Hey everyone! I hope you all had a great time at Regionals. I myself had a very unimpressive performance at the Ft. Wayne, Indiana Regional Championship this past weekend going 2-3-0 drop with Virizion/Genesect/Drifblim.
We’ve certainly seen a lot of diversity in the format over the past three weeks and a quite noticeable shift in the metagame. I really like having three weekends of Regionals for that reason; a lot of players who did well realized which decks they needed to prepare for and it’s made for some great innovation and impressive deck building.
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Although Darkrai has had two very impressive Regionals wins by Israel Sosa we haven’t seen a particularly notable performance by the deck outside of those wins. Only two other Straight Darkrai and two Darkrai/Garbodor made it to the Top 8 of a Regionals throughout all 3 weekends. I mainly attribute this to the huge target on its back.
Even after the first win we saw a good amount of Darkrai counters, but the second win was the final nail in the coffin. I’m not surprised by how well Darkrai has done, though. It’s one of the fastest and most consistent decks in the format, which is crucial when the larger Regionals had 14 rounds of Swiss and a Top 8 cut.
This means each finalist could have potentially played up to 51 games over the course of one tournament. With that many games you have to be sure your deck can get set up and eliminate as much luck as possible before considering anything else.
I’m sure most of you have seen Israel’s list and if you haven’t Dylan Bryan featured it in his article last week, so check it out there. I love the inclusion of Frozen City in the deck; when played at the right time it wins a lot of games and helps in almost every matchup, not only against Blastoise which is the main reason for its spot in the deck.
I expect to see Darkrai’s success continue with the release of Legendary Treasures. The two main cards Darkrai lost after the rotation to NXD-on, Crushing Hammer and Energy Switch, are being reprinted which gives a the deck a nice boost in speed and consistency.
Both Darkrai variants made Top 4 at the 2013 World Championship in Masters, and here are the lists from each player:
Jason Klaczynski’s Straight Darkrai – 1st Place
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 40
Energy – 10
Dustin Zimmerman’s Darkrai/Garbodor – 4th Place
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 41
1 Life Dew
Energy – 8
I predict we will be seeing lists similar to these being played for the rest of the season. Jason’s list already seems like a good play for Winter Regionals with its sheer consistency.
Overall I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Darkrai continues to be a Tier 1 deck for the rest of the season. The possibility of Darkrai having 3 World Championships under its belt just goes to show how great of a card it really is.
This variation on the Virizion deck seems to be best suited for the format based on how it has performed and from watching it in action. Without Energy Switch Virizion needed attackers with lower Energy counts than Genesect; an early KO on the only Genesect with Energy leaves the Virizion player at a huge disadvantage.
Bouffalant DRX and Mewtwo EX, which are the two main attackers in this deck, only need 1-2 Energy to attack when you take Double Colorless into consideration. This allows the player to keep up with decks like Plasma, Blastoise, and Darkrai that have good Energy acceleration.
I also really like Bouffalant; it’s one of the strongest non-EX attackers we have in the format. Bouffer can be lifesaving in many matchups and 120 base damage along with Silver Bangle or Hypnotoxic Laser makes Bouffalant very game changing.
Here’s JW Kriewall’s 1st Place list from Indiana Regionals:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 36
Energy – 14
JW played against Justin Phillip’s Victini/Terrakion/Drifblim in the finals and managed to pull off a win against a very bad matchup. A lot of the card choices in here were really interesting in my opinion.
I love the inclusion of Genesect and I’m surprised that other Virizion/Mewtwo lists didn’t run at least one. It’s a great attacker and can help you in practically every matchup, so it seems like a no-brainer adding him in. The 20 snipe damage can also really help in certain situations.
Finally, Scramble Switch is a nice use of the ACE SPEC spot and is a good substitute for the loss of Energy Switch. Seeing it in action during the finals match made me realize how much of a game changing card it can be if played with the proper timing.
With the release of Energy Switch I expect there to be more of the standard Virizion/Genesect and Virizion/Genesect/Drifblim. The rule changes make not being able to attack on turn one in the first place not as big of an issue with a Genesect focus and can hurt Mewtwo when going first (who wants to X Ball with a DCE), but we’ll see how the deck evolves to manage next format.
Another thing to note is that Red Signal gets much better with the rule changes and allows the player to have an edge against their opponent who would have to flip to have a Catcher effect.
For a lack of a better name I just settled on Attackers/Drifblim for this section. Both versions of the deck are very similar and are both anti-meta decks, so I decided to lump them together.
We first saw the Flareon variation at the 2013 World Championships being played by Dylan Bryan, who made Top 16 with it. Although it only made one Top 8 at Regionals I loved Kyle Sucevich’s take on the deck. Kyle made Top 16 at Indiana Regionals, and here’s the list he used for the event:
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 28
Energy – 9
At first glance you might wonder if the tournament was held on a Monday, but looking over the choices for this list and how they help each of his matchups makes you realize why Kyle is one of the best in the game and consistently does well. Almost every possible matchup has been covered here with all of the techs and wide variety of attackers to choose from.
I really like the 1-1 Zoroark line, which is amazing against nearly anything you could run into. Kyle would have made it into the Top 8 if he hadn’t tied with Ross Cawthon in the last round of Swiss, but Top 16 is still a phenomenal showing and is a great payoff for the time and effort he surely put into working on this deck.
It’s no surprise to me that the Victini/Terrakion variation of the deck made the finals of two Regionals this weekend. I don’t think many players knew about this variation of the deck or expected it to be played.
Victini gives you a huge advantage against Virizion based decks with Intensifying Burn being able to Knock Out a Virizion or a Genesect on turn 2 after a Turbo Energize or on turn 1 with Victory Piece. Both Terrakion make your Darkrai matchups insanely favorable being able to keep Energy on the field and Knocking Out Darkrai with one Pump Up Smash, Retaliate, or Land Crush. Finally, the Drifblim line helps a lot against Plasma and any other deck you run into that uses Special Energy. The only downfall to the deck is the almost unwinnable Blastoise matchup.
Here’s the list that Brandon Smiley piloted to a victory at Texas Regionals this past weekend:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
As you can see this list is focused on consistency more than anything. Brandon runs 15 total consistency cards with 12 Supporters, 2 Random Receiver, and 1 Tropical Beach. This ensures he can get his deck working and make sure everything goes as planned, and it obviously paid off.
On the other hand Justin Phillips, who got 2nd at Indiana Regionals with the same deck, played more techs in his list. I don’t have the exact list for Justin, but he ran cards like Heavy Ball, Energy Retrieval, and Float Stone as 1-ofs. He also ran a 6/6 split for his Energy to make sure not to miss a turn one Turbo Energize if possible. Both lists weren’t that far off though and obviously they both worked how they were supposed to.
I don’t expect to see as much of the Victini version going into next format. Victini not being able to Turbo Energize if the deck goes first leaves you at a huge disadvantage when the focus of the deck is to start attacking as soon as possible and keep Energy on the field. I also don’t think this deck has much of anything going for it against Gothitelle, which will be making a return in Legendary Treasures.
The Eeveelutions variation on the other hand should be sticking around. There are so many cards you can add or take out in order to keep up with a change in the metagame, which should help this deck stay a contender in tournaments to come.
I think a lot of players doubted Plasma after the Klaczynski Open and the first two Regionals backed that up to an extent with only four top cuts by the deck out of three Regionals. Week 3 seems to have broken that trend and shows us how much of a threat Plasma has continued to be.
Plasma took a whopping 11 spots in the Top 8’s (12 counting Chris Fulop’s DQ) for Week 3 including a second place in Texas. This really goes to show that Plasma is here to stay in our format. I know you all have heard a lot about the deck from almost every Underground writer, so I won’t tell you what you more of what you already know about the deck.
Here’s Justin Sanchez’s 2nd Place list from Texas Regionals:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 35
1 Enhanced Hamer
Energy – 13
Justin has found a great balance between a consistent Plasma list and some very interesting techs. Enhanced Hammer and Max Potion are amazing 1-ofs in Plasma; I had a tough time making room for either in my own list so I left them out, but this list has found a way to fit everything it needs. Although Plasma lists have become pretty similar by now I really like this take on the deck and can see why it did so well.
Despite Plasma not gaining any cards from Legendary Treasures I don’t expect to see it drop off the board. It has always been a fast, consistent, heavy hitter and has relatively good matchups around the board. It’s also one of the cheapest decks to build, second only to Darkrai at this point, so I think we’ll still see a good amount of the deck heading into next format.
One downfall is the Pokémon Catcher errata which hurts Plasma more than most decks in my opinion. A huge advantage the deck has right now is being able to deal with anything your opponent has on the board with the high damage output from Kyurem and Pokémon Catcher. Other decks will be able to cope with this loss much better than Plasma, which could eliminate it from Tier 1.
Time and time again we see Blastoise with a continuous stream of stellar performances in tournaments since its release. This time around Blastoise has secured one win and two second place finishes at Fall Regionals. Blastoise’s focus on consistency is one of the main reasons that I attribute to its success.
As I talked about earlier the finalists of the larger Regionals could have played up to 51 games throughout the tournament. When approaching this situation players have to make sure that not only will their deck have a good matchup against the decks being played but that they can keep their deck working. A consistent Blastoise list usually gets set up in a timely manner almost every game.
Sam Chen, the winner of the Pennsylvania Regionals this past weekend, was kind enough to send me his decklist for the article and go over a mini tournament report. Here’s the list Sam ran:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 35
Energy – 12
The biggest thing that popped out at me when I first saw the list was 4 Tropical Beach. Almost every list I’ve seen has been running 2-3 Tropical Beach. I think if more players had access to a full playset we would see lists running them, but with the enormous price tag it’s not an option for most players.
Sam is running a total of 17 consistency cards, which is almost a third of his deck! He’s also found a balance between running this high count and not removing too many crucial cards. This is mainly because the list has 0 Tool Scrapper. Sam explained to me than he expected very little Garbodor and wanted to take the risk to improve his overall matchups and consistency. This obviously paid off for him and was a great meta call.
Here’s a rundown of his tournament:
1. Plasma Lugia – Win (1-0-0)
2. Straight Darkrai – Tie (1-0-1)
3. Straight Darkrai – Win (2-0-1)
4. Virizion/Mewtwo – Win (3-0-1)
5. Darkrai Garbodor – Win (4-0-1)
6. Straight Darkrai – Win (5-0-1)
7. Victini/Landorus/Terrakion/Mewtwo – Win (6-0-1)
8. Virizion/Genesect – Win (7-0-1)
9. Virizion/Mewtwo – Win (8-0-1)
10. Kyurem Plasma – Loss (8-1-1)
11. Victini/Landorus/Terrakion/Mewtwo – Win (9-1-1)
12. Straight Darkrai – Tie (9-1-2)
13. Tool Drop – Tie (9-1-3)
14. Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus/Garbodor – Win (10-1-3)
10-1-3, 33 points, 2nd seed
Top 8. Blastoise – Win (11-1-3)
Top 4. Tool Drop – Win (12-1-3)
Finals. Virizion/Mewtwo – Win (13-1-3)
As you can see Sam played against Garbodor twice during the tournament and was still able to pull off wins against both. A final record of 13-1-3 is incredibly impressive and shows how consistent the deck really is. Only dropping 4 matches total is amazing and it’s probably less than that assuming any of the ties were intentional draws.
Heading into next format I expect nothing less from Blastoise. The Catcher errata and the first turn rule hurt other decks more than Blastoise in my opinion. You’re never able to attack on the first turn with Blastoise to begin with and the potential threat of being donked is almost nonexistent when your opponent can’t attack if they go first.
Being able to Knock Out anything your opponent has active means Pokémon Catcher isn’t as crucial as it is in some decks. It’s also harder for your opponent to target your Blastoise with their own Catcher. Overall I wouldn’t be surprised by continual success by Blastoise as we move forward in the season.
Despite my poor performance I had a blast at Regionals this weekend. The whole feel of the tournament seemed different than in previous years. With so many rounds and higher stakes when it comes to the prizes and Championship Points the whole event had a more competitive feel to it which I loved.
When I talked to other players about the rules changes most people had a bad experience with the short time limit, but it seemed to me like it wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone expected. I can see where TPCi is coming from with the 50 minute time limit based on when the tournament ended.
Day 1 Swiss ended around 10:00 PM which is already incredibly late and even 5 more minutes added on each round would add another 45 minutes to the ending time. Day 2 Finals finished around 6:30-7:00 PM which is about 3-4 hours longer than last year. If there’s going to be a change to the time limits for these large events the whole system is going to have to be restructured to spread out the time frame, which I don’t predict happening anytime soon.
During Day 2 I helped out Kenny Wisdom and the rest of the On The Bubble guys with streaming and commentary which was a lot of fun. If you haven’t heard, On The Bubble will be replacing The Top Cut when it comes to live streaming of events this season. From what I’ve seen so far they’re doing a great job so check out their YouTube and Twitch.tv channels to see some great coverage from Regionals!
I hope everyone liked the article! I wanted to give you guys an overview of Regionals without having a lot of almost useless information when we have a huge change in our format coming up in about a week so I hope you all liked the glance ahead for each deck.
My next article will be in a couple of weeks on how the rule changes will affect how the game is played, decklists, and our metagame as well as some great decks to try out for League Challenges and Cities which both start in November!
As always, thanks for reading and feel free to send me feedback on the article.
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