Hey all! I’m glad – but also a little off balance – to be back with you this month. October is a long month with more than usual amount of Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I took a writing slot that needed to be filled. Additionally, my sister is having twins tomorrow. Because of that I did not attend Regionals last weekend, and I will not be traveling out next weekend either. I did, however, keep close track of the event this past weekend and want to talk about it.
The second part of this admittedly shorter article will be about the format after the rule changes on November 8th. I know we still have two more weekends of Regionals, but I will not get another chance to talk to you before then.
This portion of the article will be divided into two parts: Administration and logistics of the tournament then the results and metagame implications.
Administration and Logistics
If you do not know by now, TPCi made the move to best-of-three, 50 minute Swiss rounds. Many in the community love the idea of playing a match-set, but hate the idea of having to play the rounds in 50 minutes or less. Let’s take a quick look at the Top 16 standings (with Top 8 decks listed) from the weekend (courtesy of On the Bubble and The Top Cut):
1. 7-0-1 // Israel Sosa with Darkrai/Sableye
2. 6-0-2 // Anthony Ramos with Plasma
3. 6-1-1 // Kian Amini with Genesect/Virizion/Drifblim
4. 6-1-1 // Dallan Fell with Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus/Garbodor
5. 6-2-0 // Ravyn Pollock with Genesect/Virizion/Potion
6. 5-0-3 // Jason Martinez with Blastoise
7. 6-2-0 // Stefan Tabaco with Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus/Garbodor
8. 6-2-0 // Luis Belmontez with Darkrai/Garbodor
Now, the first and most interesting thing to me is that the new system ended up producing a Regional Championship with fewer – not more – Swiss rounds than last year. Under last year’s system, this Regional would have been nine Swiss rounds. However, because less than 227 players showed up, the new system dictated only eight Swiss rounds be played.
This is a disappointing situation in my opinion. Yes, they played best-of-three Swiss rounds, but the total rounds fell. In the end, this actually would have magnified running into one poor matchup instead of minimizing a poor matchup in the Swiss rounds. The new system was supposed to help eliminate this problem, but it seems the system still needs to be tweaked.
It will be interesting to see what happens next weekend. If the next Regional gets to 227 players, or more, the players will play out a Top 32 or X-2 cut (whichever is larger). At Pleasanton, the 23rd place competitor ended with a 4-0-4 record. Therefore, I would assume that larger Regionals will almost always cut to 32 after day one because an X-2 record will fall somewhere in the mid-20s.
It is also unfortunate that the bubble ended up being quite as large as it was. There were six 6-2 records, and only three of them made the cut. However, a 5-0-3 player made the cut, and that result is one I want to talk about a bit further.
Prior to any event, the overall conclusion of the community was that setup decks would struggle more than normal because they would not be able to get three games in under a 50 minute limit. I am not sure I agree with that sentiment any more. Because Blastoise is the deck that made cut at 5-0-3, let’s use Blastoise as the example.
The biggest knock against Blastoise is consistency and the possibility of getting donked by a quicker deck. Otherwise, many consider Blastoise to be the best deck in the format if it gets set up.
Under the previous system, if the Blastoise deck took a consistency or donk loss it could ruin the players chances of making cut. However, because of the new tie structure, losing a very quick game one due to consistency or a donk is not that big of a deal. You simply scoop Game 1 early and then aim to win a long Game 2. So long as you get the win in Game 2, you are almost assured of getting a tie.
Because ties are worth one point, you can do this three times over the course of eight rounds and end up with the same amount of points as the bubble players who go 6-2.
Most of the time you will get a “legitimate” Game 1 and you should win that game. Then you play Game 2 out as long as possible, which will usually take the match to time. Since you won Game 1, and Game 2 is unresolved, you will win the match.
In the cases where your deck fails due to consistency/donk, you can simply play for the tie by winning Game 2, instead of taking the loss like last year, and move on.
I believe this helps setup decks because your deck can now “fail” three times throughout the Swiss rounds. Last year your deck could only fail twice in the first eight Swiss rounds. The margin for error has arguably gone up for set-up decks.
Put simply, here is what you need to do this year versus last year if you are a setup deck.
- 6-2 or better
- Deck could only fail twice
- 5-0-3 or better
- Deck can fail thrice
Now, I understand that at bigger events, you will have to play more than eight Swiss rounds, but you will still play eight rounds on the first day to get into the second day, Top 32. Last year Regionals cut to 32 players. The situations seem analogous to me: eight rounds to make Top 32 compared to eight rounds to make Top 32. The only difference is how the event gets from 32 down to 8, but that is another discussion.
Results and Metagame Implications
Prior to Pleasanton, the only events in this format we had to look back upon were the K.O. and some European events. At these events, Genesect/Virizion and Darkrai/Garbodor were displayed as the decks to beat. However, the Top 8 played out in the following manner.
1. Darkrai/Sableye versus 8. Darkrai/Garbodor
2. Plasma versus 7. Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus/Garbodor
3. Genesect/Virizion/Drifblim versus 6. Blastoise
The early darling Darkrai/Garbodor lost to a more streamlined Darkrai deck. This should not surprise many people because straight Darkrai almost always has more tools at its disposal in this matchup. The Garbodor player is essentially playing a mirror match with five to eight dead cards. That is normally way too much for any deck to overcome.
The two Landorus/Garbodors lost to Genesect/Virizion and Plasma, which I would consider the deck’s lessor metagame matchups. I do want to toss out a preliminary list of this deck, as not many people had it on their radar. I believe Brit Pybas was the only public writer to say anything about this deck in the last few months.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
It is relatively easy to see why this deck is successful when you expect lots of Darkrai and Blastoise.
Landorus-EX and Tornadus EX are both very good against Darkrai decks. Landorus hits for Weakness and Tornadus EX deals damage quickly for minimal Energy. Both of those traits are crucial against Darkrai. Mewtwo EX also can carry some weight in this matchup because Mewtwo EX and Darkrai EX trade evenly against each other, both deal 2HKOs.
Mewtwo EX and Garbodor deal with Blastoise well. If the anti-meta player can get a Tool to stick on Garbodor, the Blastoise player loses the option to simply Black Ballista for three straight turns to take 6 Prizes. That means the Blastoise player desperately needs Tool Scrapper, or Stoise is forced into attacking with Keldeo-EX. Mewtwo EX trades very favorably with Keldeo-EX. If Keldeo-EX tries to stack Energy, Mewtwo’s X Ball is simply too much for Keldeo-EX to handle.
However, Genesect/Virizion and Plasma are much more difficult (although probably around 50/50 matchups). In these matchups, Garbodor is not extremely important and the anti-meta deck does not hold any significant one way Weakness advantages. It seems to me the gist of these matchups is simply trying to apply early pressure through cheap Energy attacks.
1. Darkrai/Sableye versus 5. Genesect/Virizion/4 Potion
2. Plasma versus 6. Blastoise (Video @ 21:00)
There is not much to say about these matchups. Darkrai/Sableye seems to be a 50/50 matchup against Genesect/Virizion. They both do similar things, however, I think Darkrai’s 90/30 Night Spear is superior to Genesect’s 100-20 Megalo Cannon. The 30 versus 20 snipe damage can be significant. With only three Nigh Spears you pull a benched EX into Knock Out range from Darkrai’s 90 damage.
However, Genesect needs four Megalo Cannons to put a benched EX into Knock Out range from its 100 damage to the active. This extra turn can often prove important. Additionally, a turn two Night Spear is not that uncommon. Thus, Darkrai and Genesect are similar in speed.
Normally Blastoise is considered a poor matchup for Darkrai without Garbodor. However, this Darkrai/Sableye deck has more than a few tricks in the bag to deal with Blastoise. Here is my approximation of his list, as compiled from OTB’s stream:
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 40
Energy – 11
The biggest tech in this list to swing the Stoise matchup is the Frozen City. Blastoise plays multiple Energy from their hand, and that makes Frozen City an optimal card to counter the big turtle. Conversely, Darkrai can try to maximize the usage of Dark Patch to get around the extra damage from Frozen City.
Of course Blastoise will try to counter with Tropical Beach, but the Darkrai list also played Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. That allowed Darkrai to bait the Beaches out from the Blastoise player, and then stick a Frozen City.
Additionally, as the video shows and as Jason K. explained after his Worlds win, the ability of Darkrai to abuse N should never be underestimated. With Mr. Mime seeing less play and Max Potion and Gold Potion seeing almost no play, Darkrai can easily set up a 4 Prize turn followed by a 2 Prize turn. That should allow Darkrai to get one or two N’s off that severely cripple the opponent’s hand while allowing the Darkrai player to play with a full hand.
Moving Forward with Regionals
We now have a North American Premier Event in the books and it gives us a bit better idea of what the metagame should look like.
It appears this deck’s novelty might have worn off, with many more decks playing high counts of Tool Scrapper. This does not surprise me. Additionally, the Landorus/Garbodor decks seem better suited to handle the metagame because they have type advantage over a couple decks. Landorus/Garbodor lacks Sableye’s ability to spam Enhanced Hammers, however, you could play Prism Energy and still include Sableye to Junt Hunt crucial resources back once or twice a game.
Yep, this deck is still really good. If you read my last article, you saw that I liked the Mewtwo/Keldeo version a bit. I still like that version, but more Tool Scrapper makes the Black Kyurem EX version very threatening again. No matter which version of this deck you want to play, you want to play a consistent version, similar to the following:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
Open Spots – 1
The demise of Plasma was largely overblown. Writers have still shown an affinity toward the deck, but many bailed on the deck due to the fear of being Enhanced Hammered to death. That was not the case at Pleasanton. I do however feel unqualified to give you a Plasma list, as I have not touched the deck in a long time. I believe a focus on Kyurem is still a great idea though.
I’m still not sure anyone has found the optimal way to play this deck, but it keeps winning games and taking spots in top cut. I’m not sure this is the best way to run the deck, but I have found some success running a toolbox type Genesect deck. Consider the following list:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 35
1 G Booster
Energy – 13
The idea here is to use Virizion to power up the attackers that are most needed in each matchup.
Ah… the dream eater just will not stop causing players nightmares. Straight Darkrai was all but pronounced dead by many players when we lost Energy Switch. I have been an advocate for straight Darkrai since the rotation though and I’m pleased to see my faith was not misplaced.
Obviously I did not predict the use of Frozen City, but it is not that surprising in retrospect. The deck is still very consistent. It rarely gets an awful draw because it can utilize Sableye so well. It also abuses N better than most decks.
“What’s the Play?”
So, that leaves the question of what is the play for the next weekend. If I were to play next weekend, here is the order in which I would consider playing decks:
- Straight Darkrai
- Blastoise (High Scrapper, high Beach, and perhaps a single Max Potion tech.)
- Flareon & Friends
New Rules, New Game
This portion of the article will be much more disorderly as there are a bunch of little points I want to touch on.
I love the errata. I know about half of the playerbase is near revolt because they are worried about the last Reversal format. However, I think the flippiness of that format was a result of three things.
- Junk Arm. The ability to reuse Reversal up to more four times made the format broken.
- Babies. In my opinion, the main reason we needed a “gust” effect card was because Babies were haphazardly walling off opponents based upon a coin flip. Therefore, we needed something to get around the Baby walls.
- No other “gust,” no other “Warp Point,” and limited snipers. Reversal has been printed across many formats and it has only been a real problem in one of them. I certainly think the my first two points are the most important, but the fact that we also did not have another “gust” option was a factor as well. Luxray GL LV.X had just rotated and so did Garchomp C LV.X. We had no other options because even Warp Point was gone.
I do not think these circumstances exist in today’s game. We have Genesect EX and Ninetales DRX to pull stuff up. We also have Escape Rope. We do lack a super strong sniper – Raikou-EX isn’t as legitimate without Eelektrik – but I think that is the least relevant consideration.
I think most people will eventually move away from Catcher and move toward better consistency.
Buffed and Nerfed
With the Catcher nerf, certain Pokémon are going to be come much better and others are going to become much worse.
This dude is going to become extremely important. Stopping Darkrai, Kyurem, and Genesect from dealing bench damage is going to be crucial. With Catcher being reduced to a coin flip, Mr. Mime no longer becomes an automatic free Prize.
Any non-EX that can easily 1HKO an EX will gain some power after the Catcher nerfs. Kyurem, Bangle, and 2-3 Deoxys gets the job done against any attacker, EX or not, in the coming format.
Damage optimization will become crucial in the new format. Dusknoir gets around Mr. Mime and makes it so that you opponent cannot “hide” damaged Pokémon safely on the bench.
Both of these cards have sat on the edge of viability at various times over the last couple years. However, they could never truly shine due to donks and other various misfortunes. However, both get a bit of a buff. Neither are easily KO’d by at least two of the metagame decks (Darkrai and Genesect). Additionally, Garchomp and Empoleon no longer have to fear losing on the first turn of the game.
Placing damage counters is not the same as doing damage, so Mr. Mime doesn’t protect against it. Cursed Shadow may become one of the few ways to finish off damaged, benched Pokémon.
Genesect EX, Ninetales DRX
Obviously, these two cards are the only two guaranteed “gust” effects in the game.
This card already was a fringe card. However, in decks that it have worked in, it excels at picking off previously damaged Pokémon from the bench. With Catcher nerfed, it is no longer a sure thing that you will be able to target down previously damaged Pokémon.
Hammerhead will lose a lot of viability because Mr. Mime can easily block the bench damage.
Yes, I realize I said it got a buff, but it also got nerfed because Frost Spear loses potency.
With all of that being said, there are two decks I want to propose to you. I’m not sure either are going to be Tier 1 viable. However, these are two decks I’m going to toss together and start seriously testing with in the coming weeks.
The Empire Strikes Back
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 32
Energy – 9
I think the deck has potential to be good because…
- It cannot be donked the first turn of the game.
- It utilizes Dusknoir extremely well.
- Empoleon is surprisingly difficult for meta decks to 1HKO, especially if you can use Silver Mirror to stop Plasma decks. Darkrai, Genesect, Keldeo, Kyurem, etc., either struggle to 1HKO Empoleon or simply cannot.
- It utilizes Escape Rope really well. With Dusknoir, you simply need to get damage onto the board. You can attack whatever your opponent puts active while pushing threatening attackers to your opponent’s bench.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 33
Energy – 11
I like this deck because once again it utilizes Escape Rope well. Escape Rope allows you to drag up benched Pokémon and deal 120 damage to them with Reshiram or Bouffalant. Then you can use Cursed Shadow to drop enough damage counters onto the damaged Pokémon, even when they are on the bench.
Also, this deck will hit for a very relevant Weakness. I expect Genesect EX to see an increase in play, and this deck can take Genesect/Virizion out relatively easily.
I know that this article is a bit shorter than normal, and I’m sorry for that, but I think the content should be solid enough that you can learn something and that I can learn from you in the forums.
Good luck to everyone at Regionals and have fun playing X&Y.
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