“So look at me now, I’m just makin’ my play — Don’t try to push your luck just get out of my way!” — AC/DC (and Raymond during New Hampshire States)
Hello, SixPrizes readers! The last time you heard from me was during the last set of Regional Championships — before the format changed to include Primal Clash. During that time my complete and undivided attention was dedicated to the BCR–PHF format and I hadn’t yet touched Primal Clash.
Now that our current format includes Primal Clash I have spent numerous hours testing with those cards and found success at the two State Championships I’ve attended. I managed to Top 8 Massachusetts Week 1 and win New Hampshire Week 2.
There are a lot of topics I want to go over in this article. There is a plethora of information out there about this BCR–PRC format since we have had a Regional and several State Championships occur already.
In this article I am going to cover my experiences at MA and NH States and the decks that did well at those events (and one other), which include both of my Yveltal decks, Flareon/Raichu, Exeggutor, and Virizion/Genesect. Through discussing this content I hope to improve your insight into the metagame and help you decide on a deck for any upcoming tournaments you may have.
Massachusetts Report (Week 1)
Heading into the first weekend of States I had numerous hours of playtesting under my belt and I actually decided on my deck days before the event: Straight Yveltal was going to be my choice for the first State Championship. I analyzed the results from the Florida Regional Championship and local League Challenges and deduced that our format would be fairly wide open. People were going to play a variety of decks and I knew matchups would play a huge factor. I felt that Yveltal was a safe choice because it has the chance to beat nearly every deck in the format, excluding Manectric decks.
I suspected Manectric would not be so popular due to the success of Landorus/Crobat and Primal Groudon. My foresight was somewhat correct as Manectric-based decks were not huge in our area, but Manectric/Seismitoad with Rough Seas did see some play. Here is the Yveltal list I ended up playing Week 1-of States:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
Energy – 12
I expected the metagame to consist mainly of Yveltal, Flareon, Seismitoad, Landorus/Crobat, and a small amount of Metal and Fairies. With Flareon recently winning Florida Regionals and all the hype it was getting I figured it had to be popular, which meant that V/G would see little to no play Week 1. This lead me to cut Spiritomb LTR from my Yveltal list and add Dedenne FFI which proved to be a solid tech in the mirror match.
This list is fairly vanilla but there are some cards I want to discuss, Dedenne being one of them:
This card is used mainly to tech against Yveltal mirror. However, I find that a lot of people say that Dedenne has been underwhelming for them and they rarely get chances to attack with it for a 1-shot on a Yveltal-EX or that their opponent can play around it.
Well, I want to tell you that Dedenne is extremely good in the mirror match, but its power in the mirror can be hard to see since it does not necessarily come from attacking. Of course it is amazing when your opponent Evil Balls with enough Energy for Dedenne to score the 1HKO, but that opportunity doesn’t always present itself. Most of my mirror matches Dedenne sits on my Bench with a Muscle Band all game and never attacks.
The threat of Dedenne is why it is so powerful. If I have a Dedenne with a Muscle Band sitting on my Bench, my opponent will likely never be able to Evil Ball with three or more Energy for fear of getting 1-shot.
If my opponent does not play Dedenne — and I do — the matchup is slightly in my favor. I am able to use a somewhat big Yveltal-EX to get knockouts at points in the game without fear that I will be falling into a poor Prize and resource trade by getting 1HKO’d by a Dedenne. My opponent on the other hand will not have this luxury.
I can see how Dedenne seems underwhelming from some players’ perspectives since it doesn’t always get to swing matchups by attacking for knockouts, but the threat of Dedenne tends to let mirror matches play out more into your favor.
PRO TIP: Never be afraid to bench Dedenne when you draw it. I see a lot of players hold it in their hand until they can use it for the 1HKO and I don’t believe this is how you should be playing the card. Using it in this manner leaves it more vulnerable to getting N’d away and then you may not be able to find it when you need it. Most of your opponents will know whether you play the card after the first few rounds anyway, so why not just bench it and attach a Muscle Band, if you can afford to, and have it sit there, preventing your opponent from going all out with a big Yveltal?
The alternative route your opponent can take is dealing with Dedenne by Lysandre-ing it up and KO-ing it. I have had this happen to me multiple times and it instantly swings the match into your favor. Not only will it likely put your opponent on odd Prizes, but they just spent a whole turn to Knock Out a Pokémon that was sitting on your Bench with likely no Energy on it.
This card should become standard in all Yveltal decks if it isn’t already. It can swing Seismitoad matches in your favor and save you from Hypnotoxic Laser Sleep flips. Healing off 60 damage and Special Conditions can be situationally good in any matchup as well. With Seismitoad becoming more and more popular this card should see play in other decks as well.
I chose to play Enhanced Hammer over Head Ringer for Week 1 because Enhanced Hammer is better against Flareon, Landorus/Crobat, and the mirror match. Head Ringer is better against Seismitoad, Groudon, and Virizion/Genesect. But, like I said, I didn’t expect any V/G nor did I think Seismitoad would be as popular as it was. Enhanced Hammer proved to be better than Head Ringer throughout the tournament for me.
A random 1-of Acro Bike seems pretty odd and I agree with that. Originally the list had three Acro Bike but I cut one of them for a Dedenne and one for a Pokémon Center Lady minutes before turning in my decklist because I scouted a ton of Yveltal and Seismitoad in the room. The 1-of Acro Bike was never bad, but I could have made better use of the space by playing another Colress. This was definitely a mistake on my part that wouldn’t have occurred had I not edited my deck literally during the last minute possible. If I had put more thought into my decision I would have recognized that a second Colress was strictly superior to one Acro Bike.
I would recommend to people that if they want to play Acro Bike in Yveltal they should play 2-4 because the point of the card is to make your deck more consistent by filtering more quickly filtering through cards. Having one copy of the card doesn’t impact your games enough.
The rest of the deck is standard. I ended up finishing in Top 8 losing to a Kyogre-EX-based deck. I certainly did not expect to play against Kyogre but as we have all seen this deck appeared to take the country by storm doing well at multiple State Championships Week 1. The deck’s only bad matchups seem to be decks that are playing Grass attackers. For lists on Kyogre you should check out Squeaky Marking’s YouTube channel Team Fish Knuckles since he interviews multiple people who did well with Kyogre-EX-based decks like Kevin Baxter and TJ Traquair:
I regret some of the card choices I made the first weekend of States and made the list better going into Week 2 which you will see later in the article. The card choices I regret playing are not adding a third Seismitoad-EX, not adding a Keldeo-EX, and playing the 1-of Acro Bike mainly.
However, I do not regret playing Yveltal; it was a strong play. A similar Yveltal list to mine ended up defeating the Kyogre I lost to in Top 4 and went on to win the event. I chose to stick with Yveltal going into Week 2 because I love Yveltal as a deck and felt it was still a strong play for the metagame even though it had just won the week prior and had a target on its back.
Now I want to discuss some of the more interesting decks that I saw do well Week 1-of States.
Meta Call: Flareon/Raichu
This deck did well here in New England making a couple of Top 8s. Chris Murray was the creator of the deck and he managed to top cut Massachusetts States, only losing to Seismitoad/Slurpuff. This seems like the superior way to run Flareon if your metagame is infested with Yveltal, but it has a worse matchup against Seismitoad-based decks.
With V/G starting to make its move back into the metagame we could see Seismitoad-based decks wane in popularity which could make this version of Flareon better than the traditional one. In our area, Seismitoad-based decks were not extremely popular which is why this deck was able to shine, but it could prove to be a good play in other areas as the metagame continues to develop:
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 29
Energy – 8
The list is quite different from standard Flareon decks since it has to make room for a thick Raichu line. You are forced to cut cards like Slurpuff, excess Ditto, Audino, and Deoxys-EX. Adding the Raichu line gives you the ability to have another reliable attacker against Yveltal which can still dish out 1HKOs after getting Trump Card-ed. The Raichu will also be a heavy hitter in most matchups since it is able to one- or 2-shot anything you are up against.
Overall I would say the deck feels the same as the traditional version of the deck so you should be able to play it well if you are used to mainstream Flareon decks — you just need to be able to manage your Bench space a bit differently. If I expect Seismitoad decks to be less popular — thanks to V/G coming back into the format — I will strongly consider playing this at one of my State Championships coming up the next two weekends.
Eggs by Bob
Eggs has been a dark horse since it first started popping up during Cities and it has continued to do well in the Primal Clash format. The deck has slowly started to solidify its place in the metagame as it should be doing. The deck is strong and if it hasn’t shown up in your area yet it will at some point, or perhaps you could take the initiative and bring this deck to the table. The goal of the Eggs deck is to Supporter lock your opponent while denying them Energy and dealing minimal amounts of damage which stacks up quickly thanks to LaserBank.
I was able to talk to one of the game’s up-and-coming players from the East Coast about Eggs who goes by the name of Bob Zhang. Bob is a prominent Eggs player in my region and he has been playing the deck for quite some time. During Week 1-of States he managed to make Top 4 at Delaware and he has been kind enough to share his unique list with me and explain the deck. Here it is:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 38
Energy – 8
This list certainly deviates from the standard Eggs list that plays Genesect-EX and Plasma Energy which was popularized around Cities. Of course when I saw this list I had some questions for Bob on his motivation behind card choices and reasoning for such a unique deck choice. He was kind enough to answer:
First of all congratulations on your Top 4. Why did you choose to play Eggs and how did you come up with such a unique list which deviates from the mainstream Eggs lists?
Thanks Ray! I played against Pooka in PTCGO back in December and would like to take this chance to thank him for inspiring me building the deck. In that game online I realized the potential Eggs had. After I topped one Cities and mentioned this deck to a friend, I learned that there was a Bad Deck Monday video where Pooka piloted this deck:
With the newly-introduced VS Seeker/Trump Card system from Phantom Forces you can easily abuse Items such as Hammers and Lasers to deny Energies and deal damage. With Supporter lock online your opponent has relatively few resources and a hard time dealing with Exeggutor. I immediately built my deck on PTCGO and found it really powerful. The deck saw a fair amount of success. I won a Cities the second time I ran it and then got Top 4 in another Cities before the Genesect version was officially released by some other players in, I believe, Winter Regionals.
I knew the first week of States was going to be Toad heavy so I chose to run this deck because since Toad is a good matchup. My deck evolved as I played it and tested it and I eventually ended up with this list. This is what I felt gave me the best chance for success at my State Championship.
Can you explain your unique card choices and what purpose they serve?
Unique Cards I Play
Standard Cards I Don’t Play
When I first built this deck I needed some Basic Pokémon other than Exeggcute. Besides the obvious Virizion-EX, I chose Emolga LTR. It has free retreat and an awesome attack if you go second and open with it. A lot of people would disagree with me on not including Dragalge FLF. I felt that any deck with Keldeo or Virizion can significantly weaken Dragalge’s power so it wasn’t worth dedicating the space to it. Besides, Skrelp FLF is a bad opening. Also, Dragalge takes 1 Bench spot that I sometimes can’t afford. I like to power up 3 Exeggutor to guarantee more time. Despite my reasons of disliking it, feel free to use Dragalge if you are a big fan or the metagame warrants it.
During preparation of Regionals my friend Mike Fouchet told me about the popular Genesect/Plasma version. It makes tons of sense to run Dragalge with Genesect since it can trap Keldeo. But I am uncomfortable with the turbo Random Receiver/Juniper system and eventually thought I could not afford to introduce the Genesect/Plasma system into my deck. My deck was working fine anyway, so why change it?
Back to my Supporter system, I think N is good in this deck despite many people hating him due to refreshing your opponent’s hand. After all, in the early game N is an excellent draw engine for you and moreover if things go wrong you still have a chance to disrupt your opponent. You are going Juniper most of the time anyway.
I’ve run 2 Team Flare Grunt since the beginning and never changed them. They are good in general. Many people think Seismitoad variants are a bad matchup for Eggs but this is not true for my variant. I run a high count of Team Flare Grunt which severely swings the matchup. Once a Seismitoad fails to Quaking Punch you get your Items back.
Ghetsis seems counter-intuitive since your opponent is allowed to use Items all the time but I included him to get rid of Max Potions and Switches. Also, he can occasionally be good on Turn 1 if you go first and don’t need resources desperately. Knowledge is power; being able to see what your opponent has available to them while under Egg lock can be helpful as well.
I simply have no room for techs such as Head Ringers as I find them to be less important than everything else.
I put a Mountain Ring in to tech against Landorus/Bats hoping to enable more Eggs to have a chance to evolve after Mr. Mime is dead. I played the Mountain Ring over another Mr. Mime because I wanted a third Stadium to counter Silent Labs and another card to protect my Benched Pokémon. Mountain Ring fit this criteria so I gave it a shot. Having a third Stadium for the sole purpose of being a counter Stadium can be clutch in various other matchups as well like Fairies and Dimension Valley-based decks.
I’m very interested in the idea of introducing Empoleon/Archie’s in the deck. Jason Klaczynski and Brit Pybas saw huge success in two States so that may be my next endeavor with the deck going into the next weekend of States.
Did you play this deck Week 2? If you did what changes did you make and how did you finish? Would you play this deck again at another State Championship?
I played the same list Week 2 and went 4-2-1 finishing 26th in PA states. Some unfortunate Prizes, early dead-draws, and a major misplay prevented me from doing better. The Landorus/Bats and Virizion/Genesect matchup can be ugly and hinges on Hammer flips and who goes first. If these decks are popular in your metagame I would be wary of playing Eggs. That being said, I think this deck is a solid choice and I can see myself playing it again as long as those two decks are not popular.
Thank you for your time, Bob! I know we will be hearing of Bob as he continues to do well with his unique decks. He is a relatively newer player so he is only known on the East Coast right now, but trust me: He is a very good player and practices a lot.
New Hampshire Report (Week 2)
Going into Week 2-of States I was actually torn on what to play. I knew I was either going to play Virizion/Genesect or Yveltal. V/G started to look enticing after losing to Kyogre in Top 8 and seeing the amount of Seismitoad that did well across the country. Groudon had also won Maine States, which is somewhat local, but most people don’t really factor in Maine when trying to judge the metagame since it was so small and Massachusetts had nearly four times the amount of players. But it still happened and the players that went to Maine States would likely be in New Hampshire and influenced by the results of Maine. Those players would surely consider playing Groudon which Virizion/Genesect does well against.
Unfortunately, Flareon was still seeing too much play to justify playing Virizion/Genesect since that matchup in an auto-loss. Thus I put down my green guys in favor of good old faithful Yveltal. My decision payed off this time and I was able to take home the title of New Hampshire State Champion! Here is the list I used:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
3 Muscle Band
Energy – 12
For the expected metagame this list was nearly ideal and I am glad my foresight was mostly correct. Heading into the venue I had expected Virizion/Genesect to rise in popularity to a degree because if I was strongly considering playing it I knew others would have the same epiphany I did.
When I got to the venue a friend of mine, Sean Gao, told me that there were a bunch of people playing Virizion in the room. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to scout and I was running on no sleep so I trusted Sean and his scouting. He was playing an identical list to mine last weekend and decided to stay on the same deck going into Week 2 just as I did.
He suggested that we put Head Ringers into the deck to help against the Virizion/Genesect decks and cut Enhanced Hammers. He had an inclination that Flareon would not be as popular because he knew a lot of the people who were playing Flareon the week prior had changed to Virizion/Genesect.
As it turned out he was correct and I can say that I would not have done nearly as well as I did at New Hampshire had I not taken his advice and put in Head Ringers. I could have even teched Spiritomb LTR to help the V/G matchup but we were not sure it would be so popular that we’d need to tech specifically for that matchup. I also decided to make the changes I wished I had made last weekend, excluding adding another Seismitoad-EX since Virizion had spiked in popularity.
This is a good spot to emphasize how important it is to build a network of friends who you can trust to share information. Having friends that can tell you what techs your upcoming opponent is playing, or suggest card options like Sean did for me, can have a huge impact on how your tournament pans out.
Pokémon is not a team game, yet having a group of friends to help you out is pertinent to success. Mike Fouchet has gone over the importance of teams and perhaps even other authors have done this as well, but it is true: Teamwork can be very important to your success in this game. Pokémon is a social game, so go out there and make some friends and help each other out!
The Return of Virizion/Genesect
A lot of players saw this coming with how well Kyogre and Seismitoad did Week 1: the triumphant return of Virizion/Genesect! To be fair it was only phased out the metagame during Florida Regionals and the first weekend of States, but that is a big deal for such a well-known deck.
Virizion/Genesect didn’t gain many new tools from Primal Clash and the shift in formats hurt the deck, so it won’t be as prominent as it once was, but it could still be a pristine play given the correct metagame and a solid list. We saw saw V/G top cut multiple States this past weekend, and it even won some of the events. Andrew Estrada, 2014 World Champion, piloted it to a first place finish at Indiana.
If I were to play Virizion/Genesect I think I would keep the list standard and similar to how I piloted the deck during City Championships:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 36
Energy – 14
I have talked about Virizion/Genesect before in past articles and the strategy, potential techs, and even the decklists are nearly identical to last format. Not much seems to change in V/G from format to format. The deck is consistent in more ways than one.
Some players in our area (Azul Griego and Chris Murray) who did the best with Virizion/Genesect decided to tech even harder for Yveltal and give themselves a chance against Flareon by cutting all of the cute tech cards and adding a 4-2 line of Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. LaserBank puts in work against Flareon by allowing you to 1-shot a Flareon with a Muscle Banded Virizion-EX while attaching to another Virizion-EX so you don’t fall behind on Energy. Of course the Prize trade is horrific, but there is a chance that at some point in the game the Flareon player could whiff attachments or a Flareon and allow V/G to come back into the game.
I witnessed this version of V/G beat Flareon during Swiss and Azul managed to take Flareon to Game 3 in Top 8 losing by one turn off of a topdeck. I know that had I faced Azul or Chris Murray Piloting the LaserBank V/G I would not have won the event unless they dead-drew.
I think I would only tech to this extreme if I had a solid pulse on the metagame and was confident that the LaserBank version would be better than the vanilla version. Clearly those two went into the tournament with a strong but risky play and it almost payed off for them had they not faced poor matchups and gotten bad luck in top cut. That is the risk you take though when you decide to play Virizion/Genesect in this format and is the exact reason why I chose not to play it this past weekend.
I predict that throughout the remainder of this format there will be a constant ebb and flow in the popularity of each deck, which will ultimately balance out the metagame. No deck beats everything. The computer-generated round pairings will sway tournament results. Of course, some decks will be strictly better than others in any given metagame, but for the most part I would say this format seems to be stabilizing quite nicely.
I hope you have enjoyed my article today and if you did be sure to give it a +1. If you have any questions feel free to ask them on the forums — I encourage constructive conversations. I would also like to highlight a new feature Adam has been working to implement which is coaching. I am available for one-on-one instruction if that’s something you’d be interested in. Good luck at your upcoming State Championships!
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