Hello everyone! Travis Nunlist back again with another pre-Worlds article. I hope y’all don’t get too sick of me preparing for Worlds because I’ll have another piece out next week with my last minute tips and advice going into Day 1. I know not all of our readers will be attending and/or participating in the event, but I hope players of all caliber are able to gain something useful from my ramblings about the short lived format that will be PRC–BUS.
Preparing for Day 1 of Worlds with a new set has been an incredibly adventurous experience. Having the biggest event of the season come fresh with a new set is still a new idea, but I really enjoy it! It seems like there has been a split in the player base on dropping a new set before worlds, but as I’ve said before the beginning of new formats is always my favorite time. Testing all of the new cards in old decks, fleshing out the best list for new concepts, and trying to figure out what other players will be thinking is very exciting!
Picking a Dish: Tried + True or Something New
Amidst all this chaos something I’ve noticed, and personally have fallen into more than once myself, is that many players will just stick with what they know rather than take a chance on something new. Sometimes just being comfortable with your deck is enough of a reason to play it, as you know the minutia inside and out and are much less likely to misplay. Playing a deck well with minimal misplays is usually much better than playing something you may consider a better play but have not had sufficient practice with. Today I’m going to focus on two decks I’ve noticed players tend to gravitate toward as comfort picks, and discuss why they’re so good heading into a blind meta: M Rayquaza-EX and Vespiquen.
Decks like the previously mentioned have more in common than you may think, and are very strong if an appropriate meta call cannot be determined. Their similarities include:
- Streamlined strategy and inherent tech-ability.
- High damage ceiling.
- Hard counters likely not present in a blind meta.
After some consideration, it’s easy to see why players would fall back on these sorts of decks if they’re uncomfortable with emerging strategies or attempting a meta call. Who cares if the new set’s GX star has 230 HP? With essentially unlimited damage output, these decks don’t care about the new stuff because what they do is still equally as good. Some minor adjustments and moving forward with the raw power and familiarity these concepts offer is an enticing play.
Dragonfruit Surprise: M Rayquaza
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 30
Energy – 9
5 Free Spots
Guzma has given M Rayquaza a bit more than meets the eye. In Expanded, the deck has easy access to mobility through Keldeo-EX/Float Stone, but the deck has suffered from a lack of mobility since its rotation out of Standard and has always been a point of weakness. Guzma has two huge upsides that M Rayquaza enjoys and having them in the same card is unreal good. Doing 240 is always good, and save the random Metagross-GX you should be able to one shot just about everything relevant in the format. For the base list, I’ve chosen P Energy for the chance to use Tapu Cure-GX if it comes up.
Parallel City and Sudowoodo SUM are two popular techs against M Rayquaza that should be noticeably absent from most decks in Anaheim. With an inherently favorable matchup against Volcanion and having the ability to one shot a Gardevoir with ease, M Rayquaza may have what it takes to be successful at Worlds.
Final Card Choices
Considering the most hyped new idea coming out of the Burning Shadows Expansion is Gardevoir-GX, this addition seems very appealing. Magearna-EX not only stops a plethora of annoying effects like Drampa-GX’s Righteous Edge, but Soul Blaster can score a 1HKO on Gardevoir-GX due to Weakness. Having the extra protection for your M Rayquaza can be exactly what you need to win the game. The metal version of M Rayquaza has seen success this year already, so the potential is there.
Yveltal & D Energy
Darkrai-GX has provided an interesting addition to M Rayquaza because of its ability to be a free Bench Pokémon and help to recover after Sky Field gets bumped. However, with D Energy we can take advantage of the other part of the Ability too! If we wanted to take it a step further we could include things like Yveltal XY and Yveltal-EX to make the deck less reliant on blasting through with a M Rayquaza.
Oranguru, Sudowoodo, Tapu-Koko, Alolan Vulpix
Oranguru can give you the extra 1 or 2 cards you need to pull of a successful attack after a late game N. Having this extra bit of oomph can be just want you need to finish a game off, and having useful Bench-sitters is always a plus for a deck that wants a big Bench.
Sudowoodo keeps your opponent from taking advantage of your Sky Field while limiting their Bench even further. Its another useful Bench-sitter like Oranguru in that its doing something while also fueling Emerald Break.
Tapu Koko can be teched into just about any deck in the game because of its versatility. The existence of Guzma makes it even better because it gives you constant access to a free retreater to switch into as long as its in play. The spread attack can make numbers on threats later into the game easier to hit while being an annoying non-EX. It can also keep any sneaking Gyarados decks in check should they appear.
Alolan Vulpix can make you a bit less reliant on items against Garbodor decks as well as serve the purpose of being an annoying non-EX. Setting your opponent to odd prizes and then blasting with multiple M Rayquaza can be a devastating game plan.
These consistency supporters help Rayquaza be much less item reliant, and give the deck a lot of versatile options with Tapu Lele-GX. While slowing the deck down they do make your matchup with Garbodor GRI much better because you can search for the cards you need rather than just blow through your deck to get them. They also help your deck become much less draw reliant as due to increased search outs to guarantee you get the correct pieces to your attack.
These are just a few other tech supporter options that seem to have a lot of potential in M Rayquaza. Acerola can pick up a damaged M Rayquaza and thanks to a Rayquaza Spirit Link and the Ancient Trait you can put the whole line right back down! Be aware that you will need to be ahead on attachments or have access to a Mega Turbo in order to use Emerald Break again, but the benefit can be well worth it.
Brock’s Grits can ensure you don’t run of resources to power up your M Rayquaza. Recovering all of your Pokémon and Energy can all but ensure victory by maximizing your outs to your support Pokémon.
Previously, I mentioned that M Rayquaza caps at 240 damage, which is just shy of Knocking Out niche things like Metagross-GX. If you’re worried about these sorts of threats then Professor Kukui can push you just far enough for a knockout. It can also be useful in situations where you’re able to use it instead of Benching another Pokémon in order to hit the numbers you need for a knockout – saving that Pokémon for later use.
Previous iterations of this deck have almost always included 3-4 Trainers’ Mail. I’ve omitted them in favor of other cards largely due to the constant threat of Garbodor GRI. However, initial testing has shown the deck is very combo reliant so having access to these can help smooth your draws out considerably. The inclusion of cards like Mallow and Pokémon Fan Club really improve your Garbodor matchup, but if you consider the trash monster less threatening, then regaining access to Trainers’ Mail can really speed the deck up.
This is a card I would probably only include as a tech against Garbodor BKP. I don’t think you really care that much about any Stadiums or Tools your opponent plays, because your deck can just push around them by playing another Stadium and Benching reaching for a 1HKO. However, getting your Abilities, like Setup and Scoundrel Ring, back against Garbotoxin could be exactly what you need to win on a key turn.
A Dash of Honey: Vespiquen/Zoroark
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 28
Energy – 4
5 Free Spots
Vespiquen is a deck that I’ve always noticed seems to find a way to be successful at the beginning of new formats. Amidst all the chaos of a new set people seem to lose sight of the Queen Bee and forget their Karens and Oricorio. Having access to limitless Pokémon tech options is always something that Vespiquen has enjoyed, but the rest of the deck has always been a bit tight. The list is only a few cards off of Michael Pramawat’s Wisconsin Regional winning list. However, that goes to show just how battle-tested the core of the deck is. The remaining 5 spots of the deck should be mostly Pokémon, and there are an insane amount of options.
I went for 2 Guzma over the ever popular 1 Guzma/1 Lysandre split because both of your attackers are incredibly mobile and have ways to stay in the Active despite Guzma’s switch effect. The Volcanion matchup has always been difficult for Vespiquen, but Gardevoir-GX seems much more manageable if you can reach the 230 mark with Bee Revenge.
Final Card Choices
This card can be played to help lock up the Gardevoir-GX matchup. Even if it can’t score a 1HKO without Choice Band AND a Professor Kukui it does still hit for an awful lot of damage at any point in the game against the deck. Playing this could warrant Professor Kukui even more and occasionally allow for the dream to happen.
The Eeveelutions have probably been the most popular techs of choice throughout the season. Their type coverage is amazing and allows Vespiquen to hit Dark, Fire, Grass, Lightning, and Water if desired. This type of flexibility is unmatched, and you can discard any extra pieces you don’t need to fuel Bee Revenge anyway.
This card is insane against Decidueye-GX and the ever threatening Oricorio. Machoke helps to ensure that your opponent won’t be able to pull any tricks can knockout your smaller HP Pokémon in the back, and the 3 Retreat Cost is much less of a liability with Guzma.
This has probably been the second most popular partner to Vespiquen/Zoroark behind the Eeveelutions this season, and for good reason. Evolving into Milotic gives you access to ANY card in your discard pile, providing you increased outs to maximize the effectiveness of your non-EXs throughout the game. Parallel City has been a popular tech alongside Milotic to fuel Bee Revenge after the use.
Klefki has always been an easy discard to fuel Bee Revenge. While the usefulness of Klefki has declined as the popularity of Mega Pokémon has plummeted, it can still help you reach numbers simply because of how easy it finds its way into the discard pile. If you want to maximize your discard outs for Vespiquen then including more of these helps them chain with each-other and Unown.
Shutting off abilities at the right time can be game-winning. Having access to this effect in a blind meta can give you a lot of utility in any matchup you come across. Just beware of the card with Eeveelutions, you don’t want to accidentally shutoff your access to types at a crucial moment!
The Professor can help you ensure you’re hitting critical numbers when it counts. New threats like Gardevoir-GX are especially large, so reaching that high number can prove difficult. Professor Kukui is especially useful with the previously mentioned Bisharp – allowing you to clear a fresh GX in one shot with a Choice Band.
Bench manipulation has always been especially cool in Vespiquen because it can help you reach high numbers with Bee Revenge through discarding Benched Pokémon you no longer need. Parallel City is kind of slept on right now, and can even punish an opponent for blowing up their Bench early. Parallel City is a card I could see sneaking its way back into decks as a spicy tech for the World Championship.
Perfecting the Recipes: Finalizing Both Lists
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 33
Energy – 9
I really like the Metal version right now because it helps solidify the Gardevoir-GX matchup. Having Bench-sitters that do something productive is always good to have, and Magearna and Ornaguru are just that. I wish I could find space for Sudowoodo as well, but I value those two additions over our tree friend for now.
Right now, my 61st and 62nd cards are the 4th Trainers’ Mail and the Sudowoodo. I really want to maximize the speed of the deck with Trainers’ Mail because part of the power and appeal of M Rayquaza is how quickly it can pressure 240 damage.
Pokémon – 27
2 Milotic PRC
Trainers – 29
Energy – 4
Having access to Milotic gives the deck an unreal amount of options throughout the entire game. The longer I play the game of Pokémon, the more I come to appreciate consistency in a deck, and Milotic takes the consistency of Vespiquen to the next level. Parallel City gives you a lot of cool options with discarding liabilities and simultaneously boosting Bee Revenge, and being able to re-use it through Milotic makes 1-of options like this even better. Continually trading with a non-EX attacker that has such a high damage cap is incredible. Having something like Milotic that is good for your deck rather than against specific matchups is always something to keep in mind going into an uncertain field.
The Volcanion matchup is almost certainly better with Vaporeon, but the usefulness of Jolteon and Flareon is still under consideration. If Volcanion proves to be the deck to beat then the Eeveelutions may demand a place in Vespiquen yet again.
Looking forward to Worlds 2017, I would not be surprised at all to see either of these decks find success. They both have the advantage of being battle-tested and proven contenders. The raw power and adaptability of these decks make them a contender in any meta, and a diverse field makes it harder for an opponent to zero in on their weaknesses.
I honestly think my #1 consideration for the event right now is still Gardevoir-GX, but am a bit worried that it may gain a target on its back going into the tournament. Defined concepts with raw power like M Rayuaza and Vespiquen are always so good at the turn of new formats because of their ability to take advantage of a chaotic meta still trying to figure itself out. Don’t forget about these tested threats just because a lot of shiny new cards have been released.
We’re getting very close to Worlds and the closer it gets the more excited I am about competing. With Burning Shadows finally being available on PTCGO I’m excited to ramp up my testing even further. Look forward to my piece right before the event next week where I’ll hopefully have figured out what my play is. Until next time!
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