“Frost Spear, GG.” Those were the words I told Brendan Burrus in the third game of the finals of the Missouri State Championship as I took my final 4 Prizes. The moment was a bit surreal for me. I had never done anything notable in my Pokémon career, and this season I had only the chance to play in a couple Regionals and a League Challenge up to that point.
Most of you probably don’t know me, or if you do it’s from online interaction. I’m a player originally from Minnesota, but currently residing in Tennessee pursuing a degree in audio engineering at Belmont University. My first tournament was Kentucky States last year where I scrubbed into Top 16 at 4-3, and outside of that and a Top 8 at Tennessee States the following week, I’ve dropped from all the other tournaments. Perhaps now you can understand how much this win meant to me and the strong attachment I have to my deck.
The Decision: Kyurem or Lugia?
At Fall Regionals, I ended up playing Quad Kyurem, which was basically 4 Kyurem PLF and 4 Deoxys-EX, and went a mediocre 4-3-2 due to a few oversights and the prevalence of Mr. Mime PLF. When Winter Regionals rolled around, I did what everybody else did and switched to Yeti, but was once again disappointed with my results.
About a week before States, still looking for a deck, it dawned on me how unbelievably well Kyurem and a Muscle Banded Deoxys-EX work together. Many attackers that can 1HKO Kyurem will use 3 or more Energy, which is now extremely easy to respond to, especially with Frost Spear spreading damage.
For example, Keldeo-EX needs 4 Energy to 1HKO Kyurem, and a Deoxys with a Muscle Band will 1HKO it back for only two Energy. Because of my background with Quad Kyurem, I tend to play TDK a bit differently than the old way, focusing on Frost Spear more than I do Blizzard Burn. This seemed like a great play for me.
However, Lugia also gained a lot of power from Muscle Band and is still the far more popular Plasma deck. It could now 1HKO any EX and take 3 Prizes with just 4 Energy, a Muscle Band, and 4 Deoxys; a lot of resources, sure, but surprisingly not that difficult to pull off. In fact, in the fourth round of Swiss at Missouri, I found myself staring down a Turn 2 Lugia 1HKOing my Thundurus-EX. The deck is the fastest deck in the format – the only one capable of winning in two turns – and if you blink once you will have already lost.
While I was driving to Missouri the night before, I mulled over the pros and cons of each deck. I had no idea what the Missouri meta was, but I expected to see a lot of Aromatisse and Darkrai/Yveltal due to online hype. There was no question I was playing Plasma – it’s the only deck I have cards for, and it’s also great against Yveltal-EX – but both versions of Plasma seemed equal in my mind. Kyurem can spread damage and attack for only two Energy, while Lugia hits much harder for 4 Energy. Kyurem can set up a fantastic board state extremely fast, but although Lugia is all-in, it also makes the game much shorter. Kyurem has a better Weakness, but Lugia has more HP.
Ultimately, I decided on Kyurem because it only gives up 1 Prize.
MO and TN States
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 36
Energy – 14
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 36
Energy – 13
These cards and counts go hand in hand. I want to start Kyurem and get the T1 (or T2 if I go first) Frost Spear every game. When I won Missouri, I only went first once, in the second game of the finals after losing Game 1. Spreading damage forces your opponent to attack with whichever Pokémon you want them to attack with, and allows for easy responses in the event of Kyurem getting KO’d quickly. Frost Spear is why Kyurem is good here; Blizzard Burn is nice, but just another tool.
Some people prefer 3, but I felt like 2 was enough, especially because I played 2 Shadow Triad. Thundurus makes for the second best starter, and is a great, safe play if I don’t have the Frost Spear in hand right away. Ultimately though, Thundurus is a recovery Pokémon. He’s most important for coming in after a Kyurem gets KO’d. Also, he’s great against Yveltal and Lugia, even if he doesn’t 1HKO them.
This was another thing that I went back and forth on. I didn’t want to start Deoxys, as it minimizes my chance of leading with Frost Spear, but it also leaves me just short of KOing an undamaged Yveltal or Lugia with a Muscle Banded Thundurus if I have all of them Benched. Unfortunately, I sold my other 2 Deoxys to Mark “Moocow” Oliver, so I stuck with 3 for States because I didn’t own another one. Bad reasoning, maybe, but I didn’t regret it in the end.
As I mentioned earlier, Deoxys is now a fantastic attacker, getting a clutch +20 from Muscle Band to deal 140 to a 3-Energy Pokémon, or 170 to a 4-Energy Pokémon. When Georgia Regionals came around I managed to get a fourth Deoxys, and I added it to the deck because I wanted to be able to 1HKO a fresh Lugia or Yveltal if needed. It both helped and hurt.
In the end, I think I’d stick with 3. There were several times when I missed the T1 attack because of starting Deoxys, and it was rare that I needed 4 Deoxys in play at once (I put them all out only twice during the entire tournament).
I’ve seen people playing Pokémon Catcher and leaving out the Genesect, but Red Signal wins me games. Genesect also makes for a very big threat, being able to dish out a maximum of 150 damage with 3 Deoxys and a Muscle Band, as well as a nice 20 snipe. I like to leave him out with one Energy attached, so I can either attach and Colress Machine for a Megalo Cannon, or make my opponent sweat after a Red Signal. I’ll admit that I rarely attack with Genesect, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of opportunity.
This is a card that even if I did own, I wouldn’t play. Sure, Absol is great at 1HKOing EXs with a Muscle Band for 2 Energy, but it will almost assuredly get KO’d right back. It may only give up 1 Prize, but so does Kyurem, and most of the time I’d rather Frost Spear. It’s also a non-ideal starter, and your opponent ultimately controls how much damage you inflict. I’ve seen plenty of other people be successful with it, but it’s not for me.
Even though I’m not playing Double Colorless Energy, Palkia can really tip the Blastoise and RayBoar matchups. I decided against it because those matchups are already decent, but it’s definitely worth trying, especially in the Fairy Garden version.
Most of the other Supporters are pretty self-explanatory, but I like 2 Shadow Triad for the utility it brings. If one of my Deoxys die, I can get it back. If I play an early Plasma Ball and need to grab one more Deoxys, I can do that. The main reason to play it, however, is for getting back a Plasma Energy to Red Signal for game, and it’s very effective at doing so.
3-4 Team Plasma Ball
In standard Plasma, Ultra Ball is often preferred to accelerate Energy with Thundurus, but I chose this Ball because I don’t care about Energy accel. The focus of this deck is to spread damage early and use Thundurus once my Kyurem gets KO’d, so it’s better for me to save resources. I also don’t play Mewtwo-EX, which some Plasma decks tech to counter Trevenant (and would warrant Ultra Ball).
In retrospect, the best split should probably be a 3 Switch and 1 Escape Rope, but I don’t own an Escape Rope and didn’t think of it beforehand. As for the number 4, it all goes back to getting the T1 Frost Spear. I normally only Blizzard Burn right before I know I’m going to get KO’d, to save resources, so while Switch can reset that, it doesn’t happen often. Float Stone doesn’t work because I like having Muscle Band attached and I don’t like being Asleep.
The advantage of Switch over Escape Rope is that sometimes you need to KO the opponent’s Active Pokémon, but you’re Asleep. Switch can get you out of the Active Spot without getting your opponent out of there too.
Oh hey, something I could have changed with cards I actually own! While I do have the 4-2 LaserBank line as my disposal, I actually think Frozen City is better. As far as matchups go, Frozen City is better against Virizion/Genesect, Blastoise, and RayBoar, while LaserBank is better against Darkrai/Yveltal, Garbodor, and the mirror. Aromatisse tends to be neutral, as they play Virizion and can easily attach Energy to Plasma Pokémon and rotate it around.
I like that Frozen City gives me more room for consistency, and I feel the Yveltal matchups are already good with Thundurus (so long as they don’t over-tech), as is Big Basics/Garbodor. While I didn’t play against Blastoise or RayBoar at Missouri, the 20 damage on Virizion and Yveltal from Frozen City ended up being just enough for me to win in the finals.
I like T1 Frost Spears. It is also useful for searching for an Energy off Skyla.
I never want to have a Blend in my hand when I need to Helix Force, or on the rare occasion, Megalo Cannon. The 10 damage can be detrimental, but I try to avoid it by Raiden Knuckling the Energy into play.
2 Water Energy or 1 Blend Energy WLFM
I didn’t own Blends at the time, otherwise I would have played them. It actually helped one game, not playing the Blend, but it hurt in the finals when I needed a Lightning and I only hit basic Water. You can fiddle with the Blend and Rainbow lines, but I liked the 1 Blend over the basic Energy for Georgia Regionals.
I don’t like giving ratios because I haven’t tested enough to accurately portray them, however I will say if a matchup is favorable or not. Be careful with these: not every matchup is going to go how you want. Everything was turning up daisies in Missouri, but in Georgia I found that I failed to adapt to certain situations because I tried to do the same strategy every time.
Darkrai/Yveltal – Unfavorable to Favorable
If they play a heavy Enhanced Hammer line with Sableyes, you may struggle, but Thundurus has a much easier time KOing them with Muscle Band now. It’s extremely easy to spread damage on Yveltals and finish them off with Thundurus. Darkrai can cause a bit more trouble, but is slower. In the end it boils down to careful playing and what techs they use against you.
Yveltal/Garbodor – Unfavorable to Even
This is a matchup that is theoretically awful, but I’ve managed to beat it all 3 times I’ve played against it, once against a list with Silver Mirror and once against a list with 4 Enhanced Hammer. This was due in part to sheer luck, but also from outplaying my opponent. Their deck is slower, so if you can apply a lot of pressure they’ll break. Additionally, 2 Tool Scrapper can win this matchup if you play them at the right time. You can still inflict 100 damage to Yveltal with Thundurus even if Garbodor is activated, and they’ll have a much more difficult time responding.
Big Basics/Garbodor – (Probably) Even to Favorable
This is a matchup I haven’t played, so I can’t confidently give a matchup overview, but you have Kyurem for their Landorus and Deoxys for their Mewtwo. You end up winning the Prize war and still do more damage than them, even without Deoxys. If they use Cobalion, you might have a bit more difficulty, but if you use Thundurus you should be okay.
Aromatechs – Even to Favorable
This is a matchup that I always think is unfavorable, but always ends up being okay. Kyurem is very good at applying pressure and makes it extremely difficult for Aromatechs to Max Potion their attacker while keeping Aromatisse safe. Once again, you have Kyurem for their Landorus and Thundurus takes care of Yveltal. Thundurus isn’t going to be doing massive damage, but Genesect makes this matchup interesting as you can’t hit it for Weakness (although Helix Force is great).
If you can outspeed them, it’s definitely a good matchup. If they play 4 Max Potion, you might have problems.
PlasmaTisse – Even
This is pretty much the same as above, but you don’t have the advantage of getting Weakness on Landorus. You’re faster than them, so apply pressure and wipe their Energy off the field ASAP.
Plasma Lugia – Even
The speed version is actually the only deck I’d lost to in match play in the two state tournaments. Ideally, you start Kyurem and spread damage. When the Lugia KOs you, return KO them with Thundurus or Deoxys. Rinse and repeat. It’s definitely trickier than I make it sound, as a lot depends on card choices. Enhanced Hammer is worth consideration to help swing this matchup (and the Aromatisse matchups as well).
Blastoise – Favorable
I’ve covered a bit of this matchup earlier, but ultimately you win the Prize trade. Attack with Kyurem and spread damage. When they attack with Keldeo you can return KO with Deoxys. They’ll probably Black Ballista you, but then you go right back to Kyurem. If you make them KO 3 Kyurem and a Deoxys or 2, you’re going to win. Frozen City helps as well. Suicune PLB doesn’t really factor in since I play 4 Kyurem.
Virizion/Genesect – Very Unfavorable to Even
The straight VirGen matchup is about as 50/50 as it comes (with the exception of a mirror match), but if they play Enhanced Hammer and/or Drifblim, you’re going to have some serious problems.
RayBoar – Highly Favorable
Undoubtedly this deck’s best matchup, you can put the pedal to the metal with Kyurem and walk all over anything they can throw at you. Delphox is 1HKO’d by both Deoxys and Kyurem, and Rayquaza has to discard 3 Energy if it wants to KO Kyurem (provided you don’t attach Rainbow to it). What’s more is Frozen City is causing chaos everywhere if they miss Beach.
Kingdra/Greninja – I have no clue.
This is the only deck I tested my list against before Missouri States, and I didn’t take it seriously back then, but it’s definitely been shown to have potential. The good thing is that you can come out even in the Prize trade, and are much more aggressive, but ultimately it’s a very interesting matchup. It’s worth mentioning that Zak Krekeler was able to beat Ryan Sabelhaus in this matchup to win Tennessee States, using Lasers and Absol.
Klinklang/Aromatisse – Unfavorable
Once again this is a very interesting matchup that I haven’t had the chance to play extensively. They can cause a lot of problems with Cobalion, discarding Special Energy and hitting Kyurem for Weakness, but you also have the advantage of being able to Red Signal Klinklang and 1HKO it. It’s difficult but doable if you’re aggressive enough. Enhanced Hammers can be instrumental here as well.
Trevenant/Accelgor – Unfavorable
This is as close to an auto-loss as they come. If they play Silver Mirror, it becomes even more difficult, but you can Red Signal around it and Tool Scrapper. At the same time, you have to battle off Paralysis from Deck and Cover.
Ninetales – Even
While I haven’t played against it, if you avoid benching your EXs and go crazy with Frost Spear, you should be okay. They’ll likely run out of steam in the end, as it’s very difficult to KO 6 Kyurem (which can be achieved through Shadow Triad, though is unlikely) when you’re relying on Hypnotoxic Laser. You may need to Red Signal to KO a Ninetales threat, but be very cautious about benching Genesect if you aren’t about to win. Bright Look can cause a lot of problems.
Wow, what a diverse format we have. I know a lot of people are complaining about it, but I’m having a lot of fun with all the different matchups and the wide variety of techs that can be added in some decks, like Plasma and Aromatisse. It’s amazing how decks that were talked about but passed of as bad, like Greninja/Kingdra and Ninetales, are starting to make a showing.
I know a lot of people value tournament reports, but I honestly don’t remember too much from the tournaments, so I’m going to be brief with my recaps.
In Swiss I faced 1 Darkrai/Yveltal, 2 Aromatisse, and 1 fast Plasma deck, and I was fortunate enough to 2-0 all of them so I could ID the last two rounds. The first three rounds went as expected, but the Plasma match was brutal, and ended coming down to an N to win.
Top 8 was against a Darkrai/Garbodor piloted by John Cope, a deck I didn’t even realize was in contention of being in top cut. Thankfully, he didn’t play Enhanced Hammer, but after I went down to 2 Prizes a Silver Mirror hit the field. I had one more Tool Scrapper and was able to take Game 1.
Game 2 he started with Absol and Silver Mirror, but I limited my Bench so he was doing 40 damage to my Active while I was doing Frost Spear. He realized he was in a tricky position and retreated, which allowed me to do what TDK does best. We ended up going to time, but I was able to barely pull it out on turn 3 of time.
Top 4 was against another Aromatisse, played by Mason Hein. This match went down as all Aromatisse matches go down – oddly positive. Game 2 I remember him struggling to get out Aromatisse after I KO’d his Spritzee early on.
The finals against Brendan Burrus may be viewed here. They are pretty fantastic games, if I do say so myself. The commentators did miss a couple of things, such as two flips on the Ho-Oh, although they did end up being right on a double attachment. I’ll let you find the rest out for yourself.
I was still flying high from my previous win, but had no time to test the deck or make improvements from the previous week, so I went in with my same list. I played against 1 Virizion/Genesect (1-1), 1 TDK (1-1), 2 Darkrai/Garbodor (2-1, 2-0), 2 Darkrai/Yveltal (2-0, 2-0), and 1 Speed Lugia (0-2).
Both ties were largely due to Enhanced Hammer slowing me down, making it difficult to pressure my opponent, and while the VirGen matchup is even, the mirror with Lasers is unfavorable. The loss was due to not being aggressive enough, and whiffing the crucial damage to KO a rampaging Lugia. It was not pretty.
I ended up at 4-1-2 for 15th, which I was satisfied with, especially considering the field was full of Regional winners and Worlds competitors, such as Aaron Tarbell, John Orgel, the Sabelhaus brothers, Henry Prior, Kenton Anderson, and I’m sure I’m forgetting many more.
Feeling prepared, I started an abysmal 0-1-2, playing against Weavile (1-1), RayBoar (1-1, I drew dead Game 1 and was a Frost Spear away from winning Game 3), and VirGen/Balloons (0-2, wrecked). Things started to brighten from there and I ended at 4-2-2, although admittedly it should have been 2-3-3, which brings me to my final section.
A Few Words on Tournament Structure
Few people enjoy 50 minutes best-of-three because ties are everywhere, but I honestly don’t have a problem with ties except for the last couple of rounds.
Here’s the situation: two players are sitting at Table 7 in Round 7 (of 8), and need to win out to make Top 8. Both players make the agreement that everyone should make going into Game 3: whoever is losing on Prizes at the end of time will concede the game. Turn 3 comes in time and Player 2 realizes that he can’t win on Prizes, so he goes to sign the match slip.
A judge steps in and inquires about the gamestate, saying “Have you declared an attack yet?” Player 2, clearly upset that he’s willingly conceding a match that he could tie, responds with “Whatever, Raiden Knuckle, it doesn’t matter.” The judge then goes “Oh, so it’s a tie.”
Player 1 is now upset, but Player 2 accepts the judge’s assessment of the game. It was later appealed and Player 2 goes back on his word and says that he wants to tie.
Players shouldn’t need to willingly concede to prevent screwing over other people.
Player 1 is a friend of mine (whose name I will keep private), and I was extremely upset that he got screwed out of cut when I know for a fact that he would have scooped if necessary. As I sit down for my final round, I’m explaining the situation to another friend of mine and the people around me. If any of you have ever met me, you probably know how over the top and sarcastic I can be, particularly when I’m tired and in competition. It was like that, but 10× worse because I was that upset. My opponent probably hated me from the moment I sat down because I was going on and on about how Player 2 is scum for not scooping.
Long story short, we go to Game 3 and make the same deal. A couple turns into the game, I make a comment about how it’s probably going to be tied on Prizes and I asked how he wanted to deal with that. In the end, we decided on “golden goal” (whoever took the first Prize would win, assuming we actually took some). We’re in Turn 2-of time and he starts making moves that will give him the first Prize, but will ultimately end up with me winning.
There was a misunderstanding when we agreed on golden goal, with him thinking that was the overall tiebreaker and me thinking it was only the tiebreaker if we were tied at end of +3 turns. We talked it out and in the end, he scooped to me, but it made me feel like a jerk because I talked him into it. It wasn’t for cut, but I did get 15 packs out of the deal.
Props to my opponent for scooping, but this situation never should have arose. I don’t know if anybody important will read this, but I can’t imagine how many people will be happy if it’s changed by Nationals and Worlds. I know the Nationals structure has already been announced, but that’s still 3 months away and can be changed.
Fight for it, and have fun playing with Quad Kyurem at Regionals.