Hey all! Sorry I haven’t been able to get this up before now, but I’ve been focusing on Standard and I think most of you have been too.
Toronto is going to be the last Expanded tournament of the year, so I and many other players haven’t been putting a ton of effort into preparing for it. Also, the format is really too diverse to come up with the “best” play. As such, I’ll be doing this article a little bit differently than my previous ones, and there will be a single recommendation section at the end to encompass both divisions. This article will be a bit shorter than previous iterations as well, since I think this Regional is comparatively less important to prepare for and won’t be incredibly well attended.
Next week, I’ll put out a Standard Junior/Senior metagame analysis article with a recap of the PRC/SUM format as a whole. I’ll update that continuously with results from the new format as we head into Seattle, Wisconsin, Mexico, and Origins, so look forward to that!
For now, let’s take the last look at Expanded for the year!
- 5 Rainbow Road
- 5 Turbo Darkrai
- 4 Darkrai/Giratina
- 4 Raikou/Eelektrik
- 4 Donphan
- 3 Yveltal Maxie’s
- 3 M Rayquaza
- 2 M Manectric
- 2 Archie’s Blastoise
- 2 Trevenant
- 2 Lurantis/Vileplume
- 1 Groudon
- 1 Wailord
- 1 M Gardevoir
- 1 Accelgor/Wobbuffet
Juniors Top 8 decklists for all events can be found at this link (the 5 Expanded Regionals are Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Jose, St. Louis, and Portland).
Overall, there aren’t a lot of trends. Dark decks are easily the favorite, but they still only took 12 of 40 potential slots in Top 8 cuts throughout this year. I wouldn’t want to play Trevenant in Juniors due to this reason, but it did find a way to win in Philadelphia.
I would also note that Item lock and other difficult to pilot decks such as Accelgor and Groudon are not highly played in Juniors. This is fairly unsurprising as these concepts may be harder to teach to younger players. I wouldn’t be too concerned about teching against these types of decks.
One note I do want to make here is that it seems that some Junior players are at an advantage or disadvantage based on their knowledge of some deck concepts that don’t exist in the current Standard format. The ones that are most apparent are Donphan, Accelgor, Eelektrik, and Wailord. If your child hasn’t been playing for very long, it’s worth looking through this list and talking through the deck concepts that they don’t understand very well.
- 5 Seismitoad/Garbodor
- 5 Rainbow Road
- 4 Yveltal Maxie’s
- 2 M Rayquaza
- 2 Donphan
- 2 Wailord
- 2 Turbo Darkrai
- 2 Darkrai/Giratina
- 2 Volcanion
- 2 M Gardevoir
- 2 Trevenant
- 1 Seismitoad/Crobat
- 1 Vileplume Toolbox
- 1 Night March
- 1 Groudon
- 1 Decidueye/Vileplume
- 1 Water Toolbox
- 1 Raikou/Eelektrik
- 1 Seismitoad/Decidueye
- 1 Carbink/Landorus
Seniors Top 8 decklists for all events can be found at this link (the 5 Expanded Regionals are Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Jose, St. Louis, and Portland).
In Seniors, there are significantly more Item lock decks doing well than in Juniors. In fact, Seismitoad/Garbodor is one of the most played decks in the division. I’m actually not sure why this is, as the deck sees almost 0 play in Masters, but definitely be prepared to play against Seismitoad if you’re playing in Seniors.
One trend I did notice about Seniors is that they tend to pick up on the most recently played decks in Masters. Carbink was played in Masters in San Jose, then in Seniors in St. Louis. Volcanion saw success in Masters in St. Louis, then was played by Seniors in Portland. If the same trend continues, I’d expect Groudon to see extra play in Toronto, especially with the legality of French Tropical Beach.
Otherwise, many of the same statements that I made about the Junior results apply to Seniors as well. There are so many decks that could see play and it’s important to make sure that a Senior player knows what they do so they’re not caught off guard during the tournament.
As you can see, there are just too many decks in Expanded to really narrow the metagame down to a small subset. There aren’t any decks that you specifically need to counter. Overall, my recommendation is to pick a consistent deck with one or two strong matchups. After that, your schedule for the day and the decks you face are up to fate. You could (and likely will) play 5+ unique decks in Toronto, there are just too many options.
If I had to recommend some decks, I think Maxie’s Yveltal and Night March are strong picks. Both have a lot of strong matchups against the top decks in the format, as well as natural consistency with Battle Compressor + VS Seeker engine. Yveltal is stronger against Item lock, so you could potentially pick between the two decks based on how much of that you expect to see. Here are some good lists for Night March and Yveltal.
Otherwise, I would say that anyone picking a deck for Toronto (or any Expanded tournament) should definitely stick with one they enjoy playing. I don’t think it’s worth focusing so intently on the “perfect metagame call” for this weekend as I’ve outlined above, so I’d rather pick something that I can have fun with.
Depending on what division you or your child are in, you’re looking at 5-7 rounds of play on Saturday. Although this is less than the 9-14 rounds that Masters players will endure, it’s still a long day of Pokémon. I’ve had tournaments where I’ve played decks I didn’t really enjoy (such as when I piloted Quad Lapras in Brazil) and they’re always fairly miserable. Pokémon is all about having fun and we don’t get a lot of opportunities to play Expanded. Don’t be afraid to bust out your favorite deck, even if it’s a lesser played one like Archie’s Blastoise, Wailord, or Accelgor/Wobbuffet.
Although I’m not the biggest fan of the Expanded format, I’m really excited for Toronto. The Canadian staff usually runs a great event, and the new venue looks like an upgrade in both size and location from the past few years. The players there are also some of the nicest in all of North America.
Good luck to everyone competing in Toronto! I’m looking forward to a great tournament and a fun weekend with my friends. Say hi if you see me there!
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