Experts' corner

Daniel Altavilla

Houston in Hindsight: Week 1 Regionals Recap and Tournament Report

Daniel goes over his Fall Regionals Week 1 tournament experience and some plays for Weeks 2 and 3.

10/08/2015 by Daniel Altavilla


Hey, guys! Daniel here with another article for you wonderful Pro Members! Before getting into this new article, let's go over some of the feelings we all should share about Week 1.

We've all had our doubts about Expanded Regionals, and now that Week 1 is over, it's time to adjust and evolve from our experiences and see what we can do. It was definitely a cluster of different decks, and it wasn't the easiest tournament for  which to find "the play," but it's our first big challenge in our quest to earn our World Championship invites, and those who came out on top after this conundrum are truly some of the greats in Pokémon.

My last article had lists for Metal and for Vespiquen/Flareon in Expanded. These two decks were both decks I was thinking about for Houston Regionals, but after a considerable amount of thought, I went with a deck that I expected could beat a decent chunk of the meta and that I knew I could pilot properly. That's the same mindset we all should have going into these last two weeks if we want to be comfortable with our plays and be able to play to our full capacity. In this article, I'll be going over my Houston experience, sharing my deck with you all, showing you two plays that should be very strong going into Weeks 2 and 3. Here's the skinny on Houston.

Houston Regionals

This tournament was a new breed for me because it was the first time I've ever flown out of state to a tournament without my Dad or anyone else in my family. I spent my airport downtime on Twitch, and my flight was spent mostly taking a nap. As soon as I arrived in Houston, the hunger pangs started, and I looked for the closest airport restaurant I could find that I haven't heard of before. I stumbled upon a gold mine known as Pappas, and I ordered a barbacoa breakfast burrito. After getting my burrito, I pulled out my Yveltal/Raichu deck that I'd been working on for a week straight with my friend Kyle Theaker, and I played some practice hands to see if I was drawing consistently. Turns out that I was extremely turned off by the hands I was getting and the inconsistency of the deck, so I put it away and headed out to the Marriott.

When I got to the Marriott, I took a nap. I woke up a couple hours later, got ready, and went out to the open play room for some testing. My friend Chris Fulop and I were talking more about Yveltal/Raichu, as were Kyle and I. Me, being the stubborn person I am, shot down ideas left and right until finally churning out a list I liked. My friend Sina and I played some test games with my other Expanded decks, Ninetales DRX and Durant, and they were both inconsistent. I reached into my bag to pull out Archie's Blastoise and to my dismay, the deck was still in Florida! I was hoping to use that deck in Houston if I couldn't come up with anything better, and it was really horrible to not have that option because I forgot the deck at home.

Fast forward to Saturday morning and I'm panicking. I'm freaking out messaging Chris and Kyle wondering what I could possibly do to make Yveltal/Raichu perfect. I went down to get some breakfast, calmed down, and laid out my list for some serious last-minute thought. Here's the list I started with.

This list was a pretty solid start, but there was so much I felt that I was missing. I started digging through my cards, looking for ideas. I started with Sableye DEX; Junk Hunt was a great utility for Darkness decks in the past, and I thought that maybe that would be the right play. Then I switched it up to Sacred Ash and six Darkness Energy, with four Dark Patch. Looking down at my deck, I absolutely despised what I had done, and I was ready to enter panic mode again, when it hit me! I had an epiphany and decided this deck had to be a Raichu deck first, and an Yveltal deck second.

So I upped the Raichu count, dropped the Dark Patch count down to three again, and dropped a Keldeo-EX. I threw in AZ because I needed a switching card, and after that wasn't sufficient because it's a Supporter, I added an Escape Rope as well. With the fact in mind that AZ could essentially heal a Pokémon, I thought it would be smart to run Mewtwo-EX. He could provide very strong first-turn pressure, get AZ'd into my hand, and then be dropped back down with a Double Colorless and get back into the swing. He was also the only card in my deck besides Raichu that could handle Manectric-EX, because setting up a Darkrai-EX fast enough seemed extremely tough to do. 

The list was looking great. I showed it to Kyle one more time, and Kyle was telling me to keep certain cards in my list over others, and being the stubborn person I am, I kept telling him no. I'm such a pain! In the end, I started listening to Kyle and I kept my list from getting too out of hand. Now that everything was truly coming together, the list kept feeling more and more like "the play". This is the final draft of the list after I fixed everything up to exactly how I envisioned.

At this point I felt very confident in my play. I had it set up to take care of Blastoise, Night March, other Yveltal decks, and to stand a chance against other non-EX decks I may come across.

Tournament Report

Round 1 versus Adam Cleveland (Yveltal/Seismitoad/Garbodor): WW

This round pretty much set the tone for the rest of the tournament. It was literally my first game with the deck, so I had to learn it as I went along. Adam started out strong, with a fast Garbodor/Quaking Punch combo. I couldn't do much for the first half of the game. Adam drew a good three Prizes before I played an N, set up a Raichu, and KO'd two Yveltal in a row. Adam couldn't close the game out after a couple N's, and I ended up pulling the game out.

Game 2, I drew a bit better and Adam couldn't find his Garbodor. I pretty much swept this game the way my deck was supposed to in the Yveltal-EX mirror. Good games to Adam, he was a great first opponent. (1-0)

Round 2 versus Edan Lewis (Bronzong/Tyrantrum-EX/Giratina-EX): WW

Edan and I were speaking a bit before the game and he let me know that he was testing partners with my friend Andrew Wamboldt. Andrew and I spoke a bit last year about decks, and if there was one thing I knew about him, it was that he always played something crazy.

Edan went first in our game starting Bronzor, and I expected an autowin. Surprisingly (or maybe not-so-surprisingly), he benched a Tyrantrum-EX and a Giratina-EX and I knew this was going to be a tough matchup. My start wasn't amazing but it wasn't so bad; I was still able to get an Yveltal XY hitting onto an Aegislash-EX on turn one, putting a Darkness Energy onto a Benched Pikachu. Edan used Chaos Wheel and didn't OHKO my Yveltal, which was amazing math because I realized I always had a backup attacker in Yveltal in case my Raichus were getting Knocked Out.

I pulled out an amazing play because Edan didn't expect his Giratina to be KO'd, and I sent up Raichu, used Cursed Eyes with Absol ROS to move 30 from the Aegislash up to Giratina, and got a Circle Circuit KO with 160 damage. At this point, Edan was able to set up a couple more attackers, but I N'd him out of the game. 

Getting through that game by the skin of my teeth, I needed to adapt and figure out how to close out Game 2, because he could win in as little as four or five turns, so I needed to win or else we would tie due to how long Game 1 took. So basically, I set up a fast Raichu, got a KO, set up a second Raichu, and KO'd a Tyrantrum-EX (the only Pokemon with Energy on it at the time) after playing Hex Maniac. Edan couldn't Metal Links and he whiffed an attack, so I ended the game there. Good job to Edan for having me on the edge of my seat with a great deck, and kudos to Andrew Wamboldt for another crazy idea that really tested my luck and my skill to beat. (2-0)

Round 3 versus Jose Garcia (Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX): WLT

Jose was playing the one deck I really didn't want to have to deal with. It's not a hard matchup by any means, but I couldn't really draw much and I was worried about not being able to attack often enough. The first game, I got a big Yveltal-EX out and he had no response. Game 2, he got set up and I didn't. Game 3 was a bit better, but it went down to him hitting two important Crushing Hammers. Luckily, I was able to end the game in a tie before it got any worse for me. (2-0-1)

Lunch Break (Pulled Pork/Sausage/Ribs): WWW

For lunch, I went with a couple friends to Pappas again, and we had some crazy good Texas BBQ. I felt this was completely necessary to include in this article, because everybody loves some BBQ.

Round 4 versus Kale Chalifoux (Archie's Blastoise): LWW

Kale is an internet friend who I would BS back and forth with from time to time. Getting to meet him was pretty nice, and we definitely had some crazy games. Kale started out Game 1 with a quick Blastoise, and he started smashing me with Secret Sword. There was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it, but I played it out to get as much information about his list as I could. (How many Waters, any extra attackers, etc.) He didn't give me much to work with, though!

Game 2, I was able to stream Hex Maniac for a couple turns and get some quick KOs. This game came down to Kale discarding too many Superior Energy Retrievals on his first turn, and he wasn't able to close out the game on his final turn, so I ended up taking it. 

Game 3 was another back-and-forth game, but I was way too fast for Kale this time around. Time was called on his turn when I had four Prizes left and he had five, and instead of trying to win, he went for stall tactics to force a tie. I ended up pulling the win completely out of nowhere, but he misplayed by passing with Blastoise Active instead of using Sky Return to pick up his last EX. I topdecked Lysandre and ended the game on turn three of time. (3-0-1)

Round 5 versus Brandon Cantu (Tool Drop): LWL

This was such a funny match for me, because immediately before it, Michael Canaves and I were talking about Tool Drop. He pretty much told me all of the deck's techs and I was doing some thinking about it. I realized exactly how to beat the deck if I ever came across it, and serendipitously, I was paired against Brandon. Brandon is an alright guy and we've spoken in the past, but we've never really had the chance to play a game. Brandon ended up taking Game 1 easily because I had a pretty horrible setup. Game 2, I started some non-EX Pokémon and played Hex Maniac. Brandon was still able to set up, but it was tough for him to elongate his turn without Shaymin-EX. I ended up taking Game 2 because I was keeping the Prize trade even and I was able to KO all of the Pokémon-EX he was Benching.

Game 3 was a tougher game, but again I started Hex Maniac. Brandon wasn't able to get the turn-one KO on my Yveltal XY and I Lysandre'd a Shuppet and KO'd it with Oblivion Wing while setting up a Circle Circuit for the next turn. I had this game in the bag as I was ahead on the Prize trade and I had my next two turns mapped out for the win. Then Brandon played an N and I was forced to draw into absolute trash, ending the game on my end, but I was happy that I kept it close against a deck I hadn't seen before, and happy that I made Brandon realize he couldn't really take it easy against me and that he had to actually think this game through. (3-1-1)

Round 6 versus Andrew Michaud (Yveltal-EX): WLT

This was the most annoying game of the day. I was facing Andrew's straight Yveltal-EX with Sableye, Keldeo, and Energy Switch and I expected to be able to close it out really quickly and move on with the tournament. Andrew wasn't having it though, because he brought these games extremely close. Game 1, I pulled out through Andrew's heads on every Hypnotoxic Laser he played, and all of my failed Sleep flips, and Game 2 was close, but Andrew pulled it out of nowhere. Not to mention, if you named a scenario in which Andrew needed a certain setup to get a KO, he was able to. Every time. His list was very consistent, and I definitely didn't have an easy time against it.

My mistake going into Game 3 was that I took the first two games slow because I got cocky. Had I taken the game for what it was instead of pretending it was a definite autowin, we may have had time to finish out Game 3, where I had the setup to win. But instead, we tied. (3-1-2)

Round 7 versus Benjamin Potter (Yveltal/Archeops): LWT

Ben and I had a funny set. Game 1, I should've scooped when I was too far behind, but I played it out to get a look at his counts. I was trying to figure out what he was omitting for Archeops and Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick, whether it was a fourth Hypnotoxic Laser, a fourth Dark Patch, or something else. I got the information I needed, because he used four Lasers and four Dark Patch, but I took too long and it cost me.

Game 2 was very close, but my deck did what it needed to do and I closed the game out. Also, Ben wasted a couple Virbanks and Lasers on Ultra Ball, and I was able to make plays I wouldn't have made if he still had resources left. 

Game 3, Ben starts with a Battle compressor, discarding two Darkness Energy and a Professor Sycamore. Ben burns his hand, and gets the Sycamore with VS Seeker, the last card in his hand. We looked at each other for a second and started laughing, because we both realized that he could've gotten a turn-one Archeops and finished me off that easily. Instead, we played a normal Yveltal mirror and I yet again had the edge when time was called. Another win slipped through my fingers, and my tournament was over. (3-1-3)

Round 8 versus Jason Selbert (Archie's Blastoise): WW

Jason is a pal from Florida who I'd seen before but never really spoken to. He and I played some quick games because he was having trouble setting up Blastoise Game 1, and in Game 2, I had Hex Maniac doing it's thing. Jason played a Dedenne in his list, but he wasn't able to find it either game, so I made short work of his deck. (4-1-3)

Round 9 versus Jacob Carrasco (Fairy Toolbox): WW

Jacob ran a Fairy toolbox deck with Jamming Nets, Tyrantrum-EX, Giratina-EX, Manectric-EX, Yveltal-EX, and Darkrai/Keldeo. He was able to get some Pokémon set up, but I was simply faster than him. I got two KOs in two games with Cursed Eyes, and he ended up scooping after the second Cursed Eyes. Our games were tough, but I still pulled them out. (5-1-3), 38th Place

Looking back on this tournament, I had absolutely no problem with my deck. My issue was how slow I was playing and how slow my opponents were playing. If I had a bit more time, I could've potentially gone 7-1-1. I truly didn't have any poor matchups. One thing I maybe could've done is run an Absol PLF instead of Mewtwo-EX (as Kyle recommended), but overall I think this deck was fine for Houston Regionals and it could still be good for the other Fall Regionals. I'm glad to have come out on top on some of the hardest games I've played in a while, and the tournament itself was smoothly run.

Now that we've covered my Houston experience, let's talk about what we should see the most in the next two weeks of Regionals. 

Strong Plays for Weeks 2 and 3

Week 1 was jam-packed with different decks and no one archetype truly stood out among the rest like Archie's Blastoise did. And why is it that this deck was so popular? It's simple: the deck is just good. No matter what techs you play against it, the matchup doesn't become a guaranteed win unless you have turn-one Trevenant. Anything else and it becomes about 50/50 or worse. This deck is the top deck and should continue to be the top deck in the next two weeks. You can try Yveltal-EX variants, you can try a lock deck that locks out every single type of Trainer card from coming into play, and you can try something with Archeops to prevent Evolution, but none of those decks seem to compare to the crippling strength of Keldeo-EX, or to the sheer speed of this deck. Here's a list for it, which is very close to the 2015 World Champion's list.

This list is only a couple cards off of Jacob Van Wagner's. It's got the magic that Blastoise has with a couple techs to stay afloat in Expanded. I'll go over the list for those that don't understand some of the techs yet.

3 Keldeo-EX

The idea behind the deck is to get a Keldeo-EX with six or seven Energy on it each turn and get quick KOs with minimal effort. It's more consistent than the likes of Night March and Vespiquen, which makes it a very attractive choice over those two decks if you're looking for a Battle Compressor engine. Three Keldeo-EX is great because they're your main attackers to finish off a game. If one's Prized, no problem, you can manage around it. I've even seen some people with four of them!

2 Blastoise PLS

Blastoise is the bread and butter of the deck. Without him, we wouldn't be able to make this crazy combo work. You run two Blastoise because obviously if you were to Prize one, you'd have one left in the deck to use. It only takes one. You could get away with three Blastoise, to guarantee you don't Prize one every game, but it's too hard to Prize two copies often, so it's not that necessary to run any extras.

2 Jirachi-EX/2 Shaymin-EX

This 2/2 line is personal preference. I've never liked just one Jirachi in this deck because often you use Ultra Ball to burn your hand size down and Jirachi is not only a target for Ultra Ball, but a way to get Archie's Ace In the Hole. Shaymin-EX is for every turn that you aren't using Archie's, as he'll burn through the rest of your deck for you and find those Superior Energy Retrievals that you need to close out the game.

2 Exeggcute

Exeggcute is necessary to be able to burn your hand down to one for Archie's. He also preserves resources throughout the game, and burning through your resources is something this deck is definitely known to do.

1 Articuno ROS 17

Articuno is your answer to Night March and to other non-EX cards that you may be facing. Without Articuno, many Blastoise players may have lost games they could've won, so that's a big deal.

1 Lugia-EX ROS

Lugia-EX is just the copy of Mewtwo that Van Wagner played, but it also has Deep Hurricane to take out Stadiums. You mostly use it to remove Silent Lab against Accelgor decks and other similar decks. One thing about Lugia is that it's susceptible to Manectric-EX and Dedenne FFI, but it doesn't really make much of a difference besides that.

1 Wailord-EX

Wailord is your other Night March counter. You do 120 damage to Mew-EX and can't be return-KO'd. Besides that, he pretty much 2HKO's any Pokémon in the format without having to suffer a return-KO. He also can KO two Shaymins.

1 Kyogre-EX DEX

Kyogre-EX is for non-EX decks like Vespiquen. You can OHKO two Combee with Dual Splash, and potentially prevent a Vespiquen from ever hitting the field! Pretty solid tech, if you ask me!

2 Professor Juniper/1 N

This is sort of scary considering Supporter cards are the most important cards in any deck, but you can make due with a minimal amount of them in this particular deck, because you're really only going to use Archie's Ace in the Hole first turn, and any turn after that, you won't even need more than one Professor Juniper or N. 

1 Hex Maniac

Hex Maniac is strictly for the mirror match. If you can KO a Keldeo-EX and play Hex Maniac in the same turn, it'll be virtually impossible to fall behind in the prize trade. This card also helps a ton against a first-turn Trevenant, as it allows you items for a little bit.

11 Water Energy

You can run 11-13 of these bad boys in this deck. I think twelve is a solid number too, but the more you start with in your opening hand, the harder it is to pull of an Archie's, usually. That's why I prefer using eleven. 

There you have it! A versatile deck without many bad matchups. This will be a great choice for the next two weeks, and it could only be a poor choice if people start teching against it heavily, such as running an engine to guarantee a first-turn Ghetsis or Hex Maniac. Other than that, the deck is an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. One deck that I know of that has a positive matchup against Archie's Blastoise is Seismitoad-EX/Crobat, and if I was playing in a Regional this weekend, that's the deck I'd play. Here's my take on the list, inspired by Michael Pramawat's win this past weekend.

This list is meant to take care of almost every deck in Expanded without having too much trouble against anything. It even has the power to beat Blastoise and to take care of non-EX decks that may rise in popularity, such as Tool Drop, which had a large showing in both Regionals this weekend. Something interesting about this list is the Lugia-EX over Mewtwo-EX, but yet again, this is for the ability to use Lugia's Deep Hurricane attack and hit for huge damage. You can hit a zero-Energy Keldeo-EX for 170 damage with only four Energy attached compared to nine, which is a big deal.

Now to get into the specific counts of this list:

3 Seismitoad-EX

Three Toad is the perfect number for this list. Four is too many because it's very important to start Free Flight, and obviously less than three is too few. You'll most likely only need two Seismitoad-EX per game anyways, especially if you flip enough heads with Super Scoop Up.

4-4-3 Crobat 

With a hefty amount of Bats, you'll be able to deal at least 170 damage per game without attacking. This can be done to a Shaymin-EX or a Jirachi-EX to end a game quickly, or to another Pokémon to give Seismitoad a larger damage output. This damage is useful in having your opponent's Pokemon get Knocked Out by Poison going into your turn!

1 Dedenne FFI

Dedenne's purpose is to punish a seven-Energy Keldeo with Energy Short/Poison/Bat damage. It also smacks a big Yveltal-EX for plenty of damage, and can take a Prize on a Night Marcher without giving up two Prizes.

1 Xerosic

Xerosic is not only good for the Toad/Tina matchup, but for any matchup where Special Energy are necessary for the main attacker. Xerosic along with Quaking Punch makes it very hard for your opponent to find another Special Energy, so Xerosic is pretty much a broken card in this deck.

1 AZ

Pick up a Toad, pick up a Bat, pick up Lugia; whatever you grab with AZ, it doesn't make the card any less clutch. Nobody really expects AZ to be played, even if they're staring it in the face. It's a card that can truly win you a game.

1 Startling Megaphone

Startling Megaphone is a wonderful tech for the Tool Drop matchup and it's an amazing card in general. You don't play multiple Tools nor do you play Head Ringer, so this card is obviously the better choice for Tool-removal over Tool Scapper, and it can come in clutch with Quaking Punch. 

3 Virbank City Gym

Virbank is a nice card in this deck and it's been most of Toad's damage output, but Michael Pramawat's list ran a Silent Lab as well, and I feel two Virbank and one Silent Lab could be very interesting. Silent Lab along with Quaking Punch means you can Lysandre a Blastoise and keep it Active until it gets Knocked Out, without having to worry about another one coming into play. That's a pretty good deal, if you ask me!

1 Hex Maniac

Hex Maniac in Toadbats is exactly what the deck was missing. Toad/Garbodor was an amazing deck, Toad/Crobat is an amazing deck, so essentially mixing the two together is incredible. 

3 Water Energy

Water Energy is amazing so that you can use Grenade Hammer to end a game. Grenade Hammer is such a strong attack when paired with Crobat and LaserBank that it can even OHKO a Mega Manectric-EX!

That's the powerful Seismitoad/Crobat deck, which has held an amazing record in tournaments dating back to Crobat's release! Between this deck, Archie's Blastoise, and my Yveltal/Raichu list, you now have three strong decks for the next two Fall Regional weekends!

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading another one of my articles on 60cards! Let's see how you all put these new interesting ideas to the test, and hopefully somebody can take one of my lists to a Regional and win with it! My personal favorite of these three is Archie's Blastoise, because of my history with the card. Blastoise got me my first invite to the World Championships in the Masters Division, and in that same year it earned me 9th Place at the World Championships! I'll always love the card, and though I haven't used it in tournament play for a while, I still fully believe in its capability to take these Fall tournaments by storm.

As usual, please give this article a +1, share it with your friends, and leave me feedback on my Facebook or in the comments! I'd also like to take this last bit of my article to plug my new Youtube channel, The Tuff Puff. I'm one half of the Tuff Puff, along with my friend John Dang. We've been trying very hard to consistently bring out good content to our subscribers, and we're planning on putting together a stream and go above and beyond for the Pokémon community. Please check us out and Subscribe to the channel here. Thanks again, 60cards readers, and I'll see you next time!


[+11] okko


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