Eels Good Man - Florida Regionals Report
Ryan gives an in-depth look at the Raikou Eels deck by recapping his Top 8 Florida Regionals matches, showing where the deck shines and where it falters.
03/01/2016 by Ryan Allred
(This article is part of 60cards competition)
Hello 60cards readers! As you probably figured (by not knowing who I am) I am relatively new to the scene, having just started last season here in Florida. This year I finished Top 8 at Florida Regionals, and finished my Florida Cities season with one 1st, two Top 4s and a Top 8. Last year my biggest hurdle was not finding testing partners, and not committing to testing. Cities were a bit easier, because 2 tournaments weekly ended up being my testing. After a disappointing States run last year, I took the rest of the season off and decided to wait until this year. This year I've had more success because of some awesome testing partners (shoutout to Devon Anderson, Evan MacPhaul, Patric Mann and Nate McDonald) and it paid off with a win on my first Cities back for the season. Between Cities, Florida Regionals and a single LC, my current total sits at 220/300.
Round 1 - Hex Ray (Ryan Peterson)
Yep, started my tournament across the table from fellow Top 8 player Ryan Peterson. I have to admit, we didn't test this matchup because we didn't expect to see it. We talked it through the morning of, and realized that despite weakness, it's still a pretty rough matchup. With Hex Maniac, it's nearly impossible to stream attackers and keep up with the massive pressure Rayquaza puts on you. In both games, Ryan didn't struggle at all setting up Turn 1, and from there kept up a constant string of Hex Maniacs while setting up a second M Ray and I took a quick two losses.
LL - (0-1)
Round 2 - Raichu Break / Octillery (Jordana Siciliano)
This was a new player at her first tournament. Most of the cards in this deck came out of the Burning Spark theme deck. After two quick games, I moved on to Round 3.
WW - (1-1)
Round 3 - M Scizor EX (Hayden Guyse)
I lucked out with my matchups two rounds in a row. Aside from being a relatively weaker deck, I had the added advantage of resisting metal. Between resistance, Shining Body and Rough Seas, my opponent took 0 prizes both games, and struggle to even deal damage to my bulky Raikous.
WW - (2-1)
Round 4 - Yveltal / Darkrai (Justin Rojas)
I will admit I don't remember this matchup that well. I want to say it was a no-nonsense Yveltal/Darkrai deck. Raikou Eels tears that deck apart. Raikou has incredible bulk, generally requiring a 2 hit knockout from big EXs, while taking easy two hit knockouts in return. Winning the prize trade 2 to 1 is just phenomenal.
Round 5 - Yveltal Archeops (Blake Pennington)
Archeops makes the matchup substantially more difficult for Raikou. Fortunately, Blake missed the Maxie's allowing me to setup and start taking knockouts. Blake took a different approach than we had tried in testing, going straight for knockouts with Yveltal EX knowing that I would be able to get a revenge knockout and hoping to steal 6 prizes quickly enough. Although he missed the early Archeops, Blake did get out Gallade mid-game, which flipped the prize-trade advantage on its head, by taking an easy OHKO and being difficult for me to OHKO. I won game 1 pretty handily and we moved on to game 2. Time was called before we could finish Game 2, and much to Blake's chagrin, he ended up being just a few turns from winning Game 2.
Round 6 - Virizion Genesect (Cody Haddon)
My opponent started with a mulligan, revealing a plasma energy and a grass energy. As soon as I knew he was playing VG, I knew I was leaving round 6 at 5-1 and started the math in my head for reaching Day 2. VG is one of the best matchups for Raikou, for the same reason as straight Yveltal Darkrai. Cody tried the optimal strategy against me, targetting Eels for quick prizes, benching damaged attackers and using G Booster to clear my energy off the board. Unfortunately for Cody, the damage just kept stacking up on his side of the board until I was guaranteed an EX knockout every turn. Both games ended decidedly in my favor.
Round 7 - Primal Groudon (Drew Guritzky)
My friend Evan MacPhaul running the exact same list played against Drew in the previous round. As soon as I saw the matchup, my heart sank. This is just about the worst matchup possible for Raikou Eels. I offered Drew the ID (knowing it was a bad decision for him even with an even matchup) we laughed about Drew's proxy the judges forced on him (a water energy with sharpie crossing out the name and saying Comp Search) and then started on game 1. From testing, the only strategy that seemed to have any success against Groudon was to hit Thunder Lance for 120 or 130 (3 energy + belt, or 4 energy without) twice, and then two more times when the next Groudon is promoted. With 3 eels benched and a super rod to recycle Raikou if needed, streaming attackers is doable. What messes it up? A single Hex Maniac or Pokemon Center Lady. I ended up following a different strategy entirely, since I started with a lone Seismitoad. I Lysandre'd up an unevolved Groudon EX and started Quaking Punching while I set up my board. Due to a crucial N as I finished my punches, Drew hit my toad with Gaia Volcano, but with no Hex or Pokemon Center Lady, allowing me to stream Raikou 4 turns in a row. I knocked out his Primal Groudons, took my 6 prizes and beat my autoloss. Slowplaying is scummy, so I played quickly (without rushing my decisions), but with such slow decks, Drew ended up a single turn away from winning Game 2 and turning it into a tie. Who would have thought taking an ID against your autowin was the best play?
W - (6-1)
Round 8 - Virizion Genesect (Jared Weiss)
At this pointed I started to crash and exhaustion kicked in. I saw my pairing, knew it was VG and that I was going to be 7-1. I started with Seismitoad EX active and misplayed multiple times (forgetting to activate Rough Seas, forgetting to Dynamotor AND screwing up the math on a fighting fury belt) but the matchup was so good it just didn't matter. I won game 1, by a lot less than I should have and took a commanding win on Game 2.
WW - (7-1)
Round 9 - Trevenant Break (Aaron Tarbell)
Looking at pairings, I expected to be paired with Kevin Baxter, which despite being a great matchup for me, I just wanted to ID and go to bed. Instead I'm paired against a distinctly poor matchup, and my opponent knowing that declines the ID. Game 1 Aaron goes first, missing the turn 1 Wally. I set up 3 eels by turn 2, allowing me to knock out his first Trevenant on my second turn. We played a few more turns, but it quickly becomes clear that I've won the game and Aaron scoops to game 2. This time he hits the turn 1 Wally, leaving me with no supporters and after several turns of draw-pass we proceed to game 3. I got a modest setup turn 1 before the Ascension trevenant, but not enough momentum to carry through. After some manual attachments (and a triple-KO from Aaron) I actually take out Aaron's Trevenant and Wobbuffet, removing all of his energy from the board. With 1 prize left for me (and no VS seekers left to Lysandre an easy target) Aaron drops a Mewtwo EX on the board (something I hadn't accounted for). Earlier I had been forced to drop 6 energy on a Raikou to knock out Trevenant Break, which combined with some residual damage gave Mewtwo the exact damage output needed to knock me out.
WLL - (7-2)
I finished Day 1 as the 6th seed, happy with my chances of advancing to Top 8. Still distinctly salty at how close I was to a commanding #1 seed, but happy nonetheless. Going into Day 2 with 21 points, I figured I would need 3 wins, and ideally an ID to guarantee my spot in Top 8. Seeing my Round 10 matchup, I was confident it could more accurately be described as needing 2 out of 4 wins. With that in mind, I ate a terrible unmelted quesadilla at IHOP and got a quick 5 hours of sleep before I woke up unable to sleep any more from nerves.
Round 10 - Yveltal Darkrai (Kevin Baxter)
Obviously Kevin Baxter is a great player, but with such a strong matchup it just didn't matter. Game 1 he took zero prizes and scooped when a win was no longer possible. Game 2 played out about the same, but since there was no advantage to scooping before it ended we played the game out to the end.
Round 11 - Trevenant Break (Aaron Tarbell)
I wasn't looking forward to this rematch, but hey at least it wasn't Groudon. Game 1 saw a turn 1 Wally for Aaron and a grim start for me. I played until a win was unlikely to the point of impossibility and scooped to game 2. Game 2 I started with 3 Tynamos on the board and knew I was in an awesome spot to win the game. Aaron played until he saw his win conditions disappear and scooped hoping to secure a quick win in Game 3. Game 3 saw another phenomenal setup for me, and to make matters worse for Aaron he also started with a dead hand and had to draw pass until I won the game.
Round 12 - Primal Groudon (Nathan Brower)
At this point I know I just have to win 1 out of my next 3 games to get in, or ID all 3. Unfortunately, Primal Groudon was not going to be that 1 win. Since Nathan was already sitting at 29 points (30 after the ID) taking the ID was a no-brainer, since it also helps secure a good matchup in the top 8 for him. We signed the slip and I took a break.
Round 13 - Yveltal Archeops (Brad Curcio)
Sitting at 28 points with two rounds left, 2 IDs should get me into Top 8. Unless I had an autowin matchup, ID was my best option. Unfortunately I was paired down, so my opponent was not in a position to ID into top cut and I had to play it out. Yveltal Archeops is a spotty matchup for me. If they miss the Maxie's, it's almost a guaranteed win for Raikou. Unfortunately, Brad got Maxie's turn 1 both games. My list plays Hex Maniac to counter the Archeops and setup Eels despite it. Usually the strategy is to load the bench with Tynamo, battle compressor the Hex Maniac and on turn 2 use Shaymin to get Eels in hand and VS Seeker the hex. Game 1 I quickly realized Shaymin was prized, dashing my hopes of getting even a single Eel in play. After setting up, Brad used Darkrai EX (Breakpoint) to take some easy OHKOs, while I struggled with 2HKOs. Game 2, Brad used Silent Lab which took away the Shaymin, Eels, Hex Maniac strategy and left me dropping a single Eel with my Hex. The next turn - before I got to use Dynamotor even once - he simply Lysandre'd the Eel and proceeded to clear the rest of my board.
Round 14 - Yveltal Archeops (Daniel Altavilla)
At 28 points, it was unlikely a tie would put me into Top 8, and my opponent sitting at 27 points was guaranteed to miss Top 8 with a tie, leaving us at a Win and In situation. With roughly the same situation as Round 13, I was in a scary spot. Game 1, Daniel hit the turn 1 Archeops, but I did manage one Eel off of a hex maniac. Unfortunately I failed to stream Raikous and was stuck with 2 prizes remaining and no Raikou to attack with. Failing to draw into Raikou for multiple turns, my win conditions quickly disappeared and I scooped to game 2. This time, Daniel missed the turn 1 Archeops, I quickly setup my Eels and proceeded to quickly clear the board. I won't sugarcoat it, he took as much time as possible to finish Game 2. There were no win conditions left for Daniel, he had no outs and any math for Evil Ball was irrelevant (with 6 energy on Yveltal and 3 on both my Raikous, you don't need to do any math) but he still spent a substantial amount of time on each decision, even when no real decisions remained. Once I was within 3 turns of winning, he scooped game 2 and we started shuffling for game 3.
While shuffling for game 3, we agreed to decide the game based off prizes, and while still shuffling time was called. Maybe I'm the bad guy here, but I told him I'm not going to decide a game based off of 3 turns, even if one of us happens to take a singular prize. He said to just play the turns, so I humored him, benched some Pokemon to prevent a donk, drew and passed. Neither of us took a prize, he did hit the Archeops turn one, and no winner was determined from game 3. Again, I won't sugarcoat it, without directly asking for a concession, he tried to coerce me into giving a concession. Let's face it (direct quote here) "I'm not asking you to concede, but..." is asking you to concede. After the judges ended the conversation and forced us to sign the slip, I took the tie and ended at 29 points. Due to matchups at the top tables, there would actually be a single 29 point making it into cut, which with my resistance was almost guaranteed to be me.
I just want to say there's no hard feelings towards Danny. I get how stressful it is being right on the edge of top cut and you have to play to win. I hope you respect I had to do the same and at the end of the day taking the tie got me in.
Going into Top Cut I knew my matchup was Nathan Brower's Primal Groudon and started looking at what Heidi's prizes were for Top 8, since that's as far as I was getting.
Top 8 - Primal Groudon (Nathan Brower)
Game 1 I started with a lone Shaymin while he started with Wobbuffet, which is not ideal. I benched a Seismitoad and started Quaking Punching turn 2 while I set up my board. Before Wobbuffet was knocked out, I used AZ to pick up Seismitoad and used Sky Return to knock out Wobbuffet and putting a Tynamo active, leaving Nathan with no 2 prize attackers to knock out. I love the unexpected plays, and it definitely surprised Nathan and made him switch strategies a little. I then proceeded to stream Raikous attempting to take my knockouts on Groudon. I took one down, but unfortunately the second Groudon had a Hard Charm attached. Under normal conditions, Raikou requires 3 energy and Fighting Fury Belt, or 4 energy without a tool, to knock out Groudon in two hits. With Hard Charm, it takes a ridiculous amount of resources to actually take out a Groudon with Raikou. Rather than taking 6 prizes to win the game, Nathan actually just let me deck out hitting Robo Subs before I could knock him out.
Game 2 was much better for me, starting a Raikou active. I quickly setup my board, knocked out a Wobbuffet, and got hit with my first Gaia Volcano. Two quick hits and the Groudon went down, leaving another powered up Primal Groudon ready to go. Unfortunately, this one had that Hard Charm again. I hit it once with 4 energy and a belt for 120 damage, and had my next Raikou sitting on the bench with 3 Eels in play. I attached 1 energy to Raikou, leaving my last belt as the only obstacle between me and a knockout. Unfortunately, the belt was not in hand, and I only had 11 cards left between my hand and my deck. I played Colress to draw 6 out of the 10 remaining cards... and I missed the fighting fury belt. Just to prove I had the knockout, I ultraballed for Shaymin, drew the fighting fury belt and took the knock out, getting decked out on the following turn with 1 prize card left. Just knowing I turned such a bad matchup against a great player into a 60% shot at winning was enough for me to leave the match happy.
Leaving Florida regionals, my current points are as follows:
League Challenges - 15 Points
15 points (1st)
5 Best Finish Places remaining
Cities - 130 Points
50 points (1st)
30 points (Top 4)
30 points (Top 4)
20 points (Top 8)
States/Regionals - 75 Points
75 points (Top 8 Regionals)
3 Best Finish Places remaining
Now that I bored you with that, let's look at the actual deck:
- 4x Eelektrik
- 4x Tynamo
- 4x Raikou
- 1x Shaymin EX
- 1x Seismitoad EX
- 1x Keldeo EX
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 2x N-supporter
- 1x Colress
- 1x AZ
- 1x Hex Maniac
- 1x Lysandre
- 1x Xerosic
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 2x Level Ball
- 1x Computer Search
- 1x Super Rod
- 1x Assault Vest
- 2x Fighting Fury Belt
- 3x Float Stone
- 3x Rough Seas
- 2x Battle Compressor
- 9x Lightning Energy
- 2x Double Colorless Energy
As you can see, it's actually just a pretty standard Raikou Eels list. You'll notice I'm using PRC Tynamo, and that's honestly just because we decided on Raikou Eels last minute and didn't have enough NVI Tynamos. Toad and the DCEs were intended to help us counter Sableye, but nobody bothered playing Sableye so that was a bit of a waste. We started with 2 Assault Vest and 1 Fighting Fury Belt. I've seen Muscle Band used a lot as well, but Fighting Fury Belt is just so valuable to have. Between Fighting Fury Belt and Shining Body, Raikou has an effective 180 HP, putting it in EX range. Decks are definitely built to hit that number, but it usually takes some serious resources to do it, and that can mean your opponent overextending and setting you up for a devastating revenge KO. I was very happy with 2 Belt 1 Assault Vest, and would still keep the Assault Vest because if you can draw into it early, it makes your first Raikou so much bulkier.
The ideal setup for most games is to start with a Raikou active, bench two Tynamos and a Raikou, and attach a lightning energy to the active Raikou. A third Tynamo would be nice, and a Keldeo with Float Stone is great too, as long as the 2 prizes isn't a liability. But just starting with what I said gives you good odds of attaching to the benched Raikou, double dynamotor, and retreating to the benched Raikou for a turn 2 Thunder Lance for 110. When you pull that off, the game is almost always smooth sailing from there.
One thing to keep in mind with this deck is that you only have 4 strong attackers. Since these are non EX attackers, that means only 4 prizes, which with an even prize trade leaves you with no attackers while your opponent mops up and takes the last 2 prizes. Because of that, in many cases the deck will rely on Super Rod. You need to maximize the value you get from each of your Raikous, and that means not discarding them if you can avoid it, unless you still have Super Rod in deck to bring them back. Against a deck like Primal Groudon, it's nearly impossible to win without taking advantage of Super Rod. Why Super Rod of Sacred Ash? The obvious reason, retrieving energy. In a lot of matchups, your opponent will focus on attacking Eels, allowing you to manually power up your Raikous while energy starts to stack up in the discard. This frequently leaves you with just a couple prizes left, no eels on board and almost all of your energy in the discard. Super Rod saved me multiple times and turned the game into a Win. Beyond that, you usually just don't really want 5 Pokemon back, since a thin deck is more consistent.
I went over almost all of the matchups with my tournament report but the one I didn't mention was Sableye. With this matchup, the strategy is the same one we had tested for almost every matchup against Sableye. You need to start with Toad + DCE, and a Keldeo + Float Stone on the bench so that you can quaking punch. Once you have attached 3 total energy to Toad, and have the Eels to recycle any discarded energy, Sableye can't win. Our testing showed that it could easily go either way, but that Sableye was more likely to lose the matchup, so we were content with that. It also helps that you can beat Sableye much more quickly than you can lose, so you're more likely to turn a loss into a tie, or a tie into a win, just by correctly scooping if you're in an unwinnable game that is going to drag on.
Thanks for reading, and look forward to my coverage of the southeastern States.
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