How a “rogue” deck won the Pokémon World Championships


Hello everyone! My name is Elena and welcome to another article today at Ultimate Guard Blog. You see, I’ve seen many memorable things since I started playing Pokémon TCG more than a decade ago (like, for instance, the time in which an emergency ban had to be announced in the middle of the format) but perhaps one of my favorite ones was the time a very unexpected deck came out of the blue and become the World Championships.So join me in this particular story of how a completely overlooked Pokémon made its way to the Hall of Fame and proved myself particularly wrong 

 

A card under the radar 

Let me start by telling you a little bit about Mega Audino, the character of this blog entry. I must say that I have a difficult love/hate relationship with this card for a number of reasons I am going to be explaining, and writing this article is making me go back in time.

Mega Audino was first released in 2016 in the expansion Fates Collide, from the X&Y era. This was a moment in the game where the format was very diverse and every new Mega Evolution that was revealed caused a lot of hype. Mega Audino, however, sparked the opposite reaction and I have no problem admitting that I was one of the players that almost immediately dismissed the card.

Mega Audino was a colorless-type Mega Evolution Pokémon, which meant some positive and some negative things. The good thing was that Audino had a lot of HP and was very difficult to take down in one hit except when facing something that could hit them for weakness (Fighting in this case but it was not very popular back then).On the other hand, being a Mega Evolution, it required to have the Spirit Link Tool card attached to avoid losing the turn when it hit the field. And honestly, if you looked at the rest of the attributes, Mega Audino was nothing extraordinary and first sight.


It only had one attack, magical symphony, that required three energies and could potentially deal 110 + 50 damage to a Pokémon on the field. The damage output was nice but was not just quite enough to threaten the faster and more consistent decks we had available. As such, Mega Audino became overlooked by many players, including myself. In fact, during my set Fates Collide review video I literally said “Mega Audino might be interesting at some point but it is clear that it is a card that will never win the World Championships.” Even though shortly after I recorded a deck profile explaining thatit was actually not that bad after proper testing”, my followers use that clip to make all the memes and jokes in the world (rightfully so).  

But the reality is (and this is not me excusing myself) that Mega Audino really didn’t look very strong and there were so many better options out there:Volcanion EX could literally KO everything in one hit. Night March was the fastest and scariest deck in format and Vileplume facilitated a deadly item lock situation from turn one 

If you look at everyone’s predictions during the weeks before Worlds, no one included Mega Audino in the list of potential candidates. No one saw Mega Audino being played during the preparation tournaments that were run so, in the collective competitive mind, it was just another forgotten rogue deck. Until the World Championship started and we were proved wrong…  

 

From Zero to Hero 

I have a very vivid memory of these World Championships even if I was not able to watch them live. The thing is that I was spending that summer week visiting my grandparents, who live in a small village in the north of Spain and who, of course, don’t have any internet connection. I was really struggling to watch the stream so in the end I admitted my defeat and relied on my friends to keep me informed of what was going on.

At some point, my boyfriend texted me that some players had been spotted playing Mega Audino in combination with darkness-type Pokémon like Yveltal. I didn’t think too much about it because the top players, the ones I was monitoring, had opted for other strategies like the ones I had just mentioned above. I was certain that a top deck would end up winning. And I was, as the majority of the world, wrong.

Next morning I woke up, checked my phone and listened to an audio. My boyfriend was literally shouting saying that Mega Audino had reached the finals. I remember staring at my screen for a few seconds. Was that a joke? Was he, as always, making fun of me? But no. Japanese player Shintaro Ito made it to the finals and was going to face the American contender Cody Walinski.You don’t want to know how my timeline looked like that day, with so many people sending me drawings of Mega Audino. But that is another topic.

Now, the thing is that Mega Audino was not there just by luck even if, undoubtedly, when you play such a big tournament there is a certain percentage of fortune you need to have on your side. There is something I always say: A card is only as good as the format allows it to be and Mega Audino happened to be one of the most efficient decks considering the metagame


If you checked what the format looked like that year, you will see that there were a lot of decks that revolved around Stage 1 Pokémon. In that sense, they needed time to set up multiple copies and evolve. Mega Audino was the perfect weapon to capitalize this turn of set up because it could KO the active Pokémon and then KO something on the bench, getting two prizes ahead in just one turn. Something that not many decks could survive. In other circumstances these would have never been an issue because it is very typical that Pokémon gives us some sort ofbench barriershield, that is, a Pokémon or a card that protects your bench from getting damaged.But, since bench damage was not popular, no one bothered running something like that

In 2016, some of the most popular decks were Greninja Break, Vespiquen and Night March. All of them fall in the same category that I just described: set up small, low-HP Pokémon and then evolve. In the case of Night March, it was even more problematic since their main attackers didn’t evolve at all and you relied on 30-HP Joltik or 60-HP Pumpkaboo. Not ideal. Not ideal at all. So, if you look at it from that angle, Mega Audino was actually a very interesting play.Piloted by the right player and just with the tinny help of good draws, it was more than a rogue deck. In fact, two Japanese players reached the top 32 with this strategy.


And then, it was the moment Mega Audino had been waiting for so long: the finals.   

 

The saddest finals in the history 

The world held their breath. Japan versus North America. Mega Audino against Greninja. The final battle to become the World’s best. I can not stress how hyped everyone was about seeing the games. I think there was a good percentage of players that were rooting for Mega Audino just because it was a very out-of-the-box kind of deck. But going against Greninja was not going to be an easy feastor was it 

But when the time came, we didn’t say a proper final in the strict sense of the word. The entire round lasted less than 30 mins. We knew that Greninja was a very powerful deck, but had one major problem: it sometimes had problems setting up properly. Even with this tendency to brick from time to time, the board state it reached was so powerful that it was one of the top picks for that tournament. But Greninja had a panic attack and hid during the finals. In fact, it didn’t even show up. Cody was just unable to do anything and had to pass turn after turn until Shintaro finished with every Pokémon on the field. And the worst thing is that this didn’t only happen during the first game, the same situation was repeated in the second. I can only imagine how that must have felt for Cody and everyone that was there supporting him but that’s what happens when you play the game. Sometimes you just can’t do anything with the cards you draw and it is ok. You need to understand that, all in all, we are all playing a game and that bricking is a possibility. Of course, no one wants to brick at such an important moment of your professional career, but it is not under your control.


The saddest aspect about this is that, if you look at the list that Cody played at the event tried to maximize consistency, playing 4 copies of Professor Sycamore, N and VS Seeker. And not only that, it also runned 4 copies of Talonflame and just 3 Froakies, in order to open up with Talonflame. The funny thing is that in both games, Cody opened with Froakie.   

As such, Mega Audino got crowned as the best deck in the world. After the tournament ended, people tried to play it but to be completely honest its success did not mirror what we had seen in the World Championship. In fact, the format after a while had already evolved and we had other strategies emerging, not to mention that people already knew Audino and how the strategy worked. So, in the end, after a while, Mega Audino simply became less relevant. But it taught the community a very valuable lesson.

  1. 1) Don’t overlook cards just because they are not as powerful as others. They might only need the right format to shine 

  1. 2) Be open to try new ideas and think out of the box, especially when preparing for these very big and large tournaments. The surprise factor is sometimes more important than the testing 

  1. 3) When Elena says that a card is bad, go and buy a playset immediately (at least, that is what my community does now. Thank you very much, guys, I love you as well).  

 

As I said at the beginning, Mega Audino was one of the most incredible and unexpected decks that I can remember

With that, we reached the end of the article. I hope you enjoyed this journey with me but don’t worry, there will be more entries of this type.


Thanks for reading

Author: Elena (Gaia Storm)

Elena has been playing Pokémon Trading Card Game since 2011 and has never stopped. With her partner, she runs Gaia Storm, one of the largest Pokémon TCG Youtube channels in the world. She has a problem remembering the names of all the Pokémon but tends to open the most broken Pokémon packs.