Hola 6P readers! We’re now through 2 out of 3 back to back Regionals weekends and on our way to Vancouver! I was due to attend Daytona Regionals, however I was unable to due to some unforeseen circumstances—which I will make sure do not happen once again. As I am writing this before the tournament takes place, I really hope fellow 6P authors and UG readers were able to do really well there!
Since Vancouver’s format is Standard, we’re going to ignore Daytona today and just focus on Hartford Regionals. In the first Standard Regional of the season, we didn’t see any big surprises in terms of novelty decks, but we did see some out of the norm lists, such as the Champion Volcanion list and the teched out Greninja BREAK deck.
The Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX list that I posted a few days before the tournament was only 2 cards off what I ended up playing at Hartford to a 12th place finish, and only 1 card off of Sam Chen’s 4th place list. In the end, our final list accumulated a grand total of 310 CP’s between the 4 of us who used it.
Here’s a quick recap of my final list and how my rounds went:
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 29
Energy – 12
Round 1: Rainbow Road WW
Round 2: Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX WW
Round 3: Volcanion-EX/Turtonator-GX WLW
Round 4: Volcanion-EX/Turtonator-GX LWT (Jimmy Pendarvis)
Round 5: Decidueye-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX LWT (Andrew Mahone)
Round 6: Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX WW
Round 7: Ho-Oh-GX/Salazzle-GX WW
Round 8: Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX LWL
Round 9: Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX LWW
Day 1: 20 points, 30th place.
Round 10: Greninja BREAK/Tapu Fini-GX LL (Michael Long)
Round 11: Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX WW
Round 12: Decidueye-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX LWT
Round 13: Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX LWW
Round 14: Golisopod-GX/Tapu Koko WW (Zachary Lesage)
Day 2: 30 points, 12th place.
So, not too bad, one point away from possibly making Top 8. Thankfully the tournament wasn’t over for me, as I was invited to cast Top 8 and then stayed on for Top 4 and Top 2. Casting felt really good and it might be something I will want to explore in the future. Perhaps instead of playing in every Regional I can possibly cast 1 or 2 alongside playing the rest? Who knows… (Editor’s note: Check out all of the Hartford Rounds and Pablo’s amazing casting job at the Hartford Event page!)
Moving back to Vancouver though, Hartford made it clear that the format is very varied with the assortment of decks we got in Top 8. The only deck that got a repeat appearance was Volcanion, with 2 of the same lists and one Ho-Oh-GX/Salazzle-GX version of the deck. We had two different Garbodor variants in Drampa and Golisopod, and we had one of each Greninja, Gardevoir and VikaBulu.
Fellow 6P author Jimmy gave us the full scoop on his Volcanion list that he worked on with Igor and Ryan last weekend, but the 2 decks that really stood out to me from Top 8 that were definitely unexpected were Greninja and VikaBulu.
Michael Long has been an avid Greninja player since his amazing Seniors run last season that culminated with a second place at Worlds. The loss of Dive Ball, Level Ball and Repeat Ball definitely hurt Greninja decks big time. However, the deck has shifted to using Evo Soda, Ultra Ball and Brooklet Hill in order to help you stabilize in the early game and get going with the Water Duplicates attack.
Here’s Michael’s list, which has some very interesting and key inclusions that allowed him to make it all the way to the top:
Pokémon – 20
1 Espeon-EX BKP
Trainers – 30
4 N NVI
2 Skyla BKP
1 Lillie SUM
4 Evosoda GEN
Energy – 10
6 Water Energy
Greninja decks were always known for not using any EXs or GXs, since its main advantage is forcing opponents able to deal with EX-sized HP for a single Prize Card. However, now we’re seeing players like Michael adapt and include 3 different EX or GX Pokémon which gives the deck so much versatility.
First off, Tapu Lele-GX. This card should not be a surprise, simply because it’s an amazing card and immediately gives you an extra consistency boost. It can provide you with the right Supporter in the early game such as a Skyla to find a Brooklet Hill or Ultra Ball, or it can find you a Lillie on Turn 1 to get the benefit of the extra cards. Tapu Lele is a great card overall, and the 2 prize liability on the bench is well outweighed by the consistency it adds to the deck.
Then we have Tapu Fini-GX. This card has found itself included as a tech option in Golisopod/Garbodor decks, as they use Rainbow Energy, because it can 2HKO Water-weak Pokémon with its first attack and a Choice Band, and also provides a lot of utility with its Tapu Storm GX attack. This is the main reason as to why this card was included in Michael’s list. Its GX attack provides you with a great option to reset a big threat that might be pressuring you too much, or delay the build up of one in the early stages of the game. Its first attack has some utility, and the second attack could have some potential in order to finish off a game—however, it seems redundant with Giant Water Shuriken.
Finally, we have Espeon-EX. This one is more of a late game option, but can be very easily deployed with the heavy Ultra Ball search and free retreat through much of the deck. Espeon allows you to delay the setup of the Stage 2 decks, but can also help you clean up a field if you’ve decided the best course of action is to spread damage around with Giant Water Shuriken rather than aggressively targeting a specific threat.
The Greninja line has been the standard for a long time now, and Starmie has now become a staple for the deck too. I personally would prefer a 2-1 Starmie line just because of how good Space Beacon is, but I can see how space is very tight in this list.
The 1 Lillie is very interesting to me, and I had Guzma in that spot myself. Even though Lillie becomes so much worse after Turn 1, and you don’t normally have an explosive turn 1 like Volcanion decks do to get the most out of it, Lillie is still a really good card to recover off of a low N. It’s very interesting how Lillie actually made its way to the top 2 decks after seeing basically no play at all since its release. With Brigette and Kiawe not being viable options for this deck, it makes sense that Lillie is the best inclusion after Professor Sycamore and N counts have been maxed out.
Everything else in the list is quite standard, with the exception of the 2 Enhanced Hammer. These help you delay your opponent’s threats and give your Greninja more survivability, especially against big threats such as Gardevoir-GX.
With Volcanion, and Fire decks in general, being regarded as some of the best in the format, we will probably not see a lot of Golisopod in the Standard format. This, along with the good matchups against Fire, Gardevoir and Metagross might make it so that Greninja becomes very viable—thus we get to see Giratina Promo become a staple in many decks which have a hard time against it.
The other deck that really surprised people that it made it so far was Rukan’s Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX deck. Before the event, there was a lot of talk about this deck and how it is a solid option but not good enough to take down a whole event. It being 2 matches away from doing so is definitely an important statement for this deck.
We saw Mew from Fates Collide make a splash in Germany, with the VikaBulu list that did well there running 2. Rukan followed suit and ran 1, along with a Clefairy from EVO and a Tapu Koko-GX as his tech attackers. Here is his list, for those of you unfamiliar with it:
Pokémon – 16
1 Clefairy EVO
1 Mew FCO
Trainers – 33
3 Guzma BUS
3 N NVI
3 Skyla BKP
2 Brigette BKT
1 Brock’s Grit
1 Switch SUM
Energy – 11
The stand out cards are the tech Pokémon mentioned before, as it was previously expected to only see 1 or 2 copies of Tapu Koko promo alongisde the Tapu Bulu-GX’s. Mew acts essentially as a one prize Tapu Bulu-GX, which is quite useful when games come down to aggressive trades and you get to force your opponent to play a 7 prize game. Funnily enough, it can also copy Tapu Koko-GX’s attacks, along with Clefairy’s Metronome to copy opponent’s attacks!
Speaking of Clefairy, I can see how it’d be good in the mirror match, and also against things like Ho-Oh-GX. However, I don’t see much use out of Clefairy that you wouldn’t be getting by simply playing 2 Mew. The best use I can come up with is potentially having a way to OHKO a Gardevoir-GX, after they have committed 5-6 energy to OHKO a clean Tapu Bulu-GX with their own Infinite Force. Surprise factor probably helped Rukan in pulling of such moves, but in a Best of 3, I just don’t see that strategy being too reliable to close out a match.
Tapu Koko’s GX attack brings a different aggressive approach to the table, once again punishing Gardevoirs that overcommit to taking KOs on no-energy Tapu Bulus. The Ability is also quite nice, as it can come active and attack out of nowhere. Perhaps this, with Clefairy, give the deck enough firepower to push through Gardevoir decks.
Rukan went down to Greninja in top cut, which is very surprising given how a single powered up Tapu Bulu can probably net you at least the first 3-4 prizes, and another one on the bench could possibly finish off the game. With that said, a constant Shadow Stitching lock could possibly make it awkward to power up a back up Tapu Bulu, and that was how Michael’s Greninja was able to beat Rukan’s deck.
Moving onto Vancouver, the metagame seems as diverse as ever. In my last article, I talked about the top 3 decks, and we had one of each in the Top 8 of Hartford. Non-Kiawe Fire decks was not something I expected, but given how they’re fairly straightforward and simple, I would assume we will be seeing a lot of those at the tournament. Greninja could make a splash as well, and even though Giratina Promo could become a counter, it’s hard to justify including such a matchup-specific tech when there’s no guarantee Greninja will show up in big enough numbers.
My top choice right now for Vancouver is Gardevoir once again. Fire winning and Greninja in second place means Metal would be a very gutsy play, especially with Gardevoir being one of the most expensive decks in the format, and thus not being as readily accessible for players as something like Volcanion where, the main attackers are promos and $4 GXs. Enhanced Hammers might see an increase in play after being in the top 2 decks, but with smart Energy placement, that definitely shouldn’t be a deterrent for anyone playing Gardevoir in my opinion.
From the list I used in Hartford, I genuinely would not change a thing. There are definitely cards that I would like, such as a second Float Stone, a thicker Octillery line, more basic Energy, etc. However, space is at a premiu,m and I don’t think I can fit any of those. Parallel City might be one of the only suspect cards in the deck, but I would say it was one of the best cards I played throughout the weekend. It had fallen out of favor and no one was really expecting it to be played. Coincidentally, it ended up being extremely good against the 0-1 Field Blower Fire decks, and the synergy with Plea GX is just too strong to consider dropping it.
The 4th Professor Sycamore could perhaps be the card that you could consider dropping, as Sylveon-GX adds so much consistency to the deck that you usually end up with a surplus of Supporters towards the later stages of a game if you managed to set up behind it.
Finally, Acerola was useful throughout both days, not only to conserve energy, but also to retreat and prevent prizes for my opponents. Having just one copy did feel weak, as drawing it early meant it was usually just discard fodder.
Other than that, I don’t see myself dropping down to 1 Brigette. Having 2 Brigette was extremely helpful throughout the weekend and ensured that I drew into it more naturally, saving a bench space and a Tapu Lele for the later stages of the game to go after N, Guzma, or the Acerola. My teammates decided to go with just 1 Brigette, but I don’t think I can ever go back to that—at least not in Stage 2 based decks.
Basically, in my mind, the more times I’m able to get Gardevoir and Octillery going, the more games I will win. Brigette is such a crucial card to facilitate that—why would I want to risk it being prized in a key moment during a Best of 3? Not only that, but choosing to Brigette despite not having any other Supporter in your hand is still ok because you have access to Sylveon, which will eventually get you cards to further your set up and is not as fragile as Diancie or Alolan Vulpix.
If you don’t have access or don’t want to play Gardevoir/Sylveon, the top 2 decks from Hartford are very solid choices, and any Garbodor variant will always be a viable play just because of how versatile it can be and how good locking opponents out of Abilities is.
And thus, we have come to the article’s end. As always, thanks so much for reading, and if you have any feedback, feel free to leave a comment or send me a tweet over at @tablemon.
Muchas gracias y hasta luego!
… and that will conclude this unlocked Underground article.
(After 90 days we open up past UG content for public viewing to help preserve the history of the game. New articles are reserved for Underground members.)
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Users: Click here to view the registration page if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.