Azul Garcia Griego Sets Personal Record with 4th Top 8 Finish this Season at the 2024 Portland Regionals

Posted on 1/12/2024

Lost Zone Giratina reigns supreme at Portland, proving its status as a "very ok-ish alright deck" in the eyes of Azul Garcia Griego.

Over the weekend of January 6-7, 2024, the cold and damp weather of Portland, Oregon could not bring the bright spirits of Team CGC Cards down. Headed to the Portland Convention Center with another Charizard ex win in their sites, team members Azul Garcia Griego, Caleb Gedemer, and Grant Manley were primed for success with some new twists to their decklist.

Click images to enlarge.

Although the group debated playing several other decks at the event, including the likes of Snorlax stall, Roaring Moon ex with Hands, Chien-Pao ex/Baxcalibur, and a Miraidon ex variant, the team settled on their third consecutive use of Charizard ex at a regional. However, this was not the same deck that the team has trampled the competition with in the past — this deck was designed for a strong mirror match performance.

Changes from their last decklist include going down to six Fire Energy and up to two Super Rod, as well as adding Technical Machine: Devolution. With the strong belief that Charizard ex is currently the best deck, Team CGC Cards built this version with the idea that they would be coming across many other Charizard ex players at this event.

“TM Devo[lution] plus double Super Rod” recalls Azul on the Uncommon Energy podcast, “it felt impossible to lose the mirror match to be honest.”

Team CGC Cards' 2024 Portland Regionals Decklist

However, the team’s path to Top 8 was paved with difficulty despite their strong deckbuilding and meta predictions. Caleb (3-3-0) dropped from the event after an uncharacteristically poor performance, missing his first Day 2 berth since May of 2023 and breaking an 11 consecutive event streak.

Team members Grant (34th, 10-4-1) and Azul (7th, 11-2-3) both made deep runs into Day 2; however, Grant encountered some “bad beats” late in the day, knocking him out of Top 8 contention. Azul, despite a few self-admitted misplays throughout the event, was able to lock up the win in his Round 15 feature match against Hector Ibarra, pushing into Top Cut.

Azul Discusses His Round 15 Match with Caster Adam Watson

Despite his well-known disbelief in the deck’s capabilities, Azul fell to the regional’s eventual champion — Lost Zone Giratina, piloted by Jon Eng — in Top 8. Finishing in 7th place overall, this Top Cut finish became not only Azul’s fourth of the season, but fourth consecutive regional Top 8 finish: doubling his amount of Top Cut finishes from the 2023 season prior.

Looking ahead, Team CGC Cards will be competing next weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. As Azul continues to build a legendary season in the competitive scene, will Team CGC Cards gain a fifth Top 8 finish in the next event? Will Charizard ex be shelved in favor of a different archetype, or will the team continue with their same successful strategy? Tune back in in two weeks for the next episode of Pokéball C(GC Cards)!

Team CGC Cards was assembled by Danny Oesterreich in 2022, and is comprised of seasoned players Azul Garcia Griego, Caleb Gedemer, Grant Manley, Kidd Starck and Remi Lorenz. The team will compete next at the 2024 Charlotte Regional Championships, at the Charlotte Convention Center, in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 19-21, 2024.

Please join us in wishing the team the best of luck throughout the upcoming season and keep an eye out for new updates on the team’s performance by following them on Instagram and X/Twitter, @teamCGCcards, and the CGC Cards social channels, @CGCcards. You can also watch the players do battle by checking out the events live on the official Pokémon YouTube and Twitch channels.

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