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Martin Janouš

Top 16 at Latin Intercontinental with Rayquaza/Volcanion

Martin talks in this short article about his journey to the biggest Intercontinental tournament until now, where he took an amazing 15th place with Mega Rayquaza!

05/11/2017 by Martin Janouš


Today I would like to talk to you about my tournament experience from the Latin Intercontinental in Brazil (where I placed an amazing 15th place). The venue and location were really nice and I was excited that I played at this tournament. Attendence was the highest at an Intercontinental (626 masters) and it means that players had to have a record of 6-1-2 minimum to have a chance for playing in day 2. I also had issues while paying my registration and I would like to say "Thank you" to Gabriel Pino Semedo and Ruimar Otávio for helping because after my payment was registration closed in 2 hours. My deck choice was Mega Rayquaza/Volcanion deck with some spicy techs like Salamence-EX and Jirachi promo.


I thought that Mega Rayquaza would be the best pick for Brazil. I knew that Volcanion was the most-hyped deck and that Darkrai had his spot in the metagame as well. My friend Gabriel Pino Semedo from Brazil said to me that Mega Gardevoir is also popular in Brazil. I felt comfortable with the deck and didn't have many bad match-ups. The worst match-up was something with Raichu or Zebstrika, but I didn't expect so much Vespiqueens or Eeveelutions decks. I tried to build my list as consistent as can be because I prefer the "golden rule" in a big tournament and that is "consistency is first and foremost." I tested Gumshoos-GX in Rayquaza a lot. It was really good and match-ups like Mewtwo or Giratina were much easier. On the other hand, it was sometimes difficult to get Gumshoos-GX, especially after discarding it to Sycamore in early game. That was the main reason that I cut the 1-1 Gumshoos line and added Salamence-Ex and Jirachi promo. That gave me one more basic pokemon for Emerald Break and the deck was more consistent.

Card choices:

3-3 Rayquaza line: I played just 3 Rayquaza-Ex because in my testing 3 were enough and often I needed just 2 Rayquazas for the win. Also there is such an easy way to find them fast via Hoopa-EX, so a count of 3 was right. I played 1 dragon Rayquaza-EX and 2 colorless Rayquaza-EX. I didn't exactly plan for this decision, but in theory I could use dragon Rayquaza as 180hp basic (instead of 170 in colorless one) and also it has different weakness so it could be an option against some Raichu/Zebstrika that couldn't knock out you before you mega evolve and you can in most cases mega evolve your dragon Rayquaza and keep colorless one for possible attacking.

2x Dragonite-EX: Because I decided to play a version without Puzzle of Time, 2 Dragonite-EX is needed. With Brock's Grit, you can easily recover your bench multiple times after Parallel city, and Dragonite gives you a comforable way to discard your Pokémon (in situations that you don't have Sky Field and you draw it after Sycamore or so). Dragonite is also really nice for recovering your techs such as Oranguru or Jirachi.

Volcanion-EX: As I said before I prefer consistency in big tournaments. That is why I chose to play the Volcanion version of Mega Rayquaza instead of the metal version with Magearna-EX or water with Manaphy-EX. Volcanion-EX gives you consistency that you need. Sometimes you can struggle because you draw fire energy and mega turbo for Sycamore but with no Ultra Ball. With ability of Volcanion-EX you can discard fire energy immediately and attach it straight to Mega Rayquaza with Mega Turbo without Ultra Ball. Also you can just discard fire energy just for drawing more cards to Shaymin in some cases. Manaphy-EX or Magearna gives you some advantage as well in the middle or late game. Volcanion gives you a bigger probability to attack turn 1.

Oranguru: Another card for consistency. Mega Rayquaza often looses just because of late game N from your opponent. On the other hand Rayquaza needs just a few cards for recovery (like Dragonite-EX or Sky Field). Oranguru can help you out in late game or after N and it is your win condition. Oranguru won me so many games just because he sat on the bench and waited for right moment to draw. Also it is a really nice attacker. For example I used it in one tournament against Vespiqueen, which had Klefki attached. So overall it is a possible answer to Zebstrika as well becuase you one-shot these Pokémon (like Vespiqueen, Zebstrika, Zoroark) when they have Double Colorless energy attached.

Salamence-EX: Very useful card against all EX based decks like Darkrai, Volcanion and Mewtwo. It is also so good in the mirror match because you get good tempo in mirror and make it hard for your opponent to recover their attackers.

Jirachi promo: Another card for mirror match (if you draw not so well) and key card agaisnt Giratina ex match-up. The advantage of Jirachi is that you can recycle it via Dragonite ex, so even your opponent will wait and pass you turn after your stardust attack and your jirachi would be knock out after, you can take it back easy and continue with discarding energies.

Hex Maniac: I decided to play just 1 Hex Maniac because I didn't find many advantage for it. Only time it is useful is Giratina-EX and in some cases against Volcanion match-up. People can say that it helps you against Decidueye match-up, but it is not correct and if you tested the match-up you would know that Hex Maniac will not help you to win this match. After you play Hex Maniac you can play items, but you can't set up yourself because you can't use Hoopa and Shaymin so using Hex Maniac is contradictory. You have Jirachi for the Giratina match-up also, so you don't need 2 Hex Maniac.

Olympia: Many versions of Rayquaza with Puzzle of Time use 1 Float Stone and 2 Escape Ropes because with puzzle of time you can recover your switching cards more easily. In this build I can't, so I added Olympia, which can be used via VS Seeker in the right situations. Without it I would be so vulnerable to Lysandre plays for stalling, especially after Lysandre for Dragonite-EX or Volcanion-EX. So adding Olympia was a safe choice.

Brock's Grit: I liked it more than Super Rod for the same reason as adding Olympia. I can use it in right situation via VS Seeker. If you play Super Rod and discard it in early game, you have many troubles after Parallel City came to play. With Brock's Grit and Ultra Ball you can recover at least everything that you had to discard because Hoopa-EX in combination with Dragonite can search you everything what you need.

I think that other card choices (and card countss) are obvious, but you can ask me in comments if you would like to know reasons for other cards.


Tournament report:

Round 1 - Lycanroc GX/Carbink Break

I didn't expect this match-up and never play tested against it. I was at a disadvantage from other Rayquaza builds that play 2 Hex Maniacs. I had just 1 to deal with Carbink so it was difficult to me keep match-up in my favor. However I still won first game where I had nice Lysandre for Lycanroc or Shaymin. In second game my opponent started with Rockruff, played N and draw no other basic Pokémon. So I just needed to draw my Mega Rayquaza with Double Colorless energy and Mega turbo. I dug into my deck hard, but didn't find the Mega Turbo in the end. My opponent had plenty of basics including Carbink. I had my Hex Maniac prized and didn't draw my Lysandre in right moment, so I lost second game and there were no time for finishing third game.


Round 2 - Mega Gardevoir-EX/Xerneas

This match-up is in most cases one sided match-up for Rayquaza. Mega Gardevoir is too slow in comparison with Rayquaza. Also Gardevoir needs 8 energies in play for one-shotting Rayquaza, which is really hard to reach. I basically won the match 2:0 relative easily.


Round 3 - Mega Rayquaza/Magearna-EX/Gumshoos GX

Salamence-EX show his power in the mirror match. My opponent also played Puzzle of Time and typically never played 2 Puzzle of Time at once and just used them one by one for drawing an extra card for Shaymin. My opponent also drew really bad overall, so I took the win.


Round 4 - Volcanion-EX

This is favorable match-up for Mega Rayquaza. In the first game we both drew very well. My opponent showed some nice plays and on my last crucial N he drew what he needed. In the second game I drew not so well. Even though I was a little upset by losing a favorable match-up I had to pick myself and don't give up.


Round 5 - Decidueye-GX/Vileplume/Jolteon-EX/Regice

Against Decidueye is a simple tactic. Hope for no turn 1 Vileplume and then prepare your board and have your Lysandre for Vileplume and knock out it. Without Vileplume on the board you are free and you can play around everything including Regice. You can one-shot Decidueye which is nice and the damage output of your opponent is not so high overall, so without Vileplume you can out speed your opponent. In the first game we both dead drew a long time. Even though I had Mega Rayquaza ready to attack I couldn't retreat my Hoopa-EX from active. My opponent was able to load Regice with energies and my only chance was winning by decking out my opponent. However thanks to a smart Lysandre play from my opponent he was able to take his last prizes after drawing his last card from deck. In the second game I had better set-up and used Lysandre for knocking out Regice before it moved to the active position. Then I controlled the game and won. But we didn't have time for game 3.


Round 6 - ???

Now I was in an "all-in" position. If I wanted to have a chance for Top 32 or at least Top 64 I had to win all the rest of my rounds. In round 6 I seated myself at my place but my opponent didn't show up, so I got a free win and had some more time to regenerate myself for the last 3 rounds.


Round 7 - Decidueye GX/Vileplume/Jolteon-EX/Salamence-EX

My opponent played interesting build of Decidueye/Vileplume. He used Great Balls in his list, which I think was really smart because you play a high number of Pokémon in your deck so the probability for hitting Pokémon is in your favor. He never missed his target from Great Ball and it gave him speed. In the first game I was able to Lysandre Vileplume quickly and my opponent couldn't retreat it for like 3 turns, so I had time to prepare everything and even my opponent put his Vileplume again in late game, I had Lysandres for finishing game 1. In the second game my opponent started with Salamence-EX. It was a surprise for me because I didn't see it in game 1 so it was probably prized. He also attached Rainbow Energy to Salamence-EX and now I was in a problem. Thankfully my opponent didn't get Vileplume turn 1 so I started my set-up but was not able to load my Mega Rayquaza and knock out Salamence-EX. So I decided for going with Jirachi and used Stardust to slow down my opponent. It worked because my opponent attached Float Stone to Salamence and retreated him for now and it gave me some extra time. In the end I got just lucky. My opponent had a fully powered Salamence and 3 prizes left. He used N to 1 card for me and knock out my Rayquaza. He had last his card in his deck and it was obviousl that he would knock out everything next turn. I luckily drew Sky Field and Dragonite-EX from 1 + 1 card after N. I played Sky field, used Dragonite for Jirachi and Shaymin, drew energy to Shaymin and used Stardust for discarding Double Colorless energy (last one) from Salamence-EX. My opponent had all his N played and just 2 Decidueye-GX in play. So he decked out and I won.


Round 8 - Volcanion-EX

This round I drew very well and out sped my opponent. He also made some bad decision that helped me a lot to win 2:0.


Round 9 - Mega Gardevoir-EX/Xerneas

This round I played "Win and in" and I got the best match-up that I could get. On top of that I had the best draw of this tournament (like drawing Lysandre to Shaymin for 2 etc.) so I won 2:0 in 20 minutes.


I waited for final standings and I could be happy and excited because I placed 29th and advanced to Top 32.

Round 10 - Speed Darkrai

This match-up is favorable for Rayquaza, but playing Silent Lab in the Darkrai build could be trouble. I won a very close game 1 after I got Lysandre for game after opponent's N. In the second game I had a perfect starting hand with Ultra Ball, Spirit Link etc... However I didn't have Sky Field in hand and my opponent put out Silent Lab turn 1. So my set-up was really slow because I even didn't draw Sky Field on my first Sycamore. My opponent had enough time to get many darkness energies to play, so I lost game 2. Third game I dead drew a little and just hoped for a tie because my opponent was faster. I didn't have N in the end of the game and my opponent showed me 2 Lysandres in a row for taking the win.


Round 11 - Yveltal/Garbodor

This match-up is a little hard. I don't play Escape Ropes so playing around Fright Night Yveltal is hard for me and Garbodor is a big problem for me especially after Parallel City. In the first game my opponent started with Fright Night and I was in trouble all the game and lost. In the second game I had a better chance because I used 2 Lysandres to knock out Trubbish and Garbodor. However even though my opponent was out of Garbodor in the second game, I missed a critical Lysandre for-EX Pokémon and lost this close game.


Round 12 - Mega Rayquaza-EX/Manaphy-EX

Now I was out of chance for Top 8 and my only chance was to win all the rest of matches for Top 16 placement. Once again at this tournament I played against the mirror. Salamence did his job and I took this match 2:0 without some big problems.


Round 13 - Mega Gardevoir-EX/Giratina-EX/Xerneas

Normally this is a very easy match-up, maybe autowin. However with Giratina in my opponent's deck I had to be more careful. The disadvantage for this type of Giratina build is that Giratina is slow to load. My opponent had to play some other-EX Pokémon, so I had some targets for Lysandre and took easy prizes. In the end I got N to 2 cards I didn't draw well, so I decided to attack with colorless Rayquaza-EX for 1 fire energy. However it was still 3-hit for knock out Giratina-EX, so not enough. But I luckily drew my Hex Maniac from a top deck and was able to knock out Giratina-EX with Mega Rayquaza-EX. In the second game my opponent used a different tactic and just placed Xerneas and Giratina on bench. But after drawing a supporter he completely dead drew and I was able to take the game with Salamence-EX, which was my starter Pokémon.


Round 14 - Speed Darkrai

Now I played "win and in" for Top 16. The first game looked very good for me. I started with Salamence and had relatively everything. However I missed turn 1 energy attachment to Salamence-EX and that in the end was key in the game because after Ultra Ball I realized that I had 2 Sky field and 2 Hoopa-EX prized and it was so difficult for me to deal with Silent Labs. The second game, my opponent dead drew and I won in 3 turns by knocking out 2 of his Pokémon. Now we had 35 minutes for game 3, so there was sure that the game will not end as tie and one of us will advance to Top 16. In the 3rd game we both had a bad start. I started with Dragonite-EX, my opponent with Hoopa-EX. We both had problems to retreat our active Pokémon so we just prepared our attackers on bench and waited for who first will draw a switching card. I had 2 Mega Rayquaza-EX ready to go when I drew Float Stone and my opponent missed Max Elixir and had not so many energies in play. In the end I had to draw Sky Field and 1 Pokémon off a Sycamore. I drew it, but my opponent had 3 prizes to my 2, so I could miss it, but was happy that I drew it on first chance because you never know what you draw after your opponent's N eventually.




I ended as 15th place so I was so happy about. I would not change any card in the list in this format because I feel that this is the best version of Mega Rayquaza. With the new set there will be a hard counter for Rayquaza and that is Sudowoodo. I am not sure if Sudowoodo will be a big problem because you can still Lysandre it and knock it out with 4 Pokémon on bench, but it definitely will slow you down especially if your opponent will put it down on his first turn. So maybe Rayquaza should play 3 Lysandres. On the other hand Sudowoodo would not be so good against other decks, so maybe players will not find space in their decks for just countering one deck in the format. But we will see how the format will evolve.


Thank you for reading!

Martin Janouš

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