Oceania Internationals: A Malaysian Invasion

465 players from around the world collided at the 2018 Oceania International Championships in Sydney, which came to a heart-stopping climax with Tord Reklev winning his 3rd International Championship and 2nd in succession this season.

But we were most proud of the Malaysian contingent, comprising 22 Masters, 3 Seniors and 1 Junior player, possibly the largest local contingent to represent the country on the international stage in recent history, and the third highest country (behind USA and Australia) represented in the Oceania International Championships.

Best of all, 4 Masters made Top 64, 3 Masters hit Top 32, 1 Senior made Top 8 and our lone Junior reached the top 16 – congratulations to them all!

We spoke to these players to find out how they prepared themselves for such a grueling tournament, playing against the best of the best in the world.


Shane Chee [53rd] – Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX

A long-time player in the Malaysian Pokemon TCG scene with a Nationals title under his belt in 2013 as well as numerous other achievements, Shane has been consistent throughout the years, taking a short absence during his time studying in the UK. He entered the International Championships with great momentum, having recently won the League Cup in Malaysia, Top 8 a League Cup in Singapore and having multiple Top 4 finishes in League Challenges locally.

oceania18_shane.png

R1: Volcanion EX LWT 0-0-1
R2: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX WW 1-0-1
R3: Buzzwole GX/Garbodor LWT 1-0-2
R4: Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX WW 2-0-2
R5: Greninja WW 3-0-2
R6: Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX WW 4-0-2
R7: Gardevoir GX/Zoroark GX WLL 4-1-2
R8: Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX LL 4-2-2
R9: Metagross GX/Solgaleo GX WLW 5-2-2

1. Why did you choose to play this deck for Oceania?
I decided to go with Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX for Oceania. This was one of the hardest decisions going into the tournament. To me, a smaller event such as League Challenge/League Cup usually doesn’t require too much thinking when it comes to deck choices. However, as Oceania was an international event with some of the best players from around the world, deck choice was definitely one of the big defining factors to succeed.

I somehow narrowed my options down to either Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX or Ninetales GX/Zoroark GX as I’ve had pretty good runs with them. At the end of the day, it was a 50-50 call, Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX for the best stage 1 rush deck or Ninetales GX/Zoroark GX for the surprise play. I ended up going with Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX as the deck was definitely more versatile, with techs such as Max Potion and Enhanced Hammer to flip games.

2. What were your preparations like in the lead up to the tournament?
To be honest, I felt very unprepared for this tournament. After a 2-3 year hiatus from the game, my playtesting sessions were reduced from close to 5 days a week (with each session lasting approximately 6-8 hours) to 3 days a week (with about 4-6 hours). This was partially due to work obligations and different playtesting partners.

3. How did you cope with going into a large tournament (9 rounds+), facing a lot of big names from around the world? Especially as best of 3, 2-day events aren’t the norm in Malaysia.
It is more about preparing yourself both physically and mentally for the upcoming event. Unlike smaller events, I knew going into this tournament that it would most likely be all-day event (with little to no lunch break) therefore I felt like training my mental state to endure all 9 rounds without losing focus was a key point in performing well.

I saved strength and energy whenever I could. I would try to end games as fast as possible (hopefully without misplaying) and take that in between rounds time to rest and prepare for the next round.

In my opinion, facing big names was never really a problem to me. What most people tend to do is that they see a big name, get terrified and somehow play differently, whether its playing more conservatively or making huge flip plays. I always took all opponents seriously and don’t let names or faces affect the way I play (or at least I try to :P)

4. What are your plans after this tournament, now that the Worlds invitation is within grasp?
The Road to Worlds has never been an easy one. For someone who has played consecutively for the past 10 years (including my hiatus), I’d say that things have really changed in the recent years. There are plenty more events nowadays that allow many to have the opportunity to represent their country for Worlds. As for me, despite being so close to my invite, I still have work obligations and high expenses to bear if I were to go to qualify. For those that have never been to Worlds, it really is an amazing event that is a MUST for everyone to attend at least once in their life.


Dominic Chow [50th] – Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX

A player that has been in the scene for more than 10 years, Dominic is a multiple World Championship competitor in his days. He is currently based in Brisbane, Australia and despite having a busy schedule, he does still try to find time to attend tournaments, managing to squeeze a weekend away from school to attend the Oceania International Championships.

OCEANIA18_DOMINIC

R1: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt WLW 1-0-0
R2: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX WLW 2-0-0
R3: Greninja WLT 2-0-1
R4: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt LWW 3-0-1
R5: Buzzwole GX/Garbodor LWW 4-0-1
R6: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt ID 4-0-2
R7: Hoopa LL 4-1-2
R8: Gardevoir GX WW 5-1-2
R9: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt LL 5-2-2

1. Why did you choose to play this deck for Oceania?
It was clearly one of the most consistent decks going into the tournament. I knew I would play a Zoroark GX variant and initially I wanted to play Decidueye GX/Zoroark GX but looking back I’m quite glad I didn’t.

2. What were your preparations like in the lead up to the tournament?
I didn’t get much practice as I was quite busy with summer school. I managed to clock some games over PTCGO in my spare time though.

3. How did you cope with going into a large tournament (9 rounds+), facing a lot of big names from around the world? Especially as best of 3, 2-day events aren’t the norm in Malaysia.
I quite enjoy the thrill of bigger tournaments. The idea of playing against big names might be daunting to some but I think its great to face them. You certainly learn a lot more going head-to-head with them.

As for the duration of the tournament, it was mentally draining but I think its fair to say that we, as players, have to adapt to it. It was a large-scale tournament after all and worlds will be no different (assuming that’s the goal for most).

4. What are your plans after this tournament, now that the Worlds invitation is within grasp ?
As this was my first event of the season, my goals were to catch up with friends and have a fun weekend. The CP earned was certainly a bonus but I might actually consider chasing the invite… if my schedule would allow.


Nicholas Yong [46th] – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

Nicholas started the game along with his brother (Keith, below), when the original Base Set was announced, and collected the game on a casual basis the years that followed after stopping competitive play at the Expedition Base Set. After trying his hand at Malaysia Regionals 2016, he began to play competitively once more, finishing Top 8 in various League Challenges leading up to the Oceania International Championships.

OCEANIA18_NICHOLAS

R1: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt WLW 1-0-0
R2: Gardevoir GX WLT 1-0-1
R3: Volcanion EX/Turtanator GX WLW 2-0-1
R4: Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX WLL 2-1-1
R5: Lycanroc GX/Zoroark GX WW 3-1-1
R6: Gardevoir GX LL 3-2-1
R7: Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX WLW 4-2-1
R8: Gardevoir GX/Zoroark GX W 5-2-1
R9: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX ID 5-2-2

1. Why did you choose to play this deck for Oceania?
I was stuck in a rut heading into December, not placing in any tournament the months prior. After joining Team Rainbow Wing, I sought the advice of fellow team members Malik and Aaron Minjoot, who both played Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt (the latter using it to great success in Brisbane Regionals). After getting a feel for the deck and being one game short of a Top 8 spot in the 2nd Singapore League Cup, I used Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt to Top 8 finishes in both the final League Challenges for the 2nd Quarter. Thanks to Malik and Aaron’s constant guidance, I was extremely confident leading to the Oceania International Championship.

2. What were your preparations like in the lead up to the tournament?
Constant playtesting is key, especially against different deck archetypes. Not only did I have the chance to play against great players leading up to the Oceania International Championships, I also was blessed to stay with some of them in Sydney – many of whom are in this same list you’re reading now. We had constant games throughout the night prior, which helped me a lot leading into Day 1. My deepest, gracious thanks to #411.

3. How did you cope with going into a large tournament (9 rounds+), facing a lot of big names from around the world? Especially as best of 3, 2-day events aren’t the norm in Malaysia.
I came mentally prepared, especially after going into my first large round tournament (Malaysia Regionals 2017) and coming up short in the latter half due to fatigue. Stay positive, even if the worst things were to happen to you during the tournament. Going into the tournament with the support of friends helps, especially to get you back on your feet when the going gets tough.

4. What are your plans after this tournament, now that the Worlds invitation is within grasp ?
I’m looking at tournaments around the Oceania region to collect the remaining amount of points I need to qualify for Worlds.


Keith Yong [35th] – Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX

One of the emerging new players in the growing local Pokémon TCG scene, Keith joined midway through last season, coming into the Oceania International Championships with a number of League Challenge victories already under his belt. Entering his first international tournament, he placed a respectable 35th, just a few places short of the top cut.

OCEANIA18_KFKEITH

R1: Solgaleo GX/Metagross GX LWW 1-0-0
R2: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX LL 1-1-0
R3: Buzzwole GX /Lycanroc GX LWL 1-2-0
R4: Slyveon GX/Gardevoir GX WW 2-2-0
R5: Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX WLW 3-2-0
R6: Zoroark GX/Garbodor WW 4-2-0
R7: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX WW 5-2-0
R8: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt LWL 5-3-0
R9: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX WW 6-3-0

1. Why did you choose to play this deck for Oceania?
Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX was a deck that I felt could play both passively and aggressively depending on the matchup, and in my opinion, it felt easier to use this deck when compared to Zoroark GX variants which were hyped up leading to the Oceania International Championships.

2. What were your preparations like in the lead up to the tournament?
I constantly played with the same deck, making only slight adjustments week after week. For newbies like me that lack experience, it was good practice to get some sort of muscle memory knowing how to face each match-up, and remembering what’s in your deck at each moment (especially important when aiming to hit those Max Elixirs).

3. How did you cope with going into a large tournament (9 rounds+), facing a lot of big names from around the world? Especially as best of 3, 2-day events aren’t the norm in Malaysia.
Pack up water and snacks, stay calm and play your game. Though that is much easier said than done, but it managed to get me through the day.

4. What are your plans after this tournament, now that the Worlds invitation is within grasp ?
Get the invite!


Yee Wei Chun [28th] – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

The name Yee Wei appearing in the Top 32 for Oceania would come as no surprise to many, especially the international community. A consistently high-performing Malaysian, having multiple National titles in his days and numerous high placements in Internationals and World Championships, he is now the first Malaysian to qualify for the 2018 World Championships. To date, Yee Wei is the only Malaysian to have placed in the Top 8 of an International Championship, doing so in the 2016 European International Championships in London.

OCEANIA18_YEEWEI

R1: Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX LWW 1-0-0
R2: Volcanion WW 2-0-0
R3: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX WW 3-0-0
R4: Buzzwole GX/Garbodor LL 3-1-0
R5: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX WW 4-1-0
R6: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX WW 5-1-0
R7: Volcanion LL 5-2-0
R8: Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX LWW 6-2-0
R9: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt ID 6-2-1

R10: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt WLW 7-2-1
R11: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX LWL 7-3-1
R12: Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX WLL 7-4-1
R13: Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX LWL 7-5-1
R14: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX ID 7-5-2

1. Why did you choose to play this deck for Oceania?
I chose to play Vikabulu (Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt) because it has 50/50 matchup to almost any deck. On top of that I feel very comfortable with the deck.

2. What were your preparations like in the lead up to the tournament?
I practiced all the decks in the meta to find out their strengths and weaknesses. Before the tournament I ensure that I get enough rest and to bring enough refreshments to the event.

3. How did you cope with going into a large tournament (9 rounds+), facing a lot of big names from around the world? Especially as best of 3, 2-day events aren’t the norm in Malaysia.
Stay positive even when it gets tough. I’m not afraid to play against any big name players, to me if I can play the same tournament with them, this means we are in the same level.

4. What are your plans after this, now that you have clinched your Worlds invitation ?
I got my Worlds Day 1 invite and I will continue to go for a Day 2 invite, starting with the Perth Regionals at the end of April.


Keng Fai Lee [23rd] – Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX

Like Keith, this is Keng Fai’s first full season into the Pokémon TCG, having only started the game midway into last season. The most promising prospect among the new crop of Malaysian players, Keng Fai took the top spot in many League Challenges and placed in the Top 8 in the inaugural Malaysian League Cup, on his way to placing 23rd in the Oceania International Championships.

oceania18_kfkeith.png

R1: Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX LL 0-1-0
R2: Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX WLW 1-1-0
R3: Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX WLW 2-1-0
R4: Buzzwole GX/Garbodor LWW 3-1-0
R5: Silvally GX/Tapu Bulu GX WLW 4-1-0
R6: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX LWT 4-1-1
R7: Buzzwole GX/Garbodor WLW 5-1-1
R8: Zoroark GX/Gardevoir GX WLT 5-1-2
R9: Lycanroc GX/Zoroark GX WLW 6-1-2

R10: Zoroark GX/Gardevoir GX WLT 6-1-3
R11: Lycanroc GX/Zoroark GX LWT 6-1-4
R12: Quad Hoopa (Shining Legends) LL 6-2-4
R13: Lycanroc GX/Zoroark GX L 6-3-4
R14: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt WLW 7-3-4

1. Why did you choose to play this deck for Oceania?
I wanted to play a deck with great consistency. There’s also the emergence of Zoroark GX in most decks, which led me to choose Buzzwole GX.

2. What were your preparations like in the lead up to the tournament?
Constant playtesting at an average of 3-4 days every week and seeking advice from the more experienced Pokémon TCG players in the community. They have been extremely helpful with their input.

3. How did you cope with going into a large tournament (9 rounds+), facing a lot of big names from around the world? Especially as best of 3, 2-day events aren’t the norm in Malaysia.
It is indeed a tiring and “brain-straining” affair to last through two days of constant all-day gaming, especially as I was heading into the 2nd round of matches the following day. But a good nights sleep before the tournament definitely helps.

4. What are your plans after this tournament, now that the Worlds invitation is within grasp ?
Focusing on tournaments within Malaysia and in upcoming tournaments in neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Singapore to ensure my invite. Plus, I’ll be practising as much as I can before Worlds.


Malik Hisyam Zaihan [21st] – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

Entering his 10th year of playing Pokemon TCG competitively, Malik has had some success locally and internationally, with a couple of Top 4 finishes in Provincial Championships in Toronto and Montreal during his time in Canada. This is his 2nd Day 2 showing, having previously also made Top 32 in the 2015 Virginia Regional Championships held in Doswel. Despite some hiccups to the start of his 2017-2018 season, he goes into the tournament carrying the momentum of a double Top 8 finishing in 2 local League Challenges the very weekend before the Oceania International Championships.

OCEANIA18_MALIK

R1: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt LWW 1-0
R2: Golisopod GX/Garbodor LWW 2-0
R3: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt LWW 3-0
R4: Hoopa WLT 3-0-1
R5: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX LWW 4-0-1
R6: Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX ID 4-0-2
R7: Lycanroc GX/Zoroark GX WLW 5-0-2
R8: Gardevoir GX/Zoroark GX LWT 5-0-3
R9: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX ID 5-0-4

R10: Gardevoir GX/Zoroark GX WLT 5-0-5
R11: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX LWW 6-0-5
R12: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX LL 6-1-5
R13: Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX LL 6-2-5
R14: Gardevoir GX/Zoroark GX W 7-2-5

1. Why did you choose to play this deck for Oceania?
Through prior testing and inspiration from Aaron (Minjoot), I had found that VikaBulu (Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt) has a strong place in the metagame, with 50/50 to favorable matchups across the board, plus the ability to one-shot almost any threat. What I found more convincing was the numbers behind the deck, showing that highly streamlined and consistent builds net very high rates of Turn 2 Vikavolts, sometimes even Turn 2 double Vikavolts. Going in a large tournament with many rounds to be played out, I placed my confidence in a deck that has the numbers to prove that it can be successful.

2. What were your preparations like in the lead up to the tournament?
I grinded many games in person and on PTCGO, playing different decks to identify their weaknesses (and strengths), keeping in mind how VikaBulu would be able to exploit them. I also tried attending every League Challenge locally to get into that competitive environment and spent a lot of time into perfecting the list to suit my playstyle. On some days I would also allocate almost the entire day just to grind out as many games as possible to improve my stamina.

3. How did you cope with going into a large tournament (9 rounds+), facing a lot of big names from around the world? Especially as best of 3, 2-day events aren’t the norm in Malaysia.
I’ve had the opportunity to attend quite a fair amount of large tournaments over the years, so this isn’t something new to me. During the tournament, I tell myself repeatedly to take 1 round at a time and to not be intimidated by any big names, as they are just another player like me. I also made sure to bring snacks and a bottle of water to ensure I stayed energized.

4. What are your plans after this tournament, now that the Worlds invitation is within grasp ?
I’m 56 CP off from a Worlds invitation, and have decided to chase the remaining points within the South-East Asian region (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia) in order to limit my expenses and focus on saving up for the trip to Nashville.


SENIORS : Zi Xing Chiew [5th] – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

Two emerging players in the lower divisions are the brothers Zi Xing and Zi Ler. Considered a highly skilled player, constantly being forced into playing with Masters due to the low number of Senior players in Malaysia, Zi Xing has a decorated background, winning the 2017 Malaysia Regional Championships & 2017 Singapore Special Event. He also finished in the Top 64 of the 2017 North American International Championships, and capped off an impressive Top 8 finish in Sydney, as the first seed.

OCEANIA18_ZIXING

1. Why did you choose to play this deck for Oceania?
Tapu Bulu GX seemed clearly like the optimal play, having decent matchups all around and a strongly favoured one against Lycanroc GX/Zoroark GX, which I expected to be one of the most popular decks. Despite the lack of top notch consistency, this deck sets up 2 out of 3 games, while winning 90% of games where it sets up and having a rather fast game in general to prevent ties.

2. What were your preparations like in the lead up to the tournament?
I did tons of solitairing against my matchups, and actual playtesting of several matches helped me discover da wae of the Bulu.

3. Having played in the Oceania International Championships, one of the largest events we’ve ever had in the region, what would you like to see for your age division back in Malaysia?
I would like to see more players that train hard to hone skills to create a more competitive atmosphere in our local events.


JUNIORS : Zi Ler Chiew [15th] – Zoroark GX/Garbodor

The younger brother of Zi Xing, Zi Ler also boasts an impressive background and is considered one of Malaysia’s younger prospects. He finished in the Top 4 of the 2017 Malaysia Regional Championships, won the 2017 Singapore Special Event and finished in the Top 8 of the 2017 Oceania International Championships in Melbourne. This year he finished a respectable Top 16 in Sydney, bagging valuable points to progress into the season.

oceania18_ziler.png

1. Why did you choose to play this deck for Oceania?
I wanted to play something fun. I was gonna play EspyGarb (Espeon GX/Garbodor), but it was a last minute change to play ZoroGarb (Zoroark GX/Garbodor) because that seemed much more fun.

2. What were your preparations like in the lead up to the tournament?
Playing constantly. I played many test games, went to a League Challenge, and managed to win a League Cup prior to the Oceania International Championships.

3. Having played in the Oceania International Championships, one of the largest events we’ve ever had in the region, what would you like to see for your age division back in Malaysia?
I would like to see more Junior players come to local tournaments because I am the only Junior (and it is very boring).


CLOSING THOUGHTS

To date, as a collective this may have possibly been Malaysia’s best performance at the international stage. We are very proud of all our players’ achievements and hope that this momentum will convert into Malaysia’s biggest contingent to the 2018 World Championships in Nashville.

Once again, congratulations to them all !

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