena Cups are all equal to a City Championship, but obviously with far better prize support.
It took a few hours to get to the tournament and that's already a very long time for me, after all I'm not the kind of person who's willing to travel a lot for Pokemon but I did make an exception since the prizes are too good to pass up. It was a very crowded "City" Championship, they even had to refuse entries at one point because there just wasn't enough space to hold more than a 100 players. But whatever, let's start with the first round, shall we?
Round 1 vs Paul Student (Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Kyurem)
I would've had to play him at Nationals 2013, but unfortunately I got DQ'd in Top16, which got him a nice buy at the beginning of Day 2. I played him a bunch of times prior to that tournament to be frank he just misplays a fair amount of time. Even thought I really hate the matchup I wasn't all that worried since I'm pretty sure that he doesn't know how to approach this matchup correctly and while he tries to figure out how to beat me he should be already dealt with.
I remember that he had a very aggressive start with Kyurem and while that obviously wasn't good for me I could slow him down with both Enhanced Hammers and get back into the game. After I killed his Kyurem I G-Booster'd his Thundurus EX, then did some damage on a benched EX and finished the game off with Lugia EX for a 3-in-1 win. It was a lot closer than I thought it would be, but that just proved to me that Plasma is indeed a bad matchup and should be avoided unless I want to exit the tournament early.
Round 2 vs Tristan Wagner (Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Lugia EX/Kyurem)
Well I've certainly known the Wagner Judges (they're organizing the ECC every year), but I never played their kids! Tristan and Gawein are both very active and competitive Masters in Europe and are the ones who wind up with the most Play!Points at the end of a season.
I got a very poor start with no Supporters or anything other besides a few Energies and Pokemon Catchers, so I had to try stalling him for a few turns and luckily that ain't so difficult against all these Plasma Variants without Keldeo EX. While it was certainly a good decision to cut Keldeo EX, he did get into a spot where he couldn't get out of his active spot and after like five entire turns of me doing nothing I finally got an N, which resulted in me making a 6-1 comeback with Genesect EX, G-Booster and Double Colorless Energies. Phew!
Round 3 vs Lisa Steinmüller (Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Keldeo EX/Kyurem)
She's someone from the East of Germany, but I didn't know whether she can play well enough for my taste! She apparently knew how I am and that she didn't want to face me in the tournament, but I guess no one really wants to play me :(
She did open with her Keldeo EX, which.. well, is unfortunately against me. After a few Supporters early game she couldn't draw into any at all, meaning that Genesect's overwhelming speed could just built his advantage turn after turn. Eventually she conceded, knowing that she couldn't beat my board no matter what. I like the easy games because you have more to time to relaxe and have more fun with the crowd!
Round 4 vs Marco Jackowski (Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Landorus EX/Kyurem)
Really didn't want to face Marco at this tournament, well, I never want to face Marco! He's known to be quite the lucky guy and while I don't believe in superstitions it seems that I'm unconciously afraid of what might happen.
Obviously my fears became very real after he just exploded in my face while I couldn't trade well enough to close the game out. He won with a ridiculous prize lead and no matter what I did I couldn't stop him.
Round 5 vs Yasmin Kiss (Darkrai EX/Absol/Sableye)
Yasmin Kiss was not only the best female Master player in the WORLD (she made Top8 at Worlds 2010), but she's also the most succesful german Master ever. We are members of the same Team and now both of us are on the bubble, so that was a very unfortunate pairing. She did ask me before the tournament started if straight Darkrai EX was still playable and I said that it had trouble with G-Booster and Virizion EX's Verdant Wind Ability, but could very well win against the rest of the field.
I did play without Supporters for most of the game, but I got 2 Ghetsis which turned the match around really fast. A lone Genesect EX can be scary enough and the occasional G-Booster ruins everything for Darkrai EX. I felt kinda sorry to win, but I guess there was no avoiding it. Or so I thought, after the game a few friends told me that draws were reinstated and I could've just ID'd. Sigh.
Round 6 vs Merlin Quittek (Darkrai EX/Garbodor)
Merlin is a very solid player who's willing to travel a decent amount to play a few tournaments, not really caring about the outcome and having fun with his friends afterwards, doing all kinds of stuff. That being said he's still a strong player who doesn't make mistakes so I can't be too easy-going.
After we did a few trades I was clearly ahead and threatend to win with a Plasma Energy or Escape Rope, but my topdeck options are limited after I had to discard a Shadow Triad and had to waste the other one early on. There was a key moment where he played N and then used Junk Hunt for two Pokemon Catcher, leaving me with Ghetsis and Juniper. If I Ghetsis I can prevent him from winning for sure, but it's not getting me anywhere with those two cards. If I Juniper I might win instantly, but if I happen to whiff there won't be anything I can do to survive. I did the math and eventually decided to go for the win. After all I can't be too sure that he got a Skyla or Juniper in addition to his Catchers, so I might lose regardless. I hit the Escape Rope to close the game out; I had a bunch of outs, but I surely had to get a little bit lucky there.
Looks like I made Top8! There was something for everyone in this Top Cut, 2 Virizion EX/Genesect EX/Lugia EX, 1 Blastoise/Keldeo EX/Black Kyurem EX, 2 Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Kyurem and 2 Darkrai EX/Garbodor. I was pretty much fine with everything except for the Plasmas, but I had to face something much worse.
Top8 vs Gabor van Meenen (Blastoise/Keldeo EX/Black Kyurem EX)
Gabor just aged up and still managed to make Top8, way to go! I knew he was playing Blastoise, and he knew that he had to get lucky to win, but that's Pokemon. In fact, I don't believe that the matchup is that bad for Blastoise. As long as they go first they have a huge advantage and if they are fast enough early on they can very easily win.
And that's what happened twice, Gabor went first and won, then I went first and won and he got an insane start the 3rd game and just steamrolled me. Nothing I could do there, but I did wish him luck for Top4.
That concludes my first article for 60cards! Did you like my analysis of the first VirGen of the season? You want to me write more articles and continue with my 1000 CP journey? I hope you found it useful, and I'll see you next time!