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Brandon Flowers

Bringing Blastoise Back - a Top 33 STL Regionals Report

I go over my matchups and results from the Expanded format St Louis Regionals that took place the first week of March, ...

03/23/2017 by Brandon Flowers

I go over my matchups and results from the recent Expanded format St Louis Regionals that took place the first week of March, detailing the long road I took to find out that Blastoise's attack is actually Bubble and not Hydro Pump.

ST LOUIS REGIONALS SHORT ANALYSIS

     As I started to allude to in my last article, which went over my top 5 picks for the BW-SUM Expanded format, I inevitably ended up playing Blastoise for St Louis Regionals. An extremely lowkey deck, which hasn’t seen too much success since a format shift that revolved around heavy item and ability lock, Blastoise gained just enough in way of useful cards and good matchups to make it a worthy play in the current meta. With the printing of Lapras GX, as well as an extreme hype behind Dark (and little did I know at the time, Expanded M Gardevoir), the format shifted away from Trevenant just enough to give me the confidence I needed to run with my pet deck from last season.

 

    Going into St Louis, I was very much expecting Yveltal/Maxie’s to be the hailed “BDIF”, which would shame Trevenant and various Evolution based decks out of the format due to type advantage and use of Archeops. This was partially accurate, as my matchups entailed a lot of Dark, but that leaned heavily toward Turbo Dark rather than Yveltal. Most of the decks in the field were quite similar to what one would expect to see at a Standard tournament – Turbo Dark, M Gardevoir, Decidueye/Vileplume, Lurantis/Vileplume, M Rayquaza, and Volcanion to name a few. They all have a few new features up their sleeves however, which entail Darkrai EX DEX, Dimension Valley/Max Potion, Computer Search for added consistency, a field not utterly dominated by Volcanion, Battle Compressor/Colress, and Blacksmith respectively and prominently. Trevenant, Blastoise, Accelgor/Wobbuffet, and Night March were a few of the ‘Expanded only’ decks floating around that have no reliable way to be played in Standard.

     So due to my confidence in my matchups, my oversight of Decidueye and Lurantis as options, and my hope that Archeops would help thin out some of my worse matchups, I went into the tournament with the Blastoise list from my previous article:

 

I already went over the ins and outs of my choices there, so if you want more insight on it, be sure to check it out! From here on out I’m going to primarily focus on my day, matchups, and results.

Round 1: Zachary Fortier, Accelgor/Wobbuffet

One of the “if I can dodge this round 1 I’ll be good” matchups, this is absolutely one of the worst things I can hit if they set up properly and play it well. Accelgor hits most of my attackers for weakness, allowing options between Mew and Accelgor to accelerate knockouts while still maintaining a lock with Paralysis and Wobbuffet to prevent Keldeo EX’s Rush In.

Game 1: I go first, the beginning of a very long trend for the day. I have to play a Professor Sycamore to better my chances of hitting an Archie’s the following turn, and the hand I get out of it is perfect for just that. I pass, not being able to do too much else. Zach starts to set up his field as expected, and passes with a Wobb active. This doesn’t prevent me from getting Archie’s, but it does prevent me from capitalizing too much on it. I get the Archie’s, attach, and pass again, not able to use abilities to attack properly. This is basically the turning point of the game – Zach is able to get the turn 2 Deck and Cover, and hold the lock indefinitely for the rest of the game. My lone Lysandre, my only out to the strategy, is near the bottom of the deck the entire game, and I can’t do much to stave off the onslaught.

Game 2: Rinse and repeat. The game plays out extremely similar, with Zach maybe missing a turn here and there, but I had to ditch 2 VS Seeker very early in order to do anything regarding boardstate, and my 4th is prized. Only running 1 Lysandre and not having all too many outs to VS Seeker, I’m once again limited in my options to get around Wobbuffet or upset his setup, which results in a resounding loss.

LL, 0-1

 

Round 2: Deante Pounds, Yveltal/Darkrai/Maxie’s

Game 1: I win the flip, of course opting to go first. I get the Archie’s and a Lapras loaded up and ready to go in the event of a Hex the following turn. He starts to build his field, building up an Yveltal to deal with my board. Here’s where Blastoise shines when it didn’t before – Lapras GX has 190HP, only needs 3 Energy and a Muscle Band to do 180, and can abuse Rough Seas to further take advantage of it’s bulkiness. Using all of these things to my advantage, as well as a well timed Tool Scrapper and Keldeo/Float Stone to cycle Lapras’s Blizzard Burn for continual KO’s, I wipe out his Yveltals before they can do too much damage to my field, and take all of my prizes.

Game 2: This game goes similarly, with me even having a slightly better setup while Deante misses a beat one turn, allowing me to continuing abusing Blizzard Burn to my heart’s content. While Yveltal vs Blastoise used to be quite even, potentially even in Yveltal’s favor due to the ease at which revenge knockouts came through with Yveltal EX vs a 6+ energy Keldeo EX, Lapras GX turns this around quite handily. It’s made even worse by the fact that BKT Yveltal’s Pitch Black Spear cannot hit a benched Lapras GX, due to the limiting “benched EX” text in the attack description.

WW, 1-1 

Round 3: Travion Tiller, Turbo Dark

Game 1: One of my few (unfortunate) times having to play a friend in tournament, we both know what the other is playing, and we’ve been through the general theme of the matchup and both know what to expect. The bonus side of this, we expect it to be a quick game, and have more time for lunch. We flip, I win it, I go first for the third time today. Game 1 follows the expected quick game, with me getting the turn 1 Archie’s, building up a quick field, and having good options for the entirety of the game. Travion whiffs supporters for a turn or two, and I take my opening and take the board over before he can recover.

Game 2: He goes first, starting Shaymin EX, and having to bench a second Shaymin EX to stay in the game. This seems like an awful start (and is, of course), and perhaps makes me a little over confident going into this game, expecting it to be much easier than it turns out to be. Following the double Shaymins and a supporter, Travion actually starts to build his field quite well and stays in it with surprising strength. We trade hits back and forth, while I wait for a good opening to Tool Scrapper and start to take threats off his board – when I finally find it, I take my opening, but leave myself open to a very slim possibility of Travion coming back with vengeance and taking out my only remaining Lapras. Despite how slim it is, Travion goes through a good 80% of the remainder of his deck, fishing out 3 Dark Patch, an Elixir or 2, and an attachment to pull off the knockout on my last Lapras GX. The game isn’t over yet however – I’m able to come back and take out his Darkrai with a Keldeo EX, with him having very few cards left in deck and no way to come back.

WW, 2-1  Lunch Time

Travion, Conner Lavelle and I head out for lunch at a local Mexican buffet a block or two away, and get ready for the rest of the day. We talk a bit about the decks we've seen and what to expect from here, and much to my surprise Conner had also played someone from our group playing Blastoise. Tyler Turner had picked up Blastoise the night before after seeing how well rounded Lapras makes it, changing only one Water Energy to a Xerosic, making the matchup against Conner's Zygarde/Carbink much more winnable through a combination of repeated use tool removal to get rid of Sashes and Lapras's workaround to get through Safeguard. Much like my round 1 loss, this put Conner in a sweet spot that provided him decent matchups, only ending round 9 after hitting John Kettler's Decidueye/Vileplume. So after a bit of discussion about matchups and what to expect, as well as taking down the Mystic Gym in Pokemon GO (go Team Instinct!) at the restaurant, we headed back to continue our day. 

Round 4: Travis Bracamonte, Turbo Dark/Dragons

Game 1: He mulligans Dark Energy to start, and I win the flip and get to go first, so I’m feeling pretty confident here… That is until I see my opening hand. I start a Shaymin, Battle Compressor, and not too much else. I have to Compressor away an Exeggcute, bench it, attach to Shaymin and pass, not having too many options. He starts Yveltal XY, benches a Darkrai EX, attaches to Yveltal, looks at his discard, and… passes? It was a very weird moment, and in the moment I think he may have been under the impression you could only Oblivion Wing if there was energy in the discard. While a bit confused, I start my turn and draw into a Superior Energy Retrieval, which is one of the things that allows me to thin my hand down enough to be able to play my Archie’s, as long as I retreat Shaymin into Exeggcute. While unfortunate, and despite the previous pass from my opponent, I do so in order to get the Archie’s and have to pass, expecting the Exeggcute to live a short life. In some combination of the same thought process mentioned before, or not wanting me to have full use of my Exeggcute, Travis attaches an energy to his Darkrai EX on bench and passes yet again. His lack of momentum here allows me to continue and build my own; I Deluge to Exeggcute, and play Sycamore to get a few more of the pieces I need to get going and start attacking. Superior, Keldeo, and a couple more energy allow me to retreat Exeggcute into Keldeo and start taking knockouts. Keldeo continues to take a few 2 hit knockouts from here, while I prep a Lapras for cleanup. At best his Darkrais are 2-3 shotting my attackers, giving me ample space to cycle attackers and heal with Rough Seas while taking all my prizes.

Game 2: Game 2 is much more in my favor, but I do get to see a few new things from his deck – in the previous game he focused only on Darkrai EXs and XY Yveltals, but this game he brought out his Salamence EX and a few DDEs. He starts out the game much quicker, as do I, with me getting Archie’s much more quickly and easily, and Travis attaching DDEs to Salamence early while hitting Elixirs to hit harder and faster. This still isn’t enough, as Lapras with Muscle Band and the clutch Tool Scrapper takes out his Darkrais faster than he can make a dent in my board. He eventually turns to using Salamence, but without all too many EXs on the board, its second attack is doing more than Beastly Fang has the ability to do, only doing 140 with Belt before swiftly getting dispatched by a dramatically oversatured Keldeo EX.

WW, 3-1 

Round 5: Justis Disney, Seismitoad EX/Decidueye GX

Game 1: Much like the previous rounds, I win the flip after calling tails, opting to go first. Also like some previous rounds, I miss the Archie’s turn 1, but put myself into a pretty good position to get it turn 2 by thinning my hand down to a single VS Seeker and playing it for the Archie’s in my discard and attaching a Water Energy and Muscle Band to my active Lapras GX before passing. Much to my surprise, he doesn’t respond to this play by using N, opting instead to use Sycamore to have a better chance at getting the Double Colorless Energy he needs to attack. He gets it, uses Quaking Punch for 30, and passes it back to me. Luck is in my favor, and I top deck a Water Energy, allowing me to attach to my active Lapras GX again and use Archie’s for Blastoise and begin flooding the board with Water Energy. I Archie into a few more energy, Deluge onto Lapras, and begin the stream of knockouts by using Blizzard Burn on the active Seismitoad EX for 2 prizes. Over the next few turns, Justis is only to attack around half of them, giving me time to use Acro, Ultra Ball, and a couple Superiors to position myself to continue advancing board state by using Ice Beam to stall a turn, and then finish out the game strong and end by attacking twice into a Decidueye GX to take my last 2 prizes. While not nearly as tilted as the previous matchups against Dark, Lapras once again is able to better a once iffy matchup by being able to KO or use Ice Beam to bide time.

Game 2: Justis goes first, getting only his starting Rowlet, Forest of Giant Plants, and Dartrix and Decidueye GX out to pass turn with a lone Decidueye GX and no Energy on board. I hit Archie’s, get out a Lapras, and instead of trying to extend hard to get the OHKO with Keldeo, I simply use Ice Beam GX turn 1 to do 100 damage and paralyze his Decidueye. Much like my expectation of a quick game against Travion in round 3, game 2, this game turns into a much longer game than expected after Justis gets an N, a couple Seismitoad, and starts to build more Decidueye lines. Despite this, I’ve still bought myself a free turn with Ice Beam, giving me a chance to use a few more items before knocking out the active Decidueye and leaving myself open to a Quaking Punch. From here, Justis gets a strong board state, building a Decidueye with energy while attacking with Quaking Punch to prevent me from doing ‘too’ much. The turning point in the game here, I think, was when he attached a Float Stone to his Seismitoad instead of a benched Rowlet in order to use Shaymin EX’s Set Up for more cards, and then attaches a Fury Belt to the Rowlet before using Sycamore. This allows me to take out Seismitoad without having to worry about having to attack it more than once or twice, and gives me the momentum I need to close out the game and take my last 2 prizes immediately following a four prize turn on his end in which he used Feather Arrow to KO a weakened bench Shaymin EX and used Razor Leaf to KO my active Keldeo. Had this game gone on one turn longer, it very easily could have turned around for him.

WW, 4-1

At this point I start to worry about the day turning around, per my experience in past Regionals. I tend to go 4-0 or 4-1 before taking a nose dive after hitting multiple bad matchups in a row, or just bricking. I shrug it off and keep going, having very little control over matchups and only the ability to focus on myself and my own capabilities.

Round 6: Eric Smith, M Gardevoir/Max Potion/Dimension Valley

Game 1: Buying into my previous concerns, I’ve finally hit a matchup that I haven’t tested much, and don’t have the impression that it’s too much in my favor. I win the flip, which helps ease the concern a bit, and carry on into the game. I get the Archie’s in the first couple turns, and go to putting Kyogre EX to work before Eric can build up too much presence. If any of Kyogre EX’s Dual Splash damage sticks on either of the Gardevoirs that it hits, it opens up very direct KO possibilities with either Keldeo EX or Lapras GX, needing 5 Energy and Band for Keldeo or just base Blizzard Burn damage from Lapras to clean it up. Much to my dismay, Eric hits 3 Max Potion in 2 turns to stave off Dual Splash’s damage and prevent KOs in the short term. Much to his dismay, he also misses Energy altogether for the first 4 turns, even after multiple Colress for 8+. My Dual Splashes outlast his Max Potions, so when he finally gets the Energy at long last, I’m able to clean up the board with the now auxiliary team of Keldeo and Lapras.

Game 2: He goes first, and gets a better start than before Energy wise, but doesn’t get Max Potions quite as easily as before. We trade prizes and two hit knockouts back and forth for what ends up being a very long, 50 minute series in total. He eventually takes out my Blastoise, leaving us 1 prize for him to 2 prizes for me when time is called in game 2. I notice that he’s low on outs to Lysandre, and haven’t seen a Kukui or Iris from him all series, so rather than try and stall with a Chilling Sigh from Articuno and put myself at risk, I simply put up a Lapras GX and pass during turn 2 of time. As expected, he has no Lysandre or way to kill Lapras, and the series ends in an unresolved game 2, giving me the series.

W, 5-1

I’ve finally overcome the Regional hump, and I’m hoping it’s all downhill from here.

Round 7: Antonio Francis, Turbo Dark

Game 1: I call tails as always, win the flip, and get to it. I get the Archie’s handily, start to setup 2 Lapras GX in preparation for a possible Hex Maniac, and pass. He starts to set up his board, attaching to a benched Darkrai EX, and passes. I’m forced to knockout an active XY Yveltal with Blizzard Burn, leaving myself potentially open to being stuck without Keldeo or more energy, and he begins the attack with Darkrai EX. I do miss Keldeo early, but I’m able to cycle Lapras with attachments and Superiors to keep energy on at least 1 Lapras, and am able to swing the game and my last 2 prizes with a surprise Tool Scrapper taking away his Fury Belt off his main attacking Darkrai EX.

Game 2: He goes first, gets a pretty steady turn 1, and passes it over to me with a Darkrai EX DEX on active. I start Lapras, get a few Compressor, Ultra Ball, and pull of an Archie’s into a dream hand of Ultra Ball, 3 Water and already having ditched a couple Exeggcute I’m able to turn the Ultra Ball into a Shaymin EX Set Up for 4-5 cards, netting me the Muscle Band I need to take the turn 1 OHKO on his active Darkrai EX. The momentum this deck can build and maintain with the right hands is HUGE. From here, I used a Keldeo to spread some damage around, and then build an 8 Energy Keldeo and play N in order to go down to 2 prizes left and minimize his options. I’m fairly certain I’m in the clear, when he benches a slightly expected, but still “new” Yveltal EX and attaches to it. While I was open to the possibility of this, which is why I played N, it was still a slight shock and put me on edge. He plays out his hand, but in the end Antonio misses a Dark Patch or Elixir that he would need to swing the game back around, and the 8 Energy Keldeo sticks around to claim the last two prizes. This was certainly the most back and forth game I had against Dark all day, and the surprise Yveltal play kept me on edge, but in the end Keldeo was still able to end the game and series.

WW, 6-1

From here I begin contemplating just ID’ing out, as my odds are roughly 70% of making it, and I think my resistance is enough to put me in.

 

Round 8: Connor Finton, M Gardevoir/Max Potion

We discuss ID’ing, and as I know what he is playing, I affirm his suspicion of me playing Blastoise so we’re both educated about the matchup and possibilities. We ultimately decide to play it out, to much the same result. Another fun fact, this is the second year in a row I’ve played against Connor in the last couple runs of Collinsville, although the last time didn’t turn out so well due to some fatefully bad flips from Articuno and skillful Wobb plays on Connor’s end.

     Game 1: I win the flip, but it’s all I win this game. I get going and get the Archie’s by turn 2, but I don’t get too much else going this game. Connor is able to hit Max Potions timely and effectively to keep my attacks at bay, wearing down my board and energy to the point where I can no longer attack. I run out of energy and promptly scoop to go to game 2.

     Game 2: I get a much better start here, and Connor does not. In theory, this matchup is slightly against you if both decks hit ‘average’ starts, but the chances that Gardevoir misses just enough for you to have an in is slightly higher than the chance that you miss the early Archie’s. Connor doesn’t miss energy like my previous Gardy opponent in the day does, but he misses having a Mega that sticks. He repeatedly gets 1 Gardevoir EX on the board and tries to stall with Ratatta or Exeggcute to buy the turn he needs to Mega evolve, but Lysandre and Lapras don’t give him the opportunity. The game comes to a head when he tries to Dowsing for Ultra Ball to get multiple Gardevoir on the field… but hasn’t played an Ultra Ball yet. I win this by picking off enough Gardevoir to take all my prizes.

     Game 3 simply doesn’t happen – we both don’t want to risk missing something major in setup, and would rather leave it unresolved in a tie to give us both decent chances at making day 2.

LWT 6-1-1

I think you can see where this is going now, and how I ended out my day.

 

Round 9: Peter Kica, Night March

     We discuss the chances of making it with an ID, as Peter wants the points that day 2 would give him and doesn’t want to miss that chance. After some numbers discussion, and a test flip to see who would go first if we did decide to play it out (spoilers: I won the flip for the 9th round in a row), we decide to just ID and try our luck.

T, 6-1-2

      Lucky for Peter, he makes it in (as does Connor) and they both continue to play day 2. I miss by .18% resistance, and get the bubble at 33rd place. While I’m not too sad about this, as I knew in the last 2 rounds that I was lucky to dodge Vileplume all together to that point, that if I were to make day 2, I would have little to no chance of dodging it between all of the Decidueye and Lurantis running rampant. There was even a few M Rayquaza and Accelgor/Wobb running around, which shouldn’t be surprising given that M Ray ended up winning, so my bad matchups were abundant and of great variety. Realistically I should have simply played out my last round, testing my luck against Night March, as I still would have gotten top 64 and $250 even if I had lost, and if I won I would have been guaranteed in. Kyogre and Articuno give you some good options here, and Lapras’s 190HP makes the numbers quite awkward for them. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and I simply walked away with the promise of $250 and 24 more CP to add to my stash.

Quick summary of the day:

Accelgor/Wobb LL

Maxie’s Yveltal WW

Turbo Dark WW

Turbo Dark Dragons W W

Seismitoad Decidueye WW

M Gardevoir W

Turbo Dark WW

M Gardevoir LWT

Night March T

6-1-2 33rd Place with Lapras GX/Blastoise

     As far as deck changes, Tool Scrapper was 100% necessary and I would not cut this under any circumstances. A second Lysandre would have been very nice however, and while I would still not add it under these circumstances as I needed to use Keldeo EX quite a bit and the abundance of Water Energy was needed, cutting down to 10 Water for either Xerosic or the second Lysandre are good options.

       While missing day 2 was somewhat disappointing, putting Blastoise back on the map was amazing. Having more time to hang out with friends Saturday, due to not having to worry about getting up early was a nice bonus as well. Any chance I get to play Blastoise into the right meta is a chance I’ll take, as it’s simply a fun deck (for the operator, at least), and just happens to perform amazingly in the right circumstances.  

Good luck and goodbye for now,

Brandon

[+17] ok


 

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