Hello SixPrizes readers! It has been a while since the last time I wrote an article, which was back in July. I am happy to return in the midst of an ever-developing Expanded format. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend Lancaster Regionals this past weekend because I got incredibly sick in the days leading up to the event. This was the first time in five years that I missed PA Regionals and I was utterly heartbroken. Luckily, I have some exceptional friends who were able to give me the play-by-play on what was going on in Lancaster to help keep me engaged in some way.
If you missed the event and have been unable to find any coverage on it, or you just want a concise recap, here are the final standings for the Top 16 from Lancaster:
- Jimmy O’Brien: Vespiquen
- Frank Diaz: Yveltal
- Dylan Bryan: Vespiquen
- Carl Sitavi: Seismitoad/Giratina
- Steven Varesko: Mega Manectric
- Azul Garcia: Mega Manectric/Tool Drop
- Nate Pare: Yveltal
- Dean Nezam: Mega Manectric/Tool Drop
- Greg Sweeney: Tyrantrum/Bronzong/Giratina
- Kyle Lesniewicz: Mega Manectric/Tool Drop/Garbodor
- Benjamin Sauk: Vespiquen
- Chris Fulop: Yveltal/Raichu
- Michael Diaz: Seismitoad/Crobat
- Joseph Ambrosone: Blastoise
- Hunter Harless: Mega Manectric/Leafeon
- Jay Leppo: Mega Manectric/Genesect/Garbodor
Jimmy O’Brien was able to take it with Vespiquen going undefeated throughout the entire event! He ended with a 16-0-1 record. Being able to navigate through a whole event as big as this one without losing a match is unprecedented (aside from one player’s 14-0 run at US Nationals in 2006). So, I just want to congratulate Jimmy once again on his outstanding performance.
This Top 16 was stacked with amazing players as well, so good job to everyone who did well this past weekend. I’m sure Pokémon.com will follow suit with what they did previously and post the Top 8 standings along with lists on their website, so be on the lookout for that (likely at this URL) in the hours leading up to Ft. Wayne Regionals.
Today I am going to discuss Yveltal, Manectric/Garbodor, and Seismitoad/Crobat. These are the only decks I would play at Ft. Wayne Regionals if I was going because I consider them to be among the strongest, and they are the decks I am most familiar with. Vespiquen is not a potential play for me simply because I’m not comfortable enough with the deck, and I think it will have a huge target on its back. With that said, if you are a fan of Vespiquen it is a solid play and I expect Jimmy O’Brien’s decklist to be released prior to this weekend, which will give you an incredibly potent base list.
I rank Yveltal slightly higher than any other decks I will mention, but all are strong plays. I know people are itching to hear about non-meta developments like Tyrantrum-EX, but I know little to nothing about such decks so I don’t feel I’m authoritative enough to discuss them in great detail. I don’t necessarily consider these rogues to be on the same tier as the decks that I am going to talk about, and I wouldn’t think about playing them for Week 3 unless you’ve tested them extensively.
The Case for Yveltal
The king is back to try and reclaim his rightful throne! We saw Yveltal wane in popularity — becoming nearly extinct — around the time of Nationals and Worlds. Luckily, the Expanded format brings back old favorites for Yveltal and the gang, namely Dark Patch, which makes the deck tier 1 again. Anyone who knows me knows that I mainly only played Yveltal when it was tier 1 and it won me numerous tournaments. If I had attended Lancaster I would have played Yveltal, and looking at the results, the metagame is still prime for Yveltal to do well.
Week 1-of Regionals was covered quite well by Alex Hill in latest article. He explains how we saw Israel Sosa take Phoenix by storm with his Yveltal/Archeops deck, and Alex still predicted Yveltal to do well in Lancaster even though everyone expected it going into Week 2. After I read his article I agreed with his thoughts and it turns out that he was correct. We saw Yveltal take two spots in the Top 8 of Lancaster Regionals.
The reason why the deck does so well is because all of Yveltal’s matchups are generally 50/50 with the exception of Manectric. The deck is resilient and flexible with tons of options. Yveltal lets its pilot’s skill shine through in a lot of matchups. There is a reason why Frank Diaz and Israel Sosa always play Yveltal and do well with it. If you are able to become a master at piloting Yveltal you can take it to any tournament where it is a viable deck choice and routinely put up solid records.
Even if you are not quite a master with Yveltal yet I still think it is a good choice to bring to Ft. Wayne. Right now Vespiquen is getting a lot of attention which means that the Vespiquen hype will deter people from playing Manectric-based decks. At the moment I would say Vespiquen is one of the worst matchups for Manectric which makes Manectric a risky play for Ft. Wayne. If Manectric is one of Yveltal’s only bad matchups it makes sense that Yveltal will do well in Ft. Wayne. Just think about it: Yveltal did well in a field that had a considerable amount of Manectric, and now Manectric’s numbers are only going to dwindle. The stars are aligning for Yveltal; the only question is what list to play.
The first thing you want to do after you figure out if Yveltal is a viable option for you is decide whether or not you want to play Archeops or not. Week 1 we saw Israel Sosa take Phoenix with Yveltal/Archeops, but Week 2 we saw Frank Diaz and Nate Pare do well with Straight Yveltal. These latter two players were able to analyze the Week 1 metagame and come to the conclusion that Archeops wasn’t potent enough to warrant the space, and they opted to make their decks more consistent.
Taking a look at the Week 1 results, it actually makes perfect sense to exclude Archeops going into Week 2. Seismitoad and Yveltal both won, and there was no Vespiquen in sight. Without Archeops, the Blastoise matchup gets worse, but it is still around 50/50 which I would be comfortable with. The ingenious inclusion of Ghetsis in Yveltal is likely the reason we saw fewer Blastoise going into Week 2. A turn one Ghetsis can absolutely cripple a Blastoise deck. Since Israel won with Ghetsis in Yveltal I am sure nearly all Yveltal decks adopted the card into their lists which spelt bad news for Blastoise.
In Lancaster we saw Beezus (i.e. Vespiquen) make a statement, which means Archeops makes sense to play again. Archeops will improve your Vespiquen matchup significantly — if you can get it out early — so it will be worth playing Week 3 if you expect Vespiquen to be buzzing around everywhere. With its performance last week that is a logical thing to assume.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 37
Energy – 11
If I were to take Yveltal/Archeops into Ft. Wayne Regionals this is the list I would play. It is similar to Israel Sosa’s list but a bit more aggressive. For a while now I have not liked Sableye in non-Hammer variants of Yveltal. I prefer an extra copy of Yveltal XY because it is more proactive early game and applies early pressure on board. Playing the deck this way also allows me to play a full set of Hypnotoxic Lasers and Computer Search over Dowsing Machine. Sableye’s merits do increase with cards like Battle Compressor existing allowing you to get tech cards like Enhanced Hammer into the discard so that you can Junk Hunt them early, but I still prefer Baby Yveltal.
This logic is me tailoring my deck building to my personal preferences. Sableye is definitely a good card in Yveltal and if you prefer to Junk Hunt early game and have a stronger out to N late game then Sableye is probably right for you. If you do want to play Sableye, playing tech 1-of Trainers becomes much stronger. For example, Israel used 1 Enhanced Hammer in his winning list. If he didn’t play Sableye I don’t think he would have played any Enhanced Hammer.
With all of that said, I would personally still choose to run Straight Yveltal over any other variant.
“But Raymond, you just told us how good Archeops is going to be Week 3! Are you crazy?”
Well, it is questionable whether I am crazy or not, but I prefer consistency with some techs over having a secondary strategy like Archeops or Raichu. I am more confident — and more comfortable — when playing my favorite deck how I like to play it.
Straight Yveltal is still competitive against decks like Vespiquen if you play a higher count of Seismitoad and Baby Yveltal. It has more room for techs that will help you in matchups where Archeops is going to be a dead card as well. Basically, if you manage to avoid running into decks that rely on Evolutions like Vespiquen and Blastoise you will do better with straight Yveltal.
Perhaps, since Vespiquen has a huge target on its head, people will be scared to play the deck and it won’t be as abundant as predicted. This is a risk I would be willing to take going into Ft. Wayne since I’m confident the matchup is still winnable without Archeops, especially if Laser flips go your way.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 36
Energy – 11
This is the list Nate Pare piloted to a Top 8 finish during Lancaster Regionals. Nate is a good friend of mine whom I often work with on decks so he has adopted a lot of my preferences in deck building over time. This list is exactly what I would have played at Lancaster barring a few potential last-minute tech changes like adding a Hoopa-EX or Dedenne FFI.
Hoopa-EX is a card that hasn’t necessarily been getting much love lately and I think it deserves some praise. Having access to an early Hoopa allows you to get the three main Pokémon-EX you will need find throughout the game easily. An early Hoopa will allow you to only need 1 Ultra Ball to set up against cards like Seismitoad-EX or Vileplume AOR which is huge. Being able to get Darkrai-EX, Keldeo-EX, and Yveltal-EX off of 1 Ultra Ball on turn one can set you up to win games against decks that try to restrict your resources.
Even against any deck, setting up with just 1 Ultra Ball can be game breaking. Having Darkrai-EX in combination with Keldeo-EX, with a Darkness Energy attached, will give you free retreat for the rest of the game as long as one of them doesn’t get Knocked Out. It even protects you from having to worry about Hypnotoxic Laser which is huge in the mirror match.
To find room for Hoopa-EX in Nate’s list I would cut 1 Ultra Ball since drawing Hoopa naturally is a pseudo Ultra Ball, in a sense. Or, you can cut a Shaymin-EX since with Hoopa on the Bench you will never have space to put down 2 Shaymin-EX in a game.
Dedenne has always had a spot in any straight Yveltal deck I make if I anticipate multiple mirror matches. I think this format is exceptional for Dedenne to shine. Dedenne forces your opponent to play the mirror match in a different manner. They can no longer go big Yveltal otherwise they get punished be Dedenne. People often say Dedenne’s usefulness dwindles once your opponent knows that you play it, but I digress.
Having Dedenne on your Bench early in a Yveltal mirror is how I like to play the match. I want my opponent to know they will get punished for putting too much Energy on a Yveltal because it forces them to play in a way that will end up benefitting you in the long run. Most of the time your opponent will be forced to Lysandre up Dedenne and Knock it Out which is incredible for you since it is only 1 Prize and it swings momentum in your favor if they do that.
Finding room for Dedenne means you will have to cut some type of consistency or sacrifice a tech for another matchup. If you find yourself in a position where you expect to play multiple Yveltal mirror matches I would cut a Shaymin-EX or Battle Compressor for Dedenne.
Yveltal is and will always be my number one choice for both Ft. Wayne Regionals and any Expanded format tournament unless I know there is a strictly better play. At this moment I don’t think there is a strictly better play and I believe that this weekend’s Regional Champions will be determined by matchups. There are other decks I would consider playing if I wasn’t so biased — perhaps even stubborn — toward Yveltal.
The Steady Stride of Manectric/Garbodor
“Wait a second … didn’t you just say that Vespiquen will be popular which will force Manectric’s numbers to dwindle? You seem to be contradicting yourself a lot, Raymond.”
Yes, I do believe Manectric will see less play in Ft. Wayne than it did at Lancaster, but it’s still a viable option. If you manage to avoid Vespiquen and Fighting (if that is even a thing) Manectric/Garbodor is the ideal play. Playing Manectric is a risk, but if you only expect to play against 1-2 Vespiquen decks Day 1 you will be able to make Day 2. From there it will all come down to matchup luck and whether Beezus decides to spare you or not.
I talked to Azul after he got home from finishing Top 8 at Lancaster and we came to the conclusion that as long as Manectric/Garbodor sets up and opens well it should beat everything in the metagame except for Vespiquen. Players like Sam Chen favor strategies like this. Sam opted to play Manectric/Garbodor in Lancaster and barely missed Top 32. He always tells me that he likes to play a deck with plenty of decent matchups and one bad matchup and hope for the best. The odds are usually in your favor that you won’t play a deck more than twice unless it is strictly the most popular deck in the format, which I don’t think is the case here with Vespiquen. This metagame is fairly diverse with multiple tier 1 decks doing well.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 32
Energy – 10
This is Azul’s Top 8 Manectric/Garbodor list from Lancaster and I think it is nearly perfect, if it’s not there already. The list is vanilla and the strategy is simple. The strategy of this deck is to shut down Abilities for the entire game starting on turn one and clean up with the attackers you have at your disposal. Playing a full set of Wobbuffet and nearly maxing out on consistency means setting up shouldn’t be an issue. Hoopa-EX shines in Manectric decks since it can even grab M Manectric-EX. In very niche scenarios you could find yourself attacking with Hoopa-EX to steal a game too, but that is a rare occurrence.
With this version of the deck Manectric is not your only attacker! Similar to Manectric Tool Drop decks, this deck is also able to utilize Trubbish as an attacker. It may not be nearly as potent as decks that play Flare Tools like Head Ringer or Jamming Net, but Tool Drop damage will still add up quickly if your opponent is careless.
Wobbuffet not only serves as a way to block Abilities in this deck, but you will often find yourself attacking with it too! Wobbuffet will be able to take a knockout on nearly every Pokémon in the game after it has been softened up by a Turbo Bolt from a Mega Manectric. Imagine being able to switch into Wobbuffet to Knock Out a Pokémon while also managing to lock their Abilities if Garbodor doesn’t have a Tool. This strategy will also allow you to play around cards like Tool Scrapper on critical turns of a game where a Tool Scrapper could help your opponent come back into the game.
Example: Picture a scenario where you are playing against Blastoise. Your Blastoise opponent is able power up a Keldeo-EX early game and manage to take some knockouts with it. Luckily, you are able to set up a Garbodor and continue to put on the pressure. Now, you’re about to take a knockout on a damaged Keldeo-EX, leaving your opponent with no Energy on board. Their only out is a Tool Scrapper because they have already exhausted their Hex Maniac and their VS Seekers. Instead of taking the knockout with a Manectric-EX, you choose to take the knockout with a Wobbuffet that you powered up earlier in the game. Now, your opponent has no out to having access to Deluge, which means they will inevitably lose the game.
In Brit Pybas’s most recent article he also goes over some of the strengths of Manectric/Garbodor citing Dean’s list as an example. I agree with his sentiments on the deck so I don’t want to be too repetitive explaining reasons why Manectric is a good card.
Toad/Bats On and Under the Radar
Whenever I think about this deck I reminisce about my poor Worlds performance with it and how unlucky my matchups were. I had to play against multiple Primal-based decks which were horrible matchups. Luckily, Primal decks seem to have died down quite a bit in this new format which means Seismitoad/Crobat has fewer mediocre matchups than before. We saw Michael Pramawat take Houston Regionals Week 1 with a variant of the deck similar to what was successful at the World Championships. During Week 2 we saw the deck fall out of favor, but that was mainly because people were ready for it and Manectric decks were everywhere.
Seismitoad/Crobat is in a similar position as Yveltal going into Week 3. Manectric decks are one of its worst matchups, and thanks to the recent popularity of Vespiquen, playing Manectric isn’t as safe as it was before. The difference between playing Yveltal and playing Seismitoad is that when Seismitoad win more convincingly. Often we will see the debilitating draw/pass while under Quaking Punch lock until Seismitoad takes the game. Blowouts similar to that fashion will rarely happen with Yveltal. Seismitoad also has more favorable matchups than Yveltal like Night March and Vespiquen.
The only thing that would deter me from playing Seismitoad over Yveltal is that people tech for Seismitoad more. The only techs you are going to see against Yveltal are Dedenne FFI and Jolteon AOR (and Jolteon DEX). The techs you are going to see to hate on Seismitoad are cards like Xerosic and Pokémon Center Lady.
The cards that hate on Toad are very different from the ones that hate on Yveltal. The cards that are good against Yveltal are usually dead in other matchups which makes them risky to play. The cards that are good against Seismitoad are infinitely more flexible. Xerosic and Pokémon Center Lady can be good in almost any matchup! This makes them more standard and can be included in every deck. Occasionally you will see more targeted Seismitoad hate in the form of cards like Aegislash-EX and cards that deny or discard Special Energy, but I’m not sure how popular those are at the moment.
Seismitoad can prevail through the hate as we have seen it do before. It is easier to target Seismitoad than Yveltal, and I would be cautious about how much Seismitoad hate is going around before you decide to play it. In a world where nobody teched against Seismitoad your only poor matchup would likely be Manecetric decks, which naturally have a good matchup against you thanks to cards like Rough Seas and their ability to maintain consistent Energy flow on board. Even then the matchup is far from unwinnable because Crobat damage adds up quickly and one Sleep flip can determine a game.
I have heard people saying Yveltal does well against Seismitoad, but the matchup is closer to 50/50 than anything, so it isn’t bad. If we see Hoopa become a standard in Yveltal decks the matchup could become slightly in Yveltal’s favor because it would make their setup of Darkrai + Keldeo turn one much more consistent, but it still isn’t bad. Crobat will be able to help you in this matchup more.
If I were to play Seismitoad/Crobat this weekend I would use something similar to Michael Pramawat’s list. The problem with trying to create a significantly better list than Pramawat’s is that it may not exist. There is no point in trying to reinvent the wheel if the wheel is working well.
His list is similar to what Mees used at Worlds with the exception of some techs for the metagame like Dedenne, which I would play this weekend. I think this is ideal, and if you decide to bring it to Ft. Wayne or San Jose or Vancouver I’m sure you will do well if you can avoid Manectric decks and hit Hypnotoxic Laser flips.
The three decks that I discussed today along with Vespiquen are the only decks I would consider playing going into Ft. Wayne personally. I believe they would give me the best chance to win, and that is my only goal when going into a tournament. I play to win the game and that is the mentality all competitive players should have if they want to be the best player they can be.
I barely mentioned decks like Blastoise because I think the popularity of Ghetsis is deterring me from wanting to play the deck because of how detrimental that one card can be on turn one to your strategy. Not to mention that people are hating against Abilities in general a lot right now with cards like Wobbuffet and Garbodor. There are too many decks in the metagame for me to hit on everything, but I believe any decks I omitted to be weaker in some way than the ones I did mention.
Feel free to ask my any questions in the forums or to just talk to me about Pokémon and the meta. Thank you all for reading and I wish you the best of luck in all of your upcoming tournament endeavors!
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