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 one-of and two-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.
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