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Marc Lutz

A Recap of European Nationals

Marc Lutz talks about the results of recent European Nationals and a brief thought leading towards World Championships.

07/07/2016 by Marc Lutz

Greetings fellow 60cards readers, it's Marc Lutz again with another article! This time around I'll be talking about some of the winning decks from recent National Championships that featured the latest expansion Fates Collide. I will go over all the winning decklists and provide a comment about it why I think the deck won and what I think about the deck itself. At the end I'll sum up my opinion about this format and some of these decks leading towards the Worlds 2016 format which will then feature a new expansion for the first time. Without further ado let's get right into the article!

 


 

Night March

Week 1 Results

Denmark (70 Masters)
1. Stephan N. (Night March)
2. Peter H. (Vespiquen/Raichu/Yveltal)
3. Nicklas D. (Greninja)
4. Jens K. (Mega Manectric)
5. Martin L. (Toad/Giratina)
6. Soren N. (Zoroark/Yveltal)
7. Lars A. (Straight Toad)
8. Tobias A. (Vespiquen/Vileplume)

Switzerland (66 Masters)
1. Luca C. (Night March/Vespiquen)
2. Norwin A. (Mega Rayquaza/Jolteon)
3. Patrick L. (Greninja)
4. Kevin . (Greninja)
5. Roy S. (Aegislash/Seismitoad)
6. Roman O. (Fighting)
7. Adrian P. (Night March)
8. Marco A. (Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade)

Sweden (47 Masters)
1. Tobias E. (Night March)
2. Amanda T. (Night March/Vespiquen)
3. Oscar K (Night March)
4. Joakim G. (Seismitoad/Manaphy)
5. Hampus E. (Seismitoad/Manaphy)
6. Henning G. (Night March/Vespiquen)
7. Gavin G. (Seismitoad/Giratina)
8. Carl H. (Gallade/Octillery)

Let's first take a look at everyone's favorite deck Night March. Again the sheer power of Night March decks has proven again that dealing 200 damage for just a Double Colorless Energy is the way to go if you want to win tournaments. Nothing much has changed with Fates Collide either, you just add the obligatory N to your deck and you're ready to go. Going into June’s national season Night March took down all three National Championship events during the first weekend. While a regular version of the deck won in Denmark and Sweden, the Swiss national champion opted to include Vespiquen in his version. The Swedish national champion went a little bit wild and also added a 2-2 line of Octillery to his Night March deck and only a single copy of Shaymin-EX. It's an interesting list for sure so let's take a closer look.

So we have this double Octillery in his deck which I'm not sure whether they're that good at all. Since it was one of the first tournaments after the reprint of N it was probably an overreaction to that. The fact that he only played one Shaymin-EX most likely ruined his turn 1 potential by a large margin and probably required a good amount of luck to make up for that. Another unusual card in this deck is Mew. Even though it has great synergy with this deck in general due to it being able to copy Joltik's Night March attack for just a Basic energy if you have that Dimensional Valley in play. I'd much rather see additional Shaymin here instead of Mew. His trainer line up was fairly standard for the most part. He played double Fighting Fury Belt instead of one and another Muscle Band which could've been somewhat useful because of that single lightning energy in his deck. Despite him playing Mew along with the lightning energy he did not play Super Rod which is understandable but maybe not optimal. Overall I'm not a huge fan of this deck and I think a huge factor of him winning was the fact that other decks in the tournament weren't as refined at that time and simply failed to defeat any kind of Night March deck.

Next up we have Luca's Night March deck he used to take down Swiss nationals. His list features a lot more tech cards. He played a 1-1 line of Vespiquen as an additional attacker in case you run out of night marchers. It's also really good against Seismitoad-EX because it's much easier for Vespiquen to knock out a 220 HP Seismitoad if it has Fighting Fury Belt attached. Other than that the strategy of the deck is still the same, Vespiquen just synergizes really well with Night March because you have to discard Pokémon anyway. Vespiquen is a little bit more resilient against decks like Yveltal as they can't just go through your attackers with Oblivion Wing. You also don't need to have a Dimensional Valley in play to attack with Vespiquen which can make a difference sometimes. Besides the N Luca also played Judge and Xerosic as tech Supporters. While N doesn't disrupt your opponent as much in the early game a Judge on turn 1 on the other hand can really set your opponent back if he doesn't get a good draw off of it. It's just a really solid list overall. It has everything it needs to win a tournament and it did.

The last deck of week one is this version of Night March piloted by Stephan. He went a little bit shorter on the tech cards and instead focused on consistency and getting the most explosive turn 1 possible. Including Acro Bikes and the third Dimensional Valley should give him the best outs to get an early knock out with either Pumpkaboo or Joltik in most games. He also played Buddy-Buddy Rescue which increases his outs even further because it allows for combos like Battle Compressor discarding Shaymin-EX and then using that card to get it back. It might struggle against decks where you don't necessarily need the extra speed provided by Acro Bike, but it's definitely not a bad choice to go all out on that explosive turn 1 if you feel lucky enough.


So the first week was completely dominated by Night March which was to be expected in my opinion because it was a new format at that time and people might have geared their decks towards different archetypes for whatever reason. It's also interesting to note that literally no new archetype has been played spread across all those top 8s which is quite interesting. It's Basically Night March, Seismitoad variants and Greninja for the most part still. As we will see later in the article the overwhelming performance of Night March during week 1 will definitely affect player's decisions during their nationals in the following week. Leading towards worlds I do think that Night March will still be one of the top choices. Steam Siege most likely won't add that many relevant cards to the game. The Supporter card that shuffles all Pokémon from the discard pile back into the deck was a Japanese promo and will most likely not make it into our Steam Siege set.

However what we will get with this expansion are two very interesting Supporter cards, especially for Night March decks. Pokémon Ranger will allow you to get out of item lock situations from Seismitoad-EX which wasn't possible before. Now you get to play all your Ultra Balls and stuff for the cost of your Supporter during that turn. If you get a well-timed Pokémon Ranger it can definitely turn a game around. Another one which probably isn't that impactful, but interesting for sure is Ninja Boy. Ninja Boy is very similar to the old Swoop! Teleport which allowed you to replace one of your Basic Pokémon in play with another one from your deck. With Ninja Boy you still keep all energy cards and Pokémon tools attached to that Pokémon. This will allow you to take care of your Shaymin in play and simply replace them with night marchers from the deck. It's especially good if you happen to start with Shaymin-EX.

Apart from that not much will change the current state of Night March as there are no real possibilities to counter the deck except for that card that prevents your opponent from playing any Special energy cards, but it will be difficult to build a deck around that. So Night March will definitely see play at worlds and the lists won't change that much in my opinion except for that one or two extra Supporters in there.

Seismitoad EX & Trevenant

Week 2 Results

Italy (122 Masters)
1. Kevin P. (Trevenant)
2. Simone Z. (Genesect Ex/Bronzong Break)
3. Nicolo C (Greninja)
4. Simone S. (Greninja)
5. Riccardo M. (Greninja)
6. Simone C. (Vespiquen)
7. Vincenzo (Seismitoad/Manaphy)
8. Gianluca C. (Night March) 

Czech Republic (32 Masters)
1 Martin B (Trevenant)
2 Ondrej S (Night March)
3 Martin J (Trevenant)
4 Ondrej K (Water)
5 Patrik B (M Manectric)
6 Kristian H (Water)
7 Petr J (Trevenant)
8 Lukas V (Trevenant)

The metagame shifted a lot between week 1 and week 2. While the first week was completely dominated by Night March there were only 2 Night March decks spread across both top 8s from this weekend’s Nationals in Italy and the Czech Republic. Instead we saw a ton of Trevenant and Greninja decks along with some Water toolbox decks. Since all of those decks either feature some sort of item lock ability or have a really good Night March matchup in general it's safe to say that these guys built der decks according to the results from the other nationals. The winning deck however for both nationals this weekend was Trevenant so we're gonna take a closer look at those. This time we're only taking a look at Kevin's Trevenant deck he used to take down Italian National Championships.

His deck contained some interesting card choices for sure. While the Pokémon line up was quite similar to most Trevenant decks he went for some unusual tool cards. He played 7 tools in total with them being 3 copies of Bursting Balloon, 2 Float Stones as well as 2 Weakness Policies. Not only did he play that many tools but also a single copy of Eco Arm. Eco Arm is a really unusual card for most decks as it's difficult to find a use for it. However being able to shuffle back Bursting Balloons is quite strong especially in the Night March matchup. Combined with Trevenant's ability which prevents your opponent from playing any item cards those tools can be really good because your opponent can't play Startling Megaphone to get rid of them. The Weakness Policies can come in handy as well against decks that play Yveltal or Zoroark which aren't that uncommon so I'm sure he found some use for those.

Kevin also played 2 copies of Wobbuffet from Phantom Forces. Wobbuffet is really cool in this deck because not only does it prevent your opponent from using Shaymin-EX if you happen to start with it and they go first, but you are also able to make use of its attack due to the Dimensional Valley stadium card which is already in the deck. Psychic Assault deals 10 damage plus an additional 10 damage for each counter on the defending Pokémon so the attack synergizes really well with Trevenant BREAK's Silent Fear attack. Also its ability to lock most abilities from the start on can be really good if you are able to follow it up with Trevenant's Item-lock Ability.

His deck seems to be well built overall, but the additional tool cards might put you in a tough spot for example if you're facing a deck where they have no use such as Greninja. If you happen to catch a bad start against them due to the cut consistency in favor of those tech cards it could backfire, but he made it through the tournament so it seems he avoided those crucial spots.

I'm not exactly sure how viable Trevenant will be for worlds, but it's definitely not terrible. The thing is that Steam Siege does introduce quite a few new Supporters and also darkness types like Yveltal will see a lot of play in my opinion. Vespiquen with Yveltal will definitely be a top choice for worlds so you can expect your Trevenant going down quite easily. Maybe the addition of Weakness Policy can make up for that, but it might be too slow and inconsistent. I would most likely expect to see much less Trevenant decks at worlds, but we'll see!

Week 3 Results

Netherlands (139 Masters)
1. Gawein W. (Genesect Ex/Bronzong Break)
2. Tim van H. (Seismitoad/Manaphy)
3. Lennard M. (Trevenant)
4. Rick V. (Seismitoad/Manaphy)
5. Steffen E. (Night March)
6. Bryan de V. (Seismitoad/Manaphy)
7. Laurens van B. (Darkrai/Giratina)
8. David H. (Night March) 

Norway
1. Tord R. (Seismitoad/Manaphy)
2. Richard A. (Greninja)
3. Mikael J. (Genesect Ex/Bronzong Break)
4. Rui S. (Seismitoad/Giratina)
5. Magnus K. (Trevenant)
6. Teodor S. (Seismitoad/Manaphy)
7. Fredrik W. (Night March)
8. Jeanette M. (Zoroark/Yveltal)

Portugal/Spain (85 Masters)
1. Filipe C. (Trevenant)
2. Gonçalo F. (Darkrai/Giratina)
3. Miguel V. (Mega Manectric)
4. Joao L. (Greninja)
5. Alejandro F. (Mega Sceptile)
6. David F. (Toad/Manaphy)
7. Gonçalo P. (Trevenant)
8. Oscar B. (Genesect Ex/Bronzong Break)

The other item lock deck we shouldn't forget about is Seismitoad-EX. Seismitoad-EX decks have been around forever, whether it's straight Seismitoad-EX, Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX or the new Water toolbox deck which features cards like Manaphy-EX, Articuno, some other tech cards and then Seismitoad-EX as a main attacker. That's the deck we're focusing around here as it was used to win Norwegian nationals. This deck has a ton of different options as there are so many attackers and the ability to set up a Pokémon within a single turn due to Max Elixir makes this deck super good at beating almost any kind of matchup. The neat thing here is that you don't fully rely on using Quacking Punch with Double Colorless Energy, but instead you're going all out on Basic energy. This makes the deck much better against opponent's which aren't harmed by Quacking Punch that much and also fights better against Special energy removal like Enhanced Hammer and Xerosic. Let's take a closer look at Tord's Water toolbox deck.

As you can see this deck runs a good amount of different attackers. While Seismitoad-EX is the obvious main attacker there are some neat cards that can attack too. Glaceon-EX and Regice build a really good defensive wall together as you can technically counter any deck in the game with them. Regice being able to use its Resistance Blizzard attack to prevent any damage done to it by Pokémon-EX which are a big part of the game, Glaceon-EX can be used to counter the other part which are evolved Pokémon. While not all evolutions are perfectly countered by Glaceon-EX as for example decks like Greninja can still play around it, the Articuno is really good at picking up multiple Prizes against the pre-evolutions like Froakie if you manage to set it up early enough. Manaphy-EX is in there to provide free retreat to all of your Pokémon that have a Water energy attached to them similar to the old Darkrai-EX. Not only does Manaphy-EX provide you with a lot of utility, but its attack isn't that bad against Trevenant. Being able to heal 30 damage from all of your Benched Pokémon in combination with Rough Seas is great at negating Silent Fear attacks.

On top of that we have some neat combinations in this deck. Energy Switch synergizes really well with Max Elixir as it allows you to move energy to your active Pokémon for example to get a turn 1 Quacking Punch with just Water Energy. It also allows for some late game swing turns if you can switch attackers using that card. Other than that there are a few tech Supporter cards such as Xerosic and Hex Maniac which can be useful in the right situation. Hoopa-EX adds the necessary consistency to the deck as it can search your deck for all of your important cards in the early game. I do think his list was very well built for that tournament, he has the 12 Basic Water Energy to gain those high odds of hitting them early with Max Elixir, his tech choices were on point, and the Supporter line up seems to be solid as well.

It's a great deck for sure and heading towards worlds I'm sure the deck will still see a good amount of play as there will be new options for it in Steam Siege. However there's also an argument that Steam Siege will provide more answers to the deck as well. As I've mentioned already above I do think that Vespiquen will be a very good contender for worlds this year and it does hit Seismitoad-EX for weakness and pretty much OHKOs all the rest. The good thing here is that you don't rely on Seismitoad-EX as your only attacker and Glaceon-EX is a relatively good counter to evolved Pokémon, but then there's Lysandre. Also cards like Pokémon Ranger make Quacking Punch much less effective, which isn't that much of a problem for this deck because you can still go for the Grenade Hammer and pick up some Prizes. In the end I think this deck is still viable as there are a ton of different options you can go for to counter a specific metagame, but you should watch out for those Vespiquen!

The other two winning decks of this week's nationals were Genesect-EX/Bronzong and yet another Trevenant version. We've already covered our thoughts about Trevenant so let's just briefly go over the metal deck.

So that's the list Gawein used to become Netherland's national champion. This deck seems to be pretty straightforward in its abilities. You try to setup an attacker as early as possible with the help of Max Elixir and then have that Bronzong as a backup in the later stages of the game. There are two new Bronzong from Fates Collide which surprisingly with the deck really well. The regular Bronzong protects your Bench from attack damage and effects which is quite good especially against Trevenant BREAK's Silent Fear attack. The Bronzong BREAK is much simpler as it just snipes damage depending on how many metal Energy you want to discard. This can be used to pick up Prizes from your opponent's Bench on something like a Shaymin-EX without using Lysandre.

Genesect-EX's ability is really unique as it allows you to pick up an item card attached to it. This allows you to swap between Float Stones and buff tools such as Fighting Fury Belt or Assault Vest. In the early game this is really nice because you can use the Float Stone to retreat for free and then re-attach the Fighting Fury Belt to it. Genesect-EX's attack is somewhat similar to the one of Keldeo-EX as it deals more damage for each metal energy attached to it, but after that you have to discard them. The one problem I see with this deck is that it's really fragile against Night March. I know there's the Aegislash-EX which can be good against Night March, but then again they would only need to use Hex Maniac and the occasional Startling Megaphone if needed which isn't that difficult against a deck that has almost no disruption effects. However this deck does have good odds of beating almost anything else besides maybe Mega Manectric decks so if you can dodge those Night March guys you should be good with this deck.

Vespiquen

Austria (32 Masters)
1. Günther K. (Vespiquen/Zoroark)
2. Simon F. (Night March/Vespiquen)
3. Dominic W. (Greninja/Seismitoad)
4. Lukas P. (Mega Manectric)
5. Filip L. (Serperior)
6. Luca S. (Mega Rayquaza)
7. Tom Z. (Wailord)
8. Karl W. (Mega Manectric/Ho-oh) 

We're up to the last European national championship by now. This week's nationals were in Austria. They weren't that big but still showed some interesting results which we'll go over now. The deck that won this event was none other than Vespiquen/Yveltal/Zoroark which is also my pick to win worlds by the way. Let's just go over Günther's list and then I'll give you my extended thoughts on the deck and why I think it's the best deck in the current format.

Günther decided to play a very fast and very basic version of the deck. Not that many tech cards but rather the consistent list with 4 copies of Professor Sycamore, 4 Unown and even 3 Battle Compressors. He also played 2 copies of Zoroark BREAK which can be useful in certain matchups especially if you can copy that Giratina-EX's Chaos Wheel attack for cheap. If you can't make use of the Zoroark BREAK tech it's still not that bad as you can simply discard it for the extra damage on Vespiquen's Bee Revenge attack. The one tech Pokémon he brought was the Jirachi which is great against basically everything in the game as most decks play Double Colorless Energy or in some cases Double Dragon Energy. The last cards I would like the mention here are the Basic Yveltal which are great in this deck as they get back your energy in the later stages of the game and also knock out Night Marchers for easy Prizes in the early game. 

So overall his deck was fairly basic which is definitely one way to build the deck and it should also lead to success most of the time. However I do think there are more interesting Vespiquen builds out there especially with Steam Siege added in to the mix. For example you could play a version with Sky Field and maybe Hoopa-EX where you flood your Bench with Shaymin on turn 1 to burn through your deck as fast as possible. After that turn you can then use Parallel City to discard up to 5 Pokémon from your Bench which would not only boost the attack damage of Vespiquen's Bee Revenge attack by a ton, but also remove all Pokémon-EX you have in play so that your opponent still has to deal with 6 non-EX attackers during that game. The fact that Vespiquen in general is very forgiving when it comes to including weird tech cards is also very good for tournament play. You could add some fancy tech cards to your deck that only work in specific matchups and still get away with it in other matchups as you can just use that card to fuel your Bee Revenges.

There will also be a new Foongus in Steam Siege which can be good in this Vespiquen deck. What it does is very unique as it has an ability that lets you grab 3 Poké Balls from your discard pile. You can use that in combination with Battle Compressor for example to get 3 shots at searching your deck for some Pokémon and if you can search another Foongus you would be able to get those Poké Balls back again. Yes this does include some flips and the Poké Balls might not be the best cards if you draw them solo, but I do think that this is a viable option for sure. Especially in combination with the Sky Field/Parallel City combo you can make sure that you're able to discard those Shaymin-EX afterwards.

But why do I think that Vespiquen is the best deck leading towards worlds? It's actually quite simple. For the most part Night March seems to be the most dominating deck in the current format, but it actually can be countered by decks like Trevenant or Greninja and Seismitoad-EX can crush Night March as well if they get a good Quacking Punch off. The thing with Vespiquen is that it is very similar to Night March in what it does, but it actually obliterates the decks Night March can have trouble playing against.

Against Trevenant you can go for the Yveltal or Zoroark as they hit Trevenant for weakness even without using those Battle Compressors before to setup your attacks. In the meantime you can still setup some Vespiquen on your Bench which should be possible even under an item lock. The advantage you have against Greninja and Seismitoad-EX is Vespiquen typing. Both of those Pokémon are weak to grass types and that's exactly where Vespiquen shines. While Night March would still require a ton of resources to OHKO a 220 HP Seismitoad-EX with Fighting Fury Belt, especially under an item lock it should be fairly simple for Vespiquen to get to those numbers. And then you have the Night March “mirror match” which is usually 50:50 and that can also be won with Vespiquen. Sure it's more difficult to get a stage 1 into play every time rather than just a Basic, but you can also pick up Prizes with Yveltal. Also you have the chance to get rid of your Shaymin-EX in play if you go for the Sky Field/Parallel City combo.

The only decks this deck is weaker against than the standard Night March deck are mega evolution based decks like Mega Rayquaza, Manectric Toolbox and even Mega Mewtwo-EX variants. You would usually beat those decks by hitting them for weakness with Joltik and Pumpkaboo or simple hitting for 220 damage against Mega Manectric which is definitely much easier for Night March than it is for Vespiquen. However there are still some chances to win those for example you would just go for the OHKOs a little bit later as Vespiquen can definitely hit those numbers, it just takes a little bit longer to set up. Zoroark is also really good against Mega Rayquaza as they usually flood their Bench with a good amount of Pokémon.

In my opinion Vespiquen with a good choice of tech cards against the current metagame will definitely be the best deck for worlds. The fact that you actually have no real bad matchup at the moment is really important going into a tournament and that's exactly what Vespiquen has to offer.

Conclusion

So over the course of 4 weeks we've seen pretty much every relevant deck in the format making an appearance even though I would've liked to see a little bit more Mega Manectric-EX variants making it far in those tournaments as I do think it is a very viable deck. Other than that the metagame for worlds will probably not change as much for the reasons I explained above.

That's it for the article guys, as always I hope you liked my little insight on what happened here in Europe and my thoughts leading towards World Championships this year. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments and I'll gladly answer them.

See you at worlds!

- Marc Lutz

 

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