Split Infinitive

Mostly Missouri Cities Roundup and Out of the Ordinary for Winter Regionals
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It’s about time for one of these.

City Championships have come and gone once again and though many of us greatly enjoy the grind that these events entail, I think it is safe to say that most of us are looking forward to catching up on our rest in the few weeks before the Winter Regionals kickoff.

Though it was not a national trend, Expanded ended up being the more prominent format for my City Championships in Kansas City and St. Louis (and some others), which is highly bothersome for me. Focusing heavily on one format over another runs us into the same problem we had last year where everyone had a disdain for Expanded, citing it as a little more than a joke. I had high hopes this year for an even split between the two formats, but now it seems like things in my area were merely reversed and Standard is the format not worth our consideration.

Many give priority to Expanded over Standard because the former is a much healthier format and frankly I do not disagree. The only thing that Standard has going for it, in my opinion, is a fair amount of creativity as most of it is underexplored or uninvestigated, which is a good thing. However, many of the decks that surged in popularity in Standard are downright terrible and show a weakness in card pool more than anything else:

  • The Entei deck is such a gimmick but the fact that it works consistently proves that other options are worse and not that it in itself is a pinnacle of deck building or creative prowess.
  • Lucario/Hammers is just a nonsensical mashing of cards that somehow manages to work because there are not better or more conventional options.
  • Houndoom mill also works because there is not a great way to manage your resources compared to Expanded and mostly because people do not understand how be conservative in a game where turbo Battle Compressor decks run the scene.
  • Many games in Standard simply revolve around killing multiple Shaymin-EX to the point where Pokémon Catcher has reemerged from everyone’s binders and Target Whistle is becoming a staple.

Despite all this, I am still advocating that Standard should either be more important in scheme of Organized Play or simply not exist at all. Is that crazy?

Obviously I don’t think so. I think that adding N back into Standard or a card very similar to N would make things much better. Some type of disruption is greatly needed or at least something to check and balance the incredibly powerful Item cards. Seismitoad-EX manages to do this in Expanded but as I expressed last time, many do not believe that Quaking Punch is viable in Standard with its considerably lower damage output. To lightly spoil some of what I’ll talk about below, I am still a fan of in either format and hope that others continue to explore it as I have.

To conclude, if our card pool is not good or healthy enough to support multiple formats then there is nothing wrong with only having one format. Emulating Magic: The Gathering simply because it is a more successful or strategic card game only sets us up for more failure if our cards are unable to create a balanced and healthy game in both Standard and Expanded. It would also be preferable for there to be a consistency that organizers are forced to adhere to rather than leave the format up to one’s discretion.

In the future, it is my hope that cards will be printed to bolster both formats or we simply go back to just one legal card pool.

Cities Roundup

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The competitive fire is BACK.

Previously, I noted a moderate lack of ambition had prevented me from attending the initial round of Cities, however I managed to reignite some of my competitive fire and attend six events in total. I had a blast at all of these tournaments and was able to compete in an almost even split of Standard and Expanded. Naturally, I want to talk about most of these performances in some detail but as many of the articles this month have been giant reports about every event that someone attended and I do not want to produce another article like that so I will apologize in advance for brevity here. If you have any questions or comments about any of the lists I will briefly touch over, you are once again welcome to bring them up in the comments and I will do my best to address them.

City #1: Lenexa, KS — Seismitoad/Crobat

Pokémon – 18

4 Zubat PLS 53

4 Golbat PHF

3 Crobat PHF

3 Seismitoad-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

1 Dedenne FFI

 

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper

3 N

1 Colress

1 Lysandre

1 AZ

1 Xerosic

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Super Scoop Up

2 Muscle Band

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Computer Search

 

2 Virbank City Gym

2 Silent Lab

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless

3 Water

R1: Mega Sceptile/Ariados — L
R2: / — W
R3: /Vespiquen — W
R4: Mega — W
R5: Landorus/Crobat — W
R6: ID
T8: Archie’s — WLW
T4: Yvetal/Dark — LWL

You are all aware of how this deck works and the list itself does not offer anything new to the archetype so I won’t waste your time here. I went into this tournament being told by my Sheep teammates that Seismitoad/Crobat was actually fairly favored against Vespiquen decks. I knew the Night March lists would not be a problem but I was skeptical of how I would play versus the Flareon builds. It turns out that my friends were not wrong and I think that the Flareon/Vespiquen matchup is somewhere around 60-40. Item lock can hurt them greatly and sticking an early Silent Lab can completely prevent them from setting up. It’s a tricky matchup but as the rest of Cities progressed, I witnessed the matchup several others times and believe that Seismitoad/Crobat should come out on top.

After playing the tournament, I definitely regretted not playing a Super Rod and think I would have easily won in Top 4 had I been able to recycle the Dedenne. The Enhanced Hammer also ended up not being useful and thus the real list I would recommend here would be to drop the Hammer for the Rod.

City #2: Sedalia, MO — Yveltal/Vespiquen/Gallade

Pokémon – 25

4 Combee AOR

4 Vespiquen AOR 10

4 Unown AOR

3 Yveltal XY

3 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Zorua BKT 89

2 Zoroark BKT 91

1 Jirachi XY67

1 Bunnelby PRC 121

1 Gallade BKT

Trainers – 27

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Lysandre

1 Judge

1 Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick

1 Teammates

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Battle Compressor

4 VS Seeker

2 Float Stone

1 Muscle Band

1 Level Ball

1 Target Whistle

 

1 Parallel City

Energy – 8

4 Darkness

4 Double Colorless

R1: Tyrantrum/Bronzong — W
R2: Night March — W
R3: Night March — W
R4: ID
R5: ID
T8: Manectric/Crobat — LWL

I was initially intrigued by a Vespiquen list posted on HeyTrainer (which Alex Hill has discussed in some detail in his previous articles) but disagreed with a handful of the choices and ended up coming up with something on my own. That list opted to use the Entei/Blacksmith combination as Dylan Bryan and Ryan Sabelhaus did in Expanded but this felt incorrect to me as Blacksmith was much weaker with only one attacker to use it with. Entei served a purpose in mirror and against Night March as a way to conserve your Double Colorless Energy, but I did not believe it was worth the space. was a logical backup attacker and I wanted to include Gallade mostly because it seemed fun but also because it has synergy with Unown and is another non-EX that can swiftly deal with many threats.

I had great success through Swiss but in top cut ran into a deck that I surely could not beat. My attackers simply had too little HP to deal with all the spread damage of the opposing deck and I was swiftly eliminated. The Manectric/Crobat ended up being much too popular in my metagame for me to explore this deck further but I do think it is worth keeping around for further endeavors.

City #3: Sedalia, MO — Seismitoad/Manectric/Crobat

Pokémon – 18

4 Zubat PHF

3 Golbat PHF

3 Crobat PHF

3 Seismitoad-EX

2 Manectric-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Lugia-EX AOR

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Sycamore

1 Judge

1 Lysandre

1 AZ

1 Giovanni’s Scheme

 

4 Super Scoop Up

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

3 Muscle Band

2 Level Ball

2 Head Ringer

1 Super Rod

 

2 Silent Lab

Energy – 8

4 Double Colorless

4 Lightning

R1: Mega Manectric/Regice — W
R2: Lucario/Hammers — W
R3: Seismitoad/Suicune — W
R4: ID
R5: ID
T8: Night March — WW
T4: Manectric/Crobat — WW
T2: Manectric/Wobbuffet/Crobat — WW

I received the initial idea from this deck Josh “Squeaky” Marking and reshaped the list a few cards and it ended up being something that I am particularly proud of creating. The concept of course is really not that complicated but I think the list is very close to perfect and regret that I was unable to play it a second time. I observed the raw power of Manectric/Crobat but wanted to make it better against the Entei deck and so Seismitoad was added. Though my event was on the smaller side, going entirely undefeated is a great feeling and often indicative of making the best deck choice.

I missed the next four or so City Championships as I traveled to Seattle and Portland for some New Year’s festivities, but I gave the list to a handful of people who have accumulated somewhere around 5-6 more 1st place finishes and 2-3 2nd places. Not to toot my horn too much, but it is very vindicating after spending a good portion of my last article talking about how much potential I thought Toad/Bats had even in Standard while also citing that few would agree with me.

All too often, I think that SixPrizes writers get accused of writing about things they do not take to events and here is an instance of the contrary. In my opinion, this is the BDIF in Standard and while the list certainly could change a few cards here and there, I think it is definitely worth your time.

City #4: Springfield, MO — Flareon/Vespiquen

Pokémon – 27

2 Eevee FFI

2 Eevee PLF 90

4 Flareon PLF

4 Combee AOR

4 Vespiquen AOR 10

4 Unown AOR

3 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Audino BCR

1 Jirachi XY67

1 Entei AOR 14

1 Exeggcute PLF

Trainers – 26

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Lysandre

1 N

1 AZ

1 Blacksmith

1 Xerosic

1 Teammates

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Battle Compressor

4 VS Seeker

1 Level Ball

1 Computer Search

 

1 Parallel City

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless

3 Fire

R1: Virizion/Genesect — W
R2: Night March — W
R3: Night March — W
R4: ID
R5: Seismitoad/Crobat — L
T4: Houndoom/Crawdaunt — WW
T2: Seismitoad/Crobat — WW

I returned from my travels in the Northwest to the news that the rest of my events would all be Expanded. This was a real bummer as I had just purchased the cards to play the Mega Mewtwo Y deck and so I had to come up with a new deck. I did not want to play Seismitoad/Crobat as I expected more Blastoise and Mega Manectric decks. These matchups are far from unmanageable but I knew my home city would foster a much smaller event and decided that Flareon/Vespiquen would give me the best odds of coming out on top. I think that my list is a nice fusion of Jimmy O’Brien’s, Ryan Sablehaus’, and Dylan Bryan’s as I tried to double-dip into the best things that their initial lists had to offer. I found the Parallel City to be largely useless and Entei did nothing but get discarded or chump-block a hit for me so I would definitely consider them expendable.

I still stand firm in my belief that Seismitoad/Crobat is favored against this deck as I took a loss in the last round of Swiss in a scenario where I was unable to ID but got the better of the same player in the finals on the back of poorer flips on my opponent’s side.

City #5: Columbia, MO — Flareon/Vespiquen

R1: Yveltal/Darkrai — W
R2: Archie’s Blastoise — L
R3: Flareon/Vespiquen — L
R4: Archie’s Blastoise — W
R5: Sableye/ — W
R6: Night March — L

I took the same list from the day before and swapped the Entei and Parallel City out for Mr. Mime PLF and Hex Maniac but was finally met with a poor performance at City Championships. None of the losses are worth noting outside of Round 2 where my opponent flipped 2/3 heads on Articuno three turns in a row without Victini and one more tails would’ve spelled his defeat. Though he confidently assured me that his deck always beat Flareon, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes in disagreement. I do not know the math but I’m sure it was well in my favor.

Anyway, this deck is obviously very good despite a stumble from me here and should be on everyone’s radar for Winter Regionals.

City #6: Mountain Grove, MO — Seismitoad/Giratina

Pokémon – 10

3 Seismitoad-EX

2 Giratina-EX AOR

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Hoopa-EX AOR

1 Keldeo-EX

1 Aegislash-EX

Trainers – 42

4 Professor Juniper

2 Xerosic

1 Lysandre

1 N

1 Team Flare Grunt

1 AZ

 

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

4 Super Scoop Up

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Crushing Hammer

3 Float Stone

2 Muscle Band

1 Computer Search

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 8

4 Double Colorless

4 Double Dragon

R1: Flareon/Vespiquen — W
R2: Houndoom/Craudaunt — W
R3: Mega Manectric/Raikou — W
R4: Seismitoad/Crobat — W
R5: ID
R6: ID
T8: Manectric/Aegislash/Bronzong — LWW
T4: Mega Manectric/Regice — WLW
T2: Donphan — LL

After the previous weekend, I had concluded from my games and observation of other results that Seismitoad/Crobat and Flareon/Vespiquen were by far the best decks that I had encountered so far. I assumed that my metagame would continue to show a preference for both decks and thus I was tasked with finding something that had a strong chance of beating both of them and this was the deck that I came up with.

The Seismitoad/Crobat matchup is incredibly strong with considerably more techs for mirror and Chaos Wheel can prove fatal if allowed to go unchecked. The Flareon/Vespiquen matchup is slightly worse but still quite manageable, especially if your flips go your way. Additionally, Seismitoad/Crobat should struggle against most Mega Manectric decks, which is also solved by Giratina. The Aegislash-EX should strike you as an odd inclusion, but I opted to include it to handle any encounters with Vileplume/Vespiquen, which does not have any good answers to the card. I am not entirely convinced that I want to cut it as I do expect that deck to see a fair amount of play at Regionals but were I to remove it, I would add a 3rd Virbank City in its place.

My performance with this deck went about as smoothly as it could have until the finals where in the first game I missed all of my Super Scoop Up flips to lose a very back-and-forth game and then the second game ended very quickly as my opening was Shaymin-EX, DCE, DDE, 3 Super Scoop Up, and AZ. I think the matchup was certainly mine to lose but you cannot always expect luck to go your way. I sat out my final City Championship but lent the deck to a friend who ended up going undefeated with it which further cemented my confidence in the list.

The biggest threat to this deck is of course the Jirachi promo which I spent a good deal of time hyping up in my last article and I have since changed my thoughts on the card. It is very good and annoying for a deck like this but I have still yet to lose against it with any of the Seismitoad decks that I played throughout Cities. I would still opt to play it in some of lists (as observed in the Flareon deck that I played) but in general, I think decks would have to include multiple copies of the card for it to worry me once more.

I will boldly say that I believe that this is my top choice for Regionals and think that many of my fellow writers should reexamine many of their matchups with the deck and work on improving their list.

Ignoring the slim possibility of running into a heavy Aegislash-EX deck, the only matchup I am not certain against is Yveltal. I think that it is possible for me to steal a lot of games with strong flips but the fact of the matter is that Giratina-EX is just not exceptionally useful in this matchup and things can easily get out of control should the Yveltal player get several large Evil Balls going. I need to test more but perhaps this is solvable by adding Dedenne to the list.

To conclude this Cities roundup, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who I discussed matchups and deck lists throughout Cities. Without the aid of my teammates, Travis Nunlist and Squeaky Marking, I don’t think I would have performed as strongly as I did. Six City Championships is far less than I would ordinarily attend and while I wish I had nailed a higher percentage of points, I think I am in a comfortable position for my Worlds invite. If you have questions, concerns or recommendations for any of the decks that I have briefly discussed here, please leave a comment and I will make sure to get back to you with my thoughts and opinions on the matter.

Out of the Ordinary

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And now for something completely different!

With that out of the way, I would now like to shift the focus of the article to three decks that I think have a good shot in the right metagame for Winter Regionals. I think we’ve all had enough of writers detailing why tried and true decks like Flareon or Blastoise are good decks and so I think it is my job to try to highlight some decks that no one seems to be talking about.

I will lightly note that were I to make this an official list, then I would place Seismitoad/Giratina at the very top. It is a deck that many are aware of but I do not think it is being taken with the seriousness that it deserves. The rest of these decks, however, are not in any particular order of “goodness” and so they should all be evaluated with equal merit.

My purpose for discussing these decks today is not only to try to set up my readers for potential success with an unconventional deck choice, but to encourage them to always be thinking outside the box and not let writers at SixPrizes or anyone else dictate their deck lists and tech choices. My words in these articles are mere opinion and while I think I often have the evidence to back up many of my claims, all the confidence in the world does not make me right or would not stop me from losing to a matchup that I consider highly favorable.

Rayquaza/Bronzong

Pokémon – 20

3 Rayquaza-EX ROS 75

2 M Rayquaza-EX ROS 76

3 Bronzor PHF

3 Bronzong PHF

3 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Aegislash-EX

1 Heatran PHF

1 Cobalion-EX

1 Hoopa-EX AOR

1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 30

3 Professor Juniper

3 Colress

2 Lysandre

1 N

1 Hex Maniac

 

4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

3 Float Stone

3 Rayquaza Spirit Link

1 Sacred Ash

1 Computer Search

 

4 Sky Field

Energy – 10

6 Metal

4 Double Colorless

This deck was initially very popular but fell out of favor due to many counter decks that arose at the World Championships. Of these, I believe that Night March is really the only one that remains an issue and there is very little that you could possibly do in that matchup. However, I have observed that Jolteon is falling more and more out of favor in Flareon lists, which I believe this deck a great opportunity against the rest of the field. This version of the deck is much more stable than the turbo version that saw success at Arizona Regionals and think that you are simply too fast and too strong for a deck like Yveltal to easily keep up with you unless Archeops is somehow in play. With Cobalion and Aegislash-EX, you steal free wins against most Seismitoad decks.

Decks like Raichu/Crobat and Donphan remain threats but I do not think that either are any good and so I’ll leave the list as is and take the loss. Parallel City is also a looming threat but I have yet to observe any lists playing a heavy count of the card and so I remained unworried even still.

Mega Manectric/Fighting

Pokémon – 14

4 Manectric-EX

3 M Manectric-EX

2 Hawlucha FFI

2 Landorus-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Landorus FFI

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Sycamore

3 Korrina

3 N

2 Lysandre

1 Colress

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

3 Manectric Spirit Link

2 Muscle Band

2 Focus Sash

2 Enhanced Hammer

1 Switch

1 Escape Rope

1 Max Potion

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Computer Search

Energy – 11

4 Lightning

4 Strong

3 Fighting

Though it went largely unnoticed, Dustin Zimmerman piloted something very similar to a Top 16 finish at Fort Wayne Regionals, and while I think my take on the deck is a bit different than what he played, I do believe that the deck is very good while being totally unnoticed. It is a simple deck to understand but has some fairly strong matchups across the board:

  • Your matchups against Seismitoad-based decks struggle quite a bit without Rough Seas, but Focus Sash and Enhanced Hammer give you an edge against Battle Compressor decks that the normative Manectric builds do not have.
  • Yveltal should remain highly favorable with type advantage on your side and the only matchup I believe to be 100% unfavorable is Blastoise, which should not be a majority of your matches at any given Regionals.
  • The 1 Landorus FFI in the list ought to give you a strong matchup against Sableye/Garbodor since their Crushing Hammer strategy will need to hit multiple Energy per turn instead of just one and I assume you win that matchup if you ever get Turbo Bolt off.

Should Yveltal be the most popular deck at Regionals, as some of my fellow writers would suggest, then this could be an incredible play as it is favored against the Dark decks as well as inherently favored against any other Manectric deck.

Vileplume/Aromatisse

Pokémon – 20

2 Spritzee XY

2 Aromatisse XY

2 Oddish BCR

2 Gloom BCR

2 Vileplume AOR

2 Xerneas XY

2 Darknessrai-EX

1 Giratina-EX AOR

1 Genesect-EX

1 Manectric-EX

1 Aegislash-EX

1 Landorus-EX

1 Shaymin-EX ROS

Trainers – 28

4 Pokémon Fan Club

4 N

3 AZ

2 Lysandre

1 Judge

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Trainers’ Mail

1 Computer Search

 

4 Forest of Giant Plants

1 Sky Field

Energy – 12

4 Rainbow

4 Prism

4 Fairy

As you can see, this is an updated take on the classic Aromatisse + techs combination. However, I try to set up a fast Vileplume behind all this and then just win with a wide variety of attackers. The Vileplume/Vespiquen deck has seen some success in both Standard and Expanded and I think this is merely a testament to the power of permanent Item lock. To be blunt, I think Vileplume/Vespiquen deck is terrible and has a handful of glaring weaknesses that should make it clear why it can succeed at a small City Championship but not a nine-round Regionals.

While much slower, this deck has many more options for you to utilize and though it may seem unconventional, it is something I plan on refining in coming weeks. The Shift Gear Klinklang + Allergy Flower Vileplume saw multiple top cuts at US Nationals in 2012 and while that is a much different format, I think it should prove that the combination is still worth trying. This is certainly the craziest deck I have discussed today and so I am eager to hear what you think about it or see if you have any recommendations for tech cards!

Looking Forward

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A comment would be much appreciated!

Well that’s all I have for today! I hope you enjoyed what I have to say and I look forward to any comments or questions you might have. I do have an unusual request and that is if you dislike something I have written or discussed today to the point where you feel the need to downvote me, please leave a comment so that I may work on bettering myself in the future. I am sure that this is a concern that almost any other writer shares with me and that is there is no way for us to improve our content or interpret a negative reaction without any feedback. If your downvote has nothing to do with the writing and is just an embodiment of your dislike for someone then I guess there is little we can do about it. It is my belief that SixPrizes is without a doubt the best site for Pokémon articles out there and for us to maintain this level of excellence, I think every single one of us here is eager to improve ourselves and not fall victim to the same mistakes in each of our writings.

With that aside, the next event I will be attending is the St. Louis Regionals. Though it is now in Illinois, it is still in the same general area as previous years and I would expect a similar crowd to be in attendance. Last year, I had one of my best performances to date and though I fell short at 5th place, I hope that I can replicate what I was able to do last year. I look forward to competing amongst many of you and I hope to see many familiar faces.

I’ve been busy working on some personal projects that I hope to have finished in coming months and would like to once again note that I am available for coaching sessions! (Either tweet at me or send me a message.) I’m currently working with a few people almost weekly, but I’m sure I can always add more people to my schedule.

Best wishes in all of your competitions and endeavors this winter and I look forward to writing again soon!


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