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Shiv Luthra

US Nationals Metagame

With Nationals just around the corner lets analyze at some of the decks that we may see at the event.

06/27/2015 by Shiv Luthra

Top Decks

Yveltal

The bird of darkness has been a top threat in the game since its release in XY Base Set and there is no reason why it won't get high play at Nationals. Darkness was already a threat before Yveltal with Darkrai and Sableye decks making an impact on prior Nationals.

Yveltal is a 170 HP Dark type with the attack Evil Ball which for [D][C] does 20 damage plus 20 more for each energy attached to both active Pokemon. Evil Ball has always really been a solid attack and has driven away high energy decks due to how much damage Yveltal can drive home in those situations. Overall, very efficient very hard hitting and has a very good supporting cast.

In my opinion, the biggest support card for Yveltal is Darkrai-EX. Darkrai was the focus of one of the best decks in the format a few years ago. But now, its been reduced to its ability Dark Cloak which gives all Pokemon with a Darkness energy attached free retreat. This helps seal up the 2 retreat weakness of Yveltal and of other cards in the deck. If the current format you should also not be afraid to attack with Darkrai. It can knockout a Mew-EX (muscle band and laser) and proceed to take out a Joltik on the bench if you're facing Night March. Darkrai is a good option to go to if you're up against lower HP Pokemon and if you're opponent doesn't have a Mr Mime to block bench damage.

Baby Yveltal has also been a big roleplayer after the Dark Patch Rotation, with the attack Oblivion Wing hitting for 30 damage for [D] energy and letting you get a Darkness energy from the discard and attaching it to one of your benched Pokemon. A nice addition giving a 130 HP non-EX to setup your big bad Yveltal-EX.

The question with Yveltal is if Garbodor should come back into the decklist. Yveltal/Garbodor was a feared deck about a year ago, Yveltal hits hard without the need for abilities while Garbodor helped to shut off Virizion's Verdant Wind (you can use lasers) and Empoleon's Diving Draw. Garbodor has dropped out of Yveltal decks because of Seismitoad being a better option and that you don't like shutting off your own Darkrai's Dark Cloak. Despite how much power Garbodor would have right now with the immense amount of abilites in the game right now, I think it is too slow for the agressive Yveltal deck and that there is a better option. That option being Raichu. Raichu helps you all out agressive with another fast attacker and an answer to Mega Ray and other Yveltal decks.

The rest of the deck has pretty good flexibility with the exception of LaserBank where most of your damage comes from. Here is a basic list:

 {deck 812}

The counter to this deck would just be any Lighting attacker that is energy efficient. Raichu XY has always been a card to show up and take down Yveltal with the attack Circle Circuit hitting for 20 times the amount of benched Pokemon you have for just a DCE. Raichu also has a free retreat cost letting it get out of Poison from lasers. Another answer is Mega Manectric which for [L][C] can use Turbo Bolt for 110 damage and lets you get 2 energy from your discard and attach to a benched Pokemon.

Verdict: Overall, Yveltal is a deck that will have plenty of presence but I don't think it will win it all with great Lighting attackers getting popular.

Seismitoad

Now I could go over all the ways Seismitoad can be played but after LTC Ban I think there are only a few Toad decks woth talking about.

Starting off Seismitoad is a 180 HP Water type with the attack Quaking Punch which for a DCE does 30 damage and locks your opponent from using items. This has always been a great way to get in control of a game and item-lock has always been powerful. In fact, last year in the Seinor Division a Trevenant/Accelgor deck won 1st with a similar principle.

One combo with Toad has been the Crobat and Manectric variant which I feel is the strongest of the Toad variants. The Crobat evolution line gives you more damage in a shorter time, letting you keep your damage potantial high even without Hypnotoxic lasers. Toad also has a lot of space for AZ and Scoop Ups by throwing away the slew of Hammers that they used to have with Trump Card. I would recommend a 4-4-2 line at the thinnest, but there is another card that makes this deck pretty viable: Manectric EX.

Lightning types have gained a lot of power after Mega Rayquaza and Shaymin hitting the competitive scene. Manectric-EX gives a two energy attack that can KO Rayquaza or Yveltal as long as they have a tool attached. The problem with Manectric is that you give up the item lock, so that your opponent can use items again and begin to get into the game. Because of this you need to keep track of your opponent's resources. Check the discard pile after they play a Juniper/Sycamore to see what Items they threw away since they can't get them back anymore. Another way to limit your opponent's options with items is to use a Ghetsis as your supporter. This should not only give you quite a hand size but also takes all the cluttering items in your opponent's hand and throwing them back into th deck. I have had the Ghetsis play backfire on me once in testing as it left my opponent with one Archie in his hand and he was able to get Empoleon out putting me at a disadvantage. I don't find this likely but it can still happen. Ghetsis is a card I like with Seismitoad but I feel those slots are better with Scoop Ups and AZ for Bats.

Here is a list:

 {deck 813}

The big thing Toad has going for it is its lock down of two big decks: Night March and Flareon. After using Quaking Punch your opponent can only put Pokemon in the discard with Sycamore/Juniper and Empoleon (which is hard to get out with items clutttering your hand). Night March may actually be the most prominent deck in the tournament after the LTC ban and Seismitoad can just dominate these decks after streaming Quaking Punches.

The obvious way to beat Toad is to hit its Grass weakness which VirGen does quite well. This became a bit less of a counter after Crushing Hammer was included into Toad decks to remove the Grass energy that allows Virizion to be immune to Poison. Head Ringers also really slow down VirGen as your attacks become much for inefficient. Leafeon also does a nice job vs Toad, hitting for at least 80 damage for a single colorless energy with a Water resistance. The single colorless cost makes this card nice and splashable as an easy counter

Toad can also see the form of Jynx, focusing on tanking or Crawdaunt using energy disruption, but I feel in the current format, more damage is better for Toad.

Verdict: Toad willl get a drop in play due to LTC Ban but it still is solid with its many different options. I'll give it 3 spots in the Top 16.

Night March

I should have just started this article with this deck because of all the hype about it after LTC ban. The frail Night Marchers are perhaps the deadliest attackers heading into Nationals.

The Night Marchers comprise of Joltik, Pumpkaboo, and Lampent, all with the attack Night March which (for varying energy costs) does 20 damage for each Pokemon with Night March in the discard pile. Lampent is normally just tossed into discard right away with the worst cost and being a Stage 1 while Joltik is the most efficient at a DCE cost and Pumpkaboo at 60HP and a [C][C][C] Night March cost.

Mew-EX gives the deck a 120HP Pokemon that can at least take one attack. I feel that Mew should be in every Night March deck but shouldn't have attacking priority. Using a low-HP EX that a lot of decks are focusing on getting rid of, after Shaymin-EX coming out, will lose you the prize race. Joltik and Pumpkaboo can normally trade two prizes for one while Mew-EX just keeps you even at two gained and two lost. It also is redered useless if your opponent has a Silent Lab out since Mew can't copy any attacks.


Shaymin-EX is a card I do not like in Night March. It just has a huge bullseye on its head and you're already playing Mew-EX so you can't really afford to give up more easy two prizes. The draw power is definitely nice but again its 1-6 cards for two prizes down the line. I honestly feel that Jirachi is a better one-of than Shaymin  because a supporter can be an Archie, Lysandre, N disruption, or draw. Also, there aren't many attacks that knockout Jirachi that don't also knockout Shaymin.

Empoleon is a nice card but I can understand lists that don't focus on getting it out. Empoleon gives you late game draw to work against Toad and Eggs as well as a nice attack to take down Landorus and Pyroar. Empoleon can swing a matchup but the two cards that Empoleon and Archie take up can definitely be replaced for consistency and increasing your odds at other matchups.

List:

{deck 814}

A counter for this deck is a big non-EX basic that can deal easy damage. Kyurem PLF is one that comes to my mind, able to hit 30 to the active and 30 to a benched Pokemon can KO a Joltik and setup Mew and Pumpkaboo. Also giving up a 130 HP Pokemon for one or two low-HP Pokemon is a trade you're happy to make. Bats also give this deck trouble, knocking out Pokemon even with Mr Mime in play can slow down Night March to a situation where they can't come back.

Verdict: After the LTC ban Night March has a lot of power and I would say it gets 2+ in the Top 8.

Bronzong

Energy acceleration has always been strong and Bronzong is no exception. Bronzong lets you get back a Metal energy from the discard and attach it to a benched Pokemon. Eelektrik from Next Destinies had the same ability but with Lightning energy and it did well in previous years. Bronzong, while not as fast as Eelektrik, has some nice stall tactics up its sleeve.

One of my favorite cards going into Nationals is Aegislash-EX which has the ability Mighty Shield, making this Pokemon immune to attacks by Pokemon with special energy. Almost every deck has some benefit from special energy and play 4, whether its DCE, Strong, Plasma, Double Dragon, a lot of decks have special energy and when they can't use them they get slowed down a lot. Aegislash can either be your main attacker and tank, or you can use it as a late-game trump card after your opponent already attached special energy to some Pokemon that are now useless against Aegislash. While its attack isn't too good, with 3 Metal energy 100 damage can get you 2-hit-knockouts most of the time. If you want it to be the focus have at least 3 copies or if you want the late-game shut down just play 1.

There is another route you can take with dealing wiith special energy which is Cobalion-EX with the attack Righteous Edge that does 30 damage for [M] and discards a special energy attached to the defending Pokemon. This can slow down Toad, put a Mega Rayquaza at a disadvantage or power-down Donphan or Landorus.

The value of Dialga in metal decks has decreased a little. 150 damage, 170 with a Muscle Band just doesn't cut it anymore with the rise of Megas and doesn't even KO Seismitoad or Landorus. True you can use Hypnotoxic Laser to take 180HP KOs it just isn't too efficient and still won't take out Primal Kyogre/Groudon or Mega Rayquaza. It definitely is still a nice attacker but don't rely to heavily on it.

Heatran has also gained some steam (pun intended) in Metal decks as non-EX attackers have become more valuable. This card is generally great against Night March since it can hit low numbers easily and only give up one prize.

List:

{deck 826}

There aren't too many splashable fire types in the format which is something that makes Bronzong decks really good. The only fire type that attacks for a colorless cost is Charizard-EX at 3, which even with a Muscle Band doesn't KO Dialga or Cobalion. Playing fast against this deck before they set up can help you get out a win as long as you don't play too many special energy before Aegislash comes out.

Verdict: With no easy counter Bronzong could turn out to be a nice contender but I don't see it getting too far.

Gengar

Gengar was first seen as a card that wasn't going to do anything competitively because of the Darkness weakness but Gengar has proven that it can pull its weight in the metgame today.


Shadow Corridor is a great attack to pile on damage for only a Psychic and DCE. While a deck immune to special conditions with Virizion-EX will take less damage, the output is still reasonable. One thing that put Gengar over the top was the fact that a lot of walls in the game are Psychic, Trevenant, Sigilyph, and Wobuffet all can attack if the situation permits. Trevenant can spread damage around on 3 Pokemon for 3 energy, Sigilyph can take out high-energy attackers like Mega Rayquaza Dragon for 3 energy, and Wobuffet can finish of high HP Pokemon that have sustained damage for 2 energy. All the attack costs also get reduced by Dimension Valley. For this reason, I don't like using too many Robo-Subs in the this deck like you would in Donphan decks. I recommend 3-3 Trevenant and leave 3 slots for your choosing of Wobuffet or Sigilyph.

I would still use all four stall methods (Trevenant, Wobuffet, Sigilyph, Robo-Sub) and you just have to know the situation. Trevenant is great early and mid game, with positive sightings against Flareon and Night March. Wobuffet is great for plenty of situations especially if you know your opponent uses a lot of Shaymin-EX or Jirachi-EX. Sigilyph is great for walling heavy EX decks like Mega Ray and Primal Groudon. Sigilyph and Safeguard Pokemon in general are losing relevance after the rise of several non-EX decks but I still really like Safeguard in the format because so many top decks rely on dishing large damage and their only way around it would be Silent Lab.

Futhermore, I feel this deck needs a way to keep up in the late game. Getting energy, Float Stones, a certain stadium are all pretty hard for this deck later one. Because of this I like a 1-1 Electrode line with Magnetic Draw to get to all your resources. While you may argue that drawing through your deck isn't as good because of LTC ban, just be aware of the cards in your deck so you don't deck out.

For the stadiums, Virbank City is your most important one, helping you 2-hit-KO big EXs and one-shot big non-EX attackers like Flareon. Another useful Stadium is Dimension Valley to help you Dark Corridor on turn 2 and help your stall Pokemon attack. This isn't too necessary but can help the deck just go faster. Silent Lab is a card that at first I didn't see doing well in the deck, you shut off your own Safeguard and give your opponent's evolved Pokemon abilities even with Wobuffet active but there were a few cards that I found very crippling to this deck: Aegislash-EX, Virizion-EX, and Keldeo-EX. Aegislash can block out your attackers very often since you can't abuse DCE or Mystery energy, Virizion-EX and Keldeo-EX make poison damage a thing of the past. While these abilities can be shut off by Wobuffet as well, the attack comes first so you won't damage Aegislash or poison Virizion.

 {deck 824}

There isn't really a card to counter this deck. While a certain dark type Pokemon rules the game, there aren't any decent versatile darkness types in the format right now. A one-off that is very useful against this deck is Pokemon Center Lady, you can play it through Trevenant and give you a turn to live. Xerosic is also effective as you can again, play through Trevenant, and get rid of a DCE to slow down your opponent. In expanded, a card I like to use is Zoroark NXD with the attack Foul Play. For a DCE you use one of the defending Pokemon's attacks. This can let you Tree Slam, KO a Trevenant, and apply damage to Gengar-EX.

Verdict: Gengar has taken over for Donphan as lock decks are more prevalent, but I still don't see Gengar going too far in the tournament.

 

Veteran Decks

VirGen

Ah Virizion/Genesect, a deck that formed a dominant archetype once it came into being and after taking both finals spots in last year's World Championships, it has been on a decline this year. A deck that relies so heavily on EX attackers struggles against the hard-hitting non-EXs like Night March and Donphan. By Fall Regionals the archetype was practically extinct but with Seismitoad rampaging about VirGen was given a chance at redemption. After it came back this deck fried Seismitoad, harpooned Kyogre, and took down Groudon to make it stable in the metagame once again.

However, it is once again on a decline. It can't keep up with Mega Rayquaza and the rise of Flareon just makes it really hard to go through a tournament only facing the three prominent Grass-weak types mentioned above.

VirGen is still a nice contender going into Nationals. The deck has run on the same engine, 4 Virizion, 3 Genesect, some Stage 1 line, a combination of Shadow Triad and Skyla for G-Booster, and no stadium. The latter is something that makes VirGen very unreliable: no stadium to play. This year probably is the biggest instance of a stadium war in the history of the game and this has left VirGen stumbling around waiting for a viable stadium to appear. Having your opponent's stadium out the entire game already puts you at a huge disadvantage and Ninetales is just redundant since you won't get it  out before your opponent puts their stadium out. Some stadiums worth testing out are Plasma Frigate, which can free you of Fire weakness, or Laser/Virbank to increase your damage since G-Booster won't knockout Megas.

As for you other Pokemon of choice Raichu is always a reliable one. You can Circle Circuit for good damage in the mid-game and hit Rayquaza and Yveltal for weakness. The problem is that without DCE you need two turns to powerup Raichu or you need to Emerald Slash to it. The other one that was popular last year was Drifblim which is still legal thanks to Promos. The attack Shadow Steal does 50 damage times the amount of special energy in your opponent's discard pile. VirGen has the space to play 2-3 Enhanced Hammer making Drifblim a really nice addition and a Mewtwo-EX killer. The problem is 100 or 150 damage isn't what it used to be with the HP power creep and Mewtwo isn't a threat anymore. The last card to consider for those Pokemon slots is Munna. With the ability Long-Distance Hypnosis you flip a coin, if heads your opponent's active is asleep, if tails your active is asleep. Thanks to Virizion's ability you shouldn't get put to sleep from this ability if you flip tails, and if you flip heads you've bought yourself a turn in most cases.

In the end I like a Raichu line and a single Munna to help the deck out.

 {deck 827}

As for countering this deck, you just need to play aggresive early and conservative late. If you can put early pressure so that only one Genesect is setup then your opponent doesn't have much to go on later on. From then on you should play relatively conservative so that your opponent is more likely to Megalo Cannon than discard two energy for G-Booster. Fire is also a way to beat it but once again Charizard-EX not really worth it for a 2-hit-KO.

Verdict: I see very few of these decks being played Standard where you may get by on a set of Toads and Primal Groudons, but Expanded may be better with access to Skyarrow Bridge and Super Rod.

Landorus

I'm going to be glad once this card rotates. Landorus in combination with a bunch of other cards won US Nationals last year because of its early-game pressure. Now that Furious Fists is out and fighting types have Strong Energy and their own stadium Landorus is so much better.

Hammerhead is an attack that will wreak havoc on any setup decks. Knocking out the small benched Pokemon like Spritzee and Bronzor before they evolve just destroys the oppontent before they get going. The Crobat line just makes the deck so fast at dealing damage and makes it very hard to play against.

This deck generally doesn't need to much help from regular Landorus, Hawlucha, or Lucario-EX, as your better off using a majority of those slots for Scoop Ups and AZ to cycle Bats. That being said they can be good attackers. Hawlucha can help out vs Toad, baby Landorus can power up Land Judgement for a big KO, and Lucario can deal decent damage to Trevenant for a single energy. There just isn't too much to say about this deck. Korrina gives it good consistency, damage modifiers make it deadly, and just overall this deck has pretty good matchups across the board (excluding Mega Rayquaza and Trevenant with that pesky resistance).

 {deck 829}

The card that can take this deck down is Seismitoad, as it hits Landorus for weakness and prevents you from streaming too many Bats. A way around this is to play Leafeon but once again, your better of more consistency for other matchups since Seismitoad isn't an autoloss by any means.

Verdict: This deck is a very prominent threat but due to Mega Rayquaza's rise many players may choose something else. This deck is still very fast and powerful so I see at leasy 2 spots in the Top 16.

Flareon

Flareon has always been a deck that works in theory before this year but after Phantom Forces and Primal Clash that changed and Flareon has been one of the most feared decks in the format.

The basic strategy of Flareon is to throw Pokemon into the discard pile with cards like Acro Bike and Battle Compressor to knockout big EXs with the 100HP Flareon. Flareon has always had lots of versatility because you have a lot of freedom with the other Pokemon in the deck. They can be cards that benefit from being in the discard like Exeggcute and Audino or cards that are great in certain matchups like Leafeon and Raichu. However I feel like recently those other Pokemon have become staples in the deck.

Cards like Audino to counter Seismitoad, Leafeon to beat Seismitoad and Primals, Slurpuff to draw, Ditto as discard fuel, and Exeggcute for maintaining hand size, have all become cards that have stayed in the standard Flareon list since Orion Craig won a Regional with it. These cards are all great and work well with Flareon but the one card that put it over the top is Empoleon and Archie.

Exeggcute is in the deck because it helps to get Empoleon out by lowering your hand to a single Archie's Ace in the Hole. Exeggcute helps make sure you discard proper cards to narrow your hand down with Ultra Ball, Computer Search, etc. Empoleon helps the deck against Landorus/Crobat matchup as the early pressure KOs a lot of your small basics. Empoleon's ability also lets you discard more Pokemon and fuel Flareon. However, recently I've found myself decking out and just not using Empoleon's ability if I don't get it out early in the game. Lysandre's Trump Card is a card that was in Craig's list because of the recycling of DCEs and making sure your fast deck doesn't deck yourself out. As we all know by now LTC is banned from competitive play. Because of this I've tried out another card to replace Empoleon and that card is Tyrantrum FUF.

Tyrantrum is a Stage 1 Revived Fighting Pokemon with 150 HP and two attacks. The first one has really been the only I've used and it is Chew Up, for [F][C][C] it does 60 damage plus 90 if the Defending Pokemon has a Special Energy attached to it. First off, you may be asking, "What is this? This is useless, it can't even OHKO Yveltal-EX with a Muscle Band." To which I respond yes it can't but there are plenty of other ways to use Tyrantrum. One, it can take out a Donphan (w/ a Strong Energy attached to Donphan) but yeah Empoleon can do that to. Second, it can take out Mew-EX (w/ a DCE) which is nice to put pressure on Night March Decks. One other purpose that I discovered while testing, is that Tyrantrum is great for taking hits. Raichu will likely show up a lot at Nationals and guess what, Raichu can Circle Circuit with a full bench of 8 and not KO Tyrantrum.

Another card that can replace Empoleon is Swampert PLC. With Diving Search you can place any card in your deck on the top. Combine this with Slurpuff's Tasting and you get to search your deck for any card. This lets you have an answer to anything your opponent has and can seal the game with DCE, Silver Bangle, or whatever you need for the game-winning knockout.

In the end, I like Swampert for the extra consistency and just gets you what you need even without Slurpuff sometimes.

 {deck 828}

The easy way to counter this deck is to either Item Lock it early so nothing goes into the discard or put on lots of early pressure with Landorus or Kyurem. Leafeon is in the deck to help against Seimsitoad locks and Mr Mime blocks bench damage but there isn't really a flexible card that counters Trevenant to break an item lock there.

Verdict: The ban of LTC may have hurt this deck more than help it but I still feel like it can do a decent job at Nationals.

Plasma

Plasma was a dominant deck just a year ago and came away with 4th in Nationals, but now the format has just been going against it and hasn't recieved that much play.

Plasma Lugia was a great deck earlier this year. The ability to take your prizes in chunks was great and if you could go fast enough you could have a pretty good win count. However, the LTC ban really limits this deck. For one, you only have 4 Plasma energies which Lugia-EX needs to attack and then it discards it. The only way to get Plasma Energy back now is with Thundurus-EX which not only slows you down, but now your prizes can become uneven so that Lugia's Overflow is useless at that point. Also, this deck uses cards like Roller Skates, Acro Bike, Bicycle, and other item-draw to go through you deck fast and take all your prizes fast. The problem now is decking out if you can't win in the first few turns. For this, I don't like Plasma Lugia decks going into Nationals but I wouldn't be suprised if someone found a way to use it.

The deck I really like for Nationals though is the traditional TDK (Thundurus, Deoxys, Kyurem). This deck has always been strong and versatile but after the rotation of Prism Energy its definitely lost some strength, having to rely on the 10 damage from Rainbow Energy and other basic Energy. However, I feel that that versatility gives this deck very favorable matchups. Kyurem is great at getting KOs on lower HP basics so that goes for Night March and Flareon. Kyurem also hits weakness on Landorus-EX while also dealing bench damage to the Bats. Thundurus is a great efficient attacker that can hit Yveltal for big numbers while taking little itself. Early agression from your attacks gives you a lead on Toad. Thundurus and Kyurem help you go fast enough that decks like VirGen, Bronzong, and Aromatisse can't keep up. A grass type like Genesect-EX can help you plow through Primal Kyogre/Groudon. While these matchups are by no mean easy wins, they can be favorable matchups if you know what cards to play and if you can be agressive early on.

The elephant in the room (that isn't Donphan) however is new decks like Mega RayquazaTrevenant/Shaymin and Gengar.  Thundurus can't OHKO Mega Rayquaza in even the most favorable situation (Muscle Band, 4 Deoxys-EX only 180 damage) however there are two cards that help a lot in the matchup: Absol and Genesect-EX. Absol is one card that I was considering using in its own deck as a rouge option but the lack of dark-weak Pokemon in the format will say otherwise. However, Mind Jack has given Absol loads of power from Skyfield especially in the Mega Rayquaza matchup where if your opponent has a loaded bench, you can hit Mega Rayquaza for an OHKO with a Muscle Band and some Deoxys-EX on the bench. Absol will also only give up one prize making it a great attacker in decks that use large benches. Absol also hits Gengar and Trevenant for weakness so while those decks won't have too large of a bench Absol can still hit them pretty hard. A one-of Genesect-EX can also swing these matchups in your favor. Red Signal can bring up a Shaymin-EX that is ripe for the picking and an easy two prizes for Thundurus-EX. Red Signal also gets around Trevenant helping you out of a lock if you can get it down.

I've also been messing around with Shaymin-EX in this deck and 2 copies tend to work very well but you would have to replace at least one of your Team Plasma Ball with Ultra Ball so that your hand is smaller and you can draw more off of Shaymin.

Skyfield is another card I like in TDK. While you could go for Plasma Frigate or Frozen City, which I feel are still solid options, especially the latter, I have had a lot of times where my benched just gets stuffed when playing with Plasma. My Deoxys clog the bench so I don't have enough attackers ready, I have too many attackers and would just like some Deoxys down, and also just the fact that these basics can clutter your hand down the line.

One card that can put TDK down and out is Silent Lab. This will shut down the extra Deoxys-EX damage and make the deck a lot less threatening. If you shut this down with Ninetales, your opponent will just have wasted bench slots on Deoxys. However, with Genesect's Red Signal you can pull up that Ninetales and knock it out, but believe me the numbers are much smaller than you think, that at times I can't even OHKO a 90HP Ninetales. Another thing you can tell from my list is that all Pokemon are Basics so Pyroar has free rein to just grind through you. Its not an autoloss because Kyurem can take down Litleos and put pressure on other ones on the bench so if your opponent doesn't have enough or doesn't find a Pyroar, you can win, but keep in mind that this is pretty unlikely. If you are scared of Pyroar showing up to ruin your day you could play Plasma Umbreon, to help your guys last laonger, Plasma Leafeon, to help Toad matchup, or Plasma Glaceon, to help lessen that retreat cost so that everything is free to retreat (except Kyurem).

Verdict: I think that TDK can be an average deck in Standard, and that if one person plays it and people weren't expecting it, it can go a long way. On the day of Expanded this deck has a lot of potential with access to Prism and Blend energy and for that reason I think the expanded version can get a Top 4 finish.

Young Decks

Mega Rayquaza C

This is the deck that everyone has been fearing after Roaring Skies. Its fast its powerful and it has no entirely bad matchups.

The problem with these decks is that you have to rethink your deck a little  since you can't draw through your deck without LTC and you're going to have to be conservative with your Shaymin-EX. Also, if you don't play Exeggcute as bench fuel and to discard when Skyfield is discarded, you may want to rethink what to discard after Skyfield is countered. Most players just discard Shaymin-EX so that they can't be picked off and there is no issue since you can get them back with LTC, but without LTC this may have to change. Keeping Shaymin-EX on board can be risky and if there are any Lightning attackers for your opponent but otherwise check your opponent's discard. If they discarded all their Hypnotoxic Lasers then you can discard Virizion-EX, if your opponent discarded all their Stadiums discard Ninetales, just be aware of what resources are gone for your opponent because of Pokemon on your bench.

The other thing most players are questioning is the viability of Winoana. Winoana is a supporter that lets you search for 3 [C] Pokemon from your deck. At first people say the wonderful synergy with this card and Shaymin-EX and Rayquaza, you can search out any combination you need and draw with Shaymin-EX. However, as time wore on, players found that your better off playing Ultra Ball and a draw supporter which not only gets more cards but narrows your hand for a bigger Shaymin draw. While I do agree with the arguments against this card I still think you should have at least have one in your deck. Winoana works great in combination with Delta Evolution as you can search the two evolution cards and play both down immediately. This helps this deck get down Mega Ray and Altaria.

In terms of the typing for the deck the two biggest ones have been Grass, where Virizion blocks special conditions, and Metal, where Bronzong accelerates energy. In my opinion the Bronzong variant can go faster but takes more time to fully setup which has been something Mega Ray hasn't had any trouble with, so you should be fine even before you have one Bronzong in play.  And once that Bronzong is in play you're golden. You can power up a new Mega Ray in one turn, while your old one tears through the opposition. In these Bronzong variants, Aegislash-EX is an absolute must. It has a three colorless attack like Mega Rayquaza and while not as deadly, the ability to block attackers with Special Energy helps this deck in the mirror and other fast decks like Night March. There is also no need for Altaria ROS in the metal variant because you have attackers with different weaknesses.

To counter Mega Ray the obvious play has been Raichu. You can OHKO Rayquaza with a bench of 4 and a Silver Bangle or just a bench of 6 if you play Skyfield as well. If you want an attacker to hit for all 220 damage if your opponent has an Altaria out, you can use Plasma Absol but that isn't as versatile. Other than that you can just wear down Rayquaza with hard hitting non-EXs like Raichu and Leafeon.

Verdict: This deck needs some adjusting without LTC but it will still get high amounts of play as it can work through all of its counters when played right. I'll give it 3+ of the Top 16.

Trevenant/Shaymin

The new version of Accelgor/Trevenant has risen and it may even be better as Trevenant/Shaymin has been a new deck on the radar for many players.

The big thing about this deck is the possibility of using Wally to get Trevenant into the active before your opponent even has a turn. Locking your opponents items before they even take their first turn is crippling to just about every deck. Mega decks can't play Spirit Links, they can't play Lasers/Hammers, they can't search with Ultra Ball, every deck becomes very slow and clunky once you can't even burn items early game. The issue has been how many Wally should be in a deck. If you have too many, then sure you get a Trevenant turn 1, but after that you have a lot less consistency to keep your deck going., but if you have too little it almost becomes a wasted slot. I've seen most decks play 2 copies which is fine because of Battle Compressor and VS Seeker. I can also advocate for 3 and being very agressive with an early game lock but I do not agree with only 1 since that won't change a matchup anytime soon and you just lose so much power.

This deck doesn't have much versatility as just about everything has been stapled into the deck. Trevenant, Shaymin, maybe a Jirachi, Hypnotoxic Laser, Virbank, Hammers, Head Ringer, Trainer Mail, Acro Bike, thin supporters and just about everything else has become standard for a Trevenant/Shaymin deck.  The only thing I've seen change in decks and with time is the amount of Shaymin-EX in the deck. The LTC ban made players of this deck more conservative and thus less draw cards and less Shaymin. I would agree with 3 Shaymin in this deck as you can streamline them well even with one prized, and you won't have easy bench targets and Lysandre targets to get around Trevenant's Lock.

Zekrom LTR is a card that I think should be at least a one-of in these decks. Yveltal is huge problem for Trevenant. Even without items, a single Evil Ball with the minunum of 2 energy OHKOs Trevenant. Zekrom can Outrage for decent damage against Yveltal as it is unlikely to get OHKO'd by Evil Ball even with the addition of LaserBank. Outrage can give a nice response to an Yveltal and help you pull ahead in a prize race. True you give up items for two turns, one for taking damage, one for attacking but Yveltal is just too big a threat to go unchecked.

The easy way to counter this deck is to have a heavy supporter line. Against decks like these Winoana works well in Mega Ray decks as it lets you search for Shaymin and get cards through item lock. A heavy count of supporters may be a bit more frequent now that Exeggutor decks have gone drastically down and that makes Trevenant/Shaymin a bit less effective. Also playing Pokemon with Barrier Trait can flat out beat this deck as no Hammers or Lasers can touch it. That being said, there aren't too many playable Pokemon outside of Primal Groudon with this ability. A deck with Rainbow energy may play the Regirock promo but otherwise there isn't a Pokemon that fits the bill.

Verdict: A decent count of Trevenant/Shaymin will show up but if enough Yveltal show up then this deck won't find any way to make top cut. However, with only 1 or 2 Yveltal in your way this deck can make a nice run.

Primal Duo

Primal Groudon has been earth-shattering and Primal Kyogre has already made a nice splash in the metagame but which one has the most potential? Primal Kyogre would be my pick if LTC wan't banned lowering play of Shaymin-EX but because it is Primal Groudon has a lot more capability going into Nationals.

Primal Groudon has always been played but after Mega Turbo came out the deck had a very nice way of speeding up. Attaching four energy manually is a pain but now with Mega Turbo Primal Groudon can be powered up much faster. The issue I've been seeing if what kind of Primal Groudon to play. The straight fighting Primal Groudon with cards like Hawlucha and regular Landorus to help stall and deal damage as well which I like and can make a good run. Not too many changes have to be made as Hawlucha is a solid attacker and Landorus can power up Primal Groudon even faster. Lucario-EX would be an okay card if Exeggutor was still around and you needed a way to get cards but I don't see too much coming out of it otherwise. Landorus-EX can be a nice one-of for early pressure and another attacker. Spiritomb is a card I really like in Primal Groudon since it can lock out G-Booster which can one-shot Primal Groudon, but there is another way around it.

ROB.dec was a deck that came up during Regionals and was a creative and effective way to play Primal Groudon. The deck focused on using Tool Retreiver to get back the Spirit Link and then put on Focus Sash which makes it so that, when attached to a Fighting Pokemon, if it would be knocked out by damage when at full HP, the Pokemon survives with 10 damage left. This guarantees that Primal Groudon can hit twice and take multiple prizes but why stop at twice when you can bulldoze your opponent with one Primal Groudon? The way to do this is with Dusknoir FLF which can take any damage on your field and move it to itself. Multiple Dusknoir can get Primal Groudon back to full HP to survive another hit and Focus Sash can't be removed from Primal Groudon because of the Barrier Trait. Combine this with Max Potion and you can take all your prizes with one Primal Groudon. This is my favorite version of the deck because its fun to play and requires some thinking by you since if Dusknoir has bench damage on it, you may have to give up that prize to make sure Primal Groudon can keep going. While this is effective, with the format shifting more to Night March and one-hit-knockouts the damage can get overwhelming for Dusknoir to handle and for that reason I don't think this variant will go too far.

Another version of the deck that has risen up is using Wobuffet and Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick. Wobuffet is great in the current format since there are so many abilities at work right now that Wobuffet can stall and shut down. You also use cards like Ultra Ball and Battle Compressor to get Primal Groudon out with Maxie ASAP. I like the idea behind it, but I don't like the deck overall because it has no real versatility and if Wobuffet doesn't shut down an ability like Deoxys-EX, it can get KO'd easily. It is an interesting idea but I don't see the competitive value.

In the end I like the straight Fighting and Mega Turbo variant so here is a list:

 

To beat this deck you just have to go fast enough that even with Mega Turbo you can beat your opponent in outright speed. You also wan't to consider when to take your first knockout if there is a Primal Groudon on the bench. You can't Lysandre it and take the KO there so you have to be ready for that big Primal Groudon once you knockout whatever is in the active.

Verdict: Primal Groudon is a strong deck going into Nationals and I think it poses quite the threat with the only real threat being VirGen.

Anti-Meta Decks

I could go in depth for each of these decks but they're each pretty straightforward.

One deck that has been cropping up lately is Klinklang. Klinklang has the ability Plasma Steel so that all of your [M] Pokemon can't be damaged by attacks from your opponent's Pokemon EX. This has always been a good ability but being a Stage 2, the playability of Klinklang has decreased from a couple years ago when it first came out. With a decrease of Toads, Klinklang can once again be a threat with access to Rare Candy in more games. This deck also got access to Aegislash-EX which blocks damage from Pokemon with Special Energy. So think about it...to damage Aegislash, you need to attack with a non-EX without Special Energy. If you look at every deck discussed thus far, they either are EX-heavy like Mega Ray and Yveltal, or have special energy attackers like Night March and Flareon. Steel Shelter is also a great stadium as it blocks special conditions from each of your [M] Pokemon. Unlike Virizion-EX its not a certain energy type but simply being a Metal type which means hammers and other energy removal will not remove the immunity. I like Klinklang going into Nationals but with the rise of other non-EXs I think it will recieve less play than it deserves in its last rotation.

Another deck that got a lot of hype after Roaring Skies was released was Raichu/Lefeon. The goal of this deck was to hit the big decks in the format for weakness with colorless Stage 1 attackers. Raichu can destroy Yveltal and Rayquaza, Leafeon can wreck Primals and Toad. Alright this seems pretty good. However, decks that used only Raichu and Leafeon as attackers didn't show up that much. Only 2 took top spots in Spring Regionals while decks that used Raichu as a tech in decks with Landorus and Hawlucha showed up the same amount. Raichu in itself has created an anti-meta deck and it doesn't need Lefeon to be that. Ross Cawthon ditched Leafeon entirely for a Crobat line which I like because it lets Raichu get the job done by itself while also taking up bench spots for stronger Circle Circuits. Overall, I like Raichu more as a tech than its own deck but it should still get play for Nationals.

So what about Pyroar? This deck was considered the most anti-meta you could get last year. Well, the meta has changed and Pyroar just doesn't fit the bill anymore. The rise of Mega decks like Gardevoir and Rayquaza as well as Stage 1 decks like Flareon and Donphan has left Pyroar with pretty unfavorable matchups across the board. Archie and Maxie also give options to getting out an evolved Pokemon in decks that struggle with Pyroar like Empoleon in Night March. Pyroar is definitely not a strong play going into Nationals but maybe next year in a format without Hypnotoxic Lasers it has a chance.

 

Conclusion

While I did my best to not leave any stone unturned, there are plenty of decks that I didn't discuss like Blastoise, Donphan, Gengar, Primal Kyogre, Latios, Mega Manectric Variants, and Dragon Mega Ray. These decks each have potential but I don't expect to much out of them for Nationals.

I was also planning on making another part for this article discussing expanded decks and rogue options for Nationals but as you can tell by the length, this article took a really long time for me and the whole expanded metagame I can get around to another time.

All in all, the metagame is pretty open right now with the decks everyone wants to beat being Yveltal, Toad, Primal Groudon, and Mega Rayquaza Colorless. While the timing of this article definitely wasn't good enough as Nationals are in a bit more than a week and I'm pretty sure those who are participating in the event have already decided on what deck to play and are rigorously testing right now. I at least hope this gave some information to the people who will spectate the event either on the stream or at the event itself.

With that said, good luck to those of you participating and, while it was a card I intended to discuss in its own section, PLAY ABSOL ROS.

[+3] ok


 

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