Back From North American Internationals (Nats)!

The Fincastle Gym leaders have returned from the event formerly known as “Nats” (now the North American International Championships).  While Gym Leader Marthe was knee-deep in “deck checks” for most of the weekend, Georgia, Logan and Joel all competed in the main TCG event.  We were joined by our “General”, Ridge, who took on the VGC field in hopes of earning his 1st World Championship invitation.  While Ridge just needed to pick up one last chunk of point to get over the hump, Gym Leaders Georgia and Logan needed Top 8 finishes to stretch either of their Championship Point totals into another invitation.  Joel, who has played very little this season outside of league challenges, was looking to occupy himself until it was time to hit some of favorite Indy eateries.

Ridge R, our VGC General (that we wish could have joined our team earlier this season), had the most interesting day of our crew.  Ridge opened the day with the win of the tournament for the Gym.  Ridge handily defeated Nicholas K from Australia.  Nicholas won the Oceania Internationals held in March of this year in Melbourne, Australia, in addition to multiple Top 8 finishes in other Regionals and Internationals.  Despite falling to Ridge in the opening round of this weekend’s event, Nicholas went on to dominate everyone else he battled, eventually winning the North American International Championships.  At the time, of course, no one knew Nicholas would go on to win the entire event.  Nonetheless, it was an impressive win for Ridge.  The rest of Ridge’s tournament went up and down, as he hit a relentless stream of the world’s top players.  With the benefit of hindsight, we can see how diverse most of the top juniors’ teams were.  By that we mean, the top juniors had mixed teams, with answers and counters to different strategies.  Ridge’s team is strong, but did not have the coverage that the top teams possessed.  He battled hard through 6 rounds but ultimately missed the top cut.  With a little more experience and refining of his team, we feel certain Ridge could have played his way to the top.  When you take down the best, what more evidence do you need?  Great job, Ridge!

Georgia had the second best day of the gym leaders.  Georgia alternated wins and losses over the opening half of her 9 rounds of swiss, avoiding the dreaded ties that leave you on the outside looking in.  At 4 wins and 3 losses, 2 more wins, while missing the top cut, would have put her into some prize money.  Georgia lost a very close round 8 match which knocked her out of contention.

Gym Leader Logan was in striking distance of a fourth Worlds invite, but needed to play deep into Day 2 to get it.  Knowing that he could not afford to play a “tie” deck like Metagross GX, Decidueye GX or anything else slow, he elected to go hyper-aggressive and play Gyarados.  If he avoided Vileplume and Decidueye decks, we believed that he could pilot Gyarados to some quick wins.  Logan, who was placed in the orange flight, needed to swap places with Joel in the blue flight.  Logan hit a swarm of Decidueye decks in the orange flight, which are just horrible match-ups for Gyarados.  Logan battled hard, grabbing a few wins and ties, but had to settle for too many ties, eventually falling out of contention for Day 2.

Joel decided to play Ninetales GX, which tested well at home and matched up well against almost everything in the format.  Except for Metagross GX, an almost unwinnable match up for Ninetales GX.  We did not think it would see much play or do well at Nats.  Metagross did neither from what we could see, occupying the bottom tables in both flights.  However, Joel opened Nats by playing it in 3 of his 5 opening matches.  He actually tied the first one, which is a rather amazing feat for anyone playing Ninetales.  However, 2 ties and a loss in the first half of his day, kept Joel in the lower half of the blue flight, which of course meant…. more Metagross.  Out of contention for Day 2, Joel opted out rather than play mediocre players playing either Metagross or Decidueye/Vileplume/Ninetales, “tie” decks that swarmed the bottom tables by early afternoon.  What can you do?

Well, what we should have done is play Volcanion.  We anticipated that Volcanion would see a lot of play, believing that our deck choices were good counters to that.  Not only did we not see any games against it, we did not see many players around us using it.  It is hard to predict how a day would have gone with a different deck, but it seems to have been a better choice.  Either way, that is one more season in the books for us.

We will have league at our normal times in both Fincastle and Lexington this weekend.  Check back soon for information on upcoming events at the Gym, an update on Gym Leader Challenges and info on the next season.  We haven’t posted here for a few weeks because Joel has been working on the 2017 Rotation article.  If Pokemon will do their part and make the announcement so that we can post the daggone thing, we will get back to our regular routine on this site.  See you this Sunday at the Gym!

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