This past Sunday, the United States held its fifth and final weekend of 2011 Fall Battle Road tournaments. Now, though, we have bigger concerns: the upcoming, brand-new November Regional Championships utilize the same exact card pool as the previous tournaments, making now the time to prepare as much as possible. This 2011-2012 tournament season is reaching a fever-pitch, and with Cities, States, and April Regionals on the way, there will be no slowing down for anyone.
In order to prepare as well as we can, our first duty of the day is to reconsider (“Wrap-Up”) what happened at these events. This involves contemplating final weekend results, any interesting rogue decks that may have slipped past the radar, and “the big picture” of this entire season segment. After that, we will examine in full detail our November Regionals: their metagames, decks to watch out for, and – most importantly – all of the information you need to know in your quest for that prestigious Worlds 2012 invitation.
Battle Road Wrap-Up
pokebeach.comBefore we proceed any further with this article, I’d like to explain to you why I have been relatively inactive at Fall Battle Roads. Several of you familiar with my tournament history know that I have a long history of success at these events: they helped secure my 2007 Worlds invite, and built my Pokémon resume with several uninterrupted win streaks.
However, in recent years I have chosen to not invest as much time in this stretch of the season. This does not mean that I fail to watch these events pan out; in fact, I keep a pretty close eye on the metagame. Unfortunately, I am a less active participant for the following reasons:
1. I am a busy, busy beaver. Between professional school applications and work, I could not devote any more than half a day to any given tournament…And when your future career is on the line, traveling to Pokémon tournaments should not come first.
2. Due to the new best finish limits (“BFL”) placed on event results, playing catch-up is easier than before. Since the 16 point cap for this particular leg of the year covers both fall and spring tournaments, a bad or non-existent showing in one segment will be negated by a stellar showing in the other. I’ve been generally too busy to play in Fall Battle Roads for the past three seasons, so as a competitive player with a lot on his plate, I see fall as the time to “work,” and spring as the time to “play.”
Basically, if you redouble your efforts, then you may have four points or more before you know it! Although I attended only three Battle Roads this fall (two whiffed cuts and one judged), I plan to go to at least six during May, and am already play-testing many times harder than I did in the past. So for those eager to reclaim some lost point chances, I encourage you to do the same.
Analyzing Last Weekend’s Results
pokebeach.comAlthough Battle Roads have come and gone for the year, we metagame junkies are still not done with them – that is, we need to figure out what they mean for the future. Some of these events may be larger, more competitive, or more varied than others, sure, but since November Regionals are closing in quickly, we need to see how this last piece to the puzzle fits.
Listed below are all of the results posted on PokéGym from this past weekend of Battle Road tournaments – reformatted, condensed, and left nameless for your viewing pleasure! As you continue to read through them, be sure to note the underlined decks – these will be discussed later in the “interesting rogues” section. But for the time being, I will go over each major observation I have about the state of the format as it stands right now.
Ann Arbor, MI:
4th: Stage Ones
New Berlin, WI:
Blue Springs, MO:
2nd: Stage Ones
3rd: Emboar/Reshiram (with RDL too, maybe)
2nd: The Truth
3rd: “Mew Box” (I assume this to be either Mew Lock or Mew/Cinccino)
1st: The Truth (Vileplume/Reuniclus/Donphan/Zekrom/Suicune & Entei LEGEND)
4th: The Truth (Vileplume/Reuniclus/Donphan/Zekrom/Suicune & Entei LEGEND)
St. Louis Park, MN:
3rd: “RossiPhloshion” (Typhlosion, Reuniclus, Vileplume, SEL, Blissey, and Reshiram)
4th: Mew Lock
3rd: Typhlosion, Reuncleus, Vileplume, SEL, Blissey, and Reshiram)
St. Albert, Alberta:
2nd: The Truth
4th: Mew Lock
1st: Stage Ones
West Jordan, UT:
2nd: Magnezone Prime/Emboar
3rd: Stage Ones
Tom Bean, TX
Assuming these proportions of winning decks are generally reflected in the missing event results, we can gleam the following…
1. For Week Five, Typhlosion/Reshiram blew its competition out of the water in terms of raw success. Whereas Josh’s “What Won Battle Roads” list may have reflected a close race between this deck and Zekrom for Weeks one through four, Week Five somehow gave Typhlosion a huge showing in all age groups. This is somewhat surprising, since many of the decks I expected to be more popular at this point – Gothitelle, The Truth (a.k.a., Ross), and Emboar/Reshiram/RDL – all have decent to great matchups against it.
However, for many of the reasons cited by Underground forum users since the beginning, Typhlosion is a popular, inexpensive, and effective deck, regardless of what its tough matchups may be. In Seniors, this effect is less absolute, but in Juniors, it appears that all of the good qualities for Typhlosion shined through, due in large part to an absence of its worse matchups more common in Seniors and Masters.
Still, Typhlosion being the most winning deck is by no means a mandate on its position in the deck tiers: there were 15 listed tournaments taken by other decks, many of which done so by overcoming Typhlosion in the finals. If you intend to use Typhlosion at Regionals, be sure that your list contains at least some meaningful, reliable answer to the biggest threats out there.
2. Seniors and Juniors appear to have a smaller rogue representation at the top tables. I can’t make this assumption off of the results we have, since Pokégym (and the community at large) are notorious for failing to report deck results in the younger age groups; rather, I make it off of what I’ve heard about and seen in tournaments lately.
Of the past three events I’ve been to, as I passed by their tables, I’ve seen mostly Zekrom or well-known Vileplume variants take the top spots. An occasional event here or there may have some serious rogue representation, but that is an uncommon sight at best. So between what I’ve seen, what I’ve read reported, and increased popularity for Masters, I only see these two archetypes’ popularity in the younger groups going up.
That said, Item lock becomes a much more potent play when it’s just these two dominating everything: Seniors/Juniors see less of their bad matchups, and more of their good if there are no inspired rogue constructions. This may help explain why Gothitelle has had some limited, yet noticeable showing in the Seniors the past few weekends, concurrent with what the deck’s done in the Masters.
3. In the great Catcher-versus-Item lock war, Catcher won the battle this fifth and final weekend. Considering that only 3/24 of the reporting events in the Masters division were Item lock decks, we do not possess a very resounding vote of confidence for its potential to tackle this aggressive field of stage ones, Reshiram, Zekrom, and Primetime.
However, more players are figuring out how to build a good Gothitelle list, and almost as many are finally figuring out the kinks to playing Ross’s The Truth. This makes me very confident that the tides will shift soon, and that Item lock will wreak havoc in at least one Regional event this November.
In a way, this is actually a gargantuan fourth point for the above section, but I felt like there were so many intriguing deck ideas, they all deserved a specifically-dedicated slot of their own. As of now, we have mostly maxed out archetypes, so now it is very much in our interest to examine the fringe decks that have done well. Not what in theory would succeed, but what has actually made strides toward success.
If you have been a long-time reader of Underground, then you should see a few very familiar deck concepts from past articles. Some will take a reasonable amount of elaboration on the tweaks; others may take a few sentences. Regardless, becoming familiar with all of these ideas should maximize your preparation, and keep your Regionals experience from being too surprise-prone.
Pokémon – 21
4 Minccino EPO
Trainers – 28
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 11
Remember this deck idea I threw around back in June? It’s back with a vengeance, and the funny thing is that it’s won at least two Battle Roads in the Masters division: one 63 person event in Texas, and another in Illinois. In addition to that, it has top cut several more events, to the point where Cinccino/Kingdra has almost been a sort of sleeper hit.
pokegym.netThis is understandable, since it has a lot of “on paper” bad matchups, including Gothitelle, The Truth, Primetime, and Zekrom. However, the one basic premise of the deck, “get out Kingdras fast to Spray Splash out-of-range defenders against Do the Wave,” is still there, and it’s strong in the Battle Road metagame.
Unlike the original version, which was more of a freshman outing for Cindra, this version does several things differently: it assures high odds of multiple turn two, three, and/or four Kingdras by means of three Seadra and Pichu; runs multiple Rescue in order to ensure a steady stream of Cinccinos and basics; and utilizes a setup far less vulnerable to first turn kills.
Because of its sheer speed, I’ve seen this deck actually outgun Primetime and The Truth (the verdict for its Gothitelle matchup is not out yet, and its Zekrom game is not going to be good regardless of the list’s merits).
Like Cindra, this is a throwback to a deck I have already discussed in detail; but unlike Cindra, its list has not changed significantly to the point where it needs to be tweaked much. That open-ended skeleton I posted in The Eleventh Hour is only a bit different, as it now includes Pokémon Catchers in lieu of Reversals, and dictates a mandatory 2-2 Zoroark nowadays.
This deck is no secret, as it has actually scored a respectable number of tournament wins (see the John/Wittz combined win list located below, and you’ll find it has four). However, it is worthwhile to note that it holds numerous positive matchups right now, especially against Yanmega/Magnezone and Zekrom – two of the four most successful for this Battle Road stretch. Regrettably, it still has not overcome the Typhlosion game, and without techs, Donphan/Dragons could be devastated by Gothitelle.
For the most part, I have abandoned this list because I find The Truth to be a better version of the same concept: its richness in game play options, strategy, and teching give you so much more than the Pokémon Catchers and PlusPowers ever would for this current climate. But no matter what you think of Ross versus the original DonDragons, both put up reasonable win counts.
Pokémon – 20
4 Yanma TM
Trainers – 36
Energy – 4
This construct was actually a sleeper hit in the early portions of the season, winning at least a couple tournaments. However, until recently, it fell off most players’ radars, despite some reasonable success in the brutally difficult Florida metagame.
Its strategy is all about Yanmega, but with an extreme ability to even out hands: Noctowl, max Junk Arms, Pokégears, and four of both Copycat and Judge make this very easy to do. We also run a maxed-out Weavile line of 4-4 in order to enjoy the most Chip Offs possible, disrupting the opponent while simultaneously contributing to the Insight cause.
Lastly, I run two Seeker to give us a “Pokégear out” for picking Weavile back up, amounting to 13 possible Claw Snags in a given game.
Of course Yanmega/Weavile has a much better game going first than it does second, and it also suffers under Item lock (a concern that, by the way, can be lessened if you run Psychics and Jirachi instead of Rescues). Most importantly, it – like Cinccino/Kingdra – suffers a poor Zekrom match if you do not run Zoroark or hit good Claw Snags.
Yet if all of that does not outweigh the prospect of devastating an opponent’s hand, and rushing with the most efficient hand manipulator around, then this could be the deck for you.
Like Donphan/Dragons, I will not give this rogue a real run – through, but I would like to briefly describe how it operates.
If this Lesage creation confuses you with its three Stage Twos, then just remember this: “Rossiphlosion” is exactly what it says on the tin, and combines the concept of Typhlosion/Reshiram with Vileplume/Reuniclus. I won’t make any assumptions about the list’s contents, but based on what’s played, Double Colorless energy is not necessary; instead, you could (and probably should) run all fire.
This actually makes Suicune & Entei LEGEND a far more efficient attacker, since you no longer have to attach Double Colorless Energy to use Bursting Inferno. This in turn makes your regular Typhlosion matchup much easier, since they no longer hold any outs against you – not even with Flare Destroy, which will simply be shaken off.
Three Stage Two lines seems extremely difficult to manage, but it’s not impossible this format. I have not tested this deck at all, but am eager to see what other merits “Rossiphlosion” might hold over its competition.
There were many other fascinating rogue decks I contemplated discussing, but none of the others were sufficiently “weird enough” to address (e.g., Rossiphlosion), nor were they significant at earlier points in the Battle Road season (e.g., Yanmega/Weavile).
The Big Picture
pokegym.netFor our ending segment on Battle Roads, I’d like to leave you all with some important results. First, the total Masters wins for each deck this past weekend:
And now, for a synthesized total, combining my findings with Josh’s from last week. Since I am inherently working from a list that excluded any single entries, I myself will exclude any deck with two or less wins, definitively concluding just which decks really stood out during the past two months…
What Won Battle Roads – Masters (The John/Josh Hybrid Tally!)
35 Zekrom Variants
9 Stage Ones
6 Mew Prime + Stage Ones
5 The Truth (Vileplume/Reuniclus/others)
pokegym.netSo there you have it, folks: concrete proof that our metagame, although not without its popular decks, has a hefty amount of variety. Sure, Typhlosion and Zekrom may have brought home the most Victory Cups, but remember that the above list is of twelve decks…TWELVE decks! Add all of the fringe decks not listed, and you have a format full of diversity.
This may be due in part to the “small stakes” effect, as Battle Roads are still not on par with the competitiveness of higher-tier events…But by and large, this is a pretty accurate reflection of the format, and if Nationals were held today, I would expect proportional representation of each decklisted.
But with this great diversity comes great responsibility; you are going to need to seriously consider choosing a deck without any glaringly bad matchups, or else you could be sacrificing at least a game or two each tournament to unlucky pairings. Don’t let that happen – choose a well-balanced deck, and make top cutting Regionals as easy as you can.
And on that note…
Regionals: Thoughts and Predictions
November tournaments of this caliber are unprecedented in the history of North American organized play, and despite this twist to the season, Play! Pokémon is making us compete early and hard by offering us the second-most challenging public tournaments so soon.
Due to this unprecedented move, the one major dilemma most people have is how Regional Championships fit into the greater scheme of things; that is, what their point totals are worth, how challenging the competition will be, and what the metagame will consist of.
Battle Roads, of course, are important in determining all of this, so using what we learned from those events, we should be able to have a good idea of everything November Regionals should be, and indeed will be.
Event-Related Thoughts and Predictions
1. Don’t fret if you cannot go to November Regionals – or any one event, for that matter. Between three weekends of States and two weekends of Regionals, American players have ample opportunity to rebound from a missed showing. So while you may be best served to take as many stabs as possible, missing a single event in the schedule will not automatically deny you of a prestigious invite.
In Europe, the situation is slightly different, but if there are enough nearby S/P/T events for you, then missing the Prague Cup might not be the biggest loss in the world.
As a side note, after all this non-discouraging behavior pertaining to skipping early events, you may be asking yourself, “If I can miss a November Regional, and if I can also miss some Fall Battle Roads, then what can’t I miss?” To this sort of question, I have one main answer: City Championships.
Last season, several invites were obtained primarily through City performances. While you cannot necessarily snag a Championship Point-era invite on the back of Cities alone, their importance is as great as ever: unlike Battle Roads and States/Regionals/European equivalents, you do NOT get a second chance for these tournaments! It is for this reason why you must be as up on your game as possible.
The European situation is a bit different. Unlike the United States players, you guys appear to be constrained on the Regionals front, but have a wide variety of States to go to. Although far from confirmed, one player from the Netherlands told me that he has no less than six states within a three hour drive. Assuming this applies to many other European players as well, I believe that Europeans will have a far easier time obtaining Championship Cup points for SPT’s than Americans will.
So in summary, an invitation-minded individual should consider City Championships the most important two month period to compete in, followed by Regionals/States, and then lastly Battle Roads. National Championships are a whole other matter, but for any season segment longer than a single weekend…Cities are the most important to excel in.
Lastly, here is a cheat sheet of Championship Point significance…
- 16 maximum Battle Road points (smaller tournaments with a small payout and several chances)
- 30 maximum City Championship Points (small tournaments with a big payout and several chances)
- 40 maximum State/Provincial/Territorial/Regional points (big tournaments with a big payout and few chances)
- 14 maximum Nationals points (MASSIVE tournaments with an extraordinary payout and only once chance)
2. Just because Regionals are split between November and April does not necessarily mean that they will be twice as difficult! As previously discussed, several strong, competitive players do not have as much incentive to travel as they used to, due largely to the scholarships being “cut” (I use this term loosely because November Regionals never existed, so you can’t logically cut from them).
Even for many above-average competitive players, a substantive sum of money is often a practical justification (or a good excuse) for accepting an invite from local friends to hang out. But by cutting the scholarships, the cost-benefit analysis for several players encourages them to not attend the event, as the one certainly big prize left anymore is the free trip to Indianapolis.
None of this is meant to imply that Regional Championships will be easier; in fact, they will be much harder due to good odds of higher attendance, as well as good odds for a high competitive player turnout. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that these events are a far cry from being “double” the old Regionals. Expect a tougher challenge, but not unbelievably tougher.
Metagame and Deck-Specific Thoughts
1. The Regional metagame will now closely correlate to what is popular nationally. In past seasons, U.S. and Canadian Regionals – having been 14-15 individual events held the same week – all used to represent microcosms of the larger North American metagame. Now that each tournament must mandatorily cover several more states and provinces, the likelihood that what is presently popular will be played in a proportionate amount increases.
pokegym.netAs that happens, your metagames will become much more uniform, as many of the strong players at each event will have tested with other strong players nationwide, spreading their influence to each tournament.
This has some crucial implications regarding your event success. The first, and most important, is that players traveling to foreign territory for Regionals can more predictably assess the metagame, as these events will mostly consist not of in-state residents, but of travelers. This conversely lessens the home field advantage enjoyed by residents, who used to merely consider their statewide surroundings, and will require them to plan for the greater whole.
In past seasons, there was a lot more potential for metagame micromanagement (read: scouting); however, the modern era, with its Championship Points and “Super Regionals,” lessens the gain obtained from this knowledge, and puts players on a more equal footing than before.
However, the second major implication of a national metagame is that each of the big decks at any given time will probably be well-represented by good players. This means that in your individual games, capitalizing on opponent’s misplays in a bad matchup will be much more improbable; instead, the probability that you will lose solely by virtue of that matchup goes up.
In addition, “chancing” it against a bad matchup among the archetypes becomes a less desirable strategy. But while this all may seem to turn the event into more of a crapshoot, in actuality, it is simply yet another incentive for you to run a well-balanced deck. Just keep in mind that many, many other players will be thinking this exact same way, so be sure to possess some degree of unpredictability in your list.
Based on the way European tournaments will be organized, this analysis is not exactly applicable: there will be more potential for scouting, as well as more opportunity to micromanage each individual country. Still, I am confident that the convergence of metagames will occur in a similar manner to how they did for the European Cup last season.
2. For Seniors and Masters, Gothitelle/Reuniclus will rise in popularity. If your two most winning decks have a weak Gothitelle matchup, and if Gothitelle is already a respectable option in its own right, then it is only natural that more and more people will opt to run it at these high-stakes Regionals. Plus, there is simply no end to the deck’s hype, topped off with a great race by players to obtain play sets of the DREADED Tropical Beach card.
For this reason, I am convinced that Gothitelle is going to be a card – and archetype – you must be able to deal with in either of the above age groups, or else winning Regionals will be very challenging. But how should you react to this metagame shift? Here are some possibilities to alleviate the threat:
– Playing a good deck capable of dealing with Gothitelle. In many cases, this is often achieved by other prominent Item lock decks: Mew Lock and The Truth, each of which has a positive matchup against Gothitelle for entirely different reasons, with Mew enjoying the type mismatch, and The Truth possessing the strategic edge to render the larger healing/Reuniclus strategy useless via Suicune-Entei LEGEND’s Torrent Blade.
More importantly, they are both Vileplume variants, and as such, shut down the Gothitelle player’s game plan through lack of Pokémon Catchers and Max Potions. For Mew, this should be an easy matchup with the right list (Jumpluff); but for The Truth, expect a good challenge.
You’ve already seen a solid sample list of Mew Lock in the form of Alex Fields’s recent article. However, here is my take on The Truth – one of the other builds capable of giving Gothitelle a very strong game, and my personal favorite deck right now.
Pokémon – 25
3 Oddish UD
Trainers – 24
Energy – 11
4 Double Colorless
If you think that this build looks an awful lot like the original Ross Cawthon build, then you would be right; however, it is the nuances that make this a truly “updated” version. First, I’ve traded in the shuffle draw for more straight draw, so that a player’s hand will keep building on itself, rather than detract, leading us to net gains for each of our draws.
Secondly, and perhaps most crucially, I’ve made the Vileplume line speedier to get out, with maxed play sets of both Rare Candy and Pokémon Communication. In fact, if you want to make the lock even more reliable, try running two Pokégear 3.0: it will get your Sage’s Training out more consistently, and in turn result in a quicker Vileplume in most games.
These tweaks may seem non-intuitive since they involve the inclusion of items, but they all add to the long-term goal of shutting off your opponent’s items as soon as possible.
Aside from consistency, do you want to try out some more ideas with The Truth? For starters, there is Kyle “Pooka” Sucevich’s 1-1 Steelix Prime tech, featured on a recent The Top Cut match video. This line is multi-purpose here, as it not only serves to be a target for Reuniclus’s Damage Swap; it also functions as an occasional Gothitelle counter via resistance and Stadium-discarding.
Add in the fact that its Energy Stream attack offers a late-game solution to this deck’s energy problem, and you have a nice alternative inclusion. (I believe Kyle also ran Judges, perhaps as part of a long-term Gothitelle game plan. This is a good idea, and has strong theoretical and practical implications for the matchup.)
Past that, you can try a whole new approach to The Truth: run a 3-3 Beartic in lieu of Donphan and Suicune & Entei LEGEND, and edit the energy line accordingly. This amounts to some very dynamic shifts, such as a far stronger mirror match, a slightly weaker Magnezone/Yanmega game, and a downright bizarre Gothitelle matchup. Still, I have found it to be an effective rogue alternative to the present metagame, and would recommend it for further testing.
As you modify your own Truth list, strengthening or weakening your Gothitelle matchup as you go, we should clarify one thing: a deck capable of “dealing with” Gothitelle does not have to beat it comfortably. You could have a 50/50 matchup or even a little bit worse than that if it at least means that the matchup is bearable. In many cases, teching (mentioned below) will suffice, but it is critical to recognize when it is not enough.
So for Ross, certain plays might do the tweak, but for other decks, all of the Bellsprouts, Mews, and Wailords in the world will not save them from a Gothitelle loss. Recognizing this early on will make you more effective in dealing with it
Now, to consider our next anti-Gothitelle possibility…
– Teching heavily for the matchup. For those readers fresh off of Chris and Josh’s articles, you should already have a clear idea of what this means, but essentially, this course would demand a severe revising of a previous idea. Splashing 3-4 Mew Prime into decks is by far the most common approach to this anti-Gothitelle method, but an even loopier course of action I have tested in some builds (namely stage ones) is a large Eevee line featuring 2 Espeon Prime and 1 Umbreon Prime.
The way this works is that we plan for Espeon to copy Umbreon’s Evoblast for an instant knockout, made possible thanks to the Evolution Memories Poké-Body. This may seem loopy in practice, but it is capable of functioning well – largely in part due to how un-killable Umbreon is for Goth decks.
It should be warned, however, that unless you’ve incorporated such an anti-Gothitelle measure into your deck meaningfully, its presence may adversely impact your list’s consistency.
– Teching lightly for the matchup. I ought to concede that Mew play sets are not the most favorite thing to include just for one matchup, and something else tells me the thought of playing Espeon and/or Umbreon in anything – even Stage Ones – will make a few of your stomachs churn. Therefore, a few simple tweaks may be a better plan overall than a massive revision.
As always, these are the most popular solutions, but their effectiveness can occasionally be less certain, mainly because of the small count you’ll be running it in. Given the Gothitelle/Reuniclus deck’s nature, if your solution is a stage one line, then it will be natural to play a slightly bigger line of the basics so that you may avoid their elimination via Catcher.
For instance, if you initially want to run a 1-1 Xatu UL line in order to keep Gothitelle’s Mad Kinesis in check, then you may want to revise your plan and make it a 2-1 line or greater, since the likelihood of your Natu being Pokémon Catchered is very high. Granted, this requires a larger investment of resources, but in this environment, you will probably deem the choice worthwhile.
Basic techs don’t deal with the clogging concern so much, but their issue is of another sort: actual effectiveness. My Sigilyph idea from a couple articles ago was a prime example of a card with some uses in the mirror match, as well as anti-Gothitelle in general, but very little practical application.
pokegym.netLikewise, Magby TM – a card that has picked up steam in Typhlosion builds for its ability to automatically burn – can seem like a fantastic counter at first glance, but more testing may reveal the holes in its effectiveness is an absolute counter, since a Gothitelle player will likely have means by which to shake off the burn.
Regardless, even if a card seems somewhat useless in the matchup, give it some thought from multiple perspectives. For example, the above Magby tech, although unable to win the matchup directly, can indirectly waste valuable Energy and switching.
Similarly, the normally aggressive Tyrogue HS serves as a bizarre roundabout counter, since its Mischievous Punch attack helps you Knock Out Solosis much faster than normal, making it feasible to lock your opponent out of Damage Swap as early as turn three. It also heavily punishes Gothitelle for its high count of low HP starters, and could directly up your matchup win percentage by as much as 7-10%.
In summary, be wary of Pokémon Catcher when selecting your Gothitelle techs. As for other techs, always consider how even an indirect counter can up your odds of winning a reasonable amount, yet shore up other games as well.
3. Typhlosion’s popularity should remain leveled, but its end-result at Regionals will be sub-par. This does not mean that Typhlosion will do “bad” – just weaker than its Battle Road showing leads on. I suspect that for all its strong qualities in other games, Typhlosion’s Gothitelle match may be insurmountable: Item lock severely cripples it, and both Flare Destroy and Blue Flare are made ineffective by virtue of Damage Swap.
Perhaps enough Flare Destroys can whittle down their resources, but this will likely not happen before a nice Jirachi Time Hollow on their part.
Interestingly, I think Typhlosion will still do very well in the Junior division. Players in this age group will not be attracted to Gothitelle, since a majority of them don’t have the patience the play from behind for very long, and they will certainly not have the funds to get a play set of Tropical Beach should their lists warrant it.
These two points keep Gothitelle from becoming a very common threat in the Juniors, so Typhlosion’s only “bad” matchup would be against certain Item lock decks.
4. If Zekrom/Pachirisu/Shaymin/Tornadus (“ZPST”) finds a solid answer to Gothitelle, then it will be a favorite to win this November. Lists for this deck are becoming more and more consistent, which means that first turn rushing will happen more frequently. Also, the shift in reliance on Zekrom to Tornadus for early game attacking makes this a more well-rounded deck overall, since you can save you more brittle attackers for the late game, and use your Hurricanes to take out the little guys.
Recently on HeyTrainer, many of us have been throwing ideas back and forth to make the “best” Zekrom list possible. One particularly clever build was proposed by our board member, Anti Morten, who felt the key to a good build was maximum assurance of your turn one combo. Here is an idea of what his style of list looks like (plus a few minor fine-tuning tweaks from yours truly):
Pokémon – 12
4 Tornadus EPO
Trainers – 33
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
Energy – 15
One crucial difference between this list and most is the tradeoff of teching potential for raw consistency. This is done through inclusion of more Pokémon Collector, as well as maximum Pokégear 3.0: a fascinating change that helps up your odds of a very early first turn rush. Also, it dampens the impact of a late game Judge on you, and – when it comes out – helps negate N, too.
pokegym.netAdditionally, if you are looking for those Defenders again, don’t fret, since you can always take out at least a Tyrogue! You could also take out the fourth Junk Arm or Pokégear, but I would recommend against doing either: they are both vital to assuring your first turn Hurricane, Outrage, or Bolt Strike.
I’ve tested this version extensively, and can safely say that it is presently my favorite version of Zekrom out there, as well as one of the overall “best” decks in the format right now. Even against its “bad” matchups, a ZPST of this sort can simply storm through swarms of Oddish, Solosis, and Gothita to secure a win.
However, as mentioned previously, Gothitelle’s rising prominence looms over this deck like a bad moon rising – just what can be done to stop it?
(Once again, cue Morten to the rescue!)
An interesting, yet practically effective change to the above list is the inclusion of Relicanth CL and two Mew Prime. This is strange in that it’s neither a large, obtrusive inclusion, nor is it a small one; instead, it fits neatly into the current construct, requires NO changing of the energy, and even adds some extra consistency in the way of free retreaters and a new card drawer.
Best of all, you don’t have to leave your Mew Primes vulnerable to Pokémon Catcher – you can Prehistoric Wisdom away a Tornadus while letting them hang free in your hand for a while, and then when you’re good and ready, bench it, attach Double Colorless, and use Pachirisu/Shaymin to fuel it with the necessary energy to Lost Link Hurricane for a decisive gain.
Is this the end-all, be-all answer to Gothitelle? As nice as the two Mew/one Relicanth have been in testing, Gothitelle lists still have time to adapt and evolve, and could shake this combo up with as little as a well-timed Judge. I wouldn’t count on that yet, though, because few lists have the resources for an effective Judge/Item lock at the moment.
5. Emboar has been silent for too long – don’t be surprised to see it again! Pokémon Catcher’s release aside, is it not strange that the Worlds-winning deck, with its positive Typhlosion matchup, decent Zekrom matchup, and overall well-rounded game against the field, has been startlingly absent at Battle Roads?
In a similar vein to the circular theory of metagames, I see this 2011-2012 era as a see-saw: some decks rapidly fade in or out of prominence, while others remain in some reasonable quantity, even if their presence is not felt strongly.
I regard decks like Zekrom and Gothitelle in the former sense, as they can pulse in, out, and then back into metagames. On the other hand, I see Emboar as a deck of the latter kind, since it wins quietly, as well as loses quietly.
What this means for your preparation is simple: don’t exclude it! In getting ready for Regionals, too many players will make the fatal flaw of focusing on the three or four most winning archetypes out of Battle Roads, only to lose horribly to some of the ones immediately below them. We can never be too careful, so your one rule of thumb should be to give these at least some consideration in your play-testing schedule.
As I said earlier, November Regionals are unprecedented, but that could be said for much of this season so far: revision of the invitation and player reward structures; the uber-competitiveness of Fall Battle Roads; and the overall impact that November Regionals will have on the Pokémon community.
All of these questions will not be definitively answered until many months from now, but hopefully after reading this article, you may be a bit less uncertain.
Best of luck in all of your endeavors – especially those next month!
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