Hello SixPrizes readers! I am back from Connecticut Regionals, where I disappointingly fell just short of making day two. Heading into the event, I was pretty convinced I would play a stage two deck. I had Gardevoir-GX and Metagross-GX built, and was going to decide which one to play once I got a better feel for the metagame. If I expected a decent amount of Fire, I would play Gardevoir-GX. If not, I would stick to the deck I had been farming cups with, Metagross-GX. Metagross pretty much dominated everything that was not Fire, which ended up getting quite a bit of hype leading up to the event.
The whole day before I was second guessing Metagross, but still had Gardevoir as a fallback. The night before, Azul tells me he is playing Volcanion-EX/Volcanion and is hyping it up to me. I insist that Gardevoir-GX is very favored against the Fire decks, so we play and he ends up beating me. Very late in the night, at about four AM, Azul had convinced all of us to play Volcanion.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 32
Energy – 15
15 Fire Energy
Round 1: Golisopod-GX/Tapu Koko SM29 WW
Round 2: Metagross-GX WW
Round 3: Golisopod-GX/Garbodor WW
Round 4: Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX WLT
Round 5: Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX LWT
Round 6: Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX WLT
Round 7: Ho-oh-GX/Salazzle-GX WW
Round 8: Volcanion-EX/Turtonator-GX/Volcanion LWW
Round 9: Golisopod-GX/Garbodor/Tapu Fini-GX LL
This is a change I made from the list Azul gave me, as I wanted the extra consistency of having the fourth baby Volcanion. In literally every game you play with this deck, the goal is to attack with Volcanion on turn one to get some energy in play. This made me add in the fourth one because I wanted to do this as often as possible. I felt like I would lose games if my starts were too slow. I definitely think the fourth baby Volcanion was the correct decision, as I liked the extra consistency boost.
Oranguru was the MVP of the tournament! Oranguru added a ton of consistency throughout the games, and always made me essentially immune to N at the end of the game. This is usually a big issue for the deck, as it has a low amount of strong draw supporters. Oranguru helps to find that game-ending Guzma or those crucial Fire Energies at the end of the game. It can also OHKO Alolan Ninetales, something that only Volcanion can do otherwise.
This was definitely something I really liked about the deck. Guzma can frequently be used in the early game to knockout something important, as this deck is pretty aggressive. Having the four Guzmas makes it easier to find them in crucial spots. In addition to this, having four allows you to use Guzma more times throughout the game. I would say this is one of the few decks that might actually utilize all four Guzmas in a reasonable percentage of games.
Despite having my doubts about how useful this card would actually be, I loved this card throughout the tournament. I used it for seven or eight cards on turn one several times. This means that you get to have an explosive turn one, while still keeping all four Professor Syacmores in your deck for later use. In addition to this, even if Lillie remains in the deck past turn one, it can still be used as a decent draw supporter, especially in the late game after an N.
Despite two or more Field Blower being standard in pretty much every deck, I am still a huge fan of this card in the deck. Fighting Fury Belt makes it significantly harder for most decks to knockout your attackers as hitting the Field Blower right when you need it two to three times per game is pretty unrealistic. Fighting Fury Belt is most useful against Gardevoir-GX and Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX because it is basically a prize race where your main attackers have an additional forty HP.
The Enhanced Hammers were truly an incredible inclusion. I used them a ton throughout the event, but they were most relevant against Gardevoir decks. Without these Enhanced Hammers, I do not think I could say the Gardevoir matchup is even, and would have to label it as negative. The Enhanced Hammers really help to limit how much damage the opponent’s Gardevoirs are doing, and can even run them out of Double Colorless Energy near the end of the game. Enhanced Hammers are also extremely good against Greninja, as we saw them help Igor to defeat Greninja in the finals.
2nd Field Blower
This is an inclusion I would not have minded having, and I could easily have seen me begging for a second one if I had hit Drampa-GX/Garbodor like some of my friends did.
This is a card I was thinking about the whole tournament, especially when I was in need of a switch effect. I do think that Acerola has a lot of synergy with the deck, as returning your Fire Energy to your hand certainly is not a bad thing. Acerola is a healing card combined with the switch effect that might be wanted for the deck, and is searchable via Tapu Lele-GX.
This is one of the matchups I was hoping to see all tournament, and did actually get to face three times. One of them being my win and in to day 2, which ended up going very poorly. Not only did my opponent have the Tapu Fini-GX tech which makes the match a bit tougher, but my opening hand both games was less than ideal. I would still say the matchup is very favored and is one I wish I could have played against more.
The early game almost always starts off with baby Volcanion applying a lot of pressure by taking knockouts with Power Heater, which also gets a lot of energy in play. Golisipod-GX can only knockout a baby Volcanion in one shot with their GX attack, which is a pretty poor option. Once Volcanion sets up a couple of attackers, the game is pretty much over due to Golisopod’s Fire Weakness, which makes taking knockouts very easy.
Similarly to Golisopod, this matchup is also very favored due to the Fire Weakness that Metagross-GX has. One thing to note is that unlike the Golisipod matchup, things can actually get out of control pretty easily. If you play too passively and have a couple weak turns in the early game, Metagross can easily capitalize by taking the first knockout. The strategy is identical to the one I previously mentioned for the Golisipod matchup. Apply early pressure with baby Volcanion until you’re setup, and then target down GX pokemon to knockout with Volcanion-EX.
This is the matchup I was most worried about with the deck. The night before the tournament, I played this matchup with Azul and Volcanion won five out of the six games we played. Despite these great results, I was not convinced the matchup was that easy. Fast forward to the next day, and my fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds are against Gardevoir-GX. I end up tying all of them, and the matchup felt very even. The Enhanced Hammers were definitely very helpful in these games, especially when my opponents did not see them coming. The early game is lead by baby Volcanion applying as much pressure as possible, and then it turns it to a prize race between two prize attackers.
Despite opposing Kiawes, we are actually a much faster deck than Ho-oh. Once again, baby Volcanion is the key to this matchup. The opponent absolutely does not want to use Ho-oh-GX to KO a baby Volcanion, as it is a huge waste of resources. Once energies are on the board, you want to target down whatever Pokémon they have been putting energy on. I have found that they eventually run out of steam, and baby Volcanion can be used as a 7th prize attacker to drain the opponent of resources.
Unfortunately, I don’t deem this matchup to be very skillful, but that is my standard opinion on mirror matches. In round eight of the tournament, I played vs Will Mantho who was playing a slightly slower Volcanion build. He opted to run Starmie and Brooklet hill, while I played extra energy cards and Enhanced Hammer. I felt like I was slightly favored due to how the decks were built, but the lists hardly made a difference in our series. I felt the games were mostly determined by the draws of each player, and I definitely got the luckier end of things overall. My strategy for the matchup was to use Power Heater in the early game, and then use Guzma to knockout an opposing Volcanion-EX with my own Volcanion-EX as soon as possible. If the opponent is unable to return KO this Volcanion-EX, you have basically already won the game. Even if the opponent is able to respond, you will still be in fine shape as long as you get the return KO.
This matchups seems very bad, and while it is unfavored, it is certainly not an autoloss. The goal is to be as aggressive as possible, and just take prizes every single turn. A Turtonator-GX with a Fighting Fury Belt is a very important tool in the matchup because it can knockout a Greninja BREAK even after Shadow Stitching is used. It is also not guaranteed dead on the following turn, which could allow the Turtonator to take multiple prizes. Even if it just has to go to the bench, that is still a good thing because Greninja does not run Guzma, which could allow the Turtonator to take a second prize later in the game.
Enhanced Hammers have proven to be very useful in the matchup, in a lot of different situations. Obviously, using an Enhanced Hammer on a Splash Energy right before a KO is taken is pretty strong. In addition to this, using Enhanced Hammer on a bench energy in conjunction with an N is usually a strong play. If the opponent does not have Starmie out, they could miss an attack or at least not be able to Water Shuriken. Knocking out Staryu in the early game can be a game changing play for reasons like this, so always do that if the opportunity is granted. In a less obvious way, Enhanced Hammer can be used in the early game to prevent Water Duplicates.
If the opponent starts Espeon-EX, Tapu Lele-GX or Tapu Fini-GX and is forced to just attach a Splash Energy to Froakie on the bench, Enhanced Hammer can prevent them from using Water Duplicates on the following turn. This allows baby Volcanion to easily knockout the active over the course of two turns, which means a free two prizes and a stronger board state.
This is definitely the main matchup that I would want a second Field Blower for, even though I consider the matchup to be even to slightly favored. At first, I was worried nineteen Items would be far too many to beat a Garbodor deck, but that’s only one more item than the Volcanion list I used at Internationals played. At that tournament, I had a very positive record against the twelve Garbodor decks I played throughout the tournament. That being said, I would also have to note that I feel the Items included in the current list are better in the matchup.
Max Elixir helps to keep energy on the board, and can allow for a more aggressive start. In addition to this, Enhanced Hammers can slow down Drampa quite a bit, which is already a relatively slow deck. Using baby Volcanion in the early game is definitely the best plan, and should be used to target down Trubbishes if possible. Taking two non-ex prizes early in this matchup almost certainly seals the game. Attacking into a Drampa-GX that has an energy on it is also a solid play because 180 HP requires a Field Blower to knockout once Garbodor is established.
While I did not play against any, nor did I want to, I was told the matchup is not as bad as it seems. Azul said he tested it, and that baby Volcanion applying pressure can be quite difficult for Ninetales to deal with. Taking two prizes with Power Heater makes it difficult to lose pretty much any matchup, as you can easily take four additional prizes with just two big attacks. Enhanced Hammer can also slow them down a little bit further, and can hopefully prevent an attack at some point. The group that played this deck ended up with a 2-0 record against Ninetales, so I guess that is worth noting.
The four Fighting Fury Belt should be pretty devastating in this matchup, as most Vikavolt decks only run two Field Blower. This means that on top of setting up and getting their attacker out, they will also have to deal with Fighting Fury Belts throughout the game. Baby Volcanion can really do a lot of damage in the early game, as taking two prizes in any shape or form makes it very easy to win the prize trade. In my few games of this matchup after Connecticut, it seemed a lot like Vikavolt had to come onto the board turn two for Volcanion to ever lose the matchup. Sure, the games were usually pretty close no matter what, but Volcanion hardly ever actually lost to a slower Vikavolt start.
I hope you enjoyed my review of the popular Volcanion deck from Connecticut Regionals! I am sad that I was not able to get to day two, but I am glad I was able to pickup some points toward the top sixteen race. I will be back at the end of the month with another article, so see you guys then!
If you happen to be going to any upcoming Regionals, feel free to come up and say hi! I should be attending all of them and I am itching to play.
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