I’d like to preface this article with a few personal details about me. I just graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with my Master of Fine Arts in Photographic and Electronic Media. (Whew. That’s a long one.) But honestly, this happened just yesterday. It’s been a long, stressful, tumultuous two years, but I got it done. During that time, a lot of things have happened. I moved. I dyed my hair (to match my deck choices of course). I adopted a cat. I qualified for Worlds for the first time. I started writing for SixPrizes.
I know there are more options for consuming media related to the Pokémon TCG now than there have been ever before. For this reason, I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to add my thoughts. I am grateful to SixPrizes for having me on the team, and I am ecstatic that people continue to read my articles and enjoy them.
With that said, let’s move on to the topic at hand. As a preface, I think you may have noticed that I normally share whatever I feel with you. I’m not saying that my opinions on lists or the format are based solely on my gut reactions, but I’m also not the type of person that responds solely to empirical data. By this I mean that I don’t subscribe to the idea that the deck with the best numbers is necessarily the best deck in the format.
- Not Entirely Unlike: Opinions of the Top 8
- Top Plays for Week 2 (Kansas & Utah)
- Top Plays for Week 3 (Georgia, Wisconsin & Alberta)
- Micro Metas: Day 2 Top 8s
- Conclusion/State of the Game
Not Entirely Unlike: Opinions of the Top 8
We all know the meaning of this saying. After all, only perfect practice makes perfect. It stands to reason that just because a deck has a certain number of good performances overall doesn’t mean it is inherently the best. It could just mean that it’s the most represented. I would argue that the ratio of successful placings to overall number played is an important detail that is often missing from these kinds of lists.
It also occurred to me that success breeds success. So, I messaged all the players who made Top 8 at the three respective Regionals in North America this weekend: Sturbridge, Massachusetts; Kitchener, Ontario; and Seattle, Washington. I asked every one of these players that I could find on Facebook (unfortunately, I just can’t think of a better way to contact people I’ve never met) two questions:
- “What is the play for Week 2?”
- “What do you think the BDIF will be next format (BCR–ROS)?”
17 people found the time to message me back. Thanks again to everyone who answered, I really appreciate it!
Here are the results, sorted by Regional:
|Name||Week 2 Play||BCR–ROS BDIF|
|Azul Garcia Griego||Manectric-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Bats||M Rayquaza-EX|
|Chris Murray||Manectric-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Bats/Rock Guard||Mew-EX/Shedinja|
|Drew Guritzky||Seismitoad-EX/Mewtwo-EX/Bats||M Latios-EX/Bats|
|Dylan Bryan||Exeggutor||Seismitoad-EX or Rayquaza-EX Decks|
|Jimmy O’Brien||Flareon||Doesn’t Know|
|Michael Diaz||Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX||M Rayquaza-EX [Colorless]|
|Russell Laparre||M Manectric-EX/Bats/Acro Bike/Ghetsis||Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor/Wally|
|Thomas Masse Jr.||Metal||Anything with Shaymin-EX|
|Name||Week 2 Play||BCR–ROS BDIF|
|Alex Hill||Exeggutor||M Rayquaza-EX|
|Kevin Baxter||Primal Groudon-EX||M Rayquaza-EX [Dragon]|
|Name||Week 2 Play||BCR–ROS BDIF|
|Mia Violet||M Manectric-EX||M Rayquaza-EX [Colorless]|
|Oscar Morales||Flareon||M Rayquaza-EX/Shaymin-EX|
If you’re interested in the opinions of a particular player or area of the map, the above list might be of interest to you. Otherwise, here is a list of all the decks mentioned:
The Plays for Week 2
- M Manectric-EX
Best Decks of BCR–ROS
- M Rayquaza-EX [Colorless]
- M Rayquaza-EX [Dragon]
- Mew-EX/Shedinja ROS
- M Latios-EX/Bats
- Anything with Shaymin-EX
As you can see, the results are a bit all over the map. After looking at the ideas of everyone that made Top 8, I did a bit of musing myself. I’m going to discuss the three decks from this list that I personally like best for the next two weeks of Regionals, rank them in order and give an example list for each. Let’s go.
Top Plays for Week 2 (Kansas & Utah)
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 38
Energy – 14
Wow, I bet you’re all shocked that I chose this as my number one play for Week 2! Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to attend either Regional this weekend, but if I was going, I would 100% play my favorite deck. I’m not even being biased here, although this is possibly the last time the deck will see play. The reason I am advocating V/G this week is because its counters have gone down in play. It has a very decent game against Exeggutor decks, which will only continue to rise in popularity. As always, it has an easy time with Seismitoad-EX decks.
I’ve included this card because I don’t want to be messing around with Head Ringers or anything like that. I recently played a game at an LC versus Mike Pramawat. He was playing V/G and I was playing Toad/Mewtwo/Bats. On my first turn, I attached a DCE to my Active Mewtwo, the Virbank + Laser combo on his Active Virizion, as well as a Head Ringer. I thought that was a pretty stellar turn one, until he used a Tool Retriever on my Head Ringer, attached a Muscle Band and a Grass, and Lasered me right back. His turn effectively negated most of what I did on my first turn, and I was not expecting that at all. Of course, you can’t always get the 1-of on the first turn, but the maxed Skyla count does help with that. All you need is a Virizion, Grass, Tool, Skyla — not too difficult of a combination. I like Tool Retriever over Xerosic because it is easier to obtain Turn 1, and that’s really the only turn that matters against Toad decks.
Several V/G lists have begun to include the ever-popular Virbank/Laser back into the mix. It’s just so good! Why has this deck not played it before? Well, that’s because it’s pretty darn bad in the mirror. The reason I think it’s good right now is that unless V/G becomes much more popular in Week 2, I doubt you will play enough mirrors for it to impact your tournament. The advantages it brings in other matchups are just too good to ignore.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 38
Energy – 7
I would also highly consider playing this deck if I were attending Week 2. My teammate Jimmy Pendarvis played this list at the Nick Bailey Open a few weeks ago, taking 1st place. It has a decent matchup against Exeggutor. In fact, Jimmy faced against one in Top 4 of the tournament. I have always liked Seismitoad as a card (despite all its haters), but I feel like its main problem is lack of backup, as I’ve mentioned before. Too many Toad decks seem to rely on disruption, which unfortunately isn’t very effective right now outside of Exeggutor. A lot of the time, Items aren’t even that necessary anymore. I think Toad functions best right now as a method of slowing down an opponent’s setup, not as an only strategy. Mewtwo is a very efficient sweeper that can come in and easily clean up after Toad, while also threatening 1HKOs without too much difficulty.
Honestly, everything in this list is fairly self-explanatory. Toad is there for early-game disruption, Mewtwo is there to take KOs. Lasers and Bats helps offset Toad’s low damage output.
No. 3: Exeggutor
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 37
Energy – 9
So I’m not the biggest fan of this deck, but I just can’t deny its potential. Theoretically, it has very good matchups across the board with no auto-losses or anything like that. It struggles a bit against Bats, Fairies, and V/G, but those games are still very winnable. I’ve ranked it third on my list because I just can’t seem to get it to work right for me, but I still think it’s a good play. Perhaps I wouldn’t play it again, but that doesn’t affect my opinion of the deck. It’s still a strong choice for Week 2 … if you have the patience and fortitude to play it.
I’m not sure how I feel about the inclusion of these cards in Exeggutor. I can see their theoretical use, but I also have reservations about getting too tricky with the list. If it works for you, go for it, but I’ve simply included high counts of key cards in this list instead.
A high count of this card really helps against Toad decks and V/G. Also, if you go first in the mirror match, discarding their Energy from the Active and following up with a Blockade is a real killer. Crushing Hammers are fine and good for Energy denial, but in a deck that fears the consistent attacker as much as this one does, having more options for Energy denial can’t be bad.
Top Plays for Week 3 (Georgia, Wisconsin & Alberta)
No. 1: M Rayquaza-EX [Dragon]
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 34
Energy – 13
I know, I know, I know — wrong Rayquaza. I’m definitely not the only one who prefers the Dragon-type Rayquaza to his Colorless counterpart, but we are for sure in the minority. Oh, well. I believe he has potential. I mean, look at him. He’s a machine! 300 damage?! Are you kidding me? I suppose this is the state of things now. If you can’t stop it, just go with it. He may seem difficult to set up, but with the combination of the new Reshiram and Double Dragon Energy, it’s actually within reach. He doesn’t require that pesky Stadium, and he’s pretty darn hard to KO. Rayquaza starts off with a beefy 230 HP, and on top of that, he has four Resistances. FOUR! That’s very unfortunate for Grass, Fire, Water and Lightning Pokémon. Sorry, Seismitoad — it’s gonna take a while to take this guy down.
Ah, a Legendary Pokémon we haven’t seen in a good minute. Reshiram’s glory days were seemingly over, but he’s been reborn from the ashes — too much? Alright. The first competitive deck I really got into was CMT (Celebi Prime/Mewtwo-EX/Tornadus-EX DEX), so I’m super into this card. I maxed out Switches to take full advantage of this Ability. Attaching all 5 Energy in one turn is a real possibility in this deck.
The Hydra’s Ability is great: It’s kind of like a Darkrai-EX for Dragons. However, Hydreigon only decreases retreat by two. Since he has a three-Energy Retreat Cost, this means he is going to get dragged to the Active. This is another reason for the high Switch counts — you don’t want to be wasting an attachment on Hydreigon. However, he allows for that crucial one free retreat per turn, as Skyarrow Bridge did for CMT.
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 48
Energy – 4
Although most decks are utilizing Shaymin-EX for its Ability, his attack is actually pretty tricky. This deck takes full advantage of both aspects of the star of Roaring Skies. It’s much more consistent now than it was before, and it gains a new attacking option. There’s really not a whole lot to say about this build, since it contains mostly the same cards that Toad decks have always run. This deck relies on hitting everything on every turn through maximum consistency.
4 Virbank City Gym
This may seem ridiculous, and it may well be. My thoughts are that Silent Lab will see a spike in popularity, and that’s a real Shaymin killer. Since the main strength of this deck will be severely crippled without the use of Shaymin, I don’t want to mess around with not having a counter Stadium. Turn one Virbank + Laser never hurt anyone either!
This choice follows the same line of thinking that I outlined above, but this time I’m concerned with Wobuffett PHF. He went down in play with the decline of Donphan and V/G, but should come back into the public’s favor with the legality of the new set.
No. 3: Trevenant
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 43
Energy – 6
Ahhh, Trevenant. We haven’t seen you in a while! Everyone’s favorite haunted tree will be back in the upcoming format. Remember when Gothitelle was a thing? Remember the struggle of setting up a Stage 2 Pokémon by Turn 2? Well, now you can block your opponent from playing Items starting on your very first turn! Hooray! The idea is to use Shaymin’s attack to return it to your hand every turn while promoting a Trevenant from the Bench. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It’s pretty much the same thing as the Accelgor version, except Shaymin is a Basic, so it’s easier to set up. Also, it goes back into your hand and not into the deck, so you can use its Ability every turn. Wally can get out Trevenant as early as Turn 1, so your opponent will never get to play an Item the entire game if you can keep up the lock.
This deck may end up being good, or it may not. It lacks the Paralysis that Accelgor provided, but is much, much more consistent and easy to set up. Will that trade-off be worth it, or is Paralysis an essential part of this deck? It’s hard to say, but we will see how it pans out.
Micro Metas: Day 2 Top 8s
Something interesting I noticed about this week was that no Regionals had extra rounds on Day 2 — only a Top 8 determined through 7 or 8 rounds of Swiss. This means that your deck choice on Day 1 is much more important than what you play on Day 2, assuming the second week follows the same trend as far as numbers go. Since your Expanded deck doesn’t have to take you through 5 extra rounds as well as a Top 8, you can be much more liberal with your selection. I saw a lot of intense metagaming going on in the Top 8. Knowing your opponent and your likely bracket is very important to achieving success in the second day.
Not having the extra rounds means you can see who your opponent is right off the bat, even before you decide your deck choice. This is an interesting dynamic. You will have probably observed what your opponent was playing during Swiss rounds. Depending on who they are and how familiar you are with them, you may know their top choices for the Expanded format, or what kind of decks they tend to favor as a player.
For example, Dylan Bryan’s metagame call for Massachusett’s Top 8 was impeccable. He played M Manectric-EX/Aegislash-EX. This deck would perhaps not have been an ideal choice if Dylan had to power through 5 more rounds and a Top 8, but since it only had to get him through three opponents, he could make a more precise metagame call and sail through the Top 8 with a smart choice. I think this is a great strategy.
Conclusion/State of the Game
So there you have it. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Regionals Weeks 2 and 3. These decks and lists are some solid plays for the next two events, and while I always advocate doing your own testing, sometimes the availability to do so is just not in the cards. Hopefully this article provided some insight into the tail end of this format and the very beginning of the next one.
As for me, I strongly hope that the next format changes up the game. It’s beginning to feel overwhelming to me with the sheer number of decks that are currently equally viable. The fact that there are so many decks that have a fighting chance now makes it very difficult or even downright impossible to accurately predict the metagame. For this reason, I encourage everyone to choose a deck for Week 2 that they feel comfortable with and not worry as much as usual about the “right” call, as I believe there really isn’t one. I’m glad that everyone I surveyed pretty much gave a different answer, because it supports my own hypothesis regarding the format. If nothing else, this list should give you some ideas on what to play, but choose a deck that you like and supports your individual playstyle!
I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to check out SixPrizes’ new coaching feature. You can book a session with several of our Underground writers, and they will devote their time to helping you with whatever aspect of the game you want to talk about via Skype. It’s a great resource!
Another small note: I will be getting into streaming very soon, so follow me if you have Twitch! I’ll be playing several games including PTCGO, Super Smash Bros. 4, and throwback games like Pokémon Snap, Super Mario 64, Kingdom Hearts, and Spyro. It’s going to be fun! :)
As always, I appreciate any feedback you may have for me. If you liked my article, please give me a +1! Thank you once again!
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