Once again, we’re at a juncture in the 2016-2017 season. There are 5 Regional Championships and a pair of Internationals left for North American players this season (of course, elsewhere, the Regional situation is a bit more dire). We’re reaching a critical point for players chasing the 500 Championship Point barrier; chances to make up ground are quickly vanishing.
This past weekend saw Volcanion’s 2nd major tournament win this season. It’s an oft-maligned deck due its linear nature and weakness to Ability lock, but that linearity comes with some degree of consistency that is otherwise absent from the Standard format. It’s certainly not a surprising outcome, especially given the simply massive variety of decks that made appearances in Salt Lake City. That our Top 8 also consisted of a mix of Speed Dark, Mewtwo, and Decidueye is similarly unsurprising — they were among the most played decks, and are all proven forces in the metagame.
This weekend also saw a strange evolution in the Pokémon TCG. Whether or not the effect is permanent remains to be seen, but a number of players have jumped on board Twitter as a media outlet for the game. For the past few years, the community has largely been holed up in private Facebook groups, so perhaps this is the start of it branching out — or perhaps it’ll amount to nothing at all. If you’re interested in random musings, Pokémon stats, or otherwise, you can follow me @cschemanske, and if you’re one of the players just hopping over, the SixPrizes account @SixPrizes.
Today, I’m going to look back at the weekend and the fascinating metagame that developed. While my efforts this weekend came up a win or two shorter than I’d have liked, I’m not too upset with the Top 32 finish (which we’ll get into a little later) I came up with. While I didn’t use my spreadsheet methodology this weekend, the Utah staff team has gifted us some prime information about the SLC metgame, so we’ll spend some time today talking stats. Afterwards, I’ll take a look at a few under-covered decks that could be useful considerations for your next League Cup, in the event you’re heading to Brazil, or beyond.
Without further ado, let’s get into Salt Lake City!
Murky View: Reflections on Salt Lake
I came into the week prior to the event not too sure what I wanted to play. It seemed as though Yveltal/Garbodor could be well-poised — and it’s relatively consistent, which is more than I can say for most of the format — but I was hesitant due to its myriad of 50/50 matchups and the West Coast’s propensity for playing Speed Dark regardless of its actual viability for a given tournament. That really only left M Mewtwo, M Rayquaza, and Decidueye/Vileplume as choices. I really didn’t want to play any of the 3, but knew I especially was hesitant to play a Mega deck in fear of Yveltal making a significant resurgence, so I was forced to try other options.
My brother and I tested a variety of concepts Friday night, but mainly hovered between Yveltal, Vespiquen, Mewtwo, Lapras, and Decidueye. The first and third were dubious for reasons I’ve already covered, while Vespiquen seemed questionable due to a projected high count of Decidueye (and Speed Dark too, for that matter). That really only left Lapras and Decidueye. I feared Lapras would have too hard a time dealing with players who’d previously had the opportunity to test against it, which left me in a bit of a bind:
You see, at some point Friday night, my brother posed the following: “What does Decidueye actually even beat?”
It was a legitimate question on the heals of losses to the likes of Mewtwo, Yveltal, and Lapras. And, to be honest, it’s not as though the deck really ever recovered in testing from that stretch of bad games; we simply didn’t find anything better. I went to bed Friday night begrudgingly playing Decidueye, but by the time Saturday morning had rolled back around, I was more than a bit nervous. That led to my consideration of Yveltal in a last-ditch effort to not play Decidueye. In fact, I was so undecided that when my mom decided at the venue about 3 minutes before deck list submission that she wanted a Super Rod in her M Rayquaza, the one in Yveltal had to suffice and my choice was made easy. In hindsight, I’m very glad for that fact.
The list, which you’ll probably largely recognize from Alex Hill’s article last week, was as follows:
Pokémon – 25
Trainers – 28
Energy – 7
Alex largely nails most of the analysis of this list, so I’ll dispense with that since you can refer back if you’re questioning anything (or, of course, you can contact either of us). There’s a key difference, though, in the inclusions of Mewtwo EVO in my list. This move was made in response to the dreadful results I was getting in testing the M Mewtwo matchup Friday night. While it didn’t outright turn the matchup, and I still thought it preferable to avoid Mewtwo altogether, it was useful and I preferred having an answer to simply rolling over when faced with a heavy Mewtwo.
The Trainers’ Mail cut was something Alex argued against in his last article, but I didn’t find missing it to be a particularly big deal. Trainers’ Mail’s effect is often somewhat intangible, though, so it’s hard to really evaluate whether the decision hurt me or not. I certainly had my share of dead hands, which indicates it may’ve been better to have the extra consistency, but I can’t know now. At the time, it was simply one of the least painful options.
The only tech I found myself potentially wondering about that I didn’t have was Silent Lab. It seems a bit counterintuitive, but could be something to test as a counter to Wobbuffet and general complement to Vileplume. Otherwise, I think the list is probably pretty standard. Let’s get into my tournament run:
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