I competed at Missouri States. Going into the tourney I wanted to play either Zeels or CMT. After last week’s horrible luck, there was no way I was going to play TyRam. However, once I got there, I, once again, did not see much Water or Zeels. Then, AJ went 6-1 with TyRam. It turned out to be a great play for the day, but I could not bring myself to play it.
So, I went in playing CMT. The Pokémon lines were exactly the same as Kettler’s list, and the Trainers were just one card off. Since the Trainer list is Kettler’s, I am going to respect his privacy and not list the Trainers. I will list the Pokémon and give some reasoning for the choices.
4 Celebi Prime: Some people, including this guy, advocate running three Celebi. I think that is a fine idea when you are just going straight aggro Mewtwo EX. In those 4 Celebi/3-4 Mewtwo EX builds you really want to just start wailing away with Mewtwo EX. Opening with Mewtwo EX it is just fine, and DCE is the main fuel for attacking.
However, I am advocating a techy version of the deck. In this version, you need more flexibility and reliability in your energy acceleration. You need the fourth Celebi to hit your attachments every turn and reliably power things up in one turn.
2 Mewtwo EX: This card is the one of the attackers. Everyone knows how good it is. I will not labor over this card.
2 Tornadus EPO: This card is the second best attacker. It is very good against the fighting type decks. It gains free retreat with Skyarrow Bridge (SAB) and can swing for 80 on turn one more often than most people give it credit. Alas, this is a common selection. Onto the more interesting parts.
1 Smeargle CL: This is possibly the best crutch card in the game if you can facilitate it. Obviously, you need to plan ahead when using this card. You need to essentially “anti-Juniper/N” your hand before using Portrait. You need to get all the necessary cards onto the board or shuffled back into your deck. Several times, I held off on Portrait until after I shuffled Shaymin EX back into the deck.
1 Regigigas-EX: Many people count this card out, and they make a huge mistake in doing so. In this deck, Gigas EX essentially fills four roles:
1) It is a great alternative to Tornadus on turn one. It also does 80 for CCC and, without extra attachments, will do 80+ every turn.
2) It disrupts the Mewtwo EX exchange. Anytime you can control the Mewtwo EX war, you gain a distinct advantage in the game. This card lets you tackle Mewtwo EX with another attacker.
3) It solidifies the Zeels and TyRam games. Those two decks are slightly favorable against CMT. Granted, TyRam does not see much play; Zeels, however, is possibly the most popular deck in the game. Gigas gives you an attacker that can 1HKO Tynamo and Eelektrik. It also gives you a counter to Zekrom-EX and Reshiram. CMT really struggles with answers to those two Pokémon.
4) Gigas EX is one of the best Durant NVI killers in the game. On turn one it can swing for 80. In the cases of whiffing on turn one you are almost guaranteed 80 on turn three which is normally good enough. Then, on the third turn attacking, you can do 90 for the rest of the game.
1 Shaymin EX: This is another EX many people write off, but it is very good in CMT. It almost single-handedly takes care of Terrakion because it has weakness and resistance advantages over it. It is also a solid early game attacker because you can use Synthesis to get energy onto the field.
Then, you can retreat it turn two and swing with something else like Mewtwo EX, Gigas EX, or Tornadus. Yes, it could be a liability on the bench, but the other attackers are so powerful that most opponents will focus on neutralizing them first.
pokemon-paradijs.comShaymin EX also acts as the ultimate late game closer. It can 1HKO any EX in the format when your opponent is down to 1 Prize. You can dictate your opponent’s prize count and force him onto an odd prize with non-EX attackers. Then, with ample Celebi and N, you can lock the end game down. It is not iron clad, but it is very good.
1 Tyrogue CL: With so many people playing Tynamos (either one) this little guy is good for several prizes every game. He is also very good in the mirror and Troll.dec games. You can swing for 80 with Tornadus, and then finish off the 110 HP Tornadus with Tyrogue the next turn. This protects your EXs from falling early in the game.
Round 1: Emboar + Techs
This player is from my old stomping grounds, so it was nice to get to play him. His deck was based around Emboar with several attackers. Unfortunately for him, I get a pretty good start, and he is stuck with Reshiram-EX early. I end up capitalizing on those openings and take the game.
Round 2: CMT Mirror
This was one of the more epic losses I’ve had in quite a long time. It was a very satisfying game, and I feel both of us played completely mistake free. The game went back and forth early. Ultimately, he takes the lead and has 1 Prize to my three.
On my last turn of the game, I played down a Shaymin EX and used Forest Breath to attach two energy to it. I then played N to get him down to one card. To finish my turn, I 1HKO his active Mewtwo EX to draw even in prizes.
I knew he needed one of two combinations to win the game: 1) Catcher + 1 Energy to attach to Tornadus and take a prize off my bench or 2) DCE + PlusPower to 1HKO my Shaymin EX with his Mewtwo EX that had an energy on it.
Even though I lost, I was satisfied with that game. When both players are respectful, have good decks, and play a near perfect game, I can accept a loss. There is variance in the game, and sometimes it does not go your way.
Eelektrik NVI/Raichu HS/Mewtwo EX/Shiftry NXDRound 3:
This was a rogue deck that just failed to get rolling. My opponent missed all the Shiftry flips and could not get a stream of attackers going.
Round 4: Zeels
I really did not want to play against this opponent. Ronnie is an awesome guy that I met last year at Missouri States. He used to be from Kentucky, but now lives in Kansas. (Sorry, I’m a Mizzou guy and refuse to capitalize that state. Nothing but a little friendly rivalry.) It was great to get to talk some baseball and catch up.
Anyway, the game was very uneventful. He opened with a 30 hp Tynamo. I hit a Dual Ball heads to get Tyrogue. Donk.
We did play two more games. They were both really good games.
Round 5: Zeels
pokemon-paradijs.comThis game was also pretty awesome. For the second time, I felt both players played the best they possibly could. I raced out to an early lead (as CMT should) and he came back to take advantage in the prize race (as Zeels should).
Going into his last turn, he had 3 Prizes and I had two. I, however, had a damaged Gigas EX in the active. He retreated Mewtwo EX with tons of energy to take out Gigas with Zekrom-EX and take 2 Prizes.
Going into my last turn, he had 1 Prize to my two. I dropped Shaymin EX + 2 energy and took out Zekrom-EX for the game.
It was very refreshing to have two really well-played games in one set of Swiss. It has been a long time since both my opponents and I have played on a high level at the same time. Games like those keep you interested in playing.
I played against two Zeels and beat them both with CMT. I honestly did not expect that outcome.
Round 6: Connor C. CMT Mirror
I want to give some huge props out to Connor. I truly believe this year might be the beginning to his “emergence” as a player. He and his whole crew have really upped their game, and Connor has done really well. He took top four at MO Regionals with D&D when everyone thought it was dead. Then he had a solid Cities run with some cool random decks. Last weekend, he took a top four at Mo States.
Anyway, we played a game before the tourney started and I exploded on turn one with a developed field and a Gigas KO on Smeargle. I figured I used all my luck against him in that game. Yet, he opens lone Celebi and I go first and get Celebi + SAB + Mewtwo EX + DCE + Grass out of my opening hand and a Juniper. I donk him for the game.
Round 7: Zeels
I open lone Tyrogue and get donked. I guess I had it coming.
I ended up at the end of Swiss and made the cut in 10th place.
Top 16: Brit P. w/ Troll.dec
pokemon-paradijs.comBrit’s version of Troll was simply Tornadus/Terrakion NVI/Mewtwo EX/Tyrogue/Shaymin UL. I was actually looking forward to this match. I know Brit is a better player than I, but I felt CMT had the deck advantage.
Game 1: Win
This game was very boring. I raced out and took the Game 6-0. The only real decision I had to make was how if I wanted to stack energy on Mewtwo EX to start 1HKOing Tornadus and Terrakion without energy on them. He had some unfortunate luck with Dual Ball and Pokégear 3.0.
Game 2: Loss
We were joking about him getting the donk on my Tyrogue, and it happened.
Game 3: Loss
This one was a great game. I took the first couple prizes, and then he took three to take the lead. I was slightly frustrated because I hit quite a few Dual Ball tails, and I whiffed a Pokégear 3.0 early. He whiffed a Gear in the first game, so I guess that evened things out.
Then, on my second to last turn, I began setting up for the end game. I played a Gear to hit a Supporter. I was looking for N, but I whiffed on that. So, I played that Juniper (with around 20-ish cards in my deck) looking for an N or Gear or Junk Arm to get to the N on my next turn; however, I whiffed on all three of those cards. I had no EXs on the field and I took a cheap prize with another Pokémon. To bring the prizes to three left for me to Brit’s two.
On Brit’s turn he played some stuff, I don’t exactly remember, and he ultimately just takes a prize to get down to 1 Prize.
pokemon-paradijs.comOn my turn, I was hoping to top deck N, Junk Arm, or Gear. I had 10-15 cards in my deck at this time. I whiff on all of those. I play my Energy Retrieval to get energy. I then played Shaymin EX down, used Forest Breath, and attached the energy. Then I Catcher’d up the Mewtwo EX with a lot of energy. It was the only Pokémon on the field ready to 1HKO my Shaymin EX. I had no way to dig for the N. So, I attacked and crossed my fingers.
Similar to game two, Brit needed an energy and a Catcher to win the game. In his hand he had neither. Then, he played Juniper. I think he might have Junk Armed for a Gear to get the Juniper, but I don’t remember. He hits both the energy and the Catcher. He attaches to a Tornadus with a pre-existing DCE and Catchers a Celebi to win the game.
The third game was exceptional. It was a ton of fun to play against a player of his caliber. Ultimately, I feel a bit unlucky for that loss, but that’s the game we love. :P
I ended the tourney in 10th place.
States Round Up
Right now, I want to provide a succinct overview of how states finished overall. I know many people will have this basic information, but I want to provide a solid front-page reference point.
For simplicity purposes, I want to condense fighting focused decks down into one category because they fulfill the same purposes. Namely, to counter Zeels. I also condensed Mew decks down. We get a list that looks like this.
There are basically three tiers of decks.
I feel this should not be surprising to anyone, but you know sometimes it is important to just put it out there.
The second way to look at States it to analyze the results on a weekly basis to determine trends in the information. Again, I have simplified the decks with a Fighting category and a Mew category.
Zeels was extremely hyped coming off the ECC. The first week of States just reinforced that concept. Zeels took the most wins and the most any other slots in the top four. CMT, the ECC winner, was the second most popular deck. The one real surprise was Quad Terrakion winning an event.
The meta being clearly dominated by Zeels gave an opportunity for an anti-meta deck to succeed. Although Terrakion was the winning counter deck, and, thus, the most popular deck, a total of five Fighting decks made the semi-finals.
The other big surprise was the success of Durant. Too many people proclaimed the deck to be dead after a poor showing at the ECC. Everyone said Zeels, Terrakion, etc. dealt with the ants too easily.
Going into week two, many people figured the rise of fighting would dictate a downfall in Zeels.
This week, the numbers hovered around the same positions as the first week. The only real surprise was that Durant seemed to have lost some ground on the field. Also, the rise of fighting was slightly over exaggerated and Zeels remained a strong play.
By this time the meta had been firmly entrenched. The field was set. These are the type of weeks that counter decks have an opportunity to shine.
Well, no home brews Top 4’d the third week, but TyRam did take home a victory. That was the only real surprise. The other interesting note is that CMT took over the top spot from Zeels by the last week. Also, Fighting decks increased.
Now, all that is interesting and somewhat informative, but it is not terribly novel information for us to use. Well, let’s look at a geographic breakdown of the meta progression.
There are six Spring Regional happening across the USA. (Again, I’m sorry to the international players. This is going to be geared toward the US players because of the data I have to work with and the familiarity of P!P. I hope it is somewhat useful for you too.) The six Regionals are going to be in California, Colorado, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Now, bear with me, this is a little crude. What we will do is break down the States’ results by Spring Regional location to give a better picture of what is happening in certain parts of the country. We’ll go from west to east. I tried to divide the States up in a logical way. I know some will disagree with the separation (maybe it would be better to use a couple States in multiple Regions), and I’ll go ahead an apologize now.
California Region: California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii
Obviously, most of these regions are going to stick to the general guidelines of deck tiers, but I do think there are some things to gain from each of these. Here, TyRam won an event and Durant did not.
By wins, the top two decks only have one more place than both the other two winning decks. I think this indicates the meta is open for a few decks to succeed. For example, the TyRam deck won in a top four that consisted of 2 CMT and 1 Zeels (Washington). The Fighting deck (Tornadus/Terrakion/Landorus) won by beating Zeels in the finals.
Colorado Region: Colorado, kansas, Utah, Nebraska, Idaho
In this area, Zeels appears to be the outright favorite. Yes, it is a small sample size, but it beat CMT head to head twice in this region. Also, the CMT players fell to Fighting (Landorus/Terrakion) and Durant.
Texas Region: Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana
Here we go, this looks like a meta to exploit. The first thing that immediately jumps out is that no Durant made top four in these States. That gives you the obvious meta decks of CMT and Zeels. Then there is one counter deck type, Fighting.
In situations like these, creative deck builders can thrive. The field is so clear cut here you can really come up with creative options. I would not be surprised to see something a little different creep up here.
Wisconsin Region: Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois
Welcome to Zeel heaven. This region is home to the state that had Zeel take all four spots (Wisconsin) and three of the four spots (Iowa and Minnesota). Surprisingly, the fighting decks did not catch on in this section of the country, but that leaves a huge door open for Regionals.
In situations like this, where one deck is the clear front runner, anti-meta decks become even more viable. The field is saturated with one type, and another can generally sweep in and take someone by surprise. One thing is for sure, if you want to play competitively, your deck better have a plan for Zeels.
Georgia Region: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky
If Wisconsin is a Zeels hotbed, the Georgia Region is a safe haven for CMT. The win differential is not as great as in the last region for Zeels, but the total Top 4s is staggeringly in favor of CMT. The same things about Wisconsin hold true here, save you better be prepared for CMT.
Pennsylvania Region: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia
This region brings us back to a relatively balanced field. CMT won the most events, but Zeels took the most top four slots. Durant slightly outperformed Fighting, but Fighting won an event.
In sum, three of the Regions (Penn, Colorado, California) all experienced a standard meta distribution of decks. The games seem to be in equilibrium in those areas and expect the field to be balanced.
However, the other three regions seem to be “off” just a little bit. They are either less diversified than normal or have one dominate deck. Those Regions are, in my opinion, more likely to be exploited.
Fighting Decks: Anti-Meta
Next, I want to walk through some of the fighting decks that are floating around. I grouped these decks together because I firmly believe they would not be prevalent without the popularity of Zeels.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is the deck that quickly gained popularity because it won a States on the first weekend. The deck concept was extremely basic as brilliant all at the same time. The simple idea was to do 90 damage on turn three at the latest and continuously for the rest of the game.
The deck accomplished this goal with Exp. Share as a pseudo-acceleration. Obviously, that card does not accelerate energy drops, but it preserves energy drops. The deck utilized a full complement of disruptive cards to keep the opponents off balance.
The largest misconception on about this deck is that it is only good against Eels. Well, most rogue decks in the format struggle to deal with 90 damage turn after turn from 130 hp mini-tanks.
The key to playing against the deck is to take out the Terrakions with Exp. Share attached before the clean Terrakions that are receiving the energy drops. The idea is to punish their energy supply.
A sample decklist would look like this.
Pokémon – 4
Trainers – 43
Energy – 13
Obviously, there are changes that can be made. For example, you could run some Rescue Energy to make recovery easier. I am not a fan of that tactic because that will be a lost energy that Exp. Share cannot preserve.
You can also run more disruption with a heavier Lost Remover suit. You might also run a counter stadium for a better CMT match up. The best counter stadium would be Ruins of Alph. This would remove SAB from the field, and make Tornadus easier to handle.
Quad Bulls is a little bit more reactive because you need your opponent to KO your stuff to get rolling on turn two and to activate Exp. Share. This deck aims to be more proactive.
Also, although it only recently gained fame, the earliest known sighting of this deck was the first weekend of Cities by A. Newman. I remember sitting down across from Newman at Yeti Gaming a long time ago, and he pulled this deck out. It worked pretty well then, and just gained on the field with Zeels becoming the dominate deck.
There is obviously a lot of variations on this list, but here is a basic list to work with.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 37
Energy – 14
Here the idea is to start with Landorus and hope for a Junk Arm or Juniper to set up the turn one Abundant Harvest. Then you can proceed with a turn two 80. The 10 damage spread to the whole field makes your opponent’s Pokémon easier to 1HKO as the damage adds up.
Again, you could add Ruins of Alph to help the Tornadus game. This is just another version of the deck.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe big elephant in the room just refuses to die. It made a couple surprising runs at Regionals, then it remained a solid rogue during Cities, and now it is a solid anti-meta choice.
Donphan has a few things going for it.
1) It is very compatible with Max Potion. This is a very underrated part to the card. You can either move the energy or just discard it and keep attacking the same turn.
2) It is difficult for Mewtwo EX to put tons of pressure on the card unless the Mewtwo EX player wants to over-extend. Donphan’s main attack only requires one energy. That one energy’s worth of damage is offset by Exoskeleton. So, Mewtwo EX needs six energies to 1HKO a Donphan. In the mean time, Donphan can 1HKO Celebis sitting on the bench.
3) Donphan is the only Fighting type Zekrom-EX cannot 1HKO without help from PlusPower. Donphan has a solid 120 frame + 20 from Exoskeleton + 20 resistance for Zekrom-EX to overcome. That is a very rough, effective health of 160.
Most commonly, Donphan has been paired with Zekrom and Mewtwo EX for a pseudo-Donphan and Dragons type deck.
This deck is the best counter-meta, Fighting type deck out there.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
Energy – 12
pokemon-paradijs.comI know this is not a perfect list, but I think it is an OK one. I do not have much experience with this deck, so feel free to chime in. I just wanted to get something out there for you all to pick apart and work with.
I think three Terrakion might be too much, especially with a Super Rod to get them back. Specifically, I would like to have Landorus in here to help the Durant game. However, that only marginally helps the game, so I’m not sure exactly how worthy of an inclusion one Landorus is. Another possible inclusion is Bouffalant BLW 91. It helps with the Zeels game because you can Revenge KO a Zerkom after Bolt Strike.
I do like having four Tornadus because in every game, it should be your opener. Even against Zeels, it is effective to put pressure on their field. Then, you can use Hurricane to transfer energy to benched Tornadus or Terrakion. Tornadus can take cheap prizes on things like Celebi, Tynamo, etc., and, with PlusPower, Tornadus can take prizes on Eels.
Furthermore, I’m not terribly sold on Bianca. I am sold on the 4/4 Oak’s and Juniper. I also think two N is a good call. A deck like this needs a lot of consistency; so, the 12 Supporters and 3 Gear is a solid number. However, Copycat may be better than Bianca. It is relatively easy to run your hand down with Items to make Bianca effective, but Copycat can capitalize on other people’s large hands. I’m not sure there is a wrong answer here.
My hope is to flesh out some more random decks before Regionals to share with you all. But, for now, this is all I have. Take it easy.