This weekend is the beginning of the end … of the BCR–PRC format! It seems like we have been playing in this format for so long. So far we have played two Regionals — soon to be a third — and four States in this format. That is a lot of major tournaments to be played in one format. I know Double Crisis came out at some point during this time, but I still consider it all the same format.
This past weekend I attended the New England Regional Championship. However, I did not play in the tournament. Prior to the event I was floating around Top 16 in North America, so it seems odd that I chose not to play. But I was given the opportunity to commentate and be part of our Tournament Organizer’s amazing staff. I felt like my Nationals performance would end up being the deciding factor in whether I make it into the Top 16 (and qualify for Day 2 of Worlds) anyway, so I decided to accept the offer given to me and commentate the event.
The event was streamed on twitch.tv/clashtournaments. You can see both days of the stream in their past broadcasts right now. The individual matches will be uploaded to their YouTube channel at a later date.
Looking back on it I do not regret my decision at all and the stream was a huge success. We even made it onto the front page of Twitch.tv and peaked at around 2,900 concurrent viewers. Special thanks to Mark Korsak (owner of Clash Tournaments) and Patty Lefavour (New England area PTO) for allowing this to happen and giving me that amazing opportunity.
Having commentated the event I was allowed to have some say in which matches were put on stream. I was allowed to walk around the venue to see which matches would be best to feature each round. The knowledge I gathered gave me an incredibly strong grasp on the metagame of the tournament.
In this article I am going to use my unique viewpoint to break down the metagame of the New England Regional Championship for both days. Then, I’ll help you determine what the results of this past weekend mean for the upcoming Regional Championships and help you decide what the best plays are going to be.
Following that I have interviewed three of the top four at New England Regionals. Jimmy O’Brien, Chris Murray, and Azul Griego have all been kind enough to let me interview them and pick their brains in order to get their thoughts on the current format and what it means for this upcoming weekend.
Finally, I am briefly going to go over my thoughts on the next format including Roaring Skies. My testing with the new format is limited since I was focused on the current format as I originally planned to play in Regionals and wanted to do the best I possibly could. I do have some interesting thoughts on the new format as well as potential deck ideas for the third weekend of Regionals.
Full Pressure: The New England Meta
As I stated before, I was able to walk around and spectate any game I wanted to as long as I was not commentating at the same time. This gave me near perfect knowledge of the top tables metagame at New England Regionals. I will start by showing you the Top 8 and listing the decks each player played. I will say that the Top 8 was actually a pretty accurate representation of what the metagame felt like at the top tables. The metagame was defined, and I saw few surprising decks.
The most interesting deck I saw do well toward the beginning of the day was a Camerupt-EX-based deck that fueled Explosive Jet by using Team Magma’s Camerupt. I witnessed a Virizion/Genesect player have their dreams crushed by the deck which was entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, the Camerupt deck finished just outside Top 32.
I know this has been stated before, but I want to reiterate this: Day 1 is far more important than Day 2. I would spend the majority of your last-minute testing time on Day 1 and worry about Day 2 once you make it. If you are fortunate enough to have the time to test both formats, that is great! But if your time is limited, spend it testing for Day 1. This tournament’s Day 1 was even more relevant since there was only a Top 8 due to having around 150 players.
New England Regionals Top 8 (After Day 1)
- Jimmy O’Brien (7/0/1) — Flareon (Day 1), Trevenant/Accelgor (Day 2)
- Thomas Masse Jr. (6/0/2) — Exeggutor (Day 1), Flareon (Day 2)
- Michael Diaz (6/0/2) — Flareon (Day 1), Virizion/Genesect (Day 2)
- Azul Garcia Griego (6/1/1) — Virizion/Genesect (Day 1), Fairies/Florges (Day 2)
- Russell LaParre (6/1/1) — Manectric/Seismitoad/Crobat (Day 1), Flygon (Day 2)
- Dylan Bryan (6/1/1) — Exeggutor (Day 1), Manectric/Aegislash (Day 2)
- Chris Murray (6/1/1) — Exeggutor (Day 1), Fairies/Florges (Day 2)
- Drew Guritzky (6/1/1) — Seismitoad/Mewtwo/Crobat (Day 1), Trevenant/Accelgor (Day 2)
This metagame was fairly predictable and standard. There was a small surge in Donphan decks that did alright throughout the day, and a lack of Yveltal decks, which surprised me a little bit, but for the most part this is what I expected to happen. We saw Exeggutor decks skyrocket in popularity heading into Regionals and we now know why: The deck is incredibly strong and you will see it come this weekend.
There was less Seismitoad-EX in the room than I had expected; likely because of the rise in Exeggutor’s popularity. There was still a decent amount of Seismitoad-EX-based decks and decks with Seismitoad-EX in them, but I expected that number to be insanely high; something along the lines of 30-40% of the field. That was not the case this weekend though. I would say Seismitoad decks made up 20-30% of the field.
Now, when I said that there were no surprising decks that did well this past weekend that does not mean that there were no surprising techs that did well. Chris Murray played an Exeggutor deck with four copies of Red Card — I will share the list later in his interview — and Russell LaParre played an interesting deck with Rock Guard.
I actually played a list similar to Russell’s at my last State Championship to a Top 8 finish, losing to Dylan Bryan’s Exeggutor deck in the finals. If you are curious what a successful Seismitoad/Manectric/Crobat deck looks like, here is the list I played at States:
Trainers – 32
3 Head Ringer
Energy – 11
Aside from Russell and Chris’ sweet techs the rest of the Top 8 lists were fairly vanilla or have been discussed before. So what does this format being so defined mean for this upcoming weekend? Well, it means that playing a meta deck will probably be your best way to succeed. That doesn’t mean you can’t tech out your deck to counter a metagame, but I would not recommend going completely rogue.
Going Coconuts: Week 2 Predictions
I expect Exeggutor to heighten in popularity even more which will give it a target on its head. This will cause Flareon to become more popular as well, which could force Virizion/Genesect to fall off. Virizion/Genesect saw more play this past weekend than I had thought it would, but so did Flareon. Virizion/Genesect has a strong matchup against almost everything in any given field excluding Fire-based decks and Night March. Unfortunately, after this weekend I only see those decks rising in popularity.
The abundance of Virizion/Genesect in New England is probably why Seismitoad did not make as strong a showing as expected, but once Virizion/Genesect dies down a bit Seismitoad should start to do better. I could still see Yveltal being relevant in a metagame like this if built to beat Seismitoad and Flareon, especially if Virizion/Genesect dies down, but it will be difficult. The Seismitoad/Bats matchup is also hard for Yveltal, so Yveltal will have to hit the right matchups or get lucky to do well. At that point I would not even play it.
… These are the thoughts that go through my head when I think about the metagame going into this weekend. When I process all of my thoughts about the metagame I come to a few conclusions:
If I were to play in Regionals this weekend I would either play Exeggutor, Flareon, or a Seismitoad variant. I could not see myself playing any other deck if I were attending Regionals this second weekend. Obviously other decks could see success because luck and matchups are a huge factor in determining how you do, but I believe these three decks will give you the best chance of doing well. Deciding which deck and techs to choose would be based off of what YOU think the metagame will be the day before the tournament. It is hard for me to say what the exact play would be Day 1 because I usually have a better pulse on the metagame the night before the tournament after I have talked to friends and scoped the field.
I would not take the Day 2 results from New England into account when deciding what to play Day 2 this weekend. After talking to most of the people in Top 8 about this subject, everyone has said they built their decks specifically for that Top 8. To be even more specific, they built their decks to beat their Top 8 opponent. If you consider Day 2 as a second tournament, the players built their decks for an 8-person tournament.
Most of you will have to build your decks to play in a 32-person tournament, which is extremely different.
The Day 2 lists I post in this article will still be good and can be used as base lists for something you may want to play on your Day 2, but I would not take New England Top 8 into account when determining your Day 2 metagame. Dylan Bryan played Mega Manectric/Aegislash with FOUR Pokémon Center Lady for a reason. He was trying to hard counter specific players.
In a Top 32 you won’t be able to do this because you will be playing against random opponents. Everyone in a Top 8 cut knows who they are playing against and has an idea of what everyone else in the field will be playing so they can tech much harder based on that knowledge.
I would make your Day 2 deck choice based on what you think a more generalized field would look like. This means I would expect Trevenant/Accelgor, Fairies, maybe some Yveltal, Seismitoad decks, and whatever else people are talking about toward the end of Day 1.
Three of Four: Surveying the Semi-Finalists
As I said before, I conducted interviews with Jimmy O’Brien, Chris Murray, and Azul Griego. Each of them provided valuable information regarding the decks they played for both days and about the metagame. I will start with Jimmy’s interview.
Spelled with an “E”: Jimmy O’Brien Interview
Ray: Hello Jimmy, congratulations on getting fourth place this past weekend at New England Regionals! This placing gave you your invitation to this year’s World Championships, so congratulations on obtaining that as well. Let’s get started with our interview. The first question I want to ask is: What did you expect the metagame to be going into the tournament for Day 1?
Jimmy: I anticipated people were going to be countering Seismitoad-EX as well as playing Seismitoad-EX-based decks. I figured everyone’s game plan was to build a consistent deck that can deal with Toad. I didn’t think people would play Fairies/Gardevoir or Landorus/Bats. I assumed the metagame would resemble the States meta in the area to a degree.
Ray: I can see where you are coming from. Seismitoad-EX was definitely hyped going into the tournament, as it should have been. Your thought process on how you predicted the metagame was sound, and it definitely paid off for you since you ended up going 7-0-1. So, based off of your predictions for the meta, what did you end up playing?
Jimmy: I ended up playing Flareon. The only bad matchup with Flareon was Seismitoad/Crobat. I ended up beating a variant of that with Manectric in Swiss. I felt that Flareon no longer had a target on its head like it did right after it had won Florida Regionals. Playing Flareon also reminds me of playing my old favorite deck from Battle Roads 2008 which was Kingdra from Legends Awakened. You dug through your deck quickly in order to do massive amounts of damage, so I was familiar and comfortable with Flareon’s playstyle.
Given the metagame I expected, Flareon was the play in my mind. The Eggs deck was also getting a lot of hype. I thought Flareon could beat Eggs. I only played against one Eggs deck during the tournament (versus Dylan Bryan on stream), but the deck was everywhere. The one thing I like about the matchup is that as soon as I drop a Double Colorless Energy onto a Flareon I can immediately convert it into a knockout. Denying Energies isn’t as big against Flareon as it is against other decks. Another key to the matchup is being able to use Empoleon and Slurpuff to draw more cards to dig for Energies under Supporter lock.
Ray: Those were all accurate presumptions about the metagame. Your description about the Exeggutor matchup is spot on. In fact, that is how I remember it being played out on stream. After ending the day 7-0-1 I bet you were confident going into Expanded Top 8. What did you end up playing during Day 2?
Jimmy: I played Trevenant/Accelgor for Day 2. I didn’t like that we were allowed to change decks going into Day 2 knowing who our opponents were. Going into Expanded I made my deck choice solely to beat my Top 8 opponent, Drew Guritzky. I needed to Top 4 to get my Worlds invite so my main goal was to win my Top 8 match. I was not worried about winning the whole thing, but I still wanted to of course.
I attempted to predict what my Top 8 opponent was playing based on his previous deck choices and play the best possible deck choice taking that into consideration. I had actually taken into consideration that people may play a deck to hard counter Accelgor, but I didn’t think Drew would do that. If someone had somehow found out what their Top 8 opponent was playing it opens up the door for some crazy hard counters to happen. If they had randomized my opponent for Top 8 it would have probably changed what deck I played.
I ended up beating Drew in the TrevGor mirror match and losing to Azul Griego playing Fairies with four Wonder Energy. Overall I was happy with my performance and I had a fun time at the tournament. I was glad that the event was streamed. I like the idea that people could still enjoy the tournament from home.
Ray: That sounds like the plan everyone seemed to be on from what I heard. Everyone was trying to counter their Top 8 opponent and then worry about the rest later. If you were playing in Regionals this weekend what would you play? If you were playing in the Week 3 Regionals what would you play in the new format?
Jimmy: If I were playing in Regionals this weekend I would either play the same deck, or I would play Seismitoad/Mewtwo/Crobat. I think those are two of the strongest decks in the format right now. If I were playing in the new format I have heard the Rayquaza decks are good. To be honest I have not tested the new format much since I am not going to another Regionals.
Ray: Recently, I asked multiple people about the new format. It seems that most people have a similar answer at this point in time. Both of the Rayquaza decks seem good, but they have not tested much beyond that yet. Anyway, that will wrap it up here, Jimmy. Thank you for answering all of my questions thoroughly and providing us with some valuable information. Again, congratulations on your Top 4 and getting your Worlds invite. I will see you at Nationals!
The next interview I conducted was with Chris Murray. Chris played an interesting deck Day 1: Exeggutor with FOUR Red Card. Red Card is a card that has seen little to no competitive play up until this point and I was able to get Chris to share his list and his thoughts on the list and why he chose to play the cards he did.
No Complaints: Chris Murray Interview
Ray: Hello Chris, thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me. Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your third place finish as well as obtaining your Worlds invite this past weekend. You were in the same spot as Jimmy where a Top 4 secures your invite. I’ll start off this interview in a similar fashion to Jimmy’s and ask: What did you expect the metagame to be going into the tournament Day 1?
Chris: I thought there was going to be a decent amount of Exeggutor- and Seismitoad-based decks. I was expecting a small amount of Donphan, but I expected minimal Flareon at most. The fact that there was so much Flareon and two of them Top 8’d was surprising to me. At the last States I attended 4 out of the 7 rounds I played were against some form of Bats with Seismitoad-EX. I expected those kinds of decks to be much more popular than they were. That is why I expected there to be minimal Flareon decks.
Ray: I can see how your past experience with the local New England metagame made you think that there would be little Flareon. Even though that was not the case, it still didn’t seem to stop you. What deck did you end up playing? Why did you choose the cards you chose in that deck?
Chris: Here is the list I ended up playing:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 40
Energy – 7
I felt like Exeggutor was going to be a strong play for this tournament based off of what I thought the metagame would be. I was dead set on either Virizion/Genesect or Exeggutor the night before during zero hour. As you know, I was rooming with you and Azul. Azul was definitely playing Virizion/Genesect and you were not playing at all. For some reason I just don’t like the way Virizion/Genesect with Lasers feels, but I do think that was the best way to play the deck. In the end I ended up choosing Exeggutor because I liked it better. I think both of those decks were good choices, and Azul and I both ended up making Top 8.
Azul being my main testing partner is actually why Red Card ended up in my deck. Azul really only played Virizion/Genesect, and through testing I found that this was Exeggutor’s hardest matchup. It felt like Head Ringer just didn’t do enough to sway the matchup in my favor, so I tried to think of other ways to deny Virizion/Genesect from ever getting off an Emerald Slash. This is when I thought of Red Card. If I am able to Red Card Virizion/Genesect the turn that I Blockade them it is incredibly difficult for them to find the pieces to put together an Emerald Slash at all throughout the game. I was consistently going even or getting 2-0’d by Virizion/Genesect before I played Red Card. After playing Red Card I started to 2-0 Azul in testing the night before, and the deck I was playing was chosen from that point on. Of course, Red Card can be good in other matchups, but I put it in there mainly to help beat Virizion/Genesect. In tournament I played against THREE Virizion/Genesect decks and beat two of them 2-0 and tied with Azul in the last round. The Red Card worked as planned and was very significant and won me those games.
Another interesting card that I played in my list was Shadow Triad. The uses of the card are obvious; it helps me get back valuable resources from my discard like Plasma Energy or Hypnotoxic Laser. I think this card should be standard in all Exeggutor decks, and I’m not sure why it isn’t yet. The rest of my list seems pretty standard.
Some people told me that time might be an issue for the deck but I disagree. I would say that you can tell pretty early on in the game whether you are going to win or lose most of the time. Obviously the wins are slow because the deck takes a long time to actually take 6 Prizes, but the losses generally come quickly. This means I can tell if I want to concede early to give me enough time to complete the series. In this tournament I had no problems with time being an issue. Red Card will also help you lock your opponent out of the game quickly. If you Red Card your opponent to four cards and they draw dead the game is basically over.
Ray: If I wasn’t staying with you or did not know you at all and I heard that someone doing well was playing four Red Card, I would have been a skeptic. Chris, you are truly the king of jank. [Chris is known in our area for playing weird decks. He even managed to Top 4 Nationals in 2012 playing 4-Supporter CMT!] Thank you for explaining all of the interesting card choices in your list, hopefully people will take this knowledge and expand their minds when building decks. [Think about all of the possible options you have to help beat certain matchups and test them. Who knows, maybe you will find success with a crazy tech like Red Card.]
Now, the next question I want to ask you is what did you play on Day 2? And why did you choose to play it?
Chris: This is what I chose to play on Day 2:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 34
Energy – 11
Going into Day 2 I wasn’t sure what my opponent was playing since I didn’t know him that well. I decided that I would play something that would not lose to what he played the day before, which was Eggs, and have good matchups against the decks that were good in Expanded like Trevenant/Accelgor.
My opponent actually got punished by trying to hard counter me. My opponent straight up told me that he and his team put me on playing Virizion/Genesect or Exeggutor based on my past. My opponent played a Flareon deck that would destroy either of those decks, but wouldn’t be too great against much else in the metagame. Most people in this Top 8 played only to beat their Top 8 opponent because they needed the Top 4 Championship Points.
One thing I feel is necessary to point out is the four Wonder Energy. One of the main reasons to play Fairies in Expanded is the access to playing four Wonder Energy. Wonder Energy is insane in Expanded because it completely stops Accelgor which I think is one of the best decks in the format.
Ray: That is ironic that your opponent tried to hard counter you and ended up hurting himself because of it. So, if you were to play this weekend, or the following weekend, what decks would you play?
Chris: If I were playing this format again I would either play Exeggutor again or I would play Seismitoad-EX/Manectric-EX/Crobat PHF. I would play something similar to what you played for States. I would also consider playing a Seismitoad-EX deck with Magcargo PRC 24, Munna BCR, and Keldeo-EX/Float Stone. Magcargo with Keldeo-EX/Float Stone counters Exeggutor hard. The Munna is good because you already play Keldeo-EX and Float Stone so why not try to have your opponent skip their turn on a Sleep flip? As far as the next format with Roaring Skies I would probably play Colorless Mega Rayquaza. That deck seems insane to me. I have been able to hit the turn one 240 damage numerous times in recent testing. I have not tested the format that much outside of Rayquaza, but that deck just feels insane right now. Mew-EX/Shedinja ROS also seems fun, but after testing Rayquaza, to my dismay, it is pretty good.
Ray: I never thought of playing Magcargo before. Now that you mention it, that card does beat Exeggutor quite easily if you can set it up since the Omega Barrier Ancient Trait will protect the Energy on it and it can’t be effected by Hypnotoxic Laser. Thank you for your time Chris, congratulations on making it into the Top 4 and getting your Worlds invitation, and I will see you soon!
Whenever I hear Chris is having an insanely crazy idea he either comes out looking like a genius or he goes 0-2 drop. In this case his idea was a huge success, and we may even see it being replicated this weekend.
My next interviewee was Chris’ testing partner, and a close friend of mine, Azul Griego. Azul ended up coming in second place playing his unique Virizion/Genesect deck Day 1 and the Fairies list above on Day 2.
Boy Blue: Azul Griego Interview
Ray: Going into this tournament you already had your Worlds invite. After getting second place this past weekend I believe you have nearly locked up your spot in Top 32, so congratulations on those accomplishments. I’m going to start the interview with the same question I started with for everyone else so far: What did you expect the metagame to be going into the tournament Day 1?
Azul: I expected lots of Exeggutor; I expected it to be the most played deck amongst good players. I expected more Seismitoad than there actually was, and a little Night March and Flareon. The rest of the decks I didn’t care about because Virizion/Genesect can beat everything that is not Night March or Flareon.
Ray: So, did you stick with a Virizion/Genesect deck similar to the one you found decent success with at States?
Azul: Yes, the list is similar to what I played at States. Here is the list I played Day 1 of Regionals:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 35
Energy – 14
Azul: Lasers are really good against most of the field because it allows Virizion-EX to be able to do massive amounts of damage. It prevents V/G from being overwhelmed. It allows you to Emerald Slash to a Virizion-EX and conserve your Energy while also taking knockouts with Emerald Slash. Laser is also just a strong card that can give you optimal math in various situations. Laser gives you the ability to force your opponent into a 25% chance to potentially skip their turn which can allow you to come back in nearly unwinnable situations. V/G has the room in the deck if you cut the right cards. I played 3 Virbank too because I was afraid of Rough Seas and Silent Lab.
I think one other deck decision I made that might be interesting to some people as well, is the addition of a second Jirachi-EX. Having the 2nd Jirachi-EX on the Bench was usually never a threat to me losing the game faster since usually I have a damaged Pokémon anyway. It was incredibly effective and being able to get a second Jirachi-EX late game to get any Supporter I wanted to help end the game was powerful. It also makes it near impossible to dead-draw. Generally your opponent needs to answer your Genesect-EX as opposed to Jirachi-EX.
Ray: That is some interesting logic regarding Jirachi-EX. I have always been a fan of that card, but I never thought about adding a second copy of it into any deck besides Exeggutor. The addition of LaserBank has always been strong for you, and I think that is the optimal way to play Virizion/Genesect in this format. Chris already discussed your Day 2 list with us earlier, but is there anything you want to add to that?
Azul: My Day 2 opponent told me he was playing Flygon to try to mind game me. I was afraid that this was a bluff tactic but I actually thought he would play Flygon. I played a deck that was strong against various decks, but I played techs for Flygon like Xerneas-EX. The card was also for Donphan and random scenarios, but it was intended to beat Flygon. Everyone seemed to try to counter their Top 8 opponent and mainly focus on that. Russ was known for playing Flygon when it was legal and has played it whenever he has had the chance to in Expanded. With this information I chose to play a deck that would have a good chance against Flygon, while also being decent against the rest of the potential metagame.
Ray: So your opponent told you what they were playing the day before the tournament?! That is a next level mind-gaming strategy right there. I guess it ended up not paying off for him, but you would have put Russ on Flygon anyway since that is what he is known for. If you were playing next weekend, or the weekend after that, what would you play?
Azul: If I were playing next weekend I would either play the same thing or Seismitoad-EX/Manectric-EX/Bats with Rock Guard — similar to what you played at States, which is what Chris and I spent some time testing. If I were playing in the new format with Roaring Skies I would play a Rayquaza-EX deck.
Ray: You and Chris always seem to be on the same train of thought, and it usually works out for both of you. Thank you for your time, and congratulations on your finals placing as well as the two byes at Nationals.
Shields Up: Brief Thoughts on Roaring Skies
The two Mega Rayquazas are easily the most hyped cards going into the new format. But I want to remind everyone that Seismitoad-EX still exists and that it remains powerful, especially when paired with Garbodor LTR or Shaymin-EX ROS.
I think cards with Safeguard could start to see fringe play as the format develops. Cards like Wobbuffet PHF and Aegislash-EX will also be incredibly strong in the format. When building a deck in the new format, try not to leave yourself too vulnerable to those counter cards, otherwise a one-card tech may just neuter your whole deck.
I have not tested the format much at all, but these thoughts are just my first impressions that I feel are important to share with you all. The format seems to be incredibly fast and somewhat broken. Hopefully it will balance itself out and we will have a fun, balanced format where skill is the deciding factor in games as opposed to simply who goes first or gets the best start.
Thank you for reading my article! I hope it has helped give you some good insight on this format and helps you decide what you want to play during Regionals this weekend. Good luck to anyone playing in any Regionals this weekend or next weekend! I am excited to see the results from the new format Regionals and start testing for Nationals, which will likely be the next tournament I attend.
Good luck, have fun, and don’t forget to like this article if you enjoyed it.
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.