Long time no see, SixPrizes! It’s been over two months since my last article and I’ve built up a good amount to talk about in that time. I hope you all had a great time at State Championships last month as well as Regional Championships over the first two weekends of April.
With our last Regional of the season scheduled for this weekend in Canada, I’ll be doing an overview of the NXD-XY format to help everyone prepare for that very important event. With so many players on the verge of an invite we’re going to see a very tough crowd trying to finish off their invites now and alleviate the stress of needing a good Nationals performance.
Personally, I earned my invite last month with two State Championship wins, and also bubbled the other weekend at 9th place; all three times using Blastoise. I’ll go over my deck in case anyone would like to use it this weekend or if anyone is interested in testing it for our new format.
Speaking of the new format, I’m going to go over a few cards that caught my eye as well as some Japanese decks that are currently popular or ones I found interesting. I know most of the writers this month have shared a lot on their thoughts about the set, so I think most of you will enjoy a little change of pace while still giving you something to work with heading into the daunting task of getting prepared for Nationals.
Table of Contents
XY ushered in quite a bit of changes to our format and created a lot of variation in what is doing well. At State Championships we saw wins out of everything from the usual Plasma, Blastoise, and Garbodor decks to Tool Drop, Ninetales, and Big Basics. As I’ve said before, I always like to see interesting decks that stray from the norm and try to play them myself if I find one I enjoy playing and am comfortable with.
Blastoise has by far led the pack for this format with a whopping twelve State Championship victories and one Regional Championship win. Looking over all the results so far, I would make sure you’re prepared for Blastoise as well as decks that are built to counter it, such as Virizion/Genesect and Garbodor, at Ontario Regionals.
As I’ve mentioned before, I talk about Blastoise quite a bit. It’s had its own section in six out of my nine articles for this site and I would be very surprised if it didn’t show up again. With such a strong synergy between the support Pokémon, the attackers, and the engine, as well as an outstanding damage output, there’s no surprise Blastoise never falters from its spot in Tier 1.
I personally consider Blastoise to be so strong in the current format due to the release of Professor’s Letter. As Energy Search was before, Professor’s Letter is a staple in Blastoise and Emboar, to synergize with Skyla and Dowsing Machine to search Energy out of the deck. The second Energy you can get compared to Energy Search makes all the difference in many situations, though.
Thinking back to States, I played around 70 games and got a Turn 2 Black Ballista three times. Considering how much has to go right to hit a Turn 2 Black Ballista and how much less frequent it was before Professor’s Letter, that’s a high improvement. Of course, the goal of the deck isn’t to get Turn 2 Black Ballista all the time and there are so many situations where Professor’s Letter can change the game for the Blastoise player, or even give them a win where they wouldn’t without both Energy.
My reasoning for choosing Blastoise over Emboar, which was originally talked about much more due to the release of Delphox, was mostly due to “Rush In” and the extra 10 HP on Black Kyurem-EX compared to Rayquaza-EX.
Initially going into States, I expected more Trevenant/Accelgor than there actually was, so I wanted to have Rush In just to be safe. Although it doesn’t make the matchup outstanding, it can do the job. Emboar has a near auto-loss to Accelgor, so I didn’t want to take that risk. I ended up only playing against one Trevenant/Accelgor out of all three States (in the finals of Kentucky), but Keldeo-EX definitely did do work.
Black Kyurem-EX’s extra 10 HP doesn’t seem like much, but it has come in a lot of help in a variety of matchups. The biggest would have to be Plasma, which needs to have 4 Deoxys-EX on the Bench to 1-shot a Black Kyurem-EX with no damage. The fact that this is hard to accomplish is part of it, but also that once they devote this much room on the Bench they usually won’t be able to set up a backup attacker, which can lose them the game unless they’re winning on the turn they set it all up.
Black Kyurem-EX is also very good against things like Bouffalant DRX + Muscle Band + Hypnotoxic Laser which maxes out at 170 damage; enough to Knock Out a Rayquaza-EX, but not Black Kyurem-EX.
Before posting the list I’d like to thank Michael Pramawat for giving me the idea to run Blastoise the night before Indiana States. Here’s the list I used:
Pokémon – 14
3 Squirtle BCR
Trainers – 35
3 Professor Juniper
4 Superior Energy Retrieval
Energy – 11
As you can see the list is quite basic, but still works like a charm. The biggest change I made from lists I’ve used and put in my articles in the past is the inclusion of Electrode PLF. Initially when Electrode started gaining popularity in Blastoise after the Pokémon Catcher errata I wasn’t a fan, but after using it in my Emboar deck at St. Louis Regionals I made sure to include it when putting together Blastoise. The ability to play down your hand and then draw extra cards is amazing if you have a lot of resources but no Supporter or if you need to draw a card that you weren’t able to get with your Supporter.
It’s also incredibly helpful against late-game Ns and is the primary reason I won most of my very close games. If your opponent only needs one more turn to win and Ns you there’s usually a good chance of losing right then and there, but being able to get four or more cards total after the N (based on how many you play before Magnetic Draw) can make or break your success.
I sent Raymond Cipoletti my list and he and Sam Chen both used it with a one card change at Maine States to make Top 8 and 1st respectively. Raymond also praised Electrode in his article from last month, so if you plan on using Blastoise or Emboar this weekend, don’t toss the ‘trode.
The deck that seems to have the most individual diversity is Virizion/Genesect. Throughout this format we’ve seen it paired with Drifblim, Raichu, and Roserade. Virizion/Genesect gained a lot of popularity for the first two Regionals weekends, probably due to the success of Blastoise during States. The deck won a Regional both weekends and should see a lot of play in Ontario based on what people expect in the meta.
I think the strongest aspects of the deck are its consistency and relatively few bad matchups, with Emboar being the only one that is very unfavorable. It can usually hold its own against the rest of the decks in the format.
My personal favorite version of deck is pairing it with Roserade. The added consistency and ability to search things out such as Plasma Energy are both incredibly helpful. I don’t find Raichu as useful as it’s said to be. It can be nice against Yveltal-EX, but I prefer a card that I can use in every matchup. As for the Drifblim variation, it will always have a spot in my heart because of my success with it at the Klaczynski Open and bringing the idea from Japan, but I think that the lost space you have against Blastoise can turn the matchup worse than you want it to be. There doesn’t seem to be as much Plasma as would be needed to make Drifblim viable, so I would advise against that version.
Personally, I haven’t tested Virizion/Genesect too much for this format so I won’t post a list. If you’re interested in the deck, though, be sure to check out other articles. Some of them have stellar Virizion/Genesect lists!
It’s not a surprise that the most hyped card in XY had made its way into Tier 1. There are two primary Yveltal-EX decks, which is why I’ve made this section so broad. There’s the Yveltal/Darkrai/Bouffalant variation as well as the Yveltal/Garbodor version. Both versions have seen a similar amount of success and are essentially the same deck down to the core, but there are a few key differences that make them unique as well as a distinction on choosing one over the other.
As I mentioned in the Blastoise section, Black Kyurem-EX’s 10 extra HP is extremely useful against Bouffalant. This makes the Garbodor variant ideal when taking a Blastoise-heavy metagame into consideration. Garbodor can also be very useful against Plasma decks to shut off a lot of their key Abilities while Junk Hunting for Enhanced Hammer while you set up. Finally, shutting of Virizion-EX’s Verdant Wind can be game-changing in the Genesect matchup or against decks that tech in Virizion like Aromatisse.
On the other hand, Emboar can be dealt with by using Bouffalant alone for the most part, which allows you to free up space in the deck for other useful cards. This makes the deck much faster and can eliminate the need for Garbodor through gamepace alone. Keeping your opponent on their toes and taking knockouts quickly can make their Abilities much less threatening and let you take the game before you even miss Garbodor.
Personally, I like the blended version of the deck that Frank Diaz used to win Massachusetts Regionals, utilizing all three cards; Yveltal-EX, Bouffalant, and Garbodor. This makes the deck more well-rounded. Here is the list I’ve been using for the deck:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
4 Professor Juniper
3 Muscle Band
2 Professor’s Letter
Energy – 12
This list is very similar to Chris Fulop’s with a few small changes. I personally don’t think Silver Bangle is useful enough to be included. I also don’t like so many Yveltal XY, especially without running Bangle. Overall this deck has a lot of great matchups and should be a consideration for Regionals. You should expect to play against it even if you don’t run it yourself.
Fresh from Flashfire
After looking over Flashfire for a few weeks now it’s struck me as a very odd set overall. There are so many cards that have great effects on paper, but don’t seem to work well with anything we have in format now. On the other hand there are a few cards that are very good and should have an impact on the meta. It’s a very interesting set, so let’s get to it.
Pyroar // Translation
The Pokémon internet community has been pretty crazy over Pyroar for the last few weeks, and for good reason. Pyroar’s Ability is very similar to Safeguard on Sigilyph LTR or Suicune PLB, but it broadens its reach to all Basics rather than just EXs. This is a huge difference when many of the decks that focus around EXs also run non-EX Basic attackers that can take care of Safeguard, but not Pyroar.
(For example, Blastoise decks run Black Kyurem BCR and Yveltal decks run Bouffalant DRX.)
To combat Pyroar, decks will have to shift some of their focus to a Stage 1 or Stage 2 attacker depending on which deck it is, or decks like Yveltal and Big Basics can add Garbodor to shut off “Intimidating Mane.” Pokémon Catcher or Lysandre can also be useful, but they aren’t always going to do the job.
Back when Mewtwo LV.X was played, the Mewtwo player would only have one or two Benched Pokémon while setting up Mewtwo, so that the opponent could only take a couple Prizes before being completely shut down. I see Pyroar being strongest alongside powerful attackers that can take out your opponent’s Evolved Pokémon early in the game and set the stage for Pyroar to become more of a nuisance.
I think that printing this in Legendary Treasures and banning Pokémon Catcher would have been a much better way to handle the situation that Pokémon was faced with last fall, but I digress. A balance between Lysandre and Pokémon Catcher in decks will be a very delicate process in my opinion. Certain decks can’t afford to waste their Supporter for the turn and would rather go for the flip or play neither, while some will be able to rely solely on Lysandre, like Trevenant. I think most decks will fall under the category of making use out of a 1/1 split.
Another benefit of Lysandre is that you can send it back to the deck with Pal Pad (which is finally being released – I talked about Pal Pad in my article over the Japanese Battle Fiesta expecting it to be in XY). Overall the “Gust of Wind” effect has always been strong and probably always will be, so I’m going to assume that Lysandre will see a good amount of play.
Druddigon // Translation
By far the card that stood out the most to me on my first run through of the translations for Flashfire was Druddigon. Such a hard counter to both Blastoise and Emboar that can be teched into practically anything and attack with a Double Colorless is pretty game changing.
I think it was a great decision to hose down Blastoise and Emboar a little bit especially with how much support they’ve gotten recently in Professor’s Letter and Fiery Torch (for Emboar specifically). I also think that with the exclusivity of Tropical Beach there needed to be something to help level the playing field a little between the two disparities.
Milotic // Translation
The design behind Milotic is really exceptional in my opinion. There are a few cards that are out right now that could benefit from it, but I think it will have more success in the future as more cards come out. The EX clause is especially great for keeping it not insanely powerful, but still quite useful given the right partners. I’m excited to see which cards if any come out that could be playable with Milotic, especially due to the fact that PCL can take it into consideration when coming up with new ideas.
Sniffing Out What’s New – Nose on Japan
So far in Japan there have mostly only been smaller local tournaments as well as people sharing their personal lists since the release of Wild Blaze (the Japanese equivalent of Flashfire). A few of the decklists I’ve seen were interesting to me and I thought you guys might like to see some of the unique ideas that Japanese players come up with too.
The lists I post will be card-for-card, so I’ll also analyze them and suggest changes if any of you want to test them out.
Pokémon – 12
2 Pyroar FLF
Trainers – 36
4 Professor Sycamore
4 Muscle Band
Energy – 12
As you can see this list is based off of pure consistency. Multiple 4-ofs insure that the deck sets up. Blacksmith is incredibly helpful in getting your attackers out quickly and being able to keep a constant stream of them coming. The large pressure you can put on your opponent from the beginning of the game will most likely take care of any Evolution-based decks, and Pyroar is of course very strong against decks that rely on Basics.
This seems like a great place to start off your testing since this list utilizes a lot of cards in the new set and lets you see how they play out in real games over just theory. It also seems like it could be a potentially highly played deck. I would lower some of the high counts, like those of Druddigon and Escape Rope, and add Pokémon Catchers to take care of any threats on the Bench, namely Evolutions.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 33
4 Professor Sycamore
Energy – 13
I found this deck unique for its use of a Mega Evolution, which isn’t something we’ve seen so far from a competitive standpoint. Running it with Aromatisse and Max Potion is a great way to abuse the high HP of M-Kangaskhan-EX. Most cards in the format can’t 1-shot it and you have Druddigon to answer Rayquaza-EX.
I think the list that’s given is pretty spot on. I might run some different attackers to be able to have more options with Aromatisse as well as something that would be convenient to have Active the turn you Mega Evolve.
Thank you all for reading! Now that we have so many new writers I’ll probably only be doing bimonthly articles for the most part, so hopefully the time gap between them improves the quality as well as the content.
For early June I’ll be covering the Japanese Charizard Mega Battles that will take place over the month of May. The tournaments will be practically the same setup as the Battle Carnivals that I wrote about last year. I got such a positive response on my coverage of that, so I hope everyone is still just as interested in the information. It will be great to bring info that is immediately useful to you all from Japan with our almost parallel formats now.
Good luck to anyone attending Regionals this weekend and I hope you enjoyed this article!
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