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Karl Peters

The Road to Nationals

Karl talks about his testing experiences for the upcoming National Championships.

05/25/2016 by Karl Peters

Hey guys, it's Karl again. This time I want to show you my top picks for the upcoming nationals in the XY-Generations format. I know that a lot of Nationals are going to be in XY-Fates Collide, which is why I will also include which cards you probably want to replace with cards from the new set, as I think that these decks will remain very powerful, even with Fates Collide joining the metagame. My major sources for this list are personal experience in recent Regionals, but also looking at the results overall. Since the metagame has developed into all directions over the past weeks, even changing within one weekend, it's very difficult to form a clear rating for these decks, but as I said, this is my personal top list and there might always be something that you won't agree with, but I hope that I can give you a decent look forward to Nationals.

Night March

Let's start with the first deck, which is Night March. I think that pretty much everyone with at least a little bit of tournament experience already expected it to lead of this list. Night March has proven its strength multiple times over the course of this season, leading pretty much all lists of Regional winning decks in the Standard format. A lot of people said that Night March would lose a lot of its strength in Standard, because of the loss of Mew-EX and the ability to use Basic Energy for attacks. This still didn't stop Night March from doing great, especially thanks to Milotic in the first half of the season. With the release of Fighting Fury Belt and Puzzle of Time, an already very strong deck, got some new additions that made it even stronger. At this point, Night March is pretty much the best deck in format and most people are either playing it themselves, or decks that intend to counter it. Decks that have a bad matchup against Night March don't see too much play, with some exceptions, but I walk talk about it later.

My current list has the intention to cover the Trevenant matchup for the most part, because this one is by far the worst.

Card choices and explanations

4 Shaymin-EX

I've seen a lot of players cutting down their Shaymin to three, but I'm not a huge fan of that. I think that it's way too important to be able to get your setup, even with a Prized Shaymin-EX, which is why I feel a lot safer with four of them.

Escape Rope

Escape Rope and Lysandre are your biggest weapon against Jolteon-EX, which can be a real pain with no way to deal with it. By playing the escape rope and two Lysandre it get a lot easier to deal with it and this makes the M Manectric-EX and M Rayquaza-EX matchup pretty much an autowin.

Target Whistle

Most players don't want to Bench Shaymin-EX when playing against Night March, so they can discard them with cards like Ultra Ball or Professor Sycamore. With Target Whistle in your deck you're able to simply put the Shaymin back onto your opponent's Bench to Lysandre it for the knockout. This can also be very helpful against Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade, because they will pretty much only use Zoroark, Gallade and the non-EX Yveltal as their attacker. With Target Whistle you can simply put a Shaymin or Yveltal onto their Bench to knock it out for two easy Prizes. The biggest usage of Target Whistle is the Mirror match, because it depends a lot on which player has to Bench more Shaymin-EX. With Target Whistle you can swing the matchup completely, which is why this card is so important, as you will face a lot of Mirrors.

Delinquent

Delinquent is a really interesting card, which can help you to completely deny your opponent's options when played at the right time. When players don't want to Bench their Shaymin to use setup, it doesn't occur rarely that they're left with just a few cards in their hand. This is the perfect time to completely get rid of their options, or at least force them to play a Shaymin ,which then becomes and easy target for Lysandre knockouts. Delinquent can also help you a lot in the Trevenant matchup when you're able to kick their Dimension Valley and get rid of their cards.

Hex Maniac

I don't think that I have to explain Hex Maniac too much. In a metagame where Greninja and Trevenant are the biggest threats for Night March, it's very important to be able to limit them as much as possible, to be able to swing the matchup into a favorable position for you. Hex Maniac can also be a very good turn one play in the mirror match to prevent your opponent from doing too much.

2 Lysandre

As you probably noticed, the main focus of this Supporter line is being able to deal with Trevenant, even while under Item-lock. This is why two Lysandres are so important, so you have a way of breaking the lock, and being able to execute your strategy for the most part. It's also always nice to have a second Lysandre for your opponents Shaymin, because everyone loves free Prizes.

Xerosic

Xerosic has lost a lot of its power recently, but I don't really like the possibility of facing Seismitoad-EX or Giratina-EX without him. It's also always nice to have a way to get rid of Fighting Fury Belt, which can be a real pain without enough Night March Pokémon in your discard pile.

Matchups:

Greninja

The Greninja matchup is very interesting as there isn't actually too much you can do to modify its outcome. It's very important that you try to use Hex Maniac as much as possible, once the Greninja hit the field. If you opponent is able to use Giant Water Shuriken in combination with Jirachi to discard your Double Colorless Energy, you will most likely lose the game. If you can stop them from using the Abilities of their Greninja, while also Knocking Out their Greninja BREAK in one hit, you should be able to win. The matchup is pretty even and depends a lot on whether or not Greninja gets a good setup.

Trevenant

The Trevenant matchup is by far the worst matchup for Night March, because the turn one Item-lock shuts it down almost completely. There may be matchups where you don't want to go first, the Trevenant matchup definitely isn't one of them. You should try to burn as many resources as possible and preferably use VS Seekers to get Hex Maniac and Lysandre back for the following turns. If you don't go first and you opponent hits the turn one Wally the rest of the game depends a lot on your starting hand. If it's full of Trainers and you don't have the slightest chance of seeing a Supporter that's not Xerosic or AZ in the near future, you will most likely lose the game.

M Rayquaza 

M Rayquaza decks are very easy to deal with for Night March, thanks to M Rayquaza’s' weakness to Lightning. When the Generations set was released, players started using Jolteon-EX to cover up the Night March matchup. Escape Rope and Lysandre make it still very hard for M Rayquaza to beat Night March, but it's at least not impossible as it was before. Usually Night March will be victorious in this matchup, but cards like Jolteon and Aegislash-EX can always cause a fight.

Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade

This matchups is very even, as long as your opponent manages to get their Zoroark and Gallade going. Back before the release of Fighting Fury Belt, Yveltal was a big threat to Night March, but thanks to it, it gets a lot harder to get easy knockouts on Pumpkaboo or Joltik. This matchup should be in Night Marchs' favor, as long as it doesn't have a bad start.

As you can see, Night March has very good matchups all around, and is able to even beat the bad ones in some ways. If you aren't afraid of playing the mirror match, you should definitely go for Night March in your next Standard tournaments.

Changes with Fates Collide

-Delinquent, 1 Lysandre, 1 Shaymin, Xerosic
+2 Mew, 2 Psychic Energy

With the release of Fates Collide, Night March gets a new replacement for Mew-EX. Funny enough, this replacement is another Mew, this time a regular one. With the reintroduction of Mew, Xerosic loses even more of their Utility, because you now have a new way to attack for Basic Energy. Giratina can still block your Stadium cards, but compared to now, you still have a good chance of winning the game. I don't really like N in Night March, which is why I didn't include him.

Greninja

The second deck I want to talk about is Greninja, one of the most played decks here in Germany. Back when the first Greninja got its release in XY, no one really took it serious, simply because it didn't have anything to work with, which simply made it a bad card. After the release of XY Flashfire, some players started to try out Miltank/Greninja decks to combine the strength of Miltank’s Powerful Friends with the extra damage of Greninja. This wasn't enough to be a competitive deck, which left it in the same spot as many other fun ideas, as a rogue deck which you could use for fun. This deck got some new hype with the release of Primal Clash, when Archie's Ace in the Hole was released. This allowed the player to quickly put the Greninja into play to be able to deal as much damage as quickly as possible. The idea itself wasn't too bad, but I was also not good enough to keep up with other decks, especially considering that most decks back in these days were Seismitoad-EX decks who were able to shut down the Archie's strategy completely. But with the release of BREAKpoint, Greninja finally got a lot of Tools to work with.

The biggest addition was the new Frogadier who allows the player to search their deck for up to three Frogadier and put them onto your Bench. This is very powerful if you consider that this simply allows you to skip one step of the evolution and also helps you to get a quicker setup overall. Next up is the new regular Greninja which has two very powerful attacks. The first attack is Shadow Stitching, which prevents your opponent from using any Abilities on their next turn. This is very helpful to shut down a lot of decks' setup to allow you to get an even better setup while they're struggling to get theirs. The second attack is Moonlight Slash who is your number one choice of attacks in this deck if you quickly want to deal damage. The side effect of this attack makes it even better. You not only get to deal an additional 20 damage if you take back an Energy attached to Greninja, you also get it back into your hand to either use it for a different attack next turn, or to discard with Greninja XY or Greninja BREAK. Talking about Greninja BREAK, this is the last huge addition that the deck got with BREAKpoint. Greninja BREAK is able to deal put 6 damage counters on one of your opponents Pokémon for the cost of just one Energy. This however only works if Greninja BREAK is your active Pokémon, but that isn't too much of a deal, considering that your BREAKpoint Greninja have no retreat costs. This also allows you to use the Ability twice, by retreating into a different one, still allowing you to attack for even more damage. Greninja had a lot of success at recent Regionals in Germany, cutting multiple times, and even winning the Regional in Dortmund.

Since I didn't test the deck too much myself, I'm using the list that David Hochmann used to win the Regional Championships in Dortmund.

Card Choices and Explanations

Dedenne

Greninja often struggles to deal with the Mega decks, simply because they're so hard to Knock Out in one hit, but deal a lot of damage as well. The most popular deck of these is currently M Rayquaza-EX/Jolteon. This is where Dedenne comes in very handy to be able to deal a big amount of damage without having to put up any of your Greninja. Your opponent might still be able to use Lysandre, but then you get to use Dedenne again on the following turn.

2 Rough Seas

The amount of Rough Seas differs in a lot of lists. Some only run one of them, where other players chose to play the full amount of four copies. The amount you run depends a lot on which kind of matchups you'd expect. In a Night March-heavy metagame, one copy is easily enough since you won't use it too often and can build a more consistent version that is able to deal with Night March without getting in any troubles. In a heavy Trevenant metagame on the other hand you definitely want to run as many ones as you can to be able to kick the Dimension Valley and also heal each turn. Since Trevenant isn't that big of a deal and the metagame is very versatile, two or three copies seems like the best choice. Playing two gives one extra space for consistency which is always nice.

2 Sacred Ash

Running two copies of Sacred Ash has pretty much become a staple in most Greninja versions. It doesn't happen rarely that you have to discard Greninja or Greninja BREAK with Sycamore, so it's always nice to get these back with one of these Scared Ashes. The second Ashe is used to get back your dead attackers in the late game to be able to keep swarming Greninja.

1 Wally

One Wally might seem a little too low of a count in a deck that want to evolve as soon as possible, considering that the first list had two or three of them. In recent weeks it started showing that Wally isn't that big of a deal which is why most players are just running one of them to use it in the midgame to evolve into Greninja BREAK on the same turn as evolving into Greninja. It's used very rarely to get out Frogadier on turn one, so just running one is enough.

Delinquent

Delinquent is a very interesting card choice in this deck. When I talked about Rough Seas I already explained that it's often used to kick Dimension Valleys or other Stadiums. In that case, Delinquent replaces the third Stadium, but can also be reused with VS Seeker. It's also very nice to use Delinquent on your opponent when you're taking a knockout with Shadow Stitching, not allowing them to use Shaymin-EX's Set Up on the following turn.

Shauna

Shauna is a key card in playing the Mirror match. Most mirror matches come down to Shadow Stitching, after Shadow Stitching again and again, which leads most games to end in one player decking out. This is where you want to have the effect of Shauna where you're drawing less cards than you would with Professor Birch's Observations, and also not shuffle in your opponent, as you would do with Judge.

Evosoda

If we take a look at the search count in David's list, we've got four Dive Ball that let us search for everything, expect Jirachi and Dedenne. Than we've got a Level Ball that lets us get all of our Basic Pokémon and Frogadier. This leaves us with two Ultra Ball that search every Pokémon in our deck. But since we don't run Shaymin, playing Ultra Ball can often hurt us when we're discarding important resources. Adding another Level Ball wouldn't help us getting out Greninja and Greninja BREAK, which is where Evosoda Comes In. Evosoda is pretty much a Dive Ball that searches for everything expect Froakie, which is why it's so good in this deck. You can pretty much consider Evosoda your fifth Dive Ball.

Matchups

Night March

You want to use your first few turn to get out as many Greninja as possible onto your Bench. To do so you want to use Water Duplicates as soon as possible. After you put some Frogadier onto your Bench you need to get your Jirachi to discard your opponents Double Colorless Energy and buy yourself a turn. Once you get out two Greninja BREAK you want to get rid of as many Night Marchers in one turn, without having to lose too many Greninja BREAK. It might seem appealing to sometimes draw an extra Prize with the second Giant Water Shuriken, but if you know that your opponent has the Double Colorless Energy you might consider just sacrificing a relatively useless Pokémon, so you're able to use the Giant Water Shuriken again on the next turn. It's also a very nice play to use Ace Trainer and take the knockout with Shadow Stitching, limiting your opponent's options, and putting you in a much better spot.

Trevenant

the Trevenant matchup depends a lot on each player’s setup. If they get the turn-one Wally you have to rely on topdecking or already having a decent hand. If you can manage to get your Rough seas, and a decent setup, the matchup get really easy. If you don't get these things, the matchup gets very hard to win.

M Rayquaza/Jolteon

The M Rayquaza matchup is where your regular basics really start to shine. Dedenne and Jirachi are very nice to buy yourself turn, or not lose your Greninja. In most turns you simply want to put your Greninja active and use Giant Water Shuriken. After that you retreat into Jirachi or Dedenne, depending whether or not they have a Double Colorless Energy attached to their M Rayquaza-EX, or if Dedenne would be able to take the knockout. You also want to save your Rough Seas and Delinquent to kick their Sky Field, because without them, they’re not going to be able to Knock Out Greninja BREAK in one hit. A lot of versions will try to put you under constant Hex Maniac look, but as long as they don't manage to block your Abilities for four or more turns, you should be fine, as you can always take two-Prize knockouts.

Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade

The Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade matchup is probably one of the easiest matchups for Greninja, as long as the Yveltal player doesn't manage to somehow get dozens or Energy onto their Yveltal-EX, or is able to start knocking out your regular Greninja with Gallade at turn two. If none of these things happen, it's very easy to win the matchup. All you have to do is switch between your Greninja BREAK, while using Giant Water Shuriken as much as possible. The will even be turns where you're able to take the knockout with Shadow Stitching, making the matchup even easier. So as you can see, as long as you don't whiff everything, you should win the matchup.

As you can see, Greninja is a very strong deck and capable of dealing with any other top deck. Its biggest weakness is the consistency, which often leads to clunky hands or hard to get set ups. In most cases you should be able to get the setup going, and everything after this depends on whether or not you're able to play the matchup correctly.

Changes with Fates Collide

-2 Ace Trainer +2 N

The release of Fates Collide doesn't change too much for Greninja as it doesn't really benefit from any of the new cards. N however is very nice in Greninja and is a very good replacement for Ace Trainer, with the advantage that you can also use them to get your setup going.

Trevenant

Trevenant is probably my least favourite deck out of these few decks that I decided to take a closer look into. The reasoning behind that is that it often feels very cheap to win with Trevenant, because most matchups are depending on whether or not you're getting the turn one Trevenant, ideally by going first and using Wally. This is the point where a lot of matchups are already decided, depending on your opponent’s hand. Matchups like Night March or Greninja that depend a lot on getting their set up are often won just by getting the turn one Trevenant, without them having a good answer in their hand. But this is also the biggest weakness for Trevenant. If you actually have to play a complete game, where both players get their set up, you will most likely end up losing, simply because other decks' strategies are stronger than just spreading 30 onto everything. Greninja for example has absolutely no trouble in dealing with Trevenant once it gets two Greninja into play. In some cases even one Greninja is enough, as long as it's the BREAK one. Basically all you do with Trevenant is hoping that your opponent has a dead hand after you put them under Item-lock, because they even get one turn of playing Items. This is what I really dislike about the deck. You're pretty much putting yourself in a position where you're hoping that your opponent is whiffing their set up cards. Relying on your opponent’s lack of luck is by far not enough to make me a fan of the deck, but that doesn't change the fact that it's very strong.

I have seen a lot of list that use cards like Wobbuffet or even the BREAKpoint Trevenant, but at the current state I feel like it's best to run a list that's as straight forward as possible to get your turn one Trevenant as often as possible.

2 Super Rod

The second Super Rod is very important to be able to keep your Trevenant coming, in matches where they will be knocked out very often. The reason why you don't run Scared Ash is, that unlike Greninja, you don't have any other chance to get back basic Energy, and you will often get into a spot where you will need some extra ones.

3 Dimension Valley

I've seen a lot of lists running four of them, but I feel like you're often in a position where you would discard one anyway, because your opponent doesn't really get the chance to kick it under the Item-lock. Three is still consistent enough and should win you the Stadium war most times.

Matchups

Night March

The Night March matchup is the easiest one for Trevenant, because you're also able to win it pretty easy if you can't get the turn one Item-lock. You want to set up multiple Trevenant BREAK to be able to keep the spread going on to draw multiple Prizes in one turn. Xerosic and Team Flare Grunt are helping to get rid of all four Double Colorless Energy before Night March is able to draw all of its Prize cards, since your opponent won't be able to use Puzzle of Time to get them back. It's also very nice to keep attaching the Bursting Balloons, to get some extra knockouts, which your opponent can't prevent, unless they decide to not attack.

Greninja

The Greninja matchup depends a lot on your opponents starting hand. If they manage to use Water Duplicates and evolve into Greninja the following turn it gets really rough. To avoid being annoyed by Rough Seas, you always want to keep the Stadium until you need it to kick the Rough Seas. It's fine to use Dimension Valley on turn two to attack with Trevenant BREAK, if you weren’t able to attach two psychic Energy to it, but after that turn, you definitely want to save as many Dimension Valleys as possible, because Rough Seas is what will make you lose the game, if you can't counter it.

M Rayquaza

The M Rayquaza-EX matchup is very much like the Greninja matchup, but actually a lot worse for Trevenant than the Greninja one, since M Rayquaza has a lot of consistency, even if it's under Item-lock. The biggest problem is simply, that M Rayquaza-EX is able to hit for a huge amount of damage very quickly. If your opponent is able to get a decent amount of Bench Pokémon, while also having their M Rayquaza-EX pumped up, it's very hard to stop it. The most important thing to keep in mind is using Xerosic to remove the Float Stone off of their Zoroark, if you're planning to Lysandre something up. If you feel like your opponent hasn't got too much going for him, removing their Energy can be crucial. Running the M Rayquaza-EX deck out of Energy, while also attaching the Head Ringer will put you in a very good position to close out the game. But if you can't keep up with the pace of the deck, if you're not able to get the turn one Item-lock, you will probably end up losing the game.

Yveltal/Zoroark

Yveltal is by far the worst matchup for Trevenant, thanks to its weakness to Darkness. It's also very hard to keep your opponent under a lock, because all they need is either Yveltal or Yveltal-EX + some Energy. If they get these cards without too big of a struggle, you will lose the game in most occasions. Some players decided to run Weakness Policy to avoid this matchup, but I feel like it just doesn't pay off in most matchups, which is why you will just have to take this one autoloss, since most other matchups are pretty winnable.

Changes with Fates Collide

I wouldn't change a single card after the release of Fates Collide, because I feel like Judge is so much better in the deck than N. Limiting your opponent’s cards before they even gets to use most of them, and also putting them under Item-lock is just way more powerful than playing the early N, since they won't draw too many cards if you're getting the ideal setup. On the other hand N could be very strong if you're falling behind, so it's definitely player’s preference which one of them you're running.

Vespiquen/Vileplume

The last deck that I want to talk about is, in my opinion, a very underrated deck that wins pretty much all of its games if it's able to execute its gameplan. This might seem very weird to say as this could be said about pretty much every deck, but this one is different. Most other decks will play a regular game after they get their setup. Night March, for example, wins most of its games if it hits enough Double Colorless Energy and has enough Pokémon with Night March in the discard pile. The deck that I'm going to show you puts this on a different level.

Vespiquen/Vileplume burns almost all of its cards on the first turn to get out Vileplume while also building up Vespiquen’s damage. Vileplume is much worse than Trevenant in many ways. The biggest difference is that it works while sitting on the Bench, making the Lysandre move that works on Trevenant completely useless. You also won't be able to slowly get rid of the attackers as you would be in Trevenant, simply because Vespiquen doesn't allow you such things as it pretty much takes all of its Prizes very fast, and not thanks to spreading.

There isn't really much to talk about in this list, simply because all Vespiquen/Vileplume lists look almost the same. There are no tech cards or anything like this, because you're doing the same stuff every game and try to win the game that way. This is also the reason why there is no reason to talk about the matchups, because you're doing the same thing, no matter with opponent, or more like deck, you're facing. But this is also the biggest weakness for Vespiquen/Vileplume. In certain situations you simply won't be able to win the game, because the deck has obviously some flaws. If it didn't everyone would play it. The biggest problem causer is the Promo Jirachi. You simply don't have too many ways to deal with him, because you aren't able to search for cards like Lysandre or able to even play cards like Escape Rope, because you're also Item-locking yourself. In a lot of cases you will have the Lysandre in hand, simply because you're drawing most of your deck on turn one, and the rest on the following turns. The next downside goes pretty much in hand with this. In a lot of situations you will not be able to get a new Double Colorless, because you either discarded too many of them and aren't able to use Bunnelby, or you simply can't draw into them. And this is exactly what the deck is relying on, you're simply hoping that your opponent has a dead hand after the turn one Vileplume, pretty much like Trevenant, but in an even worse way.

I would only recommend this deck if you don't find any of the other decks suitable, or simply if you want to play a deck that can potentially win the whole thing, but also lose every game, almost like a coin flip. If you don't mind changing the tournament into a game of roulette, Vespiquen/Vileplume might be your perfect choice.

Conclusion

In my opinion, it's very hard currently to choose a deck that's perfect for a tournament, mainly because all of these decks are so strong and have complete different playstyles. Pretty much all of them are able to win the whole tournament if they get just a little bit lucky. But this is also what I like a lot about the current format. The player has a much bigger influence on the outcome than in recent years. When we had the Seismitoad-EX era a lot depended on coin flips or drawing the right removal cards in time, leaving not too much space for the players to prove their skill. Currently it's also depending on luck in a lot of cases, but most matchups are simply decided by the players' skill.

For myself, I would currently go with Night March because it's still a very strong deck and the results speak for themselves. I still don't know if this is going to be my choice for Nationals this year, but it's definitely likely that I'm going to use it at Nationals.

I hope you enjoyed the article and I was able to give you some advice for your Nationals and a little bit insight into my testing experiences.

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