And with that, a collective sigh was had by all. The PRC–EVO format spanned a full two months, including three very large Regionals and the first International event. It went through some small periods of transformation in the last few weeks of life but overall it was fairly stagnant. But now it is done, and it’s time to look to the future.
Personally, I didn’t mind the format. I was able to earn over 200 CP with many different decks and had plenty of opportunities to attempt to counter the metagame, one of my favorite challenges in Pokémon. However, I am looking forward to seeing what changes Sun & Moon can bring to Standard.
Before we jump into a few experimental decks that I’ll be testing out in preparation for the new Standard format that includes Sun & Moon, I want to look back at my last few Regionals and discuss the role of consistency in my deck choice and performance. I’ll also be including a small discussion on the three times that a player has gone 9-0 at a Regional Championship since we’ve started Best of 3 Swiss play and how deck choice and construction enabled those performances. Let’s get started!
- Dallas: Plume Doom
- Athens: Frog Party
- A Case Study on Consistency
- Sunrise: Decks Updated for Sun & Moon
Dallas: Plume Doom
Yveltal was still the deck to beat going into Dallas Regionals. The format hadn’t changed since London so we weren’t expecting much of a metagame shift. Unfortunately, Yveltal proved incredibly difficult to counter due to its consistency, high damage output, low maintenance, and Ability lock through Garbodor. Christopher Schemanske and I started considering all kinds of decks that either didn’t beat Yveltal in their current iteration, or at least weren’t thought to beat Yveltal.
This was a pretty good period of testing for us as we started thinking outside of the box. Volcanion was an early favorite as it actually seemed to have a consistency edge over Yveltal, as well as a decent shot to win the matchup in a normal game through an early Prize lead and a constant 2HKO war. We also played a lot of Mega Mewtwo as I thought the deck would be incredibly strong in the metagame if the Yveltal matchup could be shored up. Other ideas like Mega Altaria and Zygarde/Carbink were thrown around but nothing seemed to be able to beat both Yveltal and a decent number of the other decks in the field.
Our last-ditch effort was Mega Mewtwo with Fairy Energy and Fairy Drop, with the idea that the healing would give us the edge we needed against Yveltal. Early testing results were looking very promising but the night before the event, I was able to win 6 of 7 games against this Mewtwo variant with my Yveltal list. Not only was the Yveltal matchup far from a sure win even with a strong setup, but Mewtwo just didn’t have the consistency I was looking for in a deck I’d be piloting for 9+ rounds. We ended up scrapping the idea and falling back to our typical “safe” backup plan of Vileplume Toolbox.
Now, the choice of Vileplume may seem counterintuitive, especially considering I just knocked the consistency of Mega Mewtwo. The thought is this: Mewtwo was inconsistent and even when it set up it could often lose. There were just too many moving parts; it needed to hit an Energy drop basically every turn, as well as Stadiums, the choice of a Supporter, a Fairy Drop in some situations, a Garbodor and/or 2nd Mega Mewtwo, etc.
Vileplume was nearly as inconsistent in the first few turns, but when it gets a strong setup, almost no deck has a strong answer. A T1 Vileplume can steal a win against any deck, even Greninja. With the addition of Beedrill-EX and Bunnelby PRC 121, you even have comeback potential against literally any deck with a nearly endless supply of N and/or Lysandre, as well as an out to Garbodor and the ability to mill.
The major difference between Vileplume and Mewtwo for me was that Vileplume was very low maintenance after T3. Once you had your first attacker, you had plenty of time to just slowly build up your field before your opponent could do much at all. You could whiff Energy drops or Supporters and still be in a fine position. I really valued this aspect of Vileplume and thought it would serve me well over 9+ rounds.
The list we played is the same as our Orlando list, minus a Trainers’ Mail and a Lugia-EX, plus a Beedrill-EX and Bunnelby. We tried out other techs like Salamence-EX, Trevenant-EX, and even Venusaur-EX but found them to be too situational. Here’s a quick rundown of how my rounds went:
Dallas Regionals // 516 Masters
R1 Volcanion (WLW)
R2 Yveltal/Garbodor (WW)
R3 Yveltal/Garbodor (WW)
R4 Greninja (LWL)
R5 Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor (WW)
R6 Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor (WW)
R7 Volcanion (WLW)
R8 Greninja (LWL)
R9 Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor (WW)
Day 1: 7-2
Final Standing: 8-6
This tournament was fairly straightforward. I won all of the good matchups, and I lost 3 sets to Greninja as expected. The 3 Mewtwo decks I lost to on Day 2 all had outs to attack Regice and didn’t play down Garbodor for me to Lysandre and Double Scrapper, giving me few ways to win. Otherwise, I felt great about this list and would happily play it in any tournament where I didn’t expect much Greninja. Let me know if you have any questions in the forums!
Athens: Frog Party
After Dallas, the metagame was completely different than before the tournament. Yveltal was no longer the powerhouse of the format and decks like Gardevoir were back on my radar. Additionally, Speed Darkrai quickly rose to prominence after Azul Griego and Brad Curcio each won a League Cup with the deck and posted the list online. The addition of Giratina XY184 also caused a big shift in the metagame, but surprisingly in Greninja’s favor instead of against it. Silent Lab became an instant inclusion in all Greninja decks, actually improving matchups like Volcanion and Gardevoir. Additionally, any decks that dropped Garbodor to instead fit a Giratina became strong matchups for the deck.
From here, I started looking for a deck that could take advantage of the new metagame. I expected at least 33% of the field to be playing Speed Darkrai or Greninja, as well as a large amount of Mega Gardevoir after it won in Dallas and some Mega Rayquaza as a seemingly logical counter to the expected metagame. I expected decks like Mewtwo and Yveltal to see less play with bad matchups to Speed Darkrai and Mega Gardevoir, thus Parallel City would see little to no play in the metagame as a whole.
So, with these things in mind, I started working on a Rainbow Road list. I started with the list that Brad Curcio played in Fort Wayne, making a cut for a Giratina XY184 to turn Greninja slightly in my favor. And although this deck had the tools to deal with all of the decks I expected to play, it just wasn’t consistent enough. Even the games where I did set up, I could just miss a single Energy drop and lose pretty easily. The deck was incredibly susceptible to N and struggled to take the last few Prizes. It also had a pretty poor Volcanion matchup which I don’t really like to accept going into such a large tournament.
At this point, Christopher asks “What does Greninja really lose to?” and I had no solid answer. We had tabled the deck a few days earlier after we started to get the feeling that Greninja would be really popular in Athens. There’s not a lot of skill in the Greninja mirror; instead, the matchup comes down a lot to reading your opponent, hoping to draw well off of N, and hoping you go first. Still, we wanted to tech for the matchup any way we could, so we added a Pokémon Ranger and an Eco Arm in lieu of any Energy denial. These cards would also help against any Jolteon/Glaceon/Garbodor decks and Eco Arm was surprisingly useful in many matchups, provided you could get to the later turns of the game.
Risk / Reward
The biggest reason for me to pick Greninja was that the deck’s ceiling was far higher than Rainbow Road’s. I felt like Rainbow Road could lose any matchup even with the optimal setup. An N to 2 and a knockout on your fully-charged attacker is enough in some games for many decks to catch up in the Prize race. Combine that with Parallel City and/or Garbodor and you’re basically guaranteed to lose. If you were guaranteed to set up every game, one could potentially build a Rainbow Road list that has more late-game staying power. However, that just isn’t the case and probably never will be for a deck that needs so many puzzle pieces just to deal consistent damage.
Greninja, on the other hand, was heavily favored in almost any game where I got 2 Greninja BREAK out. The deck is slightly inconsistent, similar to Vileplume, but I felt incredibly confident in winning almost any game in most matchups once I set up. Talonflame provides a solid out to a dead hand, even in the mid to late game if you can keep it around that long. Greninja just feels very low maintenance once you get past Turn 4, only needing 2–3 Energy per turn to quickly close a game out.
I actually expected to lose one game in every best-of-three series simply due to Greninja’s potential to fall over itself. Anyone who has played the deck can recount the horrors of going 2nd and having to use Bubble, hoping your opponent is paralyzed and can’t knock out your lone Froakie. Due to this, I knew that I had to play quickly in all of my games to avoid going to time and earning a tie. I had an advantage here due to my experience playing Greninja quite often in the last 6 months, but I still cut it close in many of my rounds. When you’re expecting your deck to “brick” on you one game of every series, you have to be confident in your deck to set up for the other two and you also can’t make any mistakes to lose the games you’re capable of winning. Keep that in mind when you’re choosing a deck in the future.
You can see the list we settled on in Christopher’s article from earlier this week.
Athens Regionals // 682 Masters
R1 Volcanion (WW)
R2 Volcanion (WW)
R3 Rainbow Road (LWW)
R4 Yveltal/Garbodor (WLL)
R5 Jolteon/Glaceon/Garbodor (WW)
R6 Glaceon/Regice/Garbodor (LL)
R7 Speed Darkrai (WLW)
R8 Pidgeot/Jolteon/Garbodor (LWW)
R9 Vileplume Toolbox (WLW)
Day 1: 7-2
R10 Mega Gardevoir STS (WW)
R11 Rayquaza (LL)
R12 Gyarados (LWL)
R13 Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor (LL)
R14 Mega Gardevoir STS (ID)
Final Standing: 8-5-1
And after teching for the Greninja mirror, I played against 0. I’m not truly upset as the matchup is still fairly volatile and I had some pretty favorable matchups Day 1 anyways. Day 2 was fairly depressing as I lost to Gyarados due to some pretty nasty draws and I quickly saw the power of Giratina in a Rayquaza deck. Once I was eliminated from Top 16 contention, I had no interest in playing any longer.
I would definitely agree with Christopher that Greninja is not in my top choices of decks right now. Even when it has tons of favorable matchups, the deck loses to itself and early aggression from tons of decks. If you see lots of Volcanion and Speed Darkrai at your local League Cup, maybe it’s worth the risk. Otherwise, I’d probably leave the frogs at home.
A Case Study on Consistency
While we’re on the topic of consistency, I want to look at the three players who have been able to go 9-0 at North American Regional Championships since we moved to a Best of 3 format. These players chose to play every round out on the first day of their Regionals, even when they were locked for Top 32 the next day. By collecting as many wins as possible on Day 1, they made it that much easier to move on to Top 8, needing just 3–5 match points on Day 2.
Why did they choose to play it out? How did they get to 6-0 or 7-0 in the first place, giving themselves the choice of hunting for the last few wins or taking IDs to scrape a few points and rest up for the last few hours? For one, they all played incredibly consistent decks. They just didn’t need fear drawing a dead hand in 2 of the 3 games in a round.
The other factor is that they all played decks that had relatively rare autolosses or even bad matchups at all. While their decks were rarely heavy favorites in a match, they also didn’t have to worry about a game being over before it started. This could backfire on some players, as a deck that has 50/50 matchups across the board would be expected to go, well, 50/50 and end up with a record around 5-4. However, in the hands of a skilled player, and with a little bit of luck, these types of decks have been known to pull off huge win streaks like these.
Let’s take a quick look at their deck lists and their tournament runs:
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