User blog

Frank Diaz

Frank’s Fort – Article 1

Hey 60cards readers! I’m Frank Diaz, a new writer to this website. I’ll cover a range of topics, starting very general and moving to very specific. Check out my article.

04/03/2015 by Frank Diaz

Hey 60cards readers!  I’m Frank Diaz, a new writer to this website, but a member of the Pokemon community for over a decade.  I’ve played a lot of Pokemon in my life and I hope I can share some of what I’ve learned with you via these articles.  My most notable accomplishment to date is a 3rdplace finish at Worlds 2010, and I’m still playing competitively – sitting at 447 Championship Points right now, looking for a day 2 Worlds invite. 

As for this article specifically, I’ll cover a range of topics, starting very general and moving to very specific.  My first topic will be about knowing your list.  This is a topic that’s been covered in many articles on several websites over the years, but I think I can provide a deeper insight than most articles. Next I’ll explain a recent pet peeve of mine.  Tier lists.  I’ll explain how they can go wrong and how to make them a useful tool for understanding a format.  Then I’ll focus in on the current format.  I have an interview with Osman Jilani, Delaware States runner-up, a look at my top 8 states list, and some other analysis to prepare you for upcoming State and Regional Championships.


Let’s get to it!


Memorizing vs Understanding Your List


Often times I read articles or hear people talk about how you should “memorize” your deck list.  If you’re spending time memorizing your list, you’re doing something wrong.  There should be no reason for you to have to memorize a list, because you should understand it. You should understand why each card is there and why you play the number you do.  You should also understand why you don’t play the cards that aren’t in your list.  If you’re not taking a painstaking look at each and every one of the 60 cards you intend to play, you haven’t put enough time, thought, or effort into putting together your deck.  When asked “How many Escape Rope do you play?” you shouldn’t need to think about it or double check.  Your answer should be something like “Three, because I think it can mess up my opponents start while still giving me switching effects” or “One, because I have 2 Switch and 2 Float Stone, so I don’t need many more switching effects” and when they follow up with “Why not 3 Escape Rope instead of the Switch/Rope mix?” you should immediately know “Well I have Korrina in here which lets me choose which switch card I want, and from testing I’ve found that I want Switch a little more often than Escape Rope, mostly because I’m using Hypnotoxic Laser pretty often and don’t want to remove their special conditions.”  If you’re not at the point where you understand every card in your list in a similar manner to the examples I’ve given, you and you’re deck aren’t ready yet.  I find this to be an issue more when players (myself included) pick up a list that someone else made.  If you haven’t gone through the motions of crafting the list, you’re likely not going to understand all the nuances of the exact number of each card played.  It’s the difference between understanding how fractions and percentages work and having memorized that 1/4 is equal to .25 is equal to 25%.  You might be able to get away with just having things memorized some of the time, but having a broader understanding will allow you to apply your ideas to a wider range of situations. 

For example, let’s say you pick up a deck with a 1/2/2 (Escape Rope/Switch/Float Stone) split and after playing a couple games, decide you need another Float Stone because Garbodor isn’t working as well as you need.  You decide to take out Escape Rope for the Float Stone.  You play several more games and realize you miss Escape Rope.  You cut a Switch for the Escape Rope, and move on with better results.  What went wrong in this scenario?  You forgot to take into account Korrina being able to find the right card for the situation.  Because Korrina lets you pick which card to use depending on your needs at the time, having more options is better.  If you had understood your list better you likely would have jumped straight to the 1/1/3 (Escape Rope/Switch/Float Stone) split and saved yourself some time.  Errors like this can happen often when you don’t understand your list, and cost you a lot of time.  That’s time that could be better spent working out other details of the list. 

Here’s another example which illustrates how this lack of understanding can affect in-game decisions.  It’s early game, and your opponent has 1 Pokémon in play.  You play a Korrina needing a switch effect because you’re active is asleep. Since you have your list memorized, you know you have a 2/1/3 (Escape Rope/Switch/Float Stone) switch effect split and that Escape Rope and Switch are your options right now.  You grab switch, and use it.  You may have just made a mistake without realizing it.  If you had grabbed Escape Rope, which would have the exact same effect, you would be able to keep your options open with Korinna later in the game.  By understanding why you play the switch effect split that you do, you can use the same insight to make decisions mid-game.  It might not only allow you to make correct decisions, but also make your decisions easier to make, speeding up your pace of play.


On Building Better Tier Lists

A pet peeve of mine recently has been tier lists put out by The Charizard Lounge.   While Andrew Wambolt, the guy behind that website, has been providing a valuable service to the community by compiling information about what won events, I feel that the tier lists found on that website are always lacking.  The tier lists are made using total championship points awarded.  If you’re looking to use only publically available objective evidence, this isn’t a bad way to compile the list.  If you’re making your own tier lists at home, you don’t need to be bound by this restriction, and will likely come up with a better list if you include some on your own thoughts.

What The Charizard Lounge fails to understand about tier lists is that their value lies in grouping decks.  If you have too many groups, the tier list isn’t any better than just the table of decks ordered by CPs.  Why bother with a tier list if you’re going to give each deck its own group? (Answer: Don’t bother! Make a better tier list!)

We’ll focus on week 1 of states as an example, although the general ideas can be applied to any group of results.  Here’s the table we’ll draw our data from:


Championship Points Awarded Table (Source:

Tier S is generally not a necessary group.  Its use is a recent import from Japanese fighting game tier lists.  It should only be used in the most extreme circumstances - when one deck is completely dominant.  I’m talking “so dominant as to make everything else unplayable” dominant.  I’m not sure there’s been a valid “Tier S” deck in Pokemon since the WOTC days, and we certainly don’t have one right now.  Also, Tier 4 is unnecessary.  It just doesn’t need to exsist.  Just because a deck made one top 8 at a States, doesn’t mean it needs to be included in the tier list.  By including it, you make the information trying to be conveyed less clear.  Let’s not clutter up our tier list with one-hit-wonders at the bottom of the CP earned list. 


With the above said, here’s a better tier list, still using only the CP data. 

See how easy that was?  I moved just a couple things around and got rid of a bunch of noise.  The above list more clearly conveys information about what decks are good right now.  It’s much easier to get info at a glance from this tier list, which is the whole point of putting together a tier list.  If your intention was to convey a lot of detailed information, the table would be much better than a tier list anyway. 

I’d like to reiterate that using outside information can help make tier lists much better, but for the sake of this exercise, I’m holding myself to only the information The Charizard Lounge used. 

I’d also like to expand on other ways to make the info in the table easier to understand.  Below is a quick excel graph I made to display that info more visually:


Interview With Osman Jilani – DE States Runner-up

Next up is my interview with Osman Jilani, Delaware States runner-up.  I’ve known Osman for a few months, he’s local to my area and sometimes attends league near me.  He played Mega Manectric / Kyurem during his second place run, eventually losing to Bronzong in the finals.  Note that this interview was conducted before the 2nd weekend of States. 

Congratulations on your second place finish in Delaware!  Please tell the readers a little bit about yourself. 

Thank you very much; it was a pretty exciting win as it was my best finish in a bigger tournament. My name is Osman Jilani (friends call me Oz) and I have been playing pokemon on and off since my middle school days. I am currently finishing up medical school and will be a doctor in July. The academics keep me a little busy but I have had the chance to play more competitively recently and that is in big part due to the amazing and friendly players in the NJ/NY area.


What made you choose the deck you did?

For the 2 weeks leading up to DE states, I had no idea what I was going to play. I had plenty of options but didn’t feel any one of them was dominant. A week before states, we had a league challenge in Brooklyn where I saw a player much better than myself pilot the deck and perform well with it (more on that later). I had two backups, which I could always go to, but I wanted to try something different. As the first weekend of states approached, many of my friends were having the same issue and were thinking about going to their default Yveltal or Seismitoad decks (coincidentally, those were also MY backups).

Still undecided the day before, my friends and I drove down from New York City in the snow and rain and arrived at the hotel around 10 p.m.  I still had not made a decision. I had pretty much resigned to Yveltal/toad as it was what I felt most comfortable with and it had a good matchup against straight seismitoad decks (which I knew were going to be rampant in the first week).  Luckily for me, my friend Tristan Macek strongly advised against Yveltal/toad and suggested that I play Manectric/kyurem. So, I built the deck from his list and changed maybe 3-4 cards and tested with it once to get a feel for it. The next morning I showed up and started playing. (Disclaimer: I knew how the deck worked and have experience with manectric as I finished fairly well in VA regionals with it so I wasn’t completely clueless)

What card(s) had the biggest impact for you in Delaware?

The MVC (most valuable card) of the day was definitely rough seas. Four copies of that card meant I was always winning the stadium war against virbank city gym and constantly healing all of my pokemon. That card kept me in countless games and allowed me to setup mega manectric.

I would like to say however that a big part of my success on that day were my opponents’ cards. I played against 6 yveltal decks out of 7 rounds of swiss. Since that is a favorable matchup for me, I felt that it definitely gave me the advantage to get into top 8.

Why do you think Manectric/Kyurem did so well in our area? 

I believe Manectric/Kyurem did so well in Maine and Delaware for two big reasons. First, the northeast loves Yveltal EX. Everyone (including yourself, good sir) uses yveltal as their backup deck and are most comfortable with it. This allowed a deck with Manectric EX and healing to flourish. Second, and maybe more importantly, was the league challenge I spoke of. The player that piloted this deck at the league challenge was none other than Sam Chen. He is the one who really brought it to our attention and seeing him and Simon Narode (both great players and good friends) Top 8 at Maine doesn’t surprise me at all.

I think the synergy between manectric, water pokemon, and rough seas is really great so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more of these decks pop up. I think many people will come up with better and probably more consistent variations and do well. At the end of the day, it was the best meta call made by my friend Tristan Macek that helped me get to the finals.


What decks do you expect to do well the next few weeks? 

The next few weeks of states are definitely tricky because they are usually based off the first week. The results from other state championships tell us that Yveltal and Seismitoad are still the best decks around as long as they are consistent. I think anything that can counter those two is a good play but then there are a whole slew of other competitive decks that you may lose to if you choose to focus on those. As you said to me before the tournament – “Virizion/Genesect is a great underrated play for today.” Maybe I will take your advice.


What are your thoughts on the current format in general?

Before I talk about the current format, I would like to point out that I haven’t been playing competitively for as long as a lot of people out there so I may not have the best comparisons in mind. Having said that, I think this is a great format to play in and on many different levels. I think its great that there are so many different and still competitive decks that can be played today and it all really depends on the skill of the player as to how far they take it. There are still the standards of Yveltal and Seismitoad but things like night march, flareon, bats, eggs and the primals really make this a great time to play the pokemon card game.


Have any advice for readers hoping to make their own run at States?

The best advice I can give to other players trying to do well is be consistent rather than flashy or gimmicky. Teching for a matchup is all well and good until you have to change a third of your deck for the “tech.” Also, and this is so important, listen to your friends and players who have more experience with this game. I would not have done nearly as well if it weren’t for my friends helping me become a better player.

Lastly, I would like to say thank you for inviting me to this interview and tell my side of the story. I would also like to thank Tristan Macek for literally giving me the deck and telling me to play it the night before. Also, for being my pokemon and life coach.  A special shout-out to Bob Zhang for the great Top 4 match against an awesome deck. Thanks to all the NJ/NY players and see you in PA!



 Now let's have a quick look at the sample decklist.

Yveltal EX – Top 8 States


Now I’d like to write about my own experiences at States so far.  I’ve been to two events, Delaware week one and Pennsylvania week two.  I played the same Yveltal list both weekends.  My record week one was 4-1-2, netting me a 22nd place finish and 10 championship points.  Overall disappointing and an event I’m hoping to drop in the “Best Finish Limit”. 

The main problem I had at this event was time.  I had two unintentional draws which, coupled with an earlier loss, knocked me out of cut.  These were both matches that came down to game 3 where I believe I would have won given a few more turns.  This isn’t a new problem.  Since even before the implementation of best-of-three Swiss, time limits have been an important aspect of competitive play.  I’ve found myself mismanaging time again and again recently – it’s something I need to work on to improve my game.  Finding weaknesses like this are important for any player to be able to improve their tournament results.  It’s easy to be bummed out by a couple draw or losses due to time, but it’s critical that we realize that every player has control over their own pace of play.  Playing faster is absolutely possible, and something I intend to practice.  I think many readers would also benefit from taking a critical look at their pace of play, and practicing playing a little quicker throughout the match.

On week two in Pennsylvania, I finished in the top 8 – a little better, with a respectable 50 championship points. I opted not to change decks, noting that I still believed Yveltal to be a strong play, and my faliures week 1 were due to time mismanagement and not the list.  I finished Swiss at 5-0-2 with one intentional draw and an unintentional draw against Jimmy O’Brien’s Flareon deck.  The unintentional draw wasn’t even close to finishing, and wasn’t something I could have got to finish even with a sped up pace of play.  I did manage to pick up the pace to avoid a draw or two, which made making cut much easier.  I ended up losing in top 8 to Jimmy Mcclure’s Seismitoad/Crobat deck. 


I’ve been playing Yveltal for a long time, and have had a lot of success with it.  There are a few things I think are important to mention about this list.  First, is that I made a few changes between City Championships and States to improve the deck’s ability to attack going second.  I dropped a second Darkrai EX, a Keldeo EX and a Spiritomb.  These are usually bad starts especially going second.  I replace them with higher counts on cards that help me attack turn 1.  I actually played without Seismitoad for most of my Cities run.  I opted to play a more aggressive build just looking to swing with Yveltal EX as much as possible.  That worked well, but being able to Quaking Punch turn 2 some of the time is just really good.  Having Seismitoad as a good starter is what finally sold me on including him.  This is fairly unusual for Yveltal decks which tend to run a higher count, but I’ve been successful with the low count, and haven’t felt the need to increase it.  Try out a low Seismitoad count in your testing to see how it works for you.  You might need to play some situations a little differently, but it might work out better. 

I also have a higher count than most on a few trainers.  I opt to play 3 Bikes.  I think either Bike or Jirachi is necessary in this deck and with such a low count of other basics, I’m wary of playing Jirachi.  Bicycle also allows you to generate more explosive starts.  I also choose to play 3 Escape Rope – a much higher count than most Yveltal decks.  This also helps fix sub-par starts by putting the right pokemon active.  With only 1 Darkrai in the list, I think the higher count is worthwhile. 

Another somewhat unique aspect of this deck is my high VS Seeker/Lysandre count.  By playing 4 and 3 respectively, I’m able to rely on Lysandre to close out games.  It’s not difficult for me to Lysandre around a non-ex 3 times to win the game by killing 3 EXs.  It’s very difficult for an opponent to force me into a 7-prize situation when I’m playing such a high Lysandre count.

Otherwise this list a just a simple, straightforward, fast, and consistent deck that’ll punch really hard.  Sometimes that sort of simple strategy is best.  The main downside to this deck is an abysmal Mega Manectric matchup.  I’ve been choosing to play this in a metagame with a lot of Mega Manectric though, so I couldn’t fault someone else from doing the same. 

You Could Also Try…

Around the the country, Yvetal/Seismitoad/Garbodor seems to be putting up a strong showing.  Here’s a sample list:


A question I don’t think I have the answer to is “How many Baby Yvetal should I play?” I’ve tried anywhere from 2 to 4.  There are a few things to consider here.  Having at least 3 lets you use 3 of them over the course of a game to put your opponent on odd prizes. With 2, you can only use 1 if you expect to keep your opponent on odd prizes, unless they kill a trubish or (assuming a list different than the one above) other 1 prize pokemon.


On Seismitoad Ex – The Early Wonder 

Seismitoad Ex is here to stay, and will be a strong contender for the remaining State Championships.  While there are several reasons Seismitoad has been enjoying success lately, one of the keys to its success is that a great answer to Seimitoad is Seismitoad.  Sometimes, cards are released that are both strong, and the best answer to themselves.  This was the case with Gardevour in 2008 and more recently when Mewtwo Ex was first released.  When a card is the best answer to itself, it natually tends to blow up in popularity.  Siesmitoad can be seen as a lesser example of this.  I categorize it as a lesser example, only because there are a couple better answers to it in Leafeon and Virizion Ex.  Seismitoad is easier for most decks to splash, and is better in a wider variety of situations, so it tends to get included in decks more often than the few better answers.  Seismitoad, being a very good (not the best) answer to himself is a major factor in why he took home the most CPs the last 2 weekends. 



[+2] ok


Thank you for your time. Please leave us your feedback to help us to improve the articles for you! 





Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to see the latest stories. 


Pokémon and its trademarks are ©1995-2018 Nintendo, Creatures, and GAMEFREAK. English card images appearing on this website are the property of The Pokémon Company International, Inc. 60cards is a fan site. Our goal is to promote the Pokemon TCG and help it grow. We are not official in any shape or form, nor affiliated, sponsored, or otherwise endorsed by Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK, or TPCi.



Welcome to our Pokemon Community Portal. Have a look around and enjoy your stay!