Hey SixPrizes! The 2015-2016 Championship Series is officially over! I am at a point between excitement for the upcoming season and nostalgia from reminiscing over all the fun times I’ve had the past twelve months. This year’s World Championships were absolutely incredible. Watching the game grow and spread to more and more countries every year is outstanding. At this rate, I can’t imagine how big the game will be 5 to 10 years from now. Anyway, I’ve got some great content for you all today to help you start your 2016-2017 season on the right foot!
For me, the World Championships did not go as planned. I played on Day 1 with a Trevenant BREAK deck and dropped after a 1-2-1 record since there was no hope for Day 2 and I was very hungry. It was a tough result to swallow due to the amount of testing I put in leading up to the tournament. Overall, this season was not my best, especially coming off a double top 32 at last year’s National and World Championships. At the end of the day, we all have to accept hard losses and learn how to prevent them in the future. Because of the recent challenges I faced, I learned more this past season than in any of the five other competitive seasons I’ve played in.
With that, I want to share with you some tips on how to make this next season the best season ever! I also want to talk about my current favorite decks for the exciting new Standard and Expanded formats of the upcoming Regional Championships.
The Key Tips Forgotten
If you have not already read my “Step by Step” article that I posted in June, check it out! Inside that article I provide my guide for preparing yourself for big tournaments. I want to add a little bit more to that guide since I have learned a lot since then. There are three main points I want to dive into that I believe to have a huge impact on success at tournaments: playtesting with tournament rules, feeling confident enough to play fast, and always planning ahead.
Tip 1: Playtest with Tournament Rules
Going into the World Championships, I had clocked in about 50-60 hours of testing in total on top of all the testing I did to prepare for the National Championships. A lot of testing I do is done by myself with actual cards since my testing group lives about 2 hours away. I basically set up a game and play both sides and take the time to think about all the options for each play. It’s not the optimal way of testing but it is one of the few reasonable options that I have.
Before Worlds I was feeling very prepared to the point where I knew I could relax and enjoy San Francisco during the days leading up to the tournament. I ended up doing even more testing while I was there with results contradictory to those I had experienced from my own personal testing. I ended up changing my mind about things and I chose to play a deck very different from the one I was originally going to play. There are a couple of factors that led to my about-face, but the way I conducted my on-site testing was what I believe to be the biggest factor.
When testing, your playing environment should be almost exactly the same as the one that will be utilized for the tournament. Keeping a timer, taking mulligans, and playing best-of-threes are among the key elements that I’ve seen players exclude from their testing over the years. In some of the games I played in San Francisco leading up to the World Championships, I also pushed these rules aside which definitely contributed to the different outcomes I was obtaining.
As for whether you test on your own, on PTCGO, or with a group of people in person, it all comes down to whatever floats your boat. Personally, I think having a strong testing group of people that you can meet up with every so often is by far the best way to go, but I know first-hand that meeting up with people can be difficult depending on your situation.
I can’t say it enough, but work on getting your testing environment as close as possible to what you would expect in an actual tournament. Playing a handful of high-quality, tournament-reflective games is significantly better than playing a ton of lackluster semi-casual ones.
Tip 2: Feel Confident Enough to Play Fast
pokemon-paradijs.comAs I stated earlier, I did a lot of testing leading up to Worlds. It might not have been optimal testing, but after talking to friends about their own testing I had pretty much made up my mind on Water Toolbox. I was very comfortable with the deck and felt my list was solid. Leading up to the tournament I had Trevenant BREAK as one of my other options but I didn’t have much practice with it.
When I got to San Francisco, I saw a little bit of everything which is to be expected at a tournament that is made up of players from all around the globe. I had a bunch of people tell me that Trevenant BREAK was very strong. I built the deck, played a couple of games, and was hooked. It had a way of beating every deck in the format and I felt it had 50/50 or better matchups against the field. The only problem was this would be my first tournament playing the deck all season.
You never know what decks you are going to run into at big tournaments. It is extremely hard to metagame any tournament, especially a large-scale one. I made the mistake of basing my deck choice on a meta that was all over the place instead of choosing my deck based off my confidence and comfortability with it.
I’m not saying that I made a bunch of misplays since I hadn’t played the deck that much, but my inexperience did cause me to spend more time on in-game decisions, and as we all know, time is extremely significant in a 50-minute, best-of-three format.
Tip 3: Always Plan Ahead
This is a skill that you will see all of the best players in the world use in every single one of their games. It includes checking Prizes at the start of the game, mapping out turns, and figuring out what to Knock Out for 6 Prizes to win the game.
First off, determine your Prizes. Whenever you play any card that lets you search your deck, glean as much information as you can. Time is limited so you want to be efficient while doing this. When I check for Prizes I like to go in the order of most important cards in the matchup, then consistency cards, and then everything else. This will prevent you from making simple mistakes such as playing an Ultra Ball with only two other cards in hand when you don’t even have a Shaymin-EX available in deck.
Next, at the start of every one of your turns, figure out what you need to do during that turn and find a way to get there. Obviously, if you don’t draw the cards you want, you might have to completely change what plays you make, but I have found this exercise to be helpful because it reduces the amount of time that you need to spend deciding on plays in the moment. The time saved can really add up by the end of the match. I would also advise thinking about what you have to do before your turn even starts. This way you spend even less time debating on what to do during your turn.
Lastly, determine how to win the game as efficiently as possible. Usually the only time this can be determined is when both you and your opponent have developed your boards. In most games this happens around the second or third turn. Whether it’s deciding to target Benched EXs or go for a deck-out, determining the best route to victory early on will make winning the game less complicated.
Stage Flight: Standard Decks for Florida
I hope you are as excited for the new format as I am! The biggest change we’re going to see switching from XY-on to PRC-on is a rise in Evolution-based decks. Night March scared away all of the Evolution decks last format but now that the big little bully is out of Standard we’ll be seeing more creativity.
The following decks are geared for Florida Regionals (Oct. 15-16) and any prior tournaments like League Challenges.
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 33
Energy – 4
I know what you’re thinking: “23 Pokémon and it’s not a Vespiquen deck?!” At the World Championships we saw Jesper Erikson win with a Vespiquen/Yanmega deck, however Vespiquen loses a lot of power in the new Standard format due to the loss of Battle Compressor. I believe that variant is still viable but Zoroark seems like a better option than Vespiquen. I say this because a majority of the early frontrunners of the format rely on having a pretty full Bench (e.g., Rainbow Road, Volcanion, Mega Rayquaza).
This is something that I’m experimenting with to increase the deck’s damage output. In theory, the Jolteon is used to make Knocking Out Mega Rayquaza and Yveltal much easier (and occasionally Shaymin as well). The Vaporeon is included for Volcanion decks.
This is another one of the deck’s sneaky ways of doing more damage. Zoroark’s Mind Jack does more damage for each of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon. Getting a successful Captivating Poké Puff off makes Zoroark more powerful while also potentially putting out Lysandre targets that your opponent does not want on the field (e.g., Shaymin).
With Sacred Ash out of the format, this is the next best recovery option. In the early stages of the game, crucial Pokémon may discarded that will be needed later in the game. Super Rod ensures that you will have an out to them.
This is the playset that Jesper included in his Worlds-winning list. I didn’t include it in this one since I believe it was mainly used for the Night March matchup. With all of the Tool-removing cards in the format gone, I still think this card is very good. Bursting Balloon could put your opponent in difficult situations. I would either drop the Trainers’ Mails or the Eevees and Eeveelutions to fit the Balloons in.
This is a card that I think is very strong after the rotation. All of the cards that pick up Pokémon off the field have rotated making Shaymin-EXs huge targets. Parallel City is I believe the only viable Trainer option other than Ninja Boy to remove liabilities from the field. Prize trading is a key factor in almost every match and the addition of this card can give you an advantage in that aspect.
If Mega Sceptile becomes popular in your area I would definitely consider this card. It makes Knocking Out the big green guy in one hit much easier if they don’t play Hex Maniac during their turn. If any Metal decks find a way to become viable I would also keep this card in mind.
Xerneas BREAK/Mega Gardevoir
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 34
Energy – 11
Similar to Ryan Sabelhaus’s and Christopher Schemanske’s Xerneas/Giratina-EX decks, the goal here is to load your board with Energy and deal massive amounts of damage. This deck is still a work in progress but I think it is very powerful while being exceedingly consistent. I would not be surprised to see this deck win multiple League Challenges across the country and become a big factor in the upcoming Regional Championships.
Not only is this cool-looking card a dual-type, but also it can get rid of your Shaymin-EXs on the Bench! In certain situations the Psychic type can be used to hit for Weakness but for now the main reason to include this card is its attack. Despair Ray gives you the option of discarding Pokémon from your Bench. Shaymin-EX should be your optimal Pokémon to discard with this attack but I can also see it being used to get rid of a Pokémon with a high amount of damage on it.
Originally I had 3 copies of this card in the list which should be the optimal amount. This deck’s list is very tight and the reason I dropped down to 2 Spirit Links is because Mega Gardevoir-EX is not the main attacker. It is more of a finisher that you will probably end up using later in the game. There is not much of a rush to get the Mega on the board and I feel as if you will only be using a max of 2 M Gardevoir-EX per game. I can definitely see going back to 3 copies though.
More Energy! These cards will help keep the constant flow of Energy on the board. Max Elixir can lead to explosive amounts of Energy that will catch your opponent by surprise. By turn 2 you usually want to have around 5-6 Energy on board. That can be reached by attaching turn 1, Geomancy, attaching turn 2, and 1-2 Max Elixir between the first two turns. Of course if you go first things would play out a little differently and you will likely have to settle for less damage on your second turn.
1-2 Klefki STS
I would play this card if you’re worried about Mega Rayquaza. Mega Rayquaza is currently the fastest Standard format deck and is very powerful. A Klefki can cause your opponent to do basically nothing if they can’t find their Hex Maniac at the right time. The card is not in here just because it is a Fairy type so I would definitely think about including it in any other deck you feel doesn’t have the best Mega Rayquaza matchup.
Ninja Boy can unlock a lot of cool combinations that will surprise your opponent. If you have an Active Xerneas STS, you can Ninja Boy and evolve with a Spirit Link during the same turn. This also can be done vice versa with a Gardevoir-EX into a Xerneas STS then evolving into the BREAK.
Karen About You: Expanded Decks for Philly
As for Expanded where Night March still lives, Karen is finally going to be printed but will not be legal for Arizona Regionals (Oct. 1-2). Since Christopher Schemanske talked about Expanded decks without Karen for Arizona Regionals, I will talk about Expanded decks post-Karen’s legalization for Philadelphia Regionals (Nov. 5-6).
Also, another thing to consider is that there will only be one Expanded Regionals with Karen and without the Evolutions expansion. Evolutions is being released in America on November 2nd and Philadelphia Regionals is that weekend.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 36
Energy – 13
Even though this is one of my favorite decks of all time, I still always hate building lists for it simply because I want to include so many cards. Karen and Jirachi-EX make this deck have a 50/50 or better matchup against Night March which was one of the reasons it did not do so well during last year’s Expanded. With the addition of Max Elixir and Fighting Fury Belt I think this deck could be one of the top contenders in Expanded with Karen.
This card is definitely one of my favorites in the deck. It provides amazing synergy and makes it easier to access important Supporters like Karen and Shadow Triad. Jirachi can even be reused with AZ. With Hoopa-EX also in here, Jirachi is probably the most powerful consistency card in this deck.
The addition of Max Elixir in Virizion/Genesect is absolutely insane. The one problem that this deck always had back in the day was speed. With the combination of Max Elixir and Energy Switch, turn 1 Emerald Slashes are very common and turn 1 Megalo Cannon/G Booster also becomes possible. I want to fit one more G Energy in the deck but for now I think you will be hitting a good percentage of your Max Elixirs.
This is another amazing new addition to the deck. Genesect’s Ability, Red Signal, is extremely powerful yet limited. With Special Charge you have the ability to reuse your Plasma Energies. On top of that, there is a Shadow Triad to get back even more Plasma Energy. With this combination of cards in your list, you’ll have a Plasma Energy whenever you need it, especially for those crucial Red Signals.
I have not tested this card in the deck yet but it is very tempting. There are many different scenarios that could make Ninja Boy a great card here. It could used to turn a Virizion-EX into a Genesect-EX and pull a G Booster out of nowhere. It could also be used to get a Bench-sitter like Jirachi-EX/Shaymin-EX/Hoopa-EX back into the deck and deny an easy 2-Prize target for your opponent.
I used to always have a copy of this card in my deck two formats ago. Just one makes so much math, especially in a format with Shaymin-EX. I took it out for space reasons and also since Fighting Fury Belt provides the 10 extra damage Megalo Cannon needs to KO Shaymin-EX. With two Deoxys-EX on the field along with Fighting Fury Belt, you will be able to 1-shot Volcanion STS with Megalo Cannon. Volcanion decks pose a threat to this deck simply due to Weakness so I would consider a Deoxys-EX in V/G if you expect to play against Volcanion decks.
I originally had 2 copies of this card in the list to help the Night March matchup even more. A Karen plus Quaking Punch combination pretty much ends the game for the Night March player as long as they don’t have a Pokémon Ranger and an explosive turn. My reasoning behind taking them out was that Fighting Fury Belt and Karen already give Night March enough trouble and so Seismitoad-EX is not needed. If you’re still worried about the Night March matchup I would put 1 or 2 Toad into your list.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
Energy – 10
This was a deck that saw some success at Virginia Regionals last year. Although Steam Siege didn’t do much for this deck, the addition of Fighting Fury Belt from BREAKpoint is amazing. Ray/Eels and Mewtwo/Eels are two variants that were very strong but I think they have been outclassed by Raikou/Eels. Raikou/Eels has the ability to do massive amounts of damage while yielding only single Prizes at a time.
Opponent has a high-HP Pokémon? Pikachu-EX will take care of that. Raikou can do a lot of damage but sometimes not enough. Pikachu-EX is the finisher for this deck and you will find it to be very powerful whenever you play Raikou/Eels. It does have very low HP for an EX so be careful about benching it. Make sure that when you play it onto the field you are getting value out of the card instead of having Pikachu-EX just sit there.
Hex Maniac is in the deck because of Archeops NVI. I don’t think you should play an Evolution deck in Expanded without a counter for it. Archeops shuts this deck down and the other Ability-stopping options such as Wobbuffet PHF and Garbodor BKP do not work well in this deck.
I could never decide if I thought ACE SPECs were healthy for the game or not but they should definitely be in every deck in Expanded. Anyway, there are two ACE SPECs that fit well in this deck: Dowsing Machine and Computer Search. In decks that are very tight and have little room I like to play Dowsing Machine. I think Computer Search is better in faster decks that have more resources.
I really want to find room for this card. There are many neat things that Raikou-EX can do such as KOing a Garbodor off the Bench, KOing a Benched Jirachi-EX, or simply finishing off one of your opponent’s Pokémon that has retreated. This is one of the first Eelektrik lists that I have kept Raikou-EX out of and if you are not liking the Seismitoad-EX that would be a card I would switch out for it.
If you’re expecting to play against Jolteon-EX you should put a copy of this card into the list. There are a couple of other Pokémon that Pokémon Ranger denies but none that have as much of an impact as Jolteon-EX on this deck.
Almost all Eel variants benefit a lot from this card. This deck is not the fastest and turn 1 almost always ends in a pass. Why not draw until you have 7 cards instead?! If you have access to this card and can find room for 1-2 copies, I would definitely consider it.
I hope you all enjoyed the article! I’m missing Worlds a lot right now but I also can’t wait for the next season. I learned so much this year and I hope you all will too from this article. Good luck to all of you attending Regionals and any other upcoming tournaments this fall!
I hate to end this article on a sad note, but this past week we lost someone very special in the community: Nicholas Bailey. He was the nicest, funniest guy I’ve ever met and he was always down to play some Pokémon, not to mention how good he was at the game. It would mean the world if you could support his family by donating to help with related expenses and anything else they might need.
Thanks for reading!
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