I’d like to start off this article by saying thanks to Adam who has allowed me to write for Underground for almost a year now! This is my 6th article for Underground, and I look forward to writing many more. Also, today is very special to me because it’s my 18th birthday! I’ve spent nearly 6 years playing this game, and now I’m finally able to take the Professor exam (among other things that “adults” do), which is pretty exciting.
Anyways, today I’ll be sharing my experiences from this year’s City Championships, including a deep look into the Texas Marathon. The first few days are a bit lackluster (due to some poor finishes), but the end gets pretty juicy. I’ve also included a brief outlook onto the first set of Winter Regional Championships, which are taking place in roughly a month!
- Table of Contents
- The Texas Marathon
- Looking Forward
- The Texas Marathon
- Looking Forward
Before the Texas Marathon, I attended 3 City Championships: Tyler, Longview, and Tom Bean. In Tyler, I played a Seismitoad-EX/Victini-EX/Garbodor deck that I spent the prior week testing. Despite feeling very confident in the deck, I ended up only finishing 4-3. My cousin Sean Hipp went on to win the tournament with an Yveltal/Hard Charm deck, defeating a Virizion/Genesect deck piloted by Long Bui in the finals.
Here is the list for the deck that I played:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 40
Energy – 8
For Longview, I decided to run a Pyroar/Seismitoad-EX deck that was performing well in the Northeastern part of the US. I was able to finish 3-0-2 and make the Top 8 (it was a fairly small Cities), where I lost to a Flareon deck that would end up winning the entire tournament.
After seeing this Flareon deck perform, my teammate and friend Will McEowen created a list that we would then pilot for the Tom Bean City Championships. We changed up the deck quite a bit, dropping Terrakion LTR and Kyurem LTR from the list and adding a Beartic FFI line as well as changing the Eevees from the PLF version to the FFI version. We also included Training Center to help combat Shadow Circle which was becoming very popular in Yveltal decks to counter Weakness.
Will and I both ran the same 60-card list and made the Top 8. Unfortunately for him, he would be eliminated in the Top 8 by a Night March deck while I faced a Metal deck that had to replace its Professor Sycamores with Energies (due to an incorrectly written list).
After quickly running over two Metal decks in the Top 8 and Top 4, I’d face a Fairies deck in the finals. I started Game 1 by getting off a knockout on his lone Spritzee with my Pikachu’s Quick Attack plus a Muscle Band. After a good laugh, we moved to Game 2 where it was much closer, but Flareon’s speed and diversity allowed me to overcome and take a 2-0 victory.
Below is the list that I used to win the Tom Bean City Championship:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 32
Energy – 8
74 Masters, 7 Rounds, Top 8
After my success with Flareon, I decided to use the same deck for the first day of the Texas Marathon. I started out 3-0, defeating two Donphans and an Yveltal deck, but I quickly fizzled out after facing two Fairy decks that were able to tank. On another note, the field was huge with many great players including Jeremy Jallen, Chase Moloney, John Kettler, Brandon Cantu, Long Bui, and many more.
Long Bui (Landorus/Mew/Seismitoad) vs. Jordan Roberts (Seismitoad/Garbodor)
Will McEowen (Slurpuff/Seismitoad) vs. Aaron Garcia (Seismitoad/Garbodor)
As you can see, Seismitoad-EX-based decks were performing extremely well on Day 1. As the tournaments went forward, people geared to beat Seismitoad-based decks, which is why they stopped performing so well after this tournament.
In the finals, Will and Jordan played a Toad mirror, but Will had a large edge with his ample amount of draw support, as well as a heavy focus on disruption that would end up allowing him to overcome Jordan and become the Denton City Champion.
This may be the first (or second) time you’ve ever heard of this deck, but if you were at the Texas Marathon, you would know all about it. After the first fews days, players scrambled to pick up a playset of Slurpuffs so they could either play it themselves or test against it.
The deck is a much more consistent version of a Quad Seismitoad deck because you have a very thick line of Slurpuff to net you additional cards during your turn. Paired with heavy use of Energy removal/disruption and Hypnotoxic Lasers, the deck is able to overwhelm its opponents and shut them off. The list below is the list that placed 1st and 2nd in the Texas Marathon. Another member of my team would use a very similar list to get another 1st place later in the week.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 40
Energy – 6
As you can see, there are very light counts of certain cards. The deck uses Lysandre’s Trump Card very heavily to get back all of the precious disruption cards that you use early. The list also includes a thin line of Victini-EX to help deal with cards like Virizion-EX and Cobalion-EX and act as a hard-hitter that you can set up while you lock your opponent.
75 Masters, 7 Rounds, Top 8
I decided to change my deck on the way to the tournament and ended up playing a Hawlucha/Seismitoad/Drifblim deck. I chose to play it because I thought it’d be a nice counter based on the meta that I saw the day before.
Unfortunately, I ended up taking a loss to Chase Moloney piloting an Yveltal-EX/Hard Charm deck, followed by a loss to a Blastoise/Keldeo/Black Kyurem deck in the following round. I dropped after losing two rounds because I was no longer in contention for the Top 8 and instead watched as the rest of the matches played out. Virizion/Genesect was much bigger on Day 2, but Will still managed to perform well with his Slurpuff/Seismitoad deck.
Will McEowen (Slurpuff/Seismitoad) vs. Long Bui (Virizion/Genesect)
Sean Hipp (Virizion/Genesect) vs. Brandon Cantu (Yveltal)
In the finals, Will played against Brandon Cantu, a player who has had a very strong showing during the past two seasons. In Game 1, Brandon received a gameloss because he forgot his Head Ringer in his opponent’s deck in Top 4. Despite this setback, Brandon was able to win Games 2 and 3 to become the Keller City Champion.
Here is my take on Brandon’s winning list:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 35
Energy – 12
71 Masters, 7 Rounds, Top 8
After seeing the success that Will had with Slurpuff/Seismitoad, I decided to take it out for my own ride. I didn’t have as much luck with it though and dropped after going 2-2-1. A few of my teammates decided to pick up a Pyroar/Seismitoad/Tornadus deck that tested well the night before, but only Will was able to pilot it to Top 8 (where he would quickly be knocked out by a M Manectric-EX deck). As the Top 8 filled up, I noticed that the first seed was a Seismitoad-EX/Drifblim deck.
Jeremy Jallen (Donphan) vs. Chris Schemanske (Virizion/Genesect)
Brice Petty (Manectric/Fighting) vs. Phil Hollenberg (Manectric/Black Kyurem)
In the end, Chris Schemanske was able to take down Brice Petty in the finals. Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the finals because my group left early. Below you can see the deck that a few of my teammates used on Day 3. It ran well, and the Tornadus was nice to power up Flare Commands while knocking out Phanpys or other low-HP Pokémon early.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 36
Energy – 11
56 Masters, 6 Rounds, Top 8
After getting very little sleep (like most nights), I decide to play the same Flareon list that I played on Day 1. We only had 56 players this day, which put us at 6 rounds unlike the days before. I felt like my deck could handle a smaller meta and pick up the four early wins I would need to make the Top 8.
I managed to win my first round against a Metal deck, but unfortunately I ended up playing against a Landorus-EX/Dusknoir deck in the next round and was quickly destroyed. I lost my following round and was knocked out of reach from the Top 8.
Dale Lynch (Landorus-EX/Dusknoir) vs. Dana Lynch (Yveltal/M Manectric)
Tony Vo (Pyroar/Seismitoad) vs. Austin Baggs (M Manectric/Fighting)
After beating his own father in Top 4, Dale would win the tournament by defeating Oklahoma player Austin Baggs in the finals. He would follow up his win here with a few more top cuts, proving that his Landorus-EX/Dusknoir deck is no joke. He has played it for quite a while, and with a lack of Seismitoad-EX-based decks doing well later in the week, he was able to perform extremely well with it.
After earning enough Championship Points to fill up his Best Finish Limit, my cousin Sean left the Marathon on Day 3. The night before Day 5, he sent me a skeleton list for a deck that was performing well in another area. I tweaked the deck until I felt like it would be a solid play for the following day.
After failing to grab any Points the first four days of the Marathon, I was desperate and hoping to at least fill my last three Best Finish Limit spots before I left the Marathon. Below is a rough skeleton of the deck that I played. (I’d rather not release the full list because it is likely that I will play the deck for future tournaments, but you can feel free to add to it and test it for yourself!)
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 28
Energy – 13
Open Spots: 8
70 Masters, 7 Rounds, Top 8
I decided to get as much sleep as possible before the tournament rather than test the deck I was going to play, so I went into the tournament with the only prior testing of the deck being months earlier with a completely different list.
Fortunately, the deck is fairly straightforward, so I was able to pilot it to a 6-1 finish in Swiss. People were unprepared for the Suicune tech which I used to win a couple of my games that day, including Game 1 of Top 8. My only loss of the day was to a Pyroar/Mewtwo deck, where I was benched on turn 2 after not drawing another Basic after playing an N.
R1: Quad Seismitoad — W
R2: Seismitoad/Garbodor — W
R3: Manectric/Fighting — W
R4: Pyroar/Mewtwo — L
R5: Donphan — W
R6: Crobat/Wobbuffet — W
R7: Yveltal/Manectric — W
T8: Manectric/Black Kyurem — W
T4: Yveltal/Garbodor — W
T2: Pyroar/Mewtwo — W
In the Top 4, I faced off against Josh, who is piloting a fairly simple Yveltal-EX/Garbodor deck. He doesn’t play Shadow Circle, which makes the matchup very favorable for me. Due to some slow draws on his end, I was able to take the match very quickly and move onto the finals.
In the finals, I would meet Phil once again. This time, however, I managed to prevent myself from getting benched! His deck revolves around using Pyroar to shut down most decks, but my deck has no problem dealing with Pyroars thanks to M Manectric. After taking down a few Mewtwo-EX, I was able to swiftly take Games 1 and 2 and finally take home a trophy during this marathon!
47 Masters, 6 Rounds, Top 8
After my win the day before, I decided to run the same deck as I was quite fond of how it performed. With a smaller amount of people, I knew I would only need to win four of my rounds and then intentionally draw my way into the cut.
R1: Flareon — W
R2: Virizion/Genesect — W
R3: Yveltal/Garbodor — W
R4: Donphan — ID
R5: Manectric/Fighting — ID
R6: Seismitoad/Dusknoir — ID
Midway through the tournament I decided to attempt to intentionally draw the last three rounds. Even though I managed to get all of my opponents to ID with me, I still managed to miss the Top 8. In the final round, a 3-1-1 player was downpaired, and if they lost I would have made the Top 8 instead of that player. It ultimately came down to Opponent’s Opponent’s Resistance between myself and the other 3-0-3 player; I came up short and finished in 9th place.
Calvin Nordberg (Manectric/Suicune) vs. Jordan Roberts (Seismitoad/Dusknoir)
John Kettler (Yveltal/Seismitoad) vs. Chase Moloney (Yveltal/Hard Charm)
My good friend and teammate Calvin Nordberg made the Top 8 with my exact list but ended up losing to Jordan Roberts in the Top 4. Unfortunately, Calvin would have to leave the next day with only one cut during the entire week.
In the finals, John Kettler would take down Jordan’s interesting Seismitoad/Dusknoir deck. I was quite fond of the deck after seeing him play throughout the day. It focuses on locking the opponent down while building up damage which you let pile up until you’re able to use Grenade Hammer to take your last few Prizes.
Here is my take on Seismitoad/Dusknoir based on Jordan’s deck:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 37
Energy – 9
68 Masters, 7 Rounds, Top 8
After getting 9th the day before, I considered switching decks to some anti-meta deck. I was expecting a decent amount of Yveltal-EX and Seismitoad-EX decks, which would have made Flareon a decent play again, but I continued to play Manectric.
R1: Seismitoad/Manectric/Drifblim — W
R2: Virizion/Genesect — W
R3: Yveltal/Garbodor — W
R4: Virizion/Genesect/Manectric — L
R5: Slurpuff/Seismitoad — L
R6: Seismitoad/Garbodor — W
R7: Yveltal/Manectric — W
Caleb Johnson (Slurpuff/Seismitoad) vs. Nick Greco (Yveltal/Hard Charm)
Kevin Murphy (Crobat/Wobbuffet) vs. Pearce Blend (Yveltal)
Two of my teammates ended up playing it out in the finals, and in the end Caleb would win using his Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff deck. I left early, so I’m not sure how it played out, but I do know that his list was very similar to Will’s list that he used to win on Day 1.
One of the decks that slowly grew larger near the end of the marathon was the Crobat/Wobbuffet archetype. It started with Jeremy Jallen piloting a very straightforward list to the Top 16 on Day 5, which led to a heavier Mewtwo list being used by a few players in the last couple of days. Kevin made Top 4 and Top 8 the two days he played it after leaving for a while.
Below is a list that I made based on the deck that Kevin used:
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 33
Energy – 9
59 Masters, 6 Rounds, Top 8
After two days of “bubbling,” I was determined to end with a strong performance. I once again decided to run the same list because I feel like it can win any matchup, as long as I am able to set up fast enough.
I ended up going 5-1 in Swiss, with my only loss being a match where I was benched in the first few turns. In the Top 8, I faced an Yveltal/Seismitoad deck piloted by fellow Underground writer John Kettler. He put up a good fight, but without Shadow Circle, I was able to take the match 2-0.
Brandon Smiley (Manectric/Suicune) vs. Caleb Johnson (Yveltal/Garbodor)
Dale Lynch (Landorus/Dusknoir) vs. Chase Moloney (Yveltal/Garbodor)
In the Top 4, I faced my teammate Caleb Johnson, who was running an Yveltal/Garbodor deck. Unlike John, Caleb was packing a few Shadow Circle and gave me a much harder time. I managed to take Game 1 using Manectrics early to wade through Seismitoad-EX. In Game 2, he overpowered me using his Seismitoads early while I struggled to set up a M Manectric-EX. In Game 3, I managed to get a fast start while he struggled to get off a Quaking Punch. I set up multiple attackers and quickly did him in, moving me to the finals.
In the finals, I met one of my good friends, Chase Moloney. He was running an Yveltal/Garbodor deck (so much Yveltal!) that ran at least one Shadow Circle. In Game 1, I struggled to draw into Manectric pieces, and due to the strength of Quaking Punch, he was able to close up the game before I was able to put up a fight.
In Game 2, I had a much better start, and was able to get out a M Manectric before he could do much damage with Seismitoad-EX. Due to the high amount of damage that M Manectric can put out compared to Seismitoad, I was able to overpower him and quickly move into Game 3.
In Game 3, I started with Suicune, which is both good and bad. It’s bad in the fact that he can deal with it due to Hypnotoxic Laser and eventually Garbodor, but good because it buys me time to hopefully set up at least one M Manectric EX.
While under a heavy lock, I managed to eventually set up a M Manectric and shut off the lock by knocking out his Seismitoad-EX. Unfortunately, my M Manectric took a decent amount of damage from Poison and a Quaking Punch, allowing Chase to use a fresh Darkrai-EX to knock it out the following turn. I followed up with an X Ball, but Chase was already pretty far ahead. I believe the Prizes were about 2-3 at this point, in his favor.
In the end, he is able to put my Mewtwo-EX to Sleep and Poison it with Hypnotoxic Laser, and I flipped tails on the Sleep check. On my turn, I play a Professor Juniper, but whiff the switch card or a Max Potion. I extend my hand, and Chase takes the last win of the Marathon.
R1: Crobat/Wobbuffet — W
R2: Landorus/Garbodor — L
R3: Yveltal/Hard Charm — W
R4: Fairy Toolbox — W
R5: Donphan — W
R6: Manectric/Suicune — W
T8: Yveltal/Seismitoad — W
T4: Yveltal/Garbodor — W
T2: Yveltal/Garbodor — L
After the Texas Marathon concluded, I had one Cities left in Sherman, Texas. It was a much smaller Cities that had just enough players to make a Top 8 with 5 rounds of Swiss. I decided to run the same deck because I still feel very comfortable with it and I felt like it would give me another solid performance.
My cousin Sean decided to run a Seismitoad-EX/Aromatisse deck that performed well at the Georgia Marathon, which you can read about in my friend Kyle’s article here. Unfortunately, he faced a bad matchup early and ended up losing to another Fairy deck later in the tournament to knock him out of contention for top cut.
I started the tournament with a strong 3-0, allowing me to intentionally draw my last two rounds, putting myself as 1st seed going into the Top 8. I knew that if I wanted to earn any Points, I’d need to make it to the Top 4 because the attendance was too low to award Points to the Top 8.
In the Top 8, I played against Frank Jimenez who was piloting a standard Fairy Toolbox deck. Overall, I feel like this matchup is already highly in my favor, but to make it even better for me, he had a hard time drawing Supporters, so I was able to move forward to the Top 4.
Brandon Smiley (Manectric/Suicune) vs. Josh Highlander (Yveltal/Seismitoad/Garbodor)
John Kettler (Night March/Keldeo EX) vs. Matthew Kuntsmann (Landorus-EX/Garbodor)
In the Top 4, I faced off against Josh, who I’ve already played multiple times throughout the recent City Championships. He’s running the same deck that he played in the Coppell City Championships on the 5th day of the Texas Marathon, where I took both games fairly quickly. This time, however, I wasn’t as lucky.
In Game 1, I struggled to play a Supporter, and I can’t remember if I actually played one because the game ended pretty quickly. In Game 2, I nearly had the same fate, but a few turns in I was able to draw a Jirachi-EX to get myself out of the hole I was in. I quickly climb back into the game with the use of M Manectric’s Turbo Bolt, and due to Josh not running any Shadow Circle, I was able to deal with most of his attackers pretty quickly.
In Game 3, I finally managed to start with a Supporter! The game starts out fairly well for me, as I’m able to set up all three of my M Manectrics fairly quickly. After getting down to two Prize cards remaining, I felt like I was in a great position. The only problem, was that after having two of my M Manectrics knocked out, I was down to only one and had a Head Ringer on it as well as a Lightning and a Water.
To win the game, I’d need to hit one of my four remaining Energy in the deck. I have a VS Seeker in my hand with a fairly low amount of cards left in my deck. I go to my discard pile to find a Professor Juniper, but quickly realize that I hadn’t played one yet! So, I unfortunately was stuck having to take a Colress, which would only net me 3 cards. I play it and whiff. I pass, knowing I still have a shot since he will not be able to knock out my M Manectric in one hit.
On his turn, he plays a VS Seeker and realizes that he can use his one Team Flare Grunt to get rid of my last Lightning Energy, which would seal up the game. He does so and proceeds to hit me for 160 damage. I draw and the fourth card is the Double Colorless, which would have won me the game a turn earlier. I attempt to bring out his Jirachi in the hope of him not being able to retreat, but he’s able to put a Float Stone onto it and take his last two Prizes with Yveltal-EX.
Josh would move onto the finals where he would play against John Kettler’s interesting Night March/Keldeo-EX deck. Despite what seems like a fairly bad matchup for John, he’s able to take the win over Josh.
The first thing I have to say is that Yveltal is everywhere.
If you’ve paid any attention to the decks in this article, you’ll see that Yveltal has been in a large number of the top decks. Not only in Texas, but all over North America. There are many different variants of the deck, and all of them have seen success. The most successful one that I have seen is the consistent Yveltal/Seismitoad, which focuses on consistency rather than playing cards like Garbodor, Drifblim, or Manectric.
The second is that Donphan is slowly dying.
Despite the amount of wins it has, almost everyone is prepared for it now. It managed to steal wins from smaller and early Cities just due to poor deck building and weak metas, but now that the metas are more clearly defined, we’ve seen Donphan decks die down and rarely even make the top cut. (There were zero Donphans in the Top 4 during the Texas Marathon.)
Finally, expect ANYTHING.
This format is extremely diverse and any deck could perform well if it hits the correct matchups. There are many different Crobat decks that have performed well, such as Seismitoad/Crobat, Yveltal/Crobat, Landorus-EX/Crobat, and Charizard-EX/Crobat. There have also been many different builds of Fairy decks that have been performing well, such as Florges-based decks, heavy Mega Kangaskhan Fairy builds, Seismitoad-EX/Malamar-based builds, as well as just straight toolboxes that focus on a bunch of different strong Pokémon.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you did, please be sure to leave a like so that I can come back and write more! I wish all of you luck during Winter Regionals, and if you see me in St. Louis come say hi!
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