Hey everyone! I got back from the Orlando Regional Championships last night (Sunday) and it was an amazing tournament. The judging and organizing staff did a great job, especially considering the record-breaking attendance. I got to see a lot of friends from all over the country and played many quality games of Pokémon.
It was quite a weekend for surprises in Orlando. Gyarados made up a large part of the metagame, coming out of nowhere after Grafton Roll and Bob Zhang both separately popularized it in different parts of the country. Rahul Reddy, Ryan Sabelhaus, and Brad Curcio crafted a great Darkrai/Giratina/Garbodor list and took three of the top eight placements with it. The new Mega Gardevoir from Steam Siege also made an appearance, carrying Dave Richard and Brit Pybas into the Top 32.
Personally, I ended up taking 9th place this weekend, missing out on Top 8 due to unfavorable tiebreakers. I also played a unique deck, a Vileplume toolbox build similar to the one Sam Hough took 3rd place with at the World Championships. This list, concocted by Sean Foisy and Christopher Schemanske, also took 2nd place and 14th place in the tournament. It’s a very strong deck that has a lot of staying power in the Standard format, so a large part of my article will be dedicated to covering it and its matchups. Let’s get started!
Orlando Regionals Report
The first time I realistically considered Vileplume of any sort in the Standard format was around 8 PM on Friday, the night before the event. The loss of AZ made the Toolbox version seem very inferior to other decks in the format, as a single Lysandre put you in a very tricky spot to come back from. The loss of Battle Compressor and the addition of Karen made the Vespiquen version fairly unplayable in my eyes (although Fred Hoban proved me wrong with a 6-1-2 performance this weekend). However, a few texts from Sean Foisy and Christopher Schemanske about the deck’s strong testing results piqued my interest as I drove south to Orlando.
By the time I arrived around 11:30, the rest of my testing group had all but decided on the Vileplume Toolbox list that Sean had thought of the night before. I played a few games with it and immediately was convinced of its raw power. They had tested against almost every deck that we expected to see play and found no matchup to be worse than 50/50. Even Garbodor decks were beatable, either by virtue of T1 Item lock or the sheer power of attackers that can’t be damaged. I quickly locked in my deck choice and looked forward to the next day’s competition. Here’s the list that we played:
Pokémon – 24
Trainers – 26
Energy – 10
The list looks incredibly whacky but it has answers for every situation. Between Glaceon, Jolteon, and Regice, you can wall out any attacker. Mew-EX is the glue that holds the deck together, letting you conserve your valuable 1-of and 2-of attackers, as well as switch between attacks at ease when the need arises. The other Pokémon in the deck all have attacks and Abilities that help in specific situations, mostly matchup related. I’ll point out which ones are good in each matchup and situation below in my report.
One common question on the weekend was why we used Mew-EX instead of Mew FCO. While the free retreat and non-EX status of Mew FCO would have been nice in many situations, we valued the ability of Mew-EX to take a hit, especially with how important Energy conservation is. Mew-EX also lets you use your opponent’s Pokémon’s attacks, something I found incredibly valuable as I used everything from Evil Ball to Rainbow Force to Emerald Break during the tournament.
The rest of the list is incredibly straightforward which is the only way that a deck like this can work as well as it does. A full complement of Trainers’ Mail, Sycamore, and N give you draw power through both the early game and the late game. The Ball engine was nearly perfect for finding the Vileplume pieces at the right time. The 2 Ninja Boy were instrumental in getting Manaphy-EX onto the Bench after you filled it while you dug for a Vileplume in the early game. This was the most common target from Ninja Boy, giving me a good out to retreat Vileplume at almost any point in the game.
The deck is incredibly difficult to play as you have lots of options for attackers, Bench space needs to be managed, Lysandre and N are valuable resources to be used at different times, and Energy cards need to be conserved for retreating Vileplume but you also have to have the right number of attackers powered up at all times. The deck may seem to play itself when you get the T1 Vileplume, but I only got that around 7 times out of the 30+ games I played on the weekend. If you want to play it at any tournaments, I suggest getting in lots of practice and playing timed games as often as possible.
Speaking of timed games, scooping games early is incredibly important in best-of-three play, especially with this deck. Typically, you’re only doing 70 damage a turn, and your opponent may want to take advantage of the time limits to force a tie in an unfavorable matchup. I often scooped Game 2s on the first or second turn of games, knowing my hand wasn’t good enough to take the game. This gave me enough time to finish the series and kept my tie rate surprisingly low.
Day 1: Zero to Hero
Orlando Regionals // Day 1 // 616 Masters
R1 Vileplume Toolbox (1-2)
R2 M Ampharos/Jolteon/Zebstrika (2-0)
R3 Yveltal/Garbodor (0-2)
R4 Rainbow Road (2-1)
R5 Mewtwo/Garbodor (2-0)
R6 Gyarados (2-0)
R7 Zygarde/Carbink/Garbodor (2-1)
R8 Gardevoir/Xerneas (2-0)
R9 M Rayquaza (2-1)
Final: 7-2-0 // Advance to Day 2
Round 1: Sean Foisy, Vileplume Toolbox (LWL. 0-1.)
I started the day in a precarious position, having to play a 60-card mirror against my friend Sean. Unfortunately, taking an intentional draw was not a great option at this point in the tournament so we had to play to a winner. In this match, Sean’s experience with the deck was a big advantage for him as I spent most of the first game trying to figure out the keys to success in the matchup. Neither of us had a stellar start in any of the three games, but my starting hand in the third game was far worse than his, as my only Supporter was Ninja Boy and I ended up losing the series.
Matchup Keys: Magearna-EX and Jirachi are the most important Pokémon to play down. Discarding your opponent’s Energy can give you a big advantage, especially under Item lock. However, if you have a Magearna on your board, all of your Pokémon with Rainbow Energy are safe from Stardust. Jolteon and Regice are the attackers of choice as they are safe from damage and effects in many situations. Jolteon’s Swift, Vileplume’s Solar Beam, and Jirachi’s Dream Dance are all options to chip away at your opponent’s seemingly invincible attackers. Also, make sure to attack with your Mew any time it is on the board. Otherwise, your opponent can Lysandre and KO it with their own Mew whenever they want to take a Prize lead or finish off a game.
Round 2: Lee Weeks, M Ampharos (WW. 1-1.)
This was a relatively straightforward matchup for me where the combination of Jolteon, Glaceon, and Regice shut out my opponent. I had to be very careful to play around her Zebstrika as the “Zap Zone” Ability allows her to attack through my walls. Fortunately, her deck was very susceptible to Item lock so I didn’t have much trouble once I set up Vileplume.
Round 3: Butch Smith, Yveltal/Garbodor (LL. 1-2)
This was an incredibly frustrating match for me as my opponent got a T1 Trubbish with a Float Stone in both games. I found out after the match that he only played a 1-1 Garbodor line so luck was definitely not on my side. He also played an Enhanced Hammer and Jirachi which were really difficult to deal with. I had a chance to win both games but I was playing from behind the entire time and just didn’t find the right cards to clutch it out.
Matchup Keys: Jolteon is usually completely untouchable in this matchup. A T1 Vileplume will almost always win the game, especially with Manaphy on the Bench as well. If this isn’t possible, try to limit your Bench so your opponent can’t Lysandre for all 6 of their Prizes. Use Ninja Boy to trade out EXs for non-EXs when possible. Use the first game or two to find out if your opponent plays any Energy denial cards, Pokémon Ranger, or non-EX attackers. With that knowledge, you can decide whether or not to set up secondary attackers or just stack Energy on your single Jolteon.
Round 4: Jesse Burton, Rainbow Road (WLW. 2-2.)
This is another matchup that can usually be completely cleaned up by Jolteon, and Item lock is just the nail in the coffin. The first game was over in 5 minutes due to my T1 Vileplume and T2 Flash Ray. The second game featured a slow start from me but I was still in control with multiple Jolteon powered up.
I had a moment of panic when my opponent used Galvantula to place 60 on both my Benched Manaphy and Shaymin. I was unable to power up something like a Lugia or Magearna to 1HKO the Galvantula, meaning my opponent could Double Thread once again the next turn to win the game. My lack of sleep for the last two nights got the better of me in this situation as I missed the very obvious play of Sky Return with Shaymin, promote Manaphy (or even Jolteon), clean up with Jolteon on the following turn. Instead, I used Jirachi’s Dream Dance to potentially buy me a turn to find a Ninja Boy for another attacker, or even two turns for Flash Ray to KO the Galvantula. My opponent woke up instantly to take the second game. When the same situation came up in the third game, I made the correct Sky Return into Manaphy play and rode the Flash Ray train to victory.
Matchup Keys: Just like the Yveltal/Garbodor matchup, find out what threats your opponent has to deal with your Jolteon. Pokémon Ranger and Xerneas BREAK are potential threats that I saw this weekend and both can be dealt with fairly easily if you prepare correctly. Mew-EX can often use Xerneas’s Rainbow Force or Magearna’s Soul Blaster in this matchup to 1HKO a Xerneas. Both attacks are also good to speed up the game while your opponent stalls with a beefy EX during a turn where they can’t retreat and 1HKO you. You can still use Flash Ray on the next turn to keep the lock up with minimal risk. Just be sure not to get caught with Mew-EX as your only attacker if they play a Hex Maniac. Otherwise, try to speed through games. 50 minutes is not a lot of time and 70 damage a turn does not take 7 Prizes (which a good opponent will make you take) very quickly.
Round 5: Stephen Hunter, Mewtwo/Garbodor (WW. 3-2.)
I went second in both of these games and my opponent found a Trubbish and a Float Stone on their first turn both times. However, the matchup is incredibly favorable due to Regice’s near invulnerability in the game. My opponent did not play this matchup incredibly well, choosing to discard Shrine of Memories in many instances and also Mega Evolve all of his Mewtwo, giving him few outs to Damage Change to remove the damage I placed with Resistance Blizzard. He also thought about attacking with Garbodor at one point, a very smart move to deal with my lone Regice, but never ended up choosing that option. Once he started charging up a Garbodor, I came up with the game plan of benching a Shaymin with a DCE, a Regice with an Energy, and putting a 4th Energy on my Active Regice. If he did attack with the Garbodor, I would retreat to Shaymin and Sky Return the Garbodor. From here, I could play the DCE on my Regice that he didn’t 1HKO with a Mega Mewtwo and Lysandre the Garbodor to finish it off. This line of play relied on my knowledge that my opponent probably didn’t have access to an N or Lysandre but wasn’t even necessary in the end.
Matchup Keys: Bump your opponent’s Shrine of Memories ASAP. The less outs they have for Damage Change, the better. If you have to (and Garbodor isn’t on the board), use Mew to copy a strong attack to 1HKO unevolved Mewtwos. Otherwise, Regice is your best friend. Damage Change will remove the damage from their attacker but after using Resistance Blizzard, Regice does not take any damage from that exchange. Be wary of Trubbish and Garbodor — both have strong attacks that can disrupt your lock if you aren’t prepared. The last consideration is that deck-out is a strong possibility. Make sure to keep more cards than your opponent between your hand and your deck, and use N when it is advantageous for you.
Round 6: Travion Tiller, Gyarados (WW. 4-2.)
This was the first round where my opponent knew what I was playing and he audibly groaned when I won the coin flip. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t matter much as Gyarados is the deck’s best matchup. Under Item lock, they have no way to recover Magikarp, no way to recover DCE, and no way to take 6 Prizes once Glaceon is powered up. This was a quick series.
Matchup Keys: Although you may go down early, the one-two punch of Stardust into Crystal Ray is enough to turn the matchup completely in your favor. Most Gyarados lists don’t play Hex Maniac or Pokémon Ranger so you can just sail from there. Try not to attack into Bursting Balloon early — just sacrifice a few Pokémon if you don’t get set up quickly enough. If you can’t find the right attackers, using 2 Lysandre for Magikarp KOs will perpetually stall their damage output at 90 since they can’t get their Magikarp back. This can buy you time in a pinch.
Round 7: William Greer, Zygarde/Carbink/Garbodor (WLW. 5-2.)
In hindsight, I got incredibly lucky to win this match. My opponent had a lot of options that are hard for a deck like mine to deal with. He played at least 3 Crushing Hammer, 3 Enhanced Hammer, and a Team Flare Grunt. Luckily I got Vileplume on T1 in Games 1 and 3 so I was able to mitigate most of those threats. In the second game, he got the T1 Trubbish with a Fighting Fury Belt to guarantee the Garbodor and I could never keep Energy on my attackers when I needed to. Fortunately enough, T1 Vileplume is too much for that deck to deal with and my Regice cleaned up pretty quickly.
Matchup Keys: Carbink is actually incredibly hard for this deck to deal with. Regice is the only realistic attacker that can damage it and it can’t even 1HKO it. Make sure you get the first hit on your opponent’s Carbink as they can easily go ahead in the 2HKO exchange otherwise by loading 2 Strong Energy on a Carbink. Jirachi may seem like a strong option in this matchup but Carbink is problematic here too, letting them recover Energy and sometimes even reallocate their Strong Energy to where the situation calls for. If they have a Garbodor down, you can use Jolteon or Lugia to attack Carbink in some scenarios. Only use Jolteon to take the final hit on a Carbink and only when your opponent doesn’t have another Carbink on the board, otherwise you can get 1HKO’d. Otherwise, T1 Vileplume and two powered-up Regice should clean up most games.
Round 8: Gabriel Berrios, Gardevoir/Xerneas (WW. 6-2.)
This round was surprisingly tricky as my opponent had the option to attack any of my attackers at ease. They played Xerneas XY, Gardevoir-EX PRC, M Gardevoir-EX PRC, M Gardevoir-EX STS, and Xerneas BREAK to cover Basic Pokémon, Evolved Pokémon, and non-Pokémon-EX. Fairy Garden let them retreat between them at ease so I knew I was in trouble from the start. In the first game, I was able to target my opponent’s Xerneas and leave him with only a field of Evolved Pokémon and a Gardevoir-EX. From here, I used a Mew to copy Glaceon’s Crystal Ray for a few turns until his lone unevolved Gardevoir was Knocked Out. Glaceon cleaned up the game from here. In the second game, my opponent put too many Energy on his Gardevoir and M Gardevoir, to the point where it was reasonably safe for me to assume he wouldn’t be able to attack with a Xerneas for the rest of the game. I was correct in my assumption and swept with a Regice.
Matchup Keys: Once you figure out which attackers your opponent plays, try to eliminate one subset of them so that you are safe to attack with either Regice, Glaceon, or Jolteon for the rest of the game. Mew is especially strong in this matchup, allowing you to use the correct attack for every situation. Be careful not to get caught without another attacker if your opponent plays a copy of Hex Maniac like mine did. Bumping their Fairy Garden is also incredibly important so they can’t switch between attackers without losing Energy.
Round 9: Ryan Tongue, M Rayquaza (WLW. 7-2.)
This was the first round where I really felt the pressure. After starting 1-2, I was just one win away from advancing in the tournament. Thankfully my deck decided to cooperate with a T1 Vileplume in the first game. Even so, it was a very close game as my opponent played 2 Hex Maniac, 2 Lysandre, and 1 Pokémon Ranger, giving them plenty of options to deal with my attackers. Finding out about these counts in the first game was incredibly helpful in the series. I scooped the second game on my second turn, knowing my start wasn’t good enough to win and that I would need a lot of time to finish the final game.
Unfortunately I whiffed the T1 Vileplume in Game 3, giving my opponent a chance to set up. It was a back-and-forth game where my opponent was able to recycle his Pokémon Ranger due to Hex Maniac, leaving me with a Glaceon as my attacker instead of the Regice I wanted to use. My opponent could attack this with his Basic Rayquaza and I was left without an attacker for a turn. I eventually powered up a Regice but was put in a tricky situation when he used Hex Maniac and Escape Rope, forcing my Magearna into the Active Spot. My opponent forgot about his own Hex Maniac and tried to use Set Up to draw into his final DCE to win the game. I was able to capitalize on this and draw one of my final two Energy cards two turns later to retreat to Regice while also ensuring that I would run out of cards in my deck one turn later than my opponent. I stole an incredibly tight game and moved on in the tournament.
Matchup Keys: You have a lot of strong attackers in this matchup; find the right times to use them. Regice is the best attacker in most situations but lists that play Pokémon Ranger or Zoroark can derail that game plan. Glaceon can deal with Zoroark but the Basic Rayquaza can attack it for a 2HKO or 3HKO. Jirachi can buy you a turn or even close a game out when your opponent is running low on DCE, especially under Item lock. Mew is very important in this matchup, allowing you to switch between your attacks and also your opponent’s. I have used Emerald Break, Intensifying Burn, and Sky Return at different spots in this matchup. Speaking of Emerald Break, make sure to be strategic with when you decide to bounce your opponent’s Sky Field. Not only can it increase your own damage output at times, but it can allow for either player to remove damaged Pokémon from the board.
Day 2: So Close Yet So Far
Orlando Regionals // Day 2 // Top 32 Masters
R10 Greninja (0-2)
R11 M Rayquaza (2-1)
R12 Rainbow Road (2-1)
R13 Speed M Gardevoir (2-1)
R14 Mewtwo/Garbodor (1-1)
Final: 10-3-1 // 9th Place
Round 10: Juan Santiago, Greninja (LL. 7-3.)
This match was somewhere between unfortunate and embarrassing. I whiffed the Vileplume at several scenarios in the first game. I could have gotten it two turns in a row but elected to grab a Shaymin off of an Ultra Ball to ensure a Supporter or Energy card for the next turn. Each time, I had 5+ outs to Vileplume remaining, plus at least 3 Trainers’ Mail, but did not hit any of those cards. The matchup is close when I have a Vileplume but basically a blowout when I don’t. In the second game, I took the opposite route and grabbed a T1 Vileplume without a Supporter in my hand. I would have won on my second turn had my opponent not hit a Bubble flip on their first turn, something I probably deserved after doing the same thing to Sam Hough at Worlds. Unfortunately, I later attempted to use Shaymin while my opponent had Silent Lab in play, resulting in a Prize penalty being recorded against me after I drew a few of the cards. To add insult to injury, seeing those cards told me I would be dead-drawing for several more turns, and my opponent cleaned up this match pretty quickly.
Matchup Keys: Put on as much early aggression as possible. Almost all of your attackers can 1HKO a Froakie and a Frogadier. You should be able to take 2-3 Prizes before your opponent takes any. Prioritize Vileplume over anything else. Most lists in Standard are dropping Talonflame so they are especially susceptible to Item lock. Eventually, work toward attacking with Crystal Ray and you should be able to clean up their board with relative ease. You should also conserve your N to give your opponent less chances to draw W Energy if they take a few Prizes.
Round 11: Nelson Cuevas, M Rayquaza (LW“T”. 8-3.)
Unfortunately for my opponent, he was about a minute late to this round, meaning he was not allowed to win or tie on time. He had to outright win the series or I would be awarded the win. I lost the first game after going second, but I was able to find out that my opponent played a Lysandre, a Hex Maniac, a Pokémon Ranger, and a 1-1 Zoroark line. In the second game, a T1 Vileplume and the ability to switch between Regice and Glaceon gave me a quick win. I knew time was running low in the third game so I went for the “tie” as my win condition. Jirachi and Glaceon bought me enough time to stay alive until time was called and I took a win in unconventional fashion.
Round 12: Christian Ortiz, Rainbow Road (WLW. 9-3.)
My deck was firing on all cylinders in this match. I got the T1 Vileplume in Games 1 and 3 and was able to coast to victory with Flash Ray. I had to rush through my turns in Game 3 as time was running low. 70 damage a turn doesn’t really let you close out a game quickly, and my opponent was able to retreat his Pokémon to stop me from achieving knockouts. In the end, I found a Lysandre on turn 2 of time and squeaked out a close win. Shoutout to my opponent for not slow-playing which would have easily given him a tie.
Round 13: Brit Pybas, Speed M Gardevoir (WLW. 10-3.)
I played against fellow SixPrizes writer Brit Pybas this round, an unfortunate scenario for our first match we’ve played in tournament. This is a pretty terrible matchup for his deck as he played no Pokémon that could damage Regice and no Pokémon Ranger. In the first and third games, I ended up with an Active Regice and kept EXs off my Bench so that he wouldn’t be able to win the game with his limited amount of Lysandre and Hex Maniac. I drew dead in Game 2 but played it out because I knew I only needed to set up one Regice to take control of the game.
Matchup Keys: This build of the Gardevoir deck plays no out to attack Regice so you just need to get one fully charged to essentially win the game. It does have 3 Escape Rope, so if you’re not careful, they can chain Hex Maniac + VS Seeker and Escape Rope to take Prizes off your Bench, only to close out the game with their Lysandre. Filling your Bench with non-EXs and bumping their Sky Field to discard EXs or using Ninja Boy to swap EXs for non-EXs are your best ways to stop this. You could even use M Gardevoir’s Despair Ray to discard EXs off of your bench inf some situations. As long as you get a decent setup, you should be able to win pretty easily.
Brit’s list for this deck was incredibly interesting, playing a speed engine with a large amount of Hoopa-EX, Shaymin-EX, and then recycling them with Super Rod and Karen. Look forward to him talking about this deck in his next article (Nov. 11)!
Round 14: John Orgel, Mewtwo/Garbodor (LWT. 10-3-1.)
I knew that my resistance was too low to ID into Top 8 this round, even though I would have 31 match points, a number usually safe to make Top 8. To make matters worse, I was playing against a friend of mine who I didn’t want to have to knock out of cut. We ended up playing the match out but tied anyway in the end. I lost the first game after losing the flip. He was able to Lysandre everything on my Bench and my Regice wasn’t able to close out the game quick enough. I decked him out very slowly in Game 2 as he was smart with his use of Damage Change but I saw this coming 30+ turns in advance and started conserving my cards. We only had about 5 minutes for Game 3 so we took the tie knowing he would be safe for cut.
. . .
Unfortunately, I was right about my resistance and I ended up in 9th place. It was still a great tournament and Alex Schemanske even piloted the same Vileplume Toolbox list to 2nd place, an amazing run for his first Regional as a Masters player. He had to play against three Garbodor decks in the top cut, beating two of them based on the sheer power of T1 Vileplume. I may be biased, but based on the results of the tournament, it seems that Vileplume and Garbodor variants are the strongest in the format. Between Sean, Alex, and me, we beat every deck in the metagame and could have swept the tournament with some better luck.
The only two big decks I didn’t play in my tournament run were Darkrai/Garbodor/Giratina and Volcanion. Here are some tips to beat them:
More Matchup Keys
Darkrai/Garbodor/Giratina: Jolteon and Regice both completely wall your opponent out in this matchup. Once you get one charged up, the game is all but won. Jirachi is the key here to allow you to attach your Special Energy after your opponent uses Chaos Wheel. Make sure you conserve your basic W Energy to give you a way to attach to Jirachi and use Stardust. If your opponent gets a Tool on their Garbodor, all hope is not lost. You can load Energy up on your attacker when you have the opportunity because this deck typically plays Enhanced Hammer.
Volcanion: Jolteon is the best attacker in this matchup but your opponent can overwhelm you early in the game. Try not to start with Mew or Magearna so you don’t give up unnecessary Prizes. Most lists are playing Pokémon Ranger now so you need to have a secondary attacker charged up at all times. Regice isn’t a terrible attacker here as your opponent will struggle to use Steam Up under Item lock to allow Volcanion to deal enough damage for a quick KO and it can 1HKO Volcanions that don’t have Fighting Fury Belt attached.
Future Options for Vileplume
Vileplume Toolbox was a strong play for the weekend and it has a lot of staying power in the Standard format. I think a lot of decks will play a copy of Pokémon Ranger to combat it if it starts to see a lot of play but this isn’t the end of the world. T1 Vileplume still beats a lot of decks and Pokémon Ranger typically only provides the opportunity for one knockout.
The deck even gains a few new options between now and Fort Wayne. The most obvious is the new Beedrill-EX which is being released in a box set. It can discard up to two Pokémon Tools on your opponent’s board, giving you a way to deal with Garbodor. Both the normal Mewtwo and the new Mewtwo-EX are interesting options. The normal Mewtwo is another non-EX attacker that can attack for one Energy attachment to take care of a big threat that your opponent has charged up. Mewtwo-EX is an inefficient attacker for the amount of Energy it takes to do damage with but it does let you recover discarded Energy cards. Mew-EX could take advantage of this to later use other attacks on your board or you can Ninja Boy the Mewtwo-EX into a better attacker.
Pidgeot-EX gives you a way to attack for just one single Energy, potentially stopping something like Giratina from attacking into you in fear of being Knocked Out on the next turn. The ability to snipe is also something that the deck is lacking and could come in handy in some situations. The easiest cut to accommodate any of these changes would be Glaceon-EX as Regice is usually a better attacker in most situations where Glaceon would be good. Glaceon is only the best attacker against Greninja, and if Greninja is a big problem, Trevenant-EX would be a better attacker anyway. All five of these attackers should be considered and tested out if you’re thinking about playing this deck in Fort Wayne.
Volcanion for Fort Wayne (PRC–EVO)
Had I not played Vileplume in Orlando, Volcanion would have been a serious consideration. It has few popular bad matchups other than Gyarados (and potentially Garbodor) but its sheer power and consistency makes it incredibly attractive. Here’s how I would construct the deck to play in Fort Wayne, the next major Standard event on the calendar:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 35
Energy – 13
The addition of Starmie EVO gives the deck a very strong late game and opens up some of the other space in the deck because you don’t have to run Energy Retrieval anymore. It leaves you more susceptible to Garbodor but that is a typically unwinnable matchup anyway. Being able to add 60 damage to all of your attacks every turn at the cost of any other card is just too good to pass up.
One card that has started to see a lot of play in several decks is Olympia. It’s a great reusable counter to Yveltal BKT which can otherwise stall a Volcanion-EX Active and mow down your field pretty easily. Being able to heal off your Pokémon can also come in handy in certain situations.
Other possible inclusions include Max Elixir and Sky Field/Hoopa-EX. Max Elixir gives you the edge in the mirror match by letting you attack with Volcanion-EX first. It’s part Water type so you hit your opponent for Weakness and can clean up their board quickly. Hoopa-EX was included in my list for the deck before the release of Evolutions but it takes up the Bench spot that I typically want to devote to Starmie. Sky Field could fix this problem at the cost of dropping some or all of your Scorched Earth. I’m not sure if it is worth the lost consistency but I intend to try it out when I start testing Standard again.
Random Thoughts from the Drive Home
To finish the article, here are a few thoughts that I had as I drove home from Orlando that didn’t fit well in any other context:
- In response to Brit’s list of the top 5 players in North America from his last article, Brad Curcio and Azul Garcia Griego both deserve consideration as additions to the list. They each had strong seasons with Regional and States wins in 2015-2016 and their Top 4 and 1st place finishes in Orlando prove that they’re still on top of the game.
- Karen is seeing almost no play in Standard. I only played against two decks that had a copy during my 14 rounds. This means Vespiquen could still be playable in Standard. It is yet to be seen whether or not this will translate to Expanded.
- Top players are being smarter about ties now. They are playing at a faster pace, quickly scooping games that are looking bleak, and only taking intentional draws when it is necessary and safe.
- Pokémon Ranger should be played in almost every deck. Giratina, Jolteon, Glaceon, and Regice all did very well this weekend and have almost no other counter in the format. It also can help the same Volcanion-EX attack twice in a row.
- Interestingly, the list for Vileplume Toolbox that was posted on Pokémon.com several weeks before Orlando ended up being just a few cards off of the one my teammates and I played. For the first time in a long time, the official website could be a decent resource for competitive players.
- 500 points for a World invitation seems incredibly daunting but is actually very doable. Assuming you get only 30 points per League Cup for a total of 180, you need an average of 40 points from 8 Regionals. That’s eight Top 16 finishes, or a few strong Top 8 or better placements mixed with some Top 64 or Top 128 kicker points. If you get the full 300 League Cup points, that average drops to 25 per Regional, basically meaning you just need Top 64 at all eight. This model assumes a high amount of travel but that’s just how this year’s structure works.
- As you can see from the above point, the 24 and 16 points you get from Top 64 and Top 128 finishes can really matter. It is important not to drop from a tournament even if you are out of contention for Top 32 for that reason. In Orlando, most players with 6-3 records made Top 64 and many players with 5-3-1 records made Top 128. Once you fall below this point, feel free to enjoy the rest of your evening. Until then, I would advise you to play it out.
That’s all I have for you all today! If anything, this past weekend in Orlando proved that the idea of a meta counter is not dead. Both my testing group and the one that played Darkrai/Garbodor/Giratina saw a metagame with plenty of imperfect options and instead chose to take a risk with an under-the-radar deck. This mentality can backfire but can also provide extremely good results.
My next tournament will be Philadelphia Regionals in just two and a half weeks. I’ll be working mostly on Expanded between now and then. There’s an incredibly short amount of time between tournaments but I’m looking forward to the challenge of preparing for a completely new format.
Until next time!
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.