“Oh the reflex what a game he’s hiding all the cards … The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark …”
Hello SixPrizes! The first week of State Championships is done and in the books. Throughout the weekend, a harsh reality of the Pokémon Trading Card Game became apparent: Seismitoad-EX is really good. I contributed to this trend myself, ending the weekend with a 2nd place finish at the Alabama State Championship with Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF/Dragalge FLF. Thanks to Andrew Wamboldt compiling all of the available tournament results, we now know that Seismitoad took AT LEAST 25 spots in the collective Top 8s, with four of these decks winning events outright. That’s almost one third of the Top 8 decks being Seismitoad variants!
I have noticed a trend throughout the past couple of days in the Pokémon community, which is that nobody can decide on what deck will be “The Play” for their State Championship. Seismitoad-EX has been running rampant throughout the first week, but the format is continuing to show a large variety of options to play. This metagame is extremely diverse, with a multitude of decks making debuts this past weekend to shake things up even more. To figure out which deck to play for a State Championship, we must first figure out what’s been doing well in that general area. After analyzing the stronger contenders in that region, we can formulate options for deck choices that can perform strongly in that metagame.
This article will focus on showing what decks have been performing well in each area of the United States, providing deck choices that will perform well in that current metagame, and showing off some possible rogue decks that could take the Pokémon world by storm in the coming weekends. The areas of the United States that we will focus on will be the Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, South Central, Southeast, and Northeast.
Regional Metagame Analysis
- Week 2 Events: Washington
- Nearby Week 1 Results: British Columbia, Idaho
Let’s begin our analysis with the results of the British Columbia Provincial Championship and the Idaho State Championship, which are the closest tournament results from Week 1 that will have an effect on the Washington State Championship:
1. Chris Collins – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX
2. William Angel – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF/Victini-EX
3. Richard Goldsberry – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR
4. Karl Kitchin – Flareon
5. Jack Stensrud – Night March/Empoleon
6. Zach Negomir – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF/Trevenant-EX
7. Jason Fleshman – Flareon
8. Eduardo Gonzalez – Hippowdon PRC/Fighting
1. TJ Traquiar – Primal Kyogre-EX/Keldeo-EX/Kyurem PLF
2. Eric Wallig – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF
3. Trevore Read – Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF
4. Chase Maloney – Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF
5. Jazmyn Crouch – Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR
6. Ricky Gao – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF
7. Kabir Virji – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR
8. Jeff Anderson – Mew-EX/Manectric-EX/Virizion-EX/Shaymin-EX
From these results, Seismitoad-EX seems to play a very large role in the Northwest, as 6/8 decks in the Top 8 of BC utilized the big bad Toad. It’s actually very interesting to see the large variety of different Toad variants that made it into the top cut of that tournament (Crobat, Slurpuff, and Garbodor). Primal Kyogre-EX came out as the ultimate winner, which is no surprise with its great matchup against Seismitoad decks.
It seems as though Idaho missed the memo about Seismitoad-EX domination, with 4/8 decks in the Promised Land not announcing “Quaking Punch” for the majority of their games. They actually had two Flareon decks making it into Top 8, along with a Night March deck, and how can we possibly forget a … HIPPOWDON DECK?! To be completely honest, nothing makes me happier than seeing a player, such as Eduardo, build a strange rogue deck and perform very well with it. Hippowdon could actually be a semi-reliable Seismitoad counter that can’t be damaged by Pokémon-EX due to its first attack.
My Choice for the Northwest Metagame: Donphan PLS/Primal Groudon-EX
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
In my opinion, this deck seems like the perfect meta call for the Northwest. This list is the exact 60 cards that was used to win the Missouri State Championship by Charles Larenas-Leach, which also happens to be the original list belonging to Andrew Wamboldt. Donphan PLS/Primal Groudon-EX can deal with all of the Seismitoad-EX decks because of Primal Groudon-EX and his immunity from Trainer cards targeting him. Without Hypnotoxic Laser to damage this Primal Evolution Pokémon, he can easily sweep through a Seismitoad-EX deck once he gets setup. This same strategy can also be effective against the Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX variants that performed well in this area.
This deck also has the luxury of being able to hide behind Robo Substitutes, which is a big weakness for the Flareon and Night March decks. They usually don’t play very high counts of Lysandre, which makes it difficult to target down the Benched Donphans. With a multitude of Trump Cards throughout the game to keep re-establishing Robo Substitute walls (and to keep resetting their discard pile), Donphan can take down Flareon and Night March.
- Week 2 Events: Arizona, Nevada, Utah
- Nearby Week 1 Results: California, Colorado
The closest tournaments to this cluster of Week 2 State Championships would be the California and Colorado State Championships, which both occurred on the first weekend and could affect the decks being seen. Let’s take a look at the results of these two tournaments:
1. Kristy Britton – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF
2. Josh Leewaye – Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF
3. Eli Covitz – Flareon/Empoleon (Archie’s)
4. Mark Garcia – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF
5. Stefan Tabaco – Primal Groudon-EX
6. Oscar Morales – M Manectric-EX/Kyurem PLF
7. Phinnegan Lynch – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX
8. Christopher Andrews – M Manectric-EX
1. Treynor Wolfe – Night March/Empoleon (Archie’s)
2. Roberto Lozado – Flareon/Empoleon (Archie’s)
3. Jerry Jansen – Seismitoad-EX/M Manectric-EX/Garbodor LTR
4. Joe Perez – Seismitoad-EX/M Manectric-EX/Mewtwo-EX
5. Chris Abernathy – Donphan
6. David Ballard – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR
7. Jared Butler – Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX/Manectric-EX
8. Tyler Vencill – Yveltal-EX/Terrakion LTR
The California State Championships saw some very mixed results, with the eventual winner of the tournament being a Seismitoad/Slurpuff variant piloted by Kristy Britton. What splits these results from most of the other tournaments around the country would be the appearance of M Manectric-EX decks. Not one, but two of these decks appeared in the top cut of this tournament, which leads me to believe that there could be a relatively large amount of Yveltal-EX decks at the California tournaments. We also see Seismitoad-EX showed up in relatively good quantity, along with a Primal Groudon-EX deck and a Flareon deck.
For the tournament in Colorado, Seismitoad-EX made a minimal appearance and only claimed three spots in the Top 8. It surprised me to see a Night March and Flareon showdown in the finals of this State Championship, as both of these decks struggle somewhat against the Item locking capabilities of Seismitoad-EX. It seems as though Colorado had a completely different metagame than most other Week 1 tournaments, especially with such a diverse spread of decks making it into the top cut.
My Choice for the Southwest Metagame: Primal Kyogre-EX
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 38
3 Rough Seas
Energy – 12
This list is actually just one card off of the list that Kevin Baxter used to make Top 4 at the Michigan State Championship. While drawing hands with the deck and testing out matchups, I didn’t really feel the need for a second Shrine of Memories, but I loved the way that the deck was drawing otherwise. Kevin obviously put a lot of time into creating this consistent and powerful version of Kyogre.
Primal Kyogre-EX was probably the biggest surprise from this first week of State Championships. The deck came out of nowhere and completely dominated in British Columbia, while showing off the strength that Rough Seas has against Toad variants. With good matchups against most of the decks that are seen performing well in the Southwest, Kyogre seems to be a good meta call. Night March has a very hard time reaching the huge amount of HP that Primal Kyogre-EX has, Yveltal-EX decks are one of the easiest matchups for this deck, and Seismitoad-EX becomes a joke to play against with Keldeo-EX/Float Stone to negate Poison damage from building up AND Rough Seas to heal damage away. All signs are pointing toward the whale for the incoming weeks of States.
- Week 2 Events: Indiana, Nebraska, Wisconsin
- Nearby Week 1 Results: Illinois, Michigan, Missouri
There happens to be many results from the first week of States that will possibly affect the metagame for incoming State Championships in the Midwest. Let’s look at the results from Week 1:
1. Daniel Lopez – Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF
2. Adam Vernola – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX
3. Ross Cawthon – Gengar-EX/Trevenant XY/Raichu XY
4. Bryan Bruckner – Landorus-EX/Crobat PHF
5. Yehoshua Tate – Landorus-EX/Hawlucha FFI/Mewtwo-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF
6. Paul Cheville – Yveltal-EX
7. Phil Hollenberg – M Manectric-EX/Landorus-EX
8. Jason Klacynzki – Exeggutor PLF/Empoleon (Archie’s)
1. Curtis Lyon – Seismitoad-EX/Jynx FFI
2. Aaron Tarbell – Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF
3. Kevin Baxter – Primal Kyogre-EX
4. Christopher Schemanske – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR
5. Travis Nunlist – Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF
6. Alex Hill – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR
7. Eric Gansman – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR
8. Chris Fernier – Seismitoad-EX/Jynx FFI
1. Charles Larenas-Leach – Donphan PLS/Primal Groudon-EX
2. Andrew Wamboldt – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR/Raichu XY
3. Sorina Radu – Seismitoad-EX/Mewtwo-EX/Crobat PHF
4. Jay Young – Manectric-EX/Crobat PHF
5. Brit Pybas – Seismitoad-EX/Jynx FFI
6. Carrington Huffman – Seismitoad-EX/Leafeon PLF/Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor LTR
7. Kevin Norton – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR
8. Sarah Beckwith – Mewtwo-EX/Chandelure-EX/Crobat PHF
There were definitely a lot of many named players performing very well at these tournaments in the Midwest. As previously mentioned, Charles Larenas-Leach was able to win the Missouri State Championships with his Donphan PLS/Primal Groudon-EX deck. A very large variety of decks managed to find their way into this top cut, which included a Manectric-EX/Crobat PHF deck, Mewtwo-EX/Chandelure-EX/Crobat PHF deck, and the rest of which were Seismitoad-EX variants.
Illinois showed many named players in their Top 8, with respected Florida player Daniel Lopez piloting his Seismitoad/Crobat deck to a victory and bringing the trophy to the Sunshine State. Three-time World Champion Jason Klaczynski managed to squeak into Top 8 with his Exeggutor/Empoleon deck, while Ross Cawthon was also able to place 3rd with his interesting Gengar/Trevenant/Raichu deck. A lot of variety in this top cut, but a notable trend would be an increased amount of Landorus-EX compared to the other States.
Michigan was the host to a very large Toad party this past weekend, with Seismitoad-EX decks holding 7/8 spots in this Top 8. The only other deck that managed to make it into cut was Kevin Baxter with his Primal Kyogre-EX. Although Kevin’s deck seemed to be the favorite to win this tournament upon first glance, Curtis Lyon managed to build upon his resume with a victory. Curtis piloted a deck that was played by many in the Midwest, which was the Seismitoad-EX/Jynx FFI build. Brandon Smiley’s article covered the deck pretty well and showed us the lists of Curtis, Brit Pybas, and Chris Fernier.
My Choice for the Midwest Metagame: Flareon
Pokémon – 25
Trainers – 28
Energy – 7
This metagame was completely filled with Seismitoad-EX decks last weekend, which will lead up to these in the coming weekends: Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX, Primal Kyogre-EX, and Primal Groudon-EX. Flareon, or should I also say Leafeon, can deal with all of these decks quite well, along with being able to stand a fighting chance against Seismitoad-EX variants. To improve the Toad matchup, this version of Flareon plays a relatively large amount of Silver Bangle in an attempt to get them down before the Quaking Punch. This build also plays an Exeggutor, which can be used very effectively against the Toad decks to stall for enough time to setup attacking Leafeon.
Flareon may not be the best play in the country or anything, but certainly could be a great metagame call for the Midwest. This is all assuming that people are getting tired of Seismitoad-EX’s dominant reign over the meta, which could allow for another trophy to go home and be placed on Flareon’s growing mantle.
The South Central
- Week 2 Events: Arkansas, Mississippi
- Nearby Week 1 Results: Alabama, Missouri, Texas
With not that many State Championships being held the first week, the South Central is relying heavily on the results from the huge turnout at the Texas State Championship, along with the Alabama State Championship and the previously viewed results of Missouri State Championship. Let’s take a look at the tournament results we haven’t already seen, which would be from Alabama and Texas:
1. Nathan Brower – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF/Swampert PRC 36
2. Ryan Sabelhaus – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF/Dragalge FLF
3. Justin Crossley – Landorus-EX/Hawlucha FFI/Lucario-EX/Crobat PHF
4. Brandon Salazar – Seismitoad-EX/Manectric-EX/Crobat PHF
5. David Lopez – Seismitoad-EX/Manectric-EX/Crobat PHF
6. Mike Canaves – Empoleon DEX/Magnezone PLS 46/Miltank FLF
7. Orion Craig – Seismitoad-EX/Malamar-EX/Aromatisse XY
8. Grafton Roll – Flareon
1. Max Armitage – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Darkrai-EX
2. Brandon Cantu – Seismitoad-EX/Malamar-EX/Aromatisse XY
3. John Kettler – Primal Groudon-EX/Hawlucha FFI/Landorus FFI
4. Long Bui – Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX/Mew-EX/Seismitoad-EX
5. Jordan Roberts – Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR
6. Andy Gray – Donphan
7. Michael Dones – Yveltal-EX/Darkrai-EX/Crobat PHF
8. Brad Curcio – Primal Groudon-EX/Landorus FFI
Texas had the largest turnout of all the State Championships and basically served as a small Regional Championship based on attendance. With over 200 people playing, the participants battled for 14 rounds until this Top 8 was decided. Max Armitage managed to somehow take down the title with a standard Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX build, even with a seemingly terrible matchup to beat in finals. These results show another wide variety of deck choices, all of which showed great consistency to wade through 14 rounds of Swiss. Seismitoad-EX and Primal Groudon-EX seemed to have the best showing in Texas, with Brandon Cantu dominating the majority of this tournament with his Seismitoad-EX/Aromatisse XY/Malamar-EX deck.
I got to experience the Alabama metagame from a first-hand perspective since I attended the event. I was able to get 2nd place at this tournament with my Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF/Dragalge FLF deck, losing to Nathan Brower and his Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF/Swampert PRC 36 build in the finals.
An interesting deck that we see above has to be Empoleon/Magnezone/Miltank concept piloted by Michael Canaves. I got to play against the deck in Top 8 and certainly feel as though I underestimated the strength of playing two Supporters in one turn. With an overflow of Seismitoad-EX decks being seen again, it seems like the good call for this metagame would be a Seismitoad-EX deck that can beat OTHER Seismitoad-EX decks. Hmmmmm …
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 35
Energy – 12
This is similar to Orion Craig’s 7th place list for the Alabama State Championship, although I’m not sure exactly how many cards off. From witnessing Orion play throughout the day and basing an initial list off of my brother Kyle’s 3-time City Championship winning list from the Georgia Marathon, this build should be an accurate representation. Although it may not be the quickest deck in the game, Seismitoad/Aromatisse has the capability of repeatedly putting a target to Sleep with Malamar-EX, Item locking them with Seismitoad-EX, and healing off damage with the Aromatisse/Max Potion combo.
With strong matchups against other Seismitoad-EX decks, along with a strong performance at both of the State Championships above, this deck is certainly my choice for the South Central metagame.
- Week 2 Events: Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina
- Nearby Week 1 Results: Alabama, Illinois, Missouri
With zero State Championships in the general area of the Southeast, aside from possibly Alabama, the closest tournaments will have to be looked at in order to ascertain a proper metagame. All three of the closest tournaments have already been analyzed, but I’ll quickly review the results to lead into my deck choice.
Alabama saw an influx of Toad variants, with two Seismitoad/Slurpuff decks meeting in the finals. Missouri saw a Donphan/Primal Groudon build win the tournament, but it still had six Toad decks duking it out in the top cut. Illinois showed a wider variety of deck choices, with a Seismitoad/Crobat deck winning the tournament and surprisingly three Landorus-EX builds in the Top 8.
My Choice for the Southeast Metagame: Flareon or Primal Kyogre-EX
I’ve already given decklists for both of these, but still am undecided about which one would be the better play. I will be attending the Georgia State Championship and these two decks will certainly be top contenders for me to play this weekend.
Primal Kyogre-EX has the upside of being able to deal with Toad decks and abusing Keldeo-EX to switch out of Special Conditions, but has to deal with a more difficult Primal Groudon-EX matchup and the auto-loss to Virizion/Genesect. Flareon can deal with both V/G and Primal Groudon very easily, but has a more difficult time against the Seismitoad decks.
- Week 2 Events: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania
- Nearby Week 1 Results: Delaware, Maine
Although not the closest in distance, the Maine and the Delaware State Championships are the only points of comparison for the incoming tournaments for Week 2. Let’s take a look at the results:
1. Greg Sweeney – Bronzong PHF/Metal
2. Osman Jillani – Manectric-EX/Rough Seas
3. Bob Zhang – Exeggutor PLF
4. Jeremy Gibson – Manectric-EX/Rough Seas
5. Peter Kica – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF/Swampert PRC 36
6. Sam Vernoy – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF
7. Aidan Ripley – Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX/Drifblim DRX/Herbal Energy
8. Arron Sanyer – Manectric-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF/Rough Seas
1. Brennan Howe – Primal Groudon-EX/Landorus FFI/Hawlucha FFI
2. Simon Narode – M Manectric-EX/Kyurem PLF
3. Josh McAtee – Exeggutor PLF
4. Brian M – Landorus-EX/Crobat PHF
5. Marcus Guy – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR
6. Sam Chen – M Manectric-EX/Kyurem PLF
7. John Silvestro – Donphan
8. Jake Cyr – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX
The Maine State Championship flew almost completely under the radar, but eventually results were spread and some interesting decks were seen in the top cut. It was very interesting to see both Sam Chen and Simon Narode playing similar M Manectric-EX/Kyurem PLF decks, and it proved to be a consistent build with Simon taking home the 2nd place trophy. Brennan Howe managed to win the event with a Primal Groudon-EX deck that functioned with other Fighting Pokémon. John Silvestro also managed to notch another good performance on his belt with his good ole Donphan deck, which was surprising to see in a field full of Water attackers and damage-spreading attackers.
Delaware seemed to be one of the big conversation pieces after this past weekend, mainly due to the winning deck being a Metal-based deck focused around Bronzong. From one look at the top cut, it’s very obvious that Greg Sweeney chose an extremely good deck for this metagame. Metal with Dialga-EX has very good matchups against V/G, Seismitoad-EX decks, and it can beat M Manectric-EX decks with the use of Mewtwo-EX.
My Choice for the Northeast Metagame: Night March/Empoleon
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 34
Energy – 7
With the ability to beat most of the decks that were seen in the top cut for those two tournaments, Night March/Empoleon has the speed and raw power needed to deal with anything that doesn’t involve Seismitoad-EX. With barely any Seismitoad-EX decks being seen in either of these top cuts, Night March has a great matchup against Metal, M Manectric-EX, Landorus-EX/Crobat, V/G, and can also beat Exeggutor.
If you are expecting a lot of Seismitoad-EX decks and have plenty of knowledge that there will be a good amount of them, then avoid this deck at all costs. I chose this deck as my deck choice for the Northeast based purely off of not that many Seismitoad-EX builds making it far into top cut. Also, with the added fear of Primal Groudon-EX and Metal winning the two State Championships, some of the Seismitoad-EX decks may not feel like showing up anymore.
To finish off this article, I figured that I would go over some possible deck choices that may not have been a first thought to your mind while considering the State Championships. Although these decks may not be considered rogue decks by some, they are variants or builds of decks that are not always the first to be thought of. In this section, I’ll cover my 2nd place Seismitoad/Slurpuff/Dragalge deck that I’ve had success with, along with an Empoleon/Magnezone build that showed great potential this past weekend.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 43
Energy – 4
This is the exact list that I piloted to a 2nd place finish at the Alabama State Championships during this past weekend. Although many of you would certainly not consider this a rogue deck, the Dragalge is what makes this deck different than almost every Seismitoad/Slurpuff deck being played. With Dragalge, this deck can accomplish some very sneaky plays that wouldn’t be possible for just a regular ToadPuff build.
The ability to manipulate Poison damage and not allow opponents to retreat won me many games in Alabama. An amazing move that this deck can do is to Lysandre up a Jirachi-EX and Hypnotoxic Laser it with Virbank City Gym in play and Quaking Punch. The Jirachi-EX will be KO’d coming back into our turn and will allow us to get 2 Prize cards, along with the first shot on a fresh Pokémon and the capability to trap it Active with another Laser.
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 33
1 Life Dew
Energy – 6
This list should be the exact build that Michael Canaves used to score a 6th place finish at the Alabama State Championship. From playing against this deck in the Top 8, I can truly say that playing two Supporter cards in one turn is extremely good. The ability for Michael to keep recycling his Life Dew becomes easy with the help of Lysandre’s Trump Card, Teammates, and Diving Draws every turn. Without a way to net Prizes on attackers, opponents are forced to start using Lysandre to attack things on the Bench, which allows his Life Dew to stay in place. Crygonal is in the deck to counter Seismitoad-EX by allowing you to attempt to stop a turn of Quaking Punch. This one turn of breaking from Item lock can be crucial in deciding a winner.
Overall, EMP Zone almost seems to have too many options, which also makes it an extremely complicated deck to play. I’d advise to not just pick this deck up and go play it at a tournament, as you will need to practice with this build for a good amount of time to assure you know what you are doing each turn.
I hope that this article will help for not only the second week of State Championships, but can also serve as a mental guide on the ever-changing format of the United States. People in certain areas will always go back to their favorite decks, but we are also seeing many new variants coming out to bring home some trophies. Expect to see plenty more new decks being played, along with Seismitoad-EX remaining viable, and the Primal EXs should start to make more of a splash in the coming weeks. With the format always changing, it’s important to keep an open mind for what deck to play and to keep rolling with the punches if you want to see success.
Thank you to everyone that enjoyed my article and I wish you all success in the future tournaments to come, including the last few weeks of State Championships. Feel free to reach me through messaging and ask me about any questions that you may have. Thanks for reading!
– Ryan Sabelhaus <3
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