Hello everyone! The last time I wrote we were going into the third weekend of Regionals. Currently, we are heading into the third weekend of States. This is when I love writing the most. When we are in the middle of a tournament series and doing well is crucial.
My goal today is to break down some of the best decks in the metagame thus far and help you prepare for this weekend’s State Championships. To find out what decks have been doing well, you can simply visit the The Top Cut or scour the posts made in the Virbank City Facebook Group.
I am excited to see a variety of decks seeing success. It appears that the current format has room for innovative ideas to do well. I don’t see this format devolving into something stagnant. Playing new innovations, or rogue decks, can be risky though. I prefer to play decks that have proven themselves and done well in a tournament environment. Those are the decks I will be discussing in this article; the decks that have proven their worth and will always be a strong play at States. All the decks I will talk about are decks I’m considering playing Week 3, or have already had success with.
Table of Contents
- Puerto Rican Fairies
RayBoar was one of the first decks that I ended up testing for States. I was drawn to this deck because of the recent success I had with it. With the XY set being released RayBoar got some new tools, most notably Delphox. Its Ability, Mystical Fire, lets you draw cards until you have six in your hand. In the past, we have seen this Ability have a massive impact on a format in the form of Magnetic Draw on Magnezone Prime. I don’t think Delphox will be as prevalent as Magnezone was, but the Ability is still amazing and warrants inclusion in RayBoar. Not only is the Ability great, but its attack resembles Keldeo-EX’s Secret sword.
My first approach to a list with Delphox was something similar to my Regionals list. I cut Electrode, Reshiram, and a Beach for a 2-0-2 Delphox line. Delphox seemed to fill the role of a Fire non-EX attacker, and was a better version of Electrode, so I felt those were the correct cuts. Four Beach may also not be necessary anymore since the popularity of Frozen City seems to have drastically declined.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 34
Energy – 11
After putting the deck through the ringer I began to grow less fond of Emboar in comparison to Blastoise. Virizion/Genesect was also waning in popularity, making the deck a worse play than Blastoise. The new Fairy deck based around Genesect was not popular here either. I also struggled to set up fast enough, likely due to the lower count of Ball cards in this list.
I knew I could work with the deck more and perfect my list, but I only had a limited amount of time to test before States. I wanted to test out all the new decks I had in mind, such as Yveltal/Bouffalant. I didn’t want to waste my time on Emboar when I would likely play Blastoise over it. I ended up putting Emboar on the backburner for a while and moved on to Blastoise, which I would eventually play in States.
Just because I put the deck aside does not mean the deck isn’t good though. RayBoar is extremely good when played in the right metagame with a good list.
The Masters division metagame in New England was severely lacking in Genesect based decks, which is what influenced my decision to give up on RayBoar. RayBoar never even saw top finishes here in Masters.
However, it did see huge success in Seniors! I know Seniors accomplishments are considered less than Masters accomplishments, but that does not mean a Seniors list can’t be better than a Masters list. Lex D’Andrea decided that RayBoar was a good play for the State Championships in Rhode Island, and he made the right call. Lex ended up winning Rhode Island States, defeating Worlds finalist Ian Robb in the finals.
Lex was kind enough to let me show you his RayBoar decklist that he used to win States. I have to admit that it is much better than my list after trying it out a few times. I highly respect Lex as a player and know that he will be stiff competition once he ages up into Masters. He has already proven that he can beat the best when he won The Klaczynski Open. I also want to congratulate him on getting his Worlds invite.
Here is Lex’s States winning list:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 35
Energy – 10
After talking to Lex for a good hour on Skype about his deck, I learned a lot about the new RayBoar. The kid knows his stuff. Also, one note to make is that Lex said he would have used Fennekin KSS if he had access to them since it has 10 more HP.
With this deck, if given the option to get out Emboar or Delphox, Lex says:
“If I could get either Emboar or Delphox out with Ultra Ball I would go for Delphox. Delphox draws more cards to help get out your other Stage 2s (another Delphox or an Emboar). It wasn’t too difficult to set up Emboar and Delphox in my games.”
That may seem obvious to some people, but I have witnessed so many people getting out Emboar first when they should have gotten Delphox. The only exceptions I see where you want Emboar before Delphox is if you have the means to attack that turn, and need to. Or, if you need to get Emboar in play before trainer lock.
Against decks that play Garbodor you need to play extremely conservative. You will most likely need to use the two Scrappers on Tools attached to a Garbodor. Dowsing Machine for Tool Scrapper will also be needed in the matchup. Personally, I like to play three Scrappers in RayBoar to make the Garbodor matchup easier. But, with tight play and a more conservative list, you can manage with two Scrapper and a Dowsing. Lex ran only two Professor Juniper for this reason:
I like the more conservative route of running less Juniper. I often find myself discarding important resources early because of Juniper. In the future I might adopt a more conservative style of deck building. Lex said he didn’t have too many casualties of discarding important resources which sounds like a nice luxury. You can’t afford to sacrifice any number of Tool Scrappers against Garbodor when you only play two or you will lose.
In regard to RayBoar versus Blastoise, I would say that RayBoar is a better play than Blastoise when Virizion decks and Fairy decks based around Genesect are popular. Blastoise is stronger against the rest of the field and random decks.
Blastoise can afford to play 3 Catchers and more techs thanks to not having to play switch effects and two Stage 2 Pokémon. Catcher is so good in this format, and is why Blastoise can beat Garbodor decks. Catcher also tilts the RayBoar matchup into Blastoise’s favor. There is a lot to talk about regarding Pokémon Catcher, and I will get to that soon.
If you have read any of my previous articles you will know that Blastoise is one of my comfort decks. I always find myself playing Blastoise every time the format changes, and I will probably keep playing Blastoise until it becomes bad. Sadly, that might be sooner rather than later once the new Druddigon comes out, but that is talk for another day.
With the release of XY, Blastoise got even better than it was last format thanks to Professor’s Letter. With the recent State Championship results showing Blastoise winning multiple events it’s hard to disagree that Blastoise is one of the best decks.
I played Blastoise this past weekend during the Maine State Championship, and so did Sam Chen. Sam ended up winning the event with the exact same 60 cards I used that day. I lost in Top 8 thanks to a donk followed by a no Supporter start. It was around a 5-minute match, but that won’t deter my love of the turtle. Here is the list I used:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 34
Energy – 11
1-1 Electrode PLF
The night before States I was questioning if I wanted to play Electrode in my deck. Had I not played it, I would have severely regretted it. I have to thank Henry Prior for sending me the list he won States which contained Electrode, reaffirming me of its worth. Henry also praised Electrode saying how good it was. I am glad I went to him for advice and reassurance or I might have not played Electrode, meaning I probably wouldn’t have even top cut!
Electrode saved me from every late game N to one or two, singlehandedly winning me games. I have no idea how I ever played this deck without Electrode in the past. I must have gotten incredibly lucky to draw out of late game Ns.
Professor’s Letter has made Blastoise a better deck than it was before. Instead of playing a single Energy Retrieval and an Energy Search, I play two Letter. Professor’s Letter has made Deluging Energy onto Black Kyurem-EX that much easier, and more consistent. It seems that Blastoise got faster thanks to this card. I find myself getting turn two or three Black Ballista far more often than ever before when I have access to Professor’s Letter early on in the game.
Another key play you can make with Professor’s Letter is using it on turn one to get Energy and then playing a Professor Juniper to get 2-3 Energy in the discard. This makes Superior Energy Retrieval a viable way to get Energy into play when you get Blastoise into play. Previously, you would have little to no Energy in the discard early game unless you get lucky.
It is also a good way to gain access to one of the two Lightning Energy you play. Search for one on turn one, discard it, and then get it back later with Superior Energy Retrieval.
Depending on the deck you are playing against, Professor’s Letter can act as a double-edged sword if you play recklessly. When I first tested Blastoise I tried the deck with four copies of Letter. I loved the card so much. My goal was to get turn two Black Ballista as often as I could.
Unfortunately the problem with that strategy was that I would run out of resources to take all 6 Prizes late game. If you use Professor’s Letter too recklessly you can run out of resources and Energy to take the remaining Prizes. Always be aware of this; make sure you can end games before you run out of Energy.
Often I find myself discarding Letter late game if I can’t immediately Deluge the Energy. Once you have 3-4 Energy in the discard there is almost no reason to put more in there willingly.
As I said before, I wanted to touch more on the importance of Pokémon Catcher in this format. Even with the nerf, Pokémon Catcher is one of the most game changing cards in Blastoise. Being able to choose your target for Black Ballista is big.
Against hit-and-run decks like Palkia-EX, you can KO the Pokémon they are trying to hide. Against Yveltal, you can Catcher up the EX they are trying to power up. Against Garbodor, Catcher gives you another out to freeing yourself from the Ability lock besides Tool Scrapper. Catcher-KO on a lone Garbodor with a manually powered up Keldeo-EX can win you the game.
Hitting a Catcher against any deck can win you the game. The effect is just too good in Blastoise not to play. Playing three of them gives you a higher chance of getting to use the effect since it hinges on a coin flip.
If Garbodor gets bigger in my area I might be forced to cut a Catcher for Tool Scrapper because Tool Scrapper is a more potent out to the lock. One Tool Scrapper combined with Catchers isn’t always enough to win the matchup, and two Scrapper is better if you want to beat Garbodor.
However, if the amount of Garbodor is small enough, you can take the risk of running three Pokémon Catcher. It will get you there some of the time, when you hit heads, just not as consistently as another Scrapper would. Against everything non-Garbodor, a third Catcher is better though.
Against Plasma Fairies, Lugia, and Plasma decks in general, you can Catcher out whatever Pokémon they are powering up with Thundurus and 1HKO it. Hitting a Catcher heads to Knock Out a fully powered Lugia-EX will usually be too devastating to recover from. Combine that with Electrode making you N-proof and you have an easy win.
The problem Blastoise has in this format, which has become a glaring issue, is its weakness to Virizion. With Muscle Band, Virizion can 1HKO a Blastoise with Emerald Slash. Some VirGen decks are playing Catcher on top of Red Signal, making the threat of Emerald Slash even scarier.
This is by far Blastoise’s worst matchup. You have to get extremely lucky to win. This means getting a fast Black Ballista and trying to target your opponent’s energy before they can set up. It is hard to do, but it’s possible thanks to Pokémon Catcher. Setting up multiple Black Kyurem-EX with four Energy before your Blastoise is KO’d can be a good strategy as well.
The second worst matchup for Blastoise in this format is a more uncommon deck, Trevenant/Accelgor. The goal in this matchup is to get out Blastoise before they Item lock you, and to have a three Energy Keldeo-EX to Knock Out Trevenants. If your opponent can 1HKO both of your Keldeo-EX with Accelgor while maintaining Item lock, or get the lock before you get out Blastoise, you will probably lose.
Luckily, this deck is not popular thanks to Virizion being frequently used as a tech in various decks to avoid Status Conditions.
“Blastoise or RayBoar?”
The answer to this question is simple to me. When there’s not much Genesect going around, Blastoise is better. I know some people still really like Delphox and the consistency it brings, but I don’t think that makes RayBoar better than Blastoise against the field. It is extremely difficult to find room for multiple Catchers in RayBoar without hurting consistency, whereas Catcher seems to fit naturally into Blastoise, like it always has.
Black Kyurem-EX having 180 HP instead of Rayquaza-EX’s 170 HP is more relevant than ever with Muscle Band and Bouffalant existing. Same goes for making Yveltal and Laser math more difficult to attain. I’m sure 180 HP can make other KO math involving Muscle Band difficult, but there are too many possibilities to list them all.
The Rain Dance Ability is strong enough to stay at the top from format to format. Even when the new Druddigon comes out I think Blastoise will find a way to still be played, it just might not be as dominant as it is right now. For now, I am strongly considering playing Blastoise again this weekend since it played so well for me already.
Yveltal-EX is arguably the most format-defining card in XY; I think it is, at least. Both of its attacks are insanely good. As if X Ball wasn’t a good enough attack, they decided to give it plus 20 damage! Yveltal was the card I was most excited to base a deck around once I understood just how good it was. When the set first dropped I had predicted that Yveltal would be more of a tech in Darkrai/Garbodor and not the focus. I was drastically mistaken. Keep in mind this was before any of the international tournament results trickled in.
At the very first League Challenge in our area, after XY was released, I played a horrible Darkrai/Garbodor list with only a single copy of Yveltal-EX. If I had owned more copies I would have played two, but I wasn’t thinking about building a deck based around the card. That day everyone got destroyed by local player Josh McMullen, who did focus on Yveltal-EX. After the League Challenge I worked all day and the next day perfecting an Yveltal based list with Josh.
Before States I try to dedicate a weekend, or two if I have time, to going to a friend’s house to test. We get a large group of players together and test every deck we can think of and perfect lists. Of course, time is still limited, so we try not to waste it by perfecting decks nobody would play at States.
After that weekend this is the list we came up with:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
Energy – 12
This list is a few cards off from the one I ended up playing at Rhode Island. The list I ended up playing at States was this list -1 Bicycle, +1 Random Receiver and -1 Darkness Energy, +1 Sawk PLB. Chris Murray’s State Championship winning list was also only a few cards off from this list. He decided to include Keldeo-EX and a third Muscle Band. I’m not sure what he cut, but this was the basis for both of our lists.
This list has been the foundation for a multitude of high placing finishes during State Championships so far:
- 1× Winner (Chris Murray)
- 1× Finalist (Jeremy Jallen)
- 1× Top 4 (Logan Fernandes)
- 3× Top 8 (Myself, Josh McMullen, Chris Murray)
Of course, each of these players tweaked the base list to their liking by a few cards, but this is a very good start for an Yveltal/Garbodor list.
1 Sawk PLB
I ended up being persuaded to tech Sawk by Dylan Lefavour since there were a lot of Plasma Fairy decks in the room. Sawk singlehandedly won me one of my Swiss rounds by 1HKOing a Thundurus and an Absol against a Lugia deck. Being able to win by attacking with “Kick of Righteousness” was fun. If Plasma declines in popularity going into Week 3 I could easily take out the Sawk and add another Bike or Supporter.
Sableye is good against Stage 2 decks such as Blastoise. Being able to Junk Hunt (while they are under Ability lock) for Hypnotoxic Laser and other resources over and over is a great way of applying pressure.
Baby Yveltal is good against the mirror match and other aggressive decks. Putting damage on the board while recovering Energy is more important than getting back resources later in the game. The mirror match seems to be a war of attrition where you constantly want to be putting damage on the board. For this reason, in the mirror I feel like Sableye is much less effective than Yveltal XY.
130 HP is also hard to deal with in the mirror without attacking with an Yveltal-EX. Attacking with an Yveltal-EX to deal with a non-Pokémon-EX can be dangerous. You would be surprised by how easy it is to revenge kill a two-Energy Yveltal-EX with your own. Being the first person to lose an Yveltal-EX in the mirror is like taking the first hit in an extended Mewtwo war; it’s not good.
Bouffalant is MVP. It’s good in every matchup that plays Pokémon-EXs. Thanks to Muscle Band combined with Virbank and Laser you can Gold Breaker for 170 damage. Usually I was able to completely change the game whenever I was able to make this happen and win off the back of Bouffalant.
Against Plasma it’s also another out to 1-shot a Thundurus. I had one game at States where I started Bouffalant and was able to KO Thundurus on my second turn with Gold Breaker. Then I hit a Catcher heads on Deoxys, and with another Laser I was 4 Prizes ahead. I was too far out in front for my opponent to recover and I won the game thanks to Bouffalant. Of course, that is an extremely rare case, but it’s an example of the power of Bouffalant.
Unfortunately, there is absolutely no room in this list to add in a second Bouffalant; I would not want to cut any other card for it.
The biggest problem I had with this list that people who have seen it commented on was the lack of Supporters. I acknowledge this and admit I was fortunate to only hit a couple Supporter droughts. If I were to play this deck next week I would likely cut Sawk if Plasma isn’t huge for a Supporter, most likely another Colress, Random Receiver, or Shauna. I can’t see cutting anything else for another Supporter in the Trainer lineup. If anything, I want to find room for a third Muscle Band.
Only Loss: The Mirror
The only deck I lost to during the States I played this deck was a 58 card mirror match to Chris Murray, who ended up winning the whole event. Jeremy Jallen also got a hold of the list and placed second at States with it, after making a couple of his own tweaks as well.
Right now I think the list is solid and I am strongly considering giving it another go during States this weekend in Massachusetts, especially since Blastoise won New Hampshire and Maine States this past weekend, which is a favorable matchup.
I believe that Yveltal/Garbodor has a 50/50 or better matchup against most of the field if decks are not playing excessive Tool Scrapper. As long as your metagame isn’t infested with Trevenant/Accelgor decks or Stage 1 decks with Raichu, this is a strong play.
In the mirror match, if you are forced to be the person to attack with Yveltal-EX first and you are not Knocking Out a Pokémon-EX, try to Y Cyclone and leave the least amount of Energy possible on your Yveltal-EX. Make it extremely difficult to Knock Out your Yveltal-EX with another Yveltal. Evil Ball is one of the most important attacks to use in the mirror match that I don’t see enough people using.
If your metagame is lacking in Blastoise, Garbodor is most likely not needed. When you take out Garbodor your other matchups get better against non-Ability reliant decks, especially mirror. In the mirror match Garbodor is usually a dead card for the most part. I know I won’t be able to exclude Garbodor this weekend, but perhaps some of you will. If you are fortunate enough to be able to play straight Yveltal/Bouffalant here is the list I would use:
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 38
Energy – 13
When we take out Garbodor we are able to fit in more versatility and power in the form of Energy Switch and focus more on Bouffalant. I think Bouffalant is one of the best cards in the deck and I love being able to play a second. The fourth Double Colorless is also important for Yveltal, not just Bouffalant. Being able to Y Cyclone and move a Double Colorless to a Bouffalant is one of the strongest turn two plays you can make. Going for a huge KO with Evil Ball is more attainable with this list too.
The main problem it has is not having a good answer to Black Kyurem-EX, since Bouffalant can only hit for 170 damage. I considered adding a Silver Bangle, but that seems far too inconsistent and takes away power from Yveltal-EX since the cut would be a Muscle Band.
I want to play this deck in a tournament environment baldy, but I would be crazy to after Blastoise won both of my closest States. I would be thrilled if someone takes a States in a metagame with less Stoise with a deck like this in Week 3.
Puerto Rican Fairies
Puerto Rican Fairies is a popular Fairy variant in the Northeast. I’m assuming that the name comes from the ethnicity its creators Jarod Morales and Angel Miranda, who dubbed the deck. Both of these players saw success with their creation, with a Top 8 finish from Jarod and a Top 4 from Angel at Rhode Island. Angel decided to talk to me about the deck and let me share it with you all. He said he based it off the Singapore Fairies list.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
Angel chose to play this Fairy deck Week 1 because he had a gut feeling that there wouldn’t be an abundance of Blastoise at Rhode Island. He was right; there was almost no Blastoise Week 1-of States in Rhode Island, which is what made this metagame decision so successful. Week 2 is when Blastoise surged in popularity, likely because people were trying out all their new decks Week 1, and didn’t want to play the plain old boring Blastoise.
When I asked Angel about his list, this was his response:
“When making the list I definitely modeled it after the Singapore list. I liked the concept of the deck. I wanted to try two Safeguard Pokémon because my mindset was some decks just can’t answer multiple Safeguard Pokémon. I decided to use Sigilyph and Suicune to cover different types; Suicune for Landorus-EX and Sigilyph for Mewtwo-EX and Deoxys-EX. Everything else was standard.”
Later Angel said that the multiple Safeguard Pokémon strategy didn’t work as well in action as it had in testing, and that he would cut Sigilyph for an Entei-EX to help deal with Genesect-EX.
I asked Angel if he could break down the strategies he used against the popular matchups because Fairies was one of the decks I had tested the least. I felt Angel had much more knowledge of the matchups than I since he had been playtesting with the deck and saw success with it.
“I would just use your 1-Energy attackers (Landorus and Thundurus) and abuse Yveltal and Darkrai’s Weaknesses while getting Energy and snipe damage in play. If they would only have 1 Garbodor I would scrapper and Red Signal it and KO it with Genesect. Then start taking G Booster knockouts.”
Angel believed the Yveltal matchup, with or without Garbodor, was one of the deck’s best matchups. Trevenant/Accelgor was also high up there if Virizion isn’t prized.
“I liked to spread damage around with Landorus-EX then clean up with Yveltal-EX. It wasn’t a foolproof strategy, but I didn’t really expect to play against this deck. The revised list has Entei to make this matchup better.”
Vs. Blastoise (and RayBoar)
“I knew this was a bad matchup, but I didn’t expect to see much of it. One strategy you can go for is Red Signal up the Rain Dancer and Knock it Out. Walling with a Safeguard Pokémon can help while you set up if they get a fast start.”
Overall Angel had a really good run with this deck and he said it was one of the most fun decks to play in the format. He didn’t play it again Week 2 since Blastoise spiked in popularity, but it can be a good play in the right metagame. Angel lost to Jon Bristow in Top 4 playing his own variant of Virizion/Genesect/Drifblim, which will be discussed shortly.
If I were to play a Fairy variant Week 3-of States I would probably play the Klinklang one that won Texas States. The list was leaked online and Pooka does a good job going over the deck in one of his most recent videos:
I would add Tropical Beach to the deck if I were to play it though. I would also cut down on the Supporter line, possibly cut a Max Potion, and change some of the techs to include Cobalion LTR. Two Registeel-EX seems to be unnecessary to me, so I would cut one of those for Cobalion.
Originally I wasn’t going to include a section on VirGen with Drifblim, but good friend Jon Bristow wanted me to share his list with the Underground community. He won’t be writing until after States, so he is letting me share his thoughts on the deck in this article on his behalf. I appreciate this gesture and I hope you enjoy the deck he made the finals with at Rhode Island States! Jon is only five Points away from his Worlds invite right now, so he might not attend another States, but I could see myself playing his list Week 3.
Pokémon – 10
1 Driflblim DRX
Trainers – 37
Energy – 13
I asked Jon to explain some of the deck’s matchups for me and this is what he said:
“This deck destroys anything that is based around Special Energies, like Plasma and Fairies, thanks to Enhanced Hammer combined with Drifblim. Against Fairies you can KO the Aromatisse and then set up knockouts, or you can 1HKO something with Energy. G Booster helps do this, as does Drifblim later in the game. Derailing early helps against decks that try to go aggressive with Lugia. Muscle Band on Virizion destroys Blastoise; you just target down the Blastoise and then sweep with Genesect. Honestly, this deck is one of the strongest plays right now with bad matchups only to Emboar, rogue Fire based decks, and Yveltal/Garbodor (which is 50/50).”
Thank you Jon for your insight into this deck, and letting me share the list! Not only did Jon have success with this deck, but it also ended up winning New York States, which was easily one of the hardest States so far. When I look at The Top Cut to see the results of State Championships so far, we can see that many other big name players have found success with this deck as well. Dean Nezam won Maryland States with it, and Dustin Zimmerman Top 8’d Illinois with it. You can’t argue with results. This deck is going to be a contender going into Week 3, and this is one of the best lists out there.
I’d say we have an open format where a multitude of decks are seeing success. We also have established tier one decks like Yveltal and Blastoise which have won multiple State Championships. I really like the format right now and can’t wait to play in Week 3-of States in Massachusetts. I hope my article has helped you decide which deck you want to play this weekend, or at least provided you with strong lists to test against.
I could see myself playing Yveltal/Garbodor, Blastoise, Klinklang/Fairies, or Virizion/Genesect/Drifblim Week 3-of States. If you see me at Massachusetts this weekend feel free to say hello and talk Pokémon with me! As always, I hope you have enjoyed reading my article and I encourage you to leave me feedback in the forums.
Good luck at States this weekend,
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