By some stroke of luck, I haven't yet been to a League Challenge that I haven't won.
There aren't any League Challenges that occur within a good hour and a half of me. This means that I have to travel a decent amount just to get to one. Since I returned to the game this year, I have attended a total of three League Challenges. My first one was a two-hour drive, after the release of Phantom Forces, where I brought my newly built Night March deck with four Professor Juniper, four Random Receiver, and four Roller Skates. I managed to go 4-1, which gave me the win.
The second League Challenge that I attended was a bit further away from home, in Copenhagen, Denmark. I brought Night March again this time, and I earned a 3-1 record, giving me the win.
I had a third opportunity this weekend to attend a League Challenge in the Netherlands, which was a wonderful change of pace. Our weekend in Amsterdam fortunately coincided with Dutch Nationals. The main event was on Saturday in Leiden, but there were League Challenges on Friday and Sunday as well in both Leiden and Sprang Cappelle. I, having only brought two decks with me to Europe, had no opportunity to change my deck from the previous week in Copenhagen.
1 Jirachi EX
2 Mew EX
4 Ultra Ball
4 Battle Compressor
4 Acro Bike
4 Trainers' Mail
1 Computer Search
4 VS Seeker
2 Muscle Band
1 Hard Charm
1 Float Stone
4 Professor Sycamore
1 Lysandre's Trump Card
1 Archie's Ace In The Hole
4 Dimension Valley
4 Double Colorless
4 Double Colorless
I have memorized this list at this point having spent so much time with it. I would have liked to pop a couple of Shaymin in here, and if I had managed to get my hands on Shaymin before my trip, I definitely would have added those. The deck obviously still runs fine without Shaymin though because I am maxed out on cards like Trainers' Mail and Acro Bike. Such reliance on Items means that I have a bad matchup against Seismitoad, the best deck in the format, but Night March is a fun deck and I am very comfortable with it.
My dad and uncle dropped me off at the venue, where a young man named Corne was happy to point me towards the entrance. I introduced myself and used my Donphan deck to play a fun game against him, which I won. Then, a couple of guys traveling up from Belgium walked in, and I played a fun game against Brent with Flareon. I got absolutely slaughtered, and that made me very happy that I wasn't playing Donphan for the real event.
Round 1 vs. Corne Smits with Hippowdon/Excadrill EX/Groudon EX
I had the pleasure of playing against the person who had pointed me towards the venue and played a fun game with me. He was playing with a different deck this time, and he started with Groudon EX. I started without Supporters but with a way to get five Night Marchers into the discard pile. I knocked out Groudon in two hits, while he loaded up a Benched Hippopotas. He brought it active once the Groudon was knocked out, and used Scramble Switch to move all the energy onto the now-active Excadrill EX. He had Strong Energy and Muscle Band attached, but with Resistance and Hard Charm that only did forty damage to my Pumpkaboo. I managed to get nine Night Marchers in the discard pile to knock out the Excadrill, and the following turn I knocked out Hippowdon to clear his board and win the game.
Round 2 vs. Elmer with Kyogre
My opening hand was capable of using Archie's on my first turn, as I had two Ultra Balls, but unfortunately my Jirachi EX was prized. This left me with no Supporter, and my Mew EX was stuck active. I attached a Double Colorless Energy to Joltik, because he had Suicune active, and passed. He told me, "I can't shuffle!", attached, and passed. At the end of the game he showed me that he drew five Energy in that opening hand, along with Colress as his only Supporter. I had five Night Marchers in the discard pile, but no way to attack. Eventually he got three Energy on the Suicune and knocked out my Mew EX in two attacks. I brought up Joltik and used Night March for exactly 100 damage to win the game.
Round 3 vs. Jeroen with Seismitoad/Shaymin
My opponent was at the League Challenge to grab points and secure his Day Two Worlds invite. I knew that Seismitoad was the best deck in the current format, so I suspected that was the deck he was using, but of course I wasn't sure. As a side note, there was a lot of Seismitoad at the event, and I was very lucky to dodge that for the most part. During Round One, next to me was Toad/Crobat vs. Toad/Crawdaunt. The wonderful Emanuel Da Silva was playing a Seismitoad deck without Lasers (which was constructed beautifully by the way), and Jeroen ended up playing Seismitoad/Shaymin, which was the scariest variant of them all.
I went first, and overall I had one of my most successful turns ever with the deck. I got Archie's on my first turn, I got seven or eight Night Marchers in the discard pile, and I attached a Double Colorless Energy to a Benched Pokemon. In response, he flipped Heads on a Crushing Hammer to get rid of the Double, attached Muscle Band to Shaymin, played Laser/Virbank, and passed. This was my only way to win this matchup, and the best outcome that I could have possible hoped for. The next turn, I used Battle Compressor to thin out the deck before playing Professor Sycamore to grab a DCE for the win.
Round 4 vs. Stephan with Donphan
I was at Table One for Round Three, and at Table Two next to us were two Donphan players, so I knew that I would be playing against Donphan if I was still at the top table for Round Four. I have played the Donphan vs. Night March matchup many times and from both sides. When I originally built Night March, Donphan was a very successful and popular deck, and it was actually the only deck that I tested Night March against. At first I thought that it was clearly in Donphan's favor, because they could just send up Robo Substitute and deny prizes. In my earliest draft of the deck I actually played four Pokemon Catchers just to have a chance in the Donphan matchup. When I first sleeved up Night March to play it at a League Challenge in Chicago, I started off 4-0 before losing to Donphan during Round Five (but I still won, don't worry).
The matchup comes down to hitting heads on Pokemon Catcher or streaming Lysandres to take out those pesky Donphan when they continue to run to the bench. One card that really helps the matchup is Hard Charm. Between Hard Charm and Resistance, Donphan needs two Strong Energy and Muscle Band attached to knock out Pumpkaboo in one hit. Empoleon also almost always is a very effective attacker against Donphan, and it knocks it out in one hit if you have a full Bench, guaranteed.
Against Stephan, I knocked out a Phanpy on Turn Two and I got Archie's on Turn Three. From there, my opponent was not able to bench more than one Phanpy at a time. At one point, I used Lysandre's Trump Card to reset my deck, get Energy back, and get Stadiums back. It was okay to do that because my opponent had just bumped Dimension Valley and left a Robo Sub Active (I had no way to drag up anything else). The next turn, I brought up Empoleon and streamed Lysandres to take all six prizes. My opponent was not able to set up another Donphan, and the big penguin ran through his whole field.
|He's a lot of fun but also a poor influence|
Like in Denmark, there were no extra prizes for winning, but at least everybody got a pack! I made many new friends, and I finally got to meet Emanuel Da Silva, who Ross has talked a lot about on his podcast PTCG Radio.
Overall I had a great time, and I have over 200 CP! This means that I am certified to post on Virbank. I also got a chance to go to another League Challenge, which was nice even though I've been to far more Cities than LCs. It can be frustrating not having local tournaments, but it is nice to travel far away for one once in a while. Having 205 CPs means that I only need to make Top 32 at Nationals, as opposed to Top 16, to earn my invitation to Worlds. That is a tall order, especially if I haven't even gotten Top 32 at a Regionals yet, but it is a tangible and realistic goal.
Thank you all for reading! Feel free to leave questions and comments below, and have a great day.