Hello, SixPrizes! Since I haven’t posted an article in about a year, I’ll reintroduce myself. My name is Grant and I’m a competitive player in my last year of Seniors. I have a little bit of a reputation for playing unorthodox decks because I like trying to counter meta decks, rather than playing them. In this article, I’m going to review my 2014 US Nationals experience for you guys as well as provide a deck analysis of my unusual choice for the tournament.
The Deck Decision
In the weeks leading up to Nationals, I could never really decide on a deck. The closest I came to settling was with Yveltal/Darkrai/Garbodor; I tested that deck extensively. I, like, many other players, really liked the most hyped deck due to its speed, power, and versatility. You could go “steamroll mode” with Yvetal, “lock mode” with Garbodor, Sableye, and Hammers, “reaction mode” with Darkrai, Keldeo, Druddigon, and Bouffalant, or even a mix of the three during one game.
However, I eventually decided against Y-Garb because I definitely did not like the prospect of facing mirrors and Raichu all day. After testing all kinds of variants of Pyroar, “TreeGor,” VirGen, and many odd decks, I tried to think of a way to flat-out counter everything. This was the result:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 30
Energy – 15
I feel like the card counts are perfect, or nearly perfect. Throughout the entire tournament, I never wished my card choices were different.
I liked the thick lines of everything because they made the deck extremely consistent. I rarely failed to set up or whiffed anything. I have a personal dislike for Lysandre despite its success because it’s a situational card and can be clunky. I’ve been mostly using the standard 14 Supporter draw engine and felt more comfortable with that than other available options such as Electrode PLF, Roller Skates, and Bicycle.
Here are TricRoar’s (or Man Roar’s) matchups for the decks I was expecting to be popular.
In this matchup you won’t always need Manectric, so you don’t need to worry about throwing away Electrikes and Manectrics in order to fish out the important line: Pyroar. Pyroar is the key to this matchup, due to hitting Virizion and Genesect for Weakness and easily 1HKO’ing everything in the deck. The faster Pyroar gets set up, the easier it is to win. A T2 Pyroar virtually guarantees a win, and that is very easy to set up unless your opponent runs multiple Enhanced Hammers.
On T1, you need to search out as many Litleos as possible, and try to get a basic Fire Energy onto one of them. While it is usually preferable to attach DCE first because they are harder to find, a basic Fire will ensure that you will not get Enhanced Hammered early. Losing momentum this early in this matchup can be catastrophic. If you cannot find one of your 3 Fires, then DCE or Rainbow is fine, as it is still unlikely that your opponent will have Enhanced Hammer so early.
Once you get Pyroar rolling, the matchup is fairly easy. G Booster can only carry them so far when taking 1 Prize at a time. Oddly enough, I often find myself using Landorus for whatever reason against this deck. Obviously it is great to counter Raichu, but it is also great to spread damage if the Pyroars aren’t coming easily.
The Raichu version is much easier to defeat than the Garbodor version because they can’t “turn off” Pyroar and struggle to deal with 2-4 of them (Super Rod). Against the Raichu version, you can just roll right on through with Pyroar. Additionally, Landorus and Manectric can easily put away Raichu and Yveltal, respectively.
The Garbodor version can at least deal with Pyroar, but it is still practically an auto-win. Landorus and Manectric are amazing here; you can just throw away Pyroar. Manectric can easily 1HKO Yveltal-EX with Energy Crush or Flash Impact with Muscle Band or prior damage from Landorus. Landorus is what you want attacking as soon as possible. It deals an easy 100 to Darkrai, sets up KOs for Manectric, 1HKOs Absol, and 1HKOs Bouffalant with their Garbodor up. This all requires Muscle Band, though, which is why I run four.
TDK and Lugia are both easy matchups, and you play against them both in the same way. As soon as you get a Pyroar up, the game is basically over. Lasers and Thunderous Noise are options to use against Pyroar, but if you conserve your Switches and use Energies carefully then you will always win.
The only complication that can possibly occur in this matchup is your opponent playing anti-Pyroar techs such as Latias-EX. A single Latias-EX is usually easy to deal with, however. Manectric and Landorus can usually put it away in 2-3 turns, and then you can resume a Pyroar sweep.
Plasma, Yveltal, and VirGen are the only decks I expected to run into, and I felt like I did a solid job of countering them. Against Blastoise and Emboar, my deck has an incredibly difficult time. Blastoise simply rolls through my deck as long as they don’t attach too many Energies, and Delphox is nearly as bad.
Some other decks that have seen a little popularity prior to this Nationals were Accelgor/Flygon, Weavile/Lopunny, and Charizard/Pyroar. All of these decks I felt I had a good matchup against. For Flygon/Accelgor, all I had to do (theoretically, I never played the matchup) was limit my Bench and preserve Switches. Against Weavile I could just roll them with Hammerhead. Finally, for Charizard, I could wall it with Pyroar and use Manectric and Pyroar to deal with their Pyroar.
I was definitely nervous going into such a large tournament with such an unusual deck, but I’ve done it before and I was confident in my matchups. I believe there were about 300 Seniors, but someone correct me if I’m wrong. This meant that we would be playing a similar format that Masters use for Regionals and Nationals: nine best-of-three Swiss rounds with a top 32 cut. Then, the top 32 would play five best-of-three Swiss rounds on day 2, and the top 8 from that tournament would play single elimination.
For the first 9 rounds of day 1 I’m just going to glance over my matches because I don’t remember a lot from all of those games, and they probably wouldn’t be that interesting to read about.
Round 1 vs. Yveltal-EX/Darkrai-EX/Garbodor DRX/Bouffalant DRX – WL
Round 2 vs. Ninetales DRX/Victini-EX/Raichu XY – WW
Round 3 vs. Thundurus-EX/Deoxys-EX/Kyurem PLF – WW
Round 4 vs. Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX/Raichu XY/Ho-Oh-EX – WW
Round 5 vs. Thundurus-EX/Deoxys-EX/Kyurem PLF – WW
Round 6 vs. Yveltal-EX/Darkrai-EX/Sableye DEX – WW
Round 7 vs. Yveltal-EX/Darkrai-EX/Raichu XY – WW
Round 8 vs. Thundurus-EX/Deoxys-EX/Kyurem PLF – WW
Round 9 vs. Yveltal-EX/Darkrai-EX/Sableye DEX – WW
Yeah, I tied my first round and then won 16 straight games! I couldn’t believe it either. I made it into the top 32 as the first seed.
Rounds 6 and 9 I played against the deck that got 2nd overall. It was a very interesting Yveltal list that ran all sorts of things. I believe you can find the list on Pokémon.com if they posted the card counts correctly, which might be doubtful. The two lists I played against may have had a few cards different, but I’m not sure.
Needless to say, I was confident in my deck going into day 2. My confidence only increased when I find out what my first opponent is playing.
Round 10 vs. Thundurus-EX/Deoxys-EX/Lugia-EX
Unfortunately, this particular Plasma player happened to be running a copy of Latias-EX. In game 1, I got out a Pyroar very early, and he had a hard time finding his Latias-EX to counter it. By the time he drew into Latias, he had to take three turns to power it up, by which point I was ready to take it on. It turns out he didn’t run any Ultra Ball or Scramble Switch, opting for Team Plasma Balls and Dowsing Machine instead! He was able to take a couple Prizes without Latias thanks to Lysandre, Escape Rope, and Catcher though.
Game 2 is not quite as fun for me. He gets his Latias-EX up early, and when I can respond to it, he responds to me with a Plasma Gale for three Prizes. He also had all those annoying Trainers and was able to get around Pyroar often enough to win this game.
Game 3 was really easy for me, him not running Ultra Balls was a huge help. It was like a repeat of game 1 except I played better because I knew most of his list at that point. I think it was this game that I got a T2 Flash Impact on his Lugia-EX, clearing his board of Energies. That was also extremely helpful.
This round is against a Regional Champion who is doing really well with a fairly standard version of this deck. In game 1, he unfortunately has to start with Jirachi-EX and whiffs the T2 Emerald Slash. I proceed to roll him with Pyroar easily. Game 2 is also uneventful as Pyroar just runs through the deck when it gets set up fast enough.
Ugh, round 12. Prior to this round, the judges collected my deck for my third “random” deck check. After taking a ridiculously long time to check, around an hour later (and about 10 minutes into round 12), they say that I have marked cards and that I will be receiving a game 1 loss. Apparently my reverse holo Double Colorless Energies and Rainbow Energy from HeartGold & SoulSilver were too bent. I was frustrated that they had not warned be about this after the two prior deck checks, and was definitely not happy about the game loss. However, I knew I was basically set for top 8 anyway with 31 match points.
The funny thing is that the judges gave me proxies for the cards they made me remove. No joke, I was playing round 12 with sharpie-covered basic Energies! Both my opponent and I thought this was hilarious. Since I “lost” game 1, I got to choose to go first.
As I found out the hard way, this matchup is not as favorable as I thought. My opponent was running multiple Pokémon Catchers and Lysandres to get around Pyroar, as well as many Muscle Bands, DCEs, and Blacksmiths to load his Pyroars. Luckily, I was able to get a turn 2 Pyroar and keep momentum from there to win game 2. In game three, however, his consistent build was able to trade favorably against my deck and I lost pretty badly. He was constantly loading and 1HKO’ing me with Pyroar. Since he runs Blacksmith, it is much easier for him to stream Pyroars than it is for me.
This was the one matchup that I wanted to avoid. The whole top cut 32 consisted mainly of meta decks, and I get my worst matchup. Game 1 was really interesting though.
He started with Jirachi-EX to my Litleo. I got to go first as well. I draw and don’t have any Basics or search cards, so I attach a Fire and Muscle Band to Litleo and use Shauna. I am utterly shocked at my bad luck as I stare down five Energies! Somehow I maintain a poker face and pass.
On his turn he drops a search card for Piplup DEX and attaches a Water and a Muscle Band to it. in case you don’t know (and I wouldn’t blame you), Piplup’s Fury Attack costs one Water Energy and says to flip three coins. It does 10 damage for each heads. Well, why is this significant? With Muscle Band and Litleo’s Weakness, Ishaan only needs 2 out of 3 heads and a Switch to win the game, essentially donking me.
Thankfully, he plays N to get me out of that awful hand of Energies. As I’m telling him not to get a Switch of the N, however, he plays the Switch and uses Fury Attack. A tails is first… then a heads… it was intense. The final roll for Fury Attack lands tails. Phew, what a skill-based game. I am able to get the turn two Pyroar to remove his only Piplup from play, and he has to sack a Jirachi and use Tropical Beach. This puts me up three Prizes really early and I am able to maintain momentum with my multiple Manectrics.
At this point, we decide to intentionally draw. This may seem like a weird move by me because I just won, but the matchup is stacked in his favor and I only need that last match point to guarantee me top 8. I was not confident in my ability to beat that deck again and Ishaan couldn’t afford to risk losing another game.
I am not too concerned about winning this round, but I still go for it because I want to minimize my chances of playing Empoleon in top 8.
In game 1 my opponent gets a T1 Enhanced Hammer to slow me down and he also gets a perfect setup. I still maintain a lead thanks to Pyroar just being overpowered in this matchup, but my opponent is skilled (he placed 2nd at Worlds once and donked me at another tournament) and never trails far behind with smart use of Raichu and Red Signal.
At the end of the game, my opponent has two Prizes and I have the win next turn. After I N him to two, he makes an epic play of Ultra Balling his hand for Jirachi-EX and using Stellar Guidance for Lysandre! Lysandre is used to drag up my damaged Landorus which is KO’d by a Muscle Banded Emerald Slash. I was so surprised that he ran Lysandre – I really thought I had that game.
Game two is not spectacular at all. I attempt to power up Pyroar early and am met by two consecutive Enhanced Hammers on the first two turns. This slows me down too much and he gains control from there thanks to Red Signal and me only being able to attach once per turn.
With 32 match points I go into top 8 as the 3rd seed. I am really relieved when I realize the only chance I have to play against Empoleon is in the finals. Unfortunately, I don’t get an easy matchup.
In game 1 I go first and start Litleo and Electrike. He started with what I think was his only Mewtwo-EX, and a Muscle Band, and a DCE, AND a Catcher heads. There goes my Electrike. I can’t do much in return, but I think I just go for a Hammerhead. He gets another heads on Catcher and down goes another Electrike. By T3 I don’t have a lot and his Pyroars just trade too well against me and I lose quickly.
Game 2 is much better. We trade Pyroars with him a little ahead as usual, and eventually a weird, complicated situation arises. Basically, I have the win next turn to take three Prizes, and I N him to one. He happens to draw a Colress off the N to draw six cards out of his ~15 card deck and gets the 4th DCE he needs to win.
And there ends my Nationals run.
Although I am proud of my performance and deck, I was definitely disappointed to go out that early. I think my deck had a decent shot at winning top 8, and in top 4 I would’ve played against the Yveltal deck I beat twice in Swiss. I think I would’ve also beat that and probably lose to Empoleon in the finals.
Thanks for reading my report guys! I hope it was entertaining. I encourage you to try out my deck to see if you might want to play it for Worlds or the LCQ because I think its matchups are excellent and the deck is very consistent.