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Bradley Curcio

My Preparation for States

A list of the top decks I was testing for states, as well as a mini report on the final two states I was able to attend.

04/16/2015 by Bradley Curcio

Introduction

 

Hello all you fine readers here at 60cards.net! With States coming to a close, I wanted to share my experience with the final weeks of States.  After the first weekend of States, I realized how unprepared I really was for this format. I made a pretty solid meta call, and was able to do well, but there are so many decks in the format that I had yet to experiment with. I was able to end up with a respectable Top 8 finish, but I wanted more. After a lot of talking with my good friend Jose Marrero, and physical testing with my good friends Max Armitage, Brandon Cantu, Ross Wooten, and William Herman, I was slowly feeling more and more confident about the format, and was eager to do better than my previous Top 8. With 2 States left to go, I felt pretty good about my odds. In previous years, I felt confident in my ability to play what I felt was the 'top deck' (namely LuxChomp), with a few tech cards for the meta, and be able to do well against the entire field, including the mirror match. With somewhat more variance in the game, I feel less confident in picking up certain decks, especially when some mirror matches, like Seismitoad/Slurpuff, being incredibly difficult, generally coming down to whomever whiffs the first Quaking Punch, loses. However, I knew there were a lot of decks to choose from, and I didn't want to count anything out just yet. With that said, here are the main decks I was testing for the next States.

Landy Bats


Toad is hands down the most played deck right now. However, with the resurgence of decks like Virizion Genesect, and the up and coming Groudon decks, and of course, mirror matches, playing Quad Toad decks was no longer as safe as it was before. Since that was one of the bigger matchups that Landorus Crobat would struggle with, due to it's heavy reliance on items, having people straying away from their Seismitoad decks makes Landorus that much better. With such insanely fast damage potential, and being able to quickly make work of benched Pokemon you're forced to play throughout the game, such as Jirachi EX, it's able to close out games fairly quickly, given the right matchups. This is the list I was testing for states, with some explanation to some different and newer inclusions.


2 Landorus EX originally the deck played 3, as the quick damage alongside the damage spread was too good to pass up. However, with playing the deck more and more, and the inclusion of Focus Sash, and being able to heal with Super Scoop Ups, playing only two copies of this was more than sufficient.


2 Silent Lab is fantastic against a lot of decks, and it was originally put in to counter the resurgence of Mr. Mime. It helps smooth out matchups that were somewhat iffy at first, mainly Night March, Flareon, and Eggs. Being able to shut off their abilities was usually able to slow them down tremendously, especially if they rely on Jirachi early on. You can also pull off some big damage by negating Hawluchas Ability, being able to hit cards like Manectric and Darkrai for weakness.


2 Fighting Stadium while still really good, being able to hit insane amounts of damage with Landorus and Hawlucha for just one energy. Silent Labs versatility is very good too, so playing just 2 Fighting Stadium seemed perfectly fine. Playing 4 total Stadiums means you're able to almost always win the stadium war.


2 Focus Sash was put in to help deal with things that could Knock Out you in one hit. Again, decks like Night March and Flareon can put out insane amounts of damage, yet rarely play cards that can get rid of tools. Being able to survive a giant hit and attack twice with Landorus was huge. Even more so if you're able to Super Scoop it up in the following turns. Focus Sash was also amazing on Hawlucha. If you're able to attack twice with it, it can generally Knock Out any EX with the help of Strong Energy, Fighting Stadium, and your heavy bat line, which is an insanely good trade in your favor.


2 Muscle Band usually you want more of this card, but with Focus Sash, you can afford to only play two, especially since you can use Korrina to search it out if needed. Having 4 total tools also increases your odds of hitting one in the early turns to try and dodge your opponents Head Ringers.


Virizion Genesect Mew


Virizion has always been a solid deck, with a pretty straight forward game plan of attaching a bunch of energy quickly, and then picking what it wants to Knock Out. However, going second was pretty big, allowing your opponent to sometimes outpace you, and put you in a situation you couldn't recover from. Also, since Sky Arrow Bridge rotated, and unless you played Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym, there were no good inclusions for a counter stadium. Since Silent Lab has been popularized, having a counter stadium is even more relevant now than before. The inclusion of Mew and Dimension Valley was able to help both of those problem. Being able to Emerald Slash, or Quaking Punch on the first turn (going Second), helped out tremendously, since Virizion Genesect usually had trouble setting up quickly enough if it was forced to go second. After the Mew got hyped up quite a bit,  Jose Marrero sent me his version of the deck.  This was the list I was able to pilot the deck to a first seed finish in Mississippi, losing in top 8 to the only Flareon player who managed to sneak in.

2 Mew EX while a fragile Pokemon, the power of being able to attack on the first turn was very worthwhile, especially since quite a few decks aren't able to one hit Knock Out it so early in the game. Thanks to Dimension Valley, being able to either stall with Quaking Punch early on so you can manually set up your Virizion or Genesect, or Emerald Slash to immediately power up your benched attackers was invaluable.


1 Seismitoad EX was there to try and help out in matchups that Virizion and Genesect weren't as good at, such as Flareon and Night March. Both of those decks struggle with a very quick item lock, and even without Double Colorless Energy, I could still have the option of Quaking Punch quickly thanks to Mew.


3 Dimension Valley was there obviously help Mew attack much more quickly and efficiently, but also as a counter stadium to help deal with Silent Lab, and stadium wars in general. Before testing the Mew, I originally had Hyptonotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym in the list, but since the deck doesn't really need the extra damage output, nor the lucky sleep effect, playing the Dimension Valley was amazing.


1 Lysandre's Trump Card in an ideal world, being able to Quaking Punch, alongside Lysandre's Trump Card, would shut down the Flareon and Night March decks. Obviously that's not very easy to pull off, but I figured that would be my best shot at being able to deal with those matchups. Being able to return any wasted Energies, Switches, Supporters, or any other resource back into the deck is also insanely good.


1 Lysandre while normally replaced with just Plasma Energy, I thought one copy was still very worthwhile to run, since you're not able to use your attachment on Genesect every turn. Being able to Lysandre up a Pokemon and hit it with Emerald Slash also helped set up perfect numbers to avoid having to G-Booster too many times. Also Donphan was somewhat coming back, so having more 'gust' effects is always a plus in that matchup.


Exegguctor Swampert


Originally played by Ross Cawthon at St. Louis Regionals, and later popularized by several stellar players, such as Jason Klaczynki, Sami Sekkoum, and Brit Pybas (who won his States with the deck), this deck is another lock variant, similar to Seismitoad. Being able to prevent your opponent from playing supporters can be even bigger than stopping them from using items. Without access to drawing cards, and your ability to lock them down with Hypnotoxic Laser, and try to keep energy off their field with Crushing Hammers, matchups can turn very onesided very quickly. Forcing your opponent to take the Knock Out on 6 total Pokemon, since they can't even Lysandre up the few number of EXs you do play, can even make the game even harder for them, since Knocking Out 6 separate Pokemon is very difficult under any lock.  Without further adieu, this was the version of Exeggcutor I was testing out for my states.


4 Exeggcute even though you can get away with playing only 3, since Propagation is an amazing power, I still feel like playing 4 is better. Never having to worry if only one is prized, always having extra to keep in your discard pile so you can abuse your discarding effects, and still have multiple in play is definitely ideal.

4 Exeggcutor much like the Exeggcute, you need to play 4 of this card.  Since you can't abuse Propagation to reuse your Exeggcutor, it makes more copies even more valuable.  Since you need to hit this card on Turn 2, and every turn thereafter, you want to have as many possible options to do so, so playing 4 Exeggcutor is ideal.


2 Swampert while Empoleon may seem like the ideal choice, since you can abuse your Exeggcute to draw an extra two cards every turn basically for 'free', I feel the inclusion of Swampert is quite a bit better. Being able to manipulate what cards you draw every turn, or even during your turn with the help of Acro Bike and Slurpuff is insane! Effectively using a Computer Search every turn is too good to pass up. After you have the lock in place, being able to use your Crushing Hammers, Trump Card them back into play, and search out another one with Swampert is fantastic. This card is perfect to help you close out games after you've set up, but even more so to help you come back from less than amazing starts.


1-1 Slurpuff you don't really need to draw tons of cards every single turn, so this was mainly there to be able to abuse Swamperts ability and effectively search your deck for any card of your choosing any turn.


1 Mr. Mime is a must if you want any hope at beating decks that can hit your bench. With a measly 30 HP, Exeggcutes can get Knocked Out with ease, and Mr. Mime is your best chance at preventing that.


1 Virizion EX makes it so you don't take too much damage from your opponents Hypnotoxic Laser, and most importantly, so you don't ever stay asleep for a turn, preventing you from using Blockade, thus breaking your lock, and letting your opponent go crazy on their next turn.


1 Lysandre although most lists seem to be playing Genesect EX as well as Plasma energy, since Exeggcutor can attack with any type of energy, I didn't think this deck could afford to. Needing both Swampert and Seismitoad on the bench to be effective, as well as Virizion and Mr Mime depending on the matchup, and then Jirachi on top of it all, bench space was extremely tight.


4 Hypnotoxic Laser, 4 Crushing Hammer, 1 Lysandres Trump Card, 1 Team Flare Grunt


Here's the heavy disruption of the deck. Keeping your opponents slowly taking damage through Lasers, and potentially keeping them asleep makes them unable to effectively Knock Out your Exeggcutors. Crushing Hammer and Team Flare Grunt help minimize the amount of energy they're able to have in play. Last but not least, you have Lysandres Trump Card to put it all in your deck to use it over and over again.

 
4 VS Seeker, 4 Acro Bike, 4 Battle Compressor, 4 Ultra Ball, 1 Computer Search 1 Archies Ace in the Hole


This seems to be the standard engine to help you get off your Archies as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Battle Compressor and VS Seeker help you hit your supporter needs, Acro Bike helps you draw into cards you need, and thin out your deck of cards you don't need. Ultra Ball and Computer Search help thin out your hand, and help you search your deck for cards you may need, and then Archies to help your lock become almost unbeatable vs most decks in the format.
3 Muscle Band Blockade only does 10 damage, so any extra damage is definitely needed. Turning that 10 into a 30 makes a huge difference, even more-so when you add on poision damage, thanks to Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. Turning 10 damage a turn, to a potential 90 if they are poisoned, and forced to stay active coming into your turn, making Blockade an even bigger threat.
6 Grass Energy since your main attacker only needs 1 Energy, playing a low number is perfectly reasonable. Grass is the energy of choice since it activates Virizion EX's ability, preventing you Pokemon from being effected by any special conditions!


Seismitoad Swampert


Even though this deck is similar to Exeggcutor, it is still quite different. Both abuse cards like Hypnotoxic Laser and Crushing Hammers to hinder their opponents gameplan, on top of their lock. If you're able to run well, and hit enough heads, you're able to steal away games you wouldn't normally win as well, making these decks capable of beating literally any deck in the format, including even the ones built specifically to stop them. While Exeggcutor can prevent you from using Supporters, preventing you from even drawing into useful Items, and more importantly, energy, Seismitoad can only stop your opponent from playing Items. However, with the reliance on cards such as VS seeker, sometimes it becomes the same thing. The biggest thing Seismitoad has going for it over Exeggcutor, is it can start the lock as early as Turn 1, something that Exeggcutor could never do. Locking your opponents items for almost the entire game can put your opponent at such a big disadvantage, that they can't come back from. Also, with more HP, and not allowing your opponent to even play down cards like Hypnotoxic Laser or Muscle Band, Seismitoad is much much more durable. With no 30 HP Pokemon either, your opponent wouldn't even have a chance to take a cheap quick win.  Even though the list is somewhat similar to Exeggcutor, this is what I was wanting to play, with the reasoning behind the different choices.


Swampert over Empoleon since the deck can already play Slurpuff, drawing even more cards wasn't as enticing. However, being able to put anything you want on the top of your deck, and then immediately draw it, was.


3-3 Slurpuff although I'd rather play Swampert over Empoleon, being able to draw multiple cards a turn is still too good to pass up. Being able to hit multiple Crushing Hammers in one turn, or finding important cards you need at any given turn was the reason this deck could stay so consistent. Especially after you use your Lysandres Trump Card, being able to quickly draw through your deck turn after turn helps you find and reuse all your resources every game.


1 Cassius being able to fully heal a Seismitoad, bring up a Slurpuff, draw 2 cards, and then immediately go into another Seismitoad and continue the Quaking Punch helped you win matchups that would otherwise be somewhat scary, such as Landorus/Crobat. Being able to heal off any damage your opponent is able to do before you're able to get your lock down can help you seal games that would otherwise be difficult. This card can always be used as a Switch card as well if absolutely necessary.


1 Team Flare Grunt/Xerosic originally I only had one of these cards in at any given time, but playing both was so much better. Being able to guarantee an energy removal vs any deck helps tremendously on top of the Crushing Hammers, and having two forms of Energy Removal under Item Lock can help you win the Mirror Match. If you're able to get rid of your opponents Double Colorless Energy, and they aren't able to respond immediately with another, you are almost guaranteed to win that game, so playing multiple was fantastic.


4 VS Seeker, 4 Acro Bike, 4 Battle Compressor, 4 Ultra Ball, 1 Computer Search 1 Archies Ace in the Hole


Much like Exeggcutor, this was the core of the deck to ensure you're able to get out a Swampert in almost all of your games.  With Battle Compressor and VS seeker, you were able to get any supporters you only played one copy of with relative ease as well!


1 Pokemon Catcher this is probably the weirdest, and best inclusion into the deck. I'll quote Erik Nance here, and say "If you could play a card that says Flip a Coin, if you get heads, you win the game, would you?". While this card doesn't literally say that, the outcome can potentially be the same. If your opponent is building up something on the bench to try to deal with your Seismitoad, being able to use Pokemon Catcher over Lysandre can give you so much more access to cards in your deck that you wouldn't be able to draw otherwise if you were forced to use your supporter for the turn already. Also, using it in conjunction with Team Flare Grunt effectively gave you a 5th Crushing Hammer in some circumstances. Since it can be burned in most scenarios anyways, it wasn't a liability like the 2nd Lysandre would be to your Turn 1 Archies. Even though I didn't personally play the deck, a good friend of mine Rudy Paras was able to pilot it, with the Pokemon Catcher, to a second place finish.


Manectric Keldeo Black Kyurem

This is very similar to the deck that was very hyped as soon as Manectric EX and it's Mega were first revealed.  Even though that deck didn't have very much success, it was still a force to be reckoned with.  Now, hoever, with cards like Archies to grab Empoleon, and most imporantly, Rough Seas, along with a somewhat slower format, this deck can really shine.  Being able to stream tanky attackers with large HPs, and reuse your energy pushed this deck over the edge.  Also, having Empoleon there to either draw you free cards, help you discard your energy, or even attack for just one energy is the icing on the cake.  This is the list I was testing out, given to me by my good friend from Florida, Harrison Leven.


4-3 Mega Manectric this is the core of the deck, so maxing out on it was needed. Being able to chip at your opponents Pokemon wasn't always useful, but being able to stream Mega Manectrics is insanely good, especially with Rough Seas. If you're able to set up, decks like Seismitoad and Exegguctor can't keep up with the stream of energy, and can't do enough damage to threaten a Knock Out, which makes them extremely favorable match-ups.


2 Keldeo EX the only potential threat a lot of decks have, is sticking poison damage, or keeping your active asleep, preventing you from keeping up your stream of energy. With 1 Keldeo, you almost completely negate that, and with 2, there last hope is to try to do is keep a Silent Lab on the field. Even if you're unable to get a float stone, whether you just can't draw it, or you're item locked, you can manually attach to Keldeo, and when you're ready to retreat, you can put those energies right back on with Mega Manectric. Stacking several energy on Keldeo to attack is an option as well, but since there's only 5 in the deck, you're not going to be able to one hit Knock Out anything that isn't weak to water. Having another attacker that can be healed with Rough Seas is always a plus, though.


2 Black Kyurem EX is to help deal with any bigger threats, or to just help close out games. Being able to swing for 200 in one turn is insane, since none of your other attackers can Knock Out EXs in one hit, except through weakness. If your opponent is trying to build up something to sweep through your field, being able to respond in one hit is definitely ideal, especially since you can power up your Black Kyurem while attacking with your Mega Manectric. The only thing it can't take care of is Primals/Megas, but with an Overrun or two, suddenly they're in Knock Out range.


2 Empoleon is the ideal Archies target for the deck. Being able to draw extra cards every turn is amazing. Also, since it's a Non-EX, it's your perfect answer to Safeguarders, such as Sigilyph or Suicune, and, as a Non-EX, being worth only one prize can help tremendously in your prize trades. Sitting at 140 HP, it's also not very easy to take down either, and it can attack as early as Turn 1. Being able to Draw Cards, Take Knock Outs, and force awkward prize trades for your opponent, this card is absolutely insane.

1 Exeggcute is here strictly for it's ability. Discarding a card to draw 2 cards is a pretty good ability in itself, but being able to do so for free is absurd. Helping reduce the cost of cards like Computer Search and Ultra Ball is always a plus as well. Being able to Propagate it back to your hand, and put it onto your bench if you really need the extra damage with Attack Command too is always an option.

4 Sycamore is the only supporter I maxed out on. Discarding your hand and drawing 7 is an amazing effect, and even more so with a deck like this that can abuse the discard.

2 Archies Ace in the Hole while usually a one of, playing 2 in here was perfect. Not having to worry nearly as much about prizing a key component for the Archies plus Empoleon combo is nice, but being able to reuse it easily throughout the game is insane. I was able to play multiple Empoleon throughout the game if I wanted/needed to. Also, being able to Discard one early game in hopes of hitting a VS seeker, but also keeping one in the deck just in case helped get the Turn 1/2 Archies off so much more often.


1 Lysandre being able to pick what you're trying to Knock Out, or preventing your opponent from trying to retreat and save a heavily damaged Pokemon is always great. Since this deck isn't nearly as able to one hit Knock Out anything on demand, playing multiple copies of this card isn't as needed, and having multiple in your hand early on can make hitting that early Archies much more difficult.


1 Lysandre's Trump Card this deck burns through itself. Fast. Being able to bring back resources, mainly Energy and Rough Seas, is amazing. Especially since you can try and draw back into them that same turn with Empoleon. Having Battle Compressors and Acro Bikes make refilling your discard with anything you need fairly easy. Most importantly though, this card is there to help deal with Night March and Flareon. They have to work so hard to be able to Knock Out a Mega Manectric in one hit, so forcing them to hit you, retreat to another Manectric, Trump Card them, and sit back and heal with Rough Seas makes that matchup so much better for you.


1 N playing too many copies of this card drastically effect your ability to Archies early, but this card is still too good not to play. Since you can effectively search this out with Battle Compressor and VS Seeker, or literally search it out with Jirachi or Computer Search, having it on those big turns wasn't too difficult.


4 Acro Bike, 4 Battle Compressor, 4 Ultra Ball, 4 VS Seeker


Since the deck couldn't afford to play too many Supporters while still being able to Archies, this was the engine of the deck. Being able to thin out your deck and hand simultaneously, you're able to have very explosive turns.


3 Manectric Spirit Link Mega Evolve without having to waste a turn? Yes please. Against Seismitoad or Exeggcutor decks, you could even afford to Mega Evolve without the Spirit Link, and still be in a good spot, thanks to Rough Seas.


3 Float Stone getting this on a Keldeo was very important vs Seismitoad, as then you don't have to worry about staying asleep for pretty much the rest of the game. Being able to give anything in the deck free retreat when needed was amazing as well.


3 Rough Seas was the reason this deck was so good. Being able to stream attackers, and then bring your damaged guys to the bench and heal was ridiculously good. Even if they're able to Lysandre it and take the Knock Out, they still have to worry about the rest of your attackers. Also, against decks like Seismitoad and Exeggcutor that try to lock you out of the game to win, being able to heal off their minimal damage made winning insanely hard for them.


5 Water Energy, 5 Lightning


This split worked out pretty well for me. Since you could reuse energy with Manectric, playing lower counts wasn't that scary, especially when your main attacker only needed 2.

 

States Week 2, Mississippi


In the end, I opted to play Virzion/Genesect/Mew for week 2 of States, in Mississippi. After week one, Seismitoad was just as big as before, and with Primals coming into play, Virizion would be able to handle both very easily. Outside of decks like Night March, and much worse, Flareon, Virizion could handle anything else if played correctly, and with a bit of luck. We had 6 rounds, and then Top 8, and my rounds went like this.


R1 vs Yveltal/Toad (WW)
R2 vs Donphan/Wailord (WW)
R3 vs Primal Kyogre (WW)
R4 vs Yveltal/Toad (Max Armitage, ID)
R5 vs Toad/Puff (WW)
R6 vs Donphan/Primal Groudon (ID)
Top 8 vs Flareon (WLL)


I finish swiss as First Seed, and unfortunately am paired against the only Flareon played who managed to place 8th. After a very close game 1, and then getting destroyed game 2, game 3 only went on for a few turns before time was called. I was given an opportunity to win by taking the first prize in Sudden Death, but whiffed the Muscle Band to do enough damage for the Knock Out, only to be Knocked Out by Flareon the following turn.

 

Week 4 States, Louisiana

With the next States two weekends away for me, as I had no intention on flying and/or driving so far away, I was able to test a little bit more. An old friend of mine from Florida, Harrison Leven, introduced me to M. Manectric/Black Kyurem/Keldeo/Empoleon, and I was instantly hooked. With good matchups across the board, and even better matchups vs decks like Seismitoad and the newly hyped Exegguctor if you're able to hit the T1 Empoleon, I was pretty confident this would be my choice for week 4, and it was. I went to Louisiana, and my rounds went like this.


R1 vs Donphan (WL, tied)
R2 vs Yveltal/Toad (WW)
R3 vs Yveltal/Toad (WW)
R4 vs Manectric/Suicune (L) 1 game with that many Rough Seas was ridiculous. I prized my Lysandre, and was unable to Knock Out anything big, especially since he kept my Empoleons off the field pretty efficiently. He went on to win the entire event, too!
R5 vs Exegguctor (WLW)
R6 vs Flareon (coincidently vs the person I IDd with in Mississippi R6, we were now forced to play it out for a spot in Top 8)
Top 8 vs Seismitoad/Slurpuff (LL)

I got paired up in Top 8 vs a friend of mine who rode up with me, Rudy Paras, and he was playing my Swampert list. Although it's supposed to be a very good matchup, my subpar draws, vs his decent ones helped him take back to back 2nd place finishes at Louisiana States. Losing to my own cards was a little disheartening, especially the 1-of Pokemon Catcher I barely convinced him to play.

 

Conclusion


Losing in Top 8 yet in 3 consecutive States was obviously not what I had hoped for, but I'm still pleased with my States run. Being able to Top 8 in every big event I've shown up to this year is fantastic, and I know if I continue to prepare for the events, I know it's only a matter of time before I'm able to take home a big win again  I should be going to another Regionals this upcoming month, and I know I'll be spending more time trying to prepare for it as well, and even more so for Nationals and Worlds!  I hope this article has been able to help you out, and please continue to check out 60cards.net for more articles by our entire awesome staff of writers!

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