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Ryan Allred

"Good to the Last Drop" - Closing Out PRC-EVO

Ryan goes over the decks that defined PRC-EVO, and how to squeeze out those last Winter League Cup points.

01/20/2017 by Ryan Allred

With Sun and Moon releasing February 3rd, and becoming legal for tournament play on February 17th, we are about to see a huge shift in the Standard metagame. It remains to be seen what decks will dominate this upcoming format, but that's a subject for another article. Here, we are focused on the present. We still have two more weekends of League Cups left in the Winter League Cup season, with the vast majority being the Standard PRC-EVO (Primal Clash through Evolutions) format.

 

Between three US regionals, an International Challenge, and dozens of League Cups using an almost identical format, we have had time to see the metagame grow and change. For anyone who has played in previous seasons this may seem familiar, as the Cities format normally took place this same time of year with a similarly shallow cardpool. The major difference is the number of massive tournaments taking place within that same window, several shattering the record last year's largest Regionals tournaments had set.

The Past

London International Challenge

How did the metagame evolve? We started off the format with two favorites: Yveltal/Garbodor and Volcanion. Let's take a look at the clear BDIF from Ft Wayne Regionals and the London International Challenge. Here is the Yveltal/Garbodor list that Michael Pramawatt piloted to 1st place at the London International Challenge.

Early in the format, this deck was considered the Best Deck in Format by most competitive players. Anyone who has followed the Pokemon TCG for the past few years can probably tell you why Yveltal EX is such a powerful card. It takes little to setup, and punishes your opponent when they stack energy on a powerful attacker. Combined with Garbodor and disruption cards like Enhanced Hammer, Team Flare Grunt and Delinquent, Yveltal enjoyed even to favorable matchups across the board.

 

Dallas Regional Championship

At the Dallas Regional Championships, we saw a dominating performance from both M Gardevoir (Despair Ray) and M Mewtwo decks. Both have strongly favorable matchups against both Yveltal/Garbodor and Volcanion. Here is a look at Xander Pero's winning M Gardevoir list from that tournament.

 

New to the deck with the Evolutions set are Rattata and Dragonite-EX. With the addition of Rattata, M Gardevoir is now capable of knocking out almost any EX pokemon (aside from Megas) in one shot. On top of that, Dragonite-EX lets you recycle your discarded Pokemon and reuse Rattata's ability.

With M Gardevoir and M Mewtwo both dominating the format, Yveltal/Garbodor saw itself squeezed out. On top of that, most of the prominent Yveltal players opted to play other decks for the tournament. This meant a dramatic shift to the metagame in a very short time. However, this would not be the last shift, because the Georgia Regionals metagame had more suprises in store.

 

Georgia Regional Championship

Georgia Regionals had several decks emerge as contenders for king of the metagame hill. Turbo Darkrai emerged as a relatively new archetype while M Rayquaza, by no means a new deck, saw a massive resurgence in popularity. Although it did not make Top 8, Greninja was by far the most popular deck at Georgia Regionals, by casual and highly skilled players alike. With that metagame, Vespiquen/Zebstrika ended up being an incredible meta-call that almost took home the tournament. Only three Vespiquen/Zebstrika players made Top 32, and all three advanced to Top 8.

Here is a look at Chris Siakala's Turbo Darkrai list he piloted to victory at Georgia Regionals

Darkrai is a really good attacker. Once Yveltal players realized Garbodor doesn't lock up the Greninja matchup and nobody was going to play Volcanion in this meta, it became clear that Darkrai-EX is the best focal point for the deck. The deck builds up energy quickly for some serious damage and, with two EXP Shares on the board, keeps that energy in play after getting knocked out.

The Present

Now that we've talked about where the meta's past, let's get to the present. Unless you have already maxed out on your League Cup points (or gotten close enough) this format isn't over yet. We still have two more weeks of tournaments left and, given that over half of your Worlds invite can be earned from League Cups alone, playing to the current metagame is vital.

 

What to Expect when You're Expecting Locals

Greninja. "Locals" as the snobby competitive players call them (myself included) have gravitated towards this deck since the 2016 season. It is the cheapest Standard deck to get into the game, and it's just fun to play. The Giratina promo hasn't scared anyone off, and they've just started playing Silent Lab to cope with it. If your deck can't beat Greninja with Silent Lab, I honestly wouldn't bother playing it at a local tournament. I don't mind playing a bad matchup if I can just outskill my opponent and take the win anyway, but in my experience there's no way to outskill a Greninja player when they get 3 Greninja BREAKs on the board.

 

Yveltal (or some Dark variant) is another popular deck for locals to play. It's been around long enough that anyone who start playing in the past 3 years probably picked it up as one of their first decks. There's a sentimental attachment, and most people know it helps to "go with what you know." Bad Dark players don't worry me much, but it's worth considering that this should make up several of your matchups for the day.

 

For the competitive players in your area, it can be tough to guess what they're playing. If they just placed well at Georgia Regionals with a deck, there's good odds they're going to play that same deck again. Beyond that, big decks to expect would be M Rayquaza, Darkrai, Greninja and M Gardevoir. Speaking of M Rayquaza, here is the list Ahmed Ali played at Georgia Regionals for his Top 8 finish:

Multiple players on the Monstars Team played this exact list in Georgia. Ahmed took 5th place with it, Nathan Brower finished in 17th, and I landed in 84th place with the deck. I'll go over some of the decisions with the list.

We went with metal less because we saw a huge value in it, but because we saw so little value in any of the other energy types. Jolteon-EX is too easily countered, especially in a deck that normally benches so many Lysandre targets, so Lightning Energy didn't seem worthwhile. Magearna-EX's ability had some fringe benefits, although it did not have a huge impact on any of my games. Magearna XY165 is a useful attacker though, and swings the Rainbow Road matchup heavily in your favor, where it's normally a pretty bad matchup. Both cards are potential attackers against Fairy types, and hit for weakness against Glaceon-EX and Regice, neither of which can be damaged by M Rayquaza-EX once they attack.

One major difference with our list and other Rayquaza lists is the energy. We went with 5 basic energy and 4 Mega Turbo, where most decks were playing 4 basic energy and 3 Mega Turbo. The deck can be a little inconsistent, and missing an energy attachment the first turn can be spooky. Without Battle Compressor, you have to actually draw into your basic energy to get it into the discard. Failing to attach with Mega Turbo seemed like the biggest way we lost with the deck, so we made it harder to miss. With this build, opening with a dead turn 1 doesn't hurt you much at all.

 

Top Plays

In this format, matchups are huge. With a huge tournament, you can't guess what decks you'll play, even if you know what's popular. With a smaller tournament, you can prepare more effectively. Playing a deck with a field of autolosses is the easiest way to go home empty-handed. Here are my top 4 picks for the last couple weeks, and the decks to watch out for if you play it. If you see a lot of the counter decks around you, pick something else.

 

M Rayquaza-EX

Vespiquen/Zebstrika: This is basically an autoloss. Almost impossible to win.

M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor: This is a rough matchup. You can win, but you're definitely at a disadvantage

Yveltal-EX / Garbodor: Same as Mewtwo. Parallel City + Garbodor hurts. Beyond that, they play enough energy denial to make you cry.

 

M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor

M Gardevoir-EX: They one-shot you with only 2 energy and 210 HP. You only win if they dead draw really badly.

Turbo Darkrai: They resist, they usually only attach two energy to a Darkrai, and once they load up their board with energy they just go nuts.

Darkrai-EX / Dragons: If you don't play Hex Maniac, Giratina can lock you out of the game by knocking out your Garbodor. With Hex, the matchup isn't bad.

 

Greninja

Vespiquen / Garbodor: If they play Garbodor, the matchup is pretty bad. Otherwise, it's fairly even.

M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor: They have a lot of health, start taking knockouts on Greninja about as fast as you evolve them, and they take away your abilities.

 

M Gardevoir-EX (Despair Ray)

M Scizor-EX: Man, who's still playing that deck anyway? Even a bad player is going to smash you with this matchup though

Greninja: This isn't a terrible matchup, but it's definitely not good. I mention it because local tournaments tend to have a LOT of Greninja, so even as a fairly unfavorable matchup it becomes more relevant.

M Rayquaza-EX: Definitely favorable for Rayquaza, but between some dead draws on their end and some skillful play on yours, it's for sure winnable.

 

Turbo Darkrai-EX

M Rayquaza-EX: Okay, Darkrai won both of its top 8 matches in Georgia against Rayquaza, but that's not normal. This is supposed to be an easy matchup for Ray.

Carbink: Like Scizor, I wouldn't normally expect this deck, but it definitely beats you.

Gyarados: Normally a tough matchup, but if you're really expecting it heavily, Yveltal BREAK can put in some work.

 

The Future

Sun and Moon

I'm actually not going to cover Sun and Moon in this article because I've barely looked at the set. If, like me, you're still playing in this format, focus on this format. Once you've gotten your Winter League Cup points locked in, it's time to test hard. Until then, don't worry about it.

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