The Home Stretch

Week 1 Regionals Analysis, Projections, and Ramblings

With four weekends jam-packed with large and crucial tournaments behind us, the map of the format is all but visible at every edge and corner. That is not to say that creativity is impossible, as was proven this past weekend with the success of some teched-out Virizion/Genesect decks in addition to many of the interesting decks played at States such as Klinklang/Aromatisse and the deck you will be reading about below.

The purpose of this article is to analyze the results of Spring Regionals Week 1, to provide you with direction for this weekend and the one after, and to help you expand your thinking once again past the current metagame and into new territory that could yield some satisfying results.

I will start by talking about my Week 1 and Week 2 States finishes, although Raymond Cipoletti covered my first week’s feats. However, both weeks should serve to show that there is a lot more you can do than simply practice with what everyone else is playing.

Seventh-Inning Stretch

baseball field scoreboardfilb.de

I do not have results for the third week of States nor the first of Regionals because I did not attend them. Sitting at 495 Championship Points and in the middle of a whirlwind of obligations at school, it is just not worth doing anything except return to competition when my schedule lightens up and I can return to Massachusetts and finalize the invite at a League Challenge.

However, I think I can confidently say that I have a handle on the metagame. As a person who doesn’t like losing to anything, I have been going the extra mile to play decks with one bad matchup or none at the cost of guaranteed games. I would rather play matches that are never more than 5% in my favor as long as there is something I can reliably do to win games.

The strategy of trying to beat everything is becoming more and more reliable. However, metagaming is still important because that one bad match or 45-55 game could be all you see on the day of the event.

Table of Contents

Week 2: New Hampshire States

Below is the list I played on the second week of States in New Hampshire. I went 4-0-2 in Swiss, with a pair of IDs into cut. I had an unfortunate loss in Top 8 to a favorable matchup, but it does not serve to dwell on losses I face due to a bad set. It did not shake my confidence in the deck and I firmly believe I could have gone to and won in the finals.

Pokémon – 14

3 Thundurus-EX PLF

2 Genesect-EX

1 Kyurem PLF

2 Deoxys-EX

1 Virizion-EX

3 Eevee PLF 90

2 Umbreon PLF

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

3 Colress

 

3 Ultra Ball

3 Team Plasma Ball

3 Switch

3 Muscle Band

3 Max Potion

1 Colress Machine

1 Shadow Triad

1 Tool Scrapper

1 G Booster

Energy – 12

4 Prism

4 Rainbow

4 Plasma

umbreon plasma freeze plf 64 official
Objective: Prevent 1HKOs.

While I would make a few changes to the list, the deck did everything I needed it to do: It shattered Yveltal variants, Blastoise, Plasma, and Fairies. I was also prepared to add a Heatran-EX if I needed to have a field day with Virizion/Genesect as well, but I figured VirGen was not the go-to for anyone at the state I attended.

The deck itself is basically a version of Plasma and/or Fairies flipped on its head. By sacrificing the mobility of Energy transferring that Aromatisse offered, you are able to prevent 1HKOs from almost any Pokémon with one or two Umbreon in play. It definitely took an entire year’s worth of learning to play with the clock at similar events, but slowing the game down created a lot of 2-0 victories for me.

My matches were against a plethora of different decks:

R1 vs. Lugia/Plasma LWW 1-0
R2 vs. Virizion/Genesect/Techs WW 2-0
R3 vs. Aromatisse/Techs WW 3-0
R4 vs. Yveltal/Garbodor WW 4-0
R5 & R6: ID 4-0-2
T8 vs. Yveltal/Garbodor WLL 4-1-2

The deck usually sets up a Genesect and rotates Thundurus-EX while abusing Max Potion to prevent any Prizes from being taken. With popular Weaknesses in tandem with Muscle Band and G Booster at your disposal, as well as Deoxys-EX as an attacker for anything loaded with 2-5 Energy, you could take some easy wins without feeling the loss of not having 3-4 Deoxys-EX. The deck took control in most of its games.

While the deck’s most enticing features are obviously covered by the eminent release of Kangaskhan-EX and its Mega Evolution, the deck currently still has attractive points. Its biggest adversity comes from RayBoar, which is not an impossible matchup, mainly reliant on how long you can keep them from stringing together knockouts. I would most certainly rather have to struggle against RayBoar than be a RayBoar player hoping to avoid anything with Garbodor and a less than positive matchup against Blastoise. Furthermore, the deck is still capable of holding its own against Rayquaza-EX.

Spring Regionals Results

This past weekend was buried in interesting finishes. The winning decks and their quantities are listed below (via The Top Cut):

  • 2 Yveltal/Garbodor
  • 2 Yveltal/Darkrai/Bouffalant
  • 1 Virizion/Genesect
  • 1 Virizion/Genesect/Raichu
  • 1 Blastoise

The spread here seems to create a tier one of its own. Granted, there were many Plasma, RayBoar, and other decks in each of these top cuts, but the winners seem fairly consistent. As good as the other decks that didn’t win are, the ones that did win often won twice and most of them hold their own against the lower tier.

The “Big Three” seems right now to be as follows:

  1. Virizion/Genesect variants
  2. Yveltal/Garbodor
  3. “Rain Dance”

A. While Yveltal/Darkrai/Bouffalant had a pair of victories, including one in the hands of one of the world’s greatest players, I excluded it from the Big Three because it takes a fairly bad matchup to both Blastoise/Emboar and Virizion/Genesect. Fairies is also excluded due to its poor matchup against the Rain-Dancers and Virizion/Genesect, especially when Drifblim is a factor. As Dylan Bryan mentioned last week, Plasma is currently dealing with a lot of hate, as no one wants to have a bad matchup against such a cohesive, consistent, and powerful deck if they can help it. As such, it makes the list of honorable mentions as well.

B. I highly recommend using Ryan Sablehaus’ skeleton list for Virizion/Genesect. The large amount of space his list leaves while remaining consistent is what makes it possible to maximize your odds against the remainder of the field. It is in a space similar to this where Long Bui found space for his Raichu line and I found space for a Drifblim line with Enhanced Hammer to combat Plasma and Fairies.

C. As for Yveltal/Garbodor, I have found that the list has stayed relatively the same over time, and that the list I provided in my last article is still somewhat current. It is posted below with a few changes.

Pokémon – 10

2 Trubbish LTR

2 Garbodor LTR

3 Yveltal-EX

1 Bouffalant DRX

2 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Random Receiver

3 Bicycle

 

4 Dark Patch

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Ultra Ball

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Float Stone

1 Escape Rope

3 Muscle Band

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

9 D

3 Double Colorless

double colorless energy xy 130 official
Accelerates both Bouffalant and Yveltal.

As you can see, the changes made are small ones. Sawk was taken out to keep the list more streamlined, as the deck seems to have an advantage in any match it sets up well in. Bouffalant took the place of Absol as it has overall better math and Double Colorless Energy has been added. One might also find it desirable to run a 4th Ultra Ball over the Escape Rope, as it is unlikely that the rope will serve its purpose in a situation that you truly need it in, as you do not run Skyla in the list.

What I like about this deck is that it covers all of its bases. It isn’t beaten by Safeguard techs, Plasma/Special Energy hate, or Rain-Dancers. Garbodor, in tandem with Hypnotoxic Laser, allows for Yveltal to hit magic numbers easily against Virizion/Genesect. It has a lot of good matchups, and even the straight version does not have too much of an edge against it, as your Garbodor shuts off many of the threats you’d face in Keldeo for Laser, and Bouffalant’s Bouffer. At the cost of a little flexibility, you gain positive matchups against previously terrible ones and lose much of the fear associated with fringe decks such as Klinklang/Aromatisse and Suicune.

The reason I never chose to play this deck is its engine. I am not a fan of running a deck that strings together combinations of cards each turn, reliant solely on draw power. As shown by my two States plays and most of the decks I ran at Cities, I prefer to run decks that have the maximum amount of search factor with the most limited need for multiple different functions each turn. What this means is that I would rather play something that leaves me satisfied with an attach-pass turn than a deck built to mill through resources and occasionally do a lot of damage turn 1-2.

Engines in the current format are actually a concept that seems to be universally understood, but rarely highlighted. Back in 2006 and 2007, we had the Holon Engine (Holon Transceiver, Holon Mentor, and other Holon Supporters). In 2008, Claydol GE was the engine that made the biggest splash. When SP rolled around, Cyrus’s Conspiracy became a 4-card machine of its own as well. However, in 2011, a lot of that was rotated. Things got dumbed down for a while. Drawing into a crucial card with Professor Juniper or Sage’s Training became more important than having an actual plan every turn.

Granted, Twins helped some of the slower decks, but it was significantly less pleasant for a lot of players to have to hope they draw into something that keeps them in the game each turn. In 2012, this could have meant playing a Professor Oak’s New Theory and then using 2 different Smeargle UD to Portrait an N and a Professor Juniper.

My point with this digression is that you should appreciate what the layout of a deck looks like when picking between decks in situations where you are impartial to each. I am a firm believer in the idea that there is no such thing as “playstyle,” but when it comes to why you play two decks with a similar chance of winning, preference might actually matter if you understand the deck a little better.

My Plasma/Umbreon deck contained 6 different Balls and 4 Skyla, so I spent a lot of time in my deck searching for exactly what I wanted. Furthermore, these “search decks” running Skyla still have the occasional explosive turn, but anyone playing those decks learns to appreciate those moments that much more.

D. The third member of the “Big Three,” one that I have dabbled with a little, combines the search feature with the need for large combos in order to get moving at the earliest point possible. These decks are the “Rain-Dancers.” They’re easier to play, can compete with any deck, and can can be tailored to dominate in any metagame. The largest setback is that they are expensive to build. However, they can still be beaten.

Blastoise typically faces a large amount of adversity in Yveltal/Garbodor and Virizion/Genesect, more so now that Muscle Band is a factor that Virizion-EX can abuse to take out Blastoise while accomplishing its secondary effect, filling the board with a competitive amount of Energy to close the game out. Garbodor has always been an issue for both decks.

An Aside on RayBoar

In my last article, I spoke about how I saw RayBoar as a subpar play for State Championships. This was due to my projections of the most popular decks in the format. Assuming that Lugia and Yveltal/Garbodor would be big enough, I drew the conclusion that Lugia’s superior ability to beat Virizion/Genesect in 3 turns would deter players from using it, removing the RayBoar’s biggest selling point as a play.

By the end of State Championships, this was no longer the case. I was clearly not the only one who saw continued merit in Virizion/Genesect by Week 2 and 3. As such, we saw RayBoar take a State or two and make the final table at a Regional. This is an effect that repeated itself a couple times over by now, but we can expect RayBoar to become even more prominent as the Mega Evolution mechanic grows. The ability to do 240-280 when almost no other deck can is an appreciating asset.

A list for RayBoar is below, as I keep finding myself posting lists for Blastoise and I’d like to keep the content somewhat fresh.

Pokémon – 13

3 Tepig LTR

3 Emboar LTR

2 Fennekin KSS

2 Delphox XY

3 Rayquaza-EX DRX

Trainers – 37

3 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

 

3 Ultra Ball

2 Level Ball

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

1 Energy Retrieval

4 Rare Candy

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Switch

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Dowsing Machine

 

4 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

8 R

2 L

pokemon catcher kss kalos starter set
Catcher: The great equalizer.

The list deserves some explanation on some of the choices. Firstly, I excluded both Reshiram LTR and Rayquaza LTR because they are not essential to their relevant matchups – the deck is designed to set up first. Any setbacks that occur can be rectified by a heads on Pokémon Catcher. Delphox is now your non-EX answer to a Dragon counter, and you can even the Prize count out with a good flip when needed. Reshiram is all but obsolete now with Delphox being so capable of KOing Genesect.

Another thing to explain is the weird Scrapper/Catcher ratio. The thinking behind this is that you are not going to win against Yveltal/Garbodor if your opponent has Garbodor in play. If they know what they are doing, the most feasible play would be to KO both Garbodors and sweep a pair of EXs in your favor. The first or second KO would be charged manually in this scenario, but the other can be supplemented with Tool Scrapper. While hitting 2 out of 3 or 4 Catchers isn’t easy, you still have Catcher against all of your other matchups whereas multiple Scrappers would just be dead cards more often than not.

A 2/2 split works comfortably as well, but there are never any guarantees in the matchup, so play what you think would benefit you against everything else if you choose RayBoar.

My Projections

Now that we have taken last weekend’s results and qualified certain decks as the threats to the largest number of decks, it is somewhat safer to infer as to what will over or underperform next weekend.

The biggest decks all are extremely capable of being countered, just like anything else. A RayBoar deck can run over Virizion/Genesect, but a lot of Plasma lists can handle RayBoar and Garbodor/Yveltal will be a problem for it as well. The bottom line is that people will see what was most successful and copy it or counter it.

However, if, for example, Plasma is not perceived as a good deck due to its lack of a Regionals win this time around, perhaps it will not be countered as much, and the few that do play Plasma see a much less rocky road to Day 2 or Top 8 than the week prior. It is possible Rain-Dancers are less popular in an area and people wrote off Aromatisse/Fairies, then the Toolbox could have a renewed shot at a trophy.

Needless to say, there is a large number of possibilities, but I believe that if players follow the trend that essentially has been ongoing for 4 weeks now, we may see a slide back to something similar to Week 2 or 3-of States.

What You Can Do to Get Ahead

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1. Do not count out the non-winners from last weekend.

People are driven to surprise, and will often play something that beats a couple of the big decks. We see effects like this in situations such as RayBoar’s resurgence last Regionals season. This time, don’t be surprised if the hype permits Plasma back into the limelight.

2. Do not give up on creativity.

Decks like the Umbreon list you saw above have large amounts of untapped potential. Oftentimes you may find yourself getting through Swiss carried solely by the fact that no one knows how to play against your spin on a popular deck.

3. Figure out what is going to be missing.

When I last spoke about metagaming, I noted that many of the best metagame plays come from knowing what won’t be popular more so than what will be. This format is dominated by how many times you lose, not how many easy wins you get. If there is enough Trevenant and Virizion/Genesect to take your Blastoise deck out of cut, there is reason to believe you could be playing something better.

So why not try and get ahead? Below are some ideas that I had been testing but never ended up using, because, honestly, I had a lot of ideas and could only use one. These might help to extend your creativity to the next level but also help extend your thinking at the same time.

Silver

This deck was a spin on a lot of the early hype of Yveltal XY that left a lot of people unsatisfied. It is called Silver because of the 7 Silver Tools in the list. I actually had a winning record against just about every deck, but so did a lot of my other creations, so I just chose the ones I had recorded the most experience with. This was a candidate for week three of States.

Pokémon – 11

4 Bouffalant DRX

3 Yveltal XY

1 Mewtwo-EX

1 Drai-EX

1 Trubbish LTR

1 Garbodor LTR

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

2 Colress

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Silver Mirror

3 Silver Bangle

3 Switch

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Computer Search/Dowsing Machine

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 13

9 D

4 Double Colorless

silver mirror plasma blast plb 89 official
Most decks can’t deal with four.

The lion’s share of the theory behind this deck was that every decent Pokémon in any given player’s deck was either an EX, a Plasma Pokémon, or a Pokémon weak enough to be KO’d by a snap Mewtwo-EX when necessary. Most Plasma decks don’t run enough Tool Scrapper to get around 3 Silver Mirror, so 4 is usually enough to single-handedly overrun an opponent. Furthermore, the mirrors buy you a way out against Genesect, even when you can’t poison them.

When playing against the Rain Dance decks, I would go for the Garbodor and simply outlast them with a stream of 120 damage and 30 damage hits from the beefy Basic non-EXs. Having a loaded board by the time they hit back makes these games pretty smooth and easy.

The toughest matches were against straight Yveltal. These were largely 50-50, with the games being very one-sided if the Yveltal player missed a KO anywhere along the road. Its high output also gave Fairies a hard time in testing, especially as they can only Max Potion 3-4 times and the deck puts anything in KO range for one Energy. Trevenant seemed to be the only thing stopping the deck.

Playing “Silver” was also very easy on the clock. You were typically taking your first couple of Prizes during the early turns of the game. Perhaps if you give it some testing, your next two weekends might be shaken up!

Virizion/Bouffalant

During one of my first rounds at Connecticut State Championship, I played in what I thought was a Virizion/Genesect mirror match. It turned out that my opponent was actually playing a more Bouffalant-oriented deck, but I drew into the right things and ran into the right cards at the right time, making for an easier matchup. Afterward, I couldn’t help but begin to attempt building the deck myself.

There are two different versions. One focuses on an optional turn 2 Gold Breaker, and the other incorporates Genesect a little more in order to get the Catcher effect.

Turn 2 Gold Breaker

Pokémon – 9

4 Bouffalant DRX

3 Virizion-EX

1 Genesect-EX

1 Shaymin-EX NXD

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

2 Colress

 

3 Ultra Ball

3 Energy Switch

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Silver Mirror

3 Switch

2 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Muscle Band

1 Escape Rope

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine

 

1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 13

9 G

4 Double Colorless

Silver Mirror is an angel in decks like these. It is a burnable card that can be dropped anywhere and end a game against Plasma. This list is a little more aggressive than the other, but that’s not my style if I can maintain control. The second list is as follows:

Red Signal Control

Pokémon – 10

4 Virizion-EX

3 Bouffalant DRX

2 Genesect-EX

1 Shaymin-EX NXD

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

3 Colress

1 Shadow Triad

 

3 Ultra Ball

3 Energy Switch

3 Silver Mirror

3 Switch

3 Muscle Band

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Super Rod

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Town Map

1 G Booster

 

1 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 13

9 G

4 Plasma

The strategy of both decks is to abuse Bouffalant however you see fit in order to close a Prize race so that you find yourself at 2 Prizes to their 1. Shaymin-EX ends games if dropped correctly. I have seen Shaymin-EX in a lot of Virizion/Genesect decks, but none could quite abuse the tech as I would have liked to see. These two decks aim to do just that.

Ideally, you’d be approaching any given games with each list as follows:

shaymin-ex legendary treasures rc21
Finish the game with Shaymin.

1st List: Emerald Slash to as many as 3 Bouffalant, and then swarm. If you find yourself losing all 3 Bouffalant, then you should be close enough to deal using Shaymin-EX.

2nd List: Emerald Slash first to a Bouffalant, and then to a Genesect. You want them to KO Virizion and Bouffalant first as long as you can take one KO on an EX with the pair of them. Afterward, you would be only a G Booster and a swing from Shaymin-EX if they KO Genesect from winning. If they try to use odd Prizes, you have a pretty large room for Red Signal to take place. Use three Bouffalant and the Silver Mirrors for Plasma decks.

As you can see, there is a little more to be done with the second list, which is why I would recommend it unless you flip extremely well.

Once again, the deck aims to counter almost everything. All the same, however, you still gain no guarantees against RayBoar, and that pesky Delphox tech can run through all of your attackers in record time. It is unfortunate, but you’d have to completely change the deck’s focus if you plan to beat RayBoar. It is hard for any Virizion variant to stop the deck from setting up, and the window for RayBoar to win the game is huge. It is just not going to happen in 2/3 match play.

Be sure that there are enough of RayBoar’s bad matchups being played if you plan to bring a deck like this into the event. That being said, it performs extremely well against the rest of the field and is nothing to mess with.

Palkia/Walls

One final deck that I have taken an interest in is Plasma! There are a million ways to play it and it will always be my favorite deck, even as I hand you all lists that include more Silver Mirror than the deck can handle. Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem has always been a personal favorite of mine because of the challenge associated with playing it now that Catcher is so weak. Lugia is a lot of fun to play as well.

However, I suppose I have to swallow my pride and say that the build with the most potential right now is most definitely Palkia/Walls. As such, I will post my updated list below. It is the current spin, but a lot of the kinks are still being work out. The walls seem to handle the things that the deck needs to handle.

Pokémon – 16

3 Palkia-EX

3 Deoxys-EX

2 Phantump XY

2 Trevenant XY

2 Suicune PLB

1 Genesect-EX

1 Snorlax PLS

1 Ho-Oh-EX

1 Lugia-EX PLS

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
3 Colress

 

4 Ultra Ball
1 Team Plasma Ball
3 Float Stone
2 Switch
3 Muscle Band
1 Max Potion

1 Scramble Switch

 

1 Tropical Beach

1 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 12

3 Plasma
4 Double Colorless
1 G
1 P

1 D

1 R

1 W

ho-oh-ex dragons exalted drx 22 official
Ho-Oh provides an out against Genesect.

The recurring theme you should notice is the attempts at beating the decks each deck loses to. When I think of Palkia-EX, I primarily see it losing to Genesect or Genesect/Techs. If you can get a Ho-Oh-EX, Plasma Energy, and Muscle Band on the same turn, you eliminate that threat altogether.

Otherwise, the deck seems to handle Plasma pretty nicely, as well as the Stage 2 decks, between locking up Deoxys-EX Active with Red Signal and Trevenant, and prevent EXs from hitting you, the deck has a number of ways to a quick victory.

If the TDK version becomes popular, it might become worth adding a Silver Mirror or two to couple with the Trevenant. The Scramble Switch would become a Dowsing Machine and the Lugia-EX would become the Silver Mirror in this scenario. Otherwise, one could leave it in for some extra stopping power at the end of a game, especially when your opponent leaves you on odds Prizes at any point.

Lurking

I suppose that is all I’ve got for now. I have left some of my interesting directions to you in regards to deck ideas, and will see you all when we get our next set and I survive the semester. However, here are some more decks that have slipped out of people’s minds but might be more powerful than one thinks.

Tool Drop

With Pokémon Catcher, this deck could overrun anything, even Garbodor. The natural inclusion of Silver Mirror helps against Virizion/Genesect and Plasma, while the rest of the 1HKO strategy beats most of what is left. Just avoid Garbodor if you can, and stay far away from Trevenant.

Greninja/Kingdra

This deck can seemingly hold its own in the format. While many were joking before States about the viability of this deck, it proved its mettle all the way to the finals. I highly recommend trying it. I know I would if I were playing again in this format.

Anything with Garbodor

Andrew Zavala showed us that Darkness isn’t the only way to go when building Garbodor. I would be so bold as to say that one could still expand on the foundation he built. While the “tank” concept really helped him go the distance, a combination of techs to defeat the metagame is once again possible. Be on the lookout for others doing this if you decide not to be the one doing it.

Conclusion

ash dust smoke fightpokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com

The decks you can be playing this weekend and next can all get you to the finals, no matter which you pick. However, as always, you can increase the odds that what you play will land you a spot in the top cut. I bid you all the best of luck in the event and I hope that your event leaves you with all the rewards, both tangible and figurative, that you could hope for. So many players are finishing off their invites, but don’t forget that National Championships has a high CP yield this year. Anything is possible.

As usual, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me should you desire any extra advice or other form of help.


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