Saturday, the main event at the 2014 Pokemon TCG World Championships, was finally here. Gym Leader Georgia was excited (and a little bit nervous) to take her first crack at an international field that like her, had their eyes on the biggest prizes offered by Play!Pokemon. To the winner, a $10,000 scholarship, an automatic invite to next year’s event, cards out the ears and lots of extra promo items. After testing and eventually scrapping the deck we thought would be the best play, Georgia entered the event with one of the Gym’s most unusual creations, based on the idea of flat-out overwhelming her opponents. We’ll look at her deck in-depth later this week. With 125 competitors in the Junior Division and the expected 7 rounds of best 2-0f-3 match play, we knew Georgia was in for a long day, but we liked her chances.
Looking back at her day, Georgia did not quite get the international mix that Gym Leader Logan has experienced in the past, as 4 of her 7 opponents were US players. However, she did battle against 2 French players and a Canadian, so she did get a little variety. Also different for Georgia was the 2-0f-3 match play. During Logan’s years at Worlds, the format was still single game rounds. Had this been a single game tournament, we think we’d have quite a different story to tell.
We will look at Georgia’s tournament round by round. Included by her opponent’s name will be the country they represent and that player’s individual final tournament ranking. Onto to the rounds.
Georgia opened against Elisa Covitz (US, 79th Place), who was playing Landorus/ Mewtwo/ Garbodor. We we hoping that Georgia’s deck would catch her opponents off guard. I think that would be an understatement to describe this match. In the opening game, Georgia swept Elisa’s field quickly, knocking out a Pikachu, Trubbish, Landorus EX and Mewtwo EX, all without losing a prize card. Game 2 picked up right where game 1 ended, as Georgia rolled again, knocking out a Pikachu, Landorus EX and a Mewtwo EX (which was all Elisa had in play), again without dropping a single prize card. What a great start for the 9-year-old! Maybe too great. Even we have to admit, after dominating the opening match like this, we had visions of Georgia playing on Sunday. We know she did too. Round 1 done, Georgia 1-0.
Round 2 pitted Georgia against Lucas Freitas (Canada, DNF), playing Black Kyurem/Keldeo/Blastoise. The capability to 1-hit all of Georgia’s attackers with Black Kyurem EX made this a dangerous match-up for Georgia. Unfortunately for Georgia, this was a match with some sketchy actions from her opponent that ultimately went unchecked (although it looks as if it may have caught up with him later). On the 2nd turn of game 1, Lucas played a “Professor’s Letter”, to search out 2 basic energy cards. According to Georgia, he pulled 3 cards out of his deck, none of which he showed to Georgia, not even the energy as the card requires. He took the 3 cards and quickly placed them in his hand. Georgia called him on it and he picked 2 energy cards from his hand and showed them to her (which she said were not the cards he placed in his hand). Georgia called a judge, who after listening briefly, replied that he was not there and did not see it. Seriously? On the 2nd turn of the game, it is very easy for a judge to rewind the # of cards played and determine whether or not someone cheated. The foreign judge did not seem to want to research the complaint and left their game. Surprise, surprise…. Lucas continued his turn, getting a 2nd-turn Blastoise and “Black Ballista” KO on Georgia’s active Mewtwo EX. Georgia battled on, earning KO’s on 2 BK EX‘s before he ultimately stole the game. We still don’t know really who to be more upset with on this one, the player or the judge. Despite the setback, Georgia jumped into game 2, but unfortunately got her 1st bad start of the event. She recovered to take 4 prizes, but the 1-hits from BK EX were too much in this game.
The DNF indicates that Lucas played through the 6th round (3-3) and then was removed from the final standings. This usually happens either through dropping from the event or being disqualified. Nobody drops from Worlds at 3-3, as a 4-3 record usually results in some nice prizes. We can only assume that he was DQ’d later in the event, but can not confirm that and whether or not it was for similar actions. All we know for now is that Georgia was ticked off and visibly shaken by the game. At 1-1, she tried to recover for game 3.
Round 3 saw Georgia face Benjamin Magana (US, 15th Place), an “elder” in the Junior Division, who dwarfed Georgia as that sat down to play. Benjamin was playing Virizion/Genesect. With the benefit of hindsight, Gym Leader Joel thinks he made a coaching error with Georgia in match-ups with this deck. As a rule, he taught Georgia to choose to go 2nd if she got to choose, so that she could put immediate pressure on her opponent. That seems like an error, as damage on Virizion is wasted damage and allowing the Genesect EX to be charged on the 2nd turn puts her at a major disadvantage. These points reigned true throughout this match. Georgia gave up the 1st KO in game 1 to his Genesect EX, after almost knocking out his Virizion EX, and then traded prizes for the rest of the game. Georgia took 4 prizes in this game and was poised to take the last 2 on the next turn, but being behind a turn cost her, as Benjamin took the last KO and the game. Game 2 was a bomb, as she opened with a bad hand. Gym Leader Joel watched her sit for 2 turns with a 1 card hand, hoping to top something decent, as Ben set up and claimed the game. She got a late KO, but it was more than too little, too late. As you can see by his final standing of 15th overall, Benjamin was no joke and played like an older, more experienced Junior. Now at 1-2, the tournament had turned on Georgia, putting her into that feared “now or never” moment. A win and she would still be in the running, a loss would push her out of a chance of anything in the top 16 and likely even in the top 32.
In round 4, Georgia faced Yuto Matsuki (US, 38th Place), who we originally thought would be her 1st foreign language opponent, but found out he was not only from the US, but from our general area (Virginia/Maryland). Yuto played Yveltal/Darkrai/Raichu. Georgia knowing what was at stake, returned to form quickly. Game 1 saw her take 6 straight prizes, again not losing a single one of her own, as she KO’d a Raichu, Sableye, and then 2 Yveltal EX. Yuto responded in game 2, going on the defensive, which is really all you can do against Georgia’s deck. He sacrificed non-EX pokemon while he loaded up Yveltal EX‘s and waited for her to strike. The non-EX for EX exchange worked out in his favor, as Game 2 ended with Georgia taking 5 prizes to his 6. Game 3 unfolded in similar fashion, as Yuto sat back and waited, knowing and fearing that Georgia could 1-hit anything he put up. They traded prizes again and again Georgia had to take a non-EX in the fray. Game 3 ended exactly like game 2, with Georgia taking 5 prizes to his 6.
Now at 1-3, Georgia knew that she missed her chance and, well, came unglued. Yes, this is a kid’s game and yes, they push everyone to “just have fun”, but there is an enormous amount of pressure at an event like this and the players feel it and know it. Georgia knew how our creation caught people off guard and how easily it can steam-roll any deck in the game and now had to face how narrowly she had missed a shot at the top. At this point, she had to gather herself and try to play for position and prizes.
Round 5 pitted Georgia against another fellow American, Joey Minas (US, 105th Place), playing Pyroar/Charizard. Game 1 was the 1st where she really had to shift attackers, shifting from Mewtwo EX to Latias EX. Latias EX, proudly sporting its “Team Plasma Badge” entered the Pyroar buffet line and started to eat. Georgia knocked out 4 consecutive Pyroar and then closed the game by 1-hitting a Charizard EX with her Mewtwo EX, ending yet another game with a 6-0 prize count advantage. Game 2 did not stray too far from game 1, as in this game, Georgia knocked out 3 Pyroar and a Litleo, losing 1 Mewtwo EX along the way. Down 4 prizes to 2 to Georgia, Joey sent up a Charizard EX with no energy, his best chance to survive a hit and last another turn. Georgia responded by 1-hitting the 180HP EX with her Mewtwo (a feat that will make more sense if you check back in a few days and read her deck article), leaving Joey to walk away shaking his head and laughing. Now at 2-3, Georgia could still work towards that 4-3 finish and try to end up with some prizes to take home.
And of course, as the first rays of light began to shine her way, Georgia found herself against another Virizion/Genesect deck. In addition to an error in approaching the deck in our training, the other big hit against Georgia’s deck in this match-up is the fact that it negates the “Virbank Gym” & “Laser” combo that she relies on for extra damage. However, this opponent’s build was not straight Vir/Gen, as it contained Mewtwo EX, Raichu and Landorus EX as well. Piloting this deck was Robin Cera (France, 40th Place). Game 1 was definitely a surprise for Robin, as he opened with Mewtwo EX and attached a Fighting energy and passed. Georgia responded by attaching a DCE to her Mewtwo, followed by its own “Team Plasma Badge”, used “Colress Machine” to attach to it again, benched 2 Deoxys EX and “BLAM!”….., game 1, done. We don’t know how many games in this event saw turn 1 “donks”, but we’re pretty sure that this one is the only one that happened like this. A stunned Robin, shuffled his deck and got ready for game 2. Robin reacted well, setting up and digging in. Georgia missed a key KO during game 2 that would have ended it, as she held the “Laser” in her hand that would have sealed it. However, Virizion saved the day for Robin, negating that potential damage. Game 2 played out with Georgia taking 5 prizes again, to her opponent’s 6. Game 3 saw Georgia take the advantage for once in the prize card exchange, taking her 5th prize card with an undamaged Mewtwo EX that was loaded to the teeth, meaning Robin would have to take 2 prizes for the game by 1-hitting this monster, a tough task as Georgia had already dispatched his Mewtwo EX and his “G-Booster” for his Genesect. Robin was holding the game in his hand, however, as he played a “Shadow Triad” to retrieve his “G-Booster” and KO the Mewtwo EX. Wow, what a game! This game went back and forth like a final, or more accurately like a battle between 2 players trying to fight their way back from some disappointing losses. Georgia came up short again, now standing with a 2-4 record and no shot at top 32 prizes.
Georgia wrapped up her tournament against Alexandre Jaret (France, 73rd Place), who was playing Yveltal/Darkrai/ Garbodor. At this point, it is hard for either player to get up for the battle, but both Georgia and Alexandre played hard in their last match. In what seemed to be the theme for Georgia’s day, she caught yet another opponent by surprise with her deck and rolled him in game 1. All Alexandre could get out was an Yveltal EX and a Darkrai EX, both of which Georgia KO’d quickly for the game. And just like in other matches, Alexandre responded, taking game 2, 6 prizes to Georgia’s 5. Game 3 ended with the same count, 6 to 5, as Alexandre dug out a “Laser” to finish off the Mewtwo that would have netted Georgia the game and match on the next turn.
If football is a game of inches, Pokemon is a game if micro-meters. Georgia’s final record of 2-5 was not indicative of how well the 9-year-old played. Seeing her matches unfold left us pining for the days of the single game round, as Georgia won the 1st game of her match in 5 of her 7 matches. A 6th win seemed very likely in Round 2 had the judges been a little more on the ball. Georgia seems to be cursed when it comes to judge rulings at major events. Unfortunately, we don’t find out about occurrences like this until after the matches are done, which leaves little recourse when a judge drops the ball. We don’t know the facts about what eventually occurred with this opponent. If he was caught cheating at an event like this, he should be banned from the game. If the judging staff had pursued this like they should have, that could have happened in Round 2.
Georgia will not make any excuses for anything in this event. She played hard from the opening moments until the end. Playing against the best the world has to offer, it’s not hard to see how 11 and 12 year-olds were able to respond to the aggressive play that Georgia brought and out-maneuver the 9-year-old. One should not forget that every Junior in this field could show up at any local tournament and wipe the floor with everyone there, Juniors, Seniors and Masters alike. We had fun watching the opening moments of each round as terror would quickly claim the face if her opponents as her deck set up and they began to realize what she was doing. We know that everyone tested against decks like Yveltal/Garbodor, Virizion/Genesect, Plasma, Pyroar, etc. We also know that no one was prepared for a deck like this. In slightly more experienced hands, we feel this one could have gone the distance. Georgia played it well and did us proud. We are sure that their were some interesting conversations after matches by those that survived her deck and those that fell to it.
It would have been a tall order for Georgia to drive all the way into the finals in her 1st ever Worlds appearance, but you could tell how bad she wanted to win. It was hard to watch her come so close, time after time and then watch it slip away. With 2 years left in the Juniors, we know that if she works at it, she will have her chances again. This was a great 1st experience for Georgia. Seeing matches unfold as they did and having success dangled so close in front her, will make her a stronger player. That is a dangerous thing to do to the mighty Georgia, for everyone else in the game.
Thanks to all of you who followed her and cheered Georgia on this weekend. Check back this week, as we will post one more (mostly photo) article and then follow up with articles on both Georgia’s and Logan’s deck. We look forward to sharing our insight into the event and how we prepared for it. There’s still lots to come, so check back soon! Until then, see you at the Gym!