In the weeks (and days even) leading up to States, I had no idea what I was going to play week one. I was confident that I had identified the best decks, but I was just not sure what deck would be best in an undefined metegame.
In my testing leading up to States, my friends and me had identified the best decks to be Darkrai EX/Lasers, Blastoise/Keldeo-EX/Black Kyurem EX, Big Basics, and arguably Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik. I loved the sheer consistency of Darkrai, however the unmatched strength of Blastoise with Black Kyurem EX had my whole testing group convinced Blastoise was the BDIF.
Unfortunately, the number of Tropical Beaches between my friends and I is rather limited. Colin, Isaac, David, Joe, and myself all wanted to play the deck, but we only owned three Beaches between the five of us, and we knew that the deck needed two Beach to function properly. So I figured I would just lend one of them my Beach, and play something else.
In the week before States, I was pretty sure I would just play Darkrai at States. However, I predicted that Darkrai would be the most popular deck at States, and I cannot stand playing mirror matches all day long. I continued to look elsewhere.
I put together Bouffalant/Eelektrik/Mewtwo EX the Monday before Illinois States. The deck focused on limiting your opponent to taking 1 Prize at a time, while doing 120 damage as soon as turn two. The deck also utilized Max Potion and big Mewtwos to finish off EXs.
I played the deck in a local tournament at Jimmy’s Plainfield shop the Thursday before States, and went 1-2 with it. I lost to my buddy Joe’s Darkrai deck round one, beat Jason Klacyznski’s Blastoise deck round two, and then lost to Alyssa’s Darkrai deck round three.
I was a little disappointed with the deck’s performance, and began to think it was time to go back to the drawing board. Repeatedly throughout the night, Jason kept telling me how horrible the deck was, which of course added to my questioning of the deck’s strength.
Joe, Isaac and I go back to my place to test some more, and reconfirm the things we already know: Landorus is really good against Darkrai, Darkrai is at least 50/50 with Blastoise, Klinklang was stupid but good if no one teched for it, and Blastoise was still probably the BDIF. Surprisingly, my Bouffalant/Eels isn’t testing too bad now, and I start to reconsider my quick dismissal of the deck.
The day before the tournament, Jason invited me to test in the city with Soles, Vernola, Matt Alvis, and himself. I win four straight games against Jason’s Darkrai deck with my Bouffalant/Eels, and Jason changes his decision about the deck as well. I take some close losses to his Blastoise deck, but we decide the matchup is still winnable for me, as I am usually only giving up 1 Prize at a time. I play some more games with Soles and solidify that this is the deck I want to play for States.
My reasoning behind playing the deck was simple. I wanted a deck that would minimally go 50/50 against the entire field, and did not encounter a multitude of luck based mirror matches. While I will not reveal my full decklist this time, I will highlight some of the important cards in the deck:
Three Bouffalant. Jason tried to get me to cut this number to two, but I kept the number at three, as I try to make my opponent take six knockouts every game. This card is just amazing in this format with ramped EXs, and the Bouffer Ability makes it able to withstand a number of attacks.
Mewtwo EX. This card is basically the cleaner. Using X Ball turn one is generally great against Darkrai decks, however attacking with Mewtwo can open up a Mewtwo war very quickly in this format that is ridden with Lasers. However, a strong, two energy attacker is needed in this deck, and Eelektrik’s favorite partner has always been Mewtwo.
Max Potion. This card can be a lifesaver. Darkrai decks can easily do 140 damage to a Mewtwo, and being able to retreat into a new attacker and then Max Potion that damage off is game breaking. A lot of other fancy situations can arise from Max Potion, such as discarding the energy from one of your Pokémon and Dynamotoring the energy to a different attacker.
Pokémon Center. In this format, counter Stadiums need to be played if Virbank is not in the deck. Pokémon Center serves as both a counter Stadium, and a way to disrupt both Night Spear and Hammerhead math.
No Colress. I am sure everyone will think I am crazy with this decision. When I started testing this format, I was trying two Colress in all my setup decks such as Blastoise, Eels, etc. I soon found I was often using the card to draw three, four cards not only in early game, but during the mid game as well.
I dropped the card to one in all my decks, but finally right before the tournament I eliminated the card from my deck all together and replaced it with another Bianca. I think if I do play this deck again however, I may go back to one Colress, as it is much more beneficial than a Bianca late game.
I arrive with about a half hour to fill out my list, and Jason, Soles, and I make some last minute changes. I still am not 100% content with the list, but I have to turn it in as time was dwindling. Pairings were posted shortly after, and I wished everybody good luck as we sat down for round one.
Round 1 vs. Keith O’Quinn with Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik
I go first and open some basic (Bouffalant I think) to his Tynamo. I Ultra Ball for Mewtwo, Skyla for Switch, and attach a Double to Mewtwo. :/ I always hate donks even when I’m the one getting a free win. We play again for fun and I win pretty easily.
Landorus-EX/Tornadus EX/Mewtwo EX/Lasers/etc.)Round 2 vs. Brandon Zettel with Big Basics (
I don’t remember too much about this game except for a big turn where I need to respond to his three energy Mewtwo, so I am forced to drop my Mewtwo before playing a Juniper and proceed to whiff a Double and/or an Eel to power up my Mewtwo and Knock Out his. From there he is able to attach another Double to his Mewtwo, Catcher up mine and take two free Prizes.
After that I struggle to recover and am just too far behind to make a come back.
Keldeo-EX/Black Kyurem EXRound 3 vs. Jason Klacyznski with Blastoise/
pokemon-paradijs.comJason and I know each other’s entire lists and we both know the matchup very well, so I knew there wouldn’t be any surprises in this game.
I go first and Jason rolls his eyes as I Ultra Ball two Lightning away and am able to X Ball turn one (a play I only seem to pull off when I’m playing him). He is forced to play some ugly Junipers throughout the game discarding two Blastoises.
I have a strong board compared to his Blastoise-less field, and he scoops once he can’t find his Super Rod, as his third Blastoise was Prized. Sorry bud. :/
Round 4 vs. Josh Wittenkeller (J-Wittz) with Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant/Lasers
We both have mediocre starts; however he gets going a little quicker than I do and has control for most the game. The big play in the game comes when I N him down to three before I knockout out his Darkrai with a two energy Mewtwo, and he is left with a lone Sableye in play. On his turn he plays a Laser, putting me to sleep, and is forced to Junk Hunt.
I wake up from sleep, attach a third energy, and bench him out.
Zekrom-EX/Mewtwo EX/Eelektrik/Lasers/VirbankRound 5 vs. Paul Martin with Zekrom/
Paul was my second round opponent from Regionals this year, and I knew he was a real nice guy. I don’t know how he fit this all in his deck, however the concept of doing 180 with Zekrom-EX is very cool and is actually something I want to test out.
I believe he goes first and get a much better start than I do. I hit a Supporter drought early game, while he proceeds to get his side going and start taking Prizes. The game comes down to me having 2 Prizes to his one, and I realize the only way I can win is to Knock Out his benched Mewtwo with no energy. However, I need two turns to power up my Mewtwo.
He has three Switch in his discard, however he hasn’t even played a Double Colorless yet. I Catcher up his Eel, Dynamotor to my Mewtwo, and attempt to Paralyze his Eel with Thunder Wave. I whiff the paralysis flip, and he topdecks a Double to take his last Prize with Zekrom-EX.
I had a Skyla for a Catcher in my hand, and would have been able to Knock Out his Mewtwo the following turn.
Landorus-EX/etc.Round 6 vs. Ryan Grant with Ho-Oh EX/Mewtwo EX/
I don’t remember who goes first, however I do remember him starting Landorus to a couple of Tynamos. He plays a Supporter on his first turn, however whiffs a Fighting to use Hammerhead. I am able to get going pretty steady and start putting damage on his board.
At one point he drops a Mewtwo with no energy, and I am able to Catcher it up and Knock it Out with a five energy Mewtwo. From there, I have firm control of the game and am able to take the win pretty easily.
Landorus-EX/Mew-EXRound 7 vs. Casey Smith with Empoleon/
Casey is a buddy of mine who plays in the Rockford area. He is a real solid player, however he doesn’t seem to go to a lot of tournaments.
I go first and start Tynamo to his Landorus. I am able to set up two more Tynamos, however I don’t get another Pokémon to rereat into. On his turn he plays an Energy Search and realizes he Prized all three of his F Energy.
The game ends up playing pretty closely, with me being able to Gold Breaker his Landorus and him being able to Hammerhead/Attack Command my Eels. I am forced to take a KO with Mewtwo, and he responds by dropping a Mew and using Attack Command for a KO. On my turn, I play an N to put him at three and me at four, and knock his Mew with another Mewtwo.
He isn’t able to Knock Out my Mewtwo, and is forced to just use Attack Command for 60ish damage. I only have 2 Prizes left and I have three Catchers and two Skylas left, so I determine the easiest way to take my last 2 Prizes is to Gold Breaker his benched Landorus twice. I pull up his Landorus and hit it for 120. He has a Switch, but I rip a Skyla a turn or two later to bring up the damaged Landorus and Knock it Out for the game.
Round 8 vs. Stephen Burton with Darkrai EX/Lasers
Stephen is another player who occasionally plays at Jimmy’s Rockford shop, although we actually have never played each other. He has a pretty bad start and I start putting on the pressure early with Mewtwo. He doesn’t Night Spear until very late in the game, and at that point I have enough energy on Mewtwo where it just one shots his Darkrais.
After starting 3-2, I was not too confident with my resistance. Jimmy read the top 16 off from first seed to sixteenth seed over the microphone, and I listened as he repeatedly called names that were not mine. Finally he reaches the sixteenth seed. He calls my name and we all go crazy.
Here is the Top 16 after Swiss:
- Tom Stahnke – Garbodor/Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion/Lasers
- Andrew Reynolds – Big Basics
- Adam Vernola – Darkrai EX/Terrakion/Lasers
- Michael Hopkins – Plasma Klinklang
- Stephen Matz – Blastoise/Keldeo-EX/Black Kyurem EX
- Ross Cawthon – Garbodor/Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX/Lasers
- Richard Lucas – Big Basics
- Alyssa Dobbs – Darkrai EX/Lasers
- Nick Walls – Big Basics
- Yoshi Tate – Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant/Lasers
- Josh Wittenkeller (J-Wittz) – Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant/Lasers
- Jordan Moore – ???
- Andrew Callahan – Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik/Emolga
- Franco Llamas III – Rayquaza EX/Victini-EX/Eelektrik
- John Almazan – Garbodor/Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX/Lasers?
- Alejandro Luna – Bouffalant/Eelektrik/Mewtwo EX
Nothing too unusual made the top cut. The only surprise to me was the number of Garbodor decks that made it in, but this is something I will cover later in the article.
Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX/TerrakionTop 16 vs. Tom Stahnke with Garbodor/
pokemon-paradijs.comBoth of these games are fuzzy, however I do remember me making a big blunder in this game. Mid to late in the game, I drop a Pokémon Center to heal off my damaged Eel. However, I completely overlook his benched Eviolited Landorus with 120 damage, which can also utilize Pokémon Center to heal off 20 damage twice and avert a Gold Breaker Knock Out.
He uses Center immediately, however he forgets to use it the following turn which allows me to power up a Bouffalant and Catcher up the Landorus and Knock it Out, putting me at 1 Prize. From this point, his only options are to attack with either a Mewtwo or a Terrakion, both of which were in range to be Knocked Out by my Mewtwo.
Again this game is a little fuzzy, but I do remember him having trouble setting Garbodor up during his first few turns. By this point, I have placed a comfortable amount of energy dispersed through several attackers, and was able to have control for most of the game. The game ends when I rip a Double off the top to KO his three energy Mewtwo.
Top 8 vs. Nick Walls with Big Basics
Nick is a friend of mine that plays at Jimmy’s Chicago shop, so while it sucked that we had to play each other, it was cool to know that at least somebody from the shop would advance to Top 4.
pokemon-paradijs.comI start lone Tynamo and realize we could be on to a quick game two if I don’t go first, as 90% of Nick’s starting Pokémon are capable of donking me. Luckily I win the flip, and of course Nick flips over a Mewtwo. I am able to set up two more Tynamos, however I don’t get anything else going really. On his turn, he is able to get a Landorus out and start using Hammerhead on my Tynamos.
I finally get a Bouffalant up and going, however he makes a big play when he Scramble Switches into Landorus and uses Land’s Judgement on my Bouffalant. I am forced to send up a Mewtwo with a DCE and use X Ball for 120. I was able to attach an Eviolite to my Mewtwo, so the only way he would be able to respond is with a Double + Laser + Virbank on his turn.
Of course he hits all three of those and KOs my Mewtwo. I N him to two and myself to six, triple Dynamotor to a Bouffalant, and Catcher up his damaged Landorus to KO it with Gold Breaker. From here, he can’t even find an energy to even knockout the Bouffalant, and the Buffalos are able to make a 4 Prize comeback to win game one.
I am forced to start lone Tynamo again, and Nick obviously chooses to go first. I just accept the donk at this point, however Nick flips over a Bouffalant. He uses Laser and drops a Virbank before Junipering into nothing, and even misses an energy drop. Dodged a bullet there.
On my turn, I am able to start powering up a Bouffalant, play a second Tynamo, and heal off the poison damage. Nick N’s me into a new six, but just lays an energy on Boufflant and passes. Tynamo gets Knocked Out from poison, so I send up a Bouffalant.
I get an Eel into play, Dynamotor an energy onto Mewtwo, and Gold Breaker his Bouffalant for 40. On his turn, he is forced to Skyla for a Juniper and just pass. I have a Skyla in my hand, and use it for a Computer Search to find a DCE to Knock Out his Bouffalant and bench him out. Sorry, my friend.
Top 4 vs. Andrew Callahan with Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik/Emolga
pokemon-paradijs.comHe goes first and gets a really strong turn one, setting up three Tynamos and a Rayquaza EX with the help of Emolga. On my first turn, I play N and draw Ultra Ball, double Max Potion, Pokémon Center, and two other dead cards. From there, I continue to draw/pass the entire game while I get steamrolled.
I am able to get a strong start and begin to use Gold Breaker on his EX’s on turn two. The game goes back and forth, but Bouffalant only giving up 1 Prize allows me to maintain the Prize lead throughout the game. On the last turn, I am able to play Skyla for a Catcher to bring up a damaged EX and Gold Breaker for the game.
We both have slow starts and I am forced to play N and get rid of his bad hand, as my hand was equally as weak. On his next turn, he sets up some Eels and uses Thunder Fang to do 10 damage to my Bouffalant and paralyzes it. This 10 damage would end up being huge later.
I struggle to find a Switch over the next few turns, as he uses a Catcher on the next turn to paralyze my Eel. He starts taking prizes and I struggle to keep up at first. Finally I get everything going, but his board looks amazing at this point. He takes down a Bouffalant with his three energy Mewtwo, and I respond with my own Mewtwo. My Mewtwo proceeds to be Dragon Bursted immediately.
I am forced to respond with the Bouffalant with the single damage counter on it from earlier. My Bouffalant then falls to his promo Rayquaza using Shred. Time is called on my turn and the Prize count is two to one. I bring up his Raikou, N him to one, and use Gold Breaker for 120.
On his turn he topdecks Catcher, and uses it to bring up an Eel and use Shred for the game.
Ross ends up winning the whole tournament with his Garbodor deck. This deck ends up sweeping States, with four 1st place finishes. Maybe I should have stuck with my Garbodor deck from Regionals.
My Thoughts on the Laser
pokemon-paradijs.comThis card obviously had the most hype going into States, and for good reason. However, this card is much less impactful on the game than Mewtwo EX was during last year’s State Championships. While this card can provide some annoying situations, setup decks are often able to stabilize and overcome the early onslaught of Lasers.
The key to surviving the Laser shootout is to play both counter Stadiums and to have lots of ways to switch out attackers. Every deck should be running a minimum two counter Stadiums in my opinion, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some decks start playing three, maybe even four, Virbank.
However, I do not think it is the Poison damage that makes the Laser so broken. Yes, it can set up some perfect math when coupled with Virbank. However, I believe it is the 25% chance of keeping an opponent’s Pokémon asleep that makes this card so game breaking.
There have been so many times where I have missed out on an attack because of this 25%. Even in decks that run four Switch, it can be difficult to find them at times, and it is of course frustrating when a game can come down to a coin flip.
Thoughts on the States Metagame
My prediction of the States Meta was pretty accurate. There were plenty of Darkrai, Blastoise, Big Basics, RayEels, and Klinklang throughout the field. However, the one deck that had a much larger showing than I was expecting was Garbodor.
Garbodor is a deck that I thought lost strength with the release of Plasma Storm. I thought the fast, big Basic decks not heavily reliant on abilities would dominate the format when coupled with Lasers.
However, the fact of the matter is Tool Scrapper has seen a serious decline due to the rise of Laser. It is simply too hard to comfortably fit both of these cards in most lists, and people generally favor Laser over Scrapper. For this reason, Garbodor was able to sneak its way to the top during week one of States.
The other reason I believe the deck did so well is because it is essentially a Big Basics deck with a tech Garbodor line. It has solid matchups across the board and can even overcome decks not reliant on abilities if it is played correctly. Will Garbodor continue to dominate State Championships? Or will Tool Scrapper make it return to stomp out the garbage? Only time will tell.
considering i ran snorlax
Twan van Vugt
Completely agree with the points about Laser, good job of getting into top 4! also round 8: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHTfs6s-qZA :)
Hey Alejandro great article! This is Jordan and I just wanted to let you know i was also running Blastose/Keldeo EX/Black Kyurem Ex.
What a tournament field. Heck of a comeback in Top 8! Great stuff.
My son is a fan; I know he will enjoy your article. Thanks!