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Daniel lynch

A guide to deck choice for Fall Regionals

Phinnegan Lynch explains exactly how one can go about choosing a deck ...

10/15/2015 by Daniel lynch

Phinnegan Lynch explains exactly how one can go about choosing a deck for the upcoming Regional Championships and describes how failing to follow these steps can lead to a poor performance.

Introduction

Hello, I am very excited to be writing for you all again! This time I will be writing about the upcoming Regionals and a bit about my Yveltal deck. The Fall Regionals can seem quite overwhelming when looking at all of the potential deck options, so this article is designed to help you decide what to play. If you are looking for an article to skim through, I would suggest looking elsewhere. I do understand that we all only have so much time, but this article will need a little more attention to be understood. If you are only looking for a list, I will include my Expanded Yveltal deck list toward the end because it is the conclusion of my process of choosing a deck.

Before we Start

Expanded has many strong decks with the potential to be played. Despite all of these options, there are only a few decks that in my opinion can be considered a good choice for the Fall Regionals. The first step in deciding what to play is to find a list of decks that you are willing to use. The list can be as big as you like, but should end up being reduced to between one and three decks. For me, this list includes Yveltal, Eels, Seismitoad/Giratina, and Seismitoad/Crobat. I encourage you to write your options down, seeing as it will make the rest of the process for choosing a deck easier. If you want, you can treat this article as somewhat of a follow-along tutorial.

Creating Criteria

The criteria for how to choose the decks for your list is up to you, although I encourage you to think as logically as you can when deciding. For example, do not choose a deck just because you ran hot with it or choose not to include a deck because you "always draw poorly with it". It is important to remember that there is chance involved in this game and having a bad run at one tournament with a deck should not be enough for you to discount it as an option.

One of the most important things to consider when making this list is asking yourself if the deck is consistent. Even if your deck has positive matchups against every deck in theory, something inconsistent will almost certainly not make top cut. For this reason, I tend to favor decks that have low amounts of setup required and have lots of draw. If you look at my four choices above, all of them aside from Eels are based around a low-Energy Basic main attacker. Eels is sort of an exception just because Yveltal seems like it could become very popular quickly and Eels is one of the only decks that I consider to have a good matchup against it. I live in California and players here tend to play Yveltal frequently. Eels also makes up for the Evolutions by running very high counts of Pokémon-search cards and having Tropical Beach to increase consistency. Even with this cosnsitency, this option is the least likely to be played for me.

Considering the Meta

If your list of decks was once too long, simply eliminating the inconsistent options could have taken away a good chunk of them. Once you have this updated list, the next step is to look at how these decks perform against the popular decks in the meta. Metagaming can be really tough for some. Instead of telling you all how to metagame well, I will just show you what I expect the meta to be. I should note that almost all the time, I am very close in my predictions. I have been accurately predicting what will be popular for a while and I am rarely far from what the Meta turns out to be.

Because the first two weeks of Regionals have already happened, we have a more clear view of what the meta will look like in the final week. This list of percentages is intended to be general. In other words, if I say for example, "12% Yveltal," I do not expect to see exactly that much, but I do expect to see within 5% of that number. Also keep in mind that nobody is a mind reader, meaning that nobody can metagame perfectly. Another thing to note is that because since I do live in California, my predictions may be more centered around players from the West side of America. Using the information from the first and second weeks, this is what I expect to see for Week 3.

The Meta

15% Vespiquen

14% Yveltal

11% Night March

11% Manectric Variants

8% Bronzong Variants

8% Seismitoad/Giratina

7% Blastoise

6% Seismitoad/Crobat

20% anything else

Meta Explanation

Yveltal was the most popular deck at Phoenix Regionals and won the event. This means that not only almost all people who used it that week will most likely continue to use it, but also more people will be attracted to the deck because it has seen success. Although after Week 2, Mega Manectric's success might subdue the Yveltal hype. Players from California also tend to lean towards Yveltal often, and if I was not going to the Santa Clara Regionals, I would most likely have a lower percentage for Yveltal. Because of these reasons, I see Yveltal as being one of the most played decks and a deck that needs to be beatable no matter which deck you decide on.

Vespiquen won the Regionals in Pennsylvania last weekend and for that reason alone, it will be popular. Do not have a bad Vespiquen matchup going into this third week.

Night March is a deck that is always around. Some people believe that it beats basically everything popular at the moment. For that reason, I can see this deck rising in popularity. While in theory it does have good match ups against many of the popular archetypes, the main decks that counter Mega Manectric and Vespiquen also counter Night March. Specifically, Seismitoad/Giratina and Fighting/Bats. This deck is a little bit hard to predict and to be quite honest, I am not sure about the future of Night March.

Manectric players had a great time last weekend in Pennyslvania, scoring many Top 8 placings. This option may be popular just because it did well and people expect to see Yveltal often. Having a bad matchup to this deck is going to be bad.

A couple Tyrantrum/Bronzong decks made Top 16 in Pennsylvania, so I expect this deck to be picked up by some. Metal was already a strong archetype that just needed a good time to shine, and Week 3 could be this time. I am a little more unsure of where this deck sits in popularity.

Seismitoad/Giratina has the advantage of beating both Mega Manectric decks and Vespiquen decks. The biggest weakness for this deck was Blastoise, but now that its popularity is decreasing, there is not much stopping Seismitoad/Giratina. Even though all of this is true, most people will not recognize the strength of this deck because it has not seen any recent major success.

Blastoise was fairly popular the first week and scored multiple Top 8 placings in both Regionals, and even made it to both Finals.  Similar to the reason people will want to play Yveltal, people will be attracted to Blastoise because it did very well. Unfortunately the Queen Bee preys on this turtle deck which will discourage many from playing Blastoise. This deck might still see some play, but if you need to take an autoloss to something, It wouldn't be the end of the world if it is to Blastoise. 

Seismitoad/Crobat won Texas Regionals and for that reason alone, people will want to use it. I think this deck will definitely see an increase in play from the first week. This is also a deck that some of the best players in California frequently use.  I do not expect this deck to be super popular, but I do think that it could be at the top tables because of the people who tend to use it.

Expanded is a huge format and many players have their own ideas about what to play. I think 20% "other decks" is fair considering all of the other decks that could be played.

Matchups

Now that we have a general idea of how the meta will turn out, we can again look at the decks on our list and see which options can best handle these decks. To do this, you can make a chart of rough estimates of how each deck does against the big meta decks. For example, if I were to make a chart for Seimitoad/Giratina it would look like this:

Seismitoad/Giratina

55/45 versus Yveltal variants

40/60 versus Blastoise

60/40 versus Seismitoad/Bats

60/40 versus Night March

You might notice that I did not include every big deck. The reason for this is that in this step, I usually do not take into consideration decks that I think will be less than 10% of the meta. After you have these charts for all of your decks, look at your numbers and decide which deck seems like the best pick. It is important to remember that not all decks are just as good to have a positive matchup against. In other words, if you have good matchups against Night March, Seismitoad/Bats and Blastoise, the deck still would not be a good choice if it has an autoloss to Vespiquen. This is because according to the meta chart, you have a very poor matchup against 15% of the meta.

You may be looking at your options and a single deck is not obviously better than the others. If this happens, you can look at the smaller decks that will be less than 10% of the meta and use these matchups as a tiebreaker. If at this point you still do not know which is best, I suggest using whichever deck you have more experience with.

If you do not know which deck is favored or how a matchup works, I suggest testing those matches before going any further. If you go to a tournament not knowing how your deck does against Vespiquen, it could very well result in you doing horribly.

At this point I am assuming you have tested matchups as much as you need to and have chosen a deck. Now that you have a deck, there are only a couple more things to do before you're ready for your Regionals. Unfortunately, these last two steps are far more time-consuming and are going to distinguish the good players from the great.

Testing

The last two steps are testing and finding the ideal cards for your deck. Now it is time to practice extensively. You may be very confident in your deck list and it very well may be strong (although in my opinion, a deck can almost never be perfect). Once you consider that there are eighteen legal sets in Expanded it becomes hard to argue that the sixty cards you are choosing to play are all the perfect cards to use. I encourage you all to try out new ideas and avoid sticking to the same sixty cards always.

This process is what I do for any given tournament I play in. After participating in the Phoenix Regional Championships last weekend, I ended up with a not-so-exciting record of 5-2-2. This was most certainly a result of me not following through with my last two steps. The Yveltal deck I tested only changed about three or four cards at any given point and I had ignorantly decided that Archeops is not worth it before actually testing it. Please use my experience as an example and do not do what I did.

My Yveltal List

Although it was dumb of me to not test any other variant, I did end up developing a list that I consider to be very strong for this variation. I decided to completely dedicate my deck to consistency with a small focus on non-EX attackers. As promised, this is my current list.

Conclusion

Had I practiced more, I may have come up with this list before Phoenix Regionals. Nonetheless, it is in the past and there is one more Regionals to focus on. I hope this article serves as both a guide to deck choices as well as an example of what can happen when one does not practice enough. As always, thank you for reading and I look forward to writing my next piece!

-Phinnegan Lynch

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