"A look at the Top 4 Masters of the 2014 US National Championships-Along with an Interview and Deck Analysis"

27.7.2014 wrote: Jose Marrero in category Tournaments & OP

Hello 60cards readers! As you all may know we have the World Championships right around the corner. So for this article I’ll be interviewing the top 4 Masters from the US National Championships. And give a brief deck analysis on the decks that they played.

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Table of contents:

2014 National Champion
Brandon Salazar
Interview
Deck Analysis

2014 Nationals Runner-Up
Michael Pramawat
Interview
Deck Analysis

2014 Nationals Third Place Finisher
Isaiah Williams
Interview
Deck Analysis

2014 Nationals Fourth Place Finisher
Calvin Nordberg
Interview
Deck Analysis

                       2014 US National Champion

First up, we have the 2014 US National Champion, Brandon Salazar. Brandon is a first time Masters division player and he plays and resides in the great state of Florida. At just 15 years old I believe Brandon is the youngest US Masters National Champion to this date. An incredible achievement to accomplish at such a young age. Let’s see what the new Champion had to say.

1. For those that may not know you. Can you explain a little bit about yourself and how you prepared for the 2014 US National Championships?

My name is Brandon Salazar and I am from the Orlando Florida area and I have been playing Pokemon since 2010 as a Senior and just aged up to Masters this year. The first pack I ever bought was a Dragon Frontiers pack. For preparation at the US National Championship, I looked at the decks that won internationally, which were Yveltal, Plasma, and VirGen and based my deck around testing against those decks. I really didn't like any deck at all but I found Landorus-EX/Mewtwo-EX, which was a deck I was really successful with and played it with Raichu and Garbodor. The deck really did well at Tanner Hurley’s house and in testing. I went with this deck also because I knew how popular Pyroar was going to be.

2. Congratulations on becoming the 2014 US National Champion in your first year as a Masters player. Is there any advice you can give to the younger generation of players that transition to Masters and how to not let the older generation of players get the best of you?

Do not get so nervous is one thing. I kept my composure facing these top veterans and its ultimately why I won. I know the odds are not in your favor but believe in yourself and play the deck you feel most comfortable with. Even though my Landorus/Mewtwo/Raichu/Garbodor deck is not the BDIF, it’s what I felt comfortable with.


3. Now that your the 2014 US National Champion. What are your expectations for the World Championships next month?

I think it’s going to be the same thing now with Pyroar in the mix. You can see a decrease in decks like Plasma and VirGen but see an increase in decks like Empoleon and Flygon. It’s good seeing Stage 2 pokemon being played again. But the Worlds format is going to be mostly Yveltal, Pyroar, Plasma, Virgen, and Flygon. Other decks like Empoleon and Aromatisse will be present. I am not sure if my deck would become really playable but it wouldn't be surprising if it did.

4. Is there anything else you would like to say or share?

Good luck to everyone that is competing at the World Championships, and I can't wait to play next year in the BCR-On format. Especially when Landorus-EX is going to be played a lot.

Deck Analysis: Landorus EX/Mewtwo EX/Raichu/Garbodor Brandon’s US Nationals winning list.

Pokemon:14

3 Landorus EX
2 Mewtwo EX
2-2 Raichu
2-2 Garbodor
1 Druddigon

T/S/S:35

4 Professor Juniper
3 N
3 Skyla
2 Lysandre
1 Shauna
2 Bicycle
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Muscle Band
3 Ultra Ball
2 Switch
2 Float Stone
2 Virbank City Gym
1 Level Ball
1 Enhanced Hammer
1 Professor’s Letter
1 Computer Search

Energy:11

7 Fighting
4 Double Colorless

3 Landorus EX: I like the heavy Landorus EX in here. He puts alot of pressure early game and sets up KO’s for later on in the game. With a Muscle Band he can 1 hit KO Absol’s and Raichu’s which is nice.


2 Mewtwo EX: These guys are your quick answers to Yveltal EX if you don’t have a Raichu ready to go. He’s also good against opposing Mewtwo EX’s. So having a few of these guys is a nice luxury.


2-2 Raichu: Really nice answer against Yveltal EX and Lugia EX. The fact that they can 1 shot these guys is nice. Raichu also being a non EX is also great for prize trades. Let’s not forget about his free retreat which is clutch at times when you need to promote something after one of your pokemon were KOed last turn.


1 Druddigon: This guy is nice against things like Latias EX, Giratina EX, and of course Rayquaza and Black Kyurem EX. Having a non EX that can threaten KO’s on these guys is really nice and can make all the difference.

2 Lysandre: Most people probably would have went with 1 copy but Brandon decided that 2 was the best option. I agree here. Playing 2 of these can be nice for when you need to pick off something on the bench that’s threatening your side of the field. Such as things like Yveltal EX or a Lugia EX that’s ready to take multiple prizes. Also the fact that Brandon went with Computer Search as his Ace Spec, he can just search for one of the Lysandre’s when needed.


1 Enhanced Hammer: A single copy of this card in any deck can be crucial when played at the right time. I like this little tech. Never know when it can come in handy and be a big game changer. Discarding an energy off a Lugia EX to make it more tough for them to respond with another Plasma Gale or Yveltal EX so that it does less damage with Evil Ball. Really nice addition and well worth the spot.


1 Computer Search: Brandon chose his Ace Spec to be Computer Search over Dowsing Machine. Personally in a deck like his I would also run Computer Search over any other Ace Spec. Having the option to grab a Double Colorless or a supporter like Lysandre that’s not already in the discard is a really nice luxury. Makes the deck a bit more consistent than if you were to play Dowsing Machine. Opening Dowsing Machine is the worst. We have all been there and said to ourselves. “Man if only that were Computer Search”

                  2014 US Nationals Runner-Up

Next up, we have the 2014 US Nationals Runner-Up, Michael Pramawat. Michael is a well known veteran player that’s been playing for years. He resides in Virginia and one of his biggest achievements was at the 2010 World Championships. Where he also was the Runner-Up. Now he has another great accomplishment to add to his list. Let’s see what Michael had to say.

1. For those that may not know you. Can you explain a little bit about yourself?

Well let's see. I've been playing the tcg for a long time now. I started at the end of base set and have been playing ever since. As for what I've achieved in the game, the list is quite long. The biggest accomplishments are my 2nd place Worlds and U.S Nationals finish. I have also won 3 Regionals and multiple State Championships.

Here is a picture of my trophy area.


2. Congratulations on being the Runner-Up at the 2014 US National Championships. What helped you prepare for Nationals and what made your deciding factor to play Pyroar at such a big event?

Thanks. I think what helped me the most was having a opened mind. I knew a few things I did not want to do. One was to play mirror. The other was not take a loss to Yveltal/Garbodor. I actually didn't play any games with the list I played until round 3 vs Dustin. I had this deck as a pet deck and it seemed to do well in my play testing circle. However it is hard to tell if it is doing well because it is good or our testing is just bad. So we gave the deck to the New England group and they made a few changes. Most notably Roller Skates. They told me the match-ups were great and I trusted them.

3. Now that your the new Runner-Up for the 2014 US National Championships. What are your expectations for the World Championships next month?

Honestly I am not sure what to expect. It is hard to figure out the World Championship meta because every country brings their own flare to the event. I'll probably just pick a good deck a cross my fingers.

4. Is there anything else you would like to say or share?

Big thanks to Chris Murray and Tristan Macek for hammering out the final list. I only made a one card change(a Lysandre for a Catcher). Going into Nationals, it seemed like most people had no idea how to build Pyroar. The fact that everyone who played this list did top 128 or better just showcases how strong the card is in certain circumstances.

Deck Analysis: Pyroar/Charizard EX/Mewtwo EX

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Michael’s US Nationals Runner-Up list.

Pokemon:10

4-4 Pyroar (70 hp Litleo)
1 Charizard EX (Combustion Blast)
1 Mewtwo EX

T/S/S:38

4 Professor Juniper
3 Blacksmith
2 Lysandre
2 N
2 Tropical Beach
4 Roller Skates
3 Bicycle
4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokemon Catcher
4 Switch
3 Muscle Band
2 Level Ball
1 Computer Search

Energy:12

8 Fire
4 Double Colorless


4-4 Pyroar: Michael went with a maxed Pyroar line since that’s what he wanted the deck to focus more on. Locking opponent with Pyroar was the key in this deck. While also having an easy answer to Virizion/Genesect and Plasma decks.

1 Mewtwo EX: Nice against opposing Mewtwo’s. But mainly great against trying to KO opposing Trubbish’s and Garbodor’s.


1 Charizard EX: He’s more of a Latias EX counter. Seeing how Pyroar is unable to hurt Latias EX. That’s where Charizard EX comes in handy. With a Muscle Band he now 1 hit KO’s Latias EX. Giving you back the option to lock opponent with Pyroar.

2 Lysandre: Great card to drag up opposing threats that can hurt Pyroars such as Garbodor and Raichu. Basically anything that can evolve.

4 Pokemon Catcher: Same reason as Lysandre. Only this time it dosen’t count as your supporter for the turn. Which is nice if you need to drag something up yet you don’t have the correct resources in hand yet. Allowing you to use a supporter now to find the last cards you need for the KO.

2 Tropical Beach: Really nice addition. Some people play Electrode over Tropical Beach but I can see where Tropical Beach is slightly better. It bumps opposing stadiums such as Virbank City Gym. Making poison do 10 damage instead of 30 a turn. Which is huge and makes all the difference. A turn 1 Tropical Beach with multiple Litleo on the field is nice and what you want the deck to do. Which Michael knew right away. Really nice consistency card in general.

              2014 US Nationals Third Place Finisher (Left)


Last but not least, we have the 2014 US Nationals Third place finisher, Isaiah Williams. Isaiah is a player from Richland, Mississippi who is also a first year Masters player along with Brandon. Let’s see what Isaiah had to say.

1. For those that may not know you. Can you explain a little bit a about yourself?

Hey I’m Isaiah Williams, I am 16 years old and I am going into my Junior year of High School. I have been playing Pokemon since 2009 and began playing competitively in 2011 where I won my first States as a Senior, top 4ed at a Regionals, and got my invite and competed in the San Diego worlds that year. Recently I competed in the 2013 World Championships as a senior, and ended up losing in top 32 placing 17. After that I took a break from pokemon, because I was so busy with tennis/school/ect.

2. Congratulations on your Third place finish at the 2014 US National Championships. What helped you prepare for Nationals and what made your deciding factor to play Yveltal/Garbodor at such a big event?

In March, I knew the State Championships was coming up so I started back up playing pokemon at the Mississippi State Championships. My friend Jake Morgan, had a Darkrai/Garbodor deck he had been working on, so I got that from him to play in the State tournament. I ended up making it to top 4 there. After that I felt that maybe, as a Master, I wouldn’t do too bad and could actually place at a tournament or two. So then I decided to take my chances at Nationals that year as a first year master.

Me and my buddy Jake started to test, but we weren’t able to attend Regionals so we just decided to watch and learn from the winning decks. Quickly we learned that Yveltal EX was a better main attacker then Darkrai EX, so we adapted. We began testing Yveltal/Garbodor against every match-up and got a good months worth of testing before Nationals. I learned that Yveltal/Garbodor pretty much was able to beat everything in the format (well maybe except Plasma, and Landorus/Mewtwo/Raichu/Garbodor). So I decided that it was the safest and most consistent play for Nationals. I would also like to contribute a lot of my success from the hours of play testing and deck building that Jake Morgan helped me do.


3. Now that your one of the Semifinalists for the 2014 US National Championships. What are your expectations for the World Championships next month?

For Nationals, I was surprisingly confident before and during the event. I feel the same way about worlds. I feel like I understand the format pretty well and how to build the decks of this format, so I think that with play testing and the help of my friends in the area, that I can make a pretty good turnout at this years World Championships. Now if you’re asking what I think will be played, I think that we will see a big decrease in Pyroar honestly. Think about last year, people played Gothlock at Nationals. People then realized how to tech against it for Worlds, not nearly as many people played Gothlock at Worlds. I believe the same thing will happen at Worlds for this year. Then on the flip-side, so much Pyroar was played at Nationals, that I feel like it’s going to scare Plasma away. So I think we will see an even larger number of Yveltal variants, and the “not so common” decks like Empoleon and Dusknoir/Flygon. Since they did so well at Nationals. Hopefully we will also see a huge increase in Jirachi EX play too since it was shown to be a pretty good card especially in my Nationals run. Haha.

4. Is there anything else you would like to say or share?

I would like to say that for any of you guys wondering, Jirachi EX is pretty much a must in every deck except for like Plasma. Because Jirachi EX contributed to getting me out of so many bad hands, and could’ve even won me top 4 if it weren’t prized. He was definitely the MVP of Nationals for me. I’d also like to say that one reason I did so well at this Nationals was because of all of the Pyroar I played against. 7 of my wins were against Pyroar, so thanks to all the people who decided to play Pyroar. XD


Deck Analysis: Yveltal EX/Garbodor

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Isaiah’s US Nationals Third place list.

Pokemon:12

3 Yveltal EX
1 Darkrai EX
1 Jirachi EX
1 Baby Yveltal
1 Sableye
1 Absol
2-2 Garbodor

T/S/S:36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Colress
1 Lysandre
2 Bicycle
4 Ultra Ball
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 Dark Patch
3 Float Stone
3 Muscle Band
2 Virbank City Gym
1 Switch
1 Professor’s Letter
1 Dowsing Machine

Energy:12

8 Dark
4 Double Colorless


3 Yveltal EX: This deck runs a heavy Yveltal EX because franky he is your main attacker when it comes to damage output.

1 Darkrai EX: I really like a 1 of in this deck because there are times where you don’t need Garbodor in certain match-ups so having a back up free retreater like Darkrai EX is nice. He’s also a great attacker and can snipe things that can be set up for KO’s later on in the game.

1 Jirachi EX: Most people don’t play this guy in decks that play Garbodor. Which makes sense. But Isaiah thought differently. There are times where you don’t necessarily need Garbodor out just yet or those times where the Garbodor gets KOed. You now can use Jirachi EX for when you have those dead hands but have an Ultra Ball in hand. Really clutch and I really like the addition in this deck.

1 Baby Yveltal: This guy is nice against big EX’s and against mirror. Having him up dealing damage yet still putting energy on the field is nice.

1 Absol: Really great fast non EX attacker that can deal a ton of damage. Just a great card to clean up late game if needed.

                2014 US Nationals Fourth Place Finisher

Lastly, we have the 2014 US Nationals Fourth place finisher, Calvin Nordberg. Calvin is a well known player from Colorado. Let’s see what Calvin had to say.

1. For those that may not know you. Can you explain a little bit about yourself and how you prepared for the 2014 US National Championships?

My name is Calvin Nordberg, and I'm from the beautiful state of Colorado. I got into the Pokemon TCG as a kid and played up until Diamond and Pearl. I returned to the game shortly after the release of Black and White. Before this season I only amounted to 1 cities win. This season I had the opportunity to step out and travel more, with which I earned 2 top 4 placements at Regionals. I also ended up qualifying for the World Championships, for the first time, after Spring Regionals.

After Spring Regionals, I set into theory-monning for what a strong play was for Nationals. I immediately decided that Darkrai/Yveltal/Garbodor was the best deck in the format, and that I should get comfortable with playing it. I tested Darkrai for about a month straight while also focusing on helping friends with deck choices. After other National results started showing up, I saw how strong Darkrai was in the meta. This scared me off of wanting to play it, because I do not like the mirror match. I decided to have a TDK list as my fall back if I decided not to play Darkrai. I ended up deciding not to play Darkrai a week or two before Nationals.

2. Congratulations on your Fourth place finish at the 2014 US National Championships. What helped you prepare for Nationals and what made your deciding factor to play Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem at such a big event?

Thank you very much! My entire season was basically preparation for what I played at Nationals. I played TDK in basically every tournament this year, aside from States. After putting so much time into the deck, I felt like I had a very strong grasp on how to play it. It was an easy deck to fall back on when I decided not to play Darkrai. All I really did to prepare the list was take my Spring Regionals list and work Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank into the mix. I honestly only played the list around 10 times before Nationals, mostly because I was focused on Darkrai for a majority of my testing.
Probably the biggest decision that I made with the list was deciding not to tech a Pyroar counter. I honestly assume that there would be enough Darkrai to thin the Pyroar out, and that I wouldn't really see Pyroar if I won my first 2-3 games. Boy was I wrong.


3. Now that your one of the Semifinalists for the 2014 US National Championships. What are your expectations for the World Championships next month?

My expectations for Worlds are not too high at the moment. I don't really know what to expect since it will be my first year at Worlds. That combined with a very unpredictable meta makes me very unsure. I do still have a goal, which is to try for top 32 so that I have some points to carry into next season. However I am not counting on it right now.


4. Is there anything else you would like to say or share?

I would like to make two huge shout outs to my team Mad Pullz, as well as all of my friends from Colorado. I definitely would not have made it this far without their support and advice this season. Also thank you to Jose Marrero for giving me my first interview, it is honestly a privilege. I would also like to say good luck to everyone playing in the LCQ, as well as everyone else that will be competing in the World Championships. I will see you all in DC!

Deck Analysis: Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Kyurem

 

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Calvin’s US Nationals Fourth place list.


Pokemon:11

2 Thundurus EX
4 Deoxys EX
4 Kyurem
1 Genesect EX


T/S/S:36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Colress
1 Skyla
1 Shauna
1 Lysandre
1 Bicycle
4 Switch
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Colress Machine
3 Team Plasma Ball
3 Muscle Band
2 Startling Megaphone
1 Virbank City Gym
1 Ultra Ball
1 Computer Search

Energy:13

4 Prism
4 Plasma
2 Blend (W/L/F/M)
2 Water
1 Lightning


2 Thundurus EX: I think all Plasma decks should run Thundurus EX. He’s a great 1 energy attacker that has a built in energy acceleration for your Plasma pokemon. With 4 Deoxys EX and a Muscle Band he can 1 hit KO Yveltal and Lugia EX’s for just 1 energy. Which is incredible and game changing if you ever pull those plays off.

4 Kyurem: He’s basically your main attacker in this deck since there are no Lugia EX. A turn 1 Kyurem is really strong no matter what deck your going against. The fact that he also snipes for 30 is really nice for setting things up late game. He just deals tons of damage while also being a non EX which gives him that extra boost of advantage against decks that rely mostly on EX pokemon.

4 Deoxys EX: Now Plasma decks should all be playing 4 Deoxys EX to max out their damage out put. Maxing these guys out keeps your consistency up.

1 Genesect EX: A really nice tech for when you have to drag things up on the bench that are threatening your field. An auto Catcher is always something nice to have. Especially in a deck like this.

4 Hypnotoxic Laser: Really great against most decks that don’t run Virizion EX techs. Can help you hit magic numbers against decks like Yveltal and even mirror.

1 Virbank City Gym: Interesting that Calvin went with a 1 of. Most decks that play Lasers opt to play 2-3 Virbank. But Calvin probably figured that Lasers are mainly good against Yveltal decks, which already play Virbanks. So he made room for another card opting to play a 1 of. Which I can see being really clutch. Having that extra Switch spot or supporter spot could come in handy in the long run.

2 Blend (W/L/F/M) Energy: I like this option. Dividing your energy for both your main attackers was a really nice call.

2 Water Energy: More Water over Lightning makes more sense since Calvin has more Kyurems over Thundurus EX. So he wanted to make sure he had more energy for his main attacker. Also great against Enhanced Hammer. Knowing your waters can’t be hammered is a nice feeling.

1 Lightning Energy: Used on Thundurus EX for when your dealing with Enhanced Hammers again. A great 1 of in a deck like this. Just to set up those backup Kyurems.


That will conclude this article. I hope you got a feel on what may see play at the 2014 World Championships and I hope you got to know the top 4 US National Championship players a little better. Keep an eye out for more articles to come. Until next time.

- Jose Marrero

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