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Caleb Gedemer

"My Fairy Princess Diary" — Preparing for Georgia Regionals

Check out Caleb Gedemer's thought process going into Georgia Regionals, day by day. What helped him choose his deck? Find out all this and more in his latest article!

01/17/2017 by Caleb Gedemer

Introduction

Hello all, today I thought I would share my preparation for a Regional Championship in Athens, Georgia with you. To begin, this piece starts around the beginning of the new year, specifically Sunday, the first of January. I think it might be very entertaining and interesting to see what went through my mind, and I hope you, enjoy!

01/01/2017, Sunday

Today I attended a League Cup event after a miserable four-and-a-half-hour drive. The night before the tournament I had decided to run Yveltal with Garbodor, which has been dubbed the best deck out there for some time now. Using Jimmy Pendarvis’ list, I was pretty confident in my playing ability, as well as the deck itself. Since this is not a tournament report of any kind, I will simply provide a list of how my rounds went for reference, and some short thoughts on what happened.

Coon Rapids, Minnesota; Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX; 1-2-1

Round 1 versus Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX 1-0-0
Round 2 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX 1-1-0
Round 3 versus Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX 1-1-1
Round 4 versus Hoopa-EX/Jirachi/M Sceptile-EX/Shaymin-EX/Starmie 1-2-1

I started with a win on the day and the rest was downhill from there. I drew pitifully in some key mirror matches and played against a funky M Sceptile-EX/Starmie deck that ultimately ended my run.

This was extremely discouraging, and as much as I pride myself in mirror matches of any kind, I became disenchanted with the concept of having to face multiple Yveltal decks in the same tournament. So many minute things can happen that sway the course of the game, many being factors of luck. I turned my head toward other things.

Seeing Xander Pero take down Texas Regionals using M Gardevoir-EX with Despair Ray really piqued my interest in that deck once again. To jog your memory, I was very impressed with Gardy after the release of Evolutions, which obviously included Dragonite-EX. I had the deck pegged as one of my top plays for the Regionals in Indiana in late November, but decided against it in the weeks prior. I thought the deck was a tad too inconsistent and there was some serious hype for M Scizor-EX decks, a near auto-loss for Gardy, in the days before the tournament. These factors considered, I decided against the deck as my choice for the event.

I took a small break from playing after my scrubby showing at the League Cup, but thought a lot about the game instead. To get back in the saddle again, I reset all my records on the online game to start having a better log of how the decks that I play performed.

I planned to play M Gardevoir-EX extensively in the days to come, using Xander’s list as a starting point. He and the deck had in fact won a Regional, so why not?

01/02/2017, Monday

With another day off work, I had a great opportunity to start grinding. I quite frankly went to town, and logged over twenty games. In these games, I faced a variety of random opponents, generally playing against meta decks like Greninja BREAK, Volcanion, and Yveltal. In these matches, I picked up right where I had left off in terms of my familiarity with the deck.

I ran with a winning percentage above sixty-five percent, which is around what I aim to score when regarding a deck’s winning in practice games. In nearly every game the deck ran extremely well, and the ones that I lost were generally because of poor opening sequences where I may have had to pitch too many resources or just could not get going at all.

Towards the end of the night, I wanted to crack down on a matchup that I thought to be a bit dubious: Volcanion. I was not sure initially how it stands up to M Gardy. Originally, I thought that it might be a bit too fast, and since they do have the potential to swing for one-hit knockouts that it would be rough. After over ten games I was feeling great about this matchup, with a positive record, and invaluable experience against the deck. After this long day of play I was feeling amazing about my initial deck choice.

01/03/2017, Tuesday

Today I wanted to really re-solidify my opinion on the Volcanion matchup. Although I had already played it numerous times, I wanted to make sure. After some more games, a bit smaller of a sequence this time, I was finished and completely certain that the matchup was at the very least slightly favorable. If I were to give it a percentage, I would say around 55-45, or so. The games that Volcanion wins are quick, usually when I would not get a M Gardy out quickly enough and fall behind to a torrent of Volcanion-EXs, all threatening a one-hit knockout since I was unable to play Hex Maniac to stop Steam Up on my previous turn.

Now that I had Volcanion out of the way, it was time to saddle up against Yveltal decks. I had already played this match a bit online, and wanted to test against solid players to make sure. My main testing partner and I played a five-game set and I won every single game. I was absolutely enthralled with the use of Escape Rope when staring at an Yveltal with Fright Night; it allows for a Mega Evolution without ending the turn by making the opponent switch with a Pokémon that is not Yveltal.

Garbodor was a pain in the backside in all the games, but fortunately, it is also just a Lysandre away from a Despair Ray knockout. As the Gardevoir player, you have quite a lot of time to sit back against Yveltal decks, since Fairy Drop can negate a whole lot of damage that gets placed around your field. When Garbodor is gone, this matchup is an absolute shoe-in. All the Pokémon in the Gardy deck thrive from Abilities and those Abilities are simply insane. A linear deck like Yveltal stands no match to the one-hit knockout potential of a M Pokémon-EX once that Mega deck gets going. To make matters worse, the Resistance factor plays a big role, too.

After another day of play, although a bit shorter since I worked a complete shift in the morning, I was still feeling fantastic about the deck. All its matchups with the best decks seemed to be positive, at least by a tiny bit, which was great.

At this point, to theorize out any bad matchups, the only ones looked to be M Rayquaza-EX with Emerald Break and M Scizor-EX. Both are unpopular and not very well suited for the current metagame. Gardy looked like a better deck with each gaining second.

01/04/2017, Wednesday

Another day off work, another day of testing and theorizing. The day started off well with a super easy match against M Mewtwo-EX. Honestly, I had never actually played the matchup before, so although I knew it was simple, I did not know how simple. It quite frankly may have been one of the easiest games I have ever played! The opponent even played Magearna-EX as a counter to M Gardevoir-EX, but to no avail. He never had a chance to attack with it, given the pressure I put on right away with one-hit knockouts.

Next up was a match against a Xerneas Rainbow Road deck. They had a slower start, while on the other hand I had a turn two Despair Ray attack. Using Rattata, I could discard her Fighting Fury Belt and take a one-hit knockout on the only thing she could attack with. From there, she conceded. This matchup is a shaky one: If I were to play a Parallel City, maybe it would shore it up some. However, Rainbow Road was dropping in popularity dramatically, so that would probably not be the best choice in the world.

I kept playing more games, sometimes not against the greatest decks ever, but even in sketchy games, it is awesome to simply play with a deck and realize how many outs you have at certain times and just get a better feel with it, overall. In waiting for a friend to come around, I thought about what matchups I wanted to explore next. Greninja BREAK is still a big deck, and that is what I decided on. ‘ninja could see a dive in popularity because of the release of the Giratina with its Devoir Light Ability, stopping Abilites on BREAK Pokémon, however. I began considering running a Giratina in Gardevoir itself, maybe that would be interesting. However, ‘ninja decks will more than likely begin playing Silent Lab as their Stadium of choice, which would throw that plan for a loop. Time would tell.

While doing a bit more waiting, I faced a M Scizor-EX deck, and got absolutely wrecked. I did miss an opportunity to knock out the only attack-ready Scizor, but nonetheless, this affirmed my thought that this match is pretty much unwinnable. When my friend was ready, we started playing some Greninja BREAK versus M Gardevoir-EX.

After around nearly twenty games I was convinced this was a bad matchup. I would place around a 35-65 percentage on it; yes, it is that poor of a game. The games that I won were quick, and generally Greninja drew dead. Additionally, the games that I lost were generally one-sided. My opponent was using a list that included Faded Town, which may or may not be accurate for today’s metagame. Regardless, I do not view this is a good matchup and to be completely honest, this series of games had me considering ‘ninja as a potential choice for Georgia.

After this match, I was well acquainted with Gardy as a deck. Now it was time for some obscure matchups with outlier decks. We started with Houndoom-EX mill, and it was very simple for Gardevoir. There are too many things to prevent you from decking (Brock’s Grit, Super Rod, VS Seeker for Brock’s, etcetera). After ‘doom, it was time to play against Vespiquen.

I initially thought that Karen might be better than Brock’s Grit so that Vespiquen becomes a good matchup, but it turns out that it already is next to a blowout. Klefki is really a Vespiquen player’s only defense against Gardevoir, and it is not enough. Rattata blows through it, and the rest falls into place from there. Vespiquen has a hard time trying to hit for a one-hit knockout on a 210 HP Pokémon, so Fairy Drop can put in some serious work in multiple copies since some attacks can be alleviated almost entirely.

This day became super long in terms of Pokémon, because next I decided to test Greninja BREAK extensively. Obviously, it is smart to begin with testing against Yveltal; if you cannot beat that deck, it is time to pack your deck up.

While I am writing this entry, I have played four games of Greninja BREAK versus Yveltal with Garbodor. I have lost just once. The match is very close and Greninja honestly seems to have the advantage. I am running Silent Labs to counter the new Giratina and four Bursting Balloon because it helps the matchup, and other matchups too much to play less than four. I really like this deck!

After more games against Yveltal, I could solidly conclude that Greninja’s matchup against it is favorable. Call me crazy, but you heard it here first: in ideal situations for both players, ‘ninja with Energy disruption techs beats the best deck in the format.

After that matchup, it was time for some matches against Volcanion. I played a set of close to ten games, and ran very slightly positive against the deck. I reaffirmed my belief that this match is very even, meaning that it could go either way, depending on the way the games go for both players. Greninja will, however, win with ideal situations, which is not how it always goes, given its inconsistencies.

To close out the day, I played some games against random opponents and did not lose a single game. All of them were legitimate matches, going even further to prove Greninja’s worth. Overall, this was a super packed day that shed light on a variety of matchups that I was interested in. In all, I played around thirty-ish games. At this point, I was considering Greninja BREAK and M Gardevoir-EX as my top two choices for Georgia Regionals.

01/05/2017, Thursday

Today I had to work, so my testing time was limited to the morning. I started off with a few games with Greninja BREAK, and encountered some problems. Just some general inconsistency that turn me off of a deck, as well as a concerning fifty-fifty matchup against what figures to be one of the most popular decks in the coming weeks: Volcanion.

After a around an even record with ‘ninja, I turned over to M Gardevoir-EX once again. I wanted to test the Giratina tech instead of the Hawlucha I had been playing to see if it influenced the Greninja BREAK matchup, which had been deemed as unfavorable. This slight change really does not make that much of a difference in any other matchups, Hawlucha is just a nice Basic Pokémon to run that has a lot of utility in key spots, like forcing up a Pokémon-EX for a two Prize knockout.

I started the games out on a high note, taking a few matches, and ‘tina really showed its worth. However, I did have the assumption that most players would begin playing Silent Lab in their Greninja decks to counter Giratina. The Giratina tested very well and upped the matchup in my eyes to that of a fifty-fifty win rate, or so. This is not entirely favored for me as a player, but I would take it, since Garde already had so many great matchups in the format as it stood.

This day’s testing took a sour note after I pitifully got bodied by a M Mewtwo-EX with Psychic Infinity deck that included Magearna-EX wrecked me over and over. With some League Cups coming up in the coming weekend, I was zoning in on Garde as my top choice. With these crucial losses, I began considering Mewtwo as a possible choice.

This just about concluded my experiences for the day, as I had to head off to my job and overall I was very content with my progress in testing.

01/06/2017, Friday

Another long work day, but beforehand I managed to get some games in. I primarily wanted to try M Gardevoir-EX in detail against a M Mewtwo-EX that played Magearna-EX as a direct counter. Many people have said that the ‘gear is not even enough to win, so I wanted to make sure.

In the games I played against it, I lost all but one. The Magearna-EX was a very formidable tech, and proved its worth as the counter Mewtwo needs. Regardless, I did not feel that Mewtwo would be extremely popular, and even with ‘gearna on tap, they still can win, however unlikely that may be.

To end my short testing block, I played a few games with Greninja BREAK and won all of them against varying meta decks. ‘Ninja was beginning to look like a very good play in the right field, especially with the newfound popularity of M Gardevoir-EX. I had some League Cup events to go to this weekend, so I planned to play Gardy the first day, and then possibly switching to Greninja on the second, depending on how things went.

01/07/2017, Saturday

First event of my Standard format League Cup weekend. After a three-hour drive, I was ready to sling some Gardy and hopefully take down the tournament. I had a last-minute change in cutting the third Fairy Drop from my list, in favor of a second Hex Maniac. Not only would this help me in the mirror match, but it would be nice to have for if I were to play against a Greninja BREAK deck.

Niles, Illinois; Dragonite-EX/Hawlucha/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX; 5-2-1

Round 1 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX 0-1-0
Round 2 versus Giratina-EX/Hoopa-EX/Jirachi/Shaymin-EX/Xerneas BREAK/Yveltal-EX 1-1-0
Round 3 versus Dragonite-EX/Hawlucha/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX 2-1-0
Round 4 versus Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX 3-1-0
Round 5 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX 4-1-0
Round 6 versus Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Volcanion/Volcanion-EX 5-1-0
Round 7 versus Greninja BREAK/Talonflame 5-1-1
Top 8 versus Beedrill-EX/Glaceon-EX/Jirachi/Jolteon-EX/Lugia-EX/Magearna-EX/Manaphy-EX/Mew-EX/Regice/Shaymin-EX/Vileplume 1-2; 5-2-1

The tournament went well and I had an extremely close loss in Top Eight, going to sudden death. In sudden death, an attacking Regice got switched into a Magearna-EX and knocked out my attacking M Gardevoir-EX for the loss. I noticed that Gardy was extremely favored in the meta I played in, but it appeared players were going to move to counter it. There already was a Rainbow Road deck, and even the Greninja BREAK I played against was an awful matchup, I was lucky to walk away with a tie.

After the event I was a little bummed to not be able to walk away with more points, but that is the way it is. I was pretty set on just playing Gardevoir again on the next day. I wrote out a deck list and called it a night after heading to a friend’s house in the city of the tournament.

01/08/2017, Sunday

Soon after arriving at the event, I started to ponder the possibility of me switching to a Greninja BREAK deck. I had obviously tested it in the days prior, and I am thoroughly acquainted with the deck. I mulled over my thought, and eventually caved. I took my deck to a corner where the peering eye could not see me, and I switched to Greninja. I wrote a new list and got ready to play.

Madison, Wisconsin; Greninja BREAK/Talonflame; 4-1-1

Round 1 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX 0-1-0
Round 2 versus Dragonite-EX/Hawlucha/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX 1-1-0
Round 3 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX 2-1-0
Round 4 versus Dragonite-EX/Hoopa-EX/M Rayquaza-EX/Magearna-EX/Shaymin-EX 3-1-0
Round 5 versus Dragonite-EX/Hawlucha/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX 4-1-0
Round 6 versus Intentional Draw 4-1-1
Top 8 versus Garbodor/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX 1-2; 4-2-1

After another first round loss to a normally even, or slightly favorable matchup, I once again fought through all the way to make Top Eight. In the cut, I started off with an amazing first game, but then fell victim to unfortunate draws and a game decided by the least number of Prizes remaining, an environment that Greninja does not do well in.

My tournament was done, but both events went very well. I was very satisfied with the results and both decks that I played, and, both were my top choices for Georgia at this moment.

01/09/2017, Monday

My short morning testing period was filled with some games with Greninja BREAK. I won all but one, the games ranging across the spectrum of the metagame. After taking a hard loss in Top Eight to an Yveltal deck, even though my list was already teched to beat that matchup, I wanted to explore adding even more resources to combat the most popular deck in the Standard format.

I did not get a chance to really work on this today, but I adjusted my list slightly and played a few games with it. These matches went extremely poorly and left me a little anxious about what could happen if I chose ‘ninja as my deck choice.

My small sample of results for the day left me with more questions than answers, but it somewhat affirmed my slight preference to Greninja BREAK as a deck choice, as opposed to M Gardevoir-EX, instead.

01/10/2017, Tuesday

Another nice day off work means another long day of Pokémon. I started off extremely well, winning every game I played. This type of win rate made me question the legitimacy of why I was considering Greninja BREAK as my top choice, and I wracked my brain to think of why I should not pay it. These are some of the things that I asked myself:

Does this deck beat the most popular deck currently? Yes, that would be M Gardevoir-EX.

Does this deck have a target on its back going into a big tournament? No, not at all, Yveltal decks still are the most targeted deck.

Does this deck have consistency issues that result in a potential string of losses? Yes, but Talonflame compensates for some of those problems, and often things smooth over as a game progresses. The upside is too strong to be turned off by some poor draws every so often.

Does this deck have nearly all fifty-fifty matchups or better in the current metagame? Yes, absolutely. To be quite frank, it seems that with the current metagame (not counting rogue decks) Greninja BREAK has the best matchups of any deck out there.

Does this deck win more than sixty percent of the games I play it in? Yes, I have an online record that backs that up, as well as tournament experience.

Taking these answers into account, I began to “finalize” Greninja BREAK as my deck choice for the event. To wrap up the day, I wanted to test ‘ninja versus Yveltal in detail, once more.

In the games I played, I confirmed something I had been formulating: Greninja BREAK versus Garbodor/Yveltal is very close, but the following percentages sum it up:

Not Starting Talonflame 45-55 in Garbodor/Yveltal’s Favor
Prizing One or More Frogadier 40-60 in Garbodor/Yveltal’s Favor
Starting Talonflame 55-45 in Greninja BREAK’s Favor

Why is this? Well, starting Talonflame unlocks a lot of key disruption measures, like using Aero Blitz to find Team Flare Grunt, or Enhanced Hammers. This sets the game’s tempo in the frog’s favor, and usually provides enough time to set up a commanding board and take the game. Without Talonflame, though, it is much more difficult since Greninja can first struggle to set up, and secondly, be overwhelmed by powerful Evil Ball attacks since you cannot address the surplus of Energy that the opponent attached.

01/11/2017, Wednesday

Closer and closer to the big day! At this point, I was starting to get a little skeptical of Greninja BREAK. Its inconsistencies were a huge put off, and the Yveltal matchup, as winnable as it may have been, was just not good enough for me to be comfortable with it. I turned my head to a wider spectrum of decks at this point, Darkrai-EX, Gyarados, and M Gardevoir-EX, specifically.

Both the Darkrai and Gyarados deck had been receiving some hype from the community after resurfacing with big finishes at tournaments. Sometime this day was when social media began to blow up with talk of Spinda from Primal Clash as a Gyarados counter, and people started asking if others would play the card, and so on.

This day ended a bit confusingly for me; I was focusing the most on Gardy again and planned to play a Spinda to counter Gyarados, which is otherwise a nearly unwinnable matchup if they run just right. As far as the other two options, I was not as fond of them since they had their own consistency problems and sometimes were prone to losing if the first or second turns did not go completely as planned.

01/12/2017, Thursday

I knew going into this day that I would not really be able to get too much done, considering I had to work and then drive down to the airport after, which would put me into the early morning on Friday. Regardless, I cranked out as many games as possible with Gardevoir and started to solidify it as my deck choice. I still was running Spinda, but I began to consider playing Absol instead for its utility in both the mirror match, and obviously against Gyarados decks. After playing a few games, I packed up my things and shipped off for work.

01/13/2017, Friday

Running on only an hour and a half of sleep, I boarded my flight to Georgia and got to Atlanta in the early morning. My girlfriend and I took an Uber from Atlanta all the way to Athens and checked into our hotel. Here I messaged a friend and asked to test the Gyarados matchup against my Gardevoir even more.

We played a fair amount of games and I did not drop one with the Absol tech in place of Spinda. I also decided that I did not need a third Mega Turbo, and cut it for a slot to play my choice of a third non-EX tech. I ended up deciding on Absol, Hawlucha and Rattata, and passed on the opportunity to play the new Giratina Promo.

I spent the rest of my time in the day trying to veg out and not perseverate about my card choices. I finally wrote out my deck list and headed over to the card shop where the event staff were running a pre-registration setup. I went to sleep feeling very confident in my deck choice and ready to play come morning.

01/14/2017, Saturday

The event took forever to start, and that was just foreshadowing of what was going to occur; Georgia Regionals why by far the worst event I have ever attended as far as timeliness goes. Regardless, pairings did finally go up, and I was ready for a long day of Pokémon.

Athens, Georgia; Absol/Dragonite-EX/Hawlucha/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX; 6-3-0

Round 1 versus Entei/Volcanion/Volcanion-EX/Zoroark 1-0; 1-0-0
Round 2 versus Darkrai-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal 1-0; 2-0-0
Round 3 versus Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX 2-0; 3-0-0
Round 4 versus Banette/Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX 2-0; 4-0-0
Round 5 versus Hoopa-EX/Jolteon-EX/M Rayquaza-EX/Shaymin-EX 0-2; 4-1-0
Round 6 versus Darkrai-EX/Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal 2-1; 5-1-0
Round 7 versus Hoopa-EX/Shaymin-EX/Volcanion/Volcanion-EX 1-2; 5-2-0
Round 8 versus Absol/Dragonite-EX/Hoopa-EX/M Gardevoir-EX/Rattata/Shaymin-EX 1-2; 5-3-0
Round 9 versus Garbodor/Hoopa-EX/M Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX 2-1; 6-3-0

As you can see, I started off well, taking some simple wins against great matchups, Darkrai-EX, M Mewtwo-EX, and Volcanion are no match for Gardevoir. Then I hit a bit of a road bump with a pairing against one of the surprise decks of the weekend: M Rayquaza-EX. While the game looked competitive from a viewer’s standpoint, it was one-sided, as the match really is.

After that round I matched up against another Darkrai-EX deck and won handily, although I drew poorly in the first game, resulting in a loss. Next, I proceeded to draw extremely badly against a Volcanion deck, after commandingly winning the first game of the set. Now I had to win my next two rounds to make the second day.

I hit a mirror match in the eighth round, and was confident in my chances, with my addition of two Hex Maniac. In the mirror, Hex almost always decides the game at one point or another, whether it be with a knockout along with Hex, or even playing it on the first turn of the game to prevent your opponent from truly setting up. The first game took almost thirty-five minutes in length, and I figured I would be good to play out game two and if it did not finish, I would walk away with the win. Unfortunately, I drew a dead hand and after four turns of passing, I conceded and tried to jam out the last game. I played at a breakneck pace, and we were able to finish. I had taken the “lead” only to have my opponent play a crucial Fairy Drop on his Active M Gardevoir-EX, which prevented me from taking a Despair Ray knockout. On his next turn, he took the knockout, and the win.

At this point, my shot at the second day was over, but there still was a chance, depending on Resistance, that I could make Top Sixty-Four and get a cash prize. I won my next match against M Mewtwo-EX and ended up whiffing the cutoff at 68th place.

Overall, I was very satisfied and confident in my deck choice, and I would not change a thing. The techs I played all had their uses and came in clutch throughout the day. The games I lost were just from one bad matchup, and two dead draw games. That is the name of the game right now, luck and matchups, so I will take it. I had a lot of fun and stand by everything I did to prepare, and play the event itself.

Conclusion

Happy is an understatement to describe my feelings towards the “end” of this format. I am very excited to see some change in the Standard format for the first time in almost three months. Playing Primal Clash through Evolutions really got old. Sun and Moon as a set brings a lot of interesting things to the game, and is sure to be a blast trying to figure out. I hope you all enjoyed learning more about my thought process and rigorous testing that I put in in preparation for a big event. Good luck in future tournaments!

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