Hey there everyone! I’m excited to write this week because it feels like the month-long lull between Worlds and Regionals is finally over! With Autumn Regionals only a week away, players have been asking what to expect and what to play in this crazy Expanded format. I believe these questions go hand in hand as it’s simply impossible to select the best deck without some kind of forecast on the metagame. Fortunately, this means that I have quite a bit to add to the conversation since my last article now that there’s more information to go off of.
As many of you have probably heard, an Arena Cup took place in Germany a couple of weeks ago in the Expanded format. Based on these new results plus my personal experiences from attending League Challenges, I feel that there are a few decks which are clear favorites popularity-wise heading into Regionals. While many of my initial predictions were correct, I definitely overlooked how much potential Giratina-EX had with the right partner. Robin Schulz did a great job exploiting everybody’s reliance on Double Colorless Energy with his Seismitoad/Giratina build.
After giving my brief thoughts on the most popular decks, I want to delve into how to tech out Vespiquen in order to get an edge over the other popular decks heading into Regionals. Rather then restate what has already been said about the Arena Cup lists, I want to discuss some underappreciated strategies and win conditions for potentially countering these top decks.
What to Expect for Fall Regionals
History has shown that players are very fond of Quaking Punch. Since its release last year, players have found success with Seismitoad-EX in various forms all season. With such a huge card pool, Seismitoad/Giratina becomes a very attractive deck for players to default to because a proven list is readily available and Seismitoad-EX is a card anybody with minimal prior Expanded experience is familiar with. I’m confident that even if it wasn’t the best deck, it would see a significant amount of play for those reasons alone.
However, Seismitoad/Giratina is a force to be reckoned with and what I consider to be the deck to beat heading into Regionals. Many decks in their current forms are extremely vulnerable to Giratina — the Renegade Pokémon — due to their reliance on Double Colorless Energy. This means that even if a deck makes it past the initial onslaught of Quaking Punches, the Seismitoad/Giratina player simply has to remove any Energy still in play with Enhanced or Crushing Hammers followed by attacking with Giratina. This strategy prevents a deck such as Accelgor with only Special Energy from attacking for the rest of the game!
There are certainly a handful of decks that Seismitoad/Giratina would struggle against; however these counters unfortunately have bad matchups themselves:
- Groudon has shown to be a very uphill battle for Seismtoad-EX last year, as Groudon can Knock Out three consecutive Seismitoad-EXs while being immune to any disruptive Items thanks to its Ancient Trait. Unfortunately, there’s the huge risk of running into Vespiquen or Night March, two quick non-EX decks that Groudon struggles to trade Prizes with efficiently.
- Gengar/Trevenant also seems like it might be able to pose a threat to both Seismitoad/Giratina and these non-EX decks, as a turn one Trevenant via Wally prevents all the disruptive Items in addition to Battle Compressor. However, the glaring Darkness Weakness makes Gengar-EX a prime Lysandre target for any Yveltal variant. The metagame might shift in a way where one of these counters becomes viable, but as it stands there’s no obvious deck to play that counters Seismitoad/Giratina without sacrificing another popular matchup.
I think it’s more likely we see players making card choices with Seismitoad/Giratina in mind as well as Seismitoad/Giratina builds with heavier counts of Xerosic and Team Flare Grunt for the inevitable mirror matches.
Yveltal is another deck players can fall back on if they’re looking for a familiar deck in such a wide open format. With the return of Dark Patch, it’s much easier for Yveltal variants to hit crucial knockouts with Evil Ball as well as power up other Dark-type attackers in a pinch. However, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on which Yveltal variant is the best, with some players choosing to partner it with Archeops and others with Garbodor.
I believe prior to Seismitoad/Giratina’s breakout performance, Yveltal/Archeops was the strongest variant. The second place Arena Cup list was card for card what I posted in my last article, so I’m glad to see some of my predictions panned out. Even if almost every player with Evolutions has an answer for Archeops, the chance to get it set up Turn 1 is still a chance to force your opponent to waste their Supporter on Hex Maniac or Lysandre, which consequently potentially buys you a turn or two in the long run. I also don’t see much of a reason for Garbodor in the current state of the format, as there aren’t any Ability-centric decks to counter.
The problem with the Archeops version is that the Maxie engine forces you to run a ton of Item-based draw. This makes the deck much more vulnerable to Quaking Punch compared to many of the other Yveltal builds. For this reason alone, I could definitely see a case for moving away from Archeops in favor of a more Supporter-based draw engine.
While I’m not sure what the optimal partner for Yveltal is right now, I’m confident the deck should sill include enough copies of non-EX attackers, such as Yveltal XY and Absol PLF, in order to keep up with the Prize exchange against non-EX decks.
I think it’s very likely we might see players reverting back to a traditional Yveltal/Seismitoad build with a healthy amount of non-EX attackers or a Yveltal/Raichu build as Raichu provides an edge in the Yveltal mirror while also being aiding in the Prize exchange in the non-EX matchups.
Night March & Vespiquen
While these archetypes are certainly two different decks, there’s a lot of overlap when it comes to discussing them with respect to the rest of the format. Both of these Battle Compressor-reliant, non-EX decks dish out tons of damage very quickly by discarding their respective Pokémon. These decks are both cheap to build outside of Shaymin-EX as well as enjoyable to pick up and play from my experience.
In terms of the metagame, both of these archetypes keep many of the EX decks in check. Whether it’s M Rayquaza-EX, Genesect-EX, or M Manectric-EX, all these powerful cards come up short when it comes to trading efficiently with non-EX attackers. Yveltal variants are able to keep up thanks to the various Dark-type non-EX attackers, while Seismitoad-EX is of course able to keep up thanks to the Item lock. The question then of course becomes when it’s advantageous to pick one of these non-EX decks over its counterpart.
The main advantages from the Night March player’s perspective are Joltik’s Lightning typing, being able to utilize Archeops, and finally being unaffected by any opposing Archeops. While it’s not difficult for a Vespiquen deck to hit for 170 damage fairly quickly, Joltik’s Lightning typing means that it’s a threat to 1-shot an opposing Yveltal-EX from the first turn of the game. Night March utilizing Archeops means that the Night March player can extend their probable early Prize lead by forcing the opponent to Lysandre Archeops over Shaymin-EX or wasting an early Supporter drop on Hex Maniac just to set up.
Vespiquen, on the other hand, has its Grass typing, higher HP, and the ability to tech a revolving door of Pokémon. The Grass typing makes a huge difference in the Seismitoad/Giratina matchup. With only one turn to play Items in order to discard Pokémon before the inevitable Quaking Punch, it’s unlikely that Night March will be able to swing for 180 damage. Vespiquen’s Grass typing means that it only has to discard a much more manageable seven Pokémon.
The higher HP doesn’t seem like a big deal since most attackers are capable of dealing at least 90-100 damage regardless. However, in the Yveltal matchup, the extra HP means that the Yveltal player has trouble keeping up in the Prize trade by simply using Oblivion Wing with the non-EX Yveltal. In addition, the extra HP could make an impact against any random Crobat decks that pop up at Regionals.
Vespiquen’s necessity to play a high count of Pokémon means that you have plenty of space to tech the deck out for a particular matchup. The ability to Battle Compressor away tech cards in irrelevant matchups for more damage makes the deck incredibly versatile and easy to adapt as the metagame changes. It also makes the deck incredibly fun to build and play.
Overall, I think it’s impossible to call one of these non-EX decks strictly better than the other. Night March is likely to be superior when the metagame is vulnerable to Archeops or a ton of other players are playing Archeops themselves. Vespiquen is the better option against Seismitoad and is very versatile if you’re able to correctly predict the metagame.
With all that said, I’d like to continue the discussion on Vespiquen with regards on how to tech out the deck for the expected metagame heading into Regionals.
Free Bee: Eight Ways to Tech Vespiquen
The deck I’ve enjoyed testing the most heading into Regionals has certainly been Vespiquen. While the Trainer engine in every Vespiquen build is somewhat restricted, the Pokémon line allows for quite a bit of creativity. I delved into Vespiquen quite a bit in my last article, but the deck has to change substantially now that Giratina has made a splash into the metagame. Below is a 55-card skeleton from my friend David Sturm’s 3rd place finish at the Arena Cup:
Pokémon – 26
Trainers – 22
Energy – 7
Open Slots: 5
One of the more drastic changes to the decklist from last time is the switch from Bronzong PHF to Blacksmith and R Energy. This gives the Vespiquen deck an out to Giratina besides attaching basic Energy one at a time while hoping to evade a Lysandre as well as Crushing Hammer flips. Vespiquen’s Grass typing puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on the Seismitoad/Giratina by often threatening knockouts on Seismitoad-EX as early as the second turn. At the Arena Cup, this was a non-issue for Seismitoad/Giratina as a single Giratina could Knock Out the Active Vespiquen while using Crushing and Enhanced Hammers to remove any Energy on the Bench. Giratina would then likely sweep the remaining Prizes.
However, the inclusion of Blacksmith gives Vespiquen the opportunity to put the Seismitoad/Giratina player in a lose-lose scenario. If the Seismitoad/Giratina player continues the Quaking Punch lock, the game can end in four turns barring bad draws off of N or poor Hypnotoxic Laser flips. If the Seismitoad/Giratina player opts to switch to Giratina, the Vespiquen player now has access to Items and can very likely VS Seeker for Blacksmith onto a Flareon in response. The matchup ends up being fairly close, but whether the Seismitoad/Giratina player opts to continue the Item lock or switch to Giratina, it feels that they’re always at the mercy of the Vespiquen player’s draws.
As a bonus, the addition of R Energy allows the deck to take advantage of Energy Evolution on Eevee as another way to bypass Archeops. It may ultimately be correct to run some kind of split between the 50-HP Energy Evolution Eevee and the 60-HP Eevee, but for now I’d rather have the extra insurance against Archeops and the slight boost in consistency. The 10 extra HP hasn’t really been game changing thus far in my testing, but it seems like one of those judgement calls that are hard to make until you have a very large sample size.
1 Life Dew
The other big change you’ll notice is the swap from Computer Search to Life Dew. While Computer Search is one of the best consistency cards and everybody preaches consistency at large events such as Regionals, I feel that the metagame is shaping up in a way where opposing non-EX decks will be quite popular. And while there might be some in-game skill in Vespiquen or Night March mirrors, they are certainly some of the more luck-based mirror matchups.
If I were to play one of these decks at Regionals, I’d want to make sure I have some kind of edge in these non-EX Prize races. Life Dew buys you that extra turn to come back from simply playing second and starting the game on the back foot. In addition, it also buys you a turn in a matchup such as Yveltal where you might have to spend an extra turn playing around Archeops.
Options for the Last Five Slots
While Vespiquen certainly requires careful resource management and knowledge of each matchup when choosing which Pokémon to Battle Compressor away, a huge part of what sets a Vespiquen player up for success is making the correct tech choices before the tournament even begins. I’ll be discussing my opinions on the plethora of techs I’ve tried to hopefully steer anybody trying to build a list that suits them in the right direction.
With only 1 copy of Audino, the skeleton list is cutting it a little too close for comfort when it comes to Hypnotoxic Laser flips. For this reason alone, 2 copies of Audino are often considered standard for many Vespiquen builds. With only 1 copy, you have to be very conservative in order to do your best to avoid having a game stolen by one bad Sleep flip.
However, there’s some merit for favoring a tech Espeon instead. If you run into any Accelgor decks at Regionals, Espeon’s Solar Revelation is going to be much more annoying for your opponent to play around then an extra copy of Audino. In addition, Espeon is not vulnerable to the Ninetales and Silent Lab combo found in some builds of Accelgor as it’s a Stage 1. It also makes an impact when facing a fringe deck such as Gengar/Trevenant. Gengar-EX needs the extra damage from Poison to score knockouts with Dark Corridor, which forces the Gengar/Trevenant player to find a Lysandre for Espeon immediately.
Ultimately, the choice boils down to whether you want to prepare for these potential fringe decks with Espeon or if you’d rather have extra insurance against the masses playing Hypnotoxic Laser.
While the Arena Cup list got by without teching either of these cards, having a switching option is always a nice out to have when the suboptimal Pokémon you started with is now stranded Active. Float Stone is preferable over Switch as you can play the Float Stone, followed by a Sycamore or a Shaymin-EX, and then draw a Pokémon to retreat to. There’s also less of a need to worry about switching out of Special Conditions as Audino already helps to cover that basis.
AZ certainly seems out of place in a non-EX deck that can’t really take advantage of the healing aspect in addition to wasting the Supporter for the turn. While wasting the Supporter for the turn is a significant downside, the upside of being a Supporter means that it’s searchable with the combination of Battle Compressor and VS Seeker. AZ can also function as a pseudo draw Supporter if you end up with an otherwise dead hand by simply replaying a Shaymin-EX. Lastly, the ability to pick up a Shaymin-EX when your opponent is likely planning to take advantage of the 2-Prize bounty next turn with Lysandre can potentially save you a couple games.
One of the most common things I see in Vespiquen builds is that everybody is excited to play nearly every Eeveelution in one deck. While they’re certainly adorable, it’s only worth teching these Pokémon if you believe Water or Lightning types are relevant in the metagame.
While I’ve seen next to no Water-weak Pokémon-EX getting much hype in Expanded, there’s certainly a case to be made for Jolteon. Yveltal variants are bound to be popular and there may even be a few Mega Rayquaza decks floating around. However, after initially including the card in my Vespiquen build, it hasn’t been as impactful as I had hoped. When facing any Yveltal/Garbodor builds, Jolteon is of course completely dead weight. In the non-Garbodor Yveltal variants, players running multiple copies of normal Yveltal in addition to Plasma Absol don’t plan on attacking with Yveltal-EX very often in the matchup anyway. They’d rather try to force a one-for-1 Prize exchange while forcing the Vespiquen player to worry about Archeops and having N as an out to make a comeback.
If I expected to face Yveltal every other round, I’d certainly splash a Jolteon as it’s only one card and provides a small benefit. However, I’d much rather make space for something else if it’s likely I’ll only face Yveltal once or twice.
Everybody preaches how key consistency is to success at large events and there’s certainly room for one of these cards in the list. I think when it comes to the classic debate of techs versus consistency, I’m more inclined to lean toward making room for the extra tech if I feel it either makes a small impact in a very popular matchup or it completely flips a bad matchups into my favor. If the tech simply makes a good matchup better or has a small impact on a matchup I might face once, I’m much more likely to opt for the extra consistency card.
When it came to actually testing out all the options, I’m still unimpressed with Level Ball in Vespiquen. When playing the deck it seemed that I didn’t have a ton of trouble drawing into attackers since I run both 4-4 Vespiquen and 4-4 Flareon lines. Outside of getting an extra Basic turn one, I was never thrilled to see Level Ball and wished it was a plethora of other cards.
Colress is one of the strongest Supporters in the game, but Vespiquen is one of the few decks that it doesn’t flow well in for me. As always, Colress is awkward to play as your only Supporter on the first turn of the game since both players likely don’t have a ton of Benched Pokémon. Of course, this small downside pales in comparison to the huge upside of amassing a huge hand of cards mid to late game. However, when playing decks like Vespiquen or Groudon you find that your Bench actually shrinks as it gets to the late game. In Vespiquen’s case, you have to discard a ton of Pokémon in EX matchups to get knockouts, so your Bench gets smaller as the Pokémon that weren’t discarded get Knocked Out. When facing non-EX matchups, it’s less critical to discard a ton of Pokémon, but you have to be careful not to carelessly bench all of your Pokémon-EX as it gives your opponent easy Lysandre targets to pick off as the game progresses.
A single copy of Teammates was the most interesting consistency card that I ended up testing. While it’s useless on the first turn and can be played around to an extent with Hypnotoxic Laser by achieving in-between-turns knockouts, it’s extremely useful in guaranteeing a crucial knockout rather than playing Sycamore and probably drawing what you need.
In addition, Teammates also has a ton of synergy with Life Dew in the matchups it’s relevant because Life Dew isn’t searchable via anything else in the deck. The option to use Battle Compressor and VS Seeker to find Teammates in order to search for Life Dew allows you to find your ACE SPEC by the mid game. Otherwise, drawing Life Dew too late in the game might mean your opponent can simply Lysandre around it.
Whether or not to run one of these consistency cards just comes down to how game changing the tech that could take their place would be.
1 Wobbuffett PHF (for insurance when facing Archeops)
While my build of Vespiquen runs a single copy of Hex Maniac as a soft Archeops counter, staring down a Turn 1 Archeops is still a very frightening reality to face. As a Vespiquen player you know that this Archeops is likely to set you back at least a turn or two in the Prize exchange. You’ll likely have to spend a turn sacrificing your Active Pokémon while playing Hex Maniac to evolve as many Pokémon as possible.
Playing Wobbuffett gives you the option to simply Ultra Ball for Wobbuffett, play Shaymin or Sycamore, retreat, and then evolve a ton of Benched Pokémon. This way you don’t have to worry about having Hex Maniac without Pokémon to evolve into or whiffing Hex Maniac altogether. While it may seem like a bad strategy to plan on going down an additional Prize card with Wobbuffett, it’s very realistic for the Vespiquen player to come back from a 2-Prize deficit. Vespiquen is likely to trade two for one with at least one EX attacker in addition to utilizing Life Dew to deny an additional Prize card.
If players move away from Yveltal/Archeops because of how Item-based the engine is against Seismitoad/Giratina, Wobbuffett is more of a luxury than anything. Of course if the metagame doesn’t change that quickly heading into the first week, Wobbuffett is a single slot that can make a decent impact on the Archeops matchups.
1-1 Pyroar FLF (as a hard counter to Night March)
If Regionals is swarming with these adorable critters, evolving a 1-1 Pyroar line can lead to a free win now that Vespiquen is running R Energy. While the single Litleo is vulnerable to Lysandre, playing Litleo with Hex Maniac in the early turns of the game makes it less likely for Night March to have both Lysandre and an Energy to attack with without the aid of Shaymin-EX or Jirachi-EX. With no Evolutions that can attack or copies of Hex Maniac in current Night March lists, it’s very likely you will be able to evolve to Pyroar at least once or twice in a best-of-three, giving you a huge advantage in an otherwise close matchup.
Pyroar is certainly not worth running if Night March isn’t everywhere, but it seems like one of those cards that’s good to keep in the back of your mind in case the metagame shifts in an unexpected way in the upcoming weeks.
Silver Bangle used to be a staple in several Flareon builds last season, but in testing Vespiquen I haven’t found the card to be extremely impactful. In my mind Silver Bangle had two main uses when playing Flareon: drawing it turn one when using Leafeon against Seismitoad-EX and aiding in achieving a higher damage cap against high-HP Mega Evolutions. Fortunately for Vespiquen, its Grass typing means that Silver Bangle is no longer the priority it once was in the Seismitoad matchup.
In addition, the advent of Unown allows Vespiquen to get away with a higher count of Pokémon. This is because Unown allows Vespiquen to cut any copies of Acro Bike or Trainers’ Mail in favor of consistency in the form of Pokémon based draw. A higher Pokémon count means more Pokémon to discard, which makes it easy for Vespiquen to Knock Out 170 HP and 180 HP EXs. Admittedly, Vespiquen can still struggle Knocking Out some of the high-HP Mega Pokémon early game. Faded Town provides a solution to this problem while also acting as a Stadium counter against the likes of Silent Lab for the turn.
If EX decks with monstrous amounts of HP phase back into the metagame, these tech choices will certainly see a ton of play in Vespiquen.
1 Bunnelby PRC or 1-1 Milotic PRC (for recovering resources)
Bunnelby doesn’t feel like a high-impact card, but it’s great insurance when you are forced to discard too many Double Colorless Energy or VS Seeker with Professor Sycamore. It also gives you the opportunity to steal a game by milling any opponents not thinking about Bunnelby. Most of the time I end up just discarding it with Battle Compressor for 10 more damage, but I’ve had a handful of games where Bunnelby has certainly pulled its weight by recovering crucial resources. It can also recycle Life Dew if you’re forced to attack with it mid to late game, thus making up for the extra Prize Bunnelby gave up.
Milotic is slightly more space intensive and slightly more gimmicky, but also slightly better when it works. It can recover an extra Lysandre, an extra Double Colorless Energy, or provide a second copy of Life Dew in a pinch. The downsides are of course is that it’s useless versus Garbdoor, Feebas only has 30 HP, it takes up an extra space compared to Bunnelby, it’s difficult to play vs Archeops, etc.
It’s certainly a card I’m undecided on myself and only more testing will tell how often the ability is actually winning games. Sometimes a second Life Dew is game changing, but it’s difficult to use in every matchup and only more testing will tell exactly how often the deck wins by exactly 1 Prize thanks to Milotic. Still, it showed enough potential from my testing that it seemed worth mentioning for anybody feeling creative.
Pokémon – 29
Trainers – 24
Energy – 7
This would likely be the 60-card list I would run if Regionals were tomorrow and I had no more time to prepare. When making this list I had the mindset that I expected to face quite a few Seismitoad/Giratina, Yveltal/Archeops, and other non-EX decks. I provided my thought process on all the different tech options for Vespiquen so that you can build your own personal list if you expect a slightly different metagame. In addition, hopefully these explanations make this section a resource for anybody interested in Vespiquen as Regionals progress and the metagame inevitably shifts along the way.
For better or worse, everyone still has at least a week before Regionals which means that there’s plenty of time to prepare. With that said, I’d like to discuss my thought process on how I would approach “breaking” this format that has just begun to exist. Hopefully this section inspires somebody to come up with something crazy for Regioanls!
Attacking from All Angles: Building a Deck with Different Win Conditions in Mind
Whenever there are only a few decks making up a majority of the metagame, there’s almost always a hidden gem in the format. This statement is true even more so when these top decks have a few common weaknesses to exploit. For example, at Nationals this past year I ended up playing Klinklang. The mindset behind my deck choice and my in game decisions was realizing that there were two large subsets of decks in a very diverse metagame. There were EX decks that were each powerful in their own right and then there were non-EX decks that relied on Double Colorless Energy.
While the Plasma Steel Klinklang was an obvious counter to Pokémon-EX, it’s very easy to dismiss Klinklang as a deck entirely because it will just lose to all the non-EX decks. This is the downside of thinking linearly and tunneling on the mindset that a deck has to execute the same strategy in every matchup as consistently as possible. By playing a healthy count of Bronzong PHF and Aegislash-EX, the Klinklang deck was able to function like a normal Metal deck in order to achieve a reasonable win rate against the non-EX decks.
So what does that mean for Regionals? Well, looking at Seismitoad/Giratina, one of the top decks to beat, the deck only plays seven copies of Special Energy with no way to recover them. This means that any deck running high counts of Team Flare Grunt and Xerosic, potentially alongside an attacker like Cobalion-EX, could pick up multiple free wins at a huge tournament like Regionals. The problem then of course becomes how to beat everything else. Ideally we’d like to find a way to take advantage of all this Energy disruption in other matchups. It’s simply impossible to build a deck that beats everything by expending 10 cards for every matchup with as much variety as there is.
One route to take the deck is to use the Energy disruption to also prey on Night March and Vespiquen. The issue with this strategy is that these decks can simply reattach an Energy card and take a Prize card immediately after the previous Energy was removed. Seismitoad has a lower damage output, so this is less of an issue in that matchup. However, Flareon can simply win the game by attaching four Double Cololress Energy and playing Blacksmith twice, even if this deck we’re inventing had the Xerosic every time. The solution would be to put these non-EX decks on a longer clock. This could be done by utilizing Robo Substitute or recycling Life Dew to deny Prizes. Dylan Dreyer has an interesting Sableye/Garbodor deck he wrote about in his last article utilizing this concept for anybody looking for inspiration.
The other way to think about creating this new deck now that we have a solid answer to Seismitoad/Giratina is to begin thinking about all the decks you had previously written off solely due to the Seismitoad/Giratina matchup. If any of these decks can incorporate Xerosic, Team Flare Grunt, and potentially Cobalion-EX, all of a sudden these decks are revitalized in time for Regionals.
I think this logic is the reason a lot of top players ended up testing Manectric/Ninetales for Nationals. Raichu/Crobat recently had a breakout performance at Canadian Nationals, making almost any EX deck not based around Landorus-EX, Seismitoad-EX, or Aegislash-EX obsolete. Raichu could simple create a two-for-1 Prize exchange with the help Sky Field and Crobat, even when facing EX attackers with over 200 HP! However, a tech Ninetales can lock Sky Field out of play, causing Raichu to cap out at 130 damage with Silver Bangle, plus whatever extra damage the deck could string together with Crobat. This allowed players to pick up M Manectric/Ninetales variants in time for Nationals, where M Manectric was a card that was written off by many players in part due to the questionable Raichu/Crobat matchup.
Durant is sort of tossed around as a fun deck and certainly doesn’t function well under Item lock as you won’t even be able to revive any of your copies of Durant! However, with enough Xerosic/Team Flare Grunt alongside Cobalion-EX, it’s very realistic that the Durant player can discard all of the Seismitoad/Giratina player’s Double Colorless Energy. The Durant deck would then have all the time in the world to Devour the opponent’s deck. This would make Durant’s approach to the Seismitoad/Giratina matchup an Energy disruption strategy with the opponent decking out the end result.
In theory, the Durant player could win the game by doing 30 damage a turn, it would simply take a lot longer. In Durant’s other matchups, it would have to likely attempt to buy extra turns for Devour with Life Dew while simultaneously disrupting the opponent. By discarding Energy on the opponent’s Pokémon, you may force them to play a Professor Sycamore to dig for more Energy, forcing them to deck out even faster.
The other candidate for the Xerosic/Team Flare Grunt package is likely to be some sort of Accelgor variant. Accelgor has formed the basis of countless lock decks in past and always seems to catch players off guard. Without a way to remove Double Dragon Energy, Giratina will simply prevent Accelgor from using another Deck and Cover for the rest of the game. However, if anybody can make an Accelgor deck that trades with the non-EX decks, has an answer to Archeops (likely in the form of Hex Maniac and/or Wobbuffet), and includes a way to discard all the opposing copies of Double Dragon Energy then Accelgor will yet again be a contender for Regionals.
I’m sure there will be at least a few Trevenant/Accelgor toward the top tables if the deck hits the right matchups, but I wouldn’t personally want to play an Accelgor variant that has to pray to avoid Giratina. Based on my testing Seismitoad/Giratina is certainly a threat that’s not going to disappear come Regionals, so I hope my insight inspired some creativity!
I hope everybody reading feels more confident heading into Regionals and has a better idea of what decks to prepare against. There’s definitely a clear metagame developing heading into Regionals, which I believe was largely influenced by Germany’s Arena Cup. At the same time I think this format is far from solved and I think it’s likely that we’ll see at least one deck targeting Special Energy as an alternate win condition have a breakout performance.
Personally, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it to more than one Regional Championship just yet, but regardless I couldn’t be more excited to start competing this season. Feel free to comment or message me any questions! If you enjoyed reading the article, don’t forget to give it a +1!
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